- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

It’s long served as a much-imitated genre-movie template, but 1972’s Deliverance still stands tall on its own, a contention ably demonstrated in the deluxe 35th-anniversary edition out this week from Warner Home Video ($19.97). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Deftly blending fear-film moves and transplanted Western tropes with gripping action, moral complexity and sharp character studies, John Boorman’s adaptation of James Dickey’s novel about four urbanites — flawlessly portrayed by Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox — on an ill-fated rural canoe trip continues to cast a compelling spell.

Those already familiar with the film will want to explore its fascinating back story, presented here in a four-part retrospective documentary. Director Boorman, the four leads and character thesp Bill McKinney (who, as the slain Mountain Man, contributes some of the most impressive “corpse acting” ever captured on celluloid) all share their behind-the-scenes recollections of the film’s genesis and execution. Mr. Boorman provides more insights during his feature-length audio commentary.

From the risky location shoots supervised by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond to the decision to use nonprofessionals in key supporting roles (including author Dickey himself as the sheriff), Mr. Boorman and crew faced a challenge nearly as daunting as the on-screen foursome’s wilderness trip. Warner’s disc expertly preserves their stories for cinematic posterity.

Tele-video

In TV-on-DVD developments, boomers with a sagebrush bent have reason to rejoice over two gala new sets from Infinity Entertainment: Hopalong Cassidy: The Complete Television Collection (12-disc, $79.98) assembles all 52 of the 1950s Hoppy TV episodes starring William Boyd plus 10 Cassidy feature films and a bonus feature-length documentary.

The same label’s The Adventures of Jim Bowie: The Complete Collection (10-disc, $69.98) gathers all 76 episodes of the 1956-58 series featuring Scott Forbes as the eponymous real-life frontier figure, with guest stars ranging from Michael Landon to June Carter Cash.

In the sitcom arena, HBO Video resumes the misadventures of Ray Romano and fictional family in Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Ninth Season (four-disc, $44.98), augmented by eight audio commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes and bloopers.

Sony Pictures keeps up with another dysfunctional domestic unit in Married … With Children: The Complete Seventh Season (three-disc, $39.95).

20th Century Fox goes the animation route with Family Guy: Volume 5 (three-disc, $39.98) and updates the live-action activities of James Spader and fellow lawyers in Boston Legal: Season 3 (seven-disc, $59.98).

Subversive sketch comedy commandeers center stage in Paramount Home Entertainment’s Upright Citizens Brigade: The Complete First Season and The Complete Second Season (two-disc, $26.99 each), supplemented by audio commentaries and bonus live performances.

The above label emphasizes the supernatural with Jennifer Love Hewitt as a paranormal specialist in an extras-packed Ghost Whisperer: The Second Season (six-disc, $72.99), while MGM Home Entertainment looks to the skies via Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Third Season (five-disc, $49.98).

Buena Vista Home Entertainment focuses on family drama in Brothers and Sisters: The Complete First Season (six-disc, $59.99), starring Calista Flockhart and Sally Field, accompanied by audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes and more.

The ‘A’ list

No fewer than three sports-themed films make their digital debuts this week, two dealing with soccer — the fictional Gracie (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.95), with Carley Schroeder, and the documentary Dare to Dream ($19.98) — and one with football, Matthew McConaughey in the fact-based college gridiron drama We Are Marshall (Warner, $28.98).

On the dramatic front, Warner also issues the gambling-themed Lucky You ($28.98), starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, while 20th Century Fox issues the 1994 Rwanda-set Beyond the Gates ($27.98) and City Lights Home Entertainment introduces the crime film Brooklyn Rules ($29.98), with Alec Baldwin.

Dimension Home Entertainment debuts half of the big-screen double-feature experiment “Grindhouse” — the 113-minute extended, unrated cut of Quentin Tarantino’s postmodern speed-movie homage Death Proof ($29.95), headlining Kurt Russell, in a two-disc edition backed by a host of fresh featurettes.

Other new genre releases include the vampire sequel BloodRayne II: Deliverance (Visual Entertainment, $26.99) and The Condemned (Lionsgate, $28.98).

Collectors’ corner

A vintage quintet of extras-enhanced special editions arrives this week, with Paramount presenting the terpsichorean hits Flashdance and Saturday Night Fever ($19.99 each), Fox furnishing Commando and Wall Street ($19.98 each) and Warner contributing Wolfgang Petersen’s epic Troy: Director’s Cut (two-disc, $20.97).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am unable to find a DVD of “The African Queen” that plays on American DVD players. All I can find are region 2, etc. Any suggestions? I enjoy your page.

Gordon Hermes, Falls Church

John Huston’s 1951 Bogie/Hepburn classic has yet to join the digital ranks, and its early CBS/Fox VHS incarnation is long out of print. Hopefully, a special edition DVD will surface in the near future.

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.videoscopemag.com.

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