- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Even if you're not a committed jazz fan, the documentary The Last of the Blue Devils, new from Kino Video ($29.95 DVD), will likely win you over with its sheer charm and irresistible musical chops. And now it's our …

Video pick of the week
Back in the late '70s, director Bruce Ricker gathered several soulful survivors of the legendary 1930s band the Blue Devils, the audio epicenter of the legendary Kansas City jazz scene, along with musicians from other area groups, for a feature-length interview and jam session that demonstrated beyond a doubt that the still-working players had lost little in the way of skill or intensity.
In the film, Count Basie is treated by his peers as the reigning royalty of the assemblage as he shares memories and big-band tunes with his fellow musicians, film crew members and assorted onlookers. But dozens of other seasoned swing men also get their chance to shine, both as performers and storytellers most notably pioneering R&B; belter Big Joe Turner and pianist-singer Jay McShann. Highlights include Mr. Basie and his orchestra's "Night Train," with a sizzling sax solo by Jimmy Forrest, and Big Joe and Jay's "Roll 'Em" duet. Among the DVD extras are a running audio commentary by Mr. Ricker and 19 minutes of musical outtakes.
"The Last of the Blue Devils" can take its rightful swinging place beside such diverse all-star jam films as Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" and the Robert Johnson tribute, "Hellhounds on My Trail."

Rhino rocks on
Continuing on a musical note, Rhino Video plans a late September launch for the 1979 mods vs. rockers cult drama Quadrophenia, presenting the Who-scored youth flick in a wide-screen DVD edition ($24.95) featuring improved sound and commentary by director Franc Roddam.
In a related vein, the label also issues three volumes of Rock Icons Guitar Gods, Psychedelic High and Hard Rockin' ($9.98 each VHS, $14.99 each DVD) capturing live performances by such top rock artists as Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and the Moody Blues. Country fans, meanwhile, can get their kicks with Tammy Wynette ($19.98), a live concert offering 24 tunes, including "Stand by Your Man."

Killer thrillers
Several theatrical thrillers will be arriving on home video this month, leading with this week's debut of Christopher Nolan's literally backward mystery Memento (Columbia/ TriStar), which takes the amnesia theme further than any film in recent memory. Guy Pearce stars as the tormented protagonist, while Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano lend thespian support.
The same label introduces the John LeCarre adaptation The Tailor of Panama, featuring Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush, while Paramount plans a late September launch for the "Kiss the Girls" sequel Along Came a Spider, with Morgan Freeman reprising his original investigative role.
WinStar Entertainment offers a pair of offbeat indie thrillers Ryan Daugherty stars as a teen-age fugitive from a reformatory in South Florida in the oft-haunting mood piece Trans, while a spinster and her surrogate teen-age daughter find their isolated Outback lifestyle disrupted by a bizarre accident in the Australian import The Well. All of the above will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.

Mondo arrow
Arrow Home Entertainment aims for the Halloween crowd with a newly repriced quintet of vintage scare flicks. Leading the way are the rudely inventive 1995 British horror comedy Funnyman, starring genre legend Christopher Lee and presented in a deluxe DVD edition that includes commentary by Mr. Lee and director Tim James, and the label's controversial version of F.W. Murnau's 1922 vampire classic, Nosferatu, with new music tracks by the goth-rock band Type O Negative, plus Gunnar Hansen and Veronica Carlson in the scare anthology Freakshow ($14.95 DVD, $9.95 VHS each). Arrow also slims VHS stickers to $9.95 each on the alien-critter cheesefest The Deadly Spawn and the mutant-amok romp The Regenerated Man.

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: Deep End is playing in theaters; its source is the same novel as the 1949 film Reckless Moment, with Joan Bennett and James Mason. What are the chances of the older film being released on DVD or re-released on video?
Jim Morris, Arlington
Columbia Pictures apparently holds the rights to "Reckless Moment," based on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's "The Blank Wall," but the video is no longer in circulation. Hopefully, the eventual home-video release of "Deep End" will inspire the label to reissue the earlier film.


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