"Autumns seem that season of beginning, spring." - Truman Capote

12.2017

1 from Olive Films

Letter from an Unknown Woman (U.S., 1948)

Adapting the 1922 novella by Stefan Zweig with a script by Howard Koch (later blacklisted as a Communist), Max Ophüls turned his exile as a German director in Hollywood into one his best-known triumphs. Joan Fontaine is the woman of the title, "unknown" to the father of her child (Louis Jourdan, as a concert pianist and man about town in early 20th-century Vienna), also "unknown" as the next-door neighbour whose crush on him would turn into a brief affair that would mark her – but not him – for life. It's a tragedy, but ultimately a redemptive one, and oh so lovely to watch. For this Blu-ray edition, part of its limited-edition Signature series, Olive improves immensely on the barebones Blu-ray it released in 2012. Not only is the movie in the correct aspect ratio (1.37:1), it has been restored in 4K with double the bit rate of the older edition, doing real justice to the masterful lighting and cinematography of Czech-Jewish emigré Franz Planer (The Caine Mutiny; Breakfast at Tiffany's). There are also many extras: an audio commentary by Ophüls expert Lutz Bacher; an interview with the director's son, Marcel, best-known for his documentaries about the Second World War (The Sorrow and the Pity; Hotel Terminus); an interview with film scholar Dana Polan about women in Hollywood in the '40s; a discussion of the look of the film by cinematographers Ben Kasulke and Sean Price Williams (18 mins.); and a visual essay by scholar Tag Gallagher (24 mins.). The disc comes in a clear plastic case with cardboard slipcover; there's an eight-page, illustrated booklet inside with an essay by critic Molly Haskell (duplicated in text on screen as an extra, for reasons unknown).

1 from Second Run

The Cremator (Czechoslovakia, 1969)

 

11.2017

1 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

Manina ... la fille sans voile (France, 1952)

Brigitte Bardot was barely 18 and four years away from superstardom in ... And God Created Woman when she took the title role in this, her second picture, directed by Willy Rozier. Still a fair-haired brunette at the time, Bardot plays the daughter of a lighthouse-keeper who helps a student adventurer (Gérard Morère) find some ancient Greek treasure off the island of Lavezzi, near Corsica. The plot seems more an excuse to show attractive young people cavorting in skimpy bathing suits in the Mediterranean sun, a fact the film's U.S. distributors later exploited by re-titling the picture Manina, the Girl in the Bikini, but there are worse ways to spend an hour-and-a-half. The big extra on the region-B (code-locked for Europe) Blu-ray from Eureka! is an entire other feature film by Willy Rozier, a 1949 noir romance called 56, rue Pigalle – entertaining enough, but looking rather worse for wear. Another curio is five minutes of newsreel footage of a sword duel (!) fought between Rozier and a young critic named François Chalet. Lastly, there's a photo gallery of rare stills of Bardot on the Manina set. 

4 from Twilight Time

Gidget (U.S., 1959)

More '50s sea-'n'-sand fare, this time courtesy of Hollywood (tag line: "Watch out Brigitte, here comes Gidget!"). In the first of a franchise, Sandra Dee stars in the title role as a virginal California teenager determined to become a real  surfer girl. The Blu-ray is a major improvement from the pan-and-scan DVD that Columbia/Tri-Star released back in 2004; Gidget once again gets the full Cinemascope treatment it deserves.

Bananas (U.S, 1971)

Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) is "immature emotionally, sexually, and intellectually." "Yeah, but what other ways?'" Well, he's also the unlikely president of a Central American banana republic. Screwball comedy used to be Allen's forte, and it's especially strong in this, his second picture as director and star. The Blu-ray has the option of listening to the score as an isolated track. 

Doctor Dolittle (U.S., 1967)

A childhood favourite (I still have the LP soundtrack ... "Oh, if I could talk to the animals ..."), this zoological musical still delights, with Rex Harrison in the lead as the titular travelling veterinarian. Twilight Time's Blu-ray easily bests the BD that Fox released in 2011, with much better visuals, deeper sound and the bonus of a TV 'Biography' documentary from 1998 called Rex Harrison: The Man Who Would Be King.

