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DVD reviews

Brad Pitt (left) and James Gandolfini in “Killing Them Softly.’’

Melinda Sue Gordon/Weinstein Company

Brad Pitt (left) and James Gandolfini in “Killing Them Softly.’’

A bleakly comic, brutally Darwinian gangland saga that at times comes close to being another “Drive.” Writer-director Andrew Dominik jettisons novelist George V. Higgins’s Boston settings for a generic urban wasteland during the 2008 economic collapse. Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, and James Gandolfini stand out in a cast full of mean, mouthy, small-time thugs. Extras: deleted scenes, making-of featurette. (Starz/Anchor Bay: $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)

Danish historical drama about a mad 18th-century king, his wife, and her
lover is one of the stodgier best foreign language film Oscar nominees but also one of the more straightforwardly enjoyable: a crowned-heads soap opera that balances effectively
between pomp and melodramatic circumstance. With Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen. Extras: cast and crew interviews. (Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

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The people responsible for this bland exercise in sentimentality and rambunctiousness have done an honorable enough job, chiefly through casting. Bette Midler and Billy Crystal baby-sit for Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott, and their limits to humiliation are kind of a relief. It’s: “I’ll do anything for this movie, but I won’t do that.” Extras: deleted scenes, audio commentary with Crystal and director Andy Fickman. (20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)

This six-disc
sampling contains
17 episodes from the
popular CBS variety series that ran from 1967-78.
Extras: cast reunion, cast interviews, tribute to
designer Bob Mackie.
(Time-Life, $59.95)

A MAN ESCAPED Robert Bresson’s 1956 based-on-fact story of a French Resistance fighter in a Gestapo prison is as thrilling as any standard adventure story or procedural. It’s also a work of deep, exalting spirituality. In other words, it ranks among the finest achievements in film history. Extras: high-definition digital restoration, 1965 Bresson television interview, making-of documentary, trailer. (Criterion Collection, $29.95; $39.95)

CHINA GATE In 1957, Samuel Fuller — the slamming-est, banging-est of American directors — tackled the French part of the Vietnam War. Gene Barry and Nat King Cole (that’s right, him) play Foreign Legionaires; Lee Van Cleef a guerrilla leader; Marcel Dalio a priest; and Angie Dickinson (!) a Eurasian smuggler named Lucky Legs (!!!). It’s in CinemaScope, of course. Nope, they just don’t make movies like this anymore. (Olive Films, $24.95; $29.95, Blu-ray)

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