Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the 12th year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) forever alters his life Extras: TBA. Vitals: Director: Steve McQueen. Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 134 min., Drama, Box office gross: $45.850 million, Fox.
I Am the Law (1938)
In a town rife with corruption, law professor John Lindsay (Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity) is appointed special prosecutor to help clean up the city. Lindsay quickly realizes that not only does he have to deal with gangsters on the streets, but also in his own office, as friends of the mob work within his own department. It is up to Lindsay and his crew of college students to stand up to the mob and clean up the city.
Rings Around the World (1966)
Hosted by Academy Award® winner Don Ameche (1985, Best Supporting Actor, Cocoon) and featuring the greatest circus performers of its time, RINGS AROUND THE WORLD introduces the viewer to the talented individuals who make up the traveling troupes that entertain millions around the world. From trapeze artists to tightrope walkers to tamers of lions and tigers, this film directed by Gilbert Cates (I Never Sang for My Father) shows you the drama, the excitement and the wonder each performer brings to the big top every night.
The Slingshot (1993)
Based on the autobiographical novel by Roland Schutt, THE SLINGSHOT is an endearing coming-of-age drama. Set in 1920s Stockholm, a 12-year-old boy endures the hardships of an unhappy family life by shutting himself away with his inventions . . . one of which is a super slingshot.
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)
At the height of the Chinese Civil War, American missionary Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) arrives in Shanghai to marry another missionary, Robert Strike (Gavin Gordon, The Bride of Frankenstein). As soon as she arrives, however, the couple must save a group of orphans from a fire. Injured and separated from her fiancé, Megan is rescued and taken to the home of General Yen (Nils Asther, Our Dancing Daughters). While Megan and the general grow closer, one of the general’s concubines seems to be secretly working for Yen’s enemies. Directed by the legendary Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life), THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN is a provocative romantic drama.
The Crimson Blade (1964)
In the middle of the English Civil War, a group of rebels led by the traitorous Colonel Judd (Lionel Jeffries, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and his loyal sidekick, Captain Sylvester (Oliver Reed, Gladiator), capture King Charles I. A group of locals loyal to the King, led by The Scarlet Blade (Jack Hedley, For Your Eyes Only) and Judd’s own daughter, Claire (June Thorburn, Tom Thumb), work together to rescue Charles and restore him to the throne.
Movie queen Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce) gives a terrific performance in this chiller from pioneer horror movie producer William Castle (House on Haunted Hill). Crawford plays Lucy Harbin, a woman who goes berserk when she finds her husband in bed with another woman. With her three-year-old daughter accidentally witnessing the grisly act, Lucy axes the couple to death then spends twenty years in a mental institution for the double murder. After she is released, she moves in with her brother (Leif Erickson, On the Waterfront), his wife and her own daughter (Diane Baker, The Silence of the Lambs), now twenty-three. Her nightmare is over…or is it? When a series of ax murders suddenly starts occurring in the neighborhood, police think Lucy has reverted to her old ways. The truth is finally revealed in a rousing, blood-chilling finale.
Cash on Demand (1962)
It’s December 23rd at the City and Colonial Bank, and the staff is preparing for their annual Christmas party. Harry Fordyce (Peter Cushing, Star Wars), the fastidious and exacting bank manager, welcomes in the bank’s insurance company detective, Hepburn (Andre Morell, The Bridge on the River Kwai), to check out the security. It turns out, however, that Hepburn is not working for the bank, but robbing it, and he is holding Fordyce’s family hostage. The bank employees become suspicious, but Fordyce, worrying about his family, does not want them to react in this taut and compelling thriller.
The Lady in Question (1940)
Andre Morestan (Brian Aherne, Juarez) is the owner of a bicycle shop in Paris, serving jury duty for the first time. When Natalie Roguin (Rita Hayworth, Gilda), a homeless girl accused of murder, is found innocent, Andre feels sorry and invites her into his home. Andre’s son, Pierre (Glenn Ford, 3:10 to Yuma, 1957), immediately becomes smitten with Natalie and starts committing small crimes to aid in the couple’s engagement, causing Andre to wonder if Natalie isn’t all that innocent in the first place.
