Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A pioneering cinephile receives his due in Jacques Richard's thoroughly compelling documentary homage Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque, new from Kino Video ($24.95). It's our ..
DVD pick of the week
For more than 40 years, Mr. Langlois ran the Cinematheque Francois in Paris, starting in 1936, a time when vintage film preservation and exhibition proved a daunting, nearly solitary and virtually thankless task.
A larger-than-life figure, the relentlessly obsessive (and increasingly obese) curator not only went on to influence generations of international filmmakers but grappled with both the Nazis during World War II and homegrown bureaucrats thereafter in an endless battle to keep his institution and all-consuming dream afloat.
Director Richard intercuts archival clips of the late Mr. Langlois in action presiding over his cinematic kingdom, ranting with understandable outrage at those who sought to undermine his mission, creating his ultimate movie museum (which even included the model of Norman Bates' mummified mom from "Psycho") with talking-head tributes from such acolyte auteurs as Jean-Luc Godard, Erich Rohmer and Claude Chabrol. The documentary hits nary a dry or pedantic stretch in its formidable 128-minute running time.
Extras are slight but enlightening. "Langlois Monumental" records a posthumous gathering of his many celeb friends and admirers at the dedication of the Langlois Monument in 1991, while "Le Musee du Cinema Henri Langlois" offers a brief appreciation narrated by Alain Delon.
Anyone with the slightest passion for film history will want to add this "Phantom" to his or her digital library.
Comedies dominate the week's TV-on-DVD slate. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment celebrates sitcoms past with The Flying Nun: The Complete Second Season (four-disc, $29.95) and The Jeffersons: The Complete Fifth Season (three-disc, $29.95).
Warner Home Video revisits the early '90s with Full House: The Complete Fourth Season (four-disc, $29.98), Paramount Home Entertainment time-travels to the '60s for Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Fourth Season (four-disc, $42.99) and Shout! Factory issues the 1997 The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series (three-disc, $34.98), showcasing Weird Al Yankovic and friends.
In the animation arena, Warner Home Video revives a pair of Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon faves, Hong Kong Phooey: The Complete Series (two-disc, $26.98) and Magilla Gorilla: The Complete Series (four-disc, $44.98), along with the more recent Cartoon Network series The Brak Show: Volume 2 (two-disc, $29.98) and Sealab 2021: Season IV (two-disc, $26.98), while 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment unleashes The Simpsons: Season 8 (four-disc, $49.98).
In an epic vein, HBO Video introduces the 12-episode historical series Rome: The Complete First Season (six-disc, $99.98), equipped with audio commentaries, featurettes and more, while 20th Century Fox concludes the Pierce Brosnan/Stephanie Zimbalist sleuthing series Remington Steele: Seasons Four & Five (five-disc, $49. …