New Spy DVDs Out This Week: Sand and Surf
I love these Rank Organization releases VCI have been quietly churning out this year. Following their Hot Enough For June (aka Agent 8 3/4) DVD and Blu-ray last moth, this week they give us the Region 1 DVD debut of the 1979 movie The Riddle of the Sands, adapted from Erskine Childers' 1903 novel of the same name that's widely considered the first modern spy novel. I've never seen the movie, though I did write a paper on the book back in 9th grade comparing it to modern techno-thrillers, particularly those by Tom Clancy. Childers' book fetishized military strategy and technology just as much as Clancy's novels, but the technology in question was mostly sailing-related. Page after page of nautical jargon and navigational minutiae can frankly get a little boring, but the actual plot, when it finally materializes, about a secret German plan to invade England, is cracking. Therefore, I imagine that a film, which isn't too likely ton include all that navigational stuff, could be quite fun, and I'm looking forward to finally seeing this one, which I've been curious about ever since reading the book. The movie stars Simon MacCorkindale (Counterstrike) and Michael York (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) as the intrepid English adventurers who set out to thwart the Kaiser's plot, and Jenny Agutter (Spooks) as the girl, a requisite ingredient of the spy novel plot even at the genre's advent. The DVD is presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ration, and includes a photo gallery. Retail is $19.99, though it's cheaper on Amazon.
Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season after a lengthy delay following Season 10. While the penultimate eleventh season is generally considered to show decline in the series' quality, it's especially of note for spy fans because it guest stars a trio of Sixties spy superstars: Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn ("The Spirit is Willie"), Wild Wild West's Ross Martin (making his debut as McGarrett's new recurring nemesis crime boss Tony Alika) and one-time 007 himself George Lazenby in "Year of the Horse." Other notable guest stars this season include Rory Calhoun (Our Men in Bagdad), Barbara Anderson (Mission: Impossible), Robert Loggia (T.H.E. Cat) and John Saxon (The Girl Who Knew Too Much). Also out this week, in a the sort of synergy that studios like, but which I suspect was responsible for the lengthy delay between seasons of the real series, is Hawaii Five-0: The First Season, the guilty pleasure revival series starring a charmless McGarrett that currently airs on CBS. There's also a Blu-ray of that, but like Archer: The First Season, it's annoyingly exclusive to Best Buy right now.