DVD Review: DVDs Honor the Big One
By Glenn Abel
Memorial Day gets an extra-crisp salute from the DVD supply sergeants this year, with several important WWII titles getting upgrades. Here are five of the best releases:
"The Dirty Dozen" -- There's a great yarn behind this 1967 macho touchstone. The extras on Warner's special edition focus on director Robert Aldrich, who was set on making a mainstream anti-war movie. A solid 2006 documentary tells how Aldrich carpet-bombed the heroic conventions of American war films. Actor Donald Sutherland recalls: "He wanted to make a war film that was ugly. That was brutal and vicious. And nobody was good." The Dirty Dozen's massacre of trapped Nazi officers and their wives served as commentary on Vietnam and its atrocities, with gasoline standing in for napalm. Good video quality and a high-energy audio mix. Disc 2 the 1985 TV movie "The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission."
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" -- Remember this movie; forget "Pearl Harbor." Fox has rereleased the outstanding 1970 film that covers Dec. 7, 1941, from both the U.S. and Japanese sides. Richard Fleischer provides most of the direction, with Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda handling Japanese sequences. The Fox DVD's upgrades appear limited to the extras, which address the historical questions raised by the film. Pounding 4.1 audio and decent but unexceptional video. Fox also upgraded "The Longest Day" and "Patton," just in time for June 6. All three titles go from single- to double-disc presentations, with some extras ported over. "The Longest Day" gets a more relaxed aspect ratio than on the previous release. "Patton's" numerous upgrades include an intro and feature-length commentary by screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola.
"Decision Before Dawn" -- Offbeat and emotionally involving tale of German turncoats spying for the Yanks in the closing days of WWII. Largely forgotten, this intelligent thriller captured a best picture Oscar nomination in 1951. Stars Richard Basehart, Garry Merrill and Oskar Werner. Directed by Anatole Litvak. No extras on this Fox "Heroes of War" series title other than an odd news clip about the film getting an award.
Glenn Abel is Executive Editor, Electronic, at The Hollywood Reporter
Reprinted, with permission, from The Hollywood Reporter
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