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Frank Capra classic 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town' now on Blu-ray

Posted October 26

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is on Blu-ray for the first time, and a variety of other classic films have also been released on new high-definition discs.

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (Columbia, 1936, b/w, audio commentary, featurette, poster gallery, trailer). Frank Capra won three Oscars as best director in the mid-1930s, and this hilarious, romantic comedy-drama marked the second (after “It Happened One Night” and before “You Can’t Take it With You”). A heartfelt film, it also signaled Capra’s entry into so-called “goodwill fantasies,” a string of films he made about the little guy prevailing over political corruption.

Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) is a small-town working stiff who inherits $20 million during the Great Depression, is whisked off to New York City and finds himself surrounded by greedy opportunists. When he decides to give the money away by establishing a unique welfare program, his sanity is questioned. Jean Arthur co-stars. (Note the use of the term “pixilated” in a key scene; this film popularized the word as meaning eccentric or whimsical.)

“Gregory Peck: Centennial Collection: To Kill a Mockingbird, Cape Fear” (Universal, 1962, b/w, two discs, two films, documentary: “A Conversation with Gregory Peck,” audio commentary for “Mockingbird,” featurettes, excerpts from TV tributes, photo gallery for “Cape Fear,” trailers, note from Peck’s daughter, six poster/photo postcards). From the “Centennial Collection” title you might think this Blu-ray set contains several movies but it’s actually just two. Both are solid classics, however — Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winner, the beloved “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and the thriller “Cape Fear,” in which Peck’s family is harassed by a very scary Robert Mitchum.

“On Dangerous Ground” (Warner Archive, 1951, b/w, audio commentary, trailer). A steady balancing act between hard-bitten crime and mawkish melodrama casts Robert Ryan as an angry, brutal Manhattan cop on a manhunt for a murderer in a snowbound mountain town. When he meets the suspect’s blind sister (Ida Lupino), Ryan begins to soften, especially after seeing an unflattering reflection of himself in the victim’s vengeful father (Ward Bond). This is a vivid Blu-ray upgrade bolstered by a great Bernard Herrmann score. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)

“Suddenly” (Film Detective, 1954, b/w). Frank Sinatra delivers a convincingly scary performance as the psychotic head of a team of assassins plotting to kill the U.S. president when his train makes a scheduled stop at the small California town of Suddenly. Sterling Hayden, James Gleason and Nancy Gates are also quite good. This is a nice Blu-ray upgrade for a public-domain picture.

“The Da Vinci Code: 10th Anniversary” (Columbia, 2006, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers).

“Angels & Demons” (Columbia, 2009, PG-13, deleted/alternate/extended scenes, featurettes, trailers). These two Ron Howard dark fantasies based on Dan Brown's novels star Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of religious iconography and symbology caught up in alleged Catholic conspiracies. (A third film, “Inferno,” will open in theaters next weekend.) These Blu-ray reissues include new interviews with Howard, Hanks and Brown.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Sony Classics, 2001, PG-13, in Mandarin with English subtitles or dubbed English, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, music video, trailer). Asian superstars Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh search for the legendary Green Destiny sword, stolen by Zhang Ziyi (who would become a star in her own right after this international box-office hit). Exciting, gorgeously filmed, beautifully choreographed martial-arts epic on Blu-ray with many new bonus features.

“Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection” (Warner Archive, 1932-39, color and b/w, three discs, six films, audio commentaries, trailers). This popular collection of golden-oldie horror films is back in print with this manufacture-on-demand DVD-R reissue: “Doctor X” is a lurid two-strip Technicolor tale of human experiments by a mad doctor (Lionel Atwill), with pre-“King Kong” Fay Wray; “The Mask of Fu Manchu” has Boris Karloff as in the title role, with Myrna Loy as his twisted daughter; “Mad Love” stars Peter Lorre as a surgeon who grafts the hands of a killer onto a concert pianist; “Mark of the Vampire” features Bela Lugosi as a bloodsucker who is not Dracula; in “The Devil-Doll,” a scientist shrinks humans to thumb-size; and “The Return of Doctor X,” no relation to “Doctor X,” is about physician (Humphrey Bogart) brought back from the dead. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)

“Prince Movie Collection” (Warner, 1984-90, color and b/w, three movies, audio commentary, featurettes, music videos, trailers). Prince’s three feature films are collected here (and all three Blu-rays are also available individually). “Purple Rain” (1984, R for violence, sex, nudity, language) was Prince’s first film, as a troubled, angry club musician; “Under the Cheery Moon” (1986, PG-13, b/w), which Prince also directed, has him playing an American musician in France who falls for a young heiress (Kristin Scott Thomas in her first film); and “Graffiti Bridge” (1990), which Prince wrote and directed, is a sequel to “Purple Rain.”

“Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” (Warner Archive, 1997, R for language, featurette, trailer). Good performances from Kevin Spacey, John Cusack, Irma P. Hall and others help this unfocused and overlong (155 minutes) true murder story, an unfortunate misfire by director Clint Eastwood; disappointing if not unwatchable. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)

“The Guyver” (Warner Archive, 1991, PG-13). The title alien device merges with a young man to create a cyborg superhero in this silly sci-fi adaptation of a Japanese comic book. Mark Hamill plays a CIA agent. (“The Guyver 2” is also available; both are DVD-R manufacture-on-demand releases available at warnerarchive.com.)

“Vamp” (Arrow, 1986, R for violence, sex, nudity, language, featurettes, bloopers, photo/poster gallery, trailer, short film: “Dracula Bites the Big Apple,” booklet). This is a silly vampire yarn about three college kids looking for a stripper as a fraternity dare, stumbling into a nest of vampires. Grace Jones (with no dialogue) cuts quite a figure, but what starts out as a light spoof devolves quickly into gory exploitation. Utah actor Gedde Watanabe (“Gung Ho,” “Sixteen Candles”) stands out as one of the frat boys, and he’s interviewed in a new featurette on this Blu-ray upgrade.

“Child’s Play: Collector’s Edition” (MGM/Scream, 1988, R for violence and language, two discs, audio commentaries, featurettes, photo/poster galleries, trailer/TV spot). The possessed-doll plot has been used for a classic “Twilight Zone” episode (1963) and episodes of at least three anthology films — “Dead of Night” (1945), “Asylum” (1972) and the TV movie “Trilogy of Terror” (1975). I recommend any of those over this tale of Chucky the slasher doll. But apparently its amped-up R-rated violence struck a chord as it led to a six-film franchise (with “Chucky 7” due next year). This Blu-ray reissue features many new bonus features.

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 hicks@deseretnews.com.

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