'Accidental Tourist,' '7 Days in May' given Blu-ray upgrades
Posted May 24
Vintage movies from Hollywood and elsewhere in the world are making their Blu-ray debuts this week.
“The Accidental Tourist” (Warner Archive, 1988, PG, introduction, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, trailer). Eight years after their success with the film noir thriller “Body Heat,” writer-director Lawrence Kasdan and stars William Hurt and Kathleen Turner reunited for this comedy-drama of a different stripe. In the opening segment, they play a couple whose grief after they lose their only child leads to divorce. But the bulk of the film follows Hurt as he moves in with his wacky family and finds himself pursued by an eccentric dog trainer (Geena Davis). Then, just as he begins to fall for her, Turner comes back to reconcile. This superb film is a genuine, heartfelt affirmation of life, and Davis delivers a knockout performance that earned her an Oscar. (The Blu-ray debut is available at wbshop.com.)
“Seven Days in May” (Warner Archive, 1964, b/w, audio commentary, trailer). When the U.S. president negotiates a controversial disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union, a zealous but unconstitutional military cabal plots to take over the government. This is an excellent adaptation of the best-selling novel by screenwriter Rod Serling (“The Twilight Zone”), with great performances by Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in the fifth of their seven movies together. Fredric March, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam and Ava Gardner co-star. (The Blu-ray debut is available at wbshop.com.)
“The Loved One” (Warner Archive, 1965, b/w, featurette, trailer). This is a very dark satire of the funeral industry, taking particular aim at the upscale Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Southern California, albeit in fictionalized form. Some of this is very funny but don’t take lightly the advertising slogan, which happily proclaimed this one as, “The motion picture with something to offend everyone!” (Though it's relatively tame by today’s standards.) It is adapted from an Evelyn Waugh novel, with Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Comer and Rod Steiger starring, and smaller roles played by Dana Andrews, James Coburn, John Gielgud, Tab Hunter and Liberace. (The Blu-ray debut is available at wbshop.com.)
“Man of La Mancha” (MGM/Shout!, 1972, PG, featurette, trailer, photo gallery). Peter O’Toole (with his singing dubbed by Simon Gilbert) stars as Don Quixote in this adaptation of the Broadway hit, which, at the time of its release, was pilloried by critics and bombed at the box office. Today, in its Blu-ray debut, it still doesn’t rank with the best movie musicals, and it’s wildly uneven, but it does have its pleasures. Sophia Loren is alluring as Dulcinea and James Coco steals the show as Sancho Panza.
“The Jacques Rivette Collection” (Arrow, 1976-83, three films, in French with English subtitles, featurettes, book). One of the founders of the French New Wave in the 1960s, Rivette was a unique filmmaker noted for his use of improvisation and complex, surreal and difficult narratives. The first two films here — “Duelle (Dual)” and “Noroît (The Northwest Wind)” — were initially devised as part of an interconnected quadrilogy of varied genres. But ill health prevented Rivette from completing the cycle. He didn’t make another picture for seven years, and that one, “Merry-Go-Round,” is included here because it borrowed elements from those earlier films.
“Wolf Guy” (Arrow, 1975, not rated/probable R for violence, sex, nudity, language; in Japanese with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer, booklet). On the screen the title is “Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope,” but it could just as easily be “Bizarre Lycanthrope,” as this werewolf yarn, set in contemporary Tokyo, is completely nuts. Action star Sonny Chiba is the title character, and though he never turns into a wolf, he does display superpowers to fight crime, courtesy of his being the only survivor of an ancient werewolf clan. (Could he be related to Wolverine?)
“Voodoo Black Exorcist” (Film Detective, 1974, R for violence and nudity). A mummified Caribbean priest is taken aboard a South Seas ocean liner, comes to life and terrorizes the passengers, especially one that reminds him of his long-lost love. This is a low-budget, campy horror film that could be titled “The Mummy Takes a Cruise.”
“Cop vs. Thugs” (Arrow, 1975, not rated/probable R for violence, sex, nudity; in Japanese with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer, booklet). It’s police detectives vs. yakuza, though without a scorecard you may have trouble telling which is which, since both are equally brutal. This is a Japanese exploitation, wallowing in squalor on both sides of the law.
“Brain Damage” (Arrow, 1988, not rated/probable R for violence, sex, nudity; audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, trailer, booklet). This is a weird, gory, sick horror-comedy about a parasite that induces euphoric hallucinations to force its host to find brains on which it can feed.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.