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A satisfying trip through a wardrobe

Two-disc `Narnia' set delivers with abundant extras. But that's not the case with `Brokeback.'

April 04, 2006|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

This week's most satisfying DVD is the two-disc "The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Disney, $35). The moralistic fantasy adventure based on the beloved C.S. Lewis book outpaced "King Kong," taking in nearly $300 million in the U.S. alone.

The first disc includes kid-friendly commentary with director Andrew Adamson and his four young stars, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell. There's also technical commentary with Adamson, producer Mark Johnson and production designer Roger Ford, a blooper reel and fun Narnia pop-up facts.

Inspired production documentaries highlight the second disc: an interview with Adamson, eight diaries from members of the production team, a profile of Lewis, a profile of the creatures of Narnia, a timeline, an "Explore Narnia" 3-D map and an in-depth look at the creation of the magical characters, including the lion Aslan.

"Brokeback Mountain" won Academy Awards for best director, adapted screenplay and original score, but the DVD (Universal, $30) of the tragic western is, to put it mildly, a disappointment. There are no commentary tracks with director Ang Lee, screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry or stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal -- just a handful of production featurettes and a "making of" TV special.

Also new this week

"Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection" (Universal, $27): This five-movie set features three that the actress made in Hollywood with Josef von Sternberg, who had directed her breakthrough film in Germany, "The Blue Angel": the 1930 sultry melodrama "Morocco," for which she received her only Oscar nomination, as a cabaret singer who falls for a lanky Legionnaire (Gary Cooper); 1932's camp classic "Blonde Venus," in which she performs the song "Hot Voodoo" while wearing a gorilla outfit; and the lackluster 1935 romance "The Devil Is a Woman." Rounding out the collection are two films she made in the 1940s, "Flame of New Orleans" and "Golden Earrings."

"Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection" (Universal, $27): This six-film set spotlights one of cinema's most deft and beautiful farceurs, who died in a plane crash in 1942. Included are the 1931 drama "Man of the World," which stars Lombard opposite her first husband, William Powell, and three peppy comedies she made with a young Fred MacMurray: "The Princess Comes Across," "Hands Across the Table" and "True Confession," which has a wildly entertaining turn by John Barrymore. Rounding out the collection are "We're Not Dressing" and "Love Before Breakfast."

"Mae West: The Glamour Collection" (Universal, $27): A quintet of films starring the sex symbol who never met an innuendo she didn't like, including her scene-stealing debut in the 1932 comedy "Night After Night" and the 1933 classic "I'm No Angel," which casts her as a lion tamer with Cary Grant as her love interest. Oddly, the set doesn't include West's other 1933 hit, "She Done Him Wrong," in which also she teamed with Grant. Instead, fans get the weak 1936 comedy "Go West Young Man." Rounding out the collection are the rarely seen "Goin' to Town" from 1935 and "My Little Chickadee," her legendary 1940 pairing with W.C. Fields.

"New York Doll" (First Independent, $20): Greg Whiteley's clear-eyed 2005 documentary on the late Arthur "Killer" Kane, who came to fame briefly in the 1970s as a member of the New York Dolls. After battling alcohol and drugs, he converted to Mormonism and worked at the Mormon Family History Center in L.A. Included are interviews with Morrissey and Whiteley.

"Nine to Five -- Sexist, Egotistical, Lying Hypocritical Bigot Edition" (Fox, $20): The digital edition of the 1980 comedy about three secretaries (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton) who turn the tables on their chauvinistic boss (Dabney Coleman) offers a cheery retrospective, deleted scenes, an above-average gag reel, a tribute to the film's late writer-director Colin Higgins and breezy commentary with the three stars and executive producer Bruce Gilbert.

And -- "The Long Good Friday" (Anchor Bay, $20); "Mel Brooks Box Set Collection" (Fox, $100); "Little Manhattan" (Fox, $28); "Ushpizin" (New Line, $28).

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