The past meets the future in this latest group of new Blu-rays and DVDs. This week is a decade-spanning assortment of vintage favorites and cult hits, including several Warner Archive and Criterion Collection titles, all of which will soon take a cherished place in your home video library. So let’s take a closer look at these latest offerings and see how the magic of entertainment — and the appeal of some of its biggest stars — continues to endure.
Dinner at Eight (1933)
As a Manhattan society matron (Billie Burke) scrambles to bring off a formal dinner party, the private peccadilloes and hidden agendas of her family and their guests simmer behind the genteel facade. M-G-M’s all-star adaptation of the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber stage hit, a feast for lovers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, also stars John Barrymore, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe. George Cukor directs.
Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash! Aaah! Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones), quarterback for the New York Jets, and travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) are hijacked into a desperate space mission by mad scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) in an effort to save the Earth from certain destruction at the hands of the maniacal Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow). Timothy Dalton, Ornella Muti, Brian Blessed co-star in this colorful, tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the serial favorite; features music by Queen.
China Seas (1935)
Clark Gable shines as a rugged boat captain sailing the waters between Hong Kong and Singapore with a secret stash of British gold aboard his vessel, in this classic tale of romance, adventure, and drama. While journeying through the perilous seas, he must juggle the presence of both his fiery mistress (Jean Harlow) and cultured fiancée (Rosalind Russell)–not to mention Malaysian pirates, a typhoon, and a treacherous passenger (Wallace Beery). With Lewis Stone, Dudley Digges.
Fort Worth (1951)
Retired gunfighter Ned Britt (Randolph Scott) swapped pistols for the power of the press when he started a newspaper in Fort Worth. When he challenges the community grip of a corrupt cattle baron (Ray Teal)–who responds by hiring one of Britt’s old crack-shot saddle pals (David Bryan) as an enforcer–the publisher might have to revert back from setting lead type to shooting hot lead. Sturdy sagebrusher also stars Phyllis Thaxter, Helena Carter, Dickie Jones, Bob Steele.
The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)
Compelling WWI aviation drama stars Fredric March as Lt. Jerry Young, the American commander of a British flying squadron who grows embittered over his sending of men to their deaths. After Young returns from ordered shore leave, he finds the pressure of his career too much to bear–resulting in tragedy. With the help of cynical friend Henry Crocker (Cary Grant), Young embarks on one final mission. Carole Lombard, Jack Oakie, Guy Standing co-star.
Wake Island (1942)
One of the first Hollywood films to honestly deal with American front line forces in WWII, this blistering saga recounts the true story of a handful of Marines who fought off an overwhelming Japanese land, air, and sea attack for 16 days. Brian Donlevy stars as the base commander, Macdonald Carey is a young pilot, Robert Preston and William Bendix are a pair of unruly privates, and Albert Dekker is a civilian contractor.
Soldier Blue (1970)
The vicious slaughter of the Cheyenne Indians during the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 is the focus for this ultra-realistic drama. Surviving the attack, a devoted U.S. soldier (Peter Strauss) and a white woman (Candice Bergen) sympathetic to the Cheyenne’s plight attempt to make their way to a cavalry base. Along the way, they deal with their opposing viewpoints before arriving at a U.S. outpost on the eve of an attack on an Indian village. Donald Pleasence, John Anderson co-star.
Saddle the Wind (1958)
Ex-gunfighter and Confederate soldier Steve Sinclair (Robert Taylor) settled down to become a rancher and live out his remaining years free of violence. The new way of life he seeks is jeopardized by the arrival of his kid brother Tony (John Cassavetes), a rebellious and immature young man with an itchy trigger finger and spoiling for a fight. Rugged and dramatic Western drama, scripted by Rod Serling, co-stars Julie London, Donald Crisp, Charles McGraw, Royal Dano.
A cowpoke (Richard Widmark) goes on a quest for the survivor of the Apache ambush that claimed the life–and the reputation–of his father (John McIntire), who died suspected of a gold heist. His tunnel-visioned quest for the truth, however, might dredge up answers that he won’t like. Gripping sagebrusher co-stars Donna Reed, William Campbell, Barton MacLane; John Sturges directs.
Red Ball Express (1952)
In the summer of 1944, as Patton’s troops advanced towards Paris, it was crucial for their supply lines to remain running…and the truckers of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps rose to the challenge. Jeff Chandler stars as the embattled topkick who had to steer his integrated platoon through Axis minefields as well as their interpersonal hostilities; Alex Nicol, Sidney Poitier, Charles Drake, Hugh O’Brian co-star under Budd Boetticher’s direction.
Matching Hearts (2020)
The Outpost (2020)
By October 2009, the U.S. Army was well set on abandoning its more remote combat outposts in Afghanistan, like COP Keating situated near the eastern border town of Kamdash. Taliban insurgents seized upon that moment to strike…and the American soldiers that were outnumbered four-to-one would make a valiant stand. Gripping adaptation of the Jake Tapper battle chronicle stars Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Milo Gibson, Jack Kesy; Rod Lurie directs.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)
The final installment in Hammer’s Frankenstein series–as well as director Terence Fisher’s swan song–finds Peter Cushing as the not-so-good doctor, joining with a young disciple at a mental hospital where they perform some frightening experiments with the patients. Soon, they realize that they’ve created a monster! With Shane Briant, Madeline Smith, David Prowse.
