Blu-ray Round-up: 'Those Magnificent Men' Meet 'Cover Girl' Rita Hayworth
Plus 'The Big Bang Theory,' 'Altered States,' and a science fiction library
"Twins of Evil" (CAV), a Hammer horror from the sexy seventies incarnation, stars Peter Cushing, Dennis Price, and Playboy centerfold Madeleine and Mary Collinson as the titular twins. Videodrone's review is here.
"Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (Twilight Time) is the aviation version of "The Great Race," a slapstick take-off of the real-life London-to-Paris air race in 1910 that attracted an international field of competitors, but any resemblance between the real life event and this comedy are coincidental. Directed by Ken Annakin as a madcap lark with a delightful array of airplanes and other airborne contraptions, it stars Stuart Whitman as the ostensible hero, a laconic American competing with stuffy British flyer James Fox not merely for the prize money, but for the affections of the lovely, independent-minded Sarah Miles (incidentally the daughter of the race’s sponsor, a blustery newspaper publisher played by Robert Morley), and Terry-Thomas as the sniveling villain, who cheats and sabotages his rivals with comic aplomb. Other flyers are played by Gert Frobe, Alberto Sordi, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Yujiro Ishihara, and the supporting cast includes Benny Hill, Red Skelton, and Irina Demick as the ubiquitous beauty in every port.
Features commentary by director Ken Annakin (carried over from the previous DVD edition) and an isolated audio track with musical score by Ron Goodwin. Available exclusively from Screen Archives.
"Cover Girl" (Twilight Time) – Rita Hayworth is both girl next door and sexy screen siren in this 1944 musical about a nightclub dancer from Brooklyn who wins a cover girl contest and leaves her boyfriend (Gene Kelly) behind to pursue her newfound fame. It’s hardly the best musical of its time, but music is by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Ira Gershwin (their song “Long Ago and Far Away” was nominated for an Oscar), and the Technicolor blast (directed by Charles Vidor) is gorgeous. Phil Silvers co-stars and Martha Mears dubs Hayworth’s voice. Features an accompanying booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo. Available exclusively from Screen Archives.
"The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season" (Warner) and "The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season" (Warner) present the respective Blu-ray debuts of the hit sitcom about a pair of uber-nerd physics geniuses and the hot chick across the hall, because if the fans of the show are anything like the characters, they'll need a high-def upgrade. Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons are the socially handicapped child-men who can speak Klingon but can't speak to girls -- Parsons is the borderline autistic with a sardonic streak and Galecki the almost socially presentable one who crushes big time on their new neighbor -- and Kaley Cuoco is the sweetie of a blond beauty who not only speaks to them but enjoys their company. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar complete the geek squad that hangs out at their third-floor walk-up. Both sets feature bonus DVD copies plus a Ultraviolet digital copies of each episode for download and instant streaming, along with two featurettes per season and the obligatory gag reel.
A Science Fiction Festival:
Science fiction and Blu-ray seems a perfect match (technology meets technology) and Warner is releasing a small library of titles this week. I'll kick off coverage with Ken Russell's "Altered States" (Warner). Author / screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky took his name off this film when he saw what Russell did with the script: he turned it into a Ken Russell film! It’s a heady trip into the mind and right back out, flashing with psychedelic imagery that transforms into physical regression. One bad trip on some righteous Mexican mushrooms in a sensory deprivation tank and William Hurt turns into a feral ape-man. Consistent this is not – the conclusion leaps off the murky void of logic – but Russell can be quite entertaining in his excess. No supplements beyond the trailer.
You could call "Outland" (Warner) a "High Noon" in space, with Sean Connery as the lone lawman taking on corporate gunmen on a mining colony on a moon of Jupiter. Peter Hyams directs and Peter Boyle co-stars. With commentary by Hyams. Douglas Trumbull's "Brainstorm" (Warner) suffered from the death of its star, Natalie Wood, before it was complete, followed by the studio abandoning the film. Trumbull struggled to get it released, and the finished film is more interesting for the technology than the drama. Christopher Walken, Louise Fletcher, and Cliff Robertson co-star.
"Spawn" (New Line), the 1997 live action version of Todd McFarlane's comic book and animated series about a CIA operative (Michael Jai White) who goes to hell and comes back a super powered being with a magic suit, debuts in the R-rated Director's Cut, with commentary, a featurette, an interview with McFarlane, and galleries of sketches and storyboards.
Also new this week: "Coma" (Warner), the medical thriller starring Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas and directed by Michael Crichton; "The Astronaut's Wife" (New Line), a science fiction horror tale with Johnny Depp as the astronaut and Charlize Theron as the wife show suspects he's changed since his last mission; and "Frequency" (New Line), with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as father and son communicating across thirty years. The latter features multiple commentary tracks.