I wish I could cover every DVD (well...those that I wanted) on special Tuesday but alas, I don't have the time. And I don't get everything. Nevertheless, some interesting DVD's released this week include Compulsion, Harlan County, U.S.A.: The Criterion Collection, The Longest Day: Special Edition, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, The Seven-Ups and a special edition of Patton.
Also released was the first season of the Shatner/Spader cream dream Boston Legal (read my review here) and as I wrote up a post down, The Boondock Saints in a special edition about as lame as the film itself (read my review).
As for now, three obsessions:
1. The Wrong Man Supremely underrated Alfred Hitchcock film that's possibly the bleakest picture in the filmmaker's canon. Made in 1956 and with actual NYC locations, this docu-drama noir (based on a real story) stars Henry Fonda as a modest musician and husband who's mistaken for a criminal. He's arrested and put through all kinds of legal red tape tortue while humbly maintaing his innocence throughout. And then his poor wife goes crazy. This disturbing picture is brilliant on many levels. The older, angular Fonda is perfectly cast as a shy innocent with a face so tenative and sad, you can understand why others see menace and guilt. In fact, there is something guilty about him, though a tragic, exisistential, free-floating guilt--the kind you feel when desperate, poor and trying to take care of others. His wife (a spectacular Vera Miles) is also consumed with guilt and pressure and dread, enough to lose her mind. Never have you seen people so trapped, literally, and within a system that can pick you up like a little bug, dangle you in the air and just decide when or if to let you go.
2. Fred Astaire doing "Puttin' on the Ritz" from Blue Skies To temper any despair, I usually turn to old movie musicals. I've watched just about everything by that elfin elegant Fred Astaire but I keep looking at this routine (you must watch this) from the otherwise so-so Blue Skies. Sublime, exciting, beautiful and even a little creepy (but in a good way), I absolutely love how this is just so... quintessential. And how does he do that quick pick-up of the cane?
3. A Woman's Face I'm on yet another Joan Crawford kick aided by the arrival of Mommie Dearest Royalty Edition in the mail today. But back to the real Joan. A Woman's Face is a little-seen George Cukor bit of brilliance that showcases Joan in one of her last ravishing roles--and she is truly gorgeous in this picture. But not at first. Playing an unhappy criminal type suffering from serious insecurities due to one half of her face being horribly scarred (she wears a lot of big hats to hide it), Crawford is almost Quasimodo-like, save for the other half of her face being so beautiful. She eventually gets plastic surgery but continues a devious alliance with a wonderfully evil Conrad Veidt resulting in major, major guilt. It's a lovely, poignant performance and Cukor's direction is dark and lurid but almost weirdly forgiving. Pity this has never been released to DVD.