Criterion’s January 2020 Slate Includes ‘Fail Safe’

The list of Criterion Collection Blu-ray and DVD releases for January 2020 includes Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother, George Cukor’s romantic comedy Holiday, Jean-Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat, Sidney Lumet’s nuclear-war thriller Fail Safe, and a Blu-ray edition of Lumet’s Tennessee Williams adaptation The Fugitive Kind.

Arriving Jan. 7 on DVD and Blu-ray is 1938’s Holiday, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The special edition includes a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include Holiday (1930), a previous adaptation of Philip Barry’s play, directed by Edward H. Griffith; a new conversation between filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow; audio excerpts from an American Film Institute oral history with director George Cukor, recorded in 1970 and ’71; a costume gallery; plus an essay by critic Dana Stevens.

Due Jan. 14 is 1960’s The Fugitive Kind, bringing together four Oscar-winning actors: Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward and Maureen Stapleton. The Blu-ray includes a high-definition digital restoration, approved by Lumet, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras include an interview from 2009 with Lumet; Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, an hour-long 1958 television presentation of one-act plays, directed by Lumet and starring Ben Gazzara and Lee Grant, among others; a program from 2010 discussing Williams’s work in Hollywood and The Fugitive Kind; plus an essay by film critic David Thomson.

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Arriving Jan. 21 on DVD and Blu-ray is 1963’s Le petit soldat, Godard’s examination of the use of torture in the Algerian War. The special edition includes a high-definition digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and a new English subtitle translation. Extras include an interview with Godard from 1965; an interview with actor Michel Subor from 1963; an audio interview with Godard from 1961; plus an essay by critic Nicholas Elliott.

All About My Mother, from 1999, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 28 with a new 2K digital restoration supervised by executive producer Agustín Almodóvar and approved by the director, with a new English subtitle translation, and 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a 52-minute documentary from 2012 on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar; actors Penélope Cruz, Marisa Paredes, Cecilia Roth and Antonia San Juan; production manager Esther García; and author Didier Eribon. Other extras include a television program from 1999 featuring Pedro Almodóvar and his mother, Francisca Caballero, along with Cruz, San Juan, Paredes and Roth; a 48-minute post-screening Q&A in Madrid from 2019, featuring the Almodóvars and Paredes; plus an essay by film scholar Emma Wilson. The Blu-ray will include an interview with Pedro Almodóvar and a tribute he wrote to his mother, both from 1999.

Also due on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 28 is 1964’s Fail Safe, starring Henry Fonda as the U.S. president and Walter Matthau as a trigger-happy political theorist. The special edition includes a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an audio commentary from 2000 featuring director Sidney Lumet; a new interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films; “Fail Safe Revisited”, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, screenwriter Walter Bernstein and actor Dan O’Herlihy; plus an essay by critic Bilge Ebiri.

‘The Illusionist,’ ‘Winter Passing’ and ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ Among Star-Studded Films Joining MVD Marquee Collection

The MVD Marquee Collection is adding five films from Yari Film Group to its lineup on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Due June 25 are Resurrecting the Champ, Winter Passing and The Illusionist.

Resurrecting the Champ, directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender), stars Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett with Alan Alda, Kathryn Morris, Teri Hatcher, David Paymer and Peter Coyote. In the film, sportswriter Erik Kernan (Hartnett) wants nothing more than to discover a story great enough to make headlines. When he meets Champ (Jackson), a former boxing champion living on the streets, he knows he has a shot to save them both. Recording his newfound friend’s tale of triumph and defeat, Kernan gets his story and his fame. But as Champ’s tale falls under more scrutinizing eyes, Kernan learns what truly makes a story great is the quality of the man behind it. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from Lurie, a behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews with the cast and crew, and the original theatrical trailer.

