The classic and the contemporary collide in this week’s new releases. We’ve got several favorites fresh from the Disney vault, timeless titles from the Warner Archive Collection, recent theatrical offerings, and so much more. It’s always exciting when it’s new release time, and you’re going to love this latest assortment of Blu-rays and DVDs!
Sleeping Beauty (The Walt Disney Signature Collection)
One of the Disney studio’s most stunning animated features was this rendition of the fairy tale favorite. The evil fairy Maleficent places a curse on the young Princess Aurora, putting her into a deep sleep that only her true love’s kiss can awaken her from. With help from a trio of good fairies, can the handsome Prince Phillip defeat Maleficent and her minions and rescue Aurora? Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, along with such original songs as “Once Upon a Dream” and “I Wonder,” adds to the enjoyment.
101 Dalmatians (The Walt Disney Signature Collection)
One of Disney’s most popular animated films, based on Dodie Smith’s novel, details the adventures of London-based canine couple Pongo and Perdita, who produce 15 cute puppies, only to have them snatched by the merciless Cruella De Vil. The spotted spouses set out from their masters’ home and enlist the help of England’s animals to track down their missing offspring. Voiced by Rod Taylor, Cate Bauer, Betty Lou Gerson. Songs include “Dalmatian Plantation” and “Cruella De Vil.”
At a Malaysian rubber plantation, foreman’s wife Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) shoots a respected local, claiming that she was fending off a sexual assault. Though the community accepts her story, her counsel (James Stephenson) has nagging doubts…and is faced with his own dilemma when written proof of a relationship between his client and the victim comes to light. William Wyler’s taut take on the W. Somerset Maugham play co-stars Herbert Marshall, Gale Sondergaard, Victor Sen Yung.
Wealthy if superstitious racehorse owner Joe Baldwin (Onslow Stevens) had an ulterior motive for his philanthropy–he thought good deeds translated to his pony finishing in the money. Having fallen for no-nonsense schoolteacher Betty McKay (Helen Mack), he paid off his ex Jean (Maxine Jennings) so she’d get lost–but found himself being framed as the fall guy after Jean turned up murdered. Second-bill thriller also stars Vinton Hayworth, Paul Guilfoyle, Richard Lane, Hedda Hopper.
The Man Who Dared (aka City in Terror)
Old soldier Ulysses Porterfield (Charley Grapewin) was dining with his daughter’s family when a garage explosion killed their political reformer neighbor. The clan’s willingness to testify about the stranger they saw fleeing, however, bought them peril from a corrupt local government looking to ensure their silence. Remake of 1931’s “The Star Witness”–which still spurred a lawsuit from recently-ousted L.A. mayor Frank Shaw–co-stars Jane Bryan, Elisabeth Risdon, Henry O’Neill, Dickie Jones. AKA: “City in Terror.”
Grittily realistic and played out in real time, this fine boxing drama sets up a crackling mix of tensions as a broken-down pugilist (Robert Ryan) prepares to enter the ring and win a fight nobody else expects him to–not his wife (Audrey Totter), and not even his manager…who has secretly taken money from mobsters under the pretense his man will take a dive. Robert Wise directs; George Tobias, Wallace Ford co-star.
Good witch Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell) continues to cast an entertaining spell over viewers in this continuation of the charming made-for-TV movie series. Here, Cassie and her teen daughter Grace (Bailee Madison)–likewise gifted with magical powers–become objects of fascination for Sam Radford (James Denton), a doctor who moves next door to the Nightingales in Middleton. Catherine Disher, Peter MacNeill also star. 10 episodes, plus the 2018 TV-movie Tale of Two Hearts, are featured in this two-disc set.
The Hollywood directorial debut of Billy Wilder, this screwball gem stars Ginger Rogers as Susan Applegate, a fed-up New York City working girl who can only afford a child’s ticket for a train ride back to Iowa and poses as a 12-year-old girl. Ray Milland is Army Major Philip Kirby, who becomes little Su-Su’s “guardian” on the train, and, after flooding on the tracks, takes her to his military academy. With Diana Lynn, Robert Benchley, and Rogers’ real-life mom Lela as her mother.
Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree reprise their respective iterations of John Shaft in this mix of action and comedy. This time, FBI agent John “JJ” Shaft III (Jessie T. Usher, playing the estranged son of Jackson’s version) must team up with his still-cool-as-ever elders in order to find out who murdered his best friend. Can three generations of Shafts work together to get the job done? Right on. With Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp.
After a decade’s struggles, British busker Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) had accepted that musical glory would never come. However, he awoke after an accident to find he was the only person alive who remembered The Beatles–and as he rides the Lennon-McCartney song catalog to immediate global acclaim, will he lose the girlfriend/manager (Lily James) who’d always stood by him? Danny Boyle’s engaging tribute-musical/fantasy–with songs performed by Patel–co-stars Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, James Corden.
Bing Crosby stars as Father Charles O’Malley, an Irish Catholic priest whose progressive views are challenged within his new New York City parish. With a smile on his face and a song in his heart, can Father Chuck win over a crusty elder father and the rest of his congregation? Director Leo McCarey’s charming multi-Oscar-winner (including Best Picture and Actor) co-stars Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, Gene Lockhart.
“Rocky” co-star Carl Weathers takes a solo turn in this hit thriller as two-fisted Detroit police sergeant Jericho “Action” Jackson, who must fight to clear his name when a crooked auto magnate (Craig T. Nelson) with an axe to grind has Jackson framed for murder. Vanity, Sharon Stone, and Thomas F. Wilson also star.
