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Inside DVD


Inside DVD: What Every Below the Liner Should Own
By Bill Desowitz
This month we introduce a new column devoted to those special movies on DVD—both new and old–that are worth owning for their contributions to the below-the-line craft of filmmaking or for their extraordinary value-added features.

Fox Studio Classics Series: All About Eve, Gentlemen’s Agreement, How Green Was My Valley, An Affair to Remember, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Sunrise (Fox Home Entertainment)
Fox has begun a yearlong celebration in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Oscars with these initial offerings. All boast pristine transfers from preserved or restored elements and informative commentaries and historical info. However, Murnau’s landmark silent, Sunrise, which earned the only Oscar for unique and artistic production as well as a prize for Charles Rosher and Karl Struss’ gorgeous cinematography, is available free with the purchase of any three titles. On Eve, Edith Head and Charles LeMair won for costumes and the Fox sound department won for sound recording, while Milton Krasner was nominated for cinematography, Lyle Wheeler for black and white art direction, Barbara McLean for editing, and Alfred Newman for music scoring. On Gentleman’s Agreement, Harmon Jones was nominated for editing. On Valley, Arthur Miller won for cinematography; Richard Day, Nathan Juran, and Thomas Little won for black and white art direction—interior decoration; James B. Clark for editing; Newman was nominated for music; and the sound department for sound recording; On An Affair, Krasner was nominated for cinematography; and LeMaire for costumes. Meanwhile, Earth boasts Bernard Herrmann’s eerie score; Leo Tover’s cinematography; and Perkins Bailey’s costume design for Klaatu.

The Killers (both versions), Beauty and the Beast, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (The Criterion Collection)
Now Hemingway’s The Killers, directed by Robert Siodmak and Don Siegel, can be viewed side-by-side. Sit back and enjoy Woody Bredell’s moody black and white cinematography in the former and Richard Rawling’s brightly lit color work in the latter. Contains oodles of documentaries and interviews. Criterion improves on its earlier disc of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast with this more complete version and a luminous transfer. The better to appreciate Henri Alekan’s cinematography, the art direction by Rene Moulaert and Lucien Carre, and the costumes by Marcel Escoffier and Castillo. Contains a treasure trove of documentaries, interviews, behind-the-scenes info, a reprint of the beloved fable, and an original opera written for the film by Philip Glass. Say what you will about Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing, but the psychedelic production design by Alex McDowell and cinematography by Nicola Pecorini are worth the trip. The two-disc set contains a collection of storyboards and production designs, three audio commentaries, including one by the gonzo himself, Hunter S. Thompson.

Road to Perdition (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)
Conrad Hall’s final artistic triumph can be studied more closely on this new two-disc set, which also includes deleted scenes and audio commentary by Director Sam Mendes.

The Color Purple (Warner Home Video)
This brand new high-def transfer shows off Allen Daviau’s beautiful cinematography in addition to Michael Kahn’s editing, J. Michael Riva’s production design, Bo Welch’s art direction, and Aggie Rodgers’ costumes.

Thelma & Louise (MGM Home Entertainment)
This special edition of Ridley Scott’s provocative adventure not only boasts a striking new transfer, which does full justice to Adrian Biddle’s breathtaking cinematography, but also 30 minutes of newly found deleted scenes, an alternate ending, four documentaries, audio commentary by Scott, and multi-angle storyboards of the final chase.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Special Extended DVD Edition (New Line Home Entertainment Platinum Series)
Writer-Director Peter Jackson gives us more than 30 additional minutes of footage (including a lot more of WETA’s Oscar-winning CGI work). For many, it will be a greater feast for the eyes and ears and truly a more expanded vision. The four-disc set also includes a lot of valuable info on the making of the epic, including two docs on WETA’s vfx, Storyboards and Pre-Viz, Designing Middle Earth, Costume Design, Editorial, and Digital Grading.

Band of Brothers (HBO Video)
HBO’s Emmy-winning miniseries comes to DVD in a stunning six-disc set. In addition to all 10 hours of the real-life dramatic story of Easy Company (executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg), the set includes an 80-minute doc, “We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company,” and a 30-minute “making of” featurette.

Sunset Blvd. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Arguably the best movie about old Hollywood and one of Billy Wilder’s masterpieces, this 1950 drama has never looked better, thanks to the extensive digital work supplied by Lowry Digital Image (Paramount reportedly spent $500,000 to bring back the visual splendor of John Seitz’s brilliant cinematography and the creepy Art Direction by Hans Dreier and John Meehan III. The disc includes footage from the aborted opening “morgue” scene and featurettes on Head’s costumes and Franz Waxman’s score.

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