- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A seamless blend of gripping dramatics and creative cinematic techniques, Bernardo Bertolucci’s influential 1970 classic The Conformist arrives this week in a new special edition ($14.99) from Paramount Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Drawn from Alberto Moravia’s novel of the same name, the film, set in 1938 Rome, presents a complex character study of Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant). He’s a man who, feeling different from others and uncomfortable in his own skin (a situation partially explained via a violent flashback), seeks to become the ultimate conformist.

To that end, he joins Italy’s rising fascist forces, even agreeing to arrange the assassination of his dissident former college professor (Enzo Tarascio) in Paris.

In addition to telling Marcello’s tale, director-screenwriter Bertolucci delineates how a negative political climate can take hold and gain followers. As Marcello’s contact explains in a key line, “Some do it out of fear. Most for the money. For faith in fascism, very few.”

As already established, Marcello has his own psychological reasons for signing on.

Like Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” (itself the subject of an excellent 1967 adaptation that’s unfortunately yet to appear on home video), Marcello seems to lack an empathy gene and is capable only of feigning emotion — for the professor, for a blind radio producer friend, even for his new bride (Stefania Sandrelli). Mr. Trintignant brilliantly conveys Marcello’s alienation, as much through gesture as speech.

Mr. Bertolucci receives considerable assistance not only from his capable cast but from cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s striking use of color, light and shadow, and composer Georges Delerue’s haunting score. Three excellent featurettes explore these and other filmic facets, with cogent interviews with Messrs. Bertolucci and Storaro.

Paramount also issues the same director’s 1977 epic 1900 in a double-disc edition ($19.99).


Universal Studios Home Entertainment presents the TV-on-DVD event of the week with its gala eight-disc Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season ($69.98). In addition to all 24 Season One (1975-1976) episodes, the set includes original screen tests, 1975 cast interviews and a collector’s booklet dedicated to a show that truly changed the face of cathode comedy.

An even earlier television hit surfaces in Paramount Home Entertainment’s Mission: Impossible: The Complete First TV Season (seven-disc, $54.99), containing 28 episodes of the long-running series.

The same label fast-forwards to current times with the reality-TV exercise Survivor: Vanuatu: The Complete Season (four-disc, $54.99), while Warner Home Video revisits the 1980s via The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Seventh Season (six-disc, $39.98).

Twentieth Century Fox keeps thriller fans up to speed with 24: Season 5 (seven-disc, $59.98), while Anchor Bay Entertainment offers Roseanne: Season 6 (four-disc, $39.98). Warner aims to please animation lovers with the five-disc Animaniacs Volume 2 and the four-disc Pinky & the Brain Volume 2 ($44.98 each).

Koch Vision introduces a pair of double-disc British imports: Julian Glover as Claude Monet in the miniseries The Impressionists ($34.98) and Hugh Grant and Miranda Richardson in Shades of Darkness ($29.98), gathering six mysteries penned by Edith Wharton and other classic authors.

The ‘A’ list

Several high-profile recent theatrical releases breeze in this week, leading with Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s latest franchise entry Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($29.99) and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice (Universal Studios, $29.98), both packed with copious extras, from commentaries to featurettes.

Three comedies also make their digital debuts: Jay Chandrasekhar’s Beerfest (Warner Home Video, $28.99), the Thomas Rockwell adaptation How to Eat Fried Worms (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.95) and The Oh in Ohio (HBO Video, $24.98), starring Parker Posey and Danny DeVito.

Likewise due this week are the urban drama The Architect (Magnolia Home Entertainment, $29.98), with Anthony LaPaglia, and the computer chiller Pulse (Dimension Home Video, $29.95).

Collectors’ corner

m High-profile Hollywood couple Liz and Dick reign in Warner Home Video’s five-disc Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton Film Collection ($49.92). The set kicks off with a double-disc 40th Anniversary Edition, complete with new commentaries and documentaries, of the duo’s 1966 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and follows with single discs of The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965) and writer Graham Greene’s The Comedians (1967).

m Sony Pictures pays tribute to a beloved American filmmaker with its Frank Capra Collection (six-disc, $59.98). The set assembles Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, It Happened One Night, You Can’t Take It with You, American Madness and the TV documentary Frank Capra’s American Dream. Bonus features include multiple commentaries and featurettes, plus a 96-page scrapbook.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Looking for the later color “Dragnet” episodes on DVD.

J. Edelmann, via e-mail

Universal Studios released Dragnet 1967 — Season 1 (two-disc, $39.98) last year, available from Amazon.com and other sources.

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

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide