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Some great vintage flicks receive Blu-ray upgrades this week
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Brian Donlevy, left, Sid Haig and Richard Davalos star in "Pit Stop," a 1969 stockcar-racing drama now on Blu-ray and DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
Some terrific older movies are upgraded to Blu-ray this week, some of them in widescreen editions for the first time.

Pit Stop (aka The Winner, Arrow/Blu-ray/DVD, 1969, b/w, not rated, two discs, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). This fascinating ultra-low-budget black-and-white hot-rod drama is a lot of fun, getting a major boost from footage of actual stock car races shot over several weekends before the film went into production with the actors. As filmmaker Jack Hill explains in bonus features, this allowed him to build scenes around the crashes and other exciting moments hed already captured on film in particular the dangerous sport of figure-eight racing, which he knew nothing about before the weekend shoots. Its something to see.

Richard Davalos has the lead role as a hotshot street racer handpicked by a promoter (veteran character actor Brian Donlevy in his final film) to go up against the reckless, wild-eyed reigning champ (scene-stealer Sig Haig). A very young Ellen Burstyn is also here, credited for the last time as Ellen McRae before taking Burstyn her married surname at the time as a stage name. (The title on the film here is The Winner, which was the original working title, changed when Paul Newmans race car film Winning was scheduled to be released at the same time in May 1969.)

All Quiet On the Western Front: The Uncut Edition (itv/TMG/Blu-ray/DVD, 1979, not rated, photo gallery, trailer). The 1930 film version of Erich Maria Remarques classic anti-war novel remains definitive but this terrific TV movie is a close second. A young German soldier (Richard Thomas) joins the military during World War I and gradually has his illusions shattered. Nominated for seven Emmys, including the performances of Ernest Borgnine and Patricia Neal. Also here are Ian Holm and Donald Pleasence. (Over the years this film has been released at various lengths due to edits for overseas theatrical release, but this is the complete 156-minute version in its original widescreen format.)

The Legend of the Lone Ranger (itv/TMG/Blu-ray/Blu-ray, 1981, PG, trailer). Reviled by critics (including yours truly in this paper) when it was released as a big summer movie in late May 1981, this origin story of the famous Western character looks better after Johnny Depps 2013 debacle. The flaws are still here the story is unfocused, it wobbles uncomfortably between comedy and serious storytelling, lead actor Klinton Spilsbury in his one-and-only movie is charisma-free (his voice is dubbed by James Keach), and the less said about Merle Haggards narrative song the better.

But there are some big pluses: The action scenes are well staged; the supporting cast is solid, including Michael Horse as Tonto, Jason Robards as Ulysses S. Grant, pre-Back to the Future Christopher Lloyd as villain Major Cavendish, Richard Farnsworth as Wild Bill Hickok, and as one of the Cavendish gang, Billy Jack himself, Tom Laughlin (in his last film); and in this Blu-ray and widescreen debut, the gorgeous location vistas including some great shots of Monument Valley and Moab are glorious to behold.

Borderline (itv/TMG/DVD, 1980, PG). This marks the long-overdue DVD debut for this thriller that has social commentary on its mind. Charles Bronson stars as a border patrolman searching for the killer of a fellow officer, which leads him to the plight of illegal aliens smuggled in from Mexico as slave labor for American farmers. Great cast includes an array of excellent character actors, including Ed Harris, Kenneth McMillan, Michael Lerner, Bruno Kirby and Wilford Brimley. (Its disappointing, however, that Timeless Media Group couldnt release the film in its original widescreen format.)

Stray Cat Rock: The Collection (Arrow/Blu-ray/DVD, 1970-71, not rated, five discs, five movies, in Japanese with English subtitles, featurettes, trailers). These five Japanese movies shot over two years comprise the Stray Cat Rock juvenile-delinquent film series (aka Alleycat Rock), gritty biker-gang flicks that focus on female thugs. With their outrageous plots, protest-song soundtracks and brooding characters, they were an attempt to capture on film the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and early 70s and were popular fixtures in Japanese cinema at the time. The films are Female Boss (aka Delinquent Girl Boss or Female Juvenile Delinquent), Wild Jumbo, Sex Hunter, Machine Animal and Beat 71 (aka Crazy Riders 71).

Vanilla Sky (Paramount/Warner/Blu-ray, 2001, R for sex and language, theatrical and extended versions, alternate scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, music video, bloopers). This is the Blu-ray debut of this surreal fantasy from Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Aloha), a remake of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes, which brought Penelope Cruz to international attention. Cruz also co-stars here, with Tom Cruise as a tycoon who falls for her, which doesnt sit well with his insanely jealous girlfriend (Cameron Diaz). Psychedelic juxtapositions of reality and fantasy ensue.

Joe Dirt (Columbia/Blu-ray, 2001, PG-13, deleted/alternate scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, trailers). Just in time for the belated sequel, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser (now showing online), comes a Blu-ray upgrade for this tasteless farce with David Spade as a mullet-sporting slacker trying to find his parents after they abandoned him as a child at the Grand Canyon. (Thats Dead Horse Point in Moab subbing for the Grand Canyon, by the way.) Co-stars include Dennis Miller, Kid Rock, Jaime Pressly and Christopher Walken, with cameos by Joe Don Baker, Rosanna Arquette and Kevin Nealon.

Contamination (aka Alien Contamination, Contamination: Alien On Earth, Toxic Spawn, Arrow/Blu-ray/DVD, 1980, R for violence, two discs, English dubbed or in Italian with English subtitles, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer, graphic novel; booklet). Italian monster flick is an extremely violent and gory riff on Alien, along with other popular monster flicks. Here, instead of alien eggs in space, they are found in an abandoned freighter that drifts into New York Harbor. Lots of exploding/imploding people.