It's quite a week for vintage-film fans as an array of favorites earn Blu-ray upgrades, including Gregory Peck's Oscar-winning turn, and classics from directors Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen and Billy Wilder.
"To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy, 1962, b/w, two discs, $39.98). Harper Lee's Pulitzer-winning novel became this Academy Award-winning film, which details small-town life in the South during the Depression. Gregory Peck is perfect as Atticus Finch, a white lawyer standing up for truth in a small racist town as he defends a black man (Brock Peters) wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
Deservedly a much-beloved picture even after 50 years. All of the previous special-edition features are here, along with a gorgeous high-def buff and packaged with a photo-filled hardcover booklet.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; audio commentary, featurettes, documentary feature on Peck, excerpts from award shows, trailer; 44-page booklet (also available as two-disc Blu-ray, DVD and digital without the book packaging, $26.98, and as a single-disc DVD, $19.98)
"Rebecca" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1940, b/w, $24.99).
"Spellbound" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1945, b/w, $24.99).
"Notorious" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1946, b/w, $24.99). These new Blu-rays are three of Alfred Hichcock's best films from his early American period. Though he never won an Oscar, Hitchcock earned five nominations, and two of them are here, his first for "Rebecca" and another for "Spellbound," though the third, "Notorious" is arguably the best of the three.
"Rebecca" is a riveting adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel about a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries an English aristocrat (Laurence Olivier) but finds herself living in the shadow of his former wife. "Spellbound" has Ingrid Bergman as a psychiatrist treating (and falling for) amnesiac Gregory Peck. And "Notorious" stars Bergman again, as a spy recruited by Cary Grant, who becomes terribly jealous when she is assigned to seduce a Nazi spy (Claude Rains).
Extras: full frame, audio commentaries, featurettes, screen tests, trailers, audio interviews with Hitchcock, radio adaptations
"Manhattan" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1979, b/w; R for language, sex; $24.99).
"Annie Hall" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1977, PG, $24.99). These two very adult Woody Allen comedy-dramas (both co-starring Diane Keaton) mark his transition from off-the-wall farce to character-driven filmmaking, first with "Annie Hall," which became a popular Oscar-winner, followed by the artfully constructed "Manhattan," showing off New York with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography (wonderfully enhanced in high-definition) and backed by carefully selected George Gershwin tunes.
Extras: widescreen, trailers
"The Apartment" (MGM/Blu-ray, 1960, b/w, $24.99). Another Oscar-winner, this is one of Billy Wilder's most witty — and popular — comedy-dramas. Jack Lemmon is a corporate climber who loans his apartment to his married boss (Fred MacMurray) to use with a girlfriend (Shirley MacLaine). But when she tries to commit suicide and Lemmon saves her, an unexpected and complicated romance begins.
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer
"Period of Adjustment" (Warner Archive, 1962, b/w, $19.95). This cute drawing-room comedy based on a Tennessee Williams play relies heavily on the very good comic instincts of Jim Hutton and Jane Fonda as a quarreling newlywed couple comparing notes with another troubled couple — less enjoyable characters played by Tony Franciosa and Lois Nettleton.
Extras: widescreen, trailer (www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Slim" (Warner Archive, 1937, b/w, $19.95). Henry Fonda is the naive title character, leaving farm life to help string electrical power lines across rural America during the Depression. Fascinating look at a period when much of the United States was not yet "wired" and how those lines were still going up when this film was made. The romantic subplot about Margaret Lindsay coming between Fonda and his mentor (Pat O'Brien) is less interesting.
Extras: full frame, trailer (www.WarnerArchive.com)
"Simon" (Warner Archive, 1980, PG, $19.95). This wacky comedy was writer Marshall Brickman's first directing effort, a wildly uneven satire of social mores and the media (now somewhat dated). The plot has a professor (Alan Arkin) being brainwashed and convinced he's an alien, and there is some funny stuff in the first half, but as it winds down it runs out of steam. (Brickman is best known as the co-writer of four of Woody Allen's best movies: "Sleeper," "Annie Hall," "Manhattan" and "Manhattan Murder Mystery.")
Extras: widescreen (www.WarnerArchive.com)