"... she goes on talking, with memories of summer and nakedness and pleasure in her words ..." – Pauline Kael

08.2020

1 from Second Sight

Walkabout (U.K. / Australia, 1971)

Abandoned in the Australian outback, a teenager (jenny Agutter) and her kid brother (Luc Roeg, son of the film's British director, Nicolas Roeg) meet a young aboriginal man (David Gulpilil) who help them survive and make their back to 'civilization,' having learned a life-and-death lesson about being at one with nature. On the new Blu-ray from British distributor Second Sight Films (code-locked to Region B), Walkabout has been lovingly restored in 4K and comes with a new audio commentary by Luc Roeg, moderated by critic and author David Thompson. There are half-a-dozen extras, most of them new. These include interviews with producer Si Litvinoff (10 mins.), Luc Roeg (11 mins.), Agutter (19 mins.) and filmmaker Danny Boyle (19 mins.), who reminisces about Nic Roeg. Two older extras complete the extras: a 17-minute Q&A from 2011 at the British Film Institute with Agutter and Roeg père et fils, and a 4-minute video introduction to the film (low-res and undated) by the director. The disc comes nicely packaged, too, in a slipcase that also holds three softcover books: a slim paperback of the source novel by Donald G. Payne (under the pseudonym James Vance Marshall ; a copy of the original 65-page first draft of the screenplay, prefaced by Daniel Bird; and an illustrated booklet of new essays by Bird, Sophie Monks Kaufman and Simon Abrams.

3 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

Buster Keaton: 3 Films (Vol. 3) (U.S., 1923-27)

In this collection of three classic silent features, Buster Keaton onces again beats the odds of failure in various acrobatic guises: as the inheritor of a feuding family fortune (Our Hospitality, 1923) a city-slicker who's lassoed into a cattle drive (Go West!, 1925) and a young scholar who tries out for various varsity sports to impress his gal (College, 1927). The three-disc Blu-ray set is the third volume of Keaton films that British distributor Eureka! has release in its Masters of Cinemas series. Code-locked to Region B (U.K. and Europe), the discs features restorations of all three films by Cohen Media, come with optional musical scores by Rodney Sauer and are loaded with special features. Go West! has audio Commentary by film historians Joel Goss and Bruce Lawton, video essays by David Cairns (28 mins.) and John Bengtson (16 mins.), a 1923 short, also called "Go West," directed by Len Powers and produced by Hal Roach (12 mins.) and a stills gallery. Our Hospitality has an audio commentary by silent film historian Rob Farr, an early workprint version the film (50 mins., with an optional audio commentary by Keaton expert Polly Rose), a video essay by Patricia Eliot Tobias (26 mins.) and a stills gallery. College comes with a video essay by John Bengtson (10 mins.);a 1965 short called "The Railrodder" starring Keaton and produced by the National Film Board of Canada (25 mins., with optional audio commentary with director Gerald Potterton and cameraman David De Volpi) and an accompanying feature documentary made the same year, called "Buster Keaton Rides Again" (56 mins, with an optional audio track of a Q&A with Potterton and De Volpi); and two galleries of stills from College and "The Railrodder." A 60-page book rounds out the boxset, with new writing by Philip Kemp; essays on all three films by Imogen Sara Smith; a piece by Bengtson on the filming locations of Our Hospitality; Potterton’s original treatment for "The Railrodder"; and an appreciation of Keaton and "The Railrodder" by silent cinema buff Chris Seguin.

Five Graves to Cairo (U.S., 1943)

A war movie directed by Billy Wilder, Five Graves to Cairo stars Franchot Tone and Ann Baxter, with Erich von Stroheim in a supporting role as Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. It's set Casablanca-style in a North African hotel of intrique. On the Region-B Blu-ray , the film comes with a new audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin, an excerpted  interview with Wilder from 1988 (11 mins.), and hour-long Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the story from 1943 starring Tone and Baxter, and a trailer. Accompanying the disc is a 31-page booklet with several essays and appreciations: "Looking Up the Magicians Sleeve: Billy Wilder and Five Graves to Cairo," by Richard Combs; "Quentin Tarantino, Five Graves to Cairo, and The Rules of the Game," by Simon Ward, and, from 1944, "The Happiest Couple in Hollywood," by Lincoln Barnett.

