- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Another unsettling winner from the cinema’s early-to-mid-1960s Golden Age of Anxiety, Otto Preminger’s twisty 1965 psychological mystery Bunny Lake is Missing, makes its digital debut via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment ($19.94). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

When Bunny, the 4-year-old daughter of the newly arrived American Anna Lake (Carol Lynley), goes missing from a London preschool, the understandably distraught unmarried mom begins a frantic, frustrating search for her whereabouts.

School authorities deny any knowledge of Bunny’s existence, prompting investigating superintendent Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) to wonder whether the tot is not a figment of high-strung Anna’s imagination.

Anna’s unnaturally close brother Stephen (Keir Dullea) subtly adds to that doubt even while assuring Anna that he will help save her daughter and the day.

Working in crisp black-and-white, director Preminger, screenwriters John and Penelope Mortimer (adapting Evelyn Piper’s novel) and cinematographer Denys Coop do an excellent job of externalizing Anna’s heightened neuroses, placing her in a darkened, spooky doll “hospital,” the labyrinthine basement of a real hospital, a nightmarish London traffic jam, and other anxiety-provoking situations and locales.

Miss Lynley displays impressive acting chops, forcing the viewer to feel her fear with visceral power. Mr. Dullea is suitably creepy as Anna’s controlling sibling, while Noel Coward contributes eccentric support as the perverse, lecherous poet next door. Mr. Olivier is aces as Newhouse, an oasis of calm in a desert of incipient dementia.

While prominently billed, the rock band The Zombies appears via onscreen TV clips, performing the thematically relevant tune “Just Out of Reach.” Though free of frills, Sony’s pristine widescreen presentation amply delivers the offbeat thrills.

Tele-video

A new slew of comedy series settles into area vidstores: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases The Mad About You Collection (four-disc, $39.95), in which stars Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt select their favorite episodes. Warner Home Video revisits Candice Bergen and friends in Murphy Brown: The Complete First Season (four-disc, $29.98). Paramount Home Entertainment goes on the road with the post-modern “Candid Camera” variation The Jamie Kennedy Experiment: The Complete Third Season (three-disc, $38.99).

Two widely divergent period series surface this week: HBO Video debuts the gritty Wild West show Deadwood: The Complete First Season (six-disc, $99.98), armed with bonus material ranging from featurettes to creator and cast audio commentaries. Anchor Bay Entertainment closes the curtain on the time-tripping adventure series Highlander Season Six: The Final Season (eight-disc, $89.98), bulked up with hours of extras, from interviews to commentaries to featurettes.

Crime provides the focus for Miami Vice: Season One (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, three-disc, $59.98), starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as tropical cops Crockett and Tubbs, and for Murder One: The Complete First Season (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, six-disc, $59.98).

Punishment supplies the theme for the prison series Oz: The Complete Fourth Season (HBO Video, three-disc, $64.98), with an arresting array of commentaries and deleted scenes.

The ‘A’ list

Romantic titles dominate the new-release slate this Valentine’s Day week.

• Writer-director Vanessa Parise explores the love lives of a quartet of disparate sisters in Kiss the Bride (MGM Home Entertainment, $25.98), starring Amanda Detmer and Alyssa Milano.

• Ryan Gosling and Rachel Adams bond in Nick Cassavetes’ The Notebook (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.95), based on Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novel.

• Laura Linney believes she’s found her deceased beau reincarnated in Topher Grace in Dylan Kidd’s P.S. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $24.96).

Animated antics

Dreamworks leads the animated way with the underwater blockbuster Shark Tale ($29.99), swimming into vidstores in a bonus-packed edition.

Elsewhere, Rob the Rabbit fights for justice in the 1986 feature The Adventures of the American Rabbit (MGM Kids, $14.95). Prehistoric critters return in The Land Before Time: Invasion of the Tinysauruses (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, $19.98), and a popular Chinese heroine embarks on a new mission in Mulan II (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99).

Collectors’ corner

MGM Home Entertainment rolls out the digital red carpet for a veteran American auteur via its gala The Martin Scorsese Film Collection ($49.95). The four-DVD set includes his 1972 “Bonnie and Clyde” variation Boxcar Bertha, the change-of-pace 1976 musical New York, New York, 1978’s primo all-star The Band farewell concert The Last Waltz, and the reel gem of the set, a double-disc Raging Bull special edition with a ring full of fascinating extras.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Can’t find the1961 Steve Reeves movie on DVD, The Thief of Baghdad.

Victor Martinez, via e-mail

“Thief” has yet to join the digital ranks, though Video Library (vlibrary.com) has mail-order rental copies of the rare VHS version.

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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