The Miracle Woman (1931)
Florence Fallon (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) is the daughter of a preacher who is about to give his last sermon, but passes away before he gets a chance. Florence stands up in front of the congregation and attacks them, accusing them of not being appreciative of her father and revealing that she has lost her faith. Bob Hornsby (Sam Hardy, King Kong, 1933), a con man, talks Florence into working an angle with him, having Florence perform fake miracles for money. She profits from the racket, but when she meets a blind man (David Manners, Dracula), the two fall in love and she begins to regain her faith. But Bob has plans for Florence, whether she likes it or not. From legendary director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life) comes this potent romantic drama.
The First Time (1952)
Expectant parents Joe (Robert Cummings, Dial M for Murder) and Betsey Bennet (Barbara Hale, TV’s “Perry Mason”) are looking forward to their first baby. But when the little boy arrives, the Bennets are not prepared for the lack of sleep, the nonexistent social life, and the overwhelming cost of raising a child in this very funny comedy that all parents will relate to.
Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey to becoming one of history’s most iconic figures is brought to life in this bio-drama. The film chronicles his early life, education, marriage to Winnie Mandela and 27-year prison sentence before becoming South Africa’s first democratically elected president and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. Extras: “Mandela: The Leader You Know, The Man You Didn’t” featurette, commentary with Director Justin Chadwick. Blu-ray adds behind-the-scenes featurettes and a tribute video gallery. Vitals: Director: Justin Chadwick. Stars: Idris Elba, Naomi Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 141 min., Bio-Drama Box office gross: $8.079 million, The Weinsterin Co./Anchor Bay.
A murder in 1944 draws together the great writers of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. When Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is accepted at Columbia, he finds stuffy tradition clashing with daringly modern ideas and attitudes — embodied by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Lucien is an object of fascination for shy, unsophisticated Allen, and soon he is drawn into Lucien’s hard-drinking, jazz-clubbing circle of friends, including Burroughs (Ben Foster), the dissolute scion of a wealthy family, and David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), an older hanger-on who clearly resents Allen’s position as Lucien’s new sidekick. This true story of friendship, love and murder recounts the pivotal year that changed Ginsberg’s life forever and provided the spark for him to start his creative revolution. Extras: “On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival”; commentary with Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, John Krokidas and Austin Bunn; “In Conversation With Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan”; Q&A with director/co-writer John Krokidas and co-writer Austin Bunn; deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: John Krokidas. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.019 million, Sony.
There’s a pair of outstanding performances in director Jean-Marc Vallee’s (“The Young Victoria”) thoroughly involving “Dallas Buyers Club”: One by Matthew McConaughey, who plays real-life Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, a bull-riding he-man diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985 and given 30 days to live; the other by Jared Leto as Rayon, a transgender AIDS-stricken activist who becomes friends with Woodroof and helps him to accept his plight and the plight of other HIV-infected people — people Woodroof shunned. Because the U.S. government refused to approve medicines that were proven to help hold back AIDS-related illnesses, Woodroof tracked down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal, setting up a Dallas Buyers Club that fellow HIV-positive people could join to get access to needed supplies. As in any film pitting a maverick against the establishment and powers that be, the bad guys (here thick-headed FDA agents, conservative doctors, government lackeys) are exaggerated so you can root for the underdogs (Woodroof and an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts). Woodroof’s crusade had as much to do with money and orneriness as it did for any moral imperative, but his unlikely (and unlikable) character becomes a hero at the film’s endExtras: Deleted scenes, “A Look Inside Dallas Buyers Club.” Vitals: Director: Jean-Marc Vallee. Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Kevin Rankin, Denis O’Hare, Jane McNeill, Griffin Dunne. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 117 min., Drama, Box office gross: $14.257 million, Universal.
