'Saturday Night Fever,' 'Heat' reissued as new 'director's cut' Blu-rays
Posted May 11
Four vintage flicks receive Blu-ray upgrades this week, “Saturday Night Fever,” “Heat,” “The Wheeler Dealers” and “From Hell it Came.”
“Saturday Night Fever: Director’s Cut” (Paramount, 1977; R for language, sex, nudity, drugs; theatrical version and extended director’s cut, deleted scene, audio commentary, featurettes). The year of the original “Star Wars” also saw “Saturday Night Fever” climb the movie charts to become 1977’s fifth biggest picture. John Travolta earned an Oscar nomination and the Bee Gees' soundtrack album was a No. 1 hit all over the world. Fever is right.
Travolta plays 19-year-old Tony Manero, living in Brooklyn with his parents and unhappy with both his deadend job and his dysfunctional home life. But on Saturday nights, he’s the king of the dance floor at the local disco club, where he hangs out with his buddies and meets a woman (Karen Lynn Gorney) who has the necessary dance moves to be his match. It's dated, to be sure, but still vital. And it’s also very R-rated, with a constant stream of foul language and a controversial rape scene.
“Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition” (Fox/Regency, 1995, R for violence and language, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). This remastered edition of the nearly three-hour cops-’n’-robbers flick is a measured look at police procedure that has improved with age, especially since the genre is now so over the top. Al Pacino is a Los Angeles detective obsessed with catching high-tech thief Robert De Niro, a real casting coup in ’95 since they shared no screen time in their only other film together, “The Godfather, Part II.” (They have since co-starred in the 2008 bomb “Righteous Kill” and have a Martin Scorsese film scheduled for 2018.)
“The Wheeler Dealers” (Warner Archive, 1963, trailer). James Garner turns on the charm in this frothy romantic farce as a cocky manipulator of business deals, often in partnership with some bombastic Texas millionaires (Chill Wills, Phil Harris, Charles Watts). But when he takes aim at a failing company whose products don’t seem to exist, it’s only because he’s really pursuing the alluring employee (Lee Remick) whose job hangs in the balance. Louis Nye, John Astin and Jim Backus co-star. (The Blu-ray debut is available at wbshop.com.)
“From Hell it Came” (Warner Archive, 1957, b/w, trailer). There are a lot of ridiculous 1950s monster movies but none quite reaches the heights, or depths, of this no-budget tale of a treacherous tree on a remote South Seas island, complete with a snarling face, and limbs that act as arms and legs. It is perfect for aficionados of bad horror flicks. It follows the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” template, with bark instead of scales. (The Blu-ray debut is available at wbshop.com.)
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.