DVDs & Blu-rays: The Halloween Edition, Part 2 (Rosemary's Baby and Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection) and the Non-scary Americano

Categories: Film and TV

Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her portrayal of Minnie Castevet, the weird neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, but the horror film is Mia Farrow's playground. After moving into a Manhattan apartment building, Rosemary (Farrow) and her husband (John Cassavetes) encounter a couple of over-friendly elderly neighbors (Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). Things quickly go from odd to bizarre once Rosemary discovers she's pregnant. With the Devil's baby. Based on the 1967 novel by Ira Levin, the film was the first Hollywood success for director Roman Polanski and also established Farrow as a movie star. As with Hitchcock's Psycho, Rosemary's Baby stays with you long after the credits roll. The Criterion Collection is releasing a restored high-definition digital version of the film that's been approved by Polanski and is loaded with lots of extras.


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Rosemary's Baby Before Restoration
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Rosemary's Baby Restored
Along with the restoration, the Blu-ray version features an uncompressed monaural soundtrack; new interviews with Polanski, Farrow and producer Robert Evans; Komeda, Komeda, a feature-length documentary on composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for the film; and a 1997 radio interview with Levin. There's also a booklet with an essay by film critic Ed Park and Levin's afterword for the 2003 New American Library edition of the novel.

Although Alfred Hitchcock's films aren't exactly horror films -- they more easily fall into the suspense and thriller genre -- they've been scaring the bejeezus out of viewers for decades. Today's release of Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection on Blu-ray is a box set of 15 of the director's most iconic films, 13 of which have never been released on Blu-ray. Each film has been digitally restored. There are some of Hitchcock's earlier works, including the 1942 Saboteur, with Robert Cummings as a man mistakenly accused of sabotage, and the 1943 Shadow of a Doubt, with Teresa Wright as a young woman who suspects her favorite uncle of murder. The collection includes a slew of James Stewart vehicles such as the 1948 Rope, Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Vertigo (1958). Hitchcock's icy blonds are present, with Grace Kelly, Doris Day, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Janet Leigh and Tippi Hedren all getting screen time. Extras include theatrical trailers; Making of featurettes; commentary by critics, actors and fellow directors; censored clips; deleted scenes; alternative endings; production photographs; storyboards and more.

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We step away from our Halloween theme for just a minute to mention Americano. Mathieu Demy writes, directs and stars in this French-language family drama about a man who comes to L.A. to settle his late mother's affairs and realizes that he knows almost nothing about her. Demy's real-life mother, Agnès Varda, appears in flashbacks (the footage is cut from Varda's 1981 Documenteur, a semi-autobiographical documentary which featured a then-eight-year-old Demy). Salma Hayek appears as Lola, a Tijuana stripper who may or may not have been involved with the dead woman; Chiara Mastroianni, Carlos Bardem and Geraldine Chaplin appear in supporting roles.

The set must have been one big family reunion. Everyone in Americano, it seems, is related to someone famous. Demy is the son of French filmmakers Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda. Salma Hayek is married to French billionaire François-Henri Pinault; her brother is designer Sami Hayek. Chiara Mastroianni is the daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, a frequent player in Jacques Demy's films. Carlos Bardem is Javier Bardem's older brother. And Geraldine Chaplin is the daughter of actor/director Charlie Chaplin, and granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill and author Agnes Boulton.



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