Mike’s Picks: ‘Wanda’ and ‘Phantom Lady’


Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins.
1971. What stands out about Wanda, aside from the fact that scouting its locations could well have been the most depressing gig in the business, is the degree to which its narrative is still such a downbeat grabber despite all of its raggedness.
Extras: Amy Taubin penned the Criterion essay, and there’s an hour-long audio interview that was done at the AFI in which star Barbara Loden talks a lot about simply getting this labor of love on the screen. We also get the actress/director in a half-hour educational film about a pioneer woman, yet the transcendent standout here is an hour-long documentary on Loden filmed just three months before she died in 1980 at age 48 from cancer.
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Phantom Lady

MVD/Arrow, Drama, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, Thomas Gomez.
After an extended build-up that makes one wonder if the movie will break out into something more, Phantom Lady is ultimately put over by three extended sequences that easily carry the story beyond what turns out to be a resourcefully versatile lead actress (Ella Raines) is already doing.
Extras: Includes an Alan Rode essay and a vintage noir doc that runs just under an hour.
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