Weekly DVD Releases

Posted on July 23, 2007
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DVD collectibles released July 24 :
From classic Hollywood there’s “Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Volume 2,” a seven-disc set with single discs of “The Pirate,” “That’s Dancing” and “Words and Music,” double-discs of “That Midnight Kiss” and “Toast of New York,” and “Royal Wedding” and “Belle of New York”; individually for $19.97, the two-disc sets for $24.98 each; the collection will sell for $59.92; from Warner. “The Pirate” (1948) was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in an acrobatic swashbuckler; “That’s Dancing!” (1985) is an extravagant celebration of dance that features some of the greatest dancing screen work, as well as performances that range from Baryshnikov to break dancing, Fred and Ginger to Shirley Temple and Bojangles, and Busby Berkeley spectaculars to Michael Jackson music videos; “Words and Music” (1948) stars June Allyson, Perry Como, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Ann Sothern, Tom Drake, Cyd Charisse, Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Marshall Thompson, Mel Torme, Vera-Ellen and Jeanette Nolan in a fictionalized story of the songwriting partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; “That Midnight Kiss” (1949) and “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950) are Mario Lanza-Kathryn Grayson opera vehicles; “Royal Wedding” (1951), directed by Stanley Donen and starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, is a shipboard dancer and romancer; and in “The Belle of New York” (1952) playboy Fred Astaire falls for mission house worker Vera-Ellen. All the DVDs come loaded with extras.

MGM has two Franks, a queen and a king this week: There’s the “Frank Sinatra Gift Set,” a five-disc set with “Guys and Dolls,” “Hole in the Head,” “Kings Go Forth,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The Pride and the Passion,” $39.98 … the “Frankie & Annette Collection,” a four-disc set with “Beach Blanket Bingo,” “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini,” “Beach Party,” “Bikini Beach,” “Fireball 500,” “Thunder Alley,” “Muscle Beach Party” and “Ski Party,” $39.98 … and the “M-G-M Movie Legends Elvis Collection,” a four-disc set with “Clambake” (1967), “Kid Galahad” (1962), “Follow That Dream” (1962) and “Frankie and Johnny” (1966), $39.99.

Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh! That signature laughter can mean only one thing: One of the most beloved animated characters of all time is coming to DVD for the first time, when “The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection” arrives this week. The original uncut theatrical cartoons — 75 timelessly zany adventures — from the Walter Lantz Studio, starring the ultimate dizzy redhead, voiced by Mel Blanc, are available in a three-disc set for $39.98, from Universal.

There’s two classics from the folks at The Criterion Collection: “Les enfants terribles” and “Ivan’s Childhood.” In “Les enfants terribles” (1950) writer Jean Cocteau and director Jean-Pierre Melville joined forces for an elegant adaptation of Cocteau’s immensely popular, wicked novel about the wholly unholy relationship between a teenage brother and sister. Elisabeth (a remarkable Nicole Stephane) and Paul (Edouard Dermithe) close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their clandestine world — until romance and jealousy intrude. Melville’s operatic camera movements and Cocteau’s perverse, poetic approach to character merge to create one of French cinema’s greatest, and most surprising, meetings of the minds. “Ivan’s Childhood” (1962) was the debut feature from the great Andrei Tarkovsky, an evocative, poetic journey through the shadows and shards of one boy’s war-torn youth. Moving back and forth between the traumatic realities of WWII and the serene moments of family life before the conflict began, Tarkovsky’s film remains one of the most jarring and unforgettable depictions of the impact of violence on children in wartime. Both DVDs are, of course, loaded with extras.

photo The Weinstein Co.’s Dragon Dynasty label will release two early John Woo Hong Kong actioners. “Hard Boiled” (1992), starring Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Teresa Mo, is Woo’s classic acion film. A tough as nails cop teams with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew. Woo elevated violence to an art form with masterful choreography and complex, multi-faceted anti-heroes. The most incredible shoot-out ending (30 minutes’ worth) ever put on film — and it takes place in a hospital. “Last Hurrah for Chivalry” (1979), starring Damian Lau and Pai Wei, is an action-packed tale of a son who recruits two master swordsmen to help avenge his father’s murder. Both titles come with plenty of extras.

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