Armchair Cinephile

We won’t even attempt to list the dozens of John Wayne titles, from numerous studios, being reissued to celebrate the icon’s hundredth birthday. You can sort ’em out fer yerself, pardner — but high-def fans should hold off on Rio Bravo and The Cowboys, which were just reissued in standard-def but will arrive early next month on Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Scarface (1932) (Universal): The main attraction in Universal’s latest wave of vintage pics is this, the crime flick that spawned so many imitators, including the hit Brian De Palma remake. ’Til now, you could only see the Howard Hawks original by buying a pricey “Deluxe Gift Set” — an injustice happily remedied now.

Ball of Fire (MGM): MGM has eight new Gary Cooper titles out this week, but this one’s the star. Directed by the genius behind the aforementioned Scarface and Rio Bravo, this screwball romance pits a professorial Cooper against the streetwise Barbara Stanwyck. Guess who comes out looking smarter?

Fay Grim (Magnolia) / The Good German (Warner Bros.): Indie heroes Hal Hartley and Steven Soderbergh, respectively, duke it out this week with two films that, despite being eagerly awaited, are slinking onto disc after nearly nonexistent theatrical runs. Both are disappointing, I’m sorry to say — which doesn’t mean that fans won’t want to see for themselves.

Pirates of the Caribbean x 2 (Buena Vista): The first left me grinning; the second left me dozing. Since the latter was overstuffed visually as well as narratively, these new Blu-ray editions will go a long way toward helping moviegoers piece together exactly what happened before diving into the saga’s conclusion in theaters.