On DVD/Blu-ray – In the Heat of the Summer
by HELEN GEIB
Highs in the low 100s, lows in the mid 70s, and the heat index adds 10 degrees (as we’re fond of saying in the Midwest, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity). And it’s only the first week of July. There’s no relief in sight.
Times like this, the only thing is to go home, crank up the AC, and watch a movie that reminds us how good we have it.
Stray Dog (1949)
During a Tokyo heat wave, a rookie detective embarks on a desperate search of the city after his gun is stolen by a pickpocket on a crowded bus. Akira Kurosawa’s crime drama is the ultimate summer in the sweltering city movie.
The Criterion DVD of Stray Dog is light on features- by Criterion standards- but has a commentary track by Stephen Prince, author of a book on Kurosawa’s films; Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, a 30 minute making-of documentary; and a booklet including an excerpt from Kurosawa’s autobiography.
The African Queen (1951)
Death by sunstroke. Clouds of ravenous mosquitoes. Leeches. ‘Nuff said.
The single-disc DVD/Blu-ray includes an hour-long “making-of” documentary called “Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen.” The box set offers the documentary, “collectible packaging” highlighting stars Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, a CD of a vintage radio broadcast based on the film and starring Bogart and Greer Garson, a set of cards inspired by original lobby cards, and a reproduction of Hepburn’s out of print memoir, “The Making of The African Queen, or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.”
Inherit the Wind (1960)
The setting is a packed courtroom in the American South. In summer. Pre-air conditioning. It’s been years since I saw Inherit the Wind, the (highly fictionalized) dramatization of the Scopes trial, and the only thing I remember clearly is how desperately, miserably hot everybody looked. Take that not as a slam of the movie, but as a compliment to the set dressing.
Amazon’s product page doesn’t list any DVD special features. Although that’s not a sure guide, this has the look of a barebones release.
New releases this week: God Bless America, The Hunter