COUCH THEATER — DVD PREVIEWS

Kirk Douglas in "Spartacus"
Kirk Douglas in “Spartacus”

By DNA Smith
PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Spartacus: 50th Anniversary Edition” (PG-13) — Kirk Douglas stars in this Stanley Kubrick-directed Sword & Sandal epic about a Roman gladiator who leads a failed slave revolt against the Roman Empire. “Spartacus” sports a stellar supporting cast: Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov (who won an Oscar for his performance), Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons and Charles Laughton. The battle scenes, although a half-century old, are just as thrilling as anything you saw in Russell Crowe’s “Gladiator.” This release is the restored director’s cut, which includes the infamous bath house scene between Olivier and Curtis that was removed because of its overt bisexual content.

“The Road” (R) — In the aftermath of an unspecified global apocalyptic event, a father and son (Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive in a savage world where most of humanity has been wiped out, cold-blooded cannibalistic fiends lurk around every corner and the inevitability of cruel death hangs like a shroud over every waking moment. So yeah. Feel-Good Movie of 2009, for sure.

“Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: Legends” (Unrated) — This 3-DVD set contains 46 performances from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies including performances by Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Wilson Pickett, The Doors & Eddie Vedder, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard and, well, just about everybody who had a hit record between 1955 and 1995. There’s also more than four hours of bonus footage, including rehearsal performances, interviews and induction speeches.

“Stagecoach” (The Criterion Collection) (Unrated) — John Wayne got his first big role as The Ringo Kid in John Ford’s epic Western about a perilous stagecoach journey from Arizona to New Mexico. Some critics have called this film the “Citizen Kane” of Westerns, and I agree. “Stagecoach” rewrote the genre and created a template for the modern Western film. John Wayne, in the uncommon role of an outlaw, delivers an absolutely riveting and timeless performance; and John Ford’s breathless cinematography makes the film a feast for the eyes.

Truth be told, I am not a big fan of Westerns, but there are a few cowboy movies that are so well done, I can’t help but love them. “Stagecoach” is one of them. The others (in case you were wondering): “The Shootist” (also starring The Duke), “Tombstone” (starring Kurt Russell) and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (Wayne again, with Jimmy Stewart).

TV SERIES
“True Blood” The Complete Second Season
“The Guild” Season 3
“George Gently” Series 2
“Hoarders” The Complete Season One
“Victory at Sea” Deluxe Edition
“All Creatures Great & Small” Complete Collection
“Flashpoint” The Second Season
“The Virginian” Complete First Season
“Leverage” The Complete Second Season
“Royal Pains” Season One
“Waiting for God” Season Five
“Bing Crosby” The Television Specials Vol 1

© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.

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