Vengeance is the theme of four Italian westerns from 1966-70.

A Quiet Place: Part II (Paramount, Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray or DVD, PG-13, 96 min.). The invasion of the blind, but acutely-hearing aliens continues in this direct sequel to the 2018 film, again written and directed by John Krasinski (TV’s “The Office”). This time it is more a coming-of-age film, with the hearing-impaired Abbott daughter (Millicent Simmonds, who really is Deaf, as Regan, 15) striking out on her own to find safety for the rest of the family.

The cynical might say that the prologue, going back to day one of the invasion, was just an excuse to shoehorn Krasinski, as father Lee Abbott, into the film, but it is a really effective sequence, with lots of practical effects married to Industrial Light and Magic’s alien visual effects to create some visceral horror. Right from the start, everyone knew these aliens were predators and not friendly.

The film then shifts to day 474, where parts of the Abbott barn are still on fire. Mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt of “Edge of Tomorrow” and the real-life Mrs. Krasinski) knows they can no longer stay there. Among other things, she knows she needs to find more oxygen, which she uses with a mask to keep her infant quiet. The fourth member of the surviving Abbott quartet is son Marcus (Noah Jupe of “Wonder,” “Suburbicon”). They must go out into the world, past the sand paths they have laid to keep even their barefoot walking quiet, risking attracting the deadly attention of the very prevalent aliens. They are still armed with the noise amplification device, discovered during the first film, that disorients the aliens, making them more vulnerable to a kill shot.

During this expedition, the Abbotts learn there are human dangers as well, but also a hope of safety, if not salvation.

As they head toward town, they encounter an acquaintance who has been hiding out under three feet of concrete in a steel mill. He is Emmett, played by an unrecognizable – thanks to the beard – Cillian Murphy (“28 Days Later,” “Inception”). Emmett only allows them to briefly stay with him, but while there, they hear “Beyond the Sea” played constantly on the radio. Regan feels it is a clue and sets out to explore her idea, telling only Marcus and not Evelyn. When Evelyn learns of this, she begs Emmett to go after her daughter.

After Emmett departs, Evelyn heads to town for medical supplies, including more oxygen. Once the story is separated into three, director Krasinski cuts back and forth multiple quick times to show the dangers each part of the family faces and the results. More good action and very suspenseful scenes follow. However, to my mind, the film stops early.

Extras include Krasinski’s director video diaries (9:38), about shooting in Akron, Buffalo and other New York locations; a behind-the-scenes look (3:47); Regan’s journey (6:19); surviving the marina situation (5 min.); and the visual effects and sound design (8:26; the film only contains seven blue-screen shots). The film also is available as a Blu-ray 2-pack with “A Quiet Place.” Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Star Trek: Discovery: Season Three (Paramount, 4 Blu-ray or 4 DVDs, NR, 11 hours and 6 min.). The collection includes all 13 episodes of the Paramount+ original series, plus more than two hours of special features, including producer interviews, writer’s log and behind-the-scenes moments.

In the season two finale, the U.S.S. Discovery followed Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) into a wormhole, bringing them 930 years into the future, to the year 3188, 120 years after all dilithium went “boom,” killing millions and leading to the breakup of the Federation. The jump to the future was to protect the accumulated information of The Sphere, which has merged with Discovery’s artificial intelligence, from bad guy Leland.

In episode one, we see Science Officer Burnham crash land, after colliding with new character Book’s ship, making it crash as well. Cleveland “Book“ Booker (David Ajala of “Jupiter Ascending,” “Fast & Furious 6”), it turns out, travels the galaxy looking for rare creatures that he can stash away on preserves. His current cargo, a Tranceworm, he has stolen from Cosmo, who therefore is after him. Reluctantly, he agrees to work with Burnham. Finding a Federation liaison (Sabat) leads to the whereabouts of Earth, which is no longer part of the Federation and whose United Earth Defense Force is initially hostile to Discovery’s crew. A young genius (Blu del Barrio as Adira) joins the crew. She has a Trill symbiont and thus the memories of Admiral Tal, who knows the location of the remaining remnants of the Federation, led by Starfleet Admiral Charles Vance, for whom the Discovery crew starts performing tasks.

