Lots of golden oldies are on DVD for the first time this week, along with a potpourri of other choices — including a reissue of Disney's classic animated version of "Peter Pan."
"LITERARY CLASSICS" (Warner, 1937-62, b/w and color, five discs, $59.98). This is a wonderful collection of classic films based on classic literature, all making their DVD debut and all bursting with excellent production values and an array of fondly remembered character actors.
—"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937/1952). This disc has two versions of this oft-filmed swashbuckler. The first (and best) is a rousing black-and-white adaptation, with Ronald Colman as both the commoner and the look-alike king with whom he is forced to switch places. Co-stars include Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and David Niven. The second is a scene-for-scene color remake starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and James Mason.
—"The Three Musketeers" (1948, color). Another swashbuckler that's been filmed umpteen times, this colorful version stars Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, June Allyson, Angela Lansbury, Vincent Price, etc.
—"Madame Bovary" (1949, b/w) is an excellent film about the doomed 19th-century woman who gives up her family for ill-fated romance. Loaded with lavish set pieces (highlighted by the famous ball), with Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin, Louis Jourdan.
—"Captain Horatio Hornblower" (1951, color) is the story of the valiant naval officer, played very well by Gregory Peck, who outthinks his rivals in a film filled with action. Virginia Mayo, Christopher Lee.
—"Billy Budd" (1962, b/w) is a fine allegory pitting good against evil aboard a British vessel in the late 18th century. Innocent and beloved Billy (Terence Stamp in his film debut) is hated by his superior (Robert Ryan), leading to tragedy. Melvyn Douglas, David McCallum and Peter Ustinov, who also directed, produced and co-wrote the film.
Extras: Audio commentaries, featurettes, cartoons, trailers (All titles are also available individually, $19.97.)
"THE ERNEST HEMINGWAY FILM COLLECTION" (Fox, 1950-62, five discs, $69.98). These literary adaptations all come from Hemingway and it's a mixed bag, though there are some goodies.
—"Under My Skin" (1950, b/w) is an uneven but interesting melodrama about a crooked jockey who tries to reform, given a boost by John Garfield's first-rate performance. (Home-video debut.)
—"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (1952, color) has injured writer Gregory Peck going over his past to see if his life has meaning, with Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward. This one has been on many public-domain labels, but this is a pristine print and looks gorgeous.
—"The Sun Also Rises" (1957, widescreen, color). Expatriates in the 1920s come together in this fine ensemble piece, with great performances from Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert. Arguably the best of these films. (Home-video debut.)
—"A Farewell to Arms" (1957, widescreen, color), the only film here without bonus features, is the Rock Hudson-Jennifer Jones remake of the World War I romance, which never quite catches fire, but fans of the stars will enjoy it.
—"Ernest Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man" (1962, widescreen, color). Disappointing yarn based on the Nick Adams stories certainly isn't lacking in star power — Paul Newman, Corinne Calvet, Dan Dailey, Ricardo Montalban, Susan Strasberg, Jessica Tandy, Eli Wallach, with Richard Beymer and Diane Baker in the lead roles. (Home-video debut.)
Extras: Audio commentaries, featurettes, trailers, photo galleries ("Snows" and "Sun" available separately, $19.98; "Farewell" reissue available separately, $14.98.)
"Cinderella Liberty" (Fox, 1973; R for language, sex, nudity, violence; $19.98). Updated old-fashioned Hollywood story has a hooker (Oscar-nominated Marsha Mason) with an illegitimate son romanced by a sailor (James Caan). The stars are great, as is supporting cast led by Eli Wallach.
Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary (director Mark Rydell)
"John and Mary" (Fox, 1969, PG, $19.98). Low-key anti-romance with Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow doesn't have much to say, but fans may enjoy it. Tyne Daly, Olympia Dukakis and Cleavon Little are among supporting players. (Home-video debut.)
Extras: Widescreen, photo galleries
"The Other Side of Midnight" (Fox, 1977; R for sex, nudity, language, violence; $19.98). Famous actress plots to get revenge on lover who scorned her in this trashy melodrama. Notable primarily for early supporting performance by young Susan Sarandon.
Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary, photo gallery
"The Manitou" (Anchor Bay, 1978, PG, $14.98). Equally trashy horror film boasts an unexpected roster of aging former stars — Tony Curtis, Ann Sothern, Burgess Meredith, Stella Stevens. But that's not a recommendation.
Extras: Widescreen, trailer
"Peter Pan: Platinum Edition" (Disney, 1953, G, two discs, $29.99). One of Disney's great classic films, a wonderful, tuneful adaptation of the oft-filmed children's story. If it's not in your library, it should be.
Extras: Full frame, deleted scene, deleted songs, featurettes, music video, interactive games, trailers
"The Full Monty: Fully Exposed Edition" (Fox, 1997; R for language, nudity; two discs, $19.98). Sweetly amusing look at laid-off steel-mill workers in England who take unusual steps to give their lives meaning.
Extras: Widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, trailers
"Revenge of the Nerds: The Atomic Wedgie Collection" (Fox, 1984-94, four discs, $29.98). The first in this series is actually pretty funny, albeit quite crude. The sequels — "Nerds in Paradise," "The Next Generation" and "Nerds in Love" — are forgettable.
Extras: Widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, TV pilot, trailers (the first film is available separately, $19.98)