Friday, November 17, 2023

Vanessa Marquez on DVD

Vanessa Marquez was both my dearest friend and an actress I admired. Her career in film and television was not very long. It only lasted from 1988 to 2001, but in that time she appeared in a number of movies and television shows, some of which were very high profile. Much of Vanessa Marquez's filmography is not currently available on streaming, but fortunately most of it can be found on DVD. Here then are a list of her movies and TV shows that are available on physical media.

Stand and Deliver (1988): In Stand and Deliver, Vanessa played Ana Delgado, an exceptional student who wants to go to medical school, over the objections of her father who wants her to work in the family restaurant. Stand and Deliver was critically acclaimed on its release. It also earned Edward James Olmos a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. It won the Independent Spirt Awards for Best Feature, Best Director for Ramón Menéndez, Best Male Lead for Edward James Olmos, Best Supporting Male for Lou Diamond Phillips, Best Screenplay for Ramón Menéndez and Tony Musca, and Best Supporting Female for Rosanna DeSoto. It also won the Michael Landon Award for the young cast of the film at the Young Artist Awards and Best Film at the Nosotros Golden Eagle Awards. In 2011 it was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

Stand and Deliver was released on DVD on November 10, 1998 by Warner Home Video and has been in print ever since. It is also available on DVD with fellow teacher movie Lean on Me (1989).

Wiseguy: Wiseguy was a television series that aired from September 16 1987 to December 8 1990 on CBS. Vanessa was set to have a recurring role on the show in its fourth and final season, playing Consuelo "Connie" Burns, the niece of the show's lead character, Michael Santana (Steven Bauer). She really enjoyed working on the show, and even got to meet Billy Dee Williams (as most of you know Vanessas was a huge Star Wars fan). Unfortunately, CBS cancelled Wiseguy before Vanessa's two episodes could air and the network never did run them. Fortunately, Vanessa's two episodes, "Point of No Return" and "Changing Houses," would be part of the syndication package. They would also be released on DVD.

Mill Creek Entertainment released season 4 of Wiseguy on DVD on September 9 2009. They later released Wiseguy: The Collector's Edition which included 67 episodes of the show, including Vanessa's episodes. It was last year that Visual Entertainment released Wiseguy - the Complete Collection, which includes all 75 episodes of the show.

Sweet 15 (1990): Sweet 15 is a made-for-TV movie that aired on the PBS series WonderWorks on January 15 1990. It starred Vanessa's fellow cast member Karla Montana as Marta de la Cruz, a 14 year old who desperately wants to a have a quinceanera upon her 15th birthday. Vanessa played Marta's friend Lupe in the TV movie. Sweet 15 was released on DVD on December 21 2004 (which, coincidentally, was Vanessa's 36th birthday). It appears to be out of print, but inexpensive copies can be found on Amazon, eBay, and other sites.

Locked Up: A Mother's Rage (1991): Locked Up: A Mother's Rage is a TV movie that aired on CBS on October 29 1991. It starred Cheryl Ladd as a single mother falsely imprisoned on charges of drug trafficking. Vanessa played Yolanda, nicknamed Yo-You, a young Dominican American pregnant woman who was charged with killing her boyfriend (although it appears to have been in self defence). Locked Up: A Mother's Rage is not a particularly good movie. The two leads (Cheryl Ladd and Jean Smart) tend to be overwrought, and the script  is rather poor. Even so,  it does feature one of Vanessa's best performances. It also features fine performances by Angela Bassett and Kimberly Scott.

Locked Up: A Mother's Rage was released on DVD on October 30 2006 by Infinity Media. Strangely enough, they changed the title to The Other Side of Love, which has absolutely nothing to do with the movie's plot. It appears to no longer be in print, but used copies can be found on Amazon, eBay, and other sites.

Seinfeld: Vanessa Marquez guest starred on the Seinfeld episode "The Cheever Letters," which aired on NBC on October 28 1992. Following the destruction of his Cuban cigars in a fire, Kramer (Michael Richards) goes to the Cuban Permanent Mission at the United Nations to see if he can get some more Cuban cigars. Vanessa played the receptionist at the Cuban Permanent Mission. While Vanessa isn't on screen for very long, she does make a very strong impression.

"The Cheever Letters" was the 8th episode of the 4th season of Seinfeld. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the 4th season on DVD on November 22  2005. The Complete Series of Seinfeld was released on November 6 2007. The Seinfeld DVDs are all still in print and can be found almost anywhere at an affordable price.

Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence (1992): While the first two Maniac Cop movies could be considered classics of the genre, Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence is simply a bad movie. Maniac Cop (1988) and Maniac Cop 2 (1990) centred on Matt Cordell, a police officer who comes back from the dead to clear his name after being falsely imprisoned and then murdered. Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence again features Matt Cordell, the maniac cop of the title, whose motivations for killing people this time around are not at all clear. In the movie Vanessa plays a young pharmacy clerk named Terry who winds up in a hostage situation. Here I have to warn you that the scenes involving Vanessa's character will be disturbing to anyone who knew and loved her.

Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence was released on DVD by Blue Underground on November 19 2013. It was in 2021 that Blue Underground released the film in 4K UltraHD. Needless to say, it is readily available.

Twenty Bucks (1992): Twenty Bucks was one of Vanessa's favourite movies she ever made and one of her most enjoyable experiences in her acting career. She even got to play a scene opposite Steve Buscemi and Christopher Lloyd. The film follows a $20 bill as it passes from one person to the next. In the movie Vanessa plays Melanie, whose underage boyfriend wants to use the $20 bill to buy wine for their dinner.. Vanessa gives a great performance in Twenty Bucks, and the movie has a cast that would be incredible for a major studio picture, let alone a low budget, independent film. In addition to Steve Buscemi and Christopher Lloyd, the film features Linda Hunt, Brendan Fraser, Gladys Knight, Elisabeth Shue, William H. Macy, and yet others.

Twenty Bucks was released on VHS by Columbia TriStar Home Video on June 1 1994. It was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on July 5 2005. Sadly, Sony appears to have altered the film's aspect ratio so that it would better fit modern, widescreen television screens. If one wants to see Twenty Bucks in its original aspect radio, they will have to watch it on streaming.

Blood In Blood Out (1993): Blood In Blood Out follows three Los Angeles Chicanos from their younger days in a street gang to when they are older, with one winding up in prison, another winding up an artist, and yet another winding up a police officer. Blood In Blood Out never received a wide release, but it became a cult film following its release on VHS and repeating showings on various premium channels in the Nineties. Vanessa plays a very small role in the film as it was released, appearing on screen for only a matter of minutes. She played the daughter of Montana, the leader of the prison gang La Onda in the film.

Blood In Blood Out was released on DVD on June 13 2000.

Father Hood (1993): Father Hood stars Patrick Swayze as a petty criminal, Jack Charles, facing prison time who breaks his children out of a corrupt, state run home. The three of them then make a cross country trek. In the film Vanessa plays a pregnant teenager who Jack also breaks out of the home. She is only on screen very briefly, but she does well with what time she has. Despite being released at the height of Patrick Swayze's career, Father Hood bombed at the box office. It also fared poorly with critics. Father Hood was released on DVD on April 6 2004. It is still readily available from various outlets.

State of Emergency (1994): State of Emergency is an HBO made-for-TV movie that debuted on February 12 1994. It stars Joe Mantegna as emergency room doctor Dr. John Novelli, who finds himself in trouble after one of his patients dies. In the movie Vanessa played Violetta, the radiologist for the emergency room. State of Emergency was one of Vanessa's most enjoyable experiences in her career, particularly as she got to play opposite Richard Beymer, well-known as Tony in West Side Story (1961), a movie Vanessa loved. She said she was intimidated by Mr. Beymer at first, but he soon put her at ease and he was one of her favourite people she ever worked with. State of Emergency is the best TV movie Vanessa ever appeared in, with a strong script and the cast in top form. While it is not available on streaming, HBO released it on DVD on October 6 2009. It remains widely available.

ER: Nurse Wendy Goldman is Vanessa's most famous role besides Ana Delgado in Stand and Deliver. She certainly excelled in the role. Well before Vanessa and I were friends, Wendy was always my favourite character on the show, and I know many other people for whom she was their favourite character as well. While ER was not always a pleasant experience for Vanessa, she was proud of her work on the show, as she well should be. She appeared on the first three seasons of the series.

The first season of ER was released by Warner Home Video on August 26 2003. It was followed by the second season on April 27 2004 and the third season on April 26 2005. Since then the entire series has been released on DVD, with a box set of the complete series (all  15 seasons available).

Fire & Ice (2001): Fire & Ice is a TV movie that debuted on BET on April 6 2001. It centres on the romance between a late night talk show host, Michael Williams (Kadem Hardison), and Holly Aimes (Lark Voorhies), the head of a home security firm and the daughter of a prominent politician. In the movie Vanessa plays Wanda Hernandez, a technician with Holly's security firm. She gets a good deal of screen time in Fire & Ice, and she does very well in the role. Also, in my humble opinion, Vanessa never looked lovelier on screen. Fire & Ice was released on DVD around the same time that it debuted on BET. It can still be easily found on a wide variety of sites.

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