The Man Who Laughs (U.S., 1928)

Adapting Victor Hugo's novel for the silent screen with a music score and sound effects, German Expressionist director Paul Leni cast Conrad Veidt as the horribly disfigured Gwynplaine opposite Mary Philbin as the blind girl who falls in love with him. On a Blu-ray codelocked to Region B, Eureka! provides two optional scores (the original Movietone one from 1928, in mono, and a modern one by the Berklee School of Music, in stereo) and adds a number of extras: an interview with auhtor and horror-film expert Kim Newman (12 mins.),  a video essay by David Cairns and Fiona Watson (33 mins.) and another by  film historian John Soister (14 mins.), as well as several galleries of stills. Restored in 4K, the film is accompanied by a 35-page booklet with essays by Kevin Brownlow, Richard Combs, Travis Crawford and Sonia Coronado.

1 from Criterion

Toni (France, 1934)

In the early 1930s an Italian labourer named Toni Canova (Charles Blavette) finds work at a quarry in southern France and falls in first with his landlady, Marie (Jenny Hélia) and then with a beautiful young Spanish immigrant named Josefa (Celia Montalván), whose unhappy marriage to Toni's boss, Albert (Max Dalban), eventually ends in tragedy. Unusually for the time, writer-director Jean Renoir shot on location (in the Bouches-du-Rhône region), cast many local non-actors in supporting roles, and based the story on real events. Luchino Visconti, later famous for films like Senso and Death in Venice, was assistant director on the picture. New to Blu-ray, the film has been restored in 4K for this Criterion edition and comes with an audio commentary recorded in 2006 by Film Comment editor-at-large Kent jones and American Movie Critics editor Phillip Lopate. Extras include a three-minute video introduction to the film by Renoir in 1961; a feature-length episode of the French TV show "Cinéastes de notre temps"  on Renoir from 1967 on Jean Renoir, directed by Jacques Rivette and featuring a conversation with Blavette (98 mins.); and a new video essay about the making of Toni by film scholar Christopher Faulkner (25 mins.). The English subtitles are optional, the soundtrack in the original French mono, and the disc comes with a booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau.

1 from Second Run

Tenderness (Czechoslovakia, 1991)

Life in Czechoslovakia got complicated after the Velvet Revolution of 1989: just as the lines delimiting the power of the state were redrawn as capitalism made its rapid incursion into the economy, the limits of control in personal relationships also went through a profound change. Working with scriptwriter Ondrej ŠulajSlovak director Martin Šulik illustrated the new dynamic in his feature debutTenderness (Neha, in the original), which takes an intimate look into a love triangle created when a troubled young student named Šimon (Gejza Benkő) gets dragged into the hot-and-cold relationship of an older couple (played by György Cserhalmi and Mária Pakulnis) whose corruption is rooted in their – and their country's – troubled past. The film is virtually unknown internationally (I couldn't even find a trailer or video clip of it online, just a few stills like the one above). It can now, however, be appreciated in a 2K transfer to all-region Blu-ray with optional English subtitles by British distributor Second Run. The disc has two half-hour video extras: a new Slovak Film Institute making-of called "On Tenderness" and a 1989 documentary short by Šulik called "Hura", in which an old man recalls life under Communism in Slovakia. The booklet runs 20 pages and has a new essay by film historian Peter Hames.

07.2020

1 from Second Run

CzechMate: In Search of Jiří Menzel (India, 2018)

