NEW YORK – The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray – as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a roundup of Blu-ray releases of vintage films from KL Studio Classics in the first two weeks of September.

"Clockwise" (1986)

British import about a headmaster (John Cleese) whose neurotic obsession with punctuality makes him suffer inordinately through a series of complications impeding his attempt to arrive at a headmasters' convention in time to deliver his presidential address. Dry wit, gentle humor and general silliness pervade a farce illustrating the futility of a rigid approach to life. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

"Death on the Nile" (1978)

An heiress (Lois Chiles) is murdered on a honeymoon cruise up the Nile and Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov), Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth, is on hand to interrogate such suspects as Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, Mia Farrow and George Kennedy. Directed by John Guillermin, it's an intricately plotted whodunit that plays the game fairly in laying out clues to challenge the mystery fan. A lavishly produced 1930s period piece with exotic Egyptian locales, it's solid escapist entertainment for those who don't mind rather graphic depictions of murder. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

"Evil Under the Sun" (1982)

Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) is the thoughtful sleuth on a mission in the Adriatic in this fairly amusing adaptation of the Agatha Christie story. Director Guy Hamilton's British production turns the mystery into a travelogue which, lacking suspense, allows a talented cast free reign. The dialogue contains a few double entendres meant as witty insults. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

"The Ghost Breakers" (1940)

Comic chiller in which a witless radio crime reporter (Bob Hope) flees an irate gangster for Cuba where he helps an heiress (Paulette Goddard) move into a creaky old castle complete with a resident zombie, assorted spooks, secret passageways and a hidden treasure. Director George Marshall plays the eerie situation mainly for laughs, though with mild frights and a few scares along the way. Still a lot of fun for those in the mood, but small children may need the reassuring presence of an older viewer. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

"The Mirror Crack'd" (1980)

Agatha Christie mystery with Miss Marple (Angela Landsbury) solving a murder committed while an American movie company is on location in England. Despite a valiant cast (Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak and Elizabeth Taylor), director Guy Hamilton fails to supply any pace, style or suspense to the proceedings. Some mild profanity and stylized violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

"Never Steal Anything Small" (1959)

Musical comedy misfire about a petty New York hood (James Cagney) who takes over a longshoreman's local, then hijacks a shipment of Swiss watches to finance his election as union head. Director Charles Lederer can't quite make Cagney's cynical character likable, especially his underhanded attempts to woo a sweet innocent (Shirley Jones) by breaking up her marriage. Romantic complications and comic treatment of union corruption. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

"The Sign of the Cross" (1932)

After Nero (Charles Laughton) condemns the Christians for his burning of Rome in A.D. 64, the city's prefect (Fredric March) promptly falls in love with one (Elissa Landi). But when his efforts to save her are blocked by jealous Empress Poppaea (Claudette Colbert), the tribune joins his beloved for a martyr's death in the arena. Producer-director Cecil B. DeMille lavishes more creative imagination on scenes of Roman debauchery and brutality than on the inspirational story of early Christian martyrs, though the result is impressive as historical spectacle, especially the arena sequences. Much period violence, menace and sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

"Spawn of the North'' (1938)

Rugged sea adventure set in 1890s Alaska, where a fisherman (Henry Fonda) and his best friend (George Raft) both fall for the same woman (Dorothy Lamour), then find themselves on opposite sides in a fishing war with a crafty Russian poacher (Akim Tamiroff). Director Henry Hathaway excels in picturing the workaday world of the fishermen. But the melodramatic plot is far less convincing, despite well-staged sea battles involving the poachers and a good cast, including John Barrymore as a newspaperman. Some hard-edged violence and romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.