The first episode is devoted solely to Burnham, while the second takes up the story of Discovery’s crew, who actually arrive a year later than Burnham and have quite the crash landing themselves, being lodged in ice that turns out to be parasitic. Commander Saru (Doug Jones) heads Discovery now. The merging of the two storylines again seems a bit rushed to me, but then they only had 11 more episodes to work with.

One of the cool advancements found in the future is personal transporters than can be worn or carried. Discovery becomes a target, of sorts, as it has a lot of dilithium, now a very rare commodity. In another episode, we learn that, as Spock had wished, the Vulcans and Romulans have combined their races, which were two branches of the same evolutionary tree, and Vulcan is now called Ni’Var, but once again, the Discovery is not welcome, even though Burnham is Spock’s sister. The big bad of the season seems to be Osyraa, a raider chieftain who runs the Emerald Chain.

Other key members of Discovery’s crew are Anthony Rapp as Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stamets, who can operate the still unique, almost instantaneous spore drive; Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, who gets a promotion; Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber; Ian Alexander as Gray; and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou, who is from another universe and follows her own rules. Guest stars include David Cronenberg, Janet Kidder, Sonja Sohn and Paul Guilfoyle.

Extras include deleted scenes and a gag reel; the actors, writers and producers discussing season three; interviews with cast and stunt coordinator Christopher McGuire and looks at the stunts from rehearsals to completion; Martin-Green’s personal record of the season and her character; the cast and crew discuss Kenneth Mitchell, his life with ALS and how he finally goes from behind-the-scenes to playing the character Aurellio; a behind-the-scenes look at Discovery’s Bridge crew; and showrunner Micelle Paradise’s personal log about shooting the beginning of the season in Iceland. Grade: season 3.5 stars; extras 3 stars

La Piscine (France, 1969, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 122 min.). In the early days of his career, including “Purple Noon” (1960, later remade as “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), French actor Alain Delon was known as one of the most beautiful men in film and director Jacques Deray, known for his thrillers, certainly was aware of that, as he has Delon spend 24 of the film’s first 31 minutes shirtless and usually in small swim trunks. What also heated up the audience for the film was that it marked Delon and Romy Schneider acting together for the first time in seven years and since the breakup of their iconic real-life coupling. And yes, some of the former passion and erotism comes through in the film.

The film is based on a novel by Alain Page, with a screenplay by the legendary Jean-Claude Carriere. Somewhat ironically, in this first of his nine collaborations with Deray, Delon’s character, Jean-Paul, ends up drowning villa visitor Harry (Maurice Ronet) in the swimming pool in a dispassionate crime of passion. In Rene Clement’s “Purple Noon,” based on a 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel, Delon became a star playing the insolent, insolvent Tom Ripley, who knives his wealthy friend Phillipe (also played by Ronet) and pushes him over the side of a yacht to a watery grave, before taking over his life.

Jean-Paul and his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, Marianne (Schneider), have rented a villa outside Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera for the summer. They never go to town though and are only attended by a maid (Suzie Jasparo as Emelie). The couple frolic playfully in the villa’s pool, but their isolation leads to a sense of claustrophobia, even though they are surrounded by vast open fields, when an old friend of both (Harry) shows up unannounced with is heretofore unknown daughter (Jane Birkin as Penelope, 18). Up until a year before, Penelope had not known Harry, having been told her father had died at sea.

Sexual tension builds as Jean-Paul had long suspected, rightfully, that Harry and Marianne used to be lovers and Harry begins making some moves on Marianne. Meanwhile, some mutual attraction seems to be building between Jean-Paul and Penelope. In one particularly-telling scene, Penelope tells Jean-Paul all the cruel things Harry has said about him, including that Harry gave up Marianne to Jean-Paul and Harry could have her back whenever he wanted.

The film, which is rather iconic in its treatment of images of Delon’s body, is mostly timeless. The only dated sequence is when Harry goes into town and brings back some six cars, full of revelers, some of whom do the exaggerated head-and-arm-shaking dances of the day to a couple phonograph songs. Otherwise, the film features a four-note motif by composer Michel Legrand.

