Dvd Check

DVD CHECK

July 20, 2006

Beyond the Rocks

[Milestone] $30

For some 80 years, the 1922 romantic drama Beyond the Rocks starring two legends of the silent era - Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino - was considered lost. Only one minute of footage existed at the Nederlands Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.

So the catalogers at the Filmmuseum were shocked when they discovered the first two reels of the movie while inventorying a collection of original nitrate reels of films donated to them. For months, the staff went through all the unidentified reels of film and discovered the complete movie.

The archivists at the Filmmuseum painstakingly restored the film, which was unveiled last year at the Cannes Film Festival. It also screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Now it's out on DVD, including documentaries on the restoration and scoring of the film and even a 1955 wire recording of Swanson chronicling her life in Hollywood.

Rounding out the disc is another Filmmuseum discovery: the cute 1919 comedy Delicious Little Devil, starring Mae Murray and Valentino.

Basic Instinct 2: Unrated

[Sony] $20

The sequel to the 1992 thriller was roundly trounced by critics and audiences - it made less than $6 million. Sharon Stone goes au naturel once again as the crime novelist Catherine Tramell, who may or may not be a serial killer. David Morrissey plays a criminal psychologist who is lured into her web of sex and deception. The DVD includes the deleted scenes and the alternate ending, a by-the-numbers featurette and serviceable commentary by director Michael Caton-Jones.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

[HBO] $30

Clever, amusing film-within-a-film about the beleaguered production. Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Jeremy Northam star; Michael Winterbottom directed. The extras - which include scene extensions, behind-the-scenes footage and wryly comical commentary from Coogan and Brydon - are just as entertaining as the film.

Grand Prix: Special Edition

[Warner] $21

This lavish 1966 race-car drama certainly wasn't director John Frankenheimer's best film. Nevertheless, it is a visual and technical masterpiece. Frankenheimer attached cameras to Formula One cars and shot during actual races in Europe to give viewers a breathtaking, you-are-there feel. The international cast includes James Garner, Yves Montand, Brian Bedford, Eva Marie Saint, Jessica Walter and Toshiro Mifune. Grand Prix won Oscars for editing, sound and sound effects.

The two-disc set features several documentaries including the retrospective "Pushing the Limit: The Making of Grand Prix," as well as "Flat Out: Formula One in the Sixties," "The Style and Sound of Speed" and "Brands Hatch: Chasing the Checkered Flag." Also included is the vintage featurette "Grand Prix: Challenge of the Champions."

Perry Mason: The First Season

[Paramount] $50

Television's first successful lawyer series. Based on Erle Stanley Gardner's classic novels, Perry Mason starred Raymond Burr - who was best known for his villainous roles - as the famous defense attorney who never seemed to lose a case. Barbara Hale played his loyal secretary Della Street; William Hopper was Mason's investigator Paul Drake; Ray Collins played Lt. Arthur Tragg; and William Talman was Mason's arch-enemy, district attorney Hamilton Burger. This five-disc set includes 19 episodes from the 1957-58 season. Perry Mason aired on CBS until 1966.

30 Days: The First Season

[Fox] $27

Morgan Spurlock, the director and star of the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, explores social issues in this FX series that premiered last summer. In each episode, a participant lives for 30 days in an unfamiliar environment. In the first episode, Spurlock and his girlfriend, Alexandra Jamieson, try to live on minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio. The two-disc set includes audio commentaries with each episode and diary cams.

Masters of Horror: Joe Dante - Homecoming

[Anchor Bay] $17

Creepy installment of Showtime's horror anthology series. After the Republican president says he wishes that our dead troops could return from the grave to tell everyone how they welcomed serving their country, the recently deceased soldiers rise up and return home so they can vote for the Democratic presidential candidate who opposed the war. Penned by Sam Hamm, the thriller stars Jon Tenney, Thea Gill and Robert Picardo. The DVD includes a thoughtful interview with director Dante, interviews with the actors and sharp commentary from Hamm.

Coming Tuesday

Benchwarmers; Final Destination 3; and Awesome, I ... Shot That.

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