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up for an implausible — but straight-ahead — action-adventure about a security expert (Stallone) whose all-consuming job is breaking out of maximum security facilities — on the government’s dime, of course — to test the weaknesses and flaws in the construction and guarding of prisons. When he’s hired to break out of an ultra-secret, high-tech prison called “The Tomb,” he’s deceived and betrayed and finds himself a prisoner in an escape-proof facility. He’s forced to team up with another inmate, an international criminal (Schwarzenegger), to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape. It’s great to see these muscle-bound stars still in action — Stallone is 67, Schwarzenegger 66 — but their stamina kind of belies reality: they’re fighting and beating up guys a third their age. Oh well, if you can overlook that, then you’re in for a fun ride.Extras: Commentary with director Mikael Hafstrom and co-writer Miles Chapman, “Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan” featurette. Blu-ray adds “Maximum Security: The Real-Life Tomb” featurette, “Clash of the Titans” featurette, deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: Mikael Hafstrom. Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Amy Ryan. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., Action, Box office gross: $24.610 million, Lionsgate.
The Coolest Show You’ve Never Seen!
SEARCH, THE COMPLETE SERIES (1972-73) Hugh O’Brian, Doug McClure and Tony Franciosa rotate leads as elite high tech espionage operatives for Probe Division of World Securities Corporation in this spy-sensational SF-flavored actioner from Leslie Stevens (creator, The Outer Limits) and Robert Justman (Producer and one of the guiding lights of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation). Each agent, dubbed a “Probe”, is wired for worldwide surveillance thanks to a Scanner (miniature video camera) and dental/ear implant. Tracking their telemetry and giving real-time mission advice is a team of specialists at Probe Control directed by the brilliant, irascible V.C.R. Cameron (Burgess Meredith). O’Brian plays Lockwood, Probe One, an ex-astronaut. McClure plays CR Grover, Standby Probe, brilliant beachcomber goofball. Franciosa plays Nick Bianco, Omega Probe, a street savvy ex-NYC cop tasked with organized crime capers. The Probes hunt stolen moon rocks, missing agents, a deadly Probe defector and more alongside special guest luminaries like Stefanie Powers, Bill Bixby, Mary Ann Mobley, Sebastian Cabot, Barbara Feldon, Mel Ferrer and Joanna Cameron. Three very different agents, one very out-of-this-world show.
DEAR HEART (1964) The immortal Geraldine Page stars in this uncommon love story about love among the common. Page plays postmistress Evie Jackson, experienced in passion but innocent to real love. Evie is in the big city for the annual postmasters convention and the other conventioneers – especially the married men – expect Evie to keep up her party girl postmaster patronage. Meanwhile, slick womanizing ad exec Don Draper (<–strikethrough) Harry Mork is in town apartment hunting for his new instant family, hot tomato Phyllis (Angela Lansbury) and her son Patrick (Michael Anderson, Jr.). Harry’s eyes may be on the buxom hotel newsstand girl (Barbara Nichols) but fate and his soul steer him towards the perplexing, raw, and enchanting Evie. Full of solid, stolid performances from the stellar support cast led by Lansbury and Ford, the film is Page’s all the way as she steals the picture’s heart, as Evie was meant to. Directed by Delbert Mann. The film’s smash hit theme song by Harry Mancini, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston led to an immediate name change for the film from The Out-of-Towners. A name that would later be put to good use, indeed. 16×9 Widescreen
SMILIN’ THROUGH (1932) Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin’s classic intergenerational romantic drama receives its first sound adaptation courtesy of Sidney Franklin, the helmer of the 1922 Silent version. For this version, Franklin recruits a titanic triple threat trio to portray the triangle at the heart of Smilin’ Through – Norma Shearer, Fredric March and Leslie Howard. Howard plays Sir John Carteret, content to live with the occasional ethereal visitation from his murdered fiancé Moonyeen (Shearer). Fate tosses some life his way with an orphaned niece, Kathleen (also Shearer). But John’s hatred of Jeremy Wayne (March), the man who cost him his bride, extends to his son (also March), the man Kathleen want to marry. And it’s a hate that threatens his celestial connection to Moonyeen, helpless to steer Sir John away from his ruinous hatred.
THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (1934) One of the most famous love stories of the 19th Century – and the inspiration for one of the most enduring love sonnets of all time – comes to vivid life in this stirring romantic melodrama drawn from the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Beset by a series of mystery afflictions, Elizabeth (Norma Shearer) lives the garret life of an invalid. But her mind and heart, through the instrumentality of her poetry, escapes her confines to capture the love of eccentric, impetuous wordsmith Robert Browning who will let nothing stand in the way of his quest to save her. Because standing at the dark core of her affliction is her own father (a chilling Charles Laughton), whose twisted grip on her may prove stronger than all the world’s lyricism and love combined.
ROADBLOCK (1951) Gravel-voiced granite man of noir Charles McGraw stars in this classic flick of crime and passion, taken and shaken with a twist. McGraw plays “Honest” Joe Peters, a Los Angeles based insurance detective gifted with a mind for graft but a soul for the straight and narrow, making him a natural at his job. It all starts to go south when a lithesome low-time chiseler (Joan Dixon) uses him as a soft touch to take an airline for a ride. Joe falls hard for the dame, but she¹s shooting for the World Series and he¹s pitching for the bush leagues. Faster than you can spell ³Walter Neff², Honest Joe is cutting a deal with local racketeer Kendall Webb (Lowell Gilmore) and laying out the greatest train heist of the 20th Century. Unfortunately his insurance detective partner (Louis Jean Heydt) is a straight shooter and Diane¹s heart hides some unexpected turns.
NOCTURNE (1946) Tinseltown tough guy supreme George Raft (Scarface) stars as a rogue detective obsessed with finding the fatale inside a rogue’s gallery of eye-popping pin-ups after a composer’s supposed suicide. Successful songsmith Keith Vincent is a serial seducer of women – all brunettes, all dubbed “Dolores” – and he displays his long line of conquests in a series of portraits on the wall. While composing a kiss-off tune for his latest fling, the haunting “Nocturne”, Vincent learns the true meaning of lady killer. But when all the evidence points to suicide, dogged homicide dick Joe Warne (Raft) isn’t buying it and willing to go to any lengths to prove its murder. His fixation only deepens when he encounters Vincent’s most recent flame, Frances Ransom (Lynn Bari), who appears to command a very high price. Produced by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Joan Harrison.
RED LIGHT (1949) George Raft plays Johnny Torno, a tougher than asphalt character careening between religion and revenge in this taught crime noir character drama produced and directed by Roy Del Ruth. Torno thinks everything’s jake, thanks to the safe return of his brother Jess (Arthur Franz), a young priest, from a POW camp. But trouble’s brewing in the form of ex-employee embezzling book keeper Nick Cherney (Raymond Burr) serving time for sticking his hand into Johnny Torno’s trucking company’s till. Cherney tasks fellow con Rocky (Harry Morgan) with a vengeful plan that sends Joe out to the streets, desperately searching for a missing Bible. Mixing jolts and soul, Red Light features one of Raft’s most nuanced tough guys, buoyed by a stellar support staff including Virginia Mayo, Gene Lockhart, and Barton MacLane.
MYSTERY IN MEXICO (1948) A young Robert Wise (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Sound of Music) directs this mystery noir shot in Mexico City and Cuernavaca. When a diamond necklace goes missing in Mexico, so does the insurance investigator tasked with its retrieval. A second investigator, Steve Hastings (William Lundigan), is summarily dispatched south to retrieve them both. Hastings sets his sights on the missing agent’s sister, Victoria (Jacqueline White), and gets an eyeful – and how!
Not sure where her loyalties lie, Steve sticks close while trolling the backstreets in search of clues thanks to the aid of an ever-so-helpful local driver and guide, Carlos (Tony Barrett). But the land of the Azteca mixes menace and enchantment and Steve and Victoria find themselves swept up into the seductive world of a wealthy night club owner (Ricardo Cortez at his duplicitous best) and his sultry chanteuse (Jacqueline Dalya).
Brother Can You Spare a President?
