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ost sought after movies on DVD, believe it or not, has been The High and the Mighty, the father of the modern disaster genre, produced by and starring John Wayne. The 1954 airplane adventure directed by William Wellman has been out of circulation for decades but Paramount picked up DVD rights to this and other movies from the Wayne family estate, including the superior aviation adventure Island in the Sky (1953, also directed by Wellman). The High and the Mighty features solid, sluggish, old-fashioned moviemaking, lensed in CinemaScope by Archie Stout and featuring Dimitri Tiomkin’s Oscar-winning score. Bonus features include: Stories from the Set, The Music and World of Dimitri Tiomkin, Restoring a Classic, A Place in Film History, and Flying in the Fifties.Freddie Francis, the master cinematographer of gothic horror, best known for his Hammer films, lensed The Innocents (1961), the eerie, gripping adaptation of The Turn of the Screw, starring Deborah Kerr as the tormented governess. Jack Clayton’s film is one of the great atmospheric black-and-white works of the ’60s. Also available is Francis’ directorial effort, The Doctor and the Devils (1985), the fascinating though diluted adaptation of the Dylan Thomas script about grave robbing to supply a prestigious doctor (Timothy Dalton) with fresh corpses. An effective Victorian mood is supplied by cinematographers Gerry Turpin and Hammer vet Norman Warwick.

Written by Bill Desowitz

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