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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Mar 20

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 “The Vikings: Dark Warriors”

Youthful host Josh “It’s Awesome!” Bernstein guides the first episode of the History Channel’s three-part series. Determined to follow the Norsemen’s path to the New World, Bernstein sails from Denmark to Iceland on a replica Viking ship (but opts for planes and powerboats as he treks from there to Greenland and Newfoundland). Archeology proves the sagas right and belies the legend that Vikings sported horns on their helmets. Bernstein blames Wagner for that calumny.

 ■ Shelter Island

Linked to the mainland by ferry, close-knit Shelter Island, N.Y., has rallied around outsider artist Harold Olson. Michael Canzoniero’s documentary captures the island’s near-yet-far ambiance and the life of its untutored Jackson Pollock. With the garbage dump as his “shopping mall,” Olson outfits himself with what’s thrown away by his neighbors and the vacationing “city folk.” Will Olson show his work in a Manhattan gallery? A twinge of suspense animates the film.

 ■ 5 Fingers

Loosely dramatizing the story from a true account, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) cast the always-suave, often-sinister James Mason as a spy whose cynicism filled the gap left by conscience. Mason plays the ambitious valet at Britain’s embassy to Turkey, selling secrets from the ambassador’s safe to the Nazis. The 1952 film (just out on DVD) features a mix of studio sets and chases through the hilly streets of Istanbul.