BROTHER RAT (1938) William Keighley brings John Monks, Jr. and Fred F Finklehoffe’s smash hit Broadway play about a trio of Brother Rats – cadets at the prestigious Virginia Military Institute – to the screen, aided by Richard Macaulay and Jerry Wald’s robust adaptation and the retention of original stage lead Edward Albert (in his film debut). Albert’s Bing has to keep his undercover matrimony and soon-to-be-paternity under wraps until commencement with an assist from Ronald Reagan and Wayne Morris. Jane Wyman and Priscilla Lane play the lovelies that distract the pair of guardian rats from their plans just long enough to land Bing in the really hot water.
BROTHER RAT AND A BABY (1940) This follow-up film finds new father Bing (Edward Albert) in the running for head baseball coach at old alma mater VMI, up against Harley Harrington, nemesis of Brother Rat. Not one to spoil a plot by behaving sensibly, fast talking pal Billy Randolph (Wayne
Morris) summons Bing, bride and baby to the Big Apple so he can cinch the deal. Sensible Dan Crawford’s advice (Ronald Reagan) is ignored while Billy cinches the noose around all three of their necks. And just who will entertain a lovely pair of graduates (Jane Wyman and Priscilla Lane) celebrating in New York? Not… Harley Harrington?
GLICKMAN (2013) Before Marv Albert and Bob Costas, there was Marty Glickman. A gifted Jewish-American athlete who was denied the chance to represent the U.S. at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he went on to become one of the most revered and influential sportscasters in history by pioneering many of the techniques, phrases and programming innovations that are commonplace in sports reporting today. GLICKMAN is the first documentary from writer, producer and director James L. Freedman, who produced Glickman’s late-night sports program on New York radio as a high-school senior. Featuring archival footage and interviews with such notables as Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Bill Bradley, Jim Brown, Frank Gifford, Larry King, Jerry Stiller, New York Giants co-owner John Mara and others, the film tells the story of a man who overcame prejudice to forge a remarkable career and set the gold standard for sports broadcasters past, present and future. 16×9 Widescreen
THE CHESHIRE MURDERS (2013) Featuring exclusive interviews and spanning half a decade, The Cheshire Murders reveals the untold dramas behind the notorious triple homicide that rocked the town of Cheshire, Connecticut. In this quiet suburb, Jennifer Petit and her two daughters, age 11 and 17, were brutally murdered in a home invasion; husband William Petit was the only one to survive. Award-winning filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner interviewed many directly involved with the case who reveal the deep impact of the crime and explore what it means to deliver justice in the wake of such loss. Framed by the media as a parable of good versus evil, the case and its perpetrators became a rallying cry for the death penalty. However, much of the story has been hidden, including systemic breakdowns that failed to prevent the tragedy.
From the Big Screen:
“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Escape Plan,” “About Time” and “Baggage Claim.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
At the top of the list this week is The Criterion Collection’s dual-format (DVD and Blu-ray) edition of “Jules and Jim” (1962). Hailed as one of the finest films ever made, “Jules and Jim” charts, over 25 years, the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession. The legendary Francois Truffaut directs, and Jeanne Moreau stars as the alluring and willful Catherine, whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) into one of cinema’s most captivating romantic triangles. An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, “Jules and Jim” was a worldwide smash in 1962 and remains every bit as audacious and entrancing today. New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include two audio commentaries: one featuring screenwriter Jean Gruault, Francois Truffaut collaborator Suzanne Schiffman, editor Claudine Bouche, and film scholar Annette Insdorf, the other featuring actor Jeanne Moreau and Truffaut biographer Serge Toubiana; excerpts from “The Key to Jules and Jim” (1985), a documentary about author Henri-Pierre Roche and the real-life relationships that inspired the novel and film; interviews with Truffaut, Gruault, and cinematographer Raoul Coutard; segment from a 1969 episode of the French television program “L’invite du dimanche” featuring Truffaut, Moreau, and filmmaker Jean Renoir; excerpts from Truffaut’s first appearance on American television, a 1977 interview with New York Film Festival director Richard Roud; and much, much more.
