Our Ten Best- Episode Two: Movies That Deserve a DVD Release
Why is everyone anxiously anticipating Blu-Ray releases when so many great movies have not yet received a proper DVD release? With that being said, here is a list of films that desperately need to be released on DVD. A majority of these films haven’t even surfaced on the video format.
However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic works of cinema in their own right.
1- “Walk Proud” (1979): Recently on Turner Classic Movies on May 26 , some may be a bit stunned at the unintentional racism within it. It is truly an oddity of American cinema. Instead of hiring a tough Spanish actor to play the lead in this gang film, they went with an American actor, this case, the extremely miscast Robby Benson, (“Die Laughing,” “One on One”) plays a Chicano. That fatal flaw makes this film campy trash that is amazingly entertaining. The flick desperately wants to be the 70′s answer to “West Side Story,” but those are very big shoes to fill. Oddly enough, the film has a strong soundtrack, which includes Elton John’s “We All Fall in Love Sometimes.” Despite its obscurity, “Walk Proud” still serves as an entertaining time capsule of a very strange period in cinema.
2- “Harry in Your Pocket” (1973): Thank you once again to Turner Classic Movies for showcasing this film and allowing the public a chance to see it. “Harry in Your Pocket” has been unavailable since its theatrical release. It is simply great and leaves you wanting more once the credits start to roll. James Coburn (“Candy”) plays a pickpocket teaching two newcomers how to properly lift wallets. Coburn was always one cool guy in every one of his films and this was a prime showcase for him. However, the real scene stealer here was the 76-year-old Walter Pidgeon (“How Green was my Valley”). He plays an over the hill cocaine addicted pick pocket. The real thrill is watching an old pro that loved acting give one of the best performances of his career. Also in the film are Michael Sarrazin, (“They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”) and Trish Van Devere, (“The Landlord”) as the young couple that are being trained. They share great screen chemistry together.
3- “Lucky Lady” (1975): Gene Hackman (“The French Connection”) and Burt Reynolds (“Deliverance”) ignite the screen in this lost gem. The casting of these two tough guys is pretty exciting in its own rights. Plus, it is directed by the multi-talented Stanly Donen, (”Charade”). This film focuses on the hazards of rum-running in the prohibition era of the 1930s. It has been long out of print since the initial theatrical run.
4- “Fighting Mad” (1976): This the third film that Jonathan Demme’s (“The Silence of the Lamb”) directed, which marked his presence in Hollywood. It sadly has not been seen since its days in the theatres. Peter Fonda (“Spasms,” “High Ballin”) stars a man that has to fight to protect his home because he refuses to sell it to the greedy land developers. He is a peaceful man that gets pushed to the edge. This is one of the best vigilante movies of the 1970’s and deserves a wider audience. Also, Fonda’s use of a bow and arrow is very original. It would be a great addition to the Criterion Collection of DVDs.
5- “The Split” (1968): Jim Brown (“Riot”) is unwittingly forced into performing a million dollar heist with a bunch of unsavory characters in this grimy lost classic. Hard to find film has an amazing supporting cast which includes, Diahann Carroll, the legendary Warren Oates, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Sutherland (in an intensely creepy role) and a corrupt cop on Brown’s tale played by none other then Gene Hackman. It is a crime that Gordon Flemyng’s hard-boiled modern-noir has never surfaced on video or DVD formats.
6- “No Blade of Grass” (1970): This is a post apocalyptic film with the tagline “The creeping terror drifted towards them stamping out all civilization in its eerie path!” It was directed by legendary actor and director Cornel Wilde, (“The Naked Prey”), who has created a cautionary and visionary outlook on the future. He filled the cast with mostly unknowns to concoct an eerie and realistic portrait.
7- “Harry and Son” (1984): This was a labor of love for director and star Paul Newman (“When Time Ran Out…”). He created a poignant and emotional tale of the bond between a father and his son, who are on two different paths in life. Robby Benson portrays the confused son in what has been called “Terms of Endearment” for a male audience.
8- “WUSA” (1970): This is another lost Paul Newman film, in which he co-stars with his wife Joanne Woodward (“The End”). It was always a pleasure to see this real life couple share the screen because of their authentic chemistry together. “WUSA’s” focal point is about a radio station in the south that becomes entrenched in a right wing conspiracy.
9- “Lolly Madonna XXX” (1973): Don’t let the name fool you; this is not a porno. It is a tale of two families that are at war with each other. The film is loaded with violence and sadness, which convey the senselessness of the war they had started. The amazing cast includes Rod Steiger, (“Duck, You Sucker”) Robert Ryan (“The Wild Bunch”) and Jeff Bridges (“Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”).
10- “From Noon Till Three” (1976): Charles Bronson (“The White Buffalo” which deserves a DVD also.) drops his tough guy act to star in a Western comedy alongside his wife, Jill Ireland (“Love and Bullets”). The audience has as much fun watching it as Bronson did making the film. Much of the fun comes from seeing Bronson play with the genre that he was a major part of. The other great thing is to see his wife as the focus is on the time they spend together which is “From Noon Till Three.”
Now that we’re done here, we would love to know- what are you waiting for on DVD?
Great list, Anthony, but another gem of a film that has yet to make it to DVD is Gene Roddenberry’s 1977 cult classic ‘Spectre’. Originally a television pilot, ‘Spectre’ is about a detective (Robert Culp) who takes on cases of a supernatural nature. The story is your typical fare of the damsel in distress who seeks the help of capable William Sebastian (Culp) to pull her wayward brother away from the dark-occult activities he has involved himself in. However, it is the witty banter among the cast (Culp ‘I Spy’, ‘The Greatest American Hero’, Gig Young ‘Game of Death’, John Hurt ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and the recently deceased Majel Barrett – who starred in every aspect of the Star Trek franchise), coupled with the original treatment of the subject matter that has caused Roddenberry’s screenplay to sprout off-springs of websites clamoring for the movie to come out on DVD. There have been distribution problems. As a result, all fans have of the 32 year-old movie are the outrageously, overpriced bootleg copies being sold from Amsterdam to England.