New on DVD: Gimme Shelter, Ed Sullivan, A Hard Day's Night, Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever, Amadeus, and Unforgiven.
Gimme Shelter — It starts with the Stones at Madison Square Garden, ends at Altamont in San Francisco, where there was a rock 'n' roll murder. We not only see the murder happen, we watch as Mick Jagger watches the raw footage. One of the great documentaries, from Criterion, which consistently produces the finest-quality DVDs. Grade: A
Ed Sullivan — What a great idea: 144 songs on nine DVDs. This boxed set features virtually every significant musical appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, from Elvis and the Beatles and Bo Diddley (who knew Ed Sullivan was hip enough for Bo Diddley?) to James Brown and the Jackson 5. This collection is heavy on color so we miss some great '50s artists and watch out for repeats. Still, a really big shew. Grade: B+
A Hard Day's Night — It's restored, remastered — and really terrific. The bonus features go a little too far. (There's an interview with the Beatles hairdresser only her family wants to hear and an interview with the son of their tailor that is so boring, even his family fast-forwards through it.) But A Hard Day's Night is even more fun than you remember it and never looked or sounded better. Grade: A Flashdance
— A Hard Day's Night took musicals off the stage and put them in the real world. An abandoned steel mill is one place they landed. It's an impossibly silly story: Jennifer Beals welds by day, dances by night. But it's amazing how great director Adrian Lyne could make the outside of a building look. Jennifer Beals never made it, but he became a star. Grade: B
Saturday Night Fever — The 25th anniversary edition. Not as good as Grease, but still a lot of fun. Grade: B
Amadeus — When I'm asked if I ever changed my mind about a bad review, this is the movie I mention. When it was first released, I compared it to the play and didn't like it. I was wrong. It's not a play. It's a great film. As Tom Hulce plays Mozart, watch him compose while F. Murray Abraham's Salieri loses his composure. Grade: A- Unforgiven — Clint Eastwood sings on one of the three excellent documentaries chronicling his career included in this package. At the first critics' screening of this film, no one spoke, no one moved. When the film ended, we knew we had just experienced a great film. Grade: A