Blue Bloods: The Tenth Season (2019)
Family drama and crime drama are often one and the same in this hit series that focuses on a multi-generational clan of New York City law enforcement officials. The family includes Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and his three kids: veteran detective Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), assistant district attorney Erin (Bridget Moynahan), and rookie officer and Harvard law grad Jamie (Will Estes). With Len Cariou, Jennifer Esposito, Amy Carlson. All 22 episodes from the tenth season are included in this six-disc set.
Old Boyfriends (1979)
A moving performance by Talia Shire and an insightful script co-written by Paul Schrader anchors this poignant drama that focuses on Dianne Cruise, a psychiatrist feeling unmoored in the wake of a failed marriage. Dianne reconnects with three former loves (John Belushi, Keith Carradine, and Richard Jordan) in the hopes it will help her rediscover herself. But it’s not simply a walk down Memory Lane, as it turns out each man had a less-than-positive effect on her. With John Houseman, Buck Henry
Town Bloody Hall (Criterion Collection)(1979)
In April 1971, a quartet from the intellectual vanguard of Women’s Lib–Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Jacqueline Ceballos, and Diana Trilling–came to New York’s Town Hall to debate one of the movement’s most outspoken nemeses, proudly macho novelist Norman Mailer. Five years later, documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker edited the latter’s footage of the lively proceedings, and this condensation offers a provocative snapshot of a defining era for American feminism.
The Comfort of Strangers (Criterion Collection)(1990)
Masterful psychological thriller centers on young British couple Colin (Rupert Everett) and Mary (Natasha Richardson), who take a Venetian vacation in an effort to give their relationship a needed boost. But when they meet mysterious stranger Robert (Christopher Walken), they are all too easily drawn into his bizarre world. Helen Mirren also stars in this beautifully filmed, erotic excursion from director Paul Schrader and writer Harold Pinter.
Rubin and Ed (1992)
Challenged by his overbearing mom to make one friend, reclusive but gentle misfit Rubin Farr (Crispin Glover) obliged by bringing home aging, scuffling salesman Ed Tuttle (Howard Hesseman)–even if it was just for a high-pressure real estate pitch. Ed’s discovery of the Farr family cat in the freezer, however, sparks an improbable road trip through the Utah desert to give the kitty a proper–if not exactly dignified–burial. Cult comedy also stars Karen Black, Michael Greene, Brittney Lewis.
Clara’s Heart (1988)
Privileged but unhappy preteen David Hart (Neil Patrick Harris, in his screen debut) watched the gulf between his distant parents (Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Ontkean) grow after the SIDS loss of his baby sister. He’d unexpectedly find the nurturing he’d sought in Clara Mayfield (Whoopi Goldberg), the no-nonsense but compassionate Jamaican chambermaid his mother hired as a housekeeper. Robert Mulligan’s moving take on the Joseph Olshan novel co-stars Spalding Gray, Hattie Winston.
Darkness Falls (2020)
L.A. plainclothesman Jeff Anderson (Shawn Ashmore) was understandably broken by the unforeseen suicide of his wife. The department chalked up to grief his insistence that she’d been murdered, and that it had been staged to seem otherwise–and his pursuit of the truth would steer him to a father-and-son team of serial killers (Gary Cole, Richard Harmon) with an unholy agenda. Effective thriller also stars Daniella Alonso, Lin Shaye, Sonya Walger, Judah Mackey. AKA: “Anderson Falls.”
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean Cunningham’s chilling take on, of all things, Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring” still packs a shocking punch. After a gang of drug-dealing sadists murders two teenage girls, they take refuge in a suburban family’s home, unaware it’s the home of one of their victims. When the parents discover the truth, they exact a gruesome revenge. “To avoid fainting, keep repeating: It’s only a movie…It’s only a movie.” David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Sandra Cassel star.
Ice Castles (1978)
Inspirational drama follows a young figure skater as she dreams of competing in the Olympics. Those dreams, however, are put in jeopardy when a freak accident leaves her blind. With the help and support of her coach, family, and loving boyfriend, can she transform her heartbreak into triumph? Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Coleen Dewhurst, Tom Skerritt star.
Batwoman: The Complete First Season (2019)
With neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne having surfaced for three years, the Dark Knight’s cousin–outspoken (and out) heiress Kate Kane (Ruby Rose)–combined her military training and his array of gadgetry to assume his role as Gotham’s masked defender. Acclaimed addition to the CW’s Arrowverse also stars Rachel Skarsten, Camrus Johnson, Megan Tandy, Nicole Kang, and Dougray Scott. All 22 episodes are featured in this five-disc set.
Raid on Rommel (1971)
A British officer (Richard Burton) lands in World War II Libya on a dicey mission: Liberate a transport of commando POWs en route to Tobruk, and then lead them in a strike against the Nazis’ heavy artillery. What are his options when the soldiers he frees turn out to be medics and wounded? Battle saga co-stars John Colicos, Karl-Otto Alberty, and Wolfgang Preiss as Rommel; Henry Hathaway directs.
Pat and Mike (1952)
Shady sports promoter Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy) thought he’d made his greatest find in multi-disciplined college phys-ed teacher Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn). However, does he have the answers for her competitive fires going out whenever her professor fiancé (William Ching) is watching? Comedy highlighted by crisp direction from George Cukor and “cherce” Ruth Gordon/Garson Kanin dialogue also stars Aldo Ray, with early appearances by Charles Bronson, Chuck Connors.
Click here for an overview of all of this week’s new releases.