Romantic releases on DVD

February 16, 2006|By SUSAN KING | SUSAN KING,LOS ANGELES TIMES

If you didn't get enough romance on Valentine's Day, that's OK -- it's the subject of several new DVD releases. These "romantic" films include classics from the 1960s through the 1980s and more recent releases that didn't quite get the chemistry right.

Keep a box of tissue within reach for Breakfast at Tiffany's (Paramount, $20), which is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Audrey Hepburn received an Oscar nomination for her indelible performance as Holly Golightly, a free-spirited woman who works as a high-priced escort in New York City. Blake Edwards directed the film based on Truman Capote's novella, and Henry Mancini supplied the Oscar-winning score and song "Moon River." Mickey Rooney's buffoonish turn as Golightly's high-strung Japanese neighbor is deplorable.

Extras include a retrospective, a look at Hepburn's style and fact-filled commentary with the film's producer, Richard Shepherd.

The Cary Grant Box Set (Sony, $50) includes four of the actor's signature films at Columbia that have already been released on DVD: Only Angels Have Wings, The Talk of the Town, His Girl Friday and The Awful Truth. Making its digital debut in the set is 1938's Holiday, based on the play by Philip Barry (The Philadelphia Story). George Cukor directed this lovely romance starring Grant as a bohemian engaged to the daughter of a rich New York family who discovers he has more in common with his fiancee's down-to-earth sister (Katharine Hepburn). Included are a look at Grant's work at Columbia and a featurette on the original opening.

After making the epics Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago together in the 1960s, David Lean re-teamed with screenwriter Robert Bolt for Ryan's Daughter (Warner, $27), a 1970 love story set on the west coast of Ireland during World War I. Sarah Miles, who was married to Bolt, plays a young woman in a passionless marriage with an older man (Robert Mitchum) who finds solace in the arms of a shellshocked British officer (Christopher Jones). John Mills received a supporting actor Oscar for playing the town's mentally challenged mute.

The two-disc set includes a three-part documentary on the making of the film and its poor reception -- Lean was so devastated that he didn't make another movie for 14 years. There are also three vintage featurettes and commentary from Lean's widow, Lady Sandra Lean; Miles; second unit director Roy Stevens; and directors John Boorman , among others.

Philip Kaufman's 1988 The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Warner, $27) is one of the sexiest, most erotically charged films of the past 20 years. Lightness, based on the novel by Milan Kundera, a sophisticated drama set in Prague before and after the Soviet invasion in 1968, revolves around a womanizing doctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the two vastly different women in his life (Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche). The two-disc set is a mixed bag. There is a well-crafted new retrospective documentary, but the audio commentary with Kaufman, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, editor Walter Murch and Olin was recorded nearly a decade ago.

Cameron Crowe scored critical and commercial success with 1989's Say Anything and 1996's Jerry Maguire, but his latest, Elizabethtown, (Paramount, $30) falls flat despite the presence of Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Extras are so minimal they're not worth mentioning.

Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo try to enliven Just Like Heaven (DreamWorks, $30), but they can't save the featherweight romantic comedy that was a box office disappointment. Standard-issue extras include a "making of" segment, a gag reel, deleted scenes and commentary with director Mark Waters.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

[DreamWorks] $30

Nick Park's endearing stop-motion animated characters of the cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his silent but wise dog, Gromit, have starred in three short subjects -- two of which have won Oscars. Their debut feature is nominated for an Academy Award, which Park describes as the first vegetarian horror film. It was chosen best animated feature this month at the Annie Awards. Kid-friendly extras include activities, games, a bunny-drawing lesson, the short film "Stage Fright," deleted scenes and pleasant commentary from directors Park and Steve Box.

Blood and Wine

[Fox] $15

This 1997 film noir disappeared shortly after release. It's a juicy tale of (a struggling wine shop owner (Jack Nicholson) who, with the help of an aging safecracker (Michael Caine), steals a diamond necklace from a client. Extras include an enjoyable retrospective documentary, deleted scenes, sharp commentary from director Bob Rafelson and delightful scene-specific commentary from cast members.

Susan King writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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