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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Election > Crime > Bribery > Scandal > TV > Music Venue > Murder > Teens > Legal > Hist > David Susskind: Howard Hughes The Watergate Connection (1976/DVD)/Nothing Stays The Same: The Story Of The Saxon Pub (2019/DVD)/1275 Days (2019/Blu-ray)/Pizza: A Love Story (2019/DVD/all MVD Visual re

David Susskind: Howard Hughes The Watergate Connection (1976/DVD)/Nothing Stays The Same: The Story Of The Saxon Pub (2019/DVD)/1275 Days (2019/Blu-ray)/Pizza: A Love Story (2019/DVD/all MVD Visual releases)

Picture: C/B-/B-/C+ Sound: C/B-/B-/C+ Extras: D/C/C/B Main Programs: B/B/C+/B

Now for a nice new set of documentary releases you'll want to know about...

First, yet another great episode from the David Susskind archive and catalog. This time, it is the rarely discussed Howard Hughes: The Watergate Connection (1976) with three guests who are well read, have done their research and claim that Richard Nixon had a very early connection with the legendary billionaire Howard Hughes and that the Watergate break-in was originally done to erase any connection between the two men. We find out that Hughes evidently gave Nixon's mother (who he loved very much) a huge loan with no serious collateral in what one might call money laundering.

They also think Hughes may have made bribery palatable standard procedure in politics, but that is not even the half of it (like the story where Hughes tried to get a couple of presidents to stop nuclear bomb testing in Nevada because it was disrupting business at his Vegas hotels.

We have former prosecutor Terry Lenzner, who worked under Sam Dash as part of the Senate Watergate Committee, Las Vegas Sun newspaper publisher and Hughes friend Hank Greenspun and Pulitzer Prize winner (at the New York Times) and book author ''Nightmare: The Underside Of The Nixon Years'' J. Anthony Lukas. Running 97 minutes, the results are an excellent show that is riveting viewing and makes one reappreciate journalism and how mature adults deal with crisis and the truth.

As timely as ever, it is a side of history you do not hear enough about and is worth going out of your way for to see. Sadly, all four men here are no longer with us, but this is a great gathering of the minds indeed.

The 1.33 X 1 color image is watchable, but shows its age and maybe could use some work, as we get NTSC analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also a little on the weak side, so be careful of volume switching and high playback volumes.

There are sadly no extras.

Austin, Texas has always been a hot spot for live music, and one of the most popular venues for the past three decades is the Saxon Pub. This fun documentary, Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of the Saxon Pub (2019) showcases the several different musicians that touched the club over the years and the many people that share a passion for music that come together in an attempt to help save the club, which is on the verge of being closed thanks to the building of condos. The documentary shows that the Saxon Pub is more than just four walls, but a musical hub that will live on no matter what structure holds it.

Made before the COVID pandemic, you can't help but wonder at the time of this writing when the music scene will come back again like it is showcased here and be safe again. This almost makes this documentary more powerful in that it shows off the freedom of seeing live music in a club, and the carefree passion and joy these folks had for it. Nothing Stays the Same was a huge winner at the SXSW 2019 Film Festival and won the audience award. The film is directed by Jeff Sandmann.

Nothing Stays the Same: The Story of The Saxon Pub is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 (48kHz) Stereo mix. Obviously shot on video, the documentary looks fine in SD but could only benefit on Blu-ray or even 4K UHD. It's fine for the format though.

The only Special Feature is the Telling the Saxon Story featurette

Carlye Rubin & Katie Green's 1275 Days (2019) is yet another sad look at injustice in the U.S., but this time, it is where the law is mixed and subject to more leeway and is affected by negotiations. In Elkhorn, Indiana, four young men make the stupid mistake of deciding on a home invasion, all of which goes wrong when one of the people there dies. Was he killed? Is it just manslaughter?

The four men eventually are not loyal to each other and Blake (who is 16) gets a harsher sentence than it might seem. Thus, a complicated web of events follow and he lands up in jail for far longer than expected, though it could be much, much longer with the way things start to go.

It is hard to say what the proper punishment is here and who is ultimately responsible, but the laws as shown in the 81 minutes still seem not so well thought out and the ambitious prosecutor is looking like he wants to politically advance, yet you want one who is going to have zero tolerance for home invasions to begin with. That gives you an idea of the many challenges and questions you will have if you can take on this work, though I have seen similar 'should this person be in jail' or '...in jail like this' and the fact his family is not rich does play a factor, which introduces more questions. Still, these stories need to be recorded because you never who what one will learn or who will be helped in the long run.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, has some new HD footage, but is also reliant on older footage. This includes old analog consumer-level videotape, phone video and professional TV video. Analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage here too. Thus, expect more than a few rough patches and the PCM 2.0 Stereo can go monophonic at times and have location audio flaws.

Extras include some bonus footage.

Finally, one I have been personally waiting for for a long time. Gorman Berchard's Pizza: A Love Story (2019) is not a phony melodrama or one guys ramblings of loving maybe the greatest food ever invented, but a documentary (which apparently took 11 years to get made) about the rise of pizza, how it arrived in the United States, how it started in New Haven and that it has the best three pizzerias ever built and still running: Frank Pepe's, Sally's and Modern.

We learn that it was originally called 'A'Pizza' (pronounced A-Beetz!) and this started around the 1920s! We also see the history of the country that made it happen, how they did not change when pizza slowly broke wide (even if the quality was not always there) in the post-WWII 1950s and a succession of big names than and now connected to just these three places. We get some great star interviews too.

Then there is the silly claim that you have not had pizza until you have visited the three locales covered here, which is a prideful boast and fun to say, but is a serious disservice to other great pizza locales like New York City, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Chicago (Deep Dish IS pizza!!!) and Philadelphia for starters, going all the way to the West Coast.

However, they are obviously essential and this program spends its nearly 90 minutes (I wish it were longer) covers these places, the history of the actual area (without ignoring prejudice, et al, to its credit) and I would love to see be the start of more such documentaries. Especially with some great pizza places having to permanently close via the horrid pandemic still raging as we post, it is more priceless a history than ever before.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image has footage going back to the 1920s and 1920s, stock footage or not, some of which could use some help. The film footage and stills are a welcome plus, but again, we get analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. The newer footage is well shot and so are the images of the pizza to go with classic pizza images.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is dialogue and interview-based, but the new audio is well-recorded and the older sound is fixed up as much as possible, especially impressive considering the lower budget this probably had.

Extras include eight Deleted/Extended Scenes, a pleasant feature length audio commentary track with the filmmakers thai sone of the smoother ones we've heard lately, a Q&A session after a theatrical screening of the film and an Original Beginning for the film that they really should have kept. It was some of the only nighttime footage they shot and from this program, you would think no one ever goes to get pizza in the nighttime in New Haven!

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Saxon)



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