From the Big Screen:
“Still Alice,” “Mortdecai” and “Blackhat.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
Heading up the releases this week are two blasts from the past, both from TV:
Culled from over 1,000 hours of classic television from 1948 to 1971, this new, six-disc collection of “The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show” ($59.95) delivers unforgettable performances and rare appearances from the biggest names in music, comedy and variety: Includes rare appearances by Barbra Streisand, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire; rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Byrds, Janis Joplin; comedic talents Milton Berle, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, the Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson; classic Broadway performances from “My Fair Lady,” “Man of la Mancha” and “West Side Story”; the best of the daring acrobats, challenging balancing acts and dexterous jugglers, selected by Sullivan as his personal favorites; Zippy the roller-skating chimp, Heidi the Talking Dog, the legendary Lipizzaner stallions and more than a dozen other amazing animal acts; Sullivan in a rare comic sketch with comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The DVD set includes the only surviving on-camera interview with Ed and Sylvia Sullivan; exclusive interviews with Milton Berle, Phyllis Diller, Shari Lewis, Johnny Mathis, Michelle Phillips, Joan Rivers, Smokey Robinson, Senor Wences, Flip Wilson and more. From StarVista Entertainment/Time Life … If you want a slightly modified version of the best of Ed Sullivan, then try “The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show: Unforgettable Performances.”This single disc hosted by Carol Burnett features the very best of the sensational talent that Sullivan gathered over the years, including Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, influential performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr, comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, rare performances from Barbra Streisand and Bobby Darin and more. $12.99 from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life … Nest up is “The Midnight Special,” a three-disc set with more than four hours of classic performances from the 1970s groundbreaking late-night live TV show. A cultural phenomenon and visual spectacle, “The Midnight Special” was the show to watch for incredible live performances by the biggest music acts of the 70s. From rock and pop to R&B and country, millions of music fans faithfully tuned in every week for the sounds, the fashions, the humor … and the crazy hair. Among the many highlights of the set are an incredible 7+ minute “Moondance” performance featuring Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Etta James, George Benson and Dr. John; as well as Heart pounding out “Crazy on You,” Steely Dan reeling off “Reeling in the Years” and “Do it Again,” and Jim Croce performing his 1972 hit “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels).” Other live performances include (in alphabetical order): Bay City Rollers: “Saturday Night,” Glen Campbell: “Southern Nights,” Charlie Daniels Band: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Christopher Cross: “Sailing,” Natalie Cole: “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” Earth, Wind & Fire: “Shining Star,” Aretha Franklin: “Something He Can Feel,” Gloria Gaynor: “I Will Survive,” Heart: “Crazy On You,” Etta James & Dr. John: “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Barry Manilow: “Mandy”: “It’s a Miracle,” Dolly Parton: “Jolene”: “I Will Always Love You,” REO Speedwagon: “Keep on Loving You,” Linda Ronstadt: “You’re No Good,” Carlos Santana & George Benson: “Breezin’,” Spinners: “Could it Be I’m Falling in Love,” Donna Summer: “Love to Love You Baby,” Wild Cherry: “Play the Funky Music.” On DVD, $29.95 from StarVista Entertainment/Time Life.
Two classics make their way to home theaters this week:
“Make Way for Tomorrow” (1937), by Leo McCarey (“An Affair to Remember”), is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring’s selfish whims. An inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story,” this is among American cinema’s purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure. In a new Blu-ray release, in a high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras include “Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today,” an interview from 2009 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of McCarey and “Make Way for Tomorrow”; a video interview from 2009 with critic Gary Giddins, in which he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film; a booklet featuring essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and Family Values.” From The Criterion Collection … The folks at Cohen Film Collection are offering up the Blu-ray debut of“Jamaica Inn” (1939), starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Marie Ney, Leslie Banks and Robert Newton. Alfred Hitchcock’s visually inventive film, seen for years in substandard prints and home video releases, has been fully restored in 4K in collaboration with the British Film Institute from an archival picture negative. “Jamaica Inn” was Hitchcock’s last prewar film and the last from his great English period before he went to Hollywood. It was his first of three films based on the work of Daphne du Maurier, to be followed by “Rebecca” and “The Birds.” Also available on DVD. Extras include commentary by critic Jeremy Arnold, a new video essay by Alfred Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto, and the 2014 re-release trailer.
