With Father’s Day celebrations upon us, here are a few gift suggestions for the dad who appreciates watching ultra-high definition movies in his home entertainment room.
The Godfather Trilogy (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 537 minutes, $90.99) — Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award-winning series of crime dramas, based on author Mario Puzo’s chronicle of the origins and legacy of the 1940s Corleone mafia dynasty, finally all arrive in the definitive 4K package.
This five-disc, 50th anniversary set includes “The Godfather” (1972), “The Godfather, Part II” (1974), “The Godfather, Part III” (1990) — with an additional “Part III” director’s cut (1991) — and Mr. Coppola’s welcomed new recut of the third film, “The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone” (2020).
The performances from some legendary actors helped bring this compelling gangster saga about the brutality and unity of a family to keep its business for generations to glorious life.
The cast featured Marlon Brando as the family patriarch Vito Corleone, Al Pacino as youngest son Michael (heir to the business), James Caan as eldest son Sonny, Talia Shire as daughter Connie, Diane Keaton as Michael’s second wife Kay, Robert Duvall as Vito’s lawyer Tom Hagen and even Robert De Niro as a young Vito in “Part II.”
A three-year restoration process overseen by Mr. Coppola (the second time the films were restored, by the way) that included thousands of hours of clean-up and color correction pays high dividends throughout with exceptional clarity and richness in each movie.
All told, the latest version of these does more than justice to these modern cinematic masterpieces and will enthrall patriarchs who receive a gift from the Corleones on their special day.
Notable extras: A fifth Blu-ray disc offers brand new extras including 26 minutes on the latest restoration (with multiple scene comparisons), 13 minutes on the films by set photographer Steve Shapiro and eight minutes of on-the-set home movies from 1971.
The disc also contains hours of vintage bonus content such as interactive on the Corleone family tree and crime organization chart and film timeline, production featurettes and additional scenes.
Viewers will appreciate that each film — “The Godfather,” “The Godfather, Part II,” “The Godfather, Part III” — features an optional commentary track with the director giving a welcomed overview of his efforts.
Lawrence of Arabia: 60th Anniversary Steelbook Edition (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG, 2.20:1 aspect ratio, 226 minutes, $45.99) — The sweeping historical war epic and winner of seven Academy Awards returns in vivid UHD in this four-disc, extras-packed set contained in an illustrated metallic case.
Director David Lean’s masterpiece focused on the pivotal life of eccentric British army officer T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) during World War I as he rallied Arab tribes to go to war against the mighty Ottoman Empire.
The movie also starred Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal, Anthony Quinn as Bedouin leader Auda abu Tayi, Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish and José Ferrer as a Turkish chieftain.
The jaw-dropping, panoramic desert landscapes occasionally sprinkled with man and camel offer the best examples of the restoration that used the original 65mm camera negatives in 2012 to bring the magnificent 4K version of the 1962 film back to life.
Notable extras: Viewers get all the digital goodies released in the 2012 high definition, remastered version of the film also next on found on the 2020 Columbia boxed set, presented here on a third Blu-ray disc.
The extras include a 91-minute overview of the project covering everything from the source material to O’Toole being asked to redo dialogue 25 years later for the restored director’s cut (technicians found original audio was missing); a 21-minute interview with O’Toole reminiscing about the film; as well as eight minutes with Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese as they offer appreciations for one of the greatest movies ever made.
Most interesting and a throwback to the days when the Blu-ray format gave owners truly interactive entertainment is a picture-in-picture, pop-up information track that covers most of the screen as the movie plays. It offer information of the life and writing of Lawrence, historical facts and plenty of graphics.
The orangish-red Steelbook features a cartoony illustrated, full-color cover of Lawrence atop a camel in the desert, and the Arabian army behind him with a pair of biplanes hovering in the background and only a small image of a metal sheath (called an asib) used for his jambiya dagger on the back of the case.
Fans of Lean’s work will also appreciate a gift of the newly rereleased World War II drama “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” now available in a 65th anniversary limited Steelbook Edition ($38.99) and in the UHD format.
Singin’ in the Rain: 70th Anniversary Edition (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated G, 1.37:1 aspect ratio, 103 minutes, $33.99) — The movie often called one of the greatest musical comedies of all time returns with a brand new 4K restoration to give dad and his clan an evening of family friendly, home theater entertainment.
Directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly offer a story of a Hollywood in transition. Silent film star couple Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) find trouble transitioning to talkies, mostly due to Lena’s squeaky voice.
One night Don, escaping fans, falls into sassy singing actress Kathy Selden’s (a 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds) car and immediately falls in love with her while she inspires him to make a successful move to his new talking, musical movie career. Of course, now accomplished with plenty of Kathy’s off-screen singing help for Lina.
Donald O’Connor’s (playing best buddy and piano player to Don, Cosmo Brown) gravity-defying vaudeville dance number “Make Em’ Laugh” and Kelly and Cyd Charisse’s “Broadway Melody” jazzy ballet vamps are both showstoppers and offer just a few of the reasons why “Singin’ in the Rain” is pure movie magic.
This Technicolor marvel from 1952 gets the mightiest of video and audio renovations. Reference a compilation of colorful Busby Berkeley musical clips and a stylish fashion show, all deliver the best-looking and -sounding version of the classic ever released.
Notable extras: The 4K disc only offers an archival optional commentary track from the 2002 DVD release with principals recorded separately that included Reynolds, O’Connor, Charisse, Donen, actress Kathleen Freeman (Lina’s diction coach), writers Adolph Green and Betty Comden, film historian Rudy Behlmer and filmmaker Baz Luhrmann.
The included Blu-ray disc only offers a smattering of bonus content culled from the 2012, 60th anniversary high-definition release.
Succinctly, viewers only get a 51-minute look at the movie through the eyes of contemporary dancers and choreographers as they discuss its influences and importance to the art. Missing are any documentary or retrospective that were found on the 2012 version.
Double Indemnity (Criterion, rated PG, 1.37:1 aspect ratio, 108 minutes, $49.95) — Director Billy Wilder’s 1944 crime noir-defining, black-and-white masterpiece debuts in the UHD format and is loaded with a film class’ worth of extras.
With a screenplay written by Mr. Wilder and famed detective novelist Raymond Chandler, audiences learn through a confession about a fast-talking insurance agent, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who gets involved with a scheming dame, Phyllis Dietichson (Barbara Stanwyck).
Life gets complicated when he decides to help her with an accidental death policy by getting involved in murder. Unfortunately, his boss (Edward G. Robinson) is quite ready to pay out on the policy, or is he?
Lucky owners get a digital restoration created from the 35mm nitrate composite fine-grain held by the British Film Institute, which was scanned in 4K resolution making it the best-looking version ever released using current technology.
Routinely considered one of the best American films of all time, “Double Indemnity” set the standard for film noir, and Criterion’s generous release makes for a fantastic gift for any film historian in the family.
Notable extras: The 4K disc includes an informative 2006 optional commentary track with film critic Richard Schickel.
The included pair of Blu-ray discs boasts more than six hours of extras featuring first two new onscreen essays: one with critics Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith (32 minutes long) and one with film scholar Noah Isenberg (18-minutes).
Also included is a 38-minute archival documentary from 2006 further examining the film and its impact with words from director William Friedkin and “L.A. Confidential author James Ellroy.
Just for fun, listeners get two vintage radio adaptations of the movie starring Stanwyck and MacMurray from 1945 and 1950.
Equally impressive is a three-hour vintage documentary from 1992 on the life and career of the legendary director with plenty of interview time afforded to the older Mr. Wilder.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 104 minutes, $34.99) — Director Robert Zemeckis 1988 Academy Award-winning, groundbreaking film that seamlessly blended live action with hand-drawn cell animation debuts in UHD format to appeal to a new audience looking to appreciate zany comedy mystery.
The surprisingly intricate plot finds a world where cartoon characters and real people co-exist. When a grizzled, toon-hating private detective, Eddie Valient (Bob Hoskins), gets hired by a studio head to investigate the wife of his distracted star Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer), he finds her possible lover murdered and a voracious Judge Doom (Christopher Llyod) looking to hunt down and blame the crime on Roger.
