Combustible Celluloid

2005: The Year's 25 Best DVDs

Slipping a Disc

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Harold Lloyd The Big Red One F for Fake Garbo Val Lewton Au Hasard Balthazar The Fly Hitchcock The House Is Black King Kong

1. Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (2005, New Line)
A kingly treatment of an underappreciated comedy genius, with more than two dozen films, sparkling prints, new scores and tons of extras. This more than makes up for the years we went without.

2. The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004, Warner Home Video)
A legendary lost film fully realized, making Samuel Fuller's great war film into a masterpiece.

3. F for Fake (1973, The Criterion Collection)
Orson Welles' visionary essay film never really saw a proper release, so this new DVD serves as its official induction into the canon.

4. Garbo: The Signature Collection (2005, Warner Home Video)
An amazingly complete collection of long-awaited films that reminded us once again of just what a movie goddess is supposed to look like.

5. Val Lewton Horror Collection (1942-46, Warner Home Video)
Nine of my all-time favorite films on five DVDs.

6. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, The Criterion Collection)
Arguably the greatest single film not yet available on DVD, Criterion righted that wrong with a crystal-clear black-and-white transfer of Robert Bresson's masterpiece, capable of moving souls.

7. The Fly (1986, Fox)
David Cronenberg's romantic gore classic finally gets a 2-disc DVD treatment worthy of its greatness.

8. Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Universal)
All of these titles were already available, but Universal's gorgeous new space-saving packaging plus a new bonus disc make it worth upgrading.

9. The House Is Black (1962, Facets)
A landmark in Iranian cinema, and perhaps in world cinema, this short film from poet Forugh Farrokhzad deserves multiple viewings.

10. King Kong (1933, Warner Home Video)
The original, finally available on DVD and with a lion's (ape's?) share of extras.

11. Major Dundee: Extended Version (1965, Sony)
An incomplete, but very welcome restoration of Sam Peckinpah's neglected wartime Western.

12. Sin City: Recut and Extended (2005, Miramax/Dimension)
A true interactive movie, now available to watch in different chunks rather than in the awkward theatrical edit.

13. Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition (1975, Universal)
"That's some bad hat, harry." Spielberg's mid-20s achievement shows just how astonishingly imaginative and energetic he once was.

14. ABC Africa (2001, New Yorker)
Abbas Kiarostami's beautiful and sensitive documentary finally sees the light of day after a sporadic and disappointing theatrical run.

15. L'argent (1983, New Yorker)
Bresson's last film, re-appraised and re-appreciated with a commentary track by Kent Jones.

16. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005, Fox)
The fitting and proper end to the series, satisfying and surprisingly political.

17. The Complete Thin Man (1934-1947, Warner Home Video)
It's not often that movie chemistry is this effortless.

18. Seven Men from Now (1956, Paramount)
A very exciting and most welcome Western from Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott's brilliant seven-film cycle. Now all we need are the other six.

19. Raging Bull/Martin Scorsese Film Collection (1980, MGM/UA)
MGM revives Scorsese's out-of-print masterwork in a definitive new edition.

20. Brian Wilson's SMiLE: The DVD (2004, Rhino)
Unbelievable sound is one thing, but capturing Wilson in moments of pure joy is something else entirely.

21. Danger: Diabolik (1968, Paramount)
A fresh perspective on an underrated classic, with the boldest color restoration of the year.

22. The Story of Marie and Julien (2003, Koch Lorber)
Rivette's unreleased film is, ironically, his most accessible in years.

23. Ugetsu (1953, The Criterion Collection)
Without question, a landmark of Japanese cinema.

24. The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut (1979, Paramount)
Walter Hill's minor touches turned this cult classic into a whole new experience.

25. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation: The First London Invasion 1987 (1987, Music Video Distributors)
The 1980s equivalent to the Beatles appearing on "Ed Sullivan."

Movies Unlimtied