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

Wanda

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.
1944.
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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Criterion March 2019 Slate Includes Zemeckis Debut, Bergman’s ‘Magic Flute’

The Criterion Collection’s March 2019 slate will include The Magic Flute, The Kid Brother, Detour, Wanda, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Japón.

Director Ingmar Bergman’s 1975 screen version of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute arrives on Blu-ray and DVD March 12 with a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a 1974 Bergman interview, a new interview with film scholar Peter Cowie, the feature-length 1975 Swedish TV documentary Tystnad! Tagning! Trollflöjten! about the making of the film, plus an essay by author Alexander Chee.

Also due March 12 on Blu-ray and DVD is a 4K digital restoration of the 1927 silent film The Kid Brother, starring comedy legend Harold Lloyd as a lawman in the Old West trying to escape the shadow of his brothers. Extras include the 1989 orchestral score by composer Carl Davis; an alternate archival organ score performed by Gaylord Carter; a 2005 commentary featuring filmmaker and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, film historian Annette D’Agostino Lloyd, and Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd; “Harold’s Leading Ladies,” a new conversation between author Cari Beauchamp and Suzanne Lloyd; “Anatomy of a Gag: Monkeyshoes,” a new video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns; behind-the-scenes stills gallery curated by Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Simonton Jr.; “Close to Home,” a new video essay on the film’s shooting locations by author John Bengtson; a Dutch television interview with Lloyd from 1962; a featurette from 2005 about Greenacres, Lloyd’s estate, hosted by Suzanne Lloyd; two restored rare early Lloyd shorts: Over the Fence (1917) and That’s Him (1918), with new Wurlitzer theater pipe organ scores and a discussion of their early film formats by archivist Dino Everett; a new tour of the Wurlitzer organ with composer Nathan Barr and organist Mark Herman; and an essay by critic Carrie Rickey.

Due March 19 with a new 4K digital restoration is the Blu-ray and DVD of 1945’s Detour, director Edgar G. Ulmer’s film noir about a down-on-his-luck nightclub pianist (Tom Neal) who finds himself with a dead body on his hands and nowhere to run — a waking nightmare that goes from bad to worse when he picks up the most vicious femme fatale in cinema history, Ann Savage’s Vera. The Blu-ray includes uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen, a 2004 documentary featuring interviews with filmmakers Roger Corman, Joe Dante and Wim Wenders, and actor Ann Savage; a new interview with film scholar Noah Isenberg, author of Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins; a new program about the restoration of Detour; The film’s trailer; and an an essay by critic and poet Robert Polito.

Also due March 19 on Blu-ray and DVD is 1970’s Wanda, written, directed by and starring Barbara Loden, about a women who tries to move beyond losing her husband and children by drifiting between bars and motels, falling prey to a series of callous men. The disc includes a new 2K digital restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, The Film Foundation and Gucci, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include I Am Wanda, an hourlong documentary by Katja Raganelli featuring an interview with director Barbara Loden filmed in 1980; an audio recording of Loden speaking to students at the American Film Institute in 1971; a segment from a 1971 episode of “The Dick Cavett Show” featuring Loden; The Frontier Experience, a short educational film from 1975 about a pioneer woman’s struggle to survive, directed by and starring Loden; the film’s trailer; and an essay by film critic Amy Taubin.

Due March 26 on Blu-ray and DVD is I Wanna Hold Your Hand, the directorial debut of Robert Zemeckis. Co-written with Bob Gale, the 1978 film follows six teenagers on a mission to see the first live American appearance of the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. The disc features a new 4K digital restoration approved by Zemeckis and Gale, with a 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new conversation among Zemeckis, Gale and executive producer Steven Spielberg; a new interview with actors Nancy Allen and Marc McClure; audio commentary from 2004 featuring Zemeckis and Gale; The Lift (1972) and A Field of Honor (1973), two early short films by Zemeckis; the film’s trailer and TV spots; an essay by critic Scott Tobias; and more.

Also due March 26 on DVD and Blu-ray is 2002’s Japón, about a suicidal man in Mexico whose encounter with a pious elderly woman reawakens his desires. The disc includes a new 2K digital restoration supervised by director Carlos Reygadas, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new conversation between Reygadas and filmmaker Amat Escalante; a video diary shot by actor Alejandro Ferretis during the film’s production; Maxhumain, a short film directed by Reygadas in 1999; a deleted scene; the film’s trailer; and a new essay by novelist Valeria Luiselli.