The extras include a 2019 documentary, made by Deray’s widow, Agnes Vincent-Deray, to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary, which features interviews with Birkin, Delon, Page and Carriere (27:34). In it, we learn there were only nine pages of dialogue as Deray wanted to be forced to use the camera to create the bulk of the film, and that Delon insisted the filmmakers use Schneider opposite him, instead of an American actress. There also is the English-language version of the film, “The Swimming Pool: First Lover Never Dies,” filmed simultaneously as the actors were bilingual and which is four minutes shorter and features the alternate, less-open-ended ending demanded by the Spanish censors. This ending is presented separately (42 secs.) as well. Scholar Nick Rees-Roberts does a somewhat superficial piece of the film’s influence on fashion and subsequent films (19:26), and there is a collection of archival footage, featuring interviews with Delon and Schneider (15:18; one of hers is in German). The booklet includes an excellent essay by film critic Jessica Kiang. Grade: film 4 stars; extras 3.5 stars

I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes! (1948, Warner Archive, Blu-ray, NR, 71 min.). This noir also concerns a murder, but one for which an innocent man is wrongly convicted and sentenced to die, all due to only circumstantial evidence. This was the second feature film produced by future Oscar winner Walter Mirisch (“In the Heat of the Night”) for Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures, after 1947’s “Fall Guy,” based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich. This film also is based on a Woolrich novel. It is directed by William Night, with a screenplay by Steve Fisher, and utilized a little-known cast.

The story is about a down-in-his-luck dancer (Don Castle as Tom Quinn, 28) and his wife and dance partner (Elyse Knox as Ann), who is reduced to being a dance partner at a dance teaching academy. There she has one big $5 tipper, a repeat customer who obviously wants more than a dance.

On the same night that a neighbor was killed and robbed, Tom’s throws both his shoes at a noisy cat in the yard below, not realizing they were his tap shoes as well as his last pair of shoes. He goes down to find them, unsuccessfully, but they are left outside his apartment’s door the next morning. Meanwhile, Tom goes to meet Ann when her shift is over, only to find a wallet with $2,020 and no identification in it. He wants to turn it over to the police and wait to see if anyone claims it, but Ann says hang on to it for a week and see if anyone advertises for it in the newspaper.

The police are on the lookout for the killer, waiting to see if there is any sudden spending, as the deceased reportedly kept $50,000 to $60,000 in old bills in his apartment. Naturally, the police find a perfect indentation of Tom’s tap shoe outside of the crime scene and they arrest him after Ann uses $200 of the found money for shopping. An interesting twist in the story is that Ann’s $5 tipper turns out to be a police detective, Clinton Judge (Regis Toomey).

A bonus feature is the short film “The Symphony Murder Mystery” (1933, 21:27), in which Inspector Carr receives a warning note that murder may be committed at the symphony that night. The note proves correct, only there are two murders involved. It is an entertaining short piece. The second bonus is the Merrie Melodies cartoon “Holiday for Shoestrings,” in which elves do the shoemaking at night (7:02). Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 2 stars

Vengeance Trails: Four Classic Westerns (Italy, 1966-1970, Arrow Video, 4 Blu-rays, NR, 379 min.). In the 1960s, the runaway success of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy with Clint Eastwood gave rise to an explosion of similar productions as dozens of filmmakers sought to capitalize on the new, uniquely Italian take on the western. All four films, each presented in both their Italian and English versions, center on revenge. A review of each film follows.

“Massacre Time” (1966, NR, 92 min.), directed by Lucio Fulci (“Zombie”), opens with a hunt about to begin. A dozen dogs are straining at leashes and more than a half-dozen men astride horses await the opening of the cage. However, instead of an animal, it is a man who is unleashed and then chased to a river, where the dogs – off camera – devour him. The viewer will see the hunters again, especially their leader, who queerly keeps his head leaning sideways. An attempt to make him look for menacing perhaps? To me, it just looks silly.

That purveyor of evil turns out to be the Junior (Nino Castelnuovo), the son of Mr. Scott (Giuseppe Addobatti), who appears to own everything in Laramie Town in Texas, near the New Mexico border. Meanwhile, one of the searchers for gold by panning in a river is Tom Corbett (Franco Nero of “Django,” “Camelot”), who receives a message to come home to Laramie. There, Tom discovers Mr. Scott has taken over the ancestral home and his brother Jeffrey (George Hilton of “Any Gun Can Play”) is reduced to being a constant drunk and living in a hovel with Mercedes, the woman who helped raise them. While Tom is in Mr. Scott’s saloon, Jeffrey starts a brawl, but Tom just watches.

