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Disney’s ‘Ichabod And Mr. Toad’ on Blu-ray, ‘Detour’ and other film noirs on DVD

Disney is making another bid for your hard-earned buckaroos outside the park this summer with five first-time Blu-ray releases today, including some oldies but goodies.

Chief among the Disney releases is “The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad” (1949). This retelling of “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Wind In The Willows” is narrated by Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone. Better yet, the inimitable Eric Blore voices J. Thaddeus Toad; Pinto Colvig (Ichabod Crane) and J. Pat O’Malley are also along for the ride, and a wild ride it is.

This release comes in several versions; my pick would be the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack that contains “Fun and Fancy Free,” the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse; Edgar Bergen and Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket) are on board as well. Bonus material includes Disney’s “The Reluctant Dragon.”

Also worthy of note is “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971), an Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects. Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson (“Mary Poppins”) star in this tale about an apprentice witch and three orphans; among the voice cast are Roddy McDowall and Sam Jaffe. Bonuses include a featurette on the Sherman Brothers.
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Film Chest Media Group has been busy of late, digitally remastering vintage films for release on DVD, many in HD. They’ve put some thought into their enticing new offerings, most of which are in the film noir genre, including two directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, himself a cult figure.

Ulmer’s low-budget classic “Detour” (1945), with Tom Neal and Ann Savage, concerns a nightclub pianist who assumes the ID of a bookie when the latter dies mysteriously. “The Strange Woman” (1946) stars Hedy Lamarr as a manipulative beauty who uses her looks to get what she wants.

“Fear in the Night” (1947) features DeForest Kelley of “Star Trek” fame in his film debut, as a meek bank teller who awakens from a nightmare in which he kills a man; Ann Doran co-stars. “Hollow Triumph” (1948) is a psychological thriller with Paul Henreid (in a dual role) and Joan Bennett.

“The Black Book” aka “Reign of Terror” (1949) is proof director Anthony Mann could handle any genre, and craft a compelling, well-made film. This exciting French Revolution tale stars Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl, and is photographed to look more like a film noir than a period drama. “The Bigamist” (1953), about a childless couple who decides to adopt, stars Edmund O’Brien, Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino, who also directed—and was virtually the only woman of that era to sit in the coveted director’s chair.

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