Movies on DVD this week include Lee Marvin and Roger Moore teaming up for a jungle adventure and a pair of pre-Production Code pictures starring a very young Bette Davis.
“Shout at the Devil” (Timeless/Blu-ray, 1976, PG, $19.97, Blu-ray and DVD versions, photo gallery). Old-fashioned (that is, old-fashioned in 1976), allegedly true action picture casts Lee Marvin as a boozy American poacher of elephant ivory who teams up with an English gent (Roger Moore) to get past German forces in East Africa on the eve of World War I.
After an action-filled 45-minute set-up, they return to Marvin’s jungle abode where Moore romances Marvin’s daughter (Barbara Parkins), the two men fight, Moore and Parkins marry and have a child, and an old enemy resurfaces to bring tragedy on them — which finally sparks the real plot, revenge.
This marks the U.S. Blu-ray/DVD debut and this is the original British film, some 30 minutes longer than the American version that played in theaters. And though it does feel a bit long in places, it’s very entertaining and moves at a steady pace. Location filming helps, with some eye-popping cinematography.
“The Working Man” (Warner Archive, 1933, b/w, $18.95, trailer). George Arliss stars in this business/domestic comedy as a wealthy middle-aged businessman who lost the woman he loved to a rival years before. After the rival’s death, Arliss happens upon his late competitor’s adult children, who are allowing their father’s business to falter. He steps in to help in an unusual way. Very humorous and well played. Arliss is great and Bette Davis is also quite good as the rival’s daughter. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Parachute Jumper” (Warner Archive, 1932, b/w, $18.95, trailer). Davis also shines in this one, striking up a Depression-era romance with broke pilot Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Desperate for cash, Fairbanks accepts a flying job with bootlegger Leo Carillo, unaware that he’s smuggling narcotics. Enjoyable action and snappy dialogue. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Cold War” (Lionsgate, 2013, R for violence and language, $19.98, in Cantonese with English subtitles, featurettes, trailers). In Asia’s safest city, a van with five trained officers is hijacked by someone familiar with police procedures, and the city’s top cops (Aaron Kowk, Tony Leung) disagree on how to approach the situation. Generally well-structured thriller should satisfy fans of Asian action. Andy Lau makes a “special appearance.”
“Going Underground: Paul McCartney, the Beatles and the UK Counter-Culture” (MVD, 2013, not rated, $19.95, archive footage, photo gallery, featurettes). Interesting documentary for music fans explores the 1960s counter-culture, its influence on the Beatles and vice-versa, while also making a case that McCartney was more than a lightweight Beatle.
“Treasure Guards” (Monarch, 2011, not rated, $24.95). English actress Anna Friel plays Indiana Jones in this TV movie, a mash-up of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Da Vinci Code.” OK time-waster, and it could have been a family-friendly effort but for a sequence at the beginning with female nudity.
“Sex Kittens Go to College!” (Warner Archive, 1960, b/w, $18.95, trailer). Notoriously awful vehicle for Mamie Van Doren isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. She’s a stripper-turned-science prof with a supercomputer called “Thinko” that predicts horse races. Campy cast includes Tuesday Weld, Louis Nye, Vampira, John Carradine, Conway Twitty, etc. Be warned that this is the extended European cut, with a gratuitous nine-minute striptease with nudity, which is not in the U.S. version. (Available at www.warnerarchive.com)
“Frozen Ground” (Lionsgate, 2013; R for violence, sex, nudity, language, drugs; $19.98, DVD and digital versions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). True story of an Alaskan cop (Nicolas Cage) obsessed with building his case against a smart serial killer (John Cusack) benefits from a sense of cold and dread, but it’s far too sleazy as it spends way too much time following one of Cusack’s victims (former Disney teen star Vanessa Hudgens). (Also on Blu-ray, $24.99)
“The Purge” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013, R for violence and language, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; featurette). This horror movie starts off cleverly but quickly devolves into a sleazy splatter flick. In the near future the U.S. crime rate has dropped dramatically due to a 12-hour “purge,” a brief period when theft, rape and murder are legalized. The focus is on a family (led by Ethan Hawke) that takes in a stranger pursued by thugs. (Also on DVD, $29.98)Comment on this story
“Dead Before Dawn” (Vivendi, 2013, R for violence and language, $14.93, featurette, trailer). Gory horror comedy has a college student and his pals unleashing an evil curse that leads to an uprising of “zemons,” which is, as if you couldn’t guess, creatures that are half zombie and half demon. Originally shown in 3D, and a 3D Blu-ray/DVD combo is available exclusively at Best Buy. (Also on Blu-ray, $19.97)
“100 Bloody Acres” (Doppelganger, 2013, not rated, $19.95, featurettes, bloopers). Yet another gory horror comedy, this one from Australia about brothers with a fertilizer business that increases when car-crash victims are added to the recipe. Ugh. (Also on Blu-ray, $24.95)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com