DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: ZORRO (Somerville House)
Following in the steps of Douglas Fairbanks (see below) and Tyrone Power, Alain Delon dons the mask of the swashbuckling hero in this zesty 1975 adventure with a distinctly spaghetti- Western flavor — no surprise as it was filmed in Spain by old hand Duccio Tessari.
Delon’s Don Diego poses as the new governor of Nueva Aragon, a territory ruled by the corrupt Col. Huerta (Stanley Baker) and his military might. Delon is great fun playing both the foppish governor and the fearless Zorro, who quickly rouses the support of the local peasantry with his heroic antics.
Naturally, it all culminates in a climactic duel between Zorro and Huerta, and it’s an absolute humdinger. This was the final feature for Baker, who died of cancer in 1976 at age 49, and it’s a great one to go out on. His ruthless intensity as Huerta is a perfect counterpoint to Delon’s heroic chivalry as Zorro. In a film like this, the villain is just as important as the hero. In this film, both hero and villain are first-rate. Love the theme song, too!
The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.98. Rated PG.
12 CHRISTMAS WISHES FOR MY DOG (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Elisa Donovan headlines this G-rated yuletide comedy as a young woman trying to both improve her life and find her dog before the holidays. The DVD retails for $26.98.
THE ADVENTURES OF SCOOTER THE PENGUIN (Entertainment One): The popularity of penguins marches on with this self-explanatory animated feature ($14.98 retail) about a fleet-footed young penguin.
ANNIE CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (Sonar Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Maria Thayer plays the title role in this live-action Hallmark Channel yuletide comedy as Santa’s daughter, spreading Christmas cheer in Los Angeles. Vivica A Fox and Vicki Lawrence co-star under Kevin Connor’s direction. The DVD retails for $14.93.
BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA 3 (Walt Disney Studios): George Lopez provides the voice of Papi in the latest installment of the family-friendly canine-comedy franchise, also featuring the voices of Odette Annable, Tom Kenny and Miguel Ferrer. Available as a single DVD ($29.99 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.99 retail), or a DVD/Blu-ray/digital copy combo ($44.99). Rated G.
“BIG JOHN, LITTLE JOHN”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (VCI Entertainment): Herb Edelman and Robbie Rist play the title roles in all 13 episodes from the 1976 (and only) season of the live-action NBC Saturday-morning comedy series, produced by Sherwood Schwartz (of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Brady Bunch” fame) about a middle-aged teacher who turns into his 12-year-old self.
THE CHRISTMAS PAGEANT (Sonar Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Melissa Gilbert stars in this top-rated Hallmark Channel comedy as a famous Broadway director struggling to make the transition in helming a small-town holiday pageant, for whom she was recommended by her still-interested ex-husband (Robert Mailhouse). Edward Herrmann, Alex Hyde- White and Candice Azzara co-star. The DVD retails for $14.93.
DARK STAR (VCI Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($19.99 retail) of the “Thermostellar Edition” of John Carpenter’s lovably haphazard 1974 feature debut, a sci-fi spoof about the lackadaisical crew of a spaceship that blows up rogue planets. Rated G.
“DORA THE EXPLORER: DORA’S FANTASTIC GYMNASTICS ADVEN- TURE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($16.99 retail) of three episodes from the long-running, award-winning cartoon series about the adventures of a young girl (voiced by Kathleen Herles) with a highly active imagination. Nickelodeon/Paramount has also released a new animated feature, “Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Royal Rescue” ($14.99 retail) featuring the voices of Andy Garcia and Placido Domingo.
THE MARK OF ZORRO (Alpha Home Entertainment): Douglas Fairbanks plays the crafty, cunning swordsman in this silent 1920 version of the popular adven ture saga, in which he battles corruption and oppression in 19th century Spanish California. Fairbanks’ acrobatic abilities still impress, nearly a century later.
“THE MONSTER SQUAD”: THE COM- PLETE SERIES (VCI Entertainment): Not to be confused with the 1987 cult film, this DVD compilation ($19.99 retail) is of all 13 episodes from the 1976 (and only) season of the live-action NBC Saturday-morning series in which the classic monsters (Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster) come to life to battle crime. Pre- ”Love Boat” and pre-House of Representatives Fred Grandy plays their keeper.
“MY FIRST COLLECTION”: VOLUME 4, FEATURING ROBOT ZOT (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): A three-DVD collection ($24.95 retail) boasting 12 children’s stories: “Robot Zot!… and More Rhyming Stories,” “Too Many Toys… and More Stories About Problem Solving,” and “The Curious Garden… and More Stories About Nature.” The individual DVDs are also available, each retailing for $12.95.
LA PASTORELA (VCI Entertainment): A Latin-themed, musical version of the Christmas fable The Shepherd’s Tale, adapted and directed by Luis Valdez, originally broadcast in 1991 on PBS’ “Great Performances,” featuring songs by Los Lobos and an all-star cast: Linda Ronstadt, Cheech Marin, Robert Beltran, Don Novello, Freddie Fender, Miguel Sandoval and Lupe Ontiveros (who died earlier this year). The special-edition DVD retails for $14.99.
PAWN’S MOVE (VCI Entertainment): Tyler Roberds is the likably bumbling protagonist of this mild but well-intentioned faith-based drama, as a young man who reassess his life after unexpectedly inheriting a financial windfall. Appealing Jami Harris plays the object of Roberds’ affections.
“POUND PUPPIES: SUPER SECRET PUP CLUB” (Hasbro/Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($12.99 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated children’s series based on the popular toy line and broadcast on the Hub. The star-studded voiceover cast includes Eric McCormack, M. Emmet Walsh, Michael Rapaport, Alanna Ubach, John DiMaggio, Rene Auberjonois and Betty White.
A PRINCESS FOR CHRISTMAS (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Actorturned-director Michael Damian wrote and produced (with wife Janeen) this pleasant enough holiday comedy, with Katie McGrath as a woman who travels to England with her orphaned nephew and niece (Travis Turner and Leilah De Meza) to meet their estranged grandfather (the ageless Roger Moore), a wealthy duke who wants to reunite the family. Sam Heugham, Charlotte Salt and Miles Richardson (as the obligatory poker-faced butler) round out the cast.
“PRIVATE PRACTICE”: THE COM- PLETE FIFTH SEASON (ABC Studios): The doctors are on call, headed by Kate Walsh, in all 22 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the award-winning ABC medical drama, created by Shonda Rhimes and spun off from “Grey’s Anatomy.” Benjamin Bratt, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, KaDee Strickland, Amy Brenneman and Brian Benben round out the regular cast. The five-DVD boxed set retails for $39.99.
“SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: IT’S A SPONGEBOB CHRISTMAS!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): The title tells all, the DVD retails for $14.99, and John Goodman provides the voice for Santa Claus.
VAMPIRE DOG (Entertainment One): Corny kiddie comedy with Norm MacDonald providing the voice of the title pooch, who feeds on red jelly and is adopted by a lonely boy (newcomer Collin MacKechnie). A few in-jokes (the setting is “Lugosi County” — get it?) and decent work by MacKechnie and Julia Sara Stone (also in her screen debut) aren’t enough.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.