Good timing, Second Run: only two months before the death on September 5 of the famous Czech filmmaker and actor Jiří Menzel, the British boutique Blu-ray and DVD distributor released for international audiences the definitive account of the 82-year-old Menzel's life and times. Written and directed by Indian superfan Shivendra Singh Dungapur and clocking in at roughly eight hours, CzechMate: in Search of Jiří Menzel is a sprawling documentary on the Oscar-winning director of Closely Watched Trains (1966) and other greats including Capricious Summer (1968), the long-banned labour-camp satire Larks on a String (1969), the Oscar-nominated dark comedy My Sweet Little Village (1985), and his late-career comeback I Served the King of England (2006). Dungarpur took eight years to film his hero and other filmmakers, actors, crew members, writers, historians and critics touched by the Czech New Wave, including Věra Chytilová, Miloš Forman, Vojtěch Jasný, Ivan Passer, Ken Loach, Juraj Jakubisko, Jaromír Šofr, Andrzej Wajda, Dušan Hanák, Štefan Uher, Jan Němec, and Miroslav Ondříček. With optional English subtitles (Menzel speaks Czech throughout, and you also hear Slovak, Hungarian, Polish and French), the Second Run edition of CzechMate divides the documentary over two all-region discs and adds two of Menzel's short films: from 1959, "Prefabricated Houses (7 mins.) and from 1963, "Our Dear Mister Foerster Died (15 mins.). There's also an image gallery and a booklet that runs 24 pages and features extracts from Menzel’s shooting diaries.

As a fan myself, I can well understand Menzel's appeal: we met in Montreal in 2013 when he was parachuted in as a replacement for jury president of the 37th Festival des films du monde, where he also presented, in its world premiere, what would turn out to be his directorial swansong, The Don Juans. Here's what I wrote at the time: "Though he never achieved the international fame of his compatriot Miloš Forman ... Menzel is well-known among cinephiles and in his homeland, where he cultivated a reputation as a gadabout bachelor who also happened to make marvellous, whimsical movies. Son of a journalist father who was also a children's book author, Menzel grew up under Nazi occupation and then postwar Communism. Though he shied away from politics, choosing not to join the dissident movement Charter 77, in early 1989 he called for the release from jail of one of its founders, Vaclav Havel, who went on to become president. It's as a film auteur, as well as a very active theatre director and actor (in more than 70 roles), that Menzel has made his mark on Czech history, often adapting the novels of his contemporary, Bohumil Hrabal, 'the Czech Bukowski' ...

"In the Directory of World Cinema: East Europe, Menzel is praised for the 'genteel humanism and populist comedic tone of his work' and his exploration of the 'dichotomy between innocence and experience,' often manifested as sexual desire. Indeed, sex – discreet, tender, comical – recurs in many of his movies. 'For Menzel,' the New York Times once noted, 'a pretty girl is like a melody that haunts at least one heartstruck, awestruck, or totally bewildered male.' From the suicidally virgin railway employee in Closely Watched Trains, to the brewery directors charmed by the manager's wife in Cutting It Short (1980), and now to The Don Juans, eros is a constant for Menzel. Like Woody Allen, in his personal life Menzel turned his bespectacled, rather homely looks into a virtue, and married late in life a woman more than half his age. Olga Menzelova, an art-exhibit producer, had a daughter with another film director, Jaroslav Brabec, in 2009 and doesn't live with Menzel, but they consider themselves a close family.

"Life's like that in Menzel's world, both on and off screen: Love takes many forms, and whatever happens, the supreme value between the sexes is civility. 'I feel responsible for what I generate in the head and the heart of the spectator,' said the director, who doesn't like to watch his movies once they're finished (again, like Allen), and keeps his many awards and trophies in the closet (or, cheekily, in the loo). He deplores the vulgarity of sex he sees portrayed in commercial cinema. His pictures are subtler than that – and so is his humour. 'It's so easy to attract attention by showing things in a brutally erotic way, but I don't want to insult my viewers with that,' he told me. More to his style is the gently self-deprecating voyeurism of a promotional short he shot in 2009 for the Karlovy Vary film festival. 'Better to be only a bit of a Don Juan," he said, "like most men.'"

News of Menzel's death came late Sunday night,  Sept. 6, 2020, in a Facebook post by Menzelova. She'd been caring for him  at home since 2017, when the directorsuffered health problems following brain surgery and meningitis. In his life, Menzel had shown “bravery, taste, extraordinary will to live, and humor,” she wrote. Watch CzechMate to see what she meant.