The Yellow Handkerchief (Japan, 1977)

Go on a road trip around Hokkaido with Yûsaku, Mitsue and Akemi (Ken Takakura, Chieko Baishô, Kaori Momoi) and imagine humming Tony Orlando & Dawn's 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree'. This Japanese classic was inspired by some columns the New York Post's Pete Hammill wrote in 1971. No extras on the Blu-ray, but the leaflet has liner notes by the reliable Julie Kirgo. 

1 from Criterion

Jabberwocky (U.K., 1977)

In his first venture as director, Terry Gilliam cast his Monty Python mate Michael Palin as Dennis Cooper, a simpleton in medieval England who's dragooned into slaying a dragon, the fearsome Jabberwock. Based on Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem, Gilliam's fairy tale has just right amount of raunch to be tasteless, in a good way. The Blu-ray is superb: the film has been restored and transferred in 4K with the director's approval and has a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack, and extras abound. There's a new, 40-minute making-of with Gilliam, Palin, producer Sandy Lieberson and actress Annette Badland; a new, 15-minute interview with production designer Valerie Charlton; the film's original opening; 20 minutes of audio of cinematographer Terry Bedford; a selection from 2001 of Gilliam’s storyboards and sketches (7 mins.); a trailer; and an audio commentary from 2001 with Gilliam and Palin. Oh, and there's Palin and actress Annette Badland reading a bit of Carroll's poem, video-recorded by Criterion. The foldout booklet has an essay by critic Scott Tobias.

2 British boxsets, from Eureka! Masters of Cinema and Indicator

Buster Keaton: 3 Films

Three Buster Keaton silent classics – Sherlock Jr. (1924), The General (1926) and Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) – get 4K restorations and copious extras in this region-B boxset from Eureka! Masters of Cinema. There are three new video interviews with film scholar Peter Kramer; an hour-long new doc, Buster Keaton: The Genius Destroyed by Hollywood; audio of Keaton being interviewed at age 63.  For Sherlock Jr., there's an audio commentary by film historian David Kalat, original music by Timothy Brock, a tour of filming locations and a featurette called 'Movie Magic & Mysteries. For The General, there's an original score composed and conducted by Carl Davis (also on Steamboat Bill Jr.), a locations and video tour, home-movie footage, an introduction by Orson Welles and another by Gloria Swanson. And for Steamboat Bill, Jr.: a making-of in the form of a video essay. The booklet runs 60 pages and is profusely illustrated.

The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Vol. 2

Producer Ray Harryhausen's live-action animations from the early 1960s – Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts and First Men in the Moon – get the deluxe treatment in these region-free Blu-rays from Indicator. Extras are gigantic. The Island disc has commentaries by Harryhausen and three film historians, several interviews, a new presentation by Kim Newman, a vintage featurette, a comic-book adaptation, the film's Super-8 edition, Bernard Herrmann’s score as an isolated track and much more. The Argonauts disc has commentaries by Harryhausen and filmmaker Peter Jackson and Randall William Cook, the original storyboards of the film's famous skeleton fight, 'The Harryhausen Chronicles'  narrated by Leonard Nimoy, and much more. The Moon disc has a Harryhausen commentary, interviews old and new, an isolated score and, again, much more. The boxset comes with an 80-page book.

10.2017

1 from Criterion

The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (U.S. / Italy / Morocco / France, 1951)

Orson Welles, European filmmaker. It might seem a surprising title for the iconic American director, best known for his first two Hollywood pictures, Citizen Kane (a triumph on release) and The Magnificent Ambersons (a flop). But the fact is Welles acted in, directed or produced a whole bunch of other pictures as a cinematic vagabond in Europe after leaving the States in 1947. Unfortunately, apart from a memorable turn as Harry Lime in The Third Man, the classic post-war Vienna noir directed by Carol Reed, Welles's European years were marked by a succession of ill-financed, badly dubbed and confusingly edited productions that, without Welles's genius and his acolytes' persistence, would have long faded into obscurity.

Thanks to digital reproduction, however, and to some remarkable film restorations and reconstructions, we can see for ourselves just how rich Welles' patchwork of output as a European director was, as evidenced in international co-productions such as Othello (1952), Mr. Arkadin (1955), The Trial (1962) and Chimes at Midnight (1965). The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (by its full title) is the one that Welles left Hollywood to make. It was shot over three years on two continents and with an Irishman (Micheál Mac Liammóir), a French Canadian (Suzanne Cloutier) and the Wisconsin wünderkind Welles himself in the lead roles. Othello shared the top prize at Cannes in 1952 and was recut for release in the U.S. and Britain in 1955 before disappearing from view. For 40 years it stayed in the vaults before someone found the time and the $1 million, under the supervision of Welles' daughter, Beatrice, to restore the negative, resynchronize the audio, record a new score and, in 1992, re-release the film to theatres. Then it disappeared again – until now.

