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 27th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes the third Thin Man, a spaghetti western classic in 4K, a recently crowned Best Picture winner, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Quick Change [Warner Archive]
What is it? A trio of bank robbers struggle to get away with the loot.
Why see it? Bill Murray only directed a single film, this one, and it is a comic masterpiece. He co-directed it with Howard Franklin, who also wrote the film, and it’s an absolute gem of a movie. Murray is introduced as a clown, the crying on the inside kind, obviously, and along with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid he executes a perfectly plotted bank robbery. The fun continues, though, as they try to escape a city that keeps throwing oddballs, bad luck, and eccentricities in their way. This movie is hilarious, eminently quotable, and finally on Blu-ray.
Another Thin Man [Warner Archive]
What is it? Nick and Nora are at it again.
Why see it? Few franchises are bursting with quality like The Thin Man series of films from the 30s and 40s. Yes, the earlier titles are the best of the bunch, but even later ones manage charm and laughs. This third entry in the series is one of the great ones as the happily married couple — and new parents — find themselves enmeshed in another murder mystery. The dialogue is fast and snappy, the characters are lively and colorful, and the mystery is another wonderful, breezy romp through seedy suspects and cocktail concoctions.
[Extras: Short, cartoon]
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [4K UltraHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Three men pursue a fortune in the wreckage of the Civil War.
Why see it? Sergio Leone’s filmography includes several westerns, a few of which should be labeled as classics, but this 1967 effort is arguably his best among them. Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach take on the title roles, Ennio Morricone delivers the unforgettable score, and Leone goes out of his way to highlight the beauty and ugliness of the old west from landscapes to grizzled faces in closeup. At over two and a half hours long it’s a film that never grows tiresome, and even on rewatch it delivers more than enough thrills, character, and excellence to make each watch a fresh one.
[Extras: New 4K, commentary, documentaries, interviews, deleted scenes]
Let it Ride [Imprint Films]
What is it? A hot tip at the horse track leads to an eventful day.
Why see it? Why this wasn’t a big hit and currently regarded as one of the best comedies of the 80s is beyond me. Richard Dreyfuss headlines an incredibly smart, wickedly funny, and highly affecting comedy about one man’s lucky day, and the supporting cast is equally strong. Teri Garr, David Johansen, and Meg Tilly are all good fun, and big laughs come even as the film is also ratcheting up the suspense with the races. It’s just an absolutely delightful romp, and Imprint’s new disc adds a couple extras offering a glimpse into its production including thoughts from the director who doesn’t like it nearly as much as I do. Pick this one up, people — it’s region free!
[Extras: Commentary, interview, deleted scenes]
The Mothman Prophecies [Imprint Films]
What is it? An urban legend finds the truth.
Why see it? Mark Pellington’s thriller explores an urban legend believed by some to be real, and the resulting film manages some real chills as it brings the story to life. It helps that Richard Gere and Laura Linney are fantastic actors who easily sell the supernatural elements and the drama. Unlike most urban legends, this one goes beyond being about merely a creature and instead finds its greatest terror in a grander threat. It’s fascinating stuff, and while the film hits a hiccup or two with some dated optical effects, its horror comes through. Imprint’s new Blu-ray includes a bevy of extras on the film’s production, but just as interesting are the documentaries on the Mothman’s real-life details.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes, music video, deleted scenes, documentaries]
What is it? An unhoused woman goes where the jobs are in America.
Why see it? Chloe Zhao’s affectingly honest look at today’s reality for far too many citizens of the United States just won the Academy Award for Best Picture this past weekend, and that’s a good thing as it’s the best film of 2020. Frances McDormand stars as a widow who lives in her van and travels throughout the year where the work is, from an Amazon warehouse to other communities. She has friends and acquaintances along the way, but there’s a trauma hanging over it all. We the people need to do so much better for those around us.
[Extras: Featurette, Q&A, deleted scenes]
Scarface [Imprint Films]
What is it? A gangster’s rise and fall.
Why see it? The story of Tony Camonte is well known to film fans even if the version they’re most used to features Al Pacino in the title role. This early 30s incarnation, though, is well worth your time as it delivers a still compelling tale — albeit with the theatrics toned down a bit. Paul Muni plays the gangster here, and he gives an engaging performance. A bad guy whose methods are shameful but whose motivation is, well maybe not inspiring, but fascinating to watch all the same. Action beats and set-pieces work well, Boris Karloff pops in for a bit, and it all leads to a suitable finale.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, theatrical and censored versions, alternate ending]
Switchblade Sisters [Arrow Video]
What is it? A girl gang wreaks havoc!