There’s a pair of 1980s horror films making their debut to Blu-ray this week, courtesy of Shout! Factory’s Scream factory label: “Night of the Demons Collector’s Edition” (1988), in which Halloween party-goers at a deserted funeral home awaken something evil when they decide to have a seance. Stars William Gallo, Hal Havins, Mimi Kinkade, Cathy Podewell and Linnea Quigley. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with new commentary and interviews; and “Witchboard” (1986), in which a Ouija Board brings forth the spirit of a dead 10-year-old boy who develops a sudden taste for violent murder and demonic possession. Stars Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, Burke Byrnes, J.P. Luebsen, James Quinn and Rose Marie. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with new commentary and interviews. Also new to Blu-ray this week: “City of Angels” (1998), starring Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz and Colm Feore in a remake of Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” here about a heavenly angel (Cage) who, when he discovers that he is spotted by a doctor (Ryan) in an operating room, longs to give up his mortality to become human and fall in love; a 10th anniversary edition of “Million Dollar Baby” (2004),directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, with Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman; and “Two Weeks Notice” (2002), starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant — all from warner; and “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” (1958), starring Ingrid Bergman, Curd Jurgens and Robert Donat. From Fox.
From TV to DVD:
Kevin Whately stars as Jimmy Griffin, an ex-detective turned insurance investigator with rakish charm and a wandering eye in “The Broker’s Man, Series 1” (1997), with three feature-length mysteries, on two-disc DVD, $39.99, from Acorn Media … “Burton and Taylor” (2013), starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West, is a bio-drama that follows the private and public relationship of Hollywood’s most famously volatile on-again-off-again couple, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, played out against their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of Noel Coward’s stage play, “Private Lives.” From BBC Home Entertainment … In the TV movie “The Divorce” (2014), starring Vanessa Bell Calloway, Angell Conwell, Tatyaya Ali, Dawnn Lewis, Judy Pace, Freda Payne, Tammi Mac, Keith Burke, Jonelle Allen and Rylan Williams, a successful TV anchorwoman celebrates her recent divorce by throwing herself a divorce party with her closest sorority girlfriends; from One Village Entertainment … “Family Matters: The Complete Fourth Season” (1992-93) is a three-disc set with 24 episodes, $29.98 from Warner … “House of Versace” (2013), starring Gina Gershon, Racquel Welch, Enrico Colantoni and Colm Feore, is a Lifetime Original Movie based on Wall Street Journal reporter Deborah Ball’s book “House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival” that chronicles Donatella Versace’s triumph over tragedy by carrying on Gianni Versace’s (her brother’s) powerful legacy after his 1997 slaying. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate … “Joanie Loves Chachi: The Complete Series” (1982-83) Three-disc set with 17 episodes of the 1960s-set series, a “Happy Days” spin-off, that centered on Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran) and her boyfriend Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio), who move to Chicago and start a rock band, often performing at his family’s Italian restaurant. The series lasted only one season. $29.99 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount … “Laverne & Shirley — The Seventh Season” (1981-82) is a three-disc set with 22 episodes, $42.99. In this, the second-to-last season — and the last official season with Shirley (Cindy Williams) — the half-hour situation comedy follows bright-eyed, naive and demure Shirley Feeney and brassy, tough-talking, street smart Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) date an array of questionable men, tolerate their dippy, loony neighbors Lenny and Squiggy, and forever hope to “make all their dreams come true.” From Paramount … “The Lady Vanishes” (2013), starring Tuppence Middleton and Selina Cadell, is a new “Masterpiece Mystery!” adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1930s thriller in which a beautiful, spoiled young woman risks her life to solve the mysterious disappearance of a woman on a train. From BBC Home Entertainment … The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in “Midsomer Murders, Set 23” (2012), contemporary British television mysteries featuring gorgeous settings and sly British humor. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars Neil Dudgeon as the capable Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, with Jason Hughes as his earnest, efficient protege, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. Three mysteries in a three-disc DVD, $39.99; two-disc Blu-ray, $49.99; from Acorn Media … “The White Queen” (2013) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes of the vivid re-telling of the classic War of the Roses family feud (York vs. Lancaster) from the viewpoint of the women involved. On DVD, $49.98; Blu-ray Disc, $59.99; from Anchor Bay.