Othello was filmed principally in the 18th-century Arab medina and citadel of Mogador (present-day Essaouira) on a remote part of the Atlantic coast of Morocco, standing in for the Cyprus of Shakespeare's play. I've walked its streets and battlements as a tourist, and can tell you they have lost none of the drama so wonderfully preserved by Welles in black and white. It was there in June of 1949, at the start of shooting, that the 34-year-old director learned a lesson he'd be forced to repeat throughout his cash-strapped career: that necessity is the mother of invention. Ready to film the scene depicting the murder of Roderigo by Iago but stymied because the actors' costumes hadn't yet arrived from Italy, Welles got his crew to transform the village fishmarket into a Turkish bath and shot the actors naked, save for a towel around their waist.

Money problems made improvising the staging of Othello unavoidable, Welles told director and friend Peter Bogdanovich in This Is Orson Welles, a book of conversations released several years after Welles's death in 1985. "The picture was made in pieces," Welles said. "Three different times I had to close it and go away and earn money" – $100,000 for his role in The Third Man, for example – "and come back." The result of this fractured production process was invisible to the viewer, but is the very essence of the magical medium that is cinema. Call it geochronical trickery. In some scenes of Welles playing the jealous Moor, for example, "you'd see me looking off-camera left and when you'd cut over my shoulder, it would be another continent (in Italy), a year later," he revealed.

Offscreen, Welles tried many times to seduce his young leading lady, but the lovely Cloutier wanted none of it. "He had just divorced Rita Hayworth," the former Vogue model from Ottawa told the Montreal daily The Gazette in 1993. "Before me, he had hired 11 other Desdemonas who had slept with him, and he fired every one of them. So I told him if he ever wanted to finish his film we'd better just stick to work." Luckily for everyone, he did. After Othello wrapped, Cloutier went on to marry Peter Ustinov. And Welles? Well, he went off in search of another lady – a countess, no less, Paola Mori, whom he cast in Arkadin, married, fathered a child with, and stayed wedded to until the day he died. If only the Moor could have been so reasonable.

For fans, the new double-disc Blu-ray set from Criterion is a marvel – with one major new extra and one flawed one. The first is Filming Othello, a 1979 essay-documentary that was Welles's last film and in which, in his old age, he revisits the making of what may be the favourite of all his movies. The second is Return to Glennascaul, a 23-minute Irish ghost story made by Mac Liammóir in 1951 during a break to raise money to shoot Othello; with Welles in supporting roleit's a hoot, but Criterion's choppy transfer certainly isn't; indeed, Glennascaul looks a whole lot better on the all-region DVD that British distributor Second Sight Films released in 2003. Cloutier herself gets her oar in with Souvenirs d'Othello, a 50-minute documentary on her experience that Quebec director François Girard made in 1995. There's also a half-hour interview with Welles biographer Joseph McBride from 2014 and new 20-minute interviews with three other Welles experts: actor Simon Callow, scholar François Thomas and author Ayanna Thompson. Finally there's an audio commentary that director and Bogdanovich recorded for the 1955 version of Othello with scholar Myron Meisel in 1995. As for the film itself, the Blu-ray offers 4K transfers of Othello in two versions: the longer 1952 European release and the 1955 U.S./U.K version, in which Welles, dissatisfied with the sound of Cloutier voice in the original, completely overdubbed it with another actress.

1 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

The Party (U.S., 1968)

Peter Sellers gives a comic performance worthy of Jacques Tati in director Blake Edwards' send-up of Hollywood and its nouveau riche. The British actor plays an incompetent bit-player from India who is mistakenly put on the guest list for a shindig at a mogul's luxurious home. One gaffe leads to another, and little by little the unwanted guest turns the party into a disaster. The movie was brought to Blu-ray three years ago in the U.S. by Kino, and now gets a almost identical (though somewhat crisper-looking) British release by Eureka! as part ot its Classics series.  Extras total about an hour and are the same as before: three profiles of the crew (Edwards, producer Walter Mirisch and actor Ken Wales), a making-of and a look at the video-playback technique that was new at the time and which Sellers and Edwards used to get their timing right.

