- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fans of vintage black-and-white crime movies get their money’s worth with the three-disc, six-film Forgotten Noir Set 2 ($29.99), new this week from VCI Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Best of the double-feature discs is 1951’s FBI Girl, paired with 1949’s Tough Assignment. Despite its generic title, “FBI Girl” emerges as a surprisingly edgy account of a politician’s attempt to cover up a past homicide, with agents Cesar Romero and George Brent recruiting file clerk Audrey Totter to go undercover to solve the case. Raymond Burr turns in particularly vicious work as a ruthless enforcer.

The second feature, “Tough Assignment,” stars Don “Red” Barry as a refreshingly low-key reporter/hero who teams with onscreen photographer wife Marjorie Steele to foil a contemporary rustling ring. A cast of veteran character actors adds to the enjoyment.

George Raft plays a hard-boiled adventurer mixed up in a stolen-gold racket in Ray Enright’s atmospheric 1952 caper set in Algiers, The Man From Cairo — sharing a disc with the 1951 mystery Mask of the Dragon, with Richard Travis and Sheila Ryan. Mr. Raft returns as an FBI agent in 1953’s I’ll Get You, again joined by Mr. Travis and Miss Ryan in the entertainingly campy companion feature Fingerprints Don’t Lie (1951).

Extras include film expert audio commentaries, informative video biographies, photo galleries, and trailers for a full package of old-school double-feature fun.

Tele-video

Mysteries and crime thrillers likewise dominate the week’s TV-on-DVD slate. Peter Falk stars as an understated super-sleuth in the three-disc Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1989 (Universal Studios, $26.98). Raymond Burr plays the eponymous detective in the 28-episode Ironside: Season 1 (Shout! Factory, eight-disc, $59.98).

Lawmen Delroy Lindo and Jeremy Sisto tackle a tough case in Kidnapped: The Complete Series (Sony Pictures, three-disc, $49.95), and Mark Harmon heads up naval investigations in NCIS: The Third Season (six-disc, $64.99), docking with select audio commentaries and bonus featurettes.

Several premiere-season sitcoms likewise hit vidstores and on-line outlets: The Drew Carey Show: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, four-disc, $39.98); Tony Randall and Jack Klugman in The Odd Couple: The First Season (Paramount Home Entertainment, five-disc, $42.99), complete with new audio commentaries and other extras; Bonnie Franklin in Norman Lear’s One Day at a Time: The Complete First Season (Sony Pictures, two-disc, $29.95); and Howard Hesseman and crew in WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season (20th Century Fox, three-disc, $39.98), likewise arriving with commentaries and featurettes.

Also new are the animated series Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy: The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Video, two-disc, $19.98) and the stand-up special Tropic of Gallagher (SRO Entertainment, $14.99).

Elsewhere, Fess Parker returns as the eponymous legendary frontiersman in the 1960s series Daniel Boone: Season 3 (Goldhil Entertainment, eight-disc, $49.98), while Warner Home Video debuts the dolphin-driven family show Flipper: Original Series: Season 1 (four-disc, $39.98).

WGBH Boston Video has the documentary Kaboom!: The Sizzling Story of Explosions (two-disc, $29.95), Koch Vision bows the BBC literary adaptation Tom Brown’s Schooldays ($19.98) and HBO Video offers the fact-based mini-series Tsunami (two-disc, $29.98).

Collectors’ corner

Three new entries in 20th Century Fox’s Cinema Classics Collection ($19.98 each) showcase high-profile celluloid adaptations of literary classics: Vivien Leigh in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1948), Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1944), and two versions of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Frederic March in the 1935 edition and Michael Rennie in the 1952 remake, sharing a single disc. Extras include select audio commentaries, featurettes, restoration comparisons and more.

Warner Home Video salutes a Hollywood legend via its five-disc James Cagney Signature Collection ($49.92). The set assembles a quintet of vintage J.C. vehicles — the comedy The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), the war films Captains of the Clouds (1942) and The Fighting 69th (1940), the action comedy Torrid Zone (1940) and the musical The West Point Story (1950).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases joining the digital ranks this week, 20th Century Fox contributes the effects-enhanced comedy hit Night at the Museum (two-disc, $29.98), featuring Ben Stiller and accompanied by a treasure trove of extras, from filmmakers’ commentaries to multiple featurettes, and also issues the Christian-themed thriller Thr3e ($26.98).

Touchstone Home Entertainment introduces the time-tripping Denzel Washington action-thriller Deja Vu ($29.99), with featurettes and deleted scenes, while Miramax Home Entertainment hosts Stephen Frears’ high-quality drama The Queen ($29.99), starring an Oscar-winning Helen Mirren and surfacing with two audio commentaries and a “making-of” documentary.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Do you have any information on the release of the “Friday the 13th: The Series” on DVD?

R.L. Brown, via e-mail

No word as yet re that 1980s Paramount TV scare series’ joining the digital ranks.

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.

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