Retail dvd (paramount home entertainment, widescreen)

The Nutty Professor

Jerry Lewis comedy from 1963 in which he transforms Dr Jekyll-style from a geeky chemistry professor into a hip-but-obnoxious cabaret singer - fairly obviously based on Dean Martin - in order to woo Stella Stevens. It's gently likeable, and Lewis' most watchable movie this side of The King Of Comedy.

Saving Private Ryan: Special Edition

Slightly crass 60th-anniversary edition of a six-year-old flick?a marketing gimmick that rewrites Spielberg's war record by rooting his movie in 1944, making it a document of the time, rather than a piece of late-20th-century fiction. Though it remains a spectacular, unequalled piece of action film-making.

This Property Is Condemned

Sidney Pollack directed, Coppola co-wrote, Natalie Wood, Robert Redford and Charles Bronson star; how come it's so disappointing? A Tennessee Williams adaptation, Wood plays a dreamy but slinky belle in a stifling Southern smalltown boarding house. She falls for golden stranger Redford?then gets left behind. Hard to swallow, but Wood is highly watchable, and the cinematography is exemplary.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

A 1986 John Hughes charmer which has acquired, over the years, near-legendary status for accidentally pre-empting the "slacker" (lack of) movement. Matthew Broderick and his Chicago buddies play truant, but through quick wits get the wheels and the girls—wish fulfilment for the pre-Nirvana generation. Crisp fun for those who found Pretty In Pink a little too dark and troubling.


Occasionally worthy slice of war-is-hell hand-wringing from pre-Hollywood Peter Weir circa 1981 is elevated by eye-popping 'scope photography from Russell Boyd and two credible central turns from Mel Gibson and Mark Lee as the Yin and Yang of Australian machismo. On the other hand, the repeated sampling of Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygen was possibly a mistake.

The Untouchables

Talk about narrow fucking escapes. Halfway through one of the interviews with Brian De Palma that make up the raft of extras on this special edition of his lavish gangster epic, the director mentions that Paramount's first choice for the central part of Eliot Ness was Mel Gibson. It's an appalling thought. I mean, imagine Mel hamming it up here, his narcissistic gurning turning De Palma's operatic vision into mugging farce. Fortunately, Mel had other commitments, and the role of Ness, as De Palma had always intended, went to the then relatively unknown Kevin Costner.

Shadow Makers

Roland Joffé's 1989 movie examines America's wartime race to develop the atomic bomb by focusing on the relationship between General Groves (a bullish Paul Newman) and haunted genius Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz), but dilutes the intensity by opening out to sketch in other players (including John Cusack and Laura Dern). Still, this is worthy, sombre, respectable drama.

Forked Tongues

In Arthur Penn's 1958 film The Left-Handed Gun, Billy The Kid (Paul Newman) was portrayed as a neurotic, self-destructive teen rebel who behaved like James Dean with a six-gun. Penn threw in the framing device of having a journalist follow Billy through his career of crime. Little Big Man (1970) also features a journalist looking to embroider the facts, but this time the writer meets his match in the shape of the wizened, 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman hidden behind several layers of make-up).

A Man Called Horse

This charming but thoroughly odd film from 1970 sees Richard Harris play John Morgan, an eccentric British aristocrat kidnapped by the Sioux in the American Wild West in the early 19th century. Reflecting the liberal concerns of the time, the film is meticulous in its re-creation of Indian customs, particularly the gruesome Sun Vow initiation.

Nevada Smith

Henry Hathaway's Nevada Smith takes one of the characters from Harold Robbins' Hollywood potboiler The Carpetbaggers (filmed by Edward Dmytryk two years earlier, with Alan Ladd in the role) and wraps an entire movie round him. Steve McQueen stars as the young Smith, a half-breed cowboy hellbent on tracking down his parents' killers. Beautifully shot by Lucien Ballard, McQueen is as quietly hypnotic as ever.

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