Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on Dec. 19 from Shout! Studios

Shout! Studios on Dec. 19 will release a special collector’s edition of Oliver Stone’s acclaimed and controversial JFK on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and regular Blu-ray Disc, under the indie film distributor’s Shout! Select brand.

JFK, released theatrically in 1991, examines the Nov. 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy from the perspective of New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who came to believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy and that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two, for Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography.

JFK boasts a star-studded cast, with Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Sissy Spacek (Carrie), Joe Pesci (Goodfellas), Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men), Kevin Bacon (Mystic River), Laurie Metcalf (The Conners), Gary Oldman (The Dark Night), Jack Lemmon (The Apartment), Donald Sutherland (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Walter Matthau (A New Leaf) and more.

The set comes loaded with special features, including 4K UDH scans of the original negative; audio commentary from the director, producer, and co-writer; deleted and extended scenes; and more. Additionally, fans who pre-order the film from ShoutFactory.com will receive an exclusive 18×24 rolled poster featuring the original theatrical artwork, available while supplies last.

Shout! Studios Giving ‘Natural Born Killers’ the 4K Ultra HD Treatment Sept. 26

Shout! Studios has announced the Sept. 26 home release of Natural Born Killers (Collector’s Edition) as part of its Shout Select line.

The release marks the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of the 1994 thriller, a controversial film by Oliver Stone about a couple on a murder spree across the country.

The three-disc 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Disc combo pack includes new transfers of both the director’s cut and theatrical cut. Special features include several new interviews, as well as 4K director-approved transfers from the original negative.

Consumers who order the package from ShoutFactory.com will receive an exclusive 18×24 rolled poster featuring the original theatrical artwork, available while supplies last.

As fugitive serial killers Mickey and Mallory, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play a young couple who share traumatic childhoods. They embark on a cross-country murder spree, all the while glorified by the mass media. The supporting cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore and Rodney Dangerfield.

Disc one includes the film in 4K Ultra HD, from a new director-approved transfer from the original negative, in Dolby Vision (HDR-10 compatible). The audio tracks are 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio. Also included is a commentary from director Stone. 

The second disc includes the director’s cut of the film in standard Blu-ray Disc, also from a director-approved transfer from the original negative, with the same audio tracks as the 4K Ultra HD version. Bonus features on disc 2 include commentary and an introduction from Stone and various featurettes, including conversations with editor Hank Corwin (“On Dawn’s Bleeding Highway”); producer Clayton Townsend (“The Scream of the Butterfly”); special makeup effects artist Gordon J. Smith (“A Bloody Pail Of Nitro”); and cinematographer Robert Richardson (“Wilderness Of Pain.”)

Disc 3 features the original theatrical cut of the film, also with Stone’s commentary and introduction, along with the mini-documentaries “Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness”; “Natural Born Killers Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?”; “Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers“; several deleted scenes, with introductions by Stone; and an alternate ending, also with an introduction by Stone.

Both cuts of the film include the song “Burn” by NIN.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Collector’s Edition

BLU-RAY REVIEW 

Street Date 6/2/20;
Shout! Factory;
Drama;
$22.97 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references.
Stars Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce, Jude Ciccolella, Bruce Altman.

Some movies just have a way of getting in your head and wrapping themselves around your brain. Glengarry Glen Ross, based on David Mamet’s stage play, is such a film. With a powerhouse cast (including four Academy Award winners) delivering juicy dialogue, how could it not be? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself quoting the film with regularity after a viewing.

In the 1992 film, as with the play, we meet four real-estate salesmen who will do anything to sell worthless property to customers who don’t want it.

Mamet has found a way to cram so many worthwhile themes, from transition to desperation, into such a simple framework. Jack Lemmon plays Shelley “The Machine” Levine, an elderly salesman who has fallen on hard times. Al Pacino plays smooth-talker Ricky Roma, who is in the midst of a winning streak. Alec Baldwin plays a hotshot from downtown who shows up in a classic cameo written specifically for the actor for the screen version. All are pitch perfect.

Baldwin puts the fear of God into the salesmen by telling them to close a deal or they’re fired. The next day, the office has been ransacked. Sensitive documents have been stolen. The subsequent investigation quickly gives way to one of the classic verbal beatdowns in cinema history, when Pacino berates the inept office manager, played by Kevin Spacey, after he costs Roma a big sale.

These are scenes you could watch again and again with continued fascination at the skill with which these performers give life to the words on the page. Mamet’s screenplay, which he adapted himself, is often hailed as being better than the stage version due to the inclusion of the Baldwin scene, which crystalizes the stakes of the story in a way the stage production only hints at.

