Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for April 20th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes a thriller every bit as great as Zodiac, a classic western from Anthony Mann, a pair of beloved musicals, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Memories of Murder [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A true story about a serial killer in South Korea.
Why see it? Bong Joon-ho’s second feature is a thriller on par with David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007), full stop. Two cops with differing approaches investigate a series of real-life killings and find suspense, frustration, confusion, and worse along the way. It’s a gorgeously haunting film with one of the memorable final shot of Bong’s career — one that will sit with you for a while after watching. Song Kang-ho stars as one of the detectives, a brute of a man pushed beyond his ability in a quest for a man who continues to slip through his fingers. It’s a powerful stunner, a meticulously crafted investigation that will hold you rapt until its final frame. Criterion’s new release offers up a beautifully restored picture and numerous extras, and all of them are worth devouring.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries, interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Bong Joon-ho, and others, documentary, deleted scenes, short film]
Cast a Dark Shadow / Wanted for Murder
What is it? Two fully restored noirs!
Why see it? Cast a Dark Shadow sees Dirk Bogarde put on his murderin’ shoes as a terrible husband who murders his wealthy wife for her money only to find a snag in his plans once the deed is done. It’s a mean, thrilling little tale as he meets his match in his dead wife’s sister who’s not going down without a fight. Wanted for Murder brings another killer to the screen with the otherwise polite gentleman played by Eric Portman, and once again it’s a smart, tenacious woman who refuses to let his reign of terror continue. There’s nothing beyond genre connecting these two film, but both are welcome additions to any noir-lover’s library.
Doctor X [Warner Archive]
What is it? A scientist uses science for good!
Why see it? A killer stalks the city streets, and when the police sniff around a university for suspects the head of the science department devises a plan to help — he invites his fellow science professors to take part in his own experiment recreating the killings. The roster here makes each of the scientists a likely suspect, and there’s great fun working through the red herrings in search of the truth. Also, and this is no small thing, the killer’s transformation scene is legit terrifying. The disc includes the two-strip color version as well as the purely black & white version which was filmed separately. It’s a good time.
[Extras: Two versions, featurette, commentary]
The Furies [Criterion Collection]
What is it? A family feud erupts over land.
Why see it? Anthony Mann’s big, sprawling western delivers drama and thrills slightly removed from the genre’s norm, but the issues it raises are core to the American West. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a fiery young woman set to inherit her father’s enormous plot of land, but heads butt when her choices in life and love leave the old man cold. Walter Huston is an absolute firecracker of rage, humor, and privilege, the landscape is a sight to behold, and the honest peeks behind the curtain of white westward expansion bring anger and disgust in equal measure. These aren’t good people, but they’re ambitious enough to force their way across a growing nation. Criterion’s new release comes loaded with interesting interviews, but the inclusion of the original novel — in a newly produced paperback — helps make this a beautifully produced must-own release for western fans.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, original novel]
The Mortuary Collection
What is it? An undertaker shares some of his client’s stories.
Why see it? New horror anthologies are always welcome, and Ryan Spindell’s terrific entry into the club brings fun thrills, a handful of surprises, and some laughs alongside its chills. Clancy Brown is a delight as the ancient funeral home director offering a tour to a mysterious job applicant, and while the tales vary in individual quality the overall effect is a wonderfully fun EC Comics vibe. The highlight remains Spindell’s award-winning short involving a babysitter, but the entirety is a good time for horror fans. Hopefully it earns a sequel as it definitely deserves one.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes]
Annie Get Your Gun [Warner Archive]
What is it? The story of Annie Oakley told through bullets and song.
Why see it? This beloved 1950 musical, an adaptation of the smash hit stage show, comes to Blu-ray with colors popping and images as sharp as Annie Oakley’s shooting. Betty Hutton brings the legendary showwoman to life, and it’s all good news for classic musical fans. The rest of us won’t be as enamored as, songs aside, everything else is pretty one-note between the characters and romantic narrative. Still, more people love it than don’t, and for them this is a strong release complete with performances that didn’t make the cut presented as extras.
[Extras: Introduction, outtake musical numbers, audio outtakes]
Broadway Melody of 1940 [Warner Archive]
What is it? The final entry in an iconic film series.
Why see it? MGM’s Broadway melody films began in the late twenties, and while they’re only loosely connected they feel connected through more than their titles. Song and dance are the focus alongside otherwise generic narratives, and here that involves Fred Astaire finding a partner in love and dance with Eleanor Powell. The couple’s dancing is what makes this feature a memorable one as it’s their only pairing, and the two are an effortless delight.
[Extras: Featurette, Our Gang short, cartoon]
Each Dawn I Die [Warner Archive]
What is it? A reporter is framed and finds prison to be hell.
Why see it? Tom Selleck’s An Innocent Man (1989) tackles similar themes with its innocent man stuck behind bars and made witness to the horrifying reality of our justice system, but this late 30s feature is every bit as effective. It can’t be as graphic, obviously, but the true nature of a poorly designed and controlled system comes to stark light here as James Cagney and George Raft struggle to find a way out. More of a drama than a thriller, the film finds moments of power in its condemnation.
[Extras: Documentary, cartoon, featurette, commentary, radio show]
Also out this week:
Body Brokers, Crisis, Green Dolphin Street [Warner Archive], The Lash of the Penitentes