- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Though the subject of a lavish upcoming remake, Tony Richardson’s original 1970 Ned Kelly speaks (and sings) quite eloquently for itself. The DVD is due next week via MGM Home Entertainment ($14.95). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

More than a simple Outback Western, the fact-based film, set in 1871, dramatizes the ongoing British-Irish conflict, exported to the Australian frontier.

As an ex-con and perceived troublemaker, small-time rancher Ned, credibly portrayed by Mick Jagger, is constantly harassed by local constables, largely fellow Irishmen in the ruling Brits’ employ. When Ned’s hard-working mother (Clarissa Kaye) is imprisoned on trumped-up charges, Ned, his brother Dan and two sidekicks become folk heroes by staging a series of bold robberies and raids that target British interests.

Director Richardson, who had earlier delivered a controversial revisionist version of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1968), accentuates, without oversimplifying, the social injustices that drove Ned and friends to carry out their rebellious deeds. The result is a solid blend of impassioned protest and traditional action, with further commentary provided by a full complement of original soundtrack songs, composed by Shel Silverstein and sung by Waylon Jennings.

MGM’s disc arrives sans extras — a featurette placing Ned Kelly’s exploits in more detailed historical perspective would have been welcome — but the widescreen film itself rates as a simultaneously rousing and thought-provoking ride.

Collectors’ corner

Next week, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment revives three decidedly lighter-toned vintage films on DVD. Clifton Webb, Jeanne Crain and Myrna Loy star in the original 1950 Cheaper by the Dozen, while the latter pair returns for the 1952 sequel Belles on Their Toes.

Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles and Terry-Thomas take to the skies in the 1965 aviation romp “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines,” with audio commentary by director Ken Annakin. The discs are tagged at $14.98 each.

Water Bearer Films (waterbearerfilms.com) packages a trio of British indie auteur Mike Leigh’s innovative 1970s working-class comedy-dramas — Abigail’s Party, Grown Ups and Hard Labour — in its three-disc Mike Leigh Collection Volume One ($79.95).

This week, Universal Studios Home Entertainment goes the special edition route with Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List ($26.98), complete with the feature-length bonus documentary “Voices from the List” and the featurette “The Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg.”

The ‘A’ list

In recent theatrical-to-digital developments, MGM Home Entertainment introduces the family Fido farce Good Boy! ($26.98), starring “Saturday Night Live” alums Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon, along with young Liam Aiken and a canine cast voiced by the likes of Matthew Broderick, Cheech Marin, Vanessa Redgrave and Carl Reiner. Among the bonus materials are a behind-the-scenes “dog-umentary,” audio “canine-tary” with director John Hoffman and cast members, and lots of other extras sporting fairly painful pooch puns.

Not to be outdone, Universal next week bows The Cat in the Hat ($26.98), starring Mike Myers as Dr. Seuss’ freewheeling feline, supported by Alec Baldwin (no Oscar noms for this one), Kelly Preston and Dakota Fanning, in a special edition boasting 16 deleted scenes, 20 outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more.

Tele-video

While Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson spoof overly earnest ‘70s cop-show cliches in the current big-screen “Starsky & Hutch” remake, old-school fans can revisit the original series with Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment’s new five-DVD collection Starsky & Hutch: The Complete First Season ($49.95). In addition to all 22 debut-season episodes, starring Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul as badge buddies S&H and Antonio Fargas as everyone’s fave informer Huggy Bear, the set tacks on four featurettes (including one keyed to the new movie), original TV promo spots, and exclusive interviews with actors Glaser and Soul.

Golden silents

Rolling back another five decades, Kino Video’s five-disc The Douglas Fairbanks Collection ($89.98) resurrects and restores a half-dozen of that silent-film action icon’s greatest 1920s hits: the early two-strip Technicolor epic The Black Pirate, The Mark of Zorro and sequel Don Q, Son of Zorro, Robin Hood, The Thief of Bagdadand The Three Musketeers. The set also assembles more than three hours of extras, from Fairbanks outtakes to rare excerpts from other period films.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is the animated film The Dark Crystal on DVD yet?

S. Lance, via e-mail

That 1983 medieval fantasy feature from Muppet creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz was recently released by Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment ($19.95) and should be available via most online video outlets, if you don’t see it at your local vidstore.

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] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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