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Home Movies/Out on Digital: May 28

May. 28, 2014
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■ “Cimarron Strip: The Complete Series”

The 1960s were the last time westerns dominated TV programming. “Cimarron Strip” (1967-1968) was one of the better examples of the genre from that period. It stared iron-faced Stuart Whitman as a U.S. Marshal in a frontier town, holding the line against psychotics and hardened criminals, and acting more like a hard-fisted detective in a contemporary big city cop drama. At 90 minutes in length, the episodes had more time than usual to develop their stories.

Great Expectations

Pip is a plucky lad dreaming of life beyond the confines of rural England. He wants to be a gentleman—and is suddenly elevated to that status in Charles Dickens’ enduring satire. Shot by director Mike Newell as if each frame were a beautifully composed photograph in an elegant portfolio, the 2012 Great Expectations features a top-drawer British cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane and Helena Bonham Carter in fright-wig mode as Miss Havisham.

Death Occurred Last Night

Known for spaghetti westerns, Italian director Duccio Tessari also helmed this well-done, modestly budgeted 1970 crime thriller (out on Blu-ray). An outwardly cynical police inspector helps a father whose 25-year-old mentally disabled daughter has gone missing—a case the authorities have deemed hopeless. With his shaggy-haired young sidekick, the inspector descends into Milan’s sex-trade underworld for clues. Death Occurred Last Night is an efficiently told drama casting a philosophical eye on the human condition.

The Revengers

The Indians in The Revengers are so low down, they kill a man’s dog when his back is turned. After they slaughter his family, that man (a time-worn William Holden) embarks on a vengeance quest for the white outlaw who led the Indian raid. Out on DVD, this 1972 western follows the trail blazed by a better film, The Searchers, but has its strong point in landscape photography that reduces the human actors to insignificance.

 

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