Why see it? The great Jack Hill (Spider Baby, Foxy Brown) directed this girls gone wild romp about warring gangs and violent brawls on the city streets, and it’s a 70s style blast. The dialogue is exaggerated and over the top, the banter is crassly humorous, the fights are nasty and bloody, and it’s all in service of exploitation. Arrow’s new Blu-ray looks damn good and comes with numerous extras that shine a light on the film’s production and lasting legacy. But yes, you’ll want to flip around that cover art to the original on the backside.
[Extras: Commentary, documentaries, interviews]
Battle Hymn [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man seeks atonement in the face of war.
Why see it? Rock Hudson stars as a military man who moves towards religion after taking on the burden of accidentally killing dozens of children in a bombing mission, but fate pulls him back to conflict as Korea heats up. There’s a visible pain in Hudson’s performance as a man weighed down by guilt and trauma, and it works well to build him into a man capable of stepping up when necessary. The film blends his drama with some solid set-pieces to deliver an entertaining tale of war and humanity.
Deep Blood [Severin Films]
What is it? A shark stalks the Florida waters!
Why see it? Shark attack cinema is a sub-genre close to my heart, but when entries are bad they’re very bad indeed. This 1990 effort from Joe D’Amato shows very little effort at all and actually commits the cardinal sin of animal attack flicks in that it’s incredibly boring. The characters are all dull, the script is flat and uninteresting, and the shark sequences are a lazy mash up of outside footage and characters flopping around in the water. The end is also so anticlimactic as to be almost impressive in its lack of thrills.
[Extras: New 2K scan]
A Lovely Way to Die [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bodyguard falls for the woman he’s guarding.
Why see it? Kirk Douglas is the main reason to watch this light-hearted caper as he’s clearly having a blast here. He plays a cop who takes on a bodyguard position with the recently widowed Sylva Koscina, but his efforts to protect her are complicated by lust and deceit — his and hers, respectively. Douglas feels a few years too old for the sexy shenanigans, but he does good work showing his action chops alongside a pretty simple plot.
Regarding Henry [Imprint Films]
What is it? A ruthless lawyer is injured and becomes a new man.
Why see it? The great Mike Nichols and writer JJ Abrams deliver a fable-like tale of a cruelly selfish man whose life-altering injury leaves him simpler, nicer, and arguably better? It’s a tough line to tow, and while the film doesn’t quite succeed without getting weighed down in its own soapy melodrama, it’s made more than watchable thanks to leads Harrison Ford and Annette Bening. You believe their love and struggle, and that’s enough to carry you through the sappiness.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
The Time Travelers [Scorpion]
What is it? Scientists travel into the future!
Why see it? This mid 60s sci-fi romp displays more than a little creativity with its story about three scientists and a sidekick who open a portal into the future and then walk right through it. Fools! It’s a future Earth devastated by man’s idiocy, and while mutated humans roam above the normies huddle in style below alongside some creepy looking robots. It’s silly at times, but the visuals and characters are entertaining enough to keep things moving quickly with both thrills and spills.
Timeline [Imprint Films]
What is it? Scientists travel into the past.
Why see it? Michael Crichton’s filmography is filled with some memorable blockbusters, but for every Jurassic Park there’s a Congo… or a Timeline. It feels like an Assassin’s Creed adaptation — made years before that game ever saw the light of day — as Paul Walker, Gerard Butler, and others head into the past for adventures. It’s silly, and there’s some minor fun to be had, but it’s not a movie you’d call good. not even Richard Donner’s direction can make it anything more than goofy entertainment.
[Extras: Featurettes, interviews]
The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan [Imprint Films]
What is it? A woman visits the past and falls in love, but is it only a dream?
Why see it? The following year’s Somewhere in Time would go on to steal its thunder, but this feature walks in some similar ways with its time-crossed lovers. Lindsay Wagner the woman whose visits to the past see her falling in love, and while there’s minor drama as well the focus here is the romance, pure and simple. It’s a softly photographed love story that ends as well as it can.
Werewolves on Wheels [Code Red]
What is it? A biker gang tangles with evil!
Why see it? This is a fun slice of 70s action/horror pairing biker hijinx with a religious cult, and the outcomes involves, you guessed it, freaking werewolves! It makes for some entertaining action set-pieces as the various genre elements come together with energy and a clear love for these miscellaneous exploitation strands. The film does a good job hitting each of the elements — the bikers, the cult, and the werewolves — and then bringing them together. The early 70s man, what a time.
Also out this week:
The Cellar [Vinegar Syndrome], Donnie Darko [4K UltraHD Arrow Video], Irma Vep [Criterion Collection], Last Gasp [Vinegar Syndrome], Rush Week [Vinegar Syndrome], Vanquish