1 from the British Film Institute

Le salaire de la peur (France, 1953)

Henri-Georges Clouzot's suspense thriller won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1953 and was an international sensation. The setting is an oil town in South America, the crisis is a well-fire 300 miles away that has to be put out, and a cocksure Corsican named Mario (Yves Montand) thinks he's the man for the job. He and three other foreigners (Charles Vanel, Folco Lulli, Peter Van Eyck) are offered big money to transport a truckload of nitroglycerine to the site, a highly dangerous mission over near-impassable mountainous terrain. Will they make it without blowing themselves up? Mario's girlfriend, Linda (played by Véra Clouzot, the director's Brazilian-French wife) has her doubts, and so do we. The BFI Blu-ray is a new 4K transfer of the film, besting the BD that Criterion first released back in 2009. It looks and sounds better, is about five minutes longer, has some of the same extras (a half-hour of interviews from 2005 with Clouzot's assistant director Michel Romanoff and biographer Marc Godin) and a couple of new ones: a half-hour interview with film professor Lucy Mazdonand a 99-minute audio interview with Montand from 1989. There's also a DVD copy included in the package, along with an illustrated booklet. The discs are locked to British and European players, however, which might be a deal-breaker for those who haven't yet gone all-region. 

1 from Paramount

Charlotte's Web (U.S. / Germany / Austraila, 2006)

This is the 2006 live-action adaptation (with some CGI) of E.B. White's children's classic that explored themes of death and dying in a sensitive and wise way. Dakota Fanning plays young Fern, a farm girl who saves a baby pig from the slaughterhouse and calls him Wilbur. The pig, in turn, befriends a spider in the barn named Charlotte (voiced by Julia Roberts) who also vows to keep him from the butcher's knife, while also coping with her own imminent death. Oprah Winfrey, Kathy Bates, Robert Redford, John Cleese and Steve Buscemi round out the voice talent. Originally released on DVD in 2007, the movie is now being marketed in a limited-edition gift set that packages the DVD and a copy of the novel in paperback (so you can compare and conclude that yes, the book is always better than the movie). There's more than an hour of extras, including a making-of, an audio commentary by director Gary Winick (there were two on the old DVD), a look at the cast, deleted scenes, music videos, a gag reel, and more.

1 from Olive Films

The Miracle Worker (U.S., 1962)

Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft won Oscars for their intense performances in this drama directed by Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) and based on the 1902 autobiography of Helen Keller. In late-19th-century Alabama, baby Helen contracts an infectious disease and is left deaf and blind. She grows up isolated by her disability, unable to communicate with her family or anyone else except by sheer physical insistence, grabbing and pushing and stamping her feet to get attention. Anne Sullivan (Bancroft), a tutor from Boston, is hired to tame this wild child and teach her sign language, but it's by no means easy. Their struggle is an epic one, a battle of wills, with Helen determined to stay a free spirit and Sullivan equally determined to show her the way to true liberation: through the power of touch and the precision of words. The Olive Blu-ray is a beauty of crisp black-and-white visuals, improving greatly on the DVD that MGM released back in 2001. That one had a trailer as a sole extra; the new disc has none. 

09.2017

1 from Criterion

Rebecca (U.S.,1940)

Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood movie had a troubled production history (thanks to the meddling of producer David O. Selznick) but went on to win Oscars for best picture and best cinematography (by Georges Barnes) and enter the annals of cinema legend. Joan Fontaine stars as a naive young woman who marries a rich widower (Laurence Olivier) but is haunted by the ghost of his beloved Rebecca, whose portrait hangs in Manderley, their ancestral home. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel, the movie was creepy then and remains so today. Criterion's two-disc Blu-ray edition is an imperfect step-up from the single-disc Blu-ray that MGM released in 2012. The new one sports a 4K restoration; oddly, however, the image has been cropped somewhat throughout the film, on the righthand side of the frame, and even appears a bit horizontally stretched compared to the MGM. Extras (also available on Criterion's two-disc DVD edition) include a new hour-long French documentary on du Maurier ; a new video program with visual-effects specialist and film historian Craig Barron; a half-hour making-of from 2008; an audio commentary with film scholar Leonard J. Leff from 1990; a 45-minute interview with Alfred Hitchcock from 1973; three archival radio adaptations of the film; screen tests, a re-release trailer and much more. There's also a 38-page illustrated booklet featuring critic and biographer David Thomson's essay "Welcome to the Haunted House" and production correspondence from the Selznick archives.

