Hitchcock’s ‘Murder’ restored to its original eye-popping glory
This week, we begin with Hitch:
Dial M for Murder 3D
Rated PG, 105 minutes.
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray 3D.
Strangers on a Train
Rated PG, 101 minutes.
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray.
Warner Home Video has polished and remastered for 3-D and Blu-ray two Alfred Hitchcock classics.
1954’s Dial M for Murder was originally filmed for 3-D, but when the fad faded, it became better known in regular 2-D. The suspenseful film, based on Frederick Knott’s hit Broadway stage play, stars Ray Milland as a jealous husband who plots to murder his philandering wife (Grace Kelly).
The film received “a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and a full restoration of the two ‘eyes,’ as well as convergence fixes to ensure perfect alignment.”
The 1951 film Strangers on a Train, making its Blu-ray debut, remains a favorite of Hitchcock fans, with a script co-written by mystery writer Raymond Chandler from a novel from Fort Worth-born Patricia Highsmith. Robert Walker became legendary for his role here as Bruno, a deliciously unhinged young man who thinks he has struck a deal for mutual murder with Guy (Farley Granger).
Bruno, a stranger on a train, believes each will murder each others’ biggest pains — Bruno’s meddling mother and Guy’s estranged wife. Guy objects, but Bruno blithely plows ahead, causing escalating disasters, and, naturally for Hitchcock, suspense.
Dial M contains both the 3-D and 2-D versions, as well as the 22-minute featurette “Hitchcock and Dial M.”
Strangers includes commentary, an excellent 37-minute “making of” featurette, three brief featurettes, and a 13-minute featurette with M. Night Shyamalan. Plus, the disc holds the slightly longer (103 minutes) preview version of the film.
The Lady (***1/2) Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as director Luc Besson chronicles her story from her early days in Rangoon to her marriage in London to an Englishman, Michael Aris (David Thewlis).
Eventually, she falls into an extended house arrest, unintentionally achieving international notoriety and acclaim, which leads to a Nobel Peace Prize. Even today, Suu Kyi’s fight for Burmese democracy continues.
Rated R, 132 minutes. The DVD includes a 27-minute making of” featurette.
The Samaritan (***) This moderately successful crime-thriller can be enjoyed by focusing entirely on Samuel L. Jackson. He has been so omnipresent in the last decade, he could be taken for granted. But here, he turns in a powerful performance as Foley, a recently paroled convict who somehow finds himself being forced back into pulling a con job.
The son (Luke Kirby) of a man Foley murdered sets up an elaborate grift for them and another woman (Ruth Negga). Unsurprisingly, things don’t turn out as planned, but not before director David Weaver mixes in violence, double-crosses and even some incest. Rated R, 93 minutes.
Hypothermia (**1/2) A family goes to their usual ice fishing hole on a lake in Maine. An obnoxious man and his son pull up nearby with similar fishing plans. Before long, the two groups encounter what initially seems to be a big fish, but actually turns out to be a monster.
This effective minor thriller would garner more respect if it weren’t for a monster that looks like a rubber suit topped off with leftover dentures.
With Michael Rooker and Blanche Baker. Not rated, 72 minutes. The DVD includes a 21-minute “making of” featurette, an 11-minute segment on ice fishing and a brief visual on rod fishing.
The Courier (**1/2) Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the title character, a shady sort who draws big bucks to deliver various packages.
He finds himself running against the clock when he has a time limit to find and then deliver a suitcase to the mysterious Evil Sivle, played by the back of Mickey Rourke’s head until he finally turns around near the end. Some decent action sequences fail to surpass the often overwrought melodrama from director Hany Abu-Assad.
Rated R, 95 minutes. The DVD holds a 23-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette and 18 minutes of extended and deleted scenes.
Iron Sky (**1/2) In what could be the best ever Nazis-on-the-moon-attacking-Earth movie, the world is under siege. An army of Nazis resettled on the moon after World War II, and now they’re returning to Earth to take over, in a plot discovered by an American moon landing. But first the Germans need an iPhone to help propel their computers.
This shamefully enjoyable loopy film sports special effects from the impressive to the laughable. Supposedly the film enjoyed worldwide success.
Rated R, 93 minutes. The DVD contains commentary, a 17-minute “making of” featurette, 18 minutes of “behind-the-scenes” footage, teasers and a trailer.
Chained (**) Vincent D’Onofrio stars in this creepy piece of torture-porn about Bob, a taxi-driving serial killer who abducts a mother (Julia Ormond) and her son, called Rabbit (first played by Evan Bird and later by Eamon Farren). Rabbit grows up chained in Bob’s house, working as a slave and learning the tricks of killing young women and then burying them.
Director Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) makes it as perverse as it sounds in this pointless exercise.
Rated R, 94 minutes. The DVD includes a brief alternate version of one of the grisly scenes.
The Clintons: An American Odyssey Using archival footage and a few interviews, writer-director Robert Kline pieces together a broad picture of the lives and careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Klein begins in their college years, gradually progressing to a series of Bill’s pivotal events: his presidency, the Lewinsky scandal and his later position as a world leader. Kline also examines Hillary’s career highlights, including her stint as first lady, as senator and then as secretary of state. Not rated, 101 minutes.
Paul Rodriguez: Just for the Record The stand-up comedian, actor and an original “Latino King of Comedy” performs his one-man show by recounting his life growing up in Mexico and California, as well as his work in more than 40 films. Not rated, 83 minutes.
We Are the Hartmans (HH) When a favorite local establishment owned by a popular old-timer (Richard Chamberlain) looks like it will be foreclosed upon, friends, family and fans gather together to save it. Overly broad comedy quickly wears thin.
Not rated, 84 minutes. The DVD includes a four-minute featurette on the film’s eviction scene and a music video.
And finally, something for the youngsters:
Happiness Is … Peanuts: Go, Snoopy, Go! The world’s best-known beagle returns in an offering of select TV specials. In It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown, Charlie’s team prepares for the new baseball season. Also included are five episodes from The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Not rated, 46 minutes.
Holiday Heroes and A Very Thomas Christmas Fireman Sam and Thomas & Friends return in these two discs.
Holiday Heroes (not rated, 55 minutes) contains five Fireman Sam episodes and an extra Christmas music video. A Very Thomas Christmas (not rated, 49 minutes) includes four episodes, a bonus digital episode, a game and a puzzle.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Bedevilled, Bones: The Complete Seventh Season, Raven, Rock of Age