caughtCaught (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), Max Ophuls’ dark Cinderella melodrama, belongs as much to the murky world of American film noir as to the polished European dramas of high society social appearances and power games. Barbara Bel Geddes is the dreamy car hop who puts her hopes in a charm school education and a modeling gig and Robert Ryan is her dream come true, or so she thinks when the cold, demanding industrialist millionaire suddenly proposes. Ophuls perfectly captures her uneasiness in society when she first meets him: she’s a naïve working class girl trying to look sophisticated so she can land a rich husband, he’s a millionaire industrialist born to wealth and power who proposes on a whim to prove a point to his psychiatrist. James Mason is her jolt of reality, an idealistic doctor in New York’s east Side who hires her despite her qualifications (diction and posture have little value in a working office) when she flees his control. While Mason slowly wins her heart, the manipulative Ryan responds with a campaign of blackmail and psychological torments.

Ophuls fights a script that all too often puts its themes into the mouth of Mason, whose constant harangues against the pursuit of money for money’s sake sounds increasingly like a broken record, but his delicate, elegant style beautifully captures both the surface elegance and emptiness of the millionaire lifestyle. Bel Geddes transforms from callow, naïve kid to woman of strength and moral fortitude, while Mason tempers his saintliness with moments of doubt and Ryan reveals chillingly cruel manipulator whose only goal is to “win” at all costs. Ophuls beautifully twists the American dream into a nightmare, where even the happy ending feels just a bit tarnished. No supplements.

SouthernComfortSouthern Comfort (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray), Walter Hill’s drama of a weekend warrior National Guard platoon suddenly under fire from the Cajuns whose swamp they’ve invaded, shares the DNA of Deliverance while delivering a Vietnam allegory. The soldiers become lost in the foliage and outmaneuvered by a guerrilla army at home in the jungle, but Hill is too smart and too primal a director to overplay his symbolism. He directs with a clean simplicity while examining the dynamics of a platoon of battle virgins about to tear itself apart from fear. Ry Cooder’s eerie and haunting score only intensifies the paranoia as the city boys flail around lost in the swamp while guerrilla gunmen pick them off one by one. Keith Carradine and Powers Boothe are the only soldiers smart enough to understand that they are way out of their depth and Fred Ward, Peter Coyote, Lewis Smith and Brion James co-star.

The Blu-ray debut, mastered from a new HD transfer, is presented with a new half-hour documentary featuring actors Powers Booth, Keith Carradine, Lewis Smith, director Walter Hill, and producer / co-writer David Giler.

LakePlacidLake Placid (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) is basically a big, dumb monster movie about a man-eating croc in a rural New England Lake but it has a sense of fun about it. This 30-foot monster scares fish right out of the water and pulls a helicopter out of the sky, which is silly but kind of entertaining. TV creator David E. Kelly wrote the tongue-in-cheek script (which is more sarcastic than clever), Bridget Fonda is the whiny city-bred paleontologist, Bill Pullman the straight-talking fish and wildlife warden, Brendan Gleeson the rather slow Maine county sheriff, but Betty White all but steals the film as the eccentric who feeds to monstrosity and considers it a pet. It’s got new interviews with director Steve Miner, actor Bill Pullman, director of photography Daryn Okada, and members of the special effects crew, plus a vintage featurette.

BABY BLU KEYARTThe Baby (Severin, Blu-ray) really is one of the strangest films of the seventies horror movie culture. It’s not exactly a horror movie, it’s more of a twisted psychodrama about a mother (Ruth Roman) of two grown daughters who keeps her 20-year-old son (David Manzy) in a state of perpetual infancy, and a social worker (Anjanette Comer) who investigates this strange case. Ted Post directed this low-budget independent horror between making Hang ‘Em High and Magnum Force. I couldn’t tell you why to he took the project but you can’t deny that it’s a weird, twisted, messed-up little film. It’s mastered for Blu-ray from the original negative and includes audio interviews with director Ted Post and actor David Manzy.

