From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
“My Man Godfrey” (1936): Carole Lombard and William Powell dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy, directed by Gregory La Cava — a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and Depression-era social critique. Irene (Lombard), an eccentric Manhattan socialite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding one of the “items” on the list, a “lost man” (Powell), at a dump. She gives the man she believes to be a down-and-out drifter work as the family butler, and soon falls head over heels in love. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the dysfunctional ways of the household make for an unbeatable series of madcap hijinks. La Cava’s deft film was the first to garner Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, and it is one of Hollywood’s greatest commentaries on class and the social unrest of its time. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with new high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … “The Hired Hand” (1971): Having been at the forefront of America’s here-and-now with “Easy Rider” and the counterculture movies of Roger Corman, Peter Fonda retreated to the past and the American West for his directorial debut. Fonda plays Harry, a man who deserted his wife and child to explore the wide-open plains with his best friend Archie (Warren Oates). “Tired of the life,” he decides to finally return home in order to rekindle his marriage and reacquaint himself with his daughter. Scripted by Alan Sharp, shot by Vilmos Zsigmond and with a standout score by folk musician Bruce Langhorne, “The Hired Hand” is a beautiful, elegiac picture that ranks alongside “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” as one of the finest Westerns the seventies had to offer. Co-stars Verna Bloom. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy … “Horrors of Malformed Men” (1968 — Japan): Cult director Teruo Ishii presents a nightmarish, hallucinogenic tale drawn from the feverish pen of Japan’s celebrated pioneer ofero-guro (“erotic grotesque”) literature, Edogawa Rampo. Medical student Hirosuke Hitomi slips out of the asylum in which he has been wrongfully confined and stealthily assumes the identity of a recently deceased nobleman with whom he bears an uncanny resemblance. Hirosuke eases his way into the nobleman’s household and his dead double’s marital bed. But as long-repressed memories begin to bubble to the surface, he soon finds himself drawn to a remote isle where he is confronted by a mad scientist and his malformed men, and discovers the key that will unlock some long-suppressed mysteries of his own. A dark labyrinth of the monstrous and perverse that fuses mystery and horror while incorporating motifs from a myriad of Rampo’s tales, “Horrors of Malformed Men” boasts astonishing carnivalesque art design and haunting performances. Withdrawn from cinemas by its own studio after its original scandalous release nearly 50 years ago, the film is among the very best screen interpretations of the author’s macabre brand of horror-fantasy fiction, and a unique oddity of Japanese cult cinema. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … “The Pyjama Girl Case” (1977): Throughout the late 1960s and into the 70s, the Italian giallo movement transported viewers to the far corners of the globe, from swinging San Francisco to Soviet-occupied Prague. Only one, however, brought the genre’s unique brand of bloody mayhem as far as Australia: director Flavio Mogherini’s tragic and poetic “The Pyjama Girl Case.” The body of a young woman is found on the beach, shot in the head, burned to hide her identity and dressed in distinctive yellow pyjamas. With the Sydney police stumped, former Inspector Timpson (Ray Milland) comes out of retirement to crack the case. Treading where the “real” detectives can’t, Timpson doggedly pieces together the sad story of Dutch immigrant Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro) and the unhappy chain of events that led to her grisly demise. Inspired by the real-life case which baffled the Australian police and continues to spark controversy and unanswered questions to this day, “The Pyjama Girl Case” is a uniquely haunting latter-day giallo from the tail end of the genre’s boom period. Co-stars Michele Placido, Howard Ross. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video … “The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 3 (1968-69)” includes 22 Pink Panther cartoon from 1968 to 1969. By the end of the 1960s, The Pink Panther had achieved the status of iconic cartoon character, and the cosmopolitan cat left his big-city habitat and began crossing into more universal comedy settings: a military base (“G.I. Pink”), caveman times (“Prehistoric Pink” and “Extinct Pink”) and Olde England (“Pink Valiant” and “Pinkcome Tax”). But the panther never completely changed his stripes. In color-splashed urban landscapes (a hallmark of the DePatie-Freleng studios), the sublime feline continued to engage in duels of wits-with the establishment “Little Man” as well as the occasional inanimate object (a cuckoo clock in “In The Pink of the Night”). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
From TV to Disc:
“An American Murder Mystery Collection” (2016-17) is a three-disc set collection of murder mystery documentaries. Through riveting interviews and real-life footage, this collection reopens the files of seven sensational cases that captivated the nation. Explore the mysteries of Casey Anthony, Scott Peterson, JonBenét Ramsey, Jodi Arias, Chandra Levy, and Natalie Wood in this compelling set that delivers stunning revelations from beginning to end. From Lionsgate … “Fahrenheit 451” (2018) stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in a TV remake of the famous 1966 François Truffaut classic (and Ray Bradbury novel). Imagine a society where books are outlawed and “firemen” have been tasked to burn and destroy any remaining literature, erasing history right before our eyes. Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel of the same name, the thought-provoking parable depicts a frighteningly plausible future where media is an opiate, history is purged and dissent is outlawed. The dystopian thriller centers on Montag (Jordan), a young fireman who forsakes his world and struggles to regain his humanity as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty (Shannon). On DVD, Blu-ray, from HBO … “The Looming Tower” (2018) is a two-disc set with all 10 episodes of the Hulu series that chronicles the events that led to the deadliest terrorist attacks ever to take place on American soil. The series traces the rising threat of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and how at the time, the FBI and the CIA may have inadvertently set the path for the tragedy of 9/11. The series follows members of the I-49 Squad in New York and Alec Station in Washington D.C., the counter terrorism divisions of the FBI and CIA, respectively, as they travel the world fighting for ownership of information. Adapted from the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Lawrence Wright. Stars Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, Tahar Rahim, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Camp, Wrenn Schmidt. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Madam Secretary: Season Four” (2017-18) is a six-disc set with 22 episodes. It’s never politics as usual for Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni). In Season 4, McCord faces everything from international issues to personal upheavals. Whether she’s being accused of murdering a foreign diplomat, trying to contain a smallpox outbreak, or sending her daughter off to college, there s no crisis she can’t handle. Her husband, CIA Agent Henry (Tim Daly), stirs controversy by recruiting a former member of the Russian military to work for the Agency. She continues to advise President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine), even as she goes toe-to-toe with the White House Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek). Navigating the complicated twists and turns of the D.C. machine gets even more challenging when loyal State Department insider Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth) decides to retire. From CBS/Paramount … “Supergirl: The Complete Third Season” (2017-18) includes all 23 episodes. In Season Three, Kara Danvers grapples with the sacrifices she’s made personally while saving National City as Supergirl. She even considers covering up her human identity altogether. As Kara struggles with her path forward, she continues to work with Hank Henshaw and her sister, Alex, at the Department of Extranormal Operations to battle all threats to National City, including new villains Morgan Edge, and the “Worldkiller,” known as Reign. In five-disc DVD, four-disc Blu-ray sets, from Warner … “The X-Files Season 11” (2018): The next chapter of “The –X-Files” is a three-disc, 10-episode installment of the classic, mind-bending series. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigating unsolved cases rife with government conspiracies, unexplainable mysteries, and alien cover-ups. Mulder and Scully’s pursuit of the truth continues with a search for their long-lost son, William. But they aren’t the only ones looking for him; dark forces gather, and the very fate of the world could be at stake. One thing is certain: secrets will be revealed… and the truth may finally be within reach. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Fox.