Surprisingly, despite its legacy and acclaim, the film earned just one Academy Award nomination, Pacino for Best Supporting Actor. Pacino would lose that race to Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, but got the last laugh the same year when he took home Best Actor for Scent of a Woman. For some people it’s just in the cards. (When the movie came out, Lemmon had been the only Oscar winner in the cast. After Pacino, Spacey and Alan Arkin would later win Oscars, with Baldwin, Ed Harris and Jonathan Pryce earning Oscar nominations).

The new Shout Select Blu-ray presents the film with a gorgeous new 4K digital transfer from the original camera negative that offers a crisp, vivid image. Being sourced from a loquacious stage play, the film’s visual splendors are secondary concerns, though director James Foley and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía do their best to enhance the dreary ambiance of the piece with moody shadows and reflections of rain while bathing the characters in various shades of neon.

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In terms of bonus material, the new Blu-ray offers a healthy mix of old and new extras.

The first of the new additions is a 30-minute interview with Foley as he reflects on the development of the film version and the relative ease of the production since he was working with such a talented cast and a tight screenplay. The other is “God Bless Ricky Roma,” a 24-minute interview with actor Joe Mantegna, who won a Tony playing Roma on Broadway in the 1980s.

The Shout Blu-ray also includes two half-hour documentaries from the old 10th anniversary DVD from 1992 that were subsequently included on Lionsgate’s 2016 Blu-ray edition: the “ABC: Always Be Closing” documentary about the psychological intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen, and the “Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon” documentary.

The disc also includes two commentary tracks. One comes from Foley that originated on the 10th anniversary DVD and was included on the Blu-ray as well. He offers some good stories about the production, some of which he also recounts in the new interview, but there are lengthy gaps where he just lets the film run without saying a word.

The other commentary is by Jack Lemmon, originally recorded for the 1992 Laserdisc of the film but missing from subsequent disc releases, so it makes a welcome return here. Lemmon is effusive in his praise for his fellow cast members, whom he calls the most talented bunch he ever worked with. His commentary is a fantastic intermingling of stories from the set with tales of old Hollywood from the 1950s and ’60s.

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As to what didn’t make it from previous releases, the new Blu-ray jettisons a 10-minute clip of Lemmon on the Charlie Rose show talking about the movie in 1992, and a two-minute bit of Kevin Spacey reciting his “Go to lunch” scene with an audience member on “Inside the Actors Studio.” Both were featured on both the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, but their absence here is understandable given the problematic revelations regarding both Rose and Spacey that have popped up in recent years. It’s a shame to lose the reflections from Lemmon in the Rose piece, though.

In addition, a couple of extras from the old DVD that didn’t carry over to the 2016 Blu-ray also aren’t resurrected here. These include a scene-specific commentary from the cast and crew, and filmmaker Tony Buba’s short documentary “J. Roy: New and Used Furniture.” So completist collectors who have that 10th anniversary DVD might want to pair this new Blu-ray with the second disc from that set (which offers the pan-and-scan version of the movie along with the extras missing from the later Blu-rays).

Shout Select Presents ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ Collector’s Edition Blu-ray June 2

Shout! Factory’s premium home video label, Shout Select, June 2 will release a collector’s edition Blu-ray of the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.

Adapted from the play by David Mamet, the film tracks a group of down-on-their luck Chicago real-estate salesman as they try to meet the month’s sale’s goals in order to avoid being fired.

The cast includes Al Pacino in an Oscar-nominated performance, plus Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin as the motivational speaker whose cameo was written into the film version.

The Shout! Blu-ray edition includes a new 4K transfer from the original camera negative; a new conversation with director James Foley; a new “God Bless Ricky Roma” featurette in which actor Joe Mantegna remembers working with Mamet on a stage production of the story; an “A.B.C. ‘Always Be Closing’ featurette; a “Magic Time: A Tribute To Jack Lemmon” featurette; and separate commentaries with Foley and Lemmon.

Shout Select Releasing ‘Deer Hunter’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 26

Shout Select, the premium imprint of indie distributor Shout! Factory, will release The Deer Hunter on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time May 26.

The Deer Hunter: Collector’s Edition two-disc combo pack will present the 1978 Best Picture Oscar winner on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray Disc loaded with bonus features including new interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

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The film follows a group of Pennsylvania steelworkers from their blue-collar lives, hunting in the woods of the Alleghenies, to the hell of the Vietnam War. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage and Meryl Streep.