2 from Eureka!

Journey to the Center of the Earth (U.S., 1959)

James Mason plays a geology professor who leads a perilous expedition to, you guessed it, the centre of the Earth, in this special-effects extravaganza adapted from the Jules Verne novel. Pat Boone co-stars (and also sings). Extras on the Blu-ray include an audio commentary with actress Diane Baker and film historians Steven C. Smith and Nick Redman (the same as on the U.S. Blu-ray that Twilight Time issued in 2015); a new half-hour interview with critic Kim Newman, a featurette on the film's restoration, and a trailer. The booklet has a review of the film from 1959, a poster gallery and some archival photos. 

Suntan (Greece, 2016)

A new doctor (Makis Papdimitriou) takes over a practice on a Greek island one winter, then summer comes and so do the tourists. The doctor gets a little too cozy with some of the fresh young flesh, stalking one particular hippie chick (Elli Tringou) to the point of murderous obsession. Extras on the dual-format (Blu-ray/DVD) edition from Eureka! include a short interview with the director, a making-of and some deleted scenes. That's a whole lot more than you get on the U.S. DVD that Strand Releasing issued in June, but watch out: the Eureka! edition is code-locked to work on British and European players only.

1 box set from Indicator: The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 1: 1955-1960

It Came from Beneath the Sea (U.K., 1955)

20 Million Miles to Earth (U.K., 1957)

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (U.K., 1960)

Are you ready for more Ray Harryhausen? Three months after the release of The Sinbad Trilogy on its Indicator label, British distributor Powerhouse Films brings us another all-region Blu-ray boxset of three fantasy films made simply out-of-this-world by the legendary master of stop-motion animation. Spanning the latter half of the 1950s, the trio of monster movies go under water (It Came from Beneath the Sea), travel from outer space to coastal Italy (20 Millions Miles to Earth) and put down in a land of giants (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver). The first two films are in black-and-white (with optional colourized versions), the third is in colour, and each one has been restored in high-definition, with Gulliver getting the best treatment, in 4K. The plentiful extras include new interviews with director Joe Dante, SFX maestro Dennis Muren, and animators David Sproxton and Peter Lord, as well as audio commentaries, documentaries, trailers, archival promotional material, and an 80-page illustrated book. And this is only Volume 1; Volume 2, with three more films, this time covering the first half of the 1960s, will be released in mid-November. 

1 box set from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918) / The Doll (1919) / The Oyster Princess (1919) / Sumurun (1920) / Anne Boleyn (1920) / The Mountain Cat (1921)

Upgrading its 2010 DVD boxset to high-definition on Blu-ray, the Masters of Cinema series of British distributor Eureka! manages to breath new life into six long-neglected silent films from the early German career of famed Hollywood director Ernst Lubitsch, the man behind the "Lubitsch Touch" of such classics as Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner and To Be or Not to Be. The new boxset sports restored transfers of the two-reeler I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918), the operetta-like The Oyster Princess (1919), the robot fantasy The Doll (1919), the historical epics Sumurun (1920) and Anne Boleyn (1920), and The Mountain Cat (1921), the latter a personal favourite as (like Sumurun) it stars the legendary temptress Pola Negri. As the sole extra, we once again get the two-hour German documentary from 2006 called Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin: From Schönhauser Allee to Hollywood, which traces the great director's career through the period covered by the six films. There's also an illustrated booklet with a wealth of essays on the films.

1 from Twilight Time

September (U.S., 1987)

Yes, this is a Woody Allen movie, but it's not a midsummer night's sex comedy. It's an autumn drama of tangled relationships, à la Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. As the plot summary on IMDb puts it: "At a summer house in Vermont, neighbour Howard falls in love with Lane, who's in a relationship with Peter, who's falling for Stephanie, who's married with children." Get the picture? Denholm Elliott stars as Lane, Mia Farrow is Lane, Sam Waterston is Peter and Dianne Wiest is Stephanie. Elaine Stritch is a revelation as Farrow's force-of-nature showbiz mom; Jack Warden doesn't quite convince as her nuclear physicist husband. Unusually for his '80s output, Allen himself does not act in this one. The Twilight Time Blu-ray comes with a booklet and the option of listening to the soundtrack of Art Tatum and solo piano jazz standards (performed by Bernie Leighton) as an isolated track.

