Armchair Cinephile

Sure, his ideas about racial harmony may have a bit in common with Trent Lott's, but at least D.W. Griffith has the excuse of being born a quarter century before Strom Thurmond.

Oh yeah, and he was the first genius of long-form moviemaking. Kino Video's magnificent new Griffith Masterworks set collects his landmark features Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, and Broken Blossoms, along with two DVDs of the director's early short films. It is all presented with the kind of careful restoration and thoughtful bonus features that film-history buffs expect from the company, and is an essential part of any budding scholar's library.

Disney has some archival treasures of their own this month, with Mickey Mouse in Black and White and The Complete Goofy. Both contain some of the most charming cartoons ever, and present them in a comprehensive way. They are also, in modern Mouse House fashion, limited editions; though it's unlikely that there will be a Cabbage Patch-sized frenzy for the discs, it's not a bad idea to pick 'em up now.

Not all of the Italian-made "Spaghetti Westerns" starred Americans like Clint Eastwood. For a look at the raw, homegrown stuff, see the somewhat unimaginatively named Spaghetti Western Collection, four films starring such little-known tough guys as Franco Nero and Tomas Milian. The films were picked by Blue Underground, a small company started by some of the folks behind premiere cult film distributor Anchor Bay — so you can be assured you're getting the best trashy cinema there is to find.

Speaking of trash cinema, how 'bout a flick with this tagline on the poster: "If you've got to fight — fight dirty!" — never mind that martial arts star Sonny Chiba (immortalized by Christian Slater in True Romance) never really seems to mind having to fight at all. VCI Entertainment has assembled a super-budget-priced Street Fighter Saga, collecting all four flicks in the Street Fighter series. It's gritty, grindhouse chop-socky action — no Jackie Chan hijinks here, thanks — and you can get it all for under $20. Just be sure to hide the breakables in the living room before popping this one in the DVD player.


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