In addition to Best Picture, the film won Academy Awards for director Michael Cimino, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Walken, Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

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Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs will include audio commentary by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher.

The Blu-ray will also include new interviews with Savage, actress Rutanya Alda, producer Michael Deeley, post-production supervisor Katy Haber and Universal Marketing executive Willette Klausner. Other extras include an interview with film critic David Thomson, deleted and extended scenes, a theatrical trailer, radio spots and a still gallery.

Fans who preorder the combo pack from ShoutFactory.com will also receive an exclusive 18x 24-inch poster, while supplies last.

30th Anniversary Blu-ray of ‘The Wizard’ Due March 24

Shout! Factory will release The Wizard: Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray Disc through the Shout Select premium imprint March 24, 2020.

The 1989 film tells the story of young Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards), who runs away to California with his brother, Corey (Fred Savage), while being pursued by their father (Beau Bridges) and older brother (Christian Slater). Along the way they encounter street-smart teen Haley (Jenny Lewis), and discover Jimmy’s hidden talent for video games, leading them to enroll in a tournament at Universal Studios.

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The two-disc collector’s edition includes a new 4K scan of the film and new bonus features, including an audio commentary from director Todd Holland and never-before-released deleted scenes.

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Featurettes include “The Road to Cali-forn-ia,” a retrospective with new interviews from Holland Savage and Edwards, writer-producer David Chisholm, producer Ken Topolsky and more; “How Can I Help You? Confessions of a Game Play Counselor”; “A Clinical Analysis of The Wizard”; and a post-screening Q&A from the Let’s Play Gaming Expo 2019 with Edwards, Chisholm and Topolsky.

The set also includes trailers and a photo gallery.

 

This Gun for Hire

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Shout! Factory;
Drama;
$29.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, Alan Ladd.

The best of the Alan Ladd-Veronica Lake quartet was also the duo’s first teaming, and 1942’s This Gun for Hire came so early in that brainstorm’s six-year run that Ladd was only billed fourth in the ads despite playing the central character. Audiences then rectified this situation in a flash when Gun made Ladd an overnight superstar who quickly became Paramount’s top non-comedic male lead until the early 1950s, though “overnight” is a stretch. Ladd had knocked around in bit parts for an age, and you can even recognize his superb radio voice on the soundtrack Citizen Kane if you’re tipped off going in.

The heights of these two fair-hairs were compatible (Lake was only 4-foot-11 —all of it va-voom-ness until she quickly self-destructed). And the team’s somnambulant acting styles somehow managed to mesh when one might logically assume that the opposite might be true. In this adaptation of a Graham Greene novel with wartime subtext quickly shoehorned in (production apparently wrapped on Dec 8, 1941), Ladd plays a twisted hired killer who got that way due to a sadistic aunt who beat him so badly that he has a deformed wrist to show for it, a first-rate clue for authorities who are trying to track him down. He likes the defenseless (cats and a little girl with braces on her legs) and people who are nice to him if given the chance, though there aren’t many of those. But Lake is.

As a sniveling mid-level lackey to a doddering Mr. Big, the gargantuan character actor Laird Cregar (a personal favorite) hires Ladd to knock off an intermediary in the theft of a McGuffin-ish chemical formula about to be treasonously sold to a foreign power for big bucks. Cregar’s “front” is to be the owner/promoter of a nightclub where Lake and her magic act are hired to perform. The movie is so beautifully put together that despite a wired-tight running time of just 81 minutes, the studio found a way to give singing magician Lake a pair of numbers, without interrupting or jarring the narrative and, in fact, enhancing it.

Cregar, who died at 30 when he looked 50, was another Hollywood casualty who was forced into the closet (a crash diet he launched, which altered his look in swan song Hangover Square, was the catalyst for his death). His demeanor here is certainly gay — yet he’s really convincing as one who looks as if he’d like to make a little of his own magic with Lake. Well, that’s out — as if it would ever happen, anyway — because she has a cop boyfriend played by the young Robert Preston in the kind of thankless role that eventually instigated his bolting from Hollywood until Broadway’s The Music Man gave him a second chance. Thankless or not, Preston is another personal favorite, so we’re looking at quite the potent cast here.

And even though he lacked the same name recognition, this virtue extends to longtime veteran Tully Marshall as the chief heavy and chemical magnate willing to sell out his country. Marshall, who died in real life about a year later, is sociopathically doddering enough here to suggest Sam Jaffe’s High Lama in Lost Horizon but with a pronounced sadistic streak — one that extends to his treatment of subordinates in his employ. The production design for his office is just as memorable, something out of a sci-fi or James Bond movie, though located in downtown Los Angeles.

