#007

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Collector's Edition
Universal DVD

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There’s something merciless in the precision tear-jerking Steven Spielberg perfected with E.T., the classic sci-fi children’s movie about a boy and his alien. Perhaps without knowing it, Spielberg homed in on one of the great themes of children’s stories, and made a film about that most poignant of all it’s themes: death.

The key to the success of E.T. is that the death evoked isn’t that of a parent, which is catastrophic, or that of a friend, which is mysterious, but the death that wounds children so easily and sharply - the death of a pet. E.T., spaceman or not, is really just the best doggie, kittie cat, hamster or mouse that a boy or girl could ever have, and his death is like forcing the child to sit in the back room at the vet and watch as they put that pet to sleep. Cruel, but effective.

The collector’s edition DVD contains the usual “making of” documentary, a set of interviews with the reunited main characters, and two versions of the movie, the original release and Spielberg’s 2002 update of the film. The restored scenes in the new version could have remained lost, but the digital tweaking to E.T. is more than welcome, adding more expression and mobility to a character that could look, from time to time, like a midget in a rubber suit.

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The James Bond Collection
MGM/UA DVD box set

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The special edition DVDs in this set are unique to this release, with extras not included on any previous versions of the films. It’s somehow suitable to the Bond ethic - adding and refining the same basic model even when its unnecessary, which is probably the whole point of the Bond series.

The seven films included are a judicious mix that probably won’t please every fan. Two undeniable Connery classics - Dr. No and Goldfinger - sit next to two Roger Moores, one good (The Man With the Golden Gun), the other a kind of apogee of the whole Moore/Bond era (The Spy Who Loved Me), which some fans may not regard as a good thing. Timothy Dalton’s dark, almost radical departure from the series model, Licence To Kill, precedes two Pierce Brosnans that showcase how sleek and efficient the Bond franchise has become - Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.

The Connery Bonds are a warm bath, familiar and comfortable, while the Moores, especially the spectacular but oddly barren and underpopulated The Spy Who Loved Me, might provoke a shuddering twinge of regret for the whole of the 70s. The extras include the usual “making-of” shorts and music videos for the later films, as well as several specially-made documentaries on Bond designer Ken Adam, Bond stuntmen, the frenzy surrounding the release of Goldfinger, and Terence Young, the first Bond director and still the most important.

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Casino Royale
MGM DVD

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The notorious non-canonical Bond film, often regarded with a shudder by Bond fans, is finally available for fans of oddball 60s cinema. Somehow, the first Bond novel ended up in producer Charles K. Feldman’s hands, with the legal stipulation that he could only use the title, so Feldman decided to make a “psychedelic” movie, and used his considerable clout to pull in director John Huston and stars David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursala Andress, Deborah Kerr, Orson Welles and Woody Allen.

Huston, ultimately, washed his hands of this insane film, and left it to co-director Val Guest to finish the project, while Feldman apparently spiralled off into a nervous breakdown. An interview with Guest, included with the disc, details the sheer insanity behind the production of Casino Royale. Every ounce of that insanity is, as they say about film budgets, on the screen. Also included is the rare first appearance of Bond, in a 1950s live television version of Casino Royale, with an American Bond and Peter Lorre as the Soviet baddie, which makes this disc utterly essential for Bond completists.

©2002 rick mcginnis all rights reserved.