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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: May 14

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■ “Inspector Lavardin Collection”

Claude Chabrol emerged from the French new wave with a devotion to technical proficiency and classical narrative lacked by his peers. In the mid-’80s Chabrol turned to the detective novels of Dominique Roulet for two stylish films and a pair of TV specials collected on a new Blu-ray set. The fastidiously urbane protagonist, Inspector Lavardin (Jean Poiret), possesses a sense for life’s absurdity and doesn’t confuse truth with justice. He is willing to play rough.

■ “A Celebration of Blues and Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert”

You’d think Bill Clinton would have marked his inaugural with a concert like this, but George H.W. Bush celebrated with the cream of African American performers from the ’50s and ’60s plus a few other American roots acts. Carla Thomas and Chuck Jackson gave polished performances, Dr. John was irrepressibly funky and Willie Dixon held forth in his granite voice. GOP operative (and onetime Stax session guitarist) Lee Atwater introduced the show on a non-political note.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

The Trials begins with a 1968 broadcast pitting liberal commentator David Susskind against heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali; Susskind called Ali a “disgrace to his country.” Fast-forward to a 2005 White House ceremony; George W. Bush awards Ali the Medal of Freedom, saying, “The American people are proud to call Muhammad Ali one of our own.” The documentary explores Ali’s controversial refusal to fight in Vietnam and the ascent of his reputation in the war’s aftermath.