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Gems from the '50s: Kenneth Turan's DVD picks of the week

March 14, 2013|By Kenneth Turan

As far as decades go, the 1950s are sometimes characterized as a boring time when nothing of significance really happened. But you wouldn’t know it by these two exemplary films with new DVD releases to boast about.

Made in 1950, Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” is an acknowledged classic that introduced both modern Japanese cinema and the acting/directing team of Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa to the Western world. And the title itself became a byword for describing situations in which different people have different views of the same event.

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Coming just four years later, Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” is a motion picture that earns every superlative in the book. Winner of eight Oscars, including best picture, director, actor (for Marlon Brando), supporting actress (Eva Marie Saint) and screenplay, this is as good as midcentury American filmmaking gets.

Both films are being put out by the Criterion Collection, which means that the extra material is both memorable and plentiful.

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