- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

A stoic Alain Delon commands the screen in Jacques Deray’s riveting 1974 revenge caper Borsalino and Co.

($24.95), new this week from the eclectic archivists at Kino Video (kino.com). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

In this violent cross between a vintage Warner Bros. gangster classic and a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, Mr. Delon stars as dapper Roch Siffredi, ruler of all rackets in 1934 Marseilles. Trouble brews when a rival Italian mob led by the vicious Volpone (Riccardo Cucciolla) muscles in, destroys Siffredi’s empire and has the former crime kingpin tossed in an insane asylum.

Siffredi bides his time until, years later, with the help of loyal surviving henchman Fernand (Lionel Vitrant), he busts out, assembles a new killer crew and descends on Volpone’s organization with relentless fury.

Beyond the slickly paced action scenes, director Deray succeeds in recreating a flavorful period Marseilles while incorporating story parallels to the rise of fascism in Europe. “Borsalino and Co.” also boasts an evocative musical score by Claude Bolling, further enhancing a film that should readily satisfy action and art-house fans alike.

In addition to releasing two more 1970s Alain Delon crime titles, Flic Story and Two Men in Town, Kino debuts no fewer than five films by French suspense master Claude Chabrol — Betty, The Color of Lies, Cop Au Vin, Inspector Lavardin and L’Enfer ($24.95 each) — as well as the excellent thriller, set in pre-World War I Russia, The Rider Named Death ($29.95).

Tele-video

In TV-on-DVD developments, Universal Studios Home Entertainment places the emphasis on intrigue with three new “NBC Mystery Movie” box sets: Peter Falk returns as wily detective Columbo: The Complete Third Season (two-disc), complete with a bonus “Mrs. Columbo” episode, Westerner Dennis Weaver rides the mean streets of New York City as McCloud: Seasons One & Two (three-disc), and Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James portray gumshoe couple McMillan & Wife: Season One (two-disc). The sets are tagged at $39.98 each.

WGBH Boston Video likewise pursues a whodunit vein with The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 3 ($39.95), a four-disc set containing as many feature-length suspense episodes starring Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small as an intrepid New Scotland Yard team.

Comedy rules Paramount Home Entertainment’s digital roost via two new collections: The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Third Season (five-disc, $38.99) assembles all 32 Season Three episodes featuring Andy and the Mayberry gang, while I Love Lucy: The Complete Fifth Season (four-disc, $59.99) complements all 26 Season Five shows with an abundance of archival extras, including featurettes, “Lucy” radio episodes, original animated sequences and much more.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment keeps the laughs coming with The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (four-disc, $49.98), while Universal offers the mockumentary-style corporate satire The Office: Season One ($29.98), adapted from the original British series and showcasing Steve Carell as a particularly clueless boss.

Warner Home Video mines the 1980s for a pair of diverse cult items, the intrigue-packed Dallas: The Complete Third Season (five-disc, $39.98) and the animated 1985 adventure series Thundercats: Season 1 (three-disc, $64.92).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases joining the digital ranks, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba head a name cast in Robert Rodriguez’s stylized graphic-novel adaptation Sin City (Dimension Home Video, $29.99).

Two indie dramas also surface this week: Daniel Day-Lewis and Catherine Keener in The Ballad of Jack and Rose (MGM Home Entertainment, $26.69) and Vincent Gallo and Chloe Sevigny in writer-director Gallo’s controversial road movie The Brown Bunny (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $24.96).

On a lighter note, Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney pair off in the bonus-laden romantic comedy The Wedding Date (Universal, $29.98).

Collectors’ corner

Animation lovers will want to pounce on VCI Entertainment’s double-disc Somewhere in Dreamland: Max Fleischer’s Color Classics ($19.99, vcientertainment.com), assembling 33 of that pioneering animator’s 1930s cartoons, plus a wealth of extras.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment also goes the roots route with the black-and-white cartoon collection Vintage Mickey ($19.99), featuring the seminal Steamboat Willie.

Indie beat

Wellspring Media introduces a trio of critically acclaimed art-house films this week: Enzo Monteleone’s hard-hitting 2002 combat drama El Alamein, Andrew Bujalski’s 2003 post-college comedy-drama Funny Ha Ha and Anders Ronnow Klarlund’s 2004 English-language puppet fable Strings ($26.98), arriving with behind-the-scenes extras.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I can’t seem to locate The Beatles comedy Help! on DVD. Is it out yet?

—Kay Radler, via e-mail

The Fab Four’s 1965 musical spy spoof debuted during the format’s early days (1997) but is not currently in distribution. You might try Amazon.com or online auction sites like EBay for the rare disc.

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 [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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