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The Year in Video

by Shawn Stone on January 3, 2013

 

Best of 2012

 

1. Lonesome

Paul Fejos’ moving drama is about a couple of New York City nobodies finding each other, falling in love, and losing each other on a Coney Island afternoon. A rediscovered treasure. (Criterion)

2. Anatomy of a Murder

Otto Preminger’s classic courtroom drama is presented in a spectacular Blu-ray upgrade from the old DVD. Jimmy Stewart is terrific as the prosecutor turned wily defense attorney, with Ben Gazarra, Lee Remick, George C. Scott and Eve Arden equally fine. (Criterion)

3. The Show

Another of Tod Browning’s grotesque carnival tales, with John Gilbert and Lionel Barrymore snarling at each other over Renée Adorée. No director has ever made hate feel as vivid or visceral as Browning. (Warner Archive)

4. Letter From an Unknown Woman

Joan Fontaine is haunting as the doomed romantic in Max Ophuls’ tragic celebration of grand passion. (Olive Films)

5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Don Siegel’s original alien invasion tale remains smart and scary—and beautiful, in glorious black-and-white. “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!” (Olive Films)

6. Uptight

Jules Dassin’s recasting of The Informer among black militants in 1968 Cleveland is another of the year’s great rediscoveries. It’s powerful and relentless. (Olive Films)

7. The Glass Slipper

The image quality of the source material is all over the place, but Charles Walters’ dancing Cinderella musical is a delight, with an enchanting Leslie Caron. (Warner Archive)

8. Wings
A happy 100th birthday to Paramount Pictures, who did right by William Wellman’s war aviation epic with this stunning release. The scale of the battle scenes remains jaw-dropping. Plus, Clara Bow’s in it. (Paramount)

9. All Quiet on the Western Front

Salutations to Universal as well, who are also celebrating their centennial. They issued an equally stunning restoration of Lewis Milestone’s wrenching saga of war and lost youth; it’s so much improved over the old, beat-up versions that it’s almost like watching a different film. (Universal)

10. Having a Wild Weekend

John Boorman and writer Peter Nichols used this Dave Clark Five vehicle to deconstruct ’60s pop culture. Titled as Catch Us if You Can in the U.K., the film is mordantly funny, and has a remarkably bittersweet ending. Great songs, too. (Warner Archive)