More flashbacks: Universal is releasing “Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection Blu-ray” (1978-80), featuring both original “Battlestar Galactica” TV series remastered for the first time in 16:9 widescreen presentation, plus the theatrical version of the premiere episode “Saga of a Star World” presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The set includes widescreen and 4:3 full screen (TV) presentations of all 24 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series,” widescreen and 4:3 full screen (TV) presentations of all 10 episodes of the spin-off “Galactica 1980: The Complete Series,” and “Battlestar Galactica,” the 125-minute theatrical edit of the premiere episode “Saga of a Star World.”
In “Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series,” the Twelve Colonies, hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, the Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies’ home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey to a new home on a far-off, legendary planet—Earth. The series starred Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Herbert Jefferson Jr., John Colicos , Maren Jensen, Noah Hathaway, Laurette Spang, Tony Swartz and Terry Carter. “Galactica 1980: The Complete Series” picks up 30 years after the events of “Battlestar Galactica,” as the original crew finally makes the long-anticipated descent to Earth. With time running out and the Cylons closing in on their trail, Commander Adama and the Galactica team work harder than ever to help Earth create the technology necessary for battle. Starred Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke, Robyn Douglass and Lorne Greene.
Extras include more than three hours of deleted scenes; “Remembering Battlestar Galactica,” a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of the ground-breaking series; episode commentary with Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Herbert Jefferson Jr.; show creator Glen Larson on the “Creation of Battlestar Galactica”; “Stu Phillips: Composing the Score”; more. $149.98.
For something completely different, take a look at “These Final Hours” (2014), a low-budget Australian end-of-the-world drama that kind of mixes “On the Beach” with a taste of “Mad Max.” After an asteroid lands in the North Atlantic, a firestorm of destruction moves around the world, wiping out the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia, with the last stop on the road to total destruction being Australia. With just 12 hours left to go before the end of the world, the citizens of Perth celebrate in a variety of ways: murder, suicide, sexual perversions and a gigantic party to end all parties. One such partygoer is James (Nathan Phillips), a self-absorbed hooligan who leaves his pregnant girlfriend to meet up with his mates at an end-of-the-world affair. As he travels through the now lawless and chaotic city, he meets all sorts of unsavory situations and characters, eventually saving a little girl from a pair of predators. The girl begs him to help her find her father — whom she was separated from — and James — against his “better” judgement — takes her with him. He ends up at the party — a debauched orgy of Russian roulette, sex and drugs — but discovers that there’s a better way in which to celebrate the end of existence. Despite some predictable and sentimental situations, this is an absorbing look at human nature under fire (so to speak), with beautiful moments co-existing with the ugly (just like in real life). The movie sputters here and there but overall it’s a riveting, straight ahead trip through a blood-soaked world that, despite its shortcomings, offers redemption. An auspicious outing from young Australian director-writer Zak Hilditch (with superb cinematography by Bonnie Elliott). Co-stars Sarah Snook, Angourie Rice, Jessica de Gouw, Kathryn Beck, Daniel Henshall, Lynette Curran. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA.
And, lastly, there’s the Blu-ray debut of “Wet Hot American Summer” (2001), a summer camp comedy spoof with a very talented cast that includes Paul Rudd , Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce. The cult darling takes place during the last day of Camp Firewood’s 1981 season, where there’s still time for the big talent show, a little romance … and for everyone to be wiped out by the piece of NASA’s Skylab that’s hurtling toward Earth. Extras include a new “10th Anniversary Event Highlights” in which the filmmakers and cast return for a special evening of celebration; a new “Wet Hot American Summer: Live at SF Sketchfest” in which cast members and special guests re-enact select scenes from the live radio play; deleted scenes; cast comments; behind the scenes; feature commentary with cast and crew; songs with production stills; theatrical trailer. From Universal.