Mike’s Picks: ‘The Heiress’ and ‘This Gun for Hire’

The Heiress

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins.
1949.
Adapted from the 1947 Ruth and Augustus Goetz play whose springboard was Henry James’s source novel Washington Square, the William Wyler-directed The Heiress allows Olivia de Havilland to undergo a subtly eerie transformation before our very eyes in a spellbinding example of refined worm-turning.
Extras: The Criterion essay is by Brit critic and historian Pamela Hutchinson. There’s also a conversation between film essayist Farran Smith Nehme and Jay Cocks; a featurette about Edith Head’s costumes; 1981 footage of Ralph Richardson that was shot for Catherine Wyler’s documentary on her father; an anecdotal interview of de Havilland; a Merv Griffin tribute to Wyler; and Wyler’s brief acceptance speech for the AFI Life Achievement Award.
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This Gun for Hire

Shout! Factory, Drama, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, Alan Ladd.
1942. The best of the Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake quartet was also the duo’s first teaming. In this adaptation of a Graham Greene novel, Ladd plays a twisted hired killer contracted for a scheme that tangentially involves a nightclub where Lake performs as a singing magician.
Extras: Historian/biographer Alan Rode and producer/filmmaker Stephen Mitchell make a compatible team discussing Ladd’s insecurities and Lake’s temperamental personality/personal problems.
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