Three new-to-DVD films
Conan the Barbarian: Collector’s Edition
It’s always a treat to hop in the way-back machine and revisit one of your favorite actors at a point in his career when cinema stardom was still on the horizon. Arnold Schwarzenegger was just a bodybuilder — albeit a seven-time Mr. Olympia — when he was first tapped to play Conan, Robert E. Howard’s legendary pulp adventurer, and since then he’s become, well, Ah-nuld, Hollywood Institution. The great thing about this collector’s edition is that all of Conan‘s original players, including Schwarzenegger, agreed to play ball: Producers Edward R. Pressman, Dino De Laurentiis, and Raffaella De Laurentiis; director John Milius; co-screenwriter Oliver Stone; and costars James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, and Gerry Lopez were all interviewed for an hour-long making-of documentary. The commentary track, which features Milius and Schwarzenegger, is a hoot: They spend most of it alternating between a sort of masturbatory reverie (”That’s a great shot”), play-by-play commentary (”Here’s the scene with the giant snake”), and filmmaking insight (in casting Conan’s adversaries, Milius made sure that they were all bigger than Arnold, so that viewers wouldn’t see his victory as a foregone conclusion). Deleted scenes, production notes and stills, an anamorphic wide-screen transfer, trailers, and before-and-after special effects footage round out this muscle-bound package of no-nonsense nostalgia. B+
Marnie: Collector’s Edition
Alfred Hitchcock gave Sean Connery a chance to shed his Bond persona in what the director affectionately called a ”sex mystery.” Features: Retrospective documentary, theatrical trailer, production notes, anamorphic wide-screen, Dolby Digital 2.0.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The most ineffectively named literary hero ever buckles some swashes in this BBC-produced, three-DVD set, with Richard E. Grant in the lead.