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Disney's 'Tarzan' Swings Onto DVD

Meanwhile, Capra's 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town' offers a restored print and tales from the set.

February 03, 2000|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Disney's critically acclaimed "Tarzan" swings into the digital domain this week.

The DVD ($35) features a di-vine wide-screen transfer of the musical adventure based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic tale of the Lord of the Jungle.

It also includes Phil Collins' "Strangers Like Me" music video and a featurette on the making of another music video with Collins and 'N Sync. There's a cute little trivia game that kids will enjoy and a "Tarzan" read-along. Tykes can either have the story read to them or opt to read it themselves. Also featured is the trailer to "Tarzan."

Unfortunately, the DVD is marred by one too many coming attractions and "sneak peeks" (can you say "commercial"?). One bonus feature is an advance look at the latest Disney animated film, "Dinosaur," which does look great, but does it really belong here? There are also previews to the upcoming Disney made-for-video adventure "The Extremely Goofy Movie," as well as for the video releases of "The Fox and the Hound" and "Toy Story 2," and a CD-ROM "Tarzan" game.

A two-disc special edition of "Tarzan" is scheduled for release in April, complete with audio commentary, presentation reels and a look at the music of "Tarzan."

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One of Frank Capra's greatest films, "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," is also making its DVD debut this week (Columbia TriStar, $25).

Gary Cooper is perfectly cast in this 1936 Depression-era comedy, for which Capra won his second best director Oscar. Coop plays a naive man from a small town who inherits $20 million from a relative. When he decides to give away his money to the needy, he is declared insane and put on trial. Jean Arthur, Lionel Stander and George Bancroft are among the co-stars.

The disc includes the recently restored print of the comedy, theatrical trailers from other Capra classics such as "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," vintage advertising from the movie, production bios and the featurette "Frank Capra Jr. Remembers." Capra fils also supplies the audio commentary.

"Mr. Deeds" was the first movie Capra and his screenwriter, Robert Riskin, made after their Oscar-winning success with "It Happened One Night." It was hard for Capra to begin his next project. He had been sick and didn't know what he wanted to do, except for feeling it had to be something about the common man and the Depression.

Reading short stories and books, he narrowed his choices to a Maxwell Anderson work, "Valley Forge," and a short story called "Opera Hat." He and Riskin chose "Opera Hat."

The director had only one person in mind for "Deeds," and that was Cooper. Capra wanted a leading man who came across as an honest person and had a Western-hero visage and appeal. Casting the role of the journalist who falls in love with Deeds was a different matter. The actresses Capra wanted weren't available. He was desperate until he happened to see some dailies from another production and caught Arthur on screen. He made calls about her and learned she had been kicking around Hollywood but had never clicked. Capra Jr. points out that Arthur was a difficult person to work with because she was so full of self-doubt that she would have to be forced out of her trailer to get on the set.

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Also new from Columbia TriStar is "Jumanji: Collector's Edition" ($28), a fun disc that will really appeal to special-effects aficionados.

The DVD features a nice wide-screen transfer of the 1995 Robin Williams hit about a very strange board game, production notes, an isolated music track, a photo gallery complete with storyboards, the theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and four entertaining documentaries about the making of the film and the special effects, which included animatronics, computer graphics and real animals.

There is also a commentary track featuring several of the special-effects experts.

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Also new: Acorn Media makes its DVD bow with two thrillers from the PBS "Mystery!" series "Poirot" ($25 each). David Suchet stars as Agatha Christie's eccentric Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot, in "Death in the Clouds" and "The ABC Murders." Both are highly enjoyable. The discs include bios on the cast and Christie, the history of "Poirot" on "Mystery!" and, for those with DVD-ROM capability, a link to the Agatha Christie Web site.

For those with strong stomachs, Trimark is offering the special DVD edition of Oliver Stone's controversial "Natural Born Killers" ($30), starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis. The disc includes the wide-screen transfer of the gorefest, along with commentary by Stone, production notes, a theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes making of the film, cast and crew interviews and more than an hour of bonus footage, extra scenes and lost performances featuring the infamous sequence involving Tommy Lee Jones' dismembered head.

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