Releases for the Week of May 6

From the Big Screen:

“Veronica Mars” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Highlights:

There’s a flurry of impressive Blu-ray debuts this week:

“The Big Red One: The Reconstruction” (1980) is Samuel Fuller’s classic antiwar film that follows a quartet of U.S. soldiers from “The Big Red One” (the nickname of the 1st Infantry Division that Fuller himself served in, making the film semi-autobiographical) serving in a rifle squad from 1942-1945 as they push from North Africa to Sicily to D-Day to the liberation photo for The Big Red One: The ReconstructionI of France, the invasion of Germany and finally to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The story is told in a series of anecdotal vignettes as a core group of soldiers talk about life, love and war, fight off the Germans, and greet new squad recruits and mourn their passing. The film was heavily edited by the studio on its original release, but was restored and premiered at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Stars Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward and Stephane Audran. The Blu-ray disc includes both the original theatrical version and the reconstruction but, infortunately, only the theatrical version is presented in 1080p and DTS-HD Master Audio. Still, a must buy. Extras include alternate scenes, “Anatomy of a Scene” before and after restoration comparisons, “The Real Glory: Reconstructing The Big One” featurette, “Profile: The Men Who Make the Movies: Samuel Fuller,” a War department film “The Fighting First,” commentary on the restoration version by film critic Richard Schickel. From Warner.

“Blazing Saddles 40th Anniversary Blu-ray” (1974) is one of the funniest and most outrageous comedies of all time. It stars Cleavon Little as an unlikely sheriff in the Wild photo for Blazing Saddles 40th Anniversary Blu-ray West town of Rock Ridge, Harvey Korman as the villain, Madeline Kahn as a Marlene Dietrich-style chanteuse, Gene Wilder as the wacko Waco Kid and director Mel Brooks as a dimwitted politico. Once the lunatic film gets started, logic is lost in a blizzard of gags, jokes, quips, puns and outrageous assaults upon good taste or any taste at all. Takes the No. 6 spot in the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Comedies. Also stars Slim Pickens, Alex Karras, John Hillerman and Dom DeLuise. Extras include a new featurette, “Blaze of Glory: Mel Brooks’ Wild, Wild West”; commentary by Brooks; “Back in the Saddle” cast/crew reunion documentary; “Black Bart” 1975 TV pilot inspired by the movie, starring Lou Gossett Jr. and Steve Landesberg; deleted scenes; theatrical trailer. From Warner.

“The Bridges of Madison County” (1995) is Clint Eastwood’s luscious filmic adaptation of Robert James Waller’s romantic novel set in 1965 about Robert Kincaid (Eastwood), a photographer and free spirit searching for the covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa, and Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), an Italian-born farm wife waiting for the fulfillment of a girlhood dream, who meet and have an incredible four-day torrid love affair while her husband and children are off at the Illinois State Fair. Extras include “An Old-Fashioned Love Story: Making The Bridges of Madison County,” commentary by editor Joel Cox and cinematographer Jack N. Green, theatrical trailer. From Warner.

photo for Ace in the Hole Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” (1951) is one of the most scathing indictments of American culture ever produced by a Hollywood filmmaker. Kirk Douglas gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter who washes up in dead-end Albuquerque, happens upon the scoop of a lifetime — a treasure hunter is trapped in a mine collapse — and will do anything to keep getting the lurid headlines. Wilder’s follow-up to Sunset Boulevard is an even darker vision, a no-holds-barred expose of the American media’s appetite for sensation that has gotten only more relevant with time. Restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection in a Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD release.

CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount has ported three of its most popular TV series to Blu-ray:

photo for I Love Lucy – Ultimate Season One BLU-RAY DEBUT “I Love Lucy – Ultimate Season One” (1951-52) features all the hilarious first episodes of the groundbreaking series starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Alongside such classics as the “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” episode selling Vitameatavegamin are never-before seen treats, including Lucy and Desi’s makeup and wardrobe tests where the off-screen couple are filmed together just days before full-scale production began. Also included is the pilot episode, re-mastered from its recently discovered original 35mm negative, radio broadcasts, on-set color home movies and backstage photos. Six-disc set, $129.99 … photo for The Andy Griffith Show – Season One BLU-RAY DEBUT “The Andy Griffith Show – Season One” (1960-61) includes all 32 episodes of the first season, restored in high definition, with original sponsor openings and closings. Starring Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Don Knotts and Frances Bavier, the beloved series about small-town America includes rare special features, including color on-set home movies shot by Ron Howard’s father Rance, Edward R. Murrow’s insightful interview of Andy Griffith on “Person to Person” in 1957 and a new HD transfer of the “Return to Mayberry” television movie. Four-disc set, $129.99. … photo for The Honeymooners – Classic 39 Episodes BLU-RAY DEBUT “The Honeymooners – Classic 39 Episodes” (1955-56) features re-mastered full-length episodes of the iconic series, starring the one and only Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph. Special features include a never-before-released, hour-long musical “The Honeymooners: The Adoption” from 1966; a memorable 1984 “60 Minutes” profile of Jackie Gleason; both “The Honeymooners Anniversary Special” (1990) and “The Honeymooners 50th Anniversary Celebration” (2002); Jackie Gleason interviewing a Queens bus driver as guest host for Edward R. Murrow on “Person to Person”; original openings, closings and cast commercials. Five-disc set, $129.99.

Also this week: “China Beach: The Complete Season Three” (1989-90), a six-disc set with 22 uncut episodes of the TV series set during the Vietnam War in a part-EVAC hospital, part-USO entertainment center that was an outpost of craziness and compassion that mingled horror photo for China Beach: The Complete Season Three and laughter, heroism and sacrifice, as seen through the eyes of the women who served there. Season Three explored the most unlikely relationship between nurse Colleen McMurphy (Dana Delany) and “entrepreneur” K.C. Kolowski (Marg Helgenberger), both of whom are held hostage in the notorious tunnels in Vietnam; introduced Holly Pelegrini (Ricki Lake); took Dodger (Jeff Kober) home; and jumped back in “F.N.G.” to when new guys Dr. Richard (Robert Picardo) and McMurphy first arrive in the country. Guest stars included Ruby Dee, Vince Vaughn, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Haden Church, Don Cheadle and Helen Hunt. And don’t forget the great 60s rock music soundtrack! On DVD only, $29.95 from Time Life/StarVista Entertainment … In “Generation War” (2013 — Germany) a group of five young friends — eager to become heroes — gather together on the eve of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Nothing could have prepared them for the extreme realities that await each and every one of them. As told through the eyes of young adults on the brink of adulthood in Nazi Germany, director Philipp Kadelbach and writer Stefan present a sweeping saga, aired as a photo for Generation War TV minseries in Germany. Produced over a period of eight years and filmed on over 150 sets across Germany, Lithuania and Latvia, the film is a stunning German epic drama spanning over five years beginning in Berlin in 1941 through the immediate aftermath of WWII in 1945. The lives of five young German friends are defined when they are forced to navigate the unconscionable moral compromises of life under Hitler. Among the quintet of young people are level-headed officer Wilhelm (Volker Bruch), who is full of patriotic fervor as he heads for the eastern front with his sensitive younger brother Friedhelm (Tom Schilling); Charlotte(Miriam Stein), a young nurse in love with Wilhelm who is serving in the Red Cross; Greta (Katherina Schuttler), an ambitious singer who longs to become another Marlene Dietrich; and Greta’s boyfriend Viktor (Ludwig Trepte), who faces a daily struggle for survival as a Jew in an increasingly oppressive regime. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc with a special 12-page booklet containing photos, an essay and more. From Music Box Films.

From TV to DVD:

In “Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 12” (2011), Agatha Christie’s renowned Belgian detective solves the most challenging cases of the Art Deco era in these delightful adaptations starring David Suchet. Four feature-length mysteries boast all-star casts including Jessica photo for Agatha Christie's Poirot, Series 12 Chastain, Hugh Bonneville, Barbara Hershey, Toby Jones, Eileen Atkins, David Morrissey, Martin Shaw, Timothy West and Zoe Wanamaker. The mysteries, in their original U.K. broadcast order: “Three Act Tragedy” (After guests at successive dinner parties mysteriously drop dead, Poirot teams up with an old friend to find the killer); “Hallowe’en Party” (Crime novelist Ariadne Oliver calls Poirot to investigate the macabre murder of a young girl at a children’s costume party); “Murder on the Orient Express” (Poirot searches for a killer among the travelers aboard a snowbound train); “The Clocks” (Poirot journeys to Dover to solve a case involving an unidentified corpse and four timepieces all stopped at the same time). Formats: Two-disc DVD: $39.99, two-disc Blu-ray: $49.99 from Acorn Media … “Between Sisters” (2013), starring Vanessa Bell Calloway, Terri J. Vaughn, Denyce Lawton, KD Aubert and Denise Boutte, is an urban rom-com about a woman who wants to give her baby sister the best wedding present ever. So, when they discover that they have two long-lost sisters, the search is on to find them before the big day. But if they do, will they be able to forgive their estranged mother and come together. From Entertainment One … photo for Happy Days: The Fifth Season “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film” (2013) is a Lifetime anthology of five short films that explore the impact of mental illness on people’s lives and those around them. Each film highlights the powerful relationships built on hope and triumph while helping raise a new understanding of what happens when a loved one struggles. Stars Jennifer Hudson, Melissa Leo, Octavia Spencer, Sarah Hyland, Sofia Vassilieva, Brittany Snow, Ernie Hudson, Jason Ritter,Jean Smart, Lea Thompson, Melanie Griffith, Chelsea Handler. From Sony … “Doomsday Preppers: Season 3” (2013) is National Geographic’s highest-rated series, with new preppers, new drama, and incredible new ways to bug in or bug out. Explore the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Three-disc set with 14 episodes, $29.93 from National Geographic … “Eureka: Season Three” (2008-09) is a four-disc set with 18 episodes, $29.98 from Universal … “Happy Days: The photo for Laverne & Shirley - The Eighth and Final Fifth Season” (1977-78) is a four-disc set with 27 episodes of the nostalgic comedy set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that follows the Cunninghams and their two kids, Richie and Joanie and their relationship with Fonzie, a motorcycle-riding Casanova who became a pop-culture phenomenon. Features the iconic “jump the shark” scene and a collection of famous guest stars including Robin Williams, Christopher Knight, Rance Howard, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Morgan Fairchild and Suzi Quatro. From CBS/Paramount … “Laverne & Shirley – The Eighth and Final Season” (1982–83) is a three-disc set with all 22 episodes of the hugely popular comedy starring Penny Marshall as the tough talking, street smart Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as bright-eyed Shirley Feeney. A pregnant Williams left the show two episodes into the season, and Marshall finished the last season with the aid of guest stars Carrie Fisher, James Belushi, Adam West, Vicki Lawrence and Louise Lasser. $42.99 From CBS/Paramount … “Little House on the Prairie – Season Two Deluxe Remastered Edition” (1975-76) is a five-disc set with all 22 remastered episodes from Season Two, complete and uncut in their original broadcast length. Based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling and much-loved book series, “The Little House on the Prairie” chronicles the dramatic, gripping adventures of a young pioneer family’s struggle to build a new life for themselves on the American frontier of the 1870s. DVD, $29.98; Blu-ray Disc, $38.99 from Lionsgate … photo for Republic of Doyle, Season 1 “Republic of Doyle, Season 1” (2010) is a fast-paced Canadian whodunit that makes it’s DVD debut in the states. The hit series — now in its fifth season — features a father and son sleuthing team based in the province of Newfoundland. For Jake Doyle, dodging bullets is a lot less dangerous than his personal life. Jake (Allan Hawco) and his ex-cop father, Malachy (Sean McGinley), run a Newfoundland detective agency. Their rugged seaside town never lacks for intriguing cases, from cheating spouses to bank heists, arson, and even murder. Father and son have completely different ways of handling things, and that turns up the heat on their suspects — not to mention their tight-knit Irish family. But the real fireworks stem from Jake’s roguish ways. Whether it’s an ex-wife he can’t shake (Rachel Wilson) or the hot new cop he works with (Krystin Pellerin), Jake Doyle just can’t stop breaking the rules. Three-disc set with 12 episodes. $39.99 from Acorn Media … “Rookie Blue: The Complete Fourth Season” (2013) is a four-disc set with eight episodes, $39.98 from Entertainment One … photo for Separate But Equal “Separate But Equal” (1991) stars Sidney Poitier, Burt Lancaster, Richard Kiley and Cleavon Little in a dramatization of the American court case that destroyed the legal validity of racial segregation. Based on the ground-breaking Brown vs. the Board of Education case in 1954, it follows a young Thurgood Marshall (Sidney Poitier), the lawyer who argued the racially-charged lawsuit before the Supreme Court. When the black students of Clarendon County, South Carolina, are denied their request for a single school bus, a bitter and courageous battle for justice and equality begins. Restored by transferring it from the original “on-set” camera negative and digitally removing dirt and scratches; the audio also was restored from the 35mm Magnetic Track. From CBS/Paramount.