DVD collectibles released July 31:
“The Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 4”is a surprise package from Warner Home Video: a boxed five-disc set featuring 10 examples (two films per disc) of classic film noir, some of which have been pretty hard to come by prior to this. The complete set sells for $59.92; each two-film set will be sold separately for $20.97. The offerings include Nicholas Ray’s creepy and violent story of doomed love “They Live By Night” (1948), starring Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell and Howard da Silva, teamed with Anthony Mann’s equally gritty 1950 New York City set crime drama “Side Street,” about a postman who steals the wrong letter, also starring Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell; post-World War II revenge thriller “Act of Violence” (1948), directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Van Heflin, Janet Leigh and Robert Ryan, paired with John Sturges’ procedural thriller “Mystery Street” (1950), about a Boston cop trying to solve a mystery around a skeleton found on Cape Cod, starring Ricardo Montalban and Bruce Bennett; “Illegal” (1955) stars Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch and Hugh Marlowe in a thriller about a D.A.whose career unexpectedly collapses and who turns to defending criminal lowlifes, teamed with “The Big Steal” (1949), directed by Don Siegel, which has Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer speeding along Mexican roadways in pursuit of a grifter who has a suitcase that may be stuffed with cash; legendary director Andre de Toth was at the helm of “Crime Wave” (1954), an outstanding but little-known L.A. noir about three escaped convicts from San Quentin who rob a gas station and kill a motorcycle cop, starring Sterling Hayden, paired with forgotten film “Decoy” (1946), in which a drop-dead gorgeous dame Margo Shelby, played by British newcomer, Jean Gille, revives her gangster boyfriend after he dies in the gas chamber, not because she’s so fond of him, but because he knows where the loot is buried; and “Where Danger Lives” (1950), starring Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue and Claude Rains in a tale about a doctor smitten with desire for a beautiful patient who’s brought in after an attempted suicide, who journeys with her to Mexico, leaving behind her husband’s corpse, with “Tension” (1950), starring Richard Basehart, Audrey Totter, Cyd Charisse, Barry Sullivan and William Conrad in a thriller abaout a woman who leaves her mousy but devoted spouse for another man, with dire consequences. All the discs have plenty of extras: commentaries, trailers and featurettes.
“20 Million Miles to Earth: 50th Anniversary Edition” (1957) stars William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia John Zaremba in a fun sci fi outing about a creature from Venus who terrorizes Rome. The Two-disc edition of one of the earliest films by stop-motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen. Extras include commentary by Harryhausen, visual effects artists Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett, and producer Arnold Kunert; “Remembering 20 Million Miles to Earth”; “Tim Burton Sits Down With Ray Harryhausen”; more, from Sony.
“I yam what I yam, and that’s all I yam”: Created by the legendary Max Fleischer, Popeye the Sailor was introduced to American audiences in 1933 and became one of the most endearing and successful characters in animation history, mainly because of his unique vernacular and hilarious catch phrases. His adventures were strange, humorous and often supernatural as he traveled all over the world to resolve conflicts with enemies. Much like the other animation icons of the 1930s, the Popeye plots invoked traditional values, possessed uncompromising moral standards and resorted to force only when threatened. A softie for his lady love Olive Oyl, Popeye usually embarked on conflicts with villains like Bluto and Sea Hag when they made a move on his “sweet patootie.” Popeye was usually clobbered at first, until he ate his spinach and gained superhuman strength to defeat his opponent. With his enormous muscular forearms and corncob pipe in mouth, Popeye was always victorious. “Popeye The Sailor 1933-1938 Volume 1” is a four-disc set that includes more than nine hours of cartoons: 58 (7- to10-minute) theatrical black-and-white-shorts and two two-reeler 20-minute color cartoons, all remastered; $64.92 with tons of extras, from Warner.