Starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen. Directed by Ed Harris. New Line Home Video $28.98, blu-ray $35.98 ***
Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen make quite the pair in Appaloosa, a Western that combines the suspense and pacing of movies such as 3:10 to Yuma with camaraderie straight out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hitch (Mortensen) are lawmen-for-hire, wandering through the Old West, circa 1882, looking for towns in need of a firm hand. They find just that in Appaloosa, a town so in fear of local rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) that he can gun down the town marshal and his deputies with impunity. Virgil and Everett pledge to bring Bragg to justice.
Harris, who directed and co-wrote the script, has great fun playing with Western character stereotypes. Both Virgil and Everett are laconic to a fault, never saying two words when one will suffice, often saying nothing at all. Everyone lives by an unwritten code of honor, one that often gets stretched, but never breaks. And Renee Zellweger shows up as the requisite female civilizing force, a widow with a keen (if scattershot) survivor's instinct.
While Harris, the director, proves a little too fond of shooting the action from far away, his refreshing fondness for the Western genre is on prominent display. Extras include commentary from Harris and a handful of mini-documentaries.
Also in stores:: Richard Jordan, Perry King and Patty Duke are among the first- and second-generation Irish immigrants cavorting through Captains and the Kings (Koch Vision, $39.98), a 1976 TV miniseries showcasing equal parts power, corruption and lust. Jordan plays a poor Irishman who comes to America and makes a fortune, then becomes obsessed with getting his son elected president.
Other releases:: Kate Hudson is the title character in the comedy My Best Friend's Girl (Lionsgate, $29.95, blu-ray $39.95); 20th-century American comedy is chronicled in the three-disc Make 'Em Laugh - The Funny Business of America (Rhino, $34.95).