Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Close to the vest

Profile image for By Boo Allen / Film Critic
By Boo Allen / Film Critic
Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull star in Jack Cardiff’s Girl on a Motorcycle. The 1968 film stars Faithfull as the terminally bored wife of an Alsatian grade-school teacher who finds release through a motorcycle given to her as a wedding present by her lover.
Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull star in Jack Cardiff’s Girl on a Motorcycle. The 1968 film stars Faithfull as the terminally bored wife of an Alsatian grade-school teacher who finds release through a motorcycle given to her as a wedding present by her lover.

Secrets tightly held in ‘Nobbs,’ other new releases

This week, we begin in Dublin:


Albert Nobbs


Rated R, 113 minutes. Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD.

Rodrigo Garcia directed this dual character study based on a George Moore novella set in turn-of-20th-century Dublin. Glenn Close, Gabriella Prekop and novelist John Banville wrote the screenplay, with Close starring as the title character, a repressed woman passing for a man working in a shabby hotel.

While carrying on her daily duties, Albert Nobbs lives in fear that her secret will be revealed. Life seems to improve when Albert meets Hubert (Janet McTeer), another woman with the same secret.

The three makeup artists garnered an Oscar nomination, as did Close and McTeer for their fine performances.

Extras: All formats offer commentary with Close and Garcia, and eight minutes of deleted scenes.

Girl on a Motorcycle (**1/2) In 1968, Jack Cardiff, a sporadic director but one of the greatest of all cinematographers, built this free-form film around two of the era’s Most Beautiful People.

Marianne Faithfull plays the title character, Rebecca, a vivacious young blonde who repeatedly rides her motorcycle from her rural French home, and her boring husband of two months, and travels to a nearby German town to visit her lover Daniel (Alain Delon). In between, she reminisces with voice-overs about the recent past.

With Rebecca’s jaunts, Cardiff renders a series of impressionistic scenes filled with colorful hallucinogenic images that call for little acting from the inexperienced Faithfull. The resulting visuals alone make this oddity worth watching.

Rated R, 91 minutes. Available Monday.

Extras: Commentary from the legendary Cardiff, who died in 2009 at 94.

Primitive London (**1/2), London in the Raw (**1/2) Kino Lorber revives these two often-lurid documentaries that reveal select distaff elements of mid-1960s London. In both, writer-director Arnold Miller takes his camera through the town, capturing and conveying everyday events, as well as some of the more private ones, such as Londoners exercising in a health club, undergoing plastic surgery and enjoying the city’s famous nightlife, whether in the forms of musicals or visiting a high-end brothel.

Miller frequently stops long enough to interview varied Londoners. The two unrated films serve as authentic time capsules.

Primitive London: 1965, 87 minutes.

London in the Raw: 1964, 77 minutes.

Available Monday.

Warner Archive Collections continues to release interesting fare:

Big City (***) Almost simultaneously, a cantor (future TV star Danny Thomas), a clergyman (future Music Man Robert Preston), and an Irish cop (future U.S. Sen. George Murphy) discover an abandoned baby. A few years later, she grows up to be Midge (Margaret O’Brien) and lives with the cantor and his mother, played by rarely seen opera star Lotte Lehmann.

The three men want to bring the child up as a team, which eventually causes problems in this good-hearted 1948 film directed by one-time comic master Norman Taurog. Plenty of music enlivens the proceedings, with contributions from Irving Berlin. 103 minutes. Available on demand.

Desperate Search (***) In this appropriately named 1952 film, noted action director Joseph Lewis shows off his lean style in the story of Vince (Howard Keel), a reformed alcoholic who now flies planes in remote Canada.

His two young children visit him and then leave on a plane that crashes in the wilderness. Vince reluctantly teams up with his ex-wife (Patricia Medina), also a pilot, to search the area for the wreckage and the children. Director Lewis also orchestrates several chilling scenes involving the children as they fight nature and struggle to survive. 71 minutes. Available Monday.

If Winter Comes (***1/2) This 1947 film takes place in prewar England, where author Mark Sabre (Walter Pidgeon) has a loveless marriage with Mabel (Angela Lansbury). His ex-flame Nona (Deborah Kerr), also unhappily married, returns, causing trouble for both marriages.

The outbreak of war unintentionally solves some of the problems, but Mark finds himself a local outcast when he attempts to help Effie (Janet Leigh), an unmarried, pregnant young woman. Mark follows his ordained path of always doing the right thing, which naturally leads to obstacles before an inevitably happy ending. 119 minutes. Available Monday.

And, finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:

The Universe: Complete Season Six This popular series from cable channel History continues its success by engagingly examining the subject of its title, including the formation of planets, our Earth, its inhabitants and how everything began. With the use of CGI, expert interviews and some colorful footage, the season’s 14 episodes, on three discs, cover such topics as “When Space Changed History,” “God and the Universe,” “Alien Sounds,” “Worst Days on Planet Earth” and more.

Rated TV-PG, 616 minutes. Available Tuesday.

Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden, Doctor Who: Dragonfire, Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol The BBC has digitally remastered and brought to DVD three single-disc entries in the long-running, seemingly endless Dr. Who series. Nightmare of Eden (story 107) stars Tom Baker as the good Doctor as he holds the Continuous Event Transmuter and fights the Mandrels. 1979, 100 minutes.

Sylvester McCoy plays the Doctor in both Dragonfire (story 151) and The Happiness Patrol (story 153). Dragonfire turns into a convoluted chase through ice caves on Iceworld and also stars Sophie Aldred as Ace. 1987, 73 minutes.

In Happiness Patrol, the Doctor visits Terra Alpha, a place policed to make sure everyone stays content and happy. 1988, 74 minutes.

Each disc holds individual but ample supplements, such as commentaries, “making of” featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, interviews, photo galleries and more. Available Monday.

Hell on Wheels: Season One The initial season of this gritty Western proved a breakout one for cable channel AMC. A perpetually scruffy Anson Mount plays ex-Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon.

The series advances by his need for revenge. The Civil War ended after his wife and child had been killed by Union soldiers in his absence. After the war, he heads west to pursue those responsible.

He hooks up with a railroad-building outfit financed and led by Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney). Bohannon finds himself involved with other dramas, including renegade Indians, a strong-willed, freed slave (Common), an Irish widow (Dominique McElligott) and enough other subplots to keep this compelling work going through 10 episodes on three discs.

Not rated, 427 minutes. Available Tuesday.

Extras: Bounteous supplements, including a 17-minute “making of” featurette, five separate “making of” featurettes (about five minutes each), and seven featurettes on the characters. Plus: the brief “Crashing a Train” featurette and 10 separate “Inside the Episode” featurettes for each episode.

Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Grey, John Carter, One for the Money, True Blood: Season Four