Of course, the highlight of the film is all of the hundreds of colorful toons that appear including Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Daffy Duck on the screen for the first time together.
The roster also includes Roger’s incredibly attractive wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner), considered one of the most famous femme fatales in the history of cinema
The 4K upgrade maintains a faithful representation to the original source material and never ruins the magic of the colorful toons interacting with humans onscreen through too much clarity or detail.
Notable extras: All the goodies from the 2013, 25th anniversary home entertainment release of the film in high definition are ported over.
The 4K disc only offers the all-important optional commentary track starring Mr. Zemeckis, co-writers Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman, producer Frank Marshall, associate producer Steve Starkey and visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston as they meticulously dissect all parts of the movie’s magic.
Move to the included Blu-ray disc for all else, which includes three Roger Rabbit shorts and five featurettes led by a 36-minute documentary on the production as well as the commentary track.
The Untouchables: 35th Anniversary Edition (Paramount Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 168 minutes, $30.99) — The movie that finally delivered an Academy Award to Sean Connery gets a welcomed restoration and remastered upgrade to the UHD format.
Director Brian De Palma’s 1987 action-packed crime drama (scripted by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, no less) explores the early years of the FBI’s Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his formation of the Untouchables, a group of federal agents sworn to enforce Prohibition laws and take down criminal organizations.
In this case, viewers are taken to 1930s Chicago as they meet Ness and his only team members, Jim Malone, mentor and a feisty beat cop with street smarts (Connery); accountant Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith); and rookie cop George Stone (Andy Garcia).
They go on a rampage to stop one of the greatest mob bosses of all time, Al Capone (played with gusto by Robert De Niro).
The 4K maintains the mooted choices of cinematographer Stephen H. Burum on interiors but sparkles when exploring the daytime locations of Chicago. Watch when the boys walk down a glistening street in the financial district or when they are on horseback waiting to stop a whiskey shipment at the Canadian border.
Notable extras: The 4K disc only offers a collection of five previously released featurettes (roughly 40 minutes in total) from the 2004 DVD Special Edition release covering the film’s origins, casting, cinematography and re-energizing the gangster genre of films.
The single disc arrives in an ornate metal case perfect for gifting. The front is illustrated as a Jack Daniels’-style whiskey package with an art deco design and bullet holes surrounding a photo of the team on the front and a solo frame of Capone, with more bullet holes on the back. The interior has the G-Men on horseback in a color-muted photograph.
1776: 50th Anniversary Director’s Cut (Sony Picture Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 168 minutes, $30.99) — Director Peter H. Hunt’s adaptation of the Tony award-winning musical celebrating fathers, specifically the Founding Fathers of our country, debuts on UHD throwing in a whopping four cuts of the movie.
Viewers get the singing version of the creation of the fledgling United States with the likes of a cantankerous John Adams (William Daniels); Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva); Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard); John Hancock (David Ford); and Richard Henry Lee (Ron Holgate) belting out tunes as they argue with the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and craft the Declaration of the Independence.
By the way, all of the actors listed above also originated the roles in the initial 1969 Broadway run.
The clean and restored version of the film does not disappoint, offering crisp details such as the period costuming and even the sweat droplets revealed on the forefathers as they scream and sing.
Notable extras: The four versions of “1776” include the lead 165-minute director’s cut (4K Ultra HD); 167-minute extended cut (4K Ultra HD); the 141-minute theatrical version cut (HD); and the 177-minute laserdisc version cut (SD).
The director’s cut also offers a pair of vintage commentary tracks; one with Hunt, Mr. Daniels and Howard, and the other with Hunt and writer Peter Stone.
In the Heat of the Night (Kino Lorber, not rated, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 110 minutes, $39.95) — The winner of a Best Picture Academy Award debuts in the UHD format showcasing to home theater audiences the performances of two legendary actors as part of director Norman Jewison’s 1967 racially charged crime drama.
The film finds Black Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) traveling through the small Mississippi rural town of Sparta and quickly getting accused of murder.
