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New to View: Nov. 21
Despite its low budget, this independent studio adaptation of the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic is a nearly faithful, well-done feature. Read about it and other new releases in my New to View at ReelBob
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The following titles are being released on Tuesday, Nov. 21, unless otherwise noted:
The Scarlet Letter: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1934, Film Masters
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel has been adapted to the big screen many times. The most notable version is a 1926 silent movie starring Lillian Gish as Hester Prynne; the most infamous is a 1995 adaptation starring Demi Moore as Hester.
This version stars Colleen Moore, a popular actor during the 1920s who was famous for her early flapper roles as well as her Dutchboy bobbed haircut.
Moore took a hiatus from film with the advent of sound but returned in 1933. “The Scarlet Letter” was her final movie.
Hawthorne’s story is very familiar: in 17th-century Massachusetts, a young woman is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her dress after having a child out of wedlock.
Hester never reveals the identity of the father, but the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale (Hardie Albright) is the logical suspect.
Hester’s husband, Roger Chillingworth (Henry B. Walthall, who also portrayed the character in Gish’s 1926 films), believed dead, returns and, after learning what has happened, figures out Dimmesdale is the father and begins preying on the minister’s sense of guilt.
The movie, directed by Robert G. Vignola, whose main output was during the silent-film era, touches upon the intolerance and hypocrisy of the Puritan era, in which Hester’s daughter, Pearl (Cora Sue Collins), is treated with cruelty and disdain.
“The Scarlet Letter” was produced by Majestic Pictures, a minor independent studio, which limited the movie’s budget, scope and production values.. The film runs 71 minutes and, at times, seems padded with some unnecessary comedy sequences featuring Alan Hale and William Kent.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English DTS-HD; English closed-captioned subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include “Salem and the Scarlet Letter,” a featurette narrated by John Carradine; a commentary with professor Jason A. Ney and contributions by Collins; “A Sin of Passion: Hawthorne on Film” featurette; a “Revealing the Scarlet Letter” featurette with producer Sam Sherman; and liner notes by Ney.
Rapa Nui (Blu-ray)
Release date: Nov. 14
Details: 1994, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: R, violence and sexual situations
The lowdown: This exotic feature is set on Easter Island, home of those mysterious, giant Moai stone statues.
The story is a blend of Romeo and Juliet and an environmental feature.
Jason Scott Lee (“Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”) stars as Noro, a young man from the ruling “long ears” tribe. He falls in love with Ramana (Sandrine Holt), a young woman from the lower “short ears” tribe, which is tasked with building the Moai.
Noro’s best friend, Make (Esai Morales), also is in love with Ramana, creating a jealous rivalry between the boyhood friends.
The two decide to compete for the island leadership in a traditional tribal contest. The bitterness from the contest causes a civil war that places the island’s ecological balance in danger.
The Blu-ray, part of the Warner Archive Collection, can be ordered at www.moviezyng.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround; English SDH subtitles.
Crocodile Island (DVD)
Details: 2020, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A plane makes an emergency landing on an island in the Devil’s Sea, the so-called Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific.
The stranded passengers must fight for survival against a giant crocodile, spider and other gigantic creatures.
The CGI monsters in this “Kong: Skull Island”-like feature are fine, but nothing really outstanding.
For fans of giant creatures, the movie, at 87 minutes, will fill some time.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; Mandarin 5.1 Dolby digital surround; English subtitles.
Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise noted:
OSS 117 (Blu-ray) (Music Box Films)
Pig Killer (Blu-ray & digital & VOD) (Breaking Glass Pictures)
Saw X (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital & Blu-ray + DVD + digital & DVD) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The Unknown Country (Blu-ray & DVD) (Music Box Films)
You’re All Going to Die (DVD &VOD) (Indican Pictures)
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
5,000 Aliens (Freestyle Digital Media)
A Murder at the End of the World: Episode 3 (Hulu)
Blow Up My Life (Apple TV+)
Do Not Disturb (Dark Star Pictures)
Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (Kino Now-Amazon)
Hayseed (Good Deed Entertainment)
Leo (www.netflix.com/leo) (Netflix)
Mister Organ (Drafthouse Films)
Relative (Gravitas Ventures)
Black Cake: Episode 6 (Hulu)
The Buccaneers: Episode 5 (Apple TV+)
Hannah Waddington: Home for Christmas (Apple TV+)
Last Summer of Nathan Lee (Margin Films)
Squid Game: The Challenge (www.netflix.com/SquidGameTheChallenge) (Netflix)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Apple TV+)
Colin From Accounts: Episodes 5 & 6 (Paramount+)
Blow Up My Life (DiffeRant Productions)
For All Mankind: Season 4, Episode 3 (Apple TV+)
Frybread Face and Me (Netflix)
Lessons in Chemistry: Episode 8 (Apple TV+)
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters: Episode 3 (Apple TV+)
Coming next week: A Haunting in Venice
The Sandman: The Complete First Season
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.