- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You don’t have to be a fan of proto-punk pioneers the New York Dolls or of the Mormon Church, for that matter, to enjoy the rock documentary New York Doll, new from Visual Entertainment ($19.98). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Greg Whiteley’s film charts the life trajectory of Arthur “Killer” Kane, who went from playing bass guitar for the above-cited bad-boy band to working as a librarian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Los Angeles.

After following the familiar scenario of a band breakup and subsequent descent into alcohol, drugs and a failed suicide attempt, Mr. Kane finds salvation as a clean, sober member of that oft-maligned religion.

There’s another twist in store, however. Even as director Whiteley intercuts talking-head interviews with fellow rockers and Dolls admirers such as Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and Blondie drummer Clem Burke with scenes of Mr. Kane’s humble daily routine, Mr. Kane receives a call from musician Morrissey to join the surviving Dolls for a London reunion concert.

Can the quiet Mormon shake off his musical rust and lingering resentments to play the widely hyped gig?

What happens next is by turns funny, triumphant and poignant as Mr. Kane reconnects with lead Doll David Johansen , who has become an internationally successful solo act, and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain to prepare for the show.

DVD extras include interviews with Morrissey and director Whiteley, plus a bonus performance by Mr. Johansen. Though not quite up there with the farther-reaching “End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones” or “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” “New York Doll” tells its more modest musical story exceedingly well.

Collectors’ corner

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment unearths laughs galore via its eight-disc The Mel Brooks Collection ($99.98), assembling Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, History of the World: Part 1, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, The Twelve Chairs, To Be or Not to Be and, arguably the best of the batch, Young Frankenstein. Select audio commentaries and other extras flesh out the fun set. Not included are “The Producers” and several other Brooks laugh fests.

Also in the comedy department, Stan and Ollie return in The Laurel and Hardy Collection (three-disc, $34.98), packaging three of the boys’ later, lesser showcases — 1944’s The Big Noise, 1941’s Great Guns and, the funniest of the trio, 1943’s Jitterbugs.

Charismatic character actor Bob Hoskins seizes center stage in two new special editions from Anchor Bay Entertainment ($19.98 each) — as a brutal Brit mobster in The Long Good Friday (1979), complete with director’s commentary, featurette and more, and as a gangster’s gofer in Mona Lisa (1985), arriving with an eight-page collectible booklet.

MPI Home Video/Dark Sky Films gets a jump on the home-theater drive-in season, dusting off a 1964 double bill by director Del Tenney — the truly jaw-dropping beach party/creature feature combo The Horror of Party Beach and the gothic The Curse of the Living Corpse ($14.98) — equipped with new commentaries and interviews.

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases arriving on disc, Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents Bill Paxton’s fact-based golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played, while the related label Miramax Home Entertainment debuts Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and Morgan Freeman in Lasse Hallstrom’s An Unfinished Life ($29.99 each). Both include filmmakers’ commentaries, featurettes and other bonus material.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment unleashes the Jim Carrey/Tea Leoni romp Fun With Dick & Jane ($28.95), accompanied by filmmakers’ audio commentary, outtakes, gag reel and more, and Maria Bello in the chiller The Dark ($24.96).

Elsewhere on the fear-film front, Dimension Home Entertainment bows the harrowing Australian horror Wolf Creek ($28.98), while Lions Gate Home Entertainment spotlights Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund in the extras-enhanced splatter epic 2001 Maniacs ($26.98).

First Run Features imports the excellent 2004 Uruguayan slice-of-life drama Whisky ($24.95), dealing with subtly dueling middle-aged siblings, while Genius Products contributes the biopic Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II ($19.98).

Tele-video

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment focuses on cathode comedy with a brace of new box sets — The Bob Newhart Show (three-disc, $29.98), collecting all 24 Season Three episodes plus select audio commentary and an all-new featurette, and In Living Color: Season Five (three-disc, $39.98).

Paramount Home Entertainment keeps Trekkers busy with the four-disc Star Trek Time Travel Fan Collective ($39.99), assembling time-travel episodes culled from the original “Star Trek,” “The Next Generation,” “Voyager” and “Deep Space Nine.”

Video verite

WGBH Boston Video issues the four-disc Genius: The Science of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo ($49.95) and the double-disc Walking the Bible ($39.95), while Miramax offers the undersea documentary Deep Blue ($29.99).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is the original “The Untouchables” available on DVD?

Stan Lewis, via e-mail

That classic crime-fighting series has yet to land a home-video release.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscope mag.com.

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