Near as quickly cleared of wrongdoing, he reluctantly agrees to help investigate the homicide of a wealthy industrialist and must work with gum-chomping, highly bigoted Chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger in an Oscar-winning role) while also dealing with a town of highly prejudiced townsfolk as he solves the case.
Jewison’s crushing expose of a 1960s segregated south offers a riveting buddy cop classic with plenty of nail-biting but will be most remembered for Virgil’s famous line: “They call me Mr. Tibbs.”
The 4K upgrade taken from Criterion’s restoration back in 2019 gives the film a new life and a visual scheme dripping with summer color where viewers can almost feel the humidity coming off screen.
Notable extras: On the 4K disc, viewers get a new optional commentary track was with critics Nathaniel Thompson and Steve Mitchell and Robert Mirisch (nephew of producer Walter Mirisch).
They also get a vintage commentary from 2008 with Jewison, cinematographer Haskell Wexler and actors Steiger and Lee Grant (who portrayed the wife of the dead industrialist)
Move over to the included Blu-ray disc for three archival featurettes from a 2008 DVD release (almost 45 minutes in total) that cover the production, the famous slaps between Virgil and a White plantation owner and the musical score from Quincy Jones.
As an unusual bonus, viewers can also enjoy the pair of sequels starring Detective Virgil Tibbs — “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!” (1970, 109 minutes) and “The Organization” (1971, 108 minutes).
For All Mankind (Criterion, not rated, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 80 minutes, $49.95) — In 1989, documentarian Al Reinert assembled original footage from NASA’s Apollo program to offer one of the definitive explorations of the landing on the moon.
The documentary, now offered in the 2160p format, chronicles key moments from the nine manned missions between December 1968 to November 1972 to show a complete trip to the moon and return to earth.
The documentary also adds narration featuring interviews from Mr. Reinert with astronauts Pete Conrad, Michael Collins, Jim Irwin, Alan Bean and Harrison Schmitt,
Criterion graciously adds subtitles that identify the astronauts speaking offscreen as well as the select crew members on the screen.
The 4K upgrade offers crisp and spectacular images of the surface of the moon and views of a distant earth plus super-detailed moments from a moonwalk and Alan Shepard planting an American flag.
Notable extras: Purists can first watch a version of the film offering the original 16mm footage, remastered on an 8K film scanner and reviewed in the 1:33 aspect ratio (window boxed with large black bars on either side of the screen).
Jump over to the included Blu-ray for a generous supply of legacy featurettes from 2009 starting with a 32-minute overview of creating the documentary that includes words from NASA editors and the curator about the film footage and its preservation and Mr. Reinert as he discusses raiding the NASA archives to build his masterpiece.
Other segments focus on Mr. Reinert’s on-camera interviews with 15 astronauts, a collection of 21 important soundbites from NASA’s first 10 years of space flight and a compilation of launch footage featuring five rocket boosters doing the job.
And, a 28-page booklet rounds out the packages containing Mr. Reinert’s essay “A Trip To The Moon” and film critics Terrence Rafferty’s review “Fantastic Voyage.”
Raiders of the Lost Ark Limited Edition Steelbook (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 115 minutes, $30.99) — For the rare few dads who have never seen filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie from 1981, the classic returns to the 4K format in a metallic gift box.
Offering the first of the chronicles of archeology professor and tomb raider Henry Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford), the World War II-themed story takes him on a quest to find the Ark of the Covenant (a gold-encrusted wooden box containing the Ten Commandments stone tablets) and running into the nastiest of Nazis along the way.
The action scenes are nearly heart-stopping and the UHD presentation explodes from the screen.
Notable extras: So, the single 4K disc offers nothing in the way of bonus content, just a few trailers.
However, the hard copy goodies include a mini movie poster (9.5 inches by 13 inches) reproduction of the 1981 artwork from Richard Amsel.
Of course, besides the great movie, the metal case is the prize here.
The front presents Amsel’s 1982 poster; the back has an orange-colored map of the world with the ark; and the interior spread showcases Indy carrying the golden ark with helper Sallah.