A Bucket of Blood (Olive Signature Collection)
Blending beatniks, murder, and the art world, director Roger Corman’s outrageous horror spoof stars Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, a coffeehouse busboy who accidentally kills a cat, covers it in plaster, and puts it on display. Hailed as a “new talent,” Walter soon moves on to human subjects. Shot-in-five-days AIP cult classic also stars Anthony Carbone, Barboura Morris, Ed Nelson.
The Circus (Criterion Collection)
Charles Chaplin’s three-ring comedic romp that earned a special Academy Award for its writer/director/star finds the Little Tramp mistaken for a pickpocket and on the run from the police. As he ducks into the big top of a traveling circus, his show-stealing antics land him a steady job from the abusive ringmaster (Al Ernest Garcia)…and perhaps a heartbreaking crush on the boss’s daughter, the troupe’s bareback rider (Merna Kennedy).
Local Hero (Criterion Collection)
Sent by his domineering (and possibly demented) CEO (Burt Lancaster) to the Scottish seacoast to close a deal for a refinery site, Houston oil company suit Mac MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) soon finds himself charmed by the locale and locals…and plagued by second thoughts. His change of heart, though, is distressing the villagers–who actually want to cash out! Bill Forsyth’s wonderfully understated comedy co-stars Peter Capaldi, Denis Lawson, Jenny Seagrove, Fulton McKay; music by Mark Knopfler.
Profoundly changed by his experiences fighting for the Union during the Civil War, former hooligan Luke Fargo (Van Heflin) came back below the Mason-Dixon Line to his hometown, looking to establish a ministry. He’ll have his hands full with the resentful and doubt-ridden locals, most of all the orphaned and embittered teen (Joanne Woodward, in her film debut) squatting in the parsonage. Flavorful period drama co-stars Raymond Burr, Allison Hayes, Philip Carey, Nancy Kulp.
The “Buddi” doll was meant to be the cutting edge in self-learning smart toys…but one whose programming had been tampered with wound up gifted to hearing-impaired youngster Andy (Gabriel Bateman) by his mom (Aubrey Plaza). “Chucky” swiftly bonds to Andy as friend and protector–and proves to take those responsibilities with literal deadly seriousness. Unnerving reboot of the shock staple franchise also stars Bryan Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, and Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky.
Just as she was achieving professional traction, cabaret dancer Carol Williams (Sally Forrest) received a devastating diagnosis of polio. As she bitterly pushes away stage partner and fiancé Guy Richards (Keefe Brasselle), she resignedly enters into rehab…where the examples set by her fellow patients may put her on the road to recovery. Markedly personal project for director/co-writer Ida Lupino also stars Hugh O’Brian (in his first credited role), Eve Miller, Herb Butterfield, Larry Dobkin.
In early-‘90s Russia, beautiful but downtrodden Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) found an out from a cycle of abuse when KGB officer Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans) recruited her for training as an assassin. After five years of covert kills while posing as a model, the agency reneges on its promise of a quiet retirement…leaving her to attempt a most stunning gambit for her freedom. Expectedly stylish thriller from Luc Besson also stars Helen Mirren, Cillian Murphy, Alexander Petrov, Eric Godon.
His Afghanistan service had taken a terrible toll on combat surgeon Jacob Singer (Michael Ealy), and the breaking point came when the body of his soldier brother Isaac (Jesse Williams) showed up on his table. Now back home striving to piece together well-being and career, Jacob’s accosted by a homeless man claiming that Isaac’s still alive…leaving his hard-won sanity in the balance. Riveting re-imagining of the 1990 psychological thriller co-stars Nicole Beharie, Joseph Sikora, Karla Souza.
Reticent, self-harming gas station clerk Melinda (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) was readily pushed around by life in general and her assertive colleague Sheila (Suki Waterhouse) in particular. The night came, though, when they found themselves held at gunpoint by desperate holdup man Billy (Josh Hutcherson)…and though Melinda unexpectedly subdued him, the shocks would truly come from how she dealt with her captive. Jolting thriller also stars Shiloh Fernandez, Harry Shum, Jr.
Deceit and adultery highlight this film noir drama, directed by and featuring Ida Lupino. Married travelling salesman Harry Graham (Edmond O’Brien) has an affair with diner cook Phyllis Martin (Lupino) and weds her after learning she’s pregnant. Hundreds of miles away, Graham’s other spouse, Eve (Joan Fontaine), attempts to adopt a child and learns of her husband’s secret life. With Edmund Gwenn, Kenneth Tobey.
Small-town waitress Sally Kelton (Sally Forrest) thought her one-nighter with jazzman Steve Ryan (Leo Penn) was true love, so she pulled up stakes and followed him to his next gig. After being let down hard, she appreciated the kind attentions of veteran/entrepreneur Drew Baxter (Keefe Brasselle)…but the discovery she was with Ryan’s child set up tragic complications. Social drama from Ida Lupino, who produced and completed the directing chores for the credited and stricken Elmer Clifton.
American WWI fighter pilot Waldo Pepper (Robert Redford), who never achieved the fame he aspired to, ekes out a living performing death-defying barnstorming stunts for rural audiences. He receives an opportunity for fulfillment and redemption when he goes up against German flying ace Ernst Kessler (Bo Brundin) after they’re both hired to work on a Hollywood movie shoot. With Susan Sarandon, Bo Svenson, Geoffrey Lewis.