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Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March head up vintage movies new to DVD
Irene Manning and Humphrey Bogart in "The Big Shot" (1942), which is now on DVD for the first time. - photo by Chris Hicks
Humphrey Bogarts last B-gangster picture and a pair of dramas starring Fredric March at the peak of his stardom lead these vintage movies on home video this week.

The Big Shot (Warner Archive/DVD, 1942, b/w, trailer). After years of supporting roles as thugs in dozens of 1930s Warner Bros. crime melodramas, Humphrey Bogart finally hit it big in the early 1940s with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The Big Shot was next, after which Bogie moved on to Casablanca and kissed B-movies goodbye. This transitional effort has never been on video before, but its a B-budget film noir that delivers the goods.

Bogie stars as a three-time loser who just cant catch a break. He tries to go straight but finds himself in prison for an armored-car heist that he turned down! So he breaks out, and things go downhill from there. A great snowbound chase is an added treat in a crime flick that is surprisingly good. (Available at

Anthony Adverse (Warner Archive/DVD, 1936, b/w, trailer). Based on the sprawling 1933 novel by Hervey Allen, this costume melodrama follows the life of the title character in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Abandoned by his cruel father (Claude Rains), Anthony (Fredric March) is apprenticed in his youth by his maternal grandfather (Edmund Gwenn), though he doesnt know about their relationship. He falls in love with a peasant (Olivia de Havilland), but miscommunications keep them apart after he travels the world to make his fortune. Meanwhile, she becomes a famous opera singer and the mistress of Napoleon. The film won four Oscars, including the first-ever for Best Supporting Actress, which went to Gale Sondergaard for her first film role. (Available at

One Foot in Heaven (Warner Archive/DVD, 1941, trailer). March also stars in this true story as Canadian Methodist preacher William Spence, who takes his family from parsonage to parsonage around the United States in the early 20th century, eventually finding his place in Denver, though it is not without difficulty, including his son being wrongly accused of an indiscretion. Warm, affectionate Americana of a type we dont see in movies anymore makes this one all the more enjoyable. Martha Scott, Beulah Bondi and Gene Lockhart co-star. Along with Utah character actor Moroni Olsen. (Available at

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Shout!/Blu-ray, 1972, not rated, in German with English subtitles, audio commentaries, photo gallery, trailer). Werner Herzogs haunting, contemplative study in obsession follows 16th century Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) and his army of conquistadors over the Andes and into the heart of the Amazon in search of El Dorado, the city of gold. That the treacherous journey is doomed is never in doubt, but Herzogs film is so mesmerizing, contrasting Aguirres descent into madness with the lush green surroundings (filmed on location in the Peruvian rainforest), that its impossible to turn away. This marks the films first standalone Blu-ray release.

The Breakfast Club (Universal/Blu-ray, 1985, R for language, audio commentary, featurettes, trivia track, trailer). The idea here isnt new: Put five people from different social strata in a room for a day and observe their fights, arguments, eventual mellowing out and ultimate respect for each other. But John Hughes took it out of the Army barracks or jail cell and put it in a high school detention office. The result is refreshing, as the five teens played perfectly by Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall seem real and rounded.

My Girl (Columbia/Blu-ray, 1991, PG, audio commentary, featurettes). Very good comedy-drama about an 11-year-old girl named Vada (Anna Chlumsky), living in a small town during the 1970s. Her widowed father (Dan Aykroyd), the local mortician, has trouble communicating with her, and when a free-spirited woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) becomes his assistant, Vada becomes jealous. Nicely modulated family film, though parents should be warned it deals realistically with the death of a child in its final third. Macaulay Culkin co-stars.

Troop Beverly Hills (Columbia/Blu-ray, 1989, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes). Shallow comedy vehicle for Shelley Long, in which she plays yet another wealthy, entitled wife. When hubby (Craig T. Nelson) threatens divorce, she decides to become a better spouse and mother by becoming the leader of her daughters Girl Scout troop er, that is, the Wilderness Girls. But because she knows nothing about the wilderness, she takes the spoiled girls to a high-priced hotel for roasting marshmallows in a fireplace and gives merit badges for jewelry appraisal. Feels like an extended skit, padded with sitcom-style (and surprisingly vulgar) humor. Betty Thomas, Mary Gross and Stephanie Beacham co-star.

Blind Womans Curse (MVD/Blu-ray/DVD, 1970, in Japanese with English subtitles, audio commentary, trailers). Extremely violent but inventive Japanese samurai flick stars Meiko Kaji in her first starring role as the dragon-tattooed leader of a distaff yakuza clan who inadvertently blinds an opponent, which comes back to haunt her later. The usual over-the-top bloodletting takes on a supernatural element that manifests itself at the climax.

Mark of the Devil (MVD/Blu-ray/DVD, 1970, not rated, audio commentary, featurettes, outtakes, photo gallery, trailer). British period horror benefits from the presence of Herbert Lom as an 18th century witchfinder, torturing those suspected of practicing satanic arts, but its pure exploitation. Unrated but with R-level violence, sex and nudity.
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