Shout! Factory: Indie DVD Distributor Spotlight
By Jeff T. Dick, Davenport, IA
Founded in 2003 and run by self-described refugees from Rhino Records, Indie label Shout! Factory specializes in distributing retro TV shows (Father Knows Best; Ironside; Route 66, to name just a few); music on CD/DVD/Blu-ray (rock, jazz, country, soundtrack, and other types); animation (mostly children’s programs such as Power Rangers); stand-up comedy and spoken word (Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and more); and, not least of all, cult/offbeat/classic films (the best of which are listed below), with its offshoot label Scream Factory focusing on horror films (The Fog; The Howling; Piranha; et al.). For a complete list of titles, visit the company’s website, www.shoutfactory.com.
NEW AND RECENT TITLES WORTH “SHOUTING” ABOUT
A Boy and His Dog (1976. Blu-ray/DVD UPC 826663142099. $26.99), based on the Harlan Ellison novelette about a postapocalyptic Earth where the main survivors—Vic (Don Johnson) and his telepathic dog, Blood—scavenge to survive, arrives August 6. L.Q. Jones cheekily directs an admittedly sexist tale where man’s best friend also helps him find women.
Media voyeurism comes under scrutiny in Death Watch (1980. Blu-ray UPC 826663132786. $19.99), based on D.G. Compton’s 1975 sf novel The Unsleeping Eye, wherein a terminally sick woman (Romy Schneider) becomes the unwitting subject of a reality TV program. Bertrand Tavernier (Coup de Torchon) sensitively directs this prescient tale with a twist ending.
Two years before his hit Alien, Ridley Scott debuted with The Duellists (1977. UPC 826663136852. $19.99), an epic drama tracing the decade-and-a-half-long feud between enemy officers (Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel) serving in Napoleon’s army. The pursuit of justice reaches exquisite absurdity in a screenplay derived from Joseph Conrad’s 1908 novel The Point of Honor.
Electra Glide in Blue (1973. Blu-ray UPC 826663140606. $19.99) finds Robert Blake (In Cold Blood) playing a different kind of cop from the one in his 1970s television series Baretta. Riding his Harley-Davidson down the arid Arizona highway, John Wintergreen longs to become a detective but messes with the powers that be, in a directorial one-off by James William Guercio.
Jane Campion’s underappreciated follow-up to The Piano, The Portrait of a Lady (1996. Blu-ray UPC 826663136876. $19.99), offers a stylized take on the Henry James novel about an American heiress (Nicole Kidman) who marries an obvious fortune hunter (John Malkovich), abetted by the advice of a scheming confidante (Barbara Hershey) involved with her betrothed.
The original film that begat a hit stage musical, then a flop movie adaptation, The Producers (1968. Blu-ray/DVD UPC 826663141856. $26.99) debuts Mel Brooks’s zany concept: theatrical producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) hatches a “surefire” scheme with accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) to produce a failed play, Springtime for Hitler, in order to keep his investors’ money. Due out on July 2.
A returning Vietnam prisoner of war (William Devane) gets some welcome home in Rolling Thunder (1971. Blu-ray UPC 826663139761. $19.99). Scummy thieves kill his wife and his son before torturing the man to reveal a cache of stashed silver. John Flynn directs from a script by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), who excels at driving his loners into Death Wish–style vigilantism.
Arthur Conan Doyle purists may balk, but The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976. Blu-ray/DVD UPC 826663137859. $26.99)—directed by Herbert Ross from Nicolas Meyer’s adaptation of his 1974 best-selling novel—imagines famous detective Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) hooked on cocaine and seeking a cure from Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin) at the behest of Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall), even while sleuthing out a less diabolical Professor Moriarty (Laurence Olivier).
The second of five feature films directed by actor Paul Newman, Sometimes a Great Notion (1970. Blu-ray UPC 826663137132. $19.99) adapts Ken Kesey’s 1964 novel about an obstinate Oregon logging family who defy local strikers. “Never give an inch” maintains the Stamper clan, a quote that served as an alternative title for the movie, starring Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, and Michael Sarrazin.
Inspired by his stint filming The Killing Fields in Southeast Asia, monologist extraordinaire Spalding Gray (Monster in a Box) shares his wild on- and off-set experiences—and offers a pertinent history lesson in his one-man show Swimming to Cambodia (1987. Blu-ray UPC 826663140071. $19.99), adapted for the big screen by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs).