Make room for daddy on couch
By Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
By Terry Lawson
Here's what men like: war, the Old West, crime, baseball and boobs (the comic kind).
That would be the conclusion drawn by what has become for DVD marketers a holiday on par with Christmas: Father's Day. It's when they bring out the big guns, and the smaller ones, and other things that go bang.
Fox is celebrating with five box sets: "Classic Crime Dramas"; "Classic Western Collection — The Outlaws"; and no fewer than three Heroes of War sets, with "Frontline," "Navy Battles" and "Soldiers' Stories." Because most of the films in these sets, which include staples like "The French Connection," "The Thin Red Line" "Forty Guns" and "Sink the Bismarck," have long been out on DVD, reviewers were supplied only with the titles new to disc.
The most welcome of these may be the "Western" set's "Yellow Sky," something of an eerie companion piece to director William Wellman's "The Ox-Bow Incident." Gregory Peck leads a band of bank robbers on the run to a ghost town, where a plot to rob an old gold miner is complicated when Peck falls for his mysterious granddaughter, played by Anne Baxter.
The most underrated, "The Seven-Ups," is included in the "Crime" box. A 1973 continuation of sorts to "The French Connection," it has Roy Scheider reprising his role of the New York cop inspired by Sonny Grasso. In trying to find out who killed his partner, he uncovers a plot to kidnap mob bosses for ransom. Jazz fans will especially appreciate the hip score by trumpeter and arranger Don Ellis.
The least noted, also from the "Crime" set, is "Murder Inc.," a fact-based 1960 B-movie that scored an Oscar nomination for Peter Falk as an organized-crime hit man.
WITH SWORDS SWINGING
Last year's "Kingdom of Heaven" was director Ridley Scott's epic attempt to unravel the religious complexities of the Crusades without offending any religious lobbies — all while invoking the sword-and-sandals spirit of the Oscar-winning "Gladiator."
It was also last summer's "Poseidon" — a good movie doomed by an unforeseen conclusion by movie fans that they had no interest in seeing it.
Scott told the Detroit Free Press that the real movie he made would not be seen until the release of the DVD (Fox). The director's cut adds more than 45 minutes of footage to extend the film to 194 minutes. Much of that is devoted to a subplot that had been cut. It involves the son of Sibylla (Eva Green), the sexy wife of the scheming anti-Muslim adviser to the king of Jerusalem (Edward Norton).
This dramatically deepens the political and theological intrigue, while other new scenes offer insights into the film's many characters. But if you thought the movie was mortally flawed by Orlando Bloom's lack of gravitas as Balian, the bastard son of the crusader knight (Liam Neeson), this version is unlikely to change that opinion.
OLIVER STONE PEEK
The trailer for Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center"— a teaser that can be seen at www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/wtc — may strike many as unsettling, if more hopeful, than the one for "United 93."
It also reminds us of what a powerful filmmaker Stone can be when he's on his game. The new "20th Anniversary Edition" of Stone's semiautobiographical, Oscar-winning Vietnam drama "Platoon" (MGM) appears to have been transferred from the same source as the one included on the "Ultimate" Stone box set released in 2004.
However, it contains 10 minutes of restored footage, much of it focusing on Pvt. Gator, played by the not-yet-famous Johnny Depp. There are two new featurettes, but the rest of the extras, including Stone's commentary, are the same as that included on the now-deleted special edition.