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Winter Passing is an offbeat film about homecoming and reconciliation that features Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Dallas Roberts, Michael Chernus, Anthony Rapp, Sam Bottoms and Rachel Dratch. When a book editor (Madigan) offers to buy the love letters of Reese Holden’s (Deschanel) parents, she returns home to recover them, only to find her widowed dad (Harris) golfing upstairs, sleeping outside and living with roommates — a pretty grad student (Amelia Warner) and a quirky wannabe musician (Ferrell). Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

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The Illusionist stars Paul Giamatti and Edward Norton along with Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. In the film, acclaimed illusionist Eisenheim (Norton) has not only captured the imaginations of all of Vienna, but also the interest of the ambitious Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). But when Leopold’s new fiancée (Biel) rekindles a childhood fascination with Eisenheim, the Prince’s interest evolves into obsession and the city’s chief inspector (Giamatti) finds himself investigating a shocking crime. As the Inspector engages him in a dramatic challenge of wills, Eisenheim prepares for his most impressive illusion yet. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger, “The Making of the Illusionist” featurette, the “Jessica Biel on the Illusionist” featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

Taking 18 years from the start of production to theatrical release, Shortcut to Happiness finally makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD July 16. Originally titled The Devil and Daniel Webster, the film was to be the directorial debut of Alec Baldwin. With the film plagued by investor problems and rumored creative differences, Baldwin had his director credit removed from the film and replaced with the pseudonym Harry Kirkpatrick. Producer Bob Yari rescued the film from bankruptcy court and finished it without Baldwin’s participation. It received limited theatrical screenings in 2007. Years later, it aired on Showtime and Starz channels. Set in New York’s literary world, Shortcut to Happiness is a contemporary re-telling of the classic short story ”The Devil and Daniel Webster,” starring Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kim Cattrall, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Poehler and Darrell Hammond. It follows Jabez Stone (Baldwin), a down on his luck writer who sells his soul to the devil (Love-Hewitt) in exchange for fame and fortune. When things don’t turn out as planned, Stone ultimately decides that he wants his old life again and enlists the help of Daniel Webster (Hopkins) in order to win his soul.

Finally, Sept. 17 comes Find Me Guilty from director Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon). Vin Diesel stars with Peter Dinklage, Annabella Sciorra, Alex Rocco, Ron Silver and Linus Roache in this true story. When police arrest 20 members of the Lucchese crime family, the authorities offer Jackie Dee DiNorscio (Diesel) a bargain: a shortened prison term if he’ll testify against his own. But the wisecracking DiNorscio has other ideas. Refusing to cooperate, he decides to defend himself at his own trial and proceeds to turn the courtroom upside-down, culminating in one of the most shocking verdicts in judicial history. Bonus material includes the “A Conversation with Director Sidney Lumet” featurette, the original theatrical trailer and three TV spots.

Cold War Doc and Thrillers Coming on DVD From Mill Creek in April

The documentary Minutes to Midnight: The Cold War Chronicles and a six-in-one DVD of Cold War Thrillers are coming to DVD plus digital in April from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Minutes to Midnight: The Cold War Chronicles is a documentary filmed over a two-year period that deals with the early years of the Cold War and one of the U.S. Air Force formations that stood on the ramparts of the free world. The DVD also includes 15 government propaganda films from the 1950s featuring narration and appearances from Glenn Ford, Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas and John Wayne.

Cold War Thrillers includes six films about the period. Man on a String (1960) stars Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Mathews and Alexander Scourby and was directed by Andre De Toth (House of Wax). The Deadly Affair (1966), directed by Sidney Lumet, features James Mason, Maximillian Schell and Simone Signoret with a score by Quincy Jones. Otley (1968), directed by Dick Clement, stars Tom Courtenay and Romy Schneider. A Dandy in Aspic (1968), directed by Anthony Mann, stars Mia Farrow, Laurence Harvey and Tom Courtenay with a score by Quincy Jones. Hammerhead (1968), directed by David Miller, features Peter Vaughan, Vince Edwards and Diana Dors. And The Executioner (1970), directed by Sam Wanamaker, stars George Peppard, Joan Collins, Oscar Homolka and Judy Geeson.