Ladd and Lake meet by chance on a train and spend much of the movie’s final third together in a railroad yard, which brings up a point. Until the uprise of postwar independent filming, you didn’t see a whole lot of location shooting in L.A. because, for one thing, studios could create the great outdoors (or try to) on their backlots. Gun makes very effective use of some real-deal yards during an escape scheme in which Ladd is holding Lake captive, and like everything else here the sequence is handled with expertise by director Frank Tuttle, a subsequent Ladd favorite to whom the star remained loyal (as he did to the great cinematographer John Seitz). I don’t think there’d be too much debate over Gun being Tuttle’s best picture.

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As they did on the commentary track for Ladd-Lake follow-ups The Blue Dahlia and presumably The Glass Key (which I haven’t listened to yet), historian/biographer Alan Rode and producer/filmmaker Stephen Mitchell make a compatible team discussing Ladd’s insecurities and Lake’s temperamental personality/personal problems, which included alcohol and allegedly even worse on a surprisingly fast track to poverty. Mitchell is a kind of highly instinctive Everyviewer, while Rode can all but quote the results from Tully Marshall’s twilight prostate exams. Rode also brings up Lake’s career-damaging The Hour Before the Dawn, in which she played a Nazi agent in a, shall we say, shaky accent (I’ve always wondered what source novelist Somerset Maugham thought when he saw it).

Though no one mentions it here, the director of Dawn was Frank Tuttle, who not that much later had to deal with the Blacklist. But in this case, all cylinders were firing, and Ladd is unforgettable. I’ve always liked Gun back dating to my early adolescence, but aided by this excellent print, I have to say it’s even better than I thought. As noir-ish melodrama goes, it’s a tough movie to fault on any level.

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

Shout Select Releasing ‘Born in East L.A.’ Collector’s Edition March 19

Shout! Factory will release Born in East L.A. as a collector’s edition Blu-ray with new bonus material March 19 through its Shout Select imprint.

Written by, directed by and starring Cheech Marin, the 1987 comedy follows the plight of an American of Hispanic descent who schemes to get back into the United States after he is accidentally deported to Mexico without money or ID.

The Blu-ray will include a new commentary from Marin; new interviews with Marin, actress Kamala Lopez and actor Paul Rodriguez; a standard-definition extended television cut of the movie; a photo gallery; production notes; and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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Shout! Factory Releasing ‘Legally Blonde’ Blu-ray Collection Feb. 26

Indie distributor Shout! Factory’s Shout Select imprint will release The Legally Blonde Collection on Blu-ray Feb. 26, featuring Reese Witherspoon in 2001’s Legally Blonde and its 2003 sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.

In the first film, sorority girl Elle Woods (Witherspoon) enrolls at Harvard Law School with her little dog Bruiser in tow in an attempt to win back her boyfriend after he dumps her. In the sequel, she takes on Washington, D.C., in support of a bill against animal testing.

The Blu-ray includes a new 4K scan on the first film from its original negative, plus a new interview with actress Jessica Caulfiel, who played Margot, one of Elle’s best friends.

The collection also includes audio commentaries, making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, music videos and the films’ trailers.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Forty Guns’ and ‘The Blue Dahlia’

Forty Guns

Criterion, Western, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, Gene Barry.
1957. Director Samuel Fuller’s action-packed Western features Barbara Stanwyck doing her own stunts as a ruthless landowner seeking to keep her drunken brother out of trouble when lawmen ride into town in search of a gunman under her employ.
Extras: Also included is the 2013 documentary A Fuller Life that daughter Samantha Fuller put together, several essays, a hour-hour discussion with Imogen Sara Smith about Fuller and Western genre conventions in general, and alternate audio featuring a 1969 appearance at London’s National Film Theatre by Fuller himself.
Read the Full Review

The Blue Dahlia

Shout! Factory, Drama, $22.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard da Silva.
1946.
Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake co-starring in Raymond Chandler’s only original screenplay sounds well nigh irresistible on paper, and The Blue Dahlia mostly satisfies the concept’s potential as well as intriguing additional considerations that go tangentially beyond sleuthing the murderer of boozy Mrs. Ladd (Doris Dowling).
Extras: Includes a commentary from film historian Alan Rode and filmmaker Steve Mitchell.
Read the Full Review