Also debuting on Blu-ray from Severin is Jess Franco’s 1981 slasher picture Bloody Moon (Severin, Blu-ray), which includes a video interview with Franco, and the American killer kid horror Bloody Birthday (Severin, Blu-ray), co-starring Susan Strasberg and Jose Ferrer.

Also new and notable: PointBlank

Point Blank (Warner, Blu-ray), John Boorman’s American debut, is a brilliant modernist crime thriller adapted from the Richard Stark “Parker” novel “The Hunter” and starring Lee Marvin as the career criminal looking for revenge on the partners who double crossed him. It debuts on Blu-ray.

When Twilight Time launched as a DVD company, Violent Saturday was one of their first releases. Now comes the long-awaited Blu-ray debut of Violent Saturday (Twilight Time, Blu-ray), the Richard Fleischer-directed heist drama. Also new: Woody Allen’s Radio Days (Twilight Time, Blu-ray), the original Born Yesterday (Twilight Time, Blu-ray) with Judy Holliday and William Holden, and Brannigan (Twilight Time, Blu-ray) with John Wayne. All discs are limited to 3000 copies and include the Twilight Time trademark isolated score track and a booklet with notes on the film by film historian Julie Kirgo. Available exclusively from Screen Archives and the TCM Shop.

OperationPCary Grant is the Captain and Tony Curtis his ambitious con-artist of a Lieutenant in Operation Petticoat (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), Blake Edwards’ service comedy about a submarine crew in the South Pacific trying to repair their ailing vessel in the early days of WWII while inheriting five army nurses, an extended Filipino family (and their goat), and a new coat of bright blushing pink paint. Directed at the lolling calm of a quiet sea from an episodic script, it’s a bit slack and overlong at two hours but it is amiable company and the supporting cast is fun. It includes Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Arthur O’Connell, Gavin McLeod, Dick Sargent, Madlyn Rhue and Marion Ross. The only previous stateside DVD release was an old, non-anamorphic, pre-HD edition. This is a significant improvement.

Also debuting on Blu-ray and new DVD editions from Olive: Good Sam (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD), Leo McCarey’s 1948 comedy with Gary Cooper and Ann Sheridan; the gothic drama The Lost Moment (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD) based on the Henry James novel The Aspern Papers and starring Robert Cummings and Susan Hayward; the romantic fantasy comedy Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD) with William Powell and Ann Blyth; and the comedy So This is New York (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD) with Henry Morgan and Rudy Vallee.

FinalTerrorThe Final Terror (Scream Factory, Blu-ray+DVD Combo) gets its reputation as a cult horror film for the careers that followed its cast—Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, Adrian Zmed and Joe Pantoliano—and its director, Andrew Davis. Shout Factory did their own restoration of sorts, making a new HD master using elements from five collector prints. Features director commentary and cast and crew interviews.

I Vinti (Raro / Kino, Blu-ray), the second feature by Italy’s Michelangelo Antonioni, is a triptych of tales of alienated youth in the fifties, the “burnt out generation,” as the prologue describes them. Raro put it out on DVD a few years ago and upgrades it to Blu-ray.

More releases:

The Time Machine (1960) (Warner, Blu-ray)TimeMachine
Cannibal Holocaust (Grindhouse, Blu-ray)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Criterion, 2-DVD edition)
Red River (Criterion, 2-DVD edition)
Escape From Athena (Hen’s Tooth, DVD)
Scavenger Killers (Midnight Releasing, DVD, VOD, Digital)
Vintage Erotica anno 1970 (Cult Epics, DVD)
Kindergarten Cop (Universal, Blu-ray)
Bring It On (Universal, Blu-ray)
42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection, Vol. 3 (Synapse, Blu-ray, DVD)ViolentSaturdaycap
Vintage Erotica anno 1970 (Cult Epics, DVD)
Runaway Nightmare (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)
Peekarama: Erotic Adventures of Candy / Candy Goes to Hollywood (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)
Peekarama: All Night Long / Tapestry of Passion (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)

Calendar of upcoming releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD