“Two Men in Manhattan” (Cohen/Blu-ray, 1959, b/w, $39.98, in English and in French with English subtitles, featurettes, trailers; 12-page booklet). Moody film noir at its finest — but from a French filmmaker. Location shooting in New York City enhances the story of a French reporter and his photographer on the hunt for a missing United Nations delegate. Very well plotted mystery with an evocative jazz score. (Also on DVD, $29.98)
“William Powell at Warner Bros.” (Warner Archive, 1931-34, four discs, $39.95, four films, four trailers). These pre-Production Code films are quite good, highlighting Powell’s debonair demeanor early in his career. “Road to Singapore” (no relation to the Hope & Crosby comedy) is an overheated melodrama set in the tropics with Powell stealing other men’s wives; “High Pressure” is a hilarious farce with Powell trying to sell faux rubber; “Private Detective 62” (aka “Man Killer”) has Powell agreeing to frame a socialite but falling for her instead; and “The Key” casts Powell as a British officer up against the IRA in 1920 Dublin in this star-crossed romance. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Bad Company” (Warner Archive, 1972, PG, $18.95). Jeff Bridges and Barry Brown are Civil War draft-dodgers who become robbers as they cross the West in this well-written and directed Western. Somewhat forgotten but very good directing debut of co-writer Robert Benton (who would later win Oscars for “Kramer vs. Kramer”). (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Timeless Military Film Collection” (MGM/Timeless, 1951-68, color and b/w, $6.95, four films). These B-movie wartime efforts are cheaply packaged but they’re good movies, especially “Go For Broke!” with Van Johnson as a bigot assigned to train Japanese-American soldiers. Also, “Hell Raiders,” the only one of these in color, with John Agar leading a demolition group to rescue top-secret records; “Lost Battalion,” with Diane Jergens being rescued by a guerrilla fighter in the Pacific; and “Tank Batallion,” which follows a four-man tank crew in the Korean War.
“Gallant Sons” (Warner Archive, 1940, b/w, $16.95, trailer). Juvenile mystery has a group of kids solving a murder by putting on a play. Jackie Cooper, Bonita Granville and Leo Gorcey star. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“The ‘Dead End Kids’ Double Feature” (Warner Archive, 1939, b/w, $18.95, two films, one trailer). “Hell’s Kitchen” (a remake of the Dead End Kids’ own “Crime School,” which was itself a remake of James Cagney’s “Mayor of Hell”) has Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and the gang in reform school, with Ronald Reagan in tow. “The ‘Dead End’ Kids ‘On Dress Parade’ ” has the boys in military school and was the last of the “Dead End Kids” cycle before they evolved into the “Little Tough Guys,” the “East Side Kids” and finally the “Bowery Boys.” (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Jackie Chan Beginnings” (Timeless, 1978, $9.99, trailers, photo galleries). Two of Chan’s very early martial-arts starring roles, “Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin” and “Magnificent Bodyguards,” both period pieces with Chan battling bad guys while entrusted with a mission of mercy. Interesting for fans, though English dubbing is distracting. (This is the third in a series of “Jackie Chan Beginnings” DVDs from Timeless.)
“Day of the Dead: Collector’s Edition” (Scream/Blu-ray, 1985, not rated, $29.93, audio commentaries, new documentary, new featurette, photo galleries, trailers, TV spots). This is the third in George A. Romero’s original trilogy, not the 2007 remake, and it’s the weakest of the three, slow and talky until a rousing finale that will please patient gorehounds.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com
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