Prey For Rock & Roll
The cast is very enjoyable. Wenham isn't likely to cross over to the States - he's the Australian equivalent of Aaron Eckhart or Thomas Jane - but I've never seen him give a bad performance, and it's always fun to see LaPaglia, best known for his TV series Without A Trace, with his Australian accent back in place.
Robert Connolly's commentary is informative but a bit confusing. The director keeps referring to features on the DVD that aren't there; they're on the Australian DVD for which Connolly originally did the commentary. EXTRAS Director commentary, theatrical trailer, storyboard/film comparison with commentary.
In this period - How Green Was My Valley came out the next year - Ford cemented his position as the painter laureate of the American cinema. Shooting on location, he achieved the sort of stark visual poetry seen in Dorothea Lange's photographs of migrant worker camps, and from Henry Fonda as Tom Joad he got one of the greatest performances in American cinema.
The ending softens the message (Ford let Zanuck shoot Ma Joad's We Are The People speech), but there's no denying the film's political stance and visual brilliance.
Delayed for several months, the DVD offers a magnificent transfer, true black-and-white with just enough grain in the image to still look like film. The extras, which aren't as good, include a rather dry commentary and some material from the Fox archives. EXTRAS A scholarly commentary by Ford biographer Joseph McBride and Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw that is so polite, 20 minutes go by before you realize they're in the studio together; A&E Biography episode Darryl F. Zanuck: 20th Century Filmmaker; Movietone news on droughts; UK prologue; restoration comparison. English (original mono and stereo remix), Spanish versions and subtitles.
The problem isn't what's in the box. It's what's not , specifically the 1976 film Return Of The Pink Panther, for which Artisan holds the rights. MGM offers no indication that this is not a complete set of the canonic Panther films. The package does, however, include the dreadful Trail Of The Pink Panther, constructed from outtakes after Sellers's death.
The second problem is the box itself. The case puts six discs on three panels, so you have to remove discs one, three and five to get at discs two, four and six. This is doing it all wrong. EXTRAS Director commentary on A Shot In The Dark, short documentaries on the making of the series and the animation, six Pink Panther cartoons, including the Academy Award-winning Pink Phink. English, French, Spanish versions and subtitles.
With his 16mm camera perched on his shoulder, McElwee tracks his encounters with an assortment of Southern women, some of whom he dates and some of whom just rip into him for hiding behind his camera instead of living his life.
It's a fascinating portrait of a man disappearing into his own self-consciousness, and very funny.
I wish First Run Features could have found a better print. This one looks like they were working from a secondary source, not the original. EXTRAS Director interview, photo gallery, William Tecumseh Sherman text biography.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb