It’s that time of year for gift giving. All year you’ve been meaning to buy that dvd, the one with the deleted scenes and director commentary. More importantly whether it is a series that is yet to be streamed or an old film that is shown on a third Halloween with a blue moon, you want to be able to see it any time you want.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder: Here you have a man after discovering his wife is having an affair, hires someone to kill her. The hit man ends up dead and that’s only the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Hitchcock had a way of making his films economical. There wasn’t a line or action wasted by his characters. What’s more is that you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s the type of work that has replay value. Every time you see this film you get lost in the story. Will the husband be rid of his cheating wife? Will the detectives be able to put the pieces together? This film will constantly keep you guessing, laughing and holding your breath every time you see it.
The Last Season of “Magnum P.I.: Perfect for a rainy day and you don’t have to be a slave to a network that only shows the same four episodes from season 2. Instead you can watch this season in any order you want. Giving a show a do-over to thank their fans for being loyal has hardly ever been done. In the past shows such as “Gilligan’s Island” and “I Dream of Jeannie” were unceremoniously dumped. And at times several actors found out they were out of work by reading the trade newspaper of the day. But “Magnum P.I.” was given an eighth season to wrap-up storylines. By this last season there is a comfortable camaraderie between the actors. Higgins and Magnum, adversaries in the beginning of the series have become friends. There’s a wedding and a cliffhanger that fans over 20 years later would like to see a reunion to find out if that couple got married. That type of love for a show is rare and you’ll enjoy reliving those episodes repeatedly. One of the best ones of the season is the one where Carol Burnett reprises her role from a few seasons past and turns up as a newly minted P.I. that faces off against Magnum. There are also the extras of commentary from co-executive producer Chas. Floyd Johnson and two episodes Tom Selleck playing Lance White on “The Rockford Files” that was in part the inspiration for Thomas Magnum.
Captain America: Winter Soldier: Having gotten the origin story out of the way, we now see Steve Rogers attempting to adjust to a world where, even though 70 years has past, many things remain the same. There is still evil in the world and a need for cool, kick-butt allies. Then there’s Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in one of the funniest, action packed car chase scenes that will have you rewinding just to catch it all; including the banter between Fury and the voice of the car. Somewhere Kitt from “Knight Rider” is laughing. More importantly Robert Redford as the bad guy is brilliant casting. That trusting face and charismatic charm, makes every line he utters clouded in mystery and surrounded by a hidden agenda. When his maid comes back to his home having forgotten something and Redford tells her he wishes she hadn’t come back, an inconsequential moment becomes an “I can’t believe what I just saw” moment. That passive-aggressive guy who left Barbara Streisand in “The Way We Were” just did a bad thing. Ultimately the movie is about Steve and establishing a wider universe to explore in future sequels. Just listen for the rundown of names in a scene, there’s a certain Stephen Strange that is mentioned. That alone for many marvel fans is enough to own this dvd.
Mission Impossible: No, not the Tom Cruise movies, but the original television series? Here we have a team, the IMF who don disguises, and with gadgets and technology that seemed advanced for the late 1960s do the impossible. From overthrowing governments to breaking into prisons this team did it all with panache and style. Looking back the strategies may not hold up, but there is tension nonetheless. Season 3 is particularly gripping. With each episode you did not know if a cast member would survive. In “The Glass Cage” a leader of a resistance group is being held in a glass prison cell and the IMF team has to get him out. Then there’s the beginning of each episode where the assignment is given to Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). From Cinnamon’s (Barbara Bain) clothes to the cars they drove, to that iconic theme song, “Mission Impossible” reflected the mid to late twentieth century and was simultaneously forward thinking. Phil Morris, at many times his technical genius pulled the team through. A black man doing a job with a lot of brain-know how was hardly seen on television then and for the show not to make it a big deal was a significant thing on several levels. More importantly the show was fun, action packed and smart. It didn’t talk down to its audience and knew when a storyline needed more than one episode to be told.
Skyfall: James Bond (Daniel Craig) is in a bad way, as a matter of fact he “dies” within the first 10 minutes of the movie. However, he is resurrected once again and has to save M from a past mistake. “Skyfall” is the type of film where you know what’s going to happen next, and you don’t care. Being that this film is part of the 50th anniversary of the franchise, there are several honorable mentions to previous films. If you’re a Bond fan seeing the homage to the past as this action filled storyline moves ahead makes you look forward to further adventures of 007. For newcomers it’s a great springboard to get you interested in the series. Ultimately it’s a movie that you can watch over and over again and never get bored.
The best thing about the holidays is making a wish list of those things that you’ve been meaning to purchase for yourself. Now you can be pleasantly surprised by receiving gifts that have actual replay value. If nothing else, put that gift card to use and get something you know you want.