DVDs and streaming for Nov. 24 by Boo Allen
This week, we begin in the shadows:
Dark Film Mysteries: Detour, Woman on the Run, Quicksand, Inner Sanctum, Kansas City Confidential, The Stranger, Fear in the Night, The Strange Woman, The Red House, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Scarlet Street.
Film Chest Media Group has assembled eleven film noir standouts into a single package of three discs. The collection features some familiar titles, but it also holds some lesser known fare along with a few titles that, however interesting, might not match the usual criteria of the genre, such as famed transplanted Austrian director Edgar Ulmer’s Hedy Lamarr vehicle The Strange Woman (99 minutes). The films include well known actors (Mickey Rooney, Joan Bennett, Kirk Douglas, George Sanders, Barbara Stanwyck, and Hedy Lamarr and many recognizable supporting players) appearing in films from top-notch directors, such as Orson Welles’ The Stranger and Fritz Lang’s dark Scarlet Street (102 minutes), starring Edward G. Robinson. All films, unrated and in black and white, were released from 1945 to 1950, except for the slick bank heist saga K.C. Confidential (1952) starring John Payne. Edgar Ulmer also directed the quickly filmed yet tightly structured Detour (67 minutes), in which Al (Tom Neal, whose own personal life was highly troubled) picks up a hitchhiker, only to find himself in a closing trap. Ann Sheridan stars in Woman on the Run (77 minutes) as a woman whose husband has witnessed a gangland murder, sending him on the run with her after him. Mickey Rooney turns in an electric performance in Quicksand (79 minutes) as a car mechanic who takes $20 from the till for an emergency “loan” before finding his troubles snowballing, many due to an avaricious femme fatale (Jeanne Cagney). Inner Sanctum (62 minutes), a quintessential “B” picture, follows a man (Charles Russell) who mistakenly thinks he has left no clues to a murder but winds up isolated and in danger in a small town. Welles directed The Stranger (95 minutes) and plays an ex-Nazi hiding out on a college campus as a professor while being pursued by a government agent (Edward G. Robinson ). Highly popular upon its 1946 release, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (116 minutes) boasts a fine cast (Douglas, Stanwyck, Van Helfin) in its story of an independent businesswoman who unwittingly turns into yet another femme fatale. Also included: Fear in the Night (72 minutes), The Red House (100 minutes),
In Cold Blood (****1/2)
The Criterion Collection has given a 4k digital restoration to writer and director Richard Brooks’ 1967 rendition of Truman Capote’s seminal non-fiction book. Brooks’ chilling portrayal of killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock (Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, respectively) became an instant American classic. The two killers traveled to Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 and brutally murdered the Clutter family, a farmer, his wife, and their two children, in a failed robbery. The film, and Capote’s novel, jumps back and forth to establish the events leading up to the crime, yet Brooks delays the crucial scene until late in the film. Brooks follows the two men as detectives close in for the capture. The director then stays with Dick and Perry during their incarceration before they are eventually led to the gallows. Capote described his journalistic technique as “combining the horizontal linearity of journalism with the verticality of fiction,” thereby taking the reader “deeper and deeper into characters and events.” Everything came together for the film after Brooks rejected Columbia Pictures’ suggestion to cast Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Quincy Jones composed a memorable, nerve-jangling musical score, and Conrad Hall earned an Oscar for his evocative and highly imaginative black and white cinematography. Brooks creates and maintains a real feeling of suspense, while also sustaining the tension, even when we know what will happen.
Not rated, 134 minutes.
Extras: separate interviews with 1. John Bailey about Hall’s cinematography, 2. film historian Bobbie O’Steen on the editing, 3. author Gary Giddins on Quincy Jones’ score, 4. writer Douglass K. Daniel on Brooks and his career, 5. Richard Brooks on a 1988 French TV show, and 6. Truman Capote in two separate interviews featuring a 1966 trip to Holcomb, Kansas and a 1967 sit-down with Barbara Walters. Plus, a 10 page booklet with essay from critic Chris Fujiwara.
This odd but not particularly likable romantic-comedy-mystery stars Onur Tukel, who, not so coincidentally, also wrote and directed. He plays Ron, a New York City high school teacher who seems to be falling apart after he babbles on about an earlier indiscretion on-air to a radio talk show host (over-qualified Dylan Baker). After, Ron begins sporadically receiving severed body parts. At the same time, he feuds with his wife as well as with a student. It’s an empty shaggy dog story that would probably be of no interest if it did not take place in New York City.
Not rated, 91 minutes.
Extras: commentary, 13 minutes of deleted scenes, and nine minutes of bloopers.
Ageless funnyman Paul Rudd stars as the title super-hero in this mostly light-hearted feature based on yet another Marvel Comics character. Rudd plays Scott Lang, a well meaning yet small time burglar who, through circumstances, falls in with outcast genius and entrepreneur Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym has created a suit that Lang wears to shrink himself to the size of ant while also increasing his powers. The plot revolves around some silly corporate shenanigans involving villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). But the narrative simply serves Rudd’s polished off-hand delivery of his abundant comic lines, all while the excellent special effects make small things big and big things small.
Rated PG-13, 117 minutes.
Extras: commentary, a “making of” featurette, a featurette on the special effects, a brief tongue-in-cheek featurette on Pym Industries, deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel.
Also on DVD and streaming: American Ultra, A Hard Day, Shaun the Sheep, The Square.