1 from Criterion

Marriage Story (U.S., 2019)

Noah Baumbach wrote, directed and co-produced this critically acclaimed divorce drama, reprising some of the heartrending dynamics of his 2005 feature The Squid and the Whale (also excellent). Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star as a New York City couple desperately seeking escape from their marriage through their work: Charlie runs an indie theatre company and Nicole, his lead actress, quits to kickstart her career in TV in Los Angeles, leaving their young son, Henry, behind. Once the lawyers get involved (Laura Dern for her, Alan Alda and then Ray Liotta for him), things get nasty. A Kramer vs Kramer (or, going back farther, Two for the Road) for our time, Marriage Story should ideally be watched en couple or en famille: you'll learn a lot about your partner, or yourkids, by who they end up siding for, Charlie or Nicole. Extras include an interview with Baumbach (21 mins.) and another with him and songwriter/composer Randy Newman (11 mins.); featurettes on the cast (20 mins.), crew (12 mins.) and director (7 mins.); two trailers (one from Nicole's point of view, the other from Charlie's); and, the biggest bonus, a feature-length (98 mins.) making-of. The illustrated booklet has an essay by novelist Linn Ullmann.

1 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi (U.S., 1932-35)

The title of this Eureka! Masters of Cinema boxset is plain enough: you get three adaptations of famous works (two "tales of mystery and imagination" and one narrative poem, "The Raven") by the early 19th-century American writer Edgar Allan Poe, each starring the great Béla Lugosi of Count Dracula fame. Murders in the Rue Morgue, from 1932, is set in Paris, directed by Robert Florey and bears some resemblance to Poe's story; but 1934's The Black Cat, directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, and 1935's The Raven, directed by Louis Friedlander, have precious little to do with the originals. Fans of early Hollywood horror flicks, if not necessarily of Poe, will lap these up, especially as each disc (code-locked to region B) overflows with extras. Disc 1 has two versions of the hour-long Murders in the Rue Morgue (the original theatrical one and a 2004 reconstruction), a 2019 audio commentary by film historian Gregory William Mank, a new half-hour appreciation by Kim Newman, 13 minutes of audio of Lugosi reading Poe's story "The Tell-Tale Heart” in 1946 (13 mins.), a trailer and a gallery of 21 still images. Disc 2 has the 65-minute The Black Cat with a 2019 audio commentary by Mank, a new appreciation by Lee Gambin (13 mins.), a half-hour radio broadcast of "The Black Cat" from 1947, a minute of vintage footage of a "black cat contest" and a gallery of 28 stills. Disc 3 has the hour-long The Raven with audio commentaries by film historians Gary D. Rhodes (recorded in 2019) and Samm Deighan (new), an optional audio track of music and effects (in lossless stereo), a new appreciation by Kat Ellinger (15 mins.), a half-hour radio broadcast of "The Tell-Tale Heart" from 1941, and a gallery of 29 stills. Rounding out the package is a 48-page illustrated booklet with essays by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Jon Towlson, Tim Lucas and Gary L. Prange.

1 from Paramount

Airplane! (U.S., 1980)

"Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?" A classic send-up of disaster movies, 1980's Airplane! borrows heavily from 1957's Zero Hour! and really goes the distance in the gags department, with wonderfully tongue-in-cheek performances by Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Lorna Patterson and ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Paramount's new American re-release on Blu-ray includes an old audio commentary with producer Jon Davison and writer-directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker, who supervised the new 4K restoration, and has a couple of extras: a nine-minute featurette on the same three gentlemen and a 40-minute retrospective Q&A with the directors, shot this year at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. You can also access Elmer Bernstein's score as a separate stereo audio track; for the main feature, there's a choice of high-def surround sound in English and dual-mono (right and left channels of the same mono audio) for French, Spanish and Portuguese. Note that Paramount's U.S. editions of this Blu-ray have some fancy packaging (your choice of a "Paramount Presents" slipcase whose front folds out to show the film's original poster inside, and a 40th anniversary steelbook), but the Canadian edition comes in a plain Blu-ray case with no additional artwork or digital copy and old, limited extras replicated from the film's 2001 Blu-ray, including a commentary with writer-directors and producer Jon Davison, informational pop-ups and a trivia track.

