DVD Review: All-Time Greats Packaged in Four-Movie Sets

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CHICAGO –Some of the best movies ever made are being released this week in a wave of four-movie sets distributed by Warner Brothers Home Video and under the label of “Turner Classic Movies: Greatest Classic Films Collection”.

These great titles are just the start of a partnership that will release a collection of 60 top films in 15 themed groups. It is the largest-ever partnership between TCM and Warner Home Video and combines the strengths of both companies to serve both serious film buffs and a new generation of movie lovers. These incredibly priced sets (four films for an SRP under $28) offer the perfect way for film fans to build a library of classic films.

The first three installments in the “TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection” hit stores on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 and they have all been timed for the season. Two feature a quartet of romantic classics and the third is timed to the awards season buzz, collecting four of the most notable Best Picture winners ever made.

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

The “Romantic Comedies” edition of the “TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection” features one of the greatest actresses of all time, Katherine Hepburn, in four of her most well-known flicks - “Adam’s Rib,” “Woman of the Year,” “The Philadelphia Story,” and “Bringing Up Baby”. Spencer Tracy co-stars in the first two with Cary Grant appearing in the latter two and James Stewart joining in the “Philadelphia” fun.

All four films in the “Romantic Comedies” two-disc, double-sided set are presented in their original theatrical exhibition, which is a standard version and include appropriate mono tracks.

“Adam’s Rib” and “Woman of the Year” only feature the theatrical trailer as a bonus, but the other two movies come with commentary tracks and trailer galleries for their individual directors. Film historian Jeanine Basinger comments on “The Philadelphia Story” and filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich offers insight on “Bringing Up Baby”.

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

The “Romantic Dramas” edition of the “TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection” features two great James Dean movies and a pair of Tennessee Williams classics. “Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” are all must-own for classic movie nuts. “Streetcar” comes in its original director’s version, one that was kept from audiences for years.

“Streetcar Named Desire” is presented in standard version, preserving the original aspect ratio, but the other three films were originally presented in widescreen and are presented in that format. Sadly, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is matted, but the two James Dean movies are anamorphic. The two Dean movies have a 5.1 surround track but the Williams flicks come with mono-only.

All four films in the “Romantic Dramas” box come equipped with the film’s theatrical trailer and “Streetcar” includes a trailer gallery for the legendary Elia Kazan.

“Rebel Without a Cause” has a commentary by Douglas L. Rathgeb, author of “The Making of Rebel Without a Cause,” “East of Eden” has one by historian/filmmaker Richard Schickel, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” features a track by Tennessee Williams Biographer Donald Spoto, and “A Streetcar Named Desire” includes commentary by Karl Malden and film historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young. “Cat” also includes a featurette called “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Playing Cat and Mouse”

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection was released by Warner Brothers Home Video on February 3rd, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

The set that includes the four films that any serious movie buff should own already is the “Best Picture Winners” volume, including “Casablanca,” “Gigi,” “An American in Paris,” and “Ms. Miniver”.

“Gigi” is presented in widescreen format and the other three are in standard, all preserving the aspect ratio of their original theatrical exhibitions. “Gigi” is also the only film to include a Dolby Digital 5.1 track with the other three only coming with mono tracks.

“Best Picture Winners” includes the most extensive collection of special features. “Casablanca” includes two commentaries, one by Roger Ebert and the other by Rudy Behlmer, and an introduction by Lauren Bacall. “Mrs. Miniver” is the only film in the first wave of “TCM” to not include a commentary track but it does feature footage of Greer Garson from the Academy Award, a photo gallery, and 2 WWII-era shorts called “Mr. Blabbermouth” and “For the Common Defense”.

“Gigi” includes a commentary by Jeanine Basinger with star Leslie Caron, a vintage short called “The Million Dollar Nickel” and a classic Cinemascope cartoon called “The Vanishing Duck”. “An American in Paris” has an extensive commentary with nearly a dozen people, a vintage “FitzPatrick Traveltalks” short called “Paris on Parade,” and a classic cartoon called “Symphony in Slang”.

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection’ is released by Warner Brothers Home Video. The three titles were released on February 3rd, 2009.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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