Tom goes out to see Carradine, who had sent him the message to come home, only to have Carradine, his wife and two children killed by Mr. Scott’s men while Tom is there. Tom decides to visit Mr. Scott, but Junior brutalizes him with a whip. Later Tom and Jeffrey, who turns out to be a sharpshooter, ride out to teach Scott’s men a lesson. The film’s action ending makes up for some of the early slowness.

Bonus features include audio commentary by author/screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and True West magazine’s Henry Parle, both Euro-western enthusiasts, who, among other things, say the film influenced Quentin Tarentino’s “Django Unchained.” A new documentary with a new Nero Interview is “Two Men Alone” (49:49). It also has an archival interview with Hilton, who was for Uruguay. Both interviews are in Italian. Nero says there were 80 lashes of the whip and he did not use a stunt double. The song “Back Home Someday,” sung in English at both the film’s beginning and end by Sergio Endrigo, actually reached number one on the charts in Japan. Another extra includes a new interview with film historian Fabio Melelli, who talks about the locations (18:32). Melelli has a piece about each of the four films. Each film also has stills of the German promotional gallery. Grade: film 2.75 stars; extras 3 stars

“My Name is Pecos!” (1966, NR, 85 min.). The weakest of the four films, the film opens with a man, in bellbottoms (!) it appears, walking in the desert. He meets a man who sells him an empty gun, whom he then shoots. Our antihero is Pecos, a Mexican wanderer, played by American Robert Woods (“The Battle of the Bulge”). The film is again set in Texas and the nearly-deserted, small town is called Houston.

One denizen of the town is Dr. Burton, whose main goal is to get his daughter Mary (Lucia Modugno) out of town to safety. A rum driver pulls into town, chased by a dozen or so horsemen, with whom he has a gunfight, but not before giving a cask of rum to Ted, the saloon keeper. The cask also contains some $80,000 stolen from Joe Kline’s gang. Then Pecos, who is a quick draw, arrives in town. It turns out that Pecos and Kline are old enemies, Kline having wiped out the rest of Pecos’ family.

Extras include audio commentary by actor Robert Woods and historian C. Courtney Joyner and new interviews with actor Luigi Montefior, aka George Eastman in later films (this was his first film), who plays the Kline henchman dressed in the yellow shirt and wearing a white hat (21:05) and actress Modugno (18:36). Montefior says he often lost parts due to his height, including one project in which Richard Chamberlain thought he was too tall to act with. Modugno claims the dirty was flirty and once made a move on her. In his interview (19:52), Fabio Melelli points out how the theme song echoes The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun” and that a sequel film, “Pecos Cleans Up,” was made. Interspersed with Melelli’s comments are portions of an archival interview with cinematographer Franco Villa. Grade: film 2 stars; extras 3 stars

“Bandidos” (1966, NR, 95 min.). Richard Martin, the leading character here, is played by Enrico Maria Salerno, who dubbed the Italian voice for Clint Eastwood in one of Sergio Leone’s movies. Martin is a passenger on a Southern Pacific Co. train – this scene was shot in Spain – that is attacked by a gang led by Billy Kane. In this exciting sequence, some of the attackers are shot off their horses, but an inside man (Kramer) eventually kills the conductors and makes the train stop. They grab bags of money and then rob the passengers, before shooting most of them.

Kline recognizes Martin as a traveling sharpshooter who puts on shows. Instead of killing Martin, he shoots him in both hands, ending his sharpshooting days. After the robbers split into two gangs – to the anger of one faction – a them sone in Italian comes in and the credits roll as a long pan goes the length of the train, showing all the bodies as it travels by. It is a memorable shot.

The story picks up months later, when Martin is touring with his new protégé, Ricky Shot, but an idiot in the audience, trying to prove he is a better shot, kills Ricky, who was not even looking. A short time later, a stranger (British actor Terry Jenkins of “Paint Your Wagon”) helps Martin out in a brawl and soon becomes Martin’s new protégé, also taking the name Ricky Shot. It really becomes a father and son relationship.

Gangster Vigonza is still angry at Kane and so is intrigued when Kramer shows up, willing to sell out Kane. There is some good suspense during the trap set for Kane.