Classic TV Shows, Rare TV Pilots Among Titles Coming From VCI and MVD This Fall

A collection of rare and “lost” programs from the early days of television are being released this fall on disc by VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Produced by Jeff Joseph (SabuCat Productions), film archivist, historian, author and producer, the shows have been restored in high definition from the best archival film elements available. Some of the programs have not been seen since they were originally broadcast.

Due Sept .11 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume One – John Cassavetes on DVD and Blu-ray, which features two dramatic programs starring the actor. Episode one is “Crime in the Streets,” which is from The Elgin Hour (Elgin watches) and was broadcast live on ABC March 8, 1955. Written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet, it stars Robert Preston and a very young Cassavetes. Episode two is “No Right to Kill,” with Cassavetes, Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris. It was part of the Climax! series and was presented by the Chrysler Corp. Broadcast on CBS Aug. 9, 1956, it is based on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Original commercial messages are included in the episode, as well as a bonus blooper reel from the “Defenders” and “The Nurses” series.

Coming Oct. 9 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume Two – Rare ‘Pilots’ with four episodes on DVD and Blu-ray. “Case of the Sure Thing” stars Reed Hadley, Louise Currie and Milburn Stone and introduced the series “Racket Squad,” which lasted for three seasons and was nominated for two Primetime Emmys. The program reportedly may have inspired parts of the Hollywood hit The Sting. First broadcast on CBS June 7, 1951, the pilot contains original network commercials as originally broadcast. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, “Cool and Lam” stars Billy Pearson, Benay Venuta, Alison Hayes and Sheila Bromley in a light-hearted, detective yarn featuring characters first created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Bertha Cool runs a detective agency and Donald Lam is her junior partner, hence “Cool and Lam.” “The Life of Riley” features Lon Chaney Jr., Rosemary DeCamp and John Brown. It stars Chaney as Chester Riley and was produced in 1948, but by the time the first season went into full production in 1949, Chaney had been replaced by Jackie Gleason. “Nero Wolfe” stars Kurt Kasznar, William Shatner and Alexander Scourby in another one-off production based on characters created by Rex Stout. Also included on the disc is a bonus CBS blooper reel hosted by James Arness.

Additional volumes are planned with the third in the series already in production for release in late 2018.

Also on tap Oct. 9 on DVD is I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol. 4, with 10 episodes. The show, featuring physical humor in the vein of “I Love Lucy,” centers on Joan, a scatterbrained housewife, and her husband, Bradley Stevens, who was a staid and settled domestic court judge. Beverly Wills, Joan Davis’ real-life daughter, also co-starred on the show playing the part of her sister.

Streeting Sept. 11 is the “Boris Karloff Collection” on two DVDs, a compilation of four rare films featuring the horror legend. Films in the collection include Alien Terror, Cult of the Dead, Dance of Death and Torture Zone. In addition to Karloff, the films star Andres Garcia, Carlos East, Enrique Guzman and Christa Linder.

Finally, due Oct. 23 on Blu-ray and DVD is Blood and Black Lace, director Mario Bava’s film about an unscrupulous business operating under the guise of a top fashion house with exotic models running sexual favors, cocaine dealings and blackmail. Bonus features include 2018 commentary by Kat Ellinger, editor-in-chief and author, Diabolique Magazine; 2018 commentary by film historian David Del Valle and director/writer C. Courtney Joyner; a video Interview with Mary Dawne Arden; an archival video interview with star Cameron Mitchell, with Del Valle; an original American theatrical trailer, plus Italian, German and French trailers; bonus trailers of other Bava films; a photo gallery; alternate original Italian or original U.S. theatrical main titles; bonus music tracks by composer Carlo Rustichelli; video comparison of American and European cuts; and a two-sided cover wrap with alternate cover art.