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In “Brownian Movement” (2011 — Netherlands), starring Sandra Huller and Dragan Bakema, a young doctor living in Brussels with her husband and their son leads a normal, harmonious life — except for the fact that she secretly maintains an apartment where she has sex with her patients, selecting them as if setting up a scientific experiment. When her husband finds out about this unusual situation, their relationship is put to the test. From First Run Features … “All in Good Time” (2013), starring Reece Ritchie, Amara Karan, Harish Patel, Meera photo for Brownian Movement Syal and Neet Mohan, is a comedy about a young married Indian couple living in an Indian community in Northern England who have difficulty consummating their marriage because of well-intentioned, yet meddling parents, nosy neighbors that know no boundaries and a community that thrives on gossip. From Lionsgate … In the sleepy community of Fossil Ridge, a cattle ranch is discovered to be a breeding ground for ferocious velociraptors, the blood-thirsty dinosaurs long-thought extinct. When the vicious beasts escape, the terrified townspeople must fight to survive the deadly, prehistoric killers hunting them down as prey in “The Dinosaur Experiment (aka Raptor Ranch)” (2013), starring Lorenzo Lamas, Donny Boaz, Declan Joyce, Lexy Hulme and Jana Mashonee. From Uncork’d Entertainment … In “7 Boxes” (2012 — Paraguay), Victor, a 17-year-old wheelbarrow delivery boy, is offered a chance to deliver seven boxes with unknown contents in exchange for a quick $100. But the easy job soon gets complicated: There’s something in those boxes that starts a high-speed wheelbarrow chase and Victor and his pursuers get caught in a crime they know nothing about. Stars Celso Franco, Victor Sosa and Lali Gonzalez. From Breaking Glass Pictures/Shoreline Entertainment … “Making the Rules” photo for Making the Rules(2014) is a romantic drama about a workaholic sous chef who accidently cuts her hand and is forced to spend the summer outside the kitchen, where things really heat up when she faces the temptation of a former flame. Stars Jaime Pressly, Robin Thicke, Tygh Runyan, Steve Agee, Joey Lauren Adams and Frances Conroy. From Lionsgate … A young couple moves to the woods to escape the pressures of city life and soon meet their reclusive artist neighbor, Mr. Jones, who doesn’t like to be disturbed and only comes out at night when he drags his strange, sinister sculptures deep into the woods. When their curiosity leads them too close for Mr. Jones’ comfort, he plunges the young couple into a nightmare world of mayhem, madness and mind-bending terror in “Mr. Jones” (2013), starring Jon Foster, Sarah Jones, Diane Neal and Mark Steger. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay … In 2045 A.D. a steadily shrinking icecap leaves several countries struggling for control of the town of Borealis and the last untapped oil, gas and mineral deposits on the planet. When the UN sends in corrupt officials, a former mixed martial arts fighter challenges a Russian group to save the town’s fate in “Survival Code” (2014), starring Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher, Terry Chen and Michelle Harrison. From Lionsgate … “Still Mine” (2013), starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, is a love story based on actual events. Determined to build a more suitable house for his wife Irene (Bujold), whose memory is failing, Craig photo for Survival Code Morrison (Cromwell) is met with resistance from an overzealous government inspector. Facing a possible jail sentence, and with Irene becoming increasingly ill, Craig races to finish the house. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Fox … Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and she’s about to unleash Hell in a killer thriller roller coaster ride of characters from transvestite prostitutes to lesbian zombies, stoned rappers, feral bushwhackers and the best hit girl this side of Hong Kong in b>”Bad Mouth” (2011), starring Anjie Roebuck, Mia Tegan, Nissa Robinson, Bobey Taleb and Jacob Brown. From Troma Entertainment … In “LA Maniac (aka The Los Angeles Ripper)” (2011), starring Celeste Marie Martinez and Craig J. McIntyre, a young woman moves to Los Angeles to stay with her dysfunctional aunt and her cousin Angel to pursue her singing career and become a star, but things get weird and scary when she gets involved in some risky party behavior and meets Angel’s drug dealing friend … all while a brutal serial killer is on the loose in the City of Angels. From Troma Entertainment.

On the Indie Front:

photo for Hot Guys With Guns“Hot Guys With Guns” (2013) is a comedy-action-thriller about an actor taking a night class for aspiring private detectives to help him win a part in a TV show who bumbles into a real life crime investigation with his ex-boyfriend. Stars Leon Acord, John Ainsworth and Dalila Ali Rajah. From Wolfe Video … “Truth” (2013), starring Sean Paul Lockhart, Rob Moretti and Blanche Baker, is a psychological thriller that exposes the hidden demons buried deep inside each and every one of us. After a chance encounter over the Internet, Caleb meets and falls head over heels for Jeremy, but soon the line between love and lies blur. Struggling to keep his past a secret, including his mentally ill mother, Caleb slowly succumbs to his darker side. From Canteen Outlaws.

For the Family:

“Explorer Koko” (2014) is the latest title in the popular Chuggington DVD series; this entry spotlights everyone’s best photo for Explorer Kok friend Koko in six episodes: “Explorer Koko,” “Runaway Koko,” “Fearless Wilson,” “Koko’s Game,” “Hodge’s Secret” and “Inspector Emery.” $14.98 from Anchor Bay … “Adventure Time: The Suitor” (2014) features 16 full-length episodes that highlight fan favorite characters from the Land of Ooo — including the titular episode “The Suitor,” which focuses on Princess Bubblegum. View the complete list of episodes. $19.82 from Cartoon Network/Warner … “Transformers Energon: The Complete Series” (2004) is a seven-disc set with all 51 episodes, 44.99 Shout! Factory … “DC Universe: Son of Batman” (2014) is an original animated movie that finds Batman learning he has a son, Damian, and together they form an uneasy alliance to try and thwart the criminal enterprise of Deathstroke and his army of ninja man-bats. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Warner.

Special Interest:

“Alexander Calder” (1988) is the definitive portrait of one of the pre-eminent artists of the 20th century, and the inventor photo for Suzanne Vega: Solitude Standing of an art form, the mobile. This acclaimed film shows Calder at work in his studio and never-before-seen archival films and photographs. It includes contemporary shooting of dozens of works, and features interviews with Arthur Miller, Ellsworth Kelly, I.M. Pei, Brendan Gill, Marla Prather, David Ross, Calder’s daughters and grandson, Sandy Rower, and others. From First Run Features … “Suzanne Vega: Solitude Standing” (2014): Filmed at the Rome Auditorium in July 2003. Suzanne Vega performs some of her greatest hits, alongside other more contemporary songs, at this intimate concert, which is interspersed with moving poetry readings translated on stage by singer/songwriter Valerio Piccolo. Released to coincide with Vega’s new studio album “Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles.” $14.95 from Wienerworld/MVD Entertainment … “The Story of the Jews With Simon photo for The Story of the Jews With Simon Schama Schama” (2013) is a five-part look at 3,000 years of Jewish history and the impact the Jews have made on the world. The five-hour series follows Schama — who has written and presented 50 documentaries on art, literature and history and is a contributing editor of the Financial Times — as he travels from Russia and the Ukraine to Egypt, Israel and Spain, exploring the imprint that Jewish culture has made on the world and the drama of suffering, resilience and rebirth that has gone with it. Two-disc DVD, $29.99 from PBS Distribution … “Desert Riders” (2011) is the story of some of the thousands of boys, as young as 2-years-old, who have been trafficked or sold by their parents and taken from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mauritania and Sudan to the Middle East to work as camel jockeys (Camel racing is one of the most popular sports in that part of the world). Sexually and physically abused, these young children were forced to live in horrendous conditions. Starved to avoid gaining weight, they worked long hours even when clearly underage and are now left mentally and physically stunted. When international pressure was brought to bear, many of the children were repatriated, only to find themselves strangers in their home countries. On DVD from Garden Thieves Pictures.

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