06.2020

1 from Criterion

Come and See (Soviet Union, 1985)

 

The antiwar film to end all antiwar films – "one of the most devastating films ever about anything, and in it, the survivors must envy the dead," wrote critic Roger Ebert – director Elem Klimov's Come and See follows a Belorussian teenager named Fiyora (hauntingly played by Alexei Kravchenko) who joins the resistance against the Germans in 1943 and is orphaned when the invaders massacre everyone in his village. The film's story and imagery are memorable: a Stuka divebombing, a walk through a minefield, a gang rape by soldiers, a church set ablaze with flamethrowers and, at the end, a montage of scenes from the life of Adolf Hitler played in reverse. (The new, three-hour Czech movie The Painted Bird tells a similar story of a boy in wartime, in black-and-white.) A poignant score by Oleg Yanchenko heightens the horror, with poetic counterpoint coming from excerpts of Richard Wagner's operas Die Walküre and Tannhäuser, the "Lacrimosa" movement from Mozart's Requiem, Aleksandr Aleksandrov's patriotic song "The Sacred War," and Johann Strauss II's waltz "The Blue Danube." The new Criterion Blu-ray uses a 2K restoration of the film by Mosfilm and comes with a number of extras. They include three documentary shorts of about 10 minutes each shot between 1975 and 1977 that show eyewitness accounts of the genocide in Belorussia; two new interviews (10 minutes with cinematographer Roger Deakins and about a half hour with German Klimov, the director's brother and artistic collaborator; interviews from 2001 with Elem Klimov (21 mins.), Kravchenko (13 mins.) and production designer Viktor Petrov (8 mins); an 11-minute making-of from 1985 with Klimov, Kravchenko and writer Ales Adamovich; and a theatrical trailer. The soberly presented 30-page booklet has essays by British film critic Mark Le Fanu and Russian-American poet Valzhyna Mort.

2 from Eureka! Masters of Cinema

Criss Cross (U.S., 1949)

In this film noir directed by Robert Siodmak and set in late 1940s Los Angeles, Burt Lancaster plays Steve Thompson, an armoured car driver whose ex-wife, Anna (Yvonne De Carlo) now runs with a no-good crook named  Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). A botched robbery sends all three lives into a deadly spin. Restored in 4K, the new Region-B Blu-ray comes with two audio commentaries (by film author Lee Gambin and actress Rutanya Alda, and by film scholar Adrian Martin); a half-hour Screen Director's Playhouse radio adaptation of the story from 1949, featuring Lancaster; an isolated music and effects track; and a trailer. The illustrated booklet has a new essay by film historian Kat Ellinger, an essay by Adam Batty and archival writing.

A Foreign Affair (U.S., 1948)

Billy Wilder returned to Berlin after World War Two to direct Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and John Lund in this story of a Nazi-comprised cabaret singer (Dietrich) whose secret affair with a U.S. Army officer (Lund) is exposed by a visiting U.S. congresswoman (Arthur).  The new Region-B Blu-ray has an audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride; a video essay by critic Kat Ellinger (23 mins.); two hour-long Screen Director's Playhouse radio adaptations from 1949 and 1951 featuring Wilder, Dietrich, Lund, Rosalind Russell and Lucille Ball; an archival interview with Wilder (10 mins.); and a trailer. The illustrated booklet has new writing by film historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas; a new essay by critic Richard Combs; and archival material.

1 from Olive

Hair (U.S. / West Germany, 1979)

"Hair only broke even at the box office; it didn't do as well as everyone had hoped," director Miloš Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus) recalled in his 1993 memoir Turnaround. "I still think that it came out both too late and too soon after the '60s for commercial success ... Still, I find myself showing Hair to people more often than my other films ... and partly it's because musicals are almost always a pleasure to watch." Released in 1979, Hair was a re-write of Ragni & Rado's one-off Broadway musical from the late '60s about American hippies and their opposition to the Vietnam War. The central character is a young draftee from Oklahoma named Claude Hooper Bukowski (played in the movie by John Savage, who appeared the previous year in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter). After getting his call-up papers, Bukowski comes to New York and falls in with a free-spirited bunch of hippies whose "leader" is the charismatic rebel George Berger (Treat Williams, in his starring debut); Beverly d'Angelo plays Sheila Franklin, a blonde from the right side of the tracks who sends Bukowski's head spinning with thoughts of love. Eventually, however, the young recruit enlists and goes off to boot camp in Nevada, where he's only spared from being shipped overseas when he's paid an unexpected call by none other than Berger and his gang of merry pranksters. The film ends in tragedy, nonetheless. Forman's handling of this story, with a script by Michael Weller, mixes humour with moral outrage; the choreography by Twyla Tharp is dynamic and beautiful; the original music by Galt MacDermot ("Aquarius," "Easy to Be Hard," "Somebody to Love," "Good Morning, Starshine") is by turns tender and glorious; and the cinematography by Forman's compatriot and longtime collaborator Miroslav Ondříček is both fluid and beautifully framed. And the film's politics? They're not as radical as the stage musical's, but for that reason they've aged well. Above all, for Forman, Hair was about youth. "Treat and Beverly and John," the director recalled in his autobiography, "... are now reaching middle age ... but when I see them dancing and singing and beaming, they are forever young." For the film's new Blu-ray release, U.S. distributor Olive improves mightly on the barebones DVD it issued in early 2018. It's by no means the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray; Fox did a barebones one in 2011 and the British Film Institute issued one with plenty of extras in late 2019). But Olive's sports a new high-definition restoration and has its own extras: an audio commentary by Williams and assistant director Michael Hausman; a reminiscence called "The Tribe Remembers" with D’Angelo, Savage and fellow actors Don Dacus, Ellen Foley, Annie Golden and Dorsey Wright; a featurette with Tharp called "Making Chance Work: Choreographing Hair"; "Cutting Hair, with editors Lynzee Klingman and Stanley Warnow; "Hair Style," with production designer Stuart Wurtzel; and “Artist, Teacher, Me or: Remembering Milos Forman,” with director James Mangold. The illustrated booklet has an essay by critic Sheila O’Malley.

2 from Paramount

Urban Cowboy (U.S., 1980)

John Travolta stars as a Texas oil rig worker who in his spare time rides the mechanical bull for kicks at Gilley's Club in Pasadena, near Houston. Debra Winger plays his love interest and Scott Glenn the bad-boy who gets in between. Paramount's 40th anniversary edition Blu-ray is region-free but the visuals are disappointing: they're clean, but overly so, scrubbed digitally of any grain. The disc has a few new extras (a 15-minute look-back by bar owner and country-and-western singer Mickey Gilley, plus eight minutes of deleted scenes) and some old ones (four minutes of outtakes and four minutes of rehearsal footage). There's also a download code for a digital copy of the film. A slipcase completes the package.

Friday the 13th (U.S., 1980)

The original slasher film that launched a 12-movie franchise, Friday the 13th stars a young Kevin Bacon as one of a group of teenage summer-camp counsellors who fall victim to a mysterious killer. Repackaging its decade-old Blu-ray (already re-released in 2017) in a new steelbook case, Paramount provides the same uncut and unrated international release version of the film as before, clocking in at 95 minutes, with the addition of a download code to access a digital copy. Extras are the same old ones: an audio commentary by director Sean S. Cunningham, composer Harry Manfredini, and actresses Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer; five making-of featurettes totalling 78 mins.; and the original theatrical trailer. 

2 from MVD Visual

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (U.S., 2018)

Pauline Kael was movie critic for the New Yorker magazine for over two decades, from 1968 to 1991. She was also one of the best-known, best-read and in some cases most loathed critics in the world. With actress Sarah Jessica Parker reading from Kael's reviews, interviews and private writings, and with testimonials by everyone from Kael's daughter Gina James to superfan Querntin Tarantino, Rob Garver's documentary paints a portrait of a complicated iconoclast who breathed cinema to her dying breath in September 3, 2001, age 82, her passing overshadowed by the terrorist attacks on her adopted New York City. 

Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (U.S, 1927-43)

The comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy get the Blu-ray treatment in 2K and 4K in this set of 21 shorts (including classics like "The Music Box" and "Me and My Pal") and two features (1933's Sons of the Desert and 1937's Way Out West, which Laurel co-produced) spanning their early days in the silent era to the middle of the Second World War. The four discs come loaded with audio commentaries as well as, all in high-definition, a raft of extras including interviews with experts (video and audio), photo galleries of stills from the movies and an assortment of vintage promotional and production material.