New on DVD: ‘The Last Metro,’ ‘Heroes for Sale,’ ‘Wild Boys of the Road’
New on DVD: ‘The Last Metro,’ ‘Heroes for Sale,’ ‘Wild Boys of the Road’

Francois Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” and William Wellman’s “Heroes For Sale” and “Wild Boys of the Road,” each out on DVD this week, offer powerful dramatizations of how people have dealt with political, social and economic crises.

Truffaut, the French director (“The 400 Blows,” “Jules and Jim”) who emerged in the late-1950s/early-’60s New Wave, was an adolescent during World War II whose life was largely unaffected by the German occupation of France.

Years later, influenced by his friend Marcel Ophuls’ “The Sorrow and the Pity,” a powerful documentary that emphasized French collaboration with the Nazis rather than the exploits of the French Resistance, Truffaut made one of his most acclaimed films, “The Last Metro.”

Winner of 10 Cesar Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars) and a box-office smash, 1980’s “The Last Metro” has been released in an excellent new DVD edition from the Criterion Collection (two discs, $39.95, not rated). Written by Truffaut and longtime assistant Suzanne Schiffman, the film is set in the world of theater in 1942 Paris.

The prominent theater manager/director Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), who is Jewish, has presumably fled France to escape Nazi persecution, leaving his Theatre Montmarte in the hands of his actress-wife Marion (Catherine Deneuve).

But Lucas is actually being hidden by his wife in the basement of his theater, and is maintaining his sanity by listening (through air ducts) to rehearsals and providing directorial advice to Marion as she and an associate produce a new play starring her and a new leading man, Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu), a would-be Resistance fighter.

— Scripps Howard News Service