- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Bill Plympton fans have reason to rejoice with New Video’s pristine DVD of the imaginative animator’s long-absent 1992 feature film The Tune, out this week at $26.95. It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

“The Tune” not only brims with Mr. Plympton’s unique brand of offbeat whimsy but boasts a host of clever tunes composed by singer, musician and longtime collaborator Maureen McElheron.

Our story finds struggling songwriter Del (voiced by Daniel Neiden) at a loss to please his soulless corporate boss Mr. Mega (Marty Nelson) and salvage his romance with Mega employee Didi (Miss McElheron).

In an “Alice in Wonderland”-type twist, a wrong turn on a freeway leads Del into a series of surreal misadventures involving, among other oddities, a canine Elvis impersonator (who sings “Dig My ‘Do”), a proboscis-less cabbie (“No Nose Blues”), a sadistic bellhop (“Lovesick Hotel”), a dance-entranced surf couple (“Dance All Day”), and a psychobabbling behemoth dubbed “The Wise One.”

Throughout, Mr. Plympton’s fable and Ms. McElheron’s musical contributions serve as able frames for a succession of rapid-fire sight gags and surreal digressions filtered through the animator’s darkly cheerful prism.

Extras include an informative audio commentary by Mr. Plympton and Ms. McElheron that’s especially valuable for aspiring filmmakers, the inside-animation documentary “Twisted Toons,” and more. At a streamlined 72 minutes, “The Tune” makes for a simultaneously mind-bending and toe-tapping viewing experience.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-to-DVD developments, Universal Studios Home Entertainment goes the sci-fi route with two new collections: Knight Rider: The Complete First Season ($59.98), a four-disc set containing 21 episodes; Knight Rider 2000: The Movie Sequel, with audio commentary by star David Hasselhoff and creator Glen Larson, featurettes and more; and Sliders: The First and Second Seasons ($89.98), a six-DVD extravaganza with commentary by co-creators Tracy Torme and Robert K. Weiss, a featurette and a photo gallery.

MPI Home Video (mpihomevideo.com) updates three diverse vintage teleseries in as many new four-disc sets: The Cisco Kid Collection 3 ($49.98), starring a hard-riding Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo in 20 Western episodes from the 1950s; Dark Shadows Collection 13 ($49.98), with no fewer than 40 episodes from the 1970s goth opera; and, from Britain, the acclaimed policer A Touch of Frost Season 3 ($49.98), assembling four feature-length episodes starring David Jason as the ever-determined Detective Inspector Frost.

Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment mines a backdate cathode comedy vein with All in the Family: The Complete Third Season, with 24 episodes, and the 22-episode Soap: The Complete Second Season.

Next week, the same label adds the 24-episode Good Times: The Complete Third Season to its digital sitcom roster. The three-disc sets are tagged at $29.95 each.

The ‘A’ list

This week, Touchstone Home Entertainment charges into the digital fray with Hidalgo ($29.95), a “Western” set in Arabia and loosely based on fact. It toplines Viggo Mortensen, Said Tashmaoui and Omar Sharif.

Also in an action vein, next week Miramax Home Entertainment unleashes Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 2 ($24.99), with a sword-swinging Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen; extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scene and more.

Elsewhere, Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment bows the recent romantic romp 13 Going on 30, starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo, in a bonus-packed special edition.

Collectors’ corner

Koch Lorber Films adds a pair of acclaimed foreign films to the DVD ranks with Ermanno Olmi’s 1978 The Tree of Wooden Clogs, an Italian drama set at the turn of the 20th century; and Jianxin Huang’s Chinese parable The Wooden Man’s Bride. The discs are priced at $24.98 each.

First Run Features introduces French filmmaker Julie Lopes-Curval’s ensemble drama Seaside ($29.95), while Columbia/TriStar unearths the edgy 1959 Gary Cooper/Rita Hayworth Western drama They Came to Cordura ($19.95), available with widescreen and full-screen options.

Elvis lives!

The King returns this week, courtesy of Warner Home Video, in a half-dozen 1960s celluloid showcases ($14.98 each): Double Trouble, Harum Scarum, It Happened at the World’s Fair, Speedway (with Nancy Sinatra), Spinout and The Trouble With Girls, co-starring Vincent Price. Each disc includes a bonus Elvis Presley Trailer Gallery.

Video verite

From WGBH Boston Video comes Vietnam: A Television History ($79.95), an epic four-disc, 11-hour documentary set that traces the tangled history of the Vietnam War from its post-World War II roots to its belated conclusion in 1975.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is Dario Argento’s The Card Player available on DVD? I can’t seem to locate it.

J. Sandler, via e-mail

While the “Italian Hitchcock” ‘s recent thriller has been released on disc in Europe, it has yet to land a stateside home.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] .com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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