DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (Shout! Factory)
Director John Sturges capped off his career with this colorful 1977 adaptation of Jack Higgins’ novel — a rousing, rip-roaring World War yarn that adds a bit of speculation (read: dramatic license) to history.
Col. Max Radl (Robert Duvall in an eyepatch) is charged with overseeing a plot to abduct Winston Churchill. To this end, he recruits Liam Devlin (Donald Sutherland), an expatriate IRA operative, and crack team of German commandos led by Col. Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine) to infiltrate a sleepy village in the English countryside where Churchill is scheduled to visit.
Some viewers may take umbrage that the film’s main characters are working on behalf of the Third Reich, but this is after all a work of fiction — albeit a credible and suspenseful one. The entire cast is excellent, including Anthony Quayle, Donald Pleasence, Jenny Agutter, Jean Marsh, Treat Williams, John Standing, Sven-Bertil Taube and Larry Hagman, the latter particularly good as a blowhard American colonel who makes a precarious situation even worse.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $24.97. Rated PG.
“BONNIE & CLYDE: THE REAL STORY” (LionsGate) A self-explanatory DVD collection ($14.98) of two History Channel documentaries about notorious Depression-era gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow: Bonnie & Clyde: The Story of Love and Death and Man, Moment, Machine: Hunting Bonnie and Clyde.
“THE DEAN MARTIN CELEBRITY ROASTS”: COMPLETE COLLECTION (Star Vista Entertainment/Time Life): A self-explanatory 25-DVD collection ($249.95 retail) containing all 54 roasts from the long-running series of NBC prime-time specials hosted by Dean Martin, with a stellar lineup of guests including John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr., James Stewart, Redd Foxx, George Burns, Jonathan Winters and even Ronald Reagan.
DEATH BY CHINA (Area23a): Martin Sheen narrates Peter Navarro’s thoughtprovoking and depressing documentary about the escalating trade imbalance between China and the United States, featuring interviews with politicians, journalists and trade activists.
DECEPTIVE PRACTICE: THE MYSTER- IES AND MENTORS OF RICKY JAY (Kino Lorber): The title tells all in producer/director Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein’s fun, ingratiating documentary about the career of actor/author/magician Ricky Jay. A real treat (replete with tricks), that leaves you wanting more.
DRUG WAR (Well Go USA Entertainment): Filmmaker Johnnie To’s R-rated crime thriller (originally titled Du zhan) stars Louis Koo as a drug baron forced to go undercover as a police informant. In Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Herman Yau’s PG-13-rated follow-up to 2010’s The Legend is Born: Ip Man, starring Anthony Wong in the title role of a renowned, real-life martial-arts master reluctantly called back to action in post-war Hong Kong. Originally titled Yip Man: Jung gik yat jin. In Cantonese with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
“KINO CLASSICS” (Kino Lorber): A pair of digitally remastered suspense thrillers: The Stranger (1946) starring Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young and director Orson Welles, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Motion Picture Story; and 1953’s The Hitchhiker, directed by actress Ida Lupino and starring Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy and Wiliam Talman. Each DVD retails for $24.95, each Blu-ray for $29.95. Both films:
A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Joseph L. Mankiewicz took home the 1949 Oscars for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for this quintessential Hollywood melodrama starring Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain and Ann Sothern in the title roles, backed by Kirk Douglas, Jeffrey Lynn and Paul Douglas (in his film debut). Additional Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The new Blu-ray retails for $24.99.
“NAKED CITY”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Image Entertainment): A massive, 29-DVD boxed set ($179.98 retail) featuring all 138 episodes from the entire run (1958-’63) of the award-winning ABC crime drama detailing the actions of the officers and detectives of New York City’s 65 th Precinct. Narrated by Lawrence Dobkin, the regular cast included John McIntire, Horace McMahon, James Franciscus, Paul Burke and Harry Bellaver. Guest stars included a compendium of Hollywood veterans and future stars, including Gene Hackman (he’s first because he’s best), Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Mickey Rooney, James Coburn, Jon Voight, Walter Matthau, James Caan, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Vic Morrow, Robert Loggia, Diahann Carroll (who earned an Emmy nomination), and many more. The series won the Emmy in 1963 for Outstanding Achievement for Cinematography in Television, as well as a nomination for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama.
ORCHESTRA OF EXILES (First Run Features): Josh Aronson’s documentary feature traces the efforts of Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman to transport Jewish musicians to Palestine during World War II, where they would eventually form the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The story is engrossing and inspiring, the music selections appropriate and lovely, but the video and audio re-enactments are distracting.
“!RELEASED! THE HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERTS 1986-1998” (Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this six-DVD, two-CD collection ($59.98 retail) of the international concerts presented on behalf of Amnesty International over the years, featuring performances by the likes of U2, Peter Gabriel, the Police, Bob Geldof, Miles Davis, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Youssou N’Dour, Radiohead, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and many more. The CD retails for $19.88.
SHOOT THE SUN DOWN (Kino Lorber): A restored director’s cut of a PG-rated 1978 Western that suffered spotty theatrical distribution despite a cast including Christopher Walken, Margot Kidder and Geoffrey Lewis. To date, the only feature by director/co-screenwriter David Leeds. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (Timeless Media Group): Lee Marvin and Roger Moore team up for director Peter Hunt’s sprawling 1976 saga set in pre-World War I Africa, as poachers pitted against the encroaching Germans. Robust adventure tempered with broad comedy, courtesy Marvin’s expansive turn. Barbara Parkins is a little stiff as Marvin’s daughter and Moore’s love interest, but Moore and Ian Holm (as Marvin’s mute sidekick) are in top form. Rated PG.
SLIGHTLY SINGLE IN L.A. (Well Go USA Entertainment): Lacey Chabert can’t find Mr. Right in this bland romantic comedy that plays like a bad episode of “Friends,” despite a cast including Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Kip Pardue, Haylie Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Mircea Monroe, Simon Rex and Chris Kattan. Chabert’s perky narration is insufferable.
“SONS OF ANARCHY”: SEASON FIVE (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Life’s rough, on and off the road, in all 13 episodes from the 2012 season of the award-winning FX Network series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Mark Boone Junior and series creator Kurt Sutter (Sagal’s real-life husband). The DVD boxed set retails for $59.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $69.99.
“WW II: 3-FILM COLLECTION” (LionsGate): A self-explanatory boxed set ($24.98 retail) of three full-length History Channel documentaries: WW II in HD, WW II in HD: The Air War and WW II from Space.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.