VIOLENT SATURDAY (Eureka) is a stripped-down, machine-tooled crime saga from director Richard Fleischer, looking terrific in dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD). This important but neglected 1950s heist tale drama was an influence on Kubrick’s The Killing and Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Reliable Hollywood professional Fleischer (The Boston Strangler and 10 Rillington Place) delivers his tough noir outing against sun-drenched Arizona landscapes. Three criminals arrive in the small mining town of Bradenville, planning on robbing its only bank. But as they start scouting the area and gathering the information they need, the lives of others in the town threaten to get mixed up in their scheme, in a tangle that could lead to disastrous consequences. Utilising the different acting styles of Victor Mature and Lee Marvin (with the matchless Ernest Borgnine in strong support), Violent Saturday is a real find, from its powerful performances to its impressive Cinemascope imagery. This release includes new special features, including an interview with fan William Friedkin (The French Connection, To Live and Die in LA).
MIDSOMER MURDERS: THE KILLINGS IN COPENHAGEN (Acorn). The audience-grabbing Midosmer Murders is regarded with wry affection (and an equal amount of wry disdain) in the UK, but has a massive (and surprising) following in Demark (home of the infinitely more gritty The Killing), so perhaps a multi-national cross-fusion was always on the cards; here it is, mild fare enlivened with several stars of the key Scandicrime shows. A genuine curiosity.
THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (Second Sight). If you’re curious about the director Michael Cimino’s first film (before the debacle – and rediscovery — of Heaven’s Gate), here is an excellent chance, with this highly watchable Clint Eastwood heist yarn spruced up and looking impeccable on Blu-Ray. Clint doesn’t try too hard, but there’s a star-making turn by Jeff Bridges as Clint’s irritating (and none-too-bright) fellow thief .SPARKS (Image) As crime-fighting superheroes reign supreme at the box-office, a slew of spoof was perhaps inevitable; this frequently inventive efforts doesn’t rival Mystery Men in these stakes, but has its moments.
INSPECTOR DE LUCA (Arrow) Arrow Films’ commitment to quality international crime thriller shows from various European territories and beyond continues under their newly launched sub-label ‘Noir’. Having already seen massive success with their Bafta winning series The Bridge, The Killing and Borgen, the company has released Inspector De Luca, an unusual crime series set between 1938 and 1948, from the height of Italy’s Fascist regime to the end of the tumultuous post-war period, Chief Detective De Luca investigates and solves crimes in the City of Bologna and along the Adriatic coast. With little or no regard for those in power, whoever they happen to be, his solitary, uncompromising character often lands him in trouble, but his respect is reserved for truth and justice alone. In the four TV movies of the series “Unauthorised Investigation”, “Carte Blanche”, “Murky Summer” and “Goose Way” – each taken from a novel by best-selling mystery writer Carlo Lucarelli – Chief Detective De Luca always ultimately gets to the bottom of his cases, though what he finds often leaves a bitter aftertaste.SISTERS (Arrow) The UK Blu-ray debut of Sisters reminds viewers that this is the first true Brain De Palma suspense thriller. Following the recent release of The Fury and the more problematic Phantom of the Paradise, Sisters has been treated to an all-new restoration. Complementing this dual-format Blu-ray and DVD edition are a host of brand new extras. Before 1973, Brian De Palma was impossible to pigeonhole: he made comedies, political satires and openly experimental pieces. But with Sisters (originally released as Blood Sisters in the UK) he turned to the suspense thriller and discovered his natural home – and a style that would lead directly to later masterpieces like Carrie, Dressed to Kill and Blow Out. When Danielle (Margot Kidder) meets potential boyfriend Philip (Lisle Wilson) after appearing on the TV show Peeping Toms (a nod to the Michael Powell shocker), she invites him home, only to attract the ire of her twin sister Dominique. From across the courtyard, Rear Window-style, reporter Grace (Jennifer Salt) witnesses Philip being murdered by one of the twins – but the police find no body or any physical evidence. Naturally, Grace takes things into her own hands, and discovers more about the sisters’ relationship than she bargained for… Strongly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski, and with a score by the great Bernard Herrmann, Sisters was the first true “Brian De Palma” film.