DVD Releases – week of June 14 2020

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“COLUMBIA CLASSICS 4K ULTRA HD COLLECTION”: Chances are good that those who love movies own the six titles in this set already in other formats, but this gathering offers each of them in 4K Ultra HD for the first time. That’s particularly big news in the cases of director David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” famous for its vast panoramas as Peter O’Toole plays the title role, and Ben Kingsley in his Academy Award-honored performance in the Richard Attenborough-directed “Gandhi.” Also included, collectively spanning much of the history of Columbia Pictures: James Stewart in Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”; Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” with Peter Sellers in multiple roles (and Slim Pickens iconically “riding” a nuclear bomb like a bucking bronc); Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna in Penny Marshall’s “no crying in baseball” tale “A League of Their Own”; and Tom Cruise as sports agent “Jerry Maguire,” in which writer-director Cameron Crowe boosted Renee Zellweger to stardom. Each title includes new special features and others carried over from previous home-video editions. **** (Various ratings: AS, P, V)

“IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE”: The feature film based on the popular truTV series (which is headed toward its ninth season) had only a brief run in theaters before the coronavirus pandemic closed down the great majority of those outlets, but for many viewers, a smaller screen won’t seem out of place for it. A more scripted structure is applied here, as the roots of the gang that would grow up to be master pranksters are traced … with the plot then moving forward 25 years to find the fellows challenging one another to qualify to attend a Miami party given by Paula Abdul (appearing as herself here).  The show’s Brian Quinn, Joe Gatto, James Murray and Sal Vulcano — known collectively as The Tenderloins — also play themselves, and a certain comedy staple turns up as a restaurant patron they encounter along the way. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL”: One of the most respected of all movie critics is recalled in this documentary, in which Sarah Jessica Parker gives voice to the subject’s writings — which not only include published reviews, but also personal letters. The film concentrates on the 1960s and 1970s, when Kael’s influence as a columnist in The New Yorker was at its peak, to the extent that certain moviemakers were said to have conferred with her before they shot or released their work. Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell and Ridley Scott are among the directors who discuss Kael’s work, and so do Alec Baldwin and fellow critic Molly Haskell. DVD extras: Kael interview with Alfred Hitchcock; excerpts of interviews with Tarantino and Paul Schrader; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: P) (Also on On Demand)

“LAUREL & HARDY: THE DEFINITIVE RESTORATIONS”: Fans of one of the most popular and enduring of all comedy duos are sure to appreciate this new collection, which restores a bounty of their short subjects and two of their feature films, with most of what’s seen here having been made in the 1930s. Definite highlights are “The Music Box,” the Oscar-winning short that sees Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy trying to move a piano, plus the first-time-ever-on-video “The Battle of the Century” (that “battle” being a pie fight). “Sons of the Desert” and “Way Out West” are the full-length features, and the many extras include a rare feast of Laurel and Hardy outtakes and “The Tree in a Test Tube,” the one color attraction they made together that still exists. **** (Not rated: V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“THE QUEEN AT WAR”: Queen Elizabeth’s comments about current times have had particular poignancy as she’s referenced her days as a youth during World War II — which are detailed in this recently televised PBS documentary, produced by England’s BBC and explaining the challenges the then-princess faced in surviving one of her country’s (and the globe’s) most difficult periods. While nurturing a nascent romance, she addressed her countrymen via radio and served in the military herself. Friends and royal biographers are among those commenting on the monarch-to-be’s existence in an era when she kept others’ hope alive while dealing with threats to her own. “Downton Abbey” alum Phyllis Logan is the narrator. *** (Not rated)

“UNIVERSAL HORROR COLLECTION VOL. 5”; A studio that surely has no shortage of horror movies in its history, Universal continues to mine its vault for scary oldies but goodies with this collection. There’s a connecting theme to the four films assembled here, since they all make animals the subjects of experiments. An ape inherits a mobster’s brain — hey, it could happen — in the Paul Lukas-starring “The Monster and the Girl” (1941); another simian is transformed into the “Captive Wild Woman” (1943), featured along with its sequel, “Jungle Woman” (1944) and both casting “Gunsmoke” staple Milburn Stone; and in “Jungle Captive” (1945), a follow-up to the last two pictures, a scientist (Otto Kruger) who’s been successful with bringing animals back to life tries it on a human. Audio commentaries let film historians weigh in on the attractions. *** (Not rated: AS, V)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“EVIL: SEASON ONE” (June 30)







Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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