1 from First Run Features

Voir du pays (France/Greece, 2016)

After six months of active duty in Afghanistan, a planeload of young French soldiers descends on the sunny island of Cyprus for some R&R and a chance to deal with the aftershocks of war before they head back home to their families. For three days, the soldiers "decompress" at a five-star hotel they call 'Disneyland,.' They gamble, party, smoke weed, hit the beach and the pool, and once a day take part in group therapy sessions with army psychologists to relive, via virtual-reaility simulation, the trauma they suffered in combat. The film focuses on two soldiers in particular, friends since childhood now bonded by battle: there's equine beauty Aurore (Ariane Labed) and there's tough-talking goth Marine (Stéphanie Sokolinski, better known as the 'straight edge' punk singer Soko), .Things come to a head after a drive into the countryside with some Greek Cypriot men, an idyll disturbed by the arrival of other soldiers from the hotel. Written and directed by Delphine and Muriel Coulin (17 Girls), Stopover (as the film is called in English), unfortunately has very few likeable characters and, like the post-traumatic stress disorder it depicts, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Visually, its interest lies in the contrast between the soldiers' inner turmoil and the bright superficiality of their surroundings: Will the light penetrate the darkness, or will the trauma stay ever-present? The DVD offers no extras that might provide a clue or even start a discussion, and the English subtitles are non-removable, much like the stain of PTSD.

2 from Indicator (U.K.)

The Chase (U.S., 1966)

Robert Redford escapes from a rural Texas prison and Sheriff Marlon Brando is tasked with hunting him down. Will Jane Fonda, the escapee's wife, get in the way?  Arthur Penn directs. Indicator bests the U.S. Twilight Time Blu-ray of a year ago. The new all-region disc has a nearly identical 4K restoration and adds many extras, including new interviews anda 20-minute Super-8 version of the film.

See No Evil (U.K., 1971)

Blinded in a horseback-riding accident, Mia Farrow comes to stay at the family manor in the English countryside, where she winds up terrorized by a murderous maniac. Indicator's region-free Blu-ray includes a second version of the film, cut slightly for the U.K. market and renamed Blind Terror. There's a featurette comparing the two versions, interviews and other extras, as well as a booklet.

1 from PBS

The Vietnam War (U.S., 2017)

Ten episodes totalling about 18 hours, The Vietnam War aired on PBS over the last two weeks of September, and I, for one, had my TV on overdrive to watch it. American's most famous documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, and his longtime collaborator, Lynn Novick, have put together an exhaustive look at the war that even half a century later, even since Afghanistan, even since Iraq, still holds sway over the emotions of the people involved. Not only Americans and Vietnamese were affected, and they are given equal treatment in this scrupulously balanced series narrated by Peter Coyote. So, too, were Canadians, thousands of whom either fought alongside the U.S. soldiers or fled to Canada to dodge the draft, including Montreal's Jack Todd, who appears in several episodes. Most effectively, Burns and Novick use the now fully released White House audio tapes recorded by President Richard Nixon to show the two-faced nature of his corrupt administration; Nixon said one thing in public and other, far more scurrilous things  – against the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government, for instance – in private. The testimony of more than 80 veterans and their families, as well as other people involved at various levels of the war, form the heart of the series and are often very moving; they're threaded through footage of battle scenes of the war itself (colour for the U.S. side, black-and-white for the North Vietnamese), not all of which is authentic (as the closing credits point out, some scenes were likely staged for propaganda purposes). True to our get-it-now times, The Vietnam War was released on 10-disc DVD and Blu-ray boxsets even before the series finished airing; in addition to the episodes, one per disc, you get a 40-minute making-of and 11 deleted scenes totalling over one hour. Other editions include different merchandise: the series' soundtrack, a double CD featuring 38 classics and the '60s and early '70s from Dylan to Nina Simone; a CD of the series's score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with the Silk Road Ensemble featuring superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma; a hardcover book; and an audiobook.