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Don't Look Back

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Zigmar Zimmerman, along with his sons, used to own the biggest movie palaces in Hibbing, Minn. His grandson Bobby was riveted by Rebel Without a Cause at the State Theatre in 1955 and again by the youth-cult classic The Blackboard Jungle there in ’56. By the time Bobby Zimmerman (for whom James Dean was as much an influence as Woody Guthrie) became folk hero Bob Dylan, he was looking to shape his public image through the moving image. The result was more urgent than Help! and way hepper than Jailhouse Rock and titled, in a nod to the sage advice of pitcher Satchel Paige, Don’t Look Back (New Video, $24.95). The 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary, which tracks this stone as he rolls through England in the spring of 1965, has just been issued on DVD for the first time and reissued on VHS ($19.95) in a spiffy digital transfer.

The disc — which also includes an unremarkable alternate take of the movie’s famous prologue (in which Dylan flips cards bearing phrases from ”Subterranean Homesick Blues” while Allen Ginsberg idles behind him) and sharp audio commentary by Pennebaker and road manager Bob Neuwirth — contains five unreleased (though widely bootlegged) live songs. (You’re left staring at copyright info and Daniel Kramer photos of Dylan.) The wavering ”To Ramona” and delicately bold ”Love Minus Zero/No Limit” are swell, but the tracks from a May 10, 1965, concert at Royal Albert Hall — a year before Dylan’s legendary half-electric show with The Band was apocryphally recorded there — are treasures. ”It Ain’t Me Babe” is poised halfway between the scram of a heartbreaker and the scream of the broken-hearted; the ”no, no, no” of its chorus sounds like someone pleading for an ugly fight to stop. An exhausted ”The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” comes on like tough love, with a harmonica that cuts like rusty scissors at the outset then dulls to a lullaby buzz. And on an ominous rendition of ”It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Dylan’s voice is a blunt instrument striking hard. In 2000 as in ’65, the former Mr. Zimmerman needn’t worry about anybody gaining on him.