Extras include audio commentary by historian/critic Kat Ellinger; a new interview with assistant director Luigi Perelli, who also played one of the saloon guys, on his career and filming at Elios Studios (18:51); an interview with actor Gino “Simon” Barbacane, who played the blonde assistant to Junior in “Massacre Time,” El Rayo in “My Name is Pecos” and the guy who falls down the stairs in this film (11:40; he ends the interview by playing the accordion; a new interview with Fabio Melelli about the film (11:27); and an alternate ending title sequence (1:18). Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 2.5 stars

“And God Said to Cain” (1970, NR, 100 min.). In this film, Klaus Kinski (“For a Few Dollars More,” “Fitzcarraldo”) stars as Gary Hamilton, who, in the opening, is released from a prison hard labor unit after 10 years. He then heads home to get revenge on the man who framed him and stole everything he had, including a stately home. Ironically, Hamilton is sharing the stagecoach ride with Dick Acombar (Antonio Cantafora of “Supersonic Man”), a cadet home from West Point and the son of the man who framed Hamilton. When Hamilton leaves the coach, he hands Acombar a water flask with his initials and tells him to tell his father he will stop by that evening.

Hamilton next goes to an old man, from whom he buys a horse and a rifle. It turns out Hamilton is another sharpshooter. Everyone is worried about a storm that is coming – it is referred to constantly as a tornado, but seems broader than that.

Back to the Acombar villa, Dick is greeted by his father (Peter Carsten of “A Study in Terror”) and the semi-mysterious Maria (Marcella Michelangeli), who, we learn later, used to be Hamilton’s wife. In one early scene, we see Maria playing the piano, with her image reflected in five mirrors within the room. This foreshadows a showdown later in the film between Hamilton and Acombar that is a homage to Orson Welles’ “The Lady from Shanghai.”

The feared wind and Hamilton arrive at sundown, so this portion of the film has a gothic atmosphere, as Hamilton proceeds to kill Acombar’s 30-plus men, one to three at a time, in and around the darkened streets. Acombar has put a $10,00 bounty for Hamilton’s death. Dick Acombar meets with Hamilton and learns the truth of what his father has done, but feels he must stand by his father due to filial loyalty. Dick’s end could be considered poetic justice.

Extras include audio commentary by Howard Hughes, author of “Once Upon a Time in the Italian West”; a new documentary featuring Peter Malelli, who points out Kinski made two other films with the director, and, by audio only, actress Michelangeli (19:57); and an interview with actor Cantafora (12:56). Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2.5 stars

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Arrow, Limited Edition Ultra HD, NR, 96 min.). Director Dario Argento’s successful debut film, previously reviewed, gets an Ultra HD release. In the film, Argento redefined the giallo genre of Italian murder-mystery thrillers with innovative camera work and storytelling. Argento would go on to make “Deep Red,” “Suspiria,” “Cat o’ Nine Tails” and “Tenebrae,” among others.

An American writer, Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante of “We Own the Night,” TV’s “Toma”), has come to Rome due to writer’s block, only to find no success in regaining his muse. He has just written a book about birds, simply to raise enough money for he and his girlfriend (Suzy Kendall as Giulia) to fly back to the United States. However, while walking past an art gallery one evening, he sees a woman and a man fighting. The man runs away, but the stabbed woman (Eva Renzi of “Funeral in Berlin”) crawls toward the picture window. Dalmas is unable to reach her, as he cannot get the glass open, but manages to get a passerby to call the police. However, Dalmas is haunted by his inability to help and, when he learns there have been three unexplained deaths of women in the city during the past month, he starts to investigate on his own, parallel to the official investigation by Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno of “Bandidos,” see above), who has confiscated his passport, as Dalmas is a material witness. Dalmas soon realizes that his investigation is putting both himself and Giulia in jeopardy — he is nearly decapitated by an ax-wielder, saved by a passerby’s warning — and later he and Giulia are followed by a gun-shooting man in a yellow jacket (Reggie Nalder), after the vehicle he came from ran over their police protector.

In addition to aspects of the plot that were unusual for the time, Argento uses lots of point of view (POV) scenes, including the killer spying on people and a dramatic fall from a window. The cinematography is by Vittorio Storaro (“Apocalypse Now”), who was shooting his first color film. The music is by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (many a spaghetti western), who improvised the score with his fellow players. The result is very avant garde music that is atonal at times, with jazz drums and muted trumpet. Morricone, a trumpet player himself, uses a female lullaby (“la-la”) theme song, and a semi-improvised, atonal “indeterminate” piece, which uses free-floating rhythms to create a sense of unpredictable tension. There also are electric guitar swells. Grade: film 4 stars