Most movies that receive Blu-ray upgrades look a bit better but aren’t necessarily worth spending the extra money if you already have the DVD in your library. But a big exception to that rule is “Lawrence of Arabia,” which is absolutely dazzling in a new hi-def version that arrives in stores this week.
“Lawrence of Arabia: 50th Anniversary” (Columbia/Blu-ray, 1962, PG, $26.99, documentary, featurettes, newsreel, trailers). Over the years I’ve been asked about a lot of films that people think should be on Blu-ray, but none have come up as often as this one.
Now, at last, one of the greatest epic motion pictures ever made is finally available to be watched as it deserves to be — second only to a theatrical presentation.
As I wrote a few weeks ago when “Lawrence” was shown on theater screens locally, the film’s breadth and depth is unparalleled and though it takes its time (running nearly four hours), it’s never dull. High entertainment with thrills, excitement, comedy, memorable set pieces and thought-provoking drama, along with artistic imagery at every turn.
And the cast is equally magnificent, led by Peter O’Toole in the title role, and among the supporting cast, most notably, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn and Alec Guinness. (Also available in “Blu-ray Collector’s Edition” with five discs, with new bonus features, a soundtrack CD, a 70mm film cell and a 90-page hardback coffee table book, $95.99.)
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding: 10th Anniversary Special Edition” (HBO/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2002, PG, two discs, $19.98, deleted scenes, audio commentary, new featurette). Nia Vardalos’ expansion of her one-woman stand-up act is a hilarious culture-clash comedy of an unmarried woman in a large Greek family who falls for a hunky WASP (John Corbett). Bright characters and universal themes made this low-budget effort an enormous box-office hit. Looks great on Blu-ray and boasts a new “look back” featurette with Vardalos and Corbett.
“Broken Trust” (Warner Archive, 1995, not rated, $18.95). Tom Selleck stars in this TNT cable movie as a district court judge who agrees to help take down another judge suspected of accepting bribes. But as overzealous prosecutors widen their net to include Selleck’s respected colleagues and friends, he finds himself trapped in murky waters. A first-rate, thoughtful thriller that never panders to the audience or lets Hollywood clichés take over. Marsha Mason and Elizabeth McGovern co-star. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com.)
“The Voice of the Turtle” (Warner Archive, 1947, not rated, b/w, $18.95). Eleanor Parker gives one of her best performances in this buoyant comedy as a woman who has vowed to avoid love but through convoluted circumstances finds herself allowing a solider (Ronald Reagan) on a weekend pass to move in when he can’t find other lodgings. Very funny film gets a big boost from Eve Arden as Parker’s wisecracking best friend. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com.)
“The Vitaphone Comedy Collection: Volume One,” Warner Archive, 1932-1934, not rated, b/w, two discs, $29.95, 19 short films). These short comedies, which played between theatrical features during the Depression, were filmed in Brooklyn during the early days of sound. The first six star former silent icon Fatty Arbuckle. Comic character actor (and one of the Three Stooges) Shemp Howard offers support in two of Arbuckle’s shorts and headlines the rest of this collection. Silly and nostalgic fun, loaded with sight gags and one-liners in the Vaudeville/Burlesque tradition. (Available at www.WarnerArchive.com.)