A couple of late-2011 films and several vintage titles are among movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week.
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011, PG-13, $35.99). Sad but affecting melodrama about a young boy who goes on a quest to find the lock that fits a key he discovers among the belongings of his father, who died in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
Young Thomas Horn is solid as the boy, and he's surrounded by an expert trio of actors: Sandra Bullock as his grieving mother, Tom Hanks as his late father and Max von Sydow as a mysterious silent neighbor the boy recruits to help.
Extras:widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; featurettes (also on single-disc DVD, $28.98)
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011, PG, $39.99).More live-action/animation hijinks with Alvin, Theodore and Simon, along with their pet human, David (Jason Lee), as they take a cruise and wind up on a (not-so) deserted island.
Extras:widescreen, extended scenes, featurettes, music videos, sing-alongs, trailers (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"Dorothy Mackaill: Pre-Code Double Feature" (Warner Archive, 1930/1931. b/w, $19.95).Silent star Mackaill headlines two early sound films that are a bit bawdier than would be allowed a few years later.
First, "Bright Lights," a two-strip Technicolor film that now exists only in black-and-white, and under an alternate title, "Adventures in Africa," with Mackaill as a hoofer who makes it to Broadway only to have her sordid past catch up with her.
Next is "The Reckless Hour," in which she is dumped by a rich suitor after he has his way with her. Mackaill, as always, rises above the material, and she receives great support from Joan Blondell as her kid sister.
Extras:full frame (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Joan Blondell/Glenda Farrell Double Feature" (Warner Archive, 1935, b/w, $19.95)Blondell and Farrell were brassy blondes with great comic chemistry, and as such were often paired in programmers such as the two fast-and-funny, snappy-dialogue comedies collected here.
"Traveling Saleslady" has Blondell in the title role. Her toothpaste mogul father won't respect her wishes to work, so she hires on with a rival company to sell cocktail-flavored toothpaste on the road. William Gargan is her adversary and becomes a love interest, which is threatened when Farrell shows up.
"Miss Pacific Fleet" has Blondell and Farrell as California roommates who hope to earn cash in the title contest so they can head for the bright lights of Broadway.
Extras: full frame, trailers (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"The Miniver Story" (Warner Archive, 1950, b/w, $19.95).The original "Mrs. Miniver," an excellent, Oscar-winning exploration of World War II from the point of view of a middle-class English family, has long been on DVD, but this is the disc debut for the sequel.
It's not quite up to the first but it does have its pluses, not the least of which is the reunion of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the Minivers in this well-made look at the devastating aftermath of war.
Extras:full frame, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Pre-Code Double Feature" (Warner Archive, 1932/1934, b/w, $19.95).The title refers to movies made before 1934, which were allowed to be naughty and tougher than those that came after the Production Code was enforced.
The two examples here are "The Crash," with real-life marrieds Ruth Chatterton and George Brent as a couple getting stock-market tips form men she seduces, until some bad advice causes them to lose everything in the crash of '29, and "Registered Nurse," with Bebe Daniels in soap-opera antics with a bevy of unsavory characters at a city hospital. Both films are extremely contrived but bolstered by sincere performances.
Extras:full frame, trailer (of "The Crash") (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Bedevilled" (Warner Archive, 1955, $19.95). Speaking of contrived, that's the only word for this odd film noir with Steve Forrest as a man about to take his priesthood vows when he finds himself in (colorfully photographed) Paris for a layover. There, he stumbles upon woman-on-the-run Anne Baxter who has witnessed (commited?) a murder. Highly implausible and it doesn't help that they have zero romantic chemistry.
Extras:widescreen, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)Comment on this story
"The Split" (Warner Archive, 1968; R for violence, language, sex; $19.94).Jim Brown stars in this heist flick but it's the supporting cast you may find more of a draw — Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, Jack Klugman, Ernest Borgnine, Diahann Carroll, Julie Harris, Warren Oates, James Whitmore. The caper itself goes well enough but afterward the money goes missing and trust issues arise, which is where it falters. Not great but fairly enjoyable. (Historically notable as the first film to receive an R rating.)
Extras:widescreen, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)