From the latest hit films to a favorite TV series to classic movies appearing for the first time in Blu-ray, DVDs remain excellent gift choices this holiday season.
Rather than listing obvious choices such as the Pixar-animated Up or the second season of Mad Men, we’re concentrating here on more offbeat stuff — boxed sets, anniversary editions and special releases from the past year. (List prices are included, but discounts may be found at many stores and online outlets.)
Two from 1939: Two of Hollywood’s all-time favorite films celebrated their 70th anniversaries this year with lavish Ultimate Collector’s Editions from Warner Home Video. The Wizard of Oz ($69.92 DVD/$84.99 Blu-ray, rated G), in which the teenaged Judy Garland discovers she’s “not in Kansas anymore,” looks great in remastered Technicolor and is accompanied by 16 hours of extra features detailing the film’s inception, production, marketing and legacy. Gone With the Wind ($69.92 DVD/$84.99 Blu-ray, rated G), the historically dubious but masterfully produced epic about the Old South, the Civil War and Reconstruction, comes with more than eight hours of bonus material. Both films are packaged in handsome boxes, featuring hardcover books, reproductions of the original marketing guides or publicity programs and additional memorabilia.
Disney’s Pinocchio, though it premiered in February 1940, also received the 70th anniversary treatment with its high-definition debut from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (two discs, $29.99 DVD/$35.99 Blu-ray, rated G), including never-before-seen deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
The 45th anniversary of Mary Poppins the Disney live-action/animated musical starring Julie Andrews, resulted in a special edition (Disney, $29.99, rated G) featuring information about the Broadway version of the musical, a musical reunion with Andrews, costar Dick Van Dyke and composer Richard Sherman, who with his brother Robert wrote the Oscar-winning score and song (“Chim Chim Cheree”) and more.
Also from 1964, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, a brilliant political satire about the scary subject of U.S. nuclear warfare strategy, made its Blu-ray debut in a 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $38.96, rated PG). The black comedy, featuring Peter Sellers in three memorable roles, is packaged with a fine documentary on the making of the film and more.
Not anniversary editions (but who cares)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney’s breakthrough animated feature film from 1937, made its Blu-ray debut (Disney, $29.99 DVD/$39.99 Blu-ray and DVD combo pack, rated G) with a bevy of bonus material.
One of the great holiday films, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (from 1946), starring James Stewart, is available in both a new DVD gift set and a new Blu-ray edition (Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.99 DVD/$39.99 Blu-ray, not rated), each including both the original, fully restored black-andwhite version and a colorized version of the movie.
The comedy producer who changed the face — and content — of network television, beginning in the 1970s, is honored with The Norman Lear Collection (Sony, $159.95, not rated). This 19-disc boxed set includes the first seasons of seven Learproduced shows — All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman — plus six hours of interviews and reminiscences by Lear and his stars.
A shout-out to Rome, the outstanding HBO series that unfortunately lasted only two seasons but managed to include such memorable events as Julius Caesar’s assassination, the dalliance between Marc Antony and Cleopatra and the rise to supreme power of Octavian (Augustus), as well as a fictional tale of two ordinary soldiers in the Roman army. All 22 episodes are included in Rome: The Complete Series (HBO Home Entertainment, $99.98 DVD/$139.99 Blu-ray, rated TV-MA), along with some invaluable material on the history of the Roman Empire.
Great directors and actors
For films of an entirely different sensibility — or nonsensibility — check out The Mel Brooks Collection (Fox, $99.98 DVD/$139.99 Blu-ray, available Dec. 15), an assortment of eight comedies including Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Fans of Brooksian humor will also enjoy “The 2000-Year-Old Man: The Complete History,” a 3-CD/1-DVD boxed set (Shout! Factory, $59.98, not rated) featuring the five comedy albums and assorted TV specials and interviews starring Brooks as the storytelling title character and Carl Reiner as his straight man/ interviewer.
Paul Newman, who passed away last year after a 50-year acting career that included 65 movies, is honored in The Paul Newman Tribute Collection (17 discs, Fox, $89.98, various ratings). Thirteen of Newman’s films are presented, including Special Collector’s Editions of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hustler, The Verdict and The Towering Inferno. The boxed set also comes with a 136-page photo-filled book about Newman’s life and work.
Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Where to snag these, and other, DVDs
Video Station 1661 28th St., Boulder (303) 440-4448 thevideostation.com In Boulder for more than 25 years, the Video Station claims the largest selection of videos in the state — more than 50,000.
North Village Video 3990 Broadway St, Boulder 303-443-5990 While mostly dabbling in rentals, North Village Video also sells previewed copies of movies.
Black & Read Music, Books & Games 7821 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada 303-467-3236 blackandread.net 9,600-square feet of new and used CDs, DVDs and books.
Showtime Video 1745 Main St., Longmont 303-772-0370 Large selection of videos, both new and previewed.
Video Vault 950 Elgin Ave., Longmont 303-774-6519 Package deals for preowned movies; carries new releases as well.