- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2007

A classic World War II combat drama with an added ethnic subtext, Rachid Bouchareb’s Academy Award-nominated 2006 Days of Glory (aka “Indigenes”) makes its digital debut via the Weinstein Company ($28.95). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

The film focuses on a quartet of North African men who volunteer to fight for France in dangerous European missions while being consistently subjected to inferior treatment by their Gallic officers.

The soldiers exhibit conflicting emotions, with some, like ambitious corporal Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), seeking to overcome their second-class status by proving their worth in battle, and others, like the proud Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), barely able to contain their growing resentment.

Under the leadership of French North African Sergeant Martinez (Bernard Blancan), himself harboring a tightly kept secret, the squad ultimately finds itself up against overwhelming odds while attempting to stave off a Nazi attack on a besieged French village.

Seamlessly inhabited by a topflight cast, the main characters deepen as the reels roll on, with the diminutive, illiterate but uncompromising Said (Jamel Debbouze) emerging as an especially sympathetic figure.

While “Days of Glory” resists wallowing in battlefield gore, the clashes are appropriately harrowing and generate genuine suspense. DVD extras include a making-of featurette and a bonus short film, “The Colonial Friend.”

Mr. Bouchareb’s intense military entry can take its rightful place beside such strong WWII fare as Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” and Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima.”

Collectors’ corner

In vintage news, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment salutes a deserving thespian via its three-disc Pacino: An Actor’s Vision collection ($34.98), assembling a trio of projects generated by and starring Mr. Pacino: the indie drama Chinese Coffee (2001), the London-set short feature The Local Stigmatic (1990) and the behind-the-scenes Shakespearean inquiry Looking for Richard (1996). The set also incorporates the career retrospective Babbleonia: A Documentary.

Keyed to the big-screen sequel “Live Free or Die Hard,” the above label also offers the Bruce Willis Die Hard Collection (four-disc, $39.98), lining up Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengeance, augmented by audio commentaries and a bonus disc with a new “Die Hard” documentary.

Warner Home Video celebrates an enduring screen comedienne with its Lucille Ball Film Collection (five-disc, $49.92), gathering three 1940s vehicles — Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), The Big Street (1942) and Du Barry Was a Lady (1943) — with the later showcases Critic’s Choice (1963) and Mame (1974).

Lionsgate Home Entertainment revives a brace of 1970s thrillers, Charles Bronson and Alain Delon in Honor Among Thieves and Marlon Brando in The Nightcomers ($14.98 each).

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, 20th Century Fox Home debuts a 1990s cult fave, the offbeat seriocomic series Picket Fences: Season One (six-disc, $59.98), starring Tom Skerritt and arriving with a retrospective featurette with creator David E. Kelley and cast.

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