The John Wayne/John Ford Film Collection (Warner Bros.)
Featuring the most epic pairing of director and actor in Hollywood history, this 10-disc box spews machismo all over. Wayne and Ford defined not only the western and war-movie genres, but also our culture's image of rugged manhood. Among the highlights is Stagecoach (the 1939 film that made Wayne a star), complete with a feature-length doc that just debuted at Cannes. Of the three films available here for the first time on DVD, the best is the cavalry epic Fort Apache, which pairs Wayne with Henry Fonda. But the centerpiece is the remastered two-disc edition of The Searchers. Often hailed as the greatest western ever, the story of Wayne seeking vengeance against the Comanche who stole his niece proves that nasty modern works like Unforgiven and Deadwood aren't as "anti-western" as we think. -- Jordan Harper
Dazed and Confused: The Criterion Collection (Criterion)
Warm nostalgia coated in a fine layer of bitter resentment will keep well past its expiration date when stored in a box like this. Now in at least its third DVD iteration, Richard Linklater's hazy paean to his 1970s upbringing still hasn't worn out its welcome. This deluxe packaging confirms its stature as a cult hit and then some; there's even a 72-page book of reprinted interviews and brand-new essays. Also included: an engaging making-of doc that reveals, among other things, why a studio movie got dumped like an indie, reels of audition tapes (God, what kids they were), Linklater's commentary, and hours of on-set leftovers that prove it's indeed possible to turn a movie set into a summer camp after all. -- Robert Wilonsky
Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition (Paramount)
From its reputation, you'd think this film version of Christina Crawford's tell-all memoir -- an exposé of adoptive mom Joan Crawford as an abusive control freak with a notorious wire-hanger hang-u -- was a wall-to-wall camp hoot. When it bombed upon release in 1981, Paramount even tried selling it as a so-bad-it's-good romp. But in his engaging commentary, no less a camp authority than John Waters thinks this "comedy about child abuse" got a bum rap, and to an extent Paramount's lavish new DVD bears him out. Under Frank Perry's oppressively (and intentionally) artificial direction, Faye Dunaway gives a fearless portrayal of crumbling vanity. But even Waters admits he cracks up at Dunaway's classic "female female-impersonator" line, the one he says is alone responsible for the movie's Golden Turkey reputation: "Tina . . . bring me the ax!" --Jim Ridley
Mr. & Mrs. Smith: Unrated (Fox)
The "unrated" doesn't signal anything except a few extra scenes that are more talk than action, plus a little skin, added to keep things moving midway through. And though the cynic has every right to bemoan another variation of a modest hit -- and really, could the timing have been any better? -- there's more to this double-disc offering than tacked-on talk. The deleted scenes, new to this edition, run forever and are capped by an alternate ending worth a look-see and a giggle. Director Doug Liman teaches a "film school" course full of insightful detritus about what the studio wanted and usually didn't get. If none of this makes the movie any better, at least it feelslike value. -- Wilonsky
The Fast and the Furious: Franchise Collection (Universal) The first Furious is a dim-bulb blast: Fast cars go boom, and a charismatic turn by Vin Diesel ensures that even the parts without driving are worth watching. Its sequel also has neato car scenes, but it's otherwise so dumb that a housecat could not sit through it. Paul Walker, however, is fascinating as Diesel's replacement: You can actually watch his mind at work as he acts, struggling to make the simplest of choices. This set exists to pump the upcoming, Walker-free third entry in the franchise, so it comes with a bonus disc consisting of deleted scenes from the first two, a comically pointless "alternate ending" to the original, and a big fat trailer for Tokyo Drift. Like its predecessors, we know it'll be dumb -- but what kind of dumb remains to be seen. --J.H.
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