A fictional film set in the alluring world of high-stakes scams and politics, loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early ’80s that ensnared East Coast politicians and congressmen in accepting bribes for political favors. “American Hustle” tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), is caught in a loan scam and forced to work for wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting as he attempts to make a name for himself by toppling politicos and gangsters alike. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, a passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator who gets caught between the con artists and Feds and introduces the scammers to New Jersey mobsters. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) ends up having an affair with a mobster, and that relationship helps pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, “American Hustle” defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes. Extras: “The Making of American Hustle” featurette, deleted and extended scenes. Vitals: Director: David O. Russell. Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Rohm, Dawn Olivieri, Jack Huston, Michael Pena. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 138 min., Drama, Box office gross: $132.1 million, Sony.
DR. KILDARE, THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (1962-63) America’s favorite intern, Dr. James Kildare (Richard Chamberlain), returns in the second season of his smash hit NBC series alongside mentor Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Raymond Massey). Thanks to Chamberlain’s and Massey’s able embodiment of the characters originally made famous by Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore, Dr. Kildare soared to smash hit heights. Adding sizzle to the second season is a scorcher of a special full color episode, “The Burning Sky”, with guest star Robert Redford playing an arrogant medical student who loses his nerve during a raging forest fire! Other illustrious guest star making the rounds of Blair General Hospital in this 34-Episode, 9-Disc Collection include Carroll O’Connor, Peter Falk, Robert Culp, Mary Astor, Gloria Swanson, Bill Bixby, John Cassavetes, and Leonard Nimoy!
THE BILL ELLIOTT DETECTIVE MYSTERIES (1955-57) Superstar cowboy actor “Wild Bill” Elliott traded in his boots for gumshoes at Allied Artists for a series of crackling crime dramas playing a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department detective lieutenant Andy Doyle whose dogged determination and canny mind lead him past the obvious suspects to nab the real killers before fade-out. Unhinged war veterans, not-so-innocent blind men, baby racket blackmail, kidnapped cons and careless stranglers all appear in intrepid lieutenant’s case files. Tough guy character actor Don Haggerty appears in the final three films as sidekick Sgt. Mike Duncan.
Two disc, Five-film collection includes:
Dial Red “0” (1955) A traumatized vet triggers a citywide manhunt when he goes AWOL from the bughouse and his soon-to-be-ex-wife gets bumped off. 16×9 Widescreen
Sudden Danger (1955) Lt. Andy investigates a suspicious suicide and the prime suspect is a blind man. 16×9 Widescreen
Calling Homicide (1956) Andy must connect the dots between a cop-killing and a model’s murder. 16×9 Widescreen
Chain of Evidence (1957) Andy comes to the aid of a reform school grad accused of murder. 16×9 Widescreen
Footsteps in the Night (1957) A high-stakes poker game ends in murder – and Lt. Andy must figure out why before he can figure out who. 16×9 Widescreen
HBO’s Greatest Greatest
MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT (2013) Stephen Frears directs this all-star docudrama that looks at the biggest fight of Muhammed Ali’s life – the one he fought outside the ring. When Ali was drafted into the Vietnam War at the height of his boxing career, his claim to conscientious objector status led to a controversial legal battle that rattled the U.S. judicial system right up to the highest court in the land. Starring Christopher Plummer (as Justice John Harlan), Frank Langella (as Justice Warren Burger), Ed Begley, Jr. (as Justice Harry Blackmun), Barry Levinson (as Justice Potter Stewart) and Danny Glover (as Justice Thurgood Marshall). 16×9 Widescreen
MISS YOU CAN DO IT (2013) This uplifting HBO Documentary Film chronicles the efforts of Abbey Curran, a former Miss Iowa USA and the first woman with a disability to compete in the Miss USA Pageant, and eight girls with various disabilities as they participate in the Miss You Can Do It pageant. Created in 2004 by Curran (who has cerebral palsy), Miss You Can Do It offers girls with special needs the opportunity to be celebrated and not defined by what the world sees on the outside. 16×9 Widescreen