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If you would like to review any DVD box set, here is the best place to do it. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Discovered something interesting about the Bogart Signature Collection vol. 1 today. I saw it when it came out about a week ago and it had the regular size DVD boxes for Treasure and Casablance, but they used slimlines for They Drive by Night and High Sierra. It defiitely made the packaging look bad having the two different kinds of cases in there. Well, some retailer must have complained about it. When I was at the Burbank Costco, I saw that the set had the same four titles, but ALL of them were in regular DVD boxes. There were none of the mixed set left on their shelves. However, I went to another Costco and they had only the mixed sizes set, none of the completely regular sized-cases set. I wonder if one set will become more valuable than the other?

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Has anyone gotten ahold of the new "Motion Picture Masterpieces Collection" from Warner Bros. Home Video? I've been waiting months for it's release -- which was scheduled for last Tuesday, yet can't find it anywhere... I may have to resort to on-line shopping, after all...

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I got lucky and found it quite by chance at Costco yesterday for $32.99. I had been to two other Costco stores and they didn't have it (possibly sold out). I haven't had a chance to play any of the films yet but, though there are no comentairies, they do list shorts and/or cartoons for each film. And, thankfully, each film has a regular DVD cover, not slimcases.

 

I think distribution is spotty, or that WB doesn't have faith in it, because I noticed even Amazon says it will take several days to get first.

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I finally found it (and have spent the last two hours with the spare DVD of the sumptuous Marie Antoinette). Virgin said they had three copies, but could find none. Tower is out of commission. Borders said one copy was on the way, but hadn't arrived yet. Amoeba came through tonight. I'd been pestering them since Tuesday, so I think they were glad to finally have me out of their locks.

 

Have only opened Marie Antoinette so far. There is no audio commentary, and the supplemental material consists of two short subjects and the trailer. One of the shorts seems to be missing music tracks (at first I thought there was something wrong with the disk), but both have some great material; behind the scenes shots taken on the set of Marie Antoinette, preparation for the premiere, etc. One shot shows Norma Shearer in close-up; an alternate shot to what was used in the picture (a two-shot with Robert Morley).

 

The film itself is even more opulent than I remembered. Sometimes Miss Shearer gives mannered performances, yet it seems appropriate here for the Dauphine of France. Hard to believe that the flaming Duke of Orleans (Joseph Shildkraut) would one day be Anne Franks father! John Barrymore is actually understated as the King. And there's a contest between Tyrone Power and Miss Shearer: which is more beautiful (such a contest we won't see again until A Place in the Sun). But the real star of this movie is Cedric Gibbons; the sets and costumes are dazzling. The transfer is clean and beautiful.

 

Please tell us about the "Legends of Horror" set, Mr. Biach?

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First off, let me warn you that the title "Hollywood Legends" refers to the actors not the films themselves...with stars like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and Lionel Barrymore, the name is well justified...I've watched 5 of the films so far so I'll review only those ones...

 

"Mark of The Vampire" starring Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi...this is one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen...it involves a rich man being found dead, drained of blood and with strange marks on his neck just weeks before his daughter's wedding date...naturally the wedding is postponed (for what turns out to be a year) and the daughter is sent to live next door with her guardian, (Baron Otto)...the local townspeople are positive its a vampire but the police think the idea is ridiculous...a year later, both the daughter and her fiance are attacked by what seems to be a vampire...the townspeople are complaining of sights of the vampire Count Mora and his daughter Luna...Lionel Barrymore (an occult detective) is called in to help the Inspector solve this case...his first order is to lock all windows and doors and cover them with some weed that supposedly vampires are scared of...well nobody in the movie seems to take heed because even after the vampire appears in the house multiple times they still leave the windows open...then they start seeing the ghost of the dead father? is he still alive? alive again?? well this movie sucked (no pun intended) so I'm going to ruin it for you...it turns out the inspector has suspected the Baron of foul play and hired not only Barrymore but also two fake vampires, a third unexplained "dead man" and a fake "resurrected father"...Barrymore hypnotizes the Baron to believe it is exactly one year ago and he is going to meet his friend (and re-enact the murder if he committed it)...Bela Lugosi does nothing but speak a few lines intended for a joke at the end...something about an idea for a new act where he will play a vampire...dumb...

 

"The Mask of Fu Manchu" is pretty entertaining if not a bit racist...not only for the fact that they use white people (Karloff and Loy) to portray the major Asian characters...they also use black people as slaves, and Fu Manchu makes a remark to the Asian delegates (Chinese, Japanes, Indian, etc...) to conquer the white man's world by killing the men and taking their women as wives...which doesn't fare well for the future of Asian women when you think about it...basically the plot is a race between the British Museum and Fu Manchu to find the mask and sword of Genghis Khan, which supposedly will give power to whoever dons it....Fu Manchu begins methodically kidnapping the British party in order to find the location of Khan's tomb...one of the controversial scenes is one when Loy is instructing her slaves to whip one of the explorers and lets out a high-pitched gasp and yells "faster! faster!"....the scene still seems cut to me as she rushes toward one of the slaves as if to grab the whip herself but they cut to him lying on the floor and her telling the slaves to carry him to her room, where she begins to attempt a rape, in which her father comes in and tells her it can wait, he still needs him for something...various other tortures in this movie include spiders, snakes, spikes, crocodiles and electricity...many of the scenes and dialogue are rather cheesy but Karloff does seem as creepy as Fu Manchu should be and I like these movies about mysteries of the Far East (Mr. Moto, Gunga Din, etc.) so I liked it a lot...

 

"The Return of Dr. X" features Humphrey Bogart as Quesne (pronounced Kane) as a resurrected mad scientist...John Litel (Marked Woman, Jezebel, Dodge City) appears as his accomplice Dr. Flegg and does a wonderful job...this movie is highly entertaining except for when they tries to make jokes...they fall as flat as Dennis Morgan does as "Wichita" Garrett whenever he leans on a doorknob...Bogey's entrance in this film is truly classic!!!

 

"Mad Love"...I really liked this movie!! Peter Lorre as a crazed surgeon in love with an opera singer? wax dummies, a pianist with a killer's hands and Lorre's bald head make this movie classic...the main reason i bought this collection!!!

 

"The Devil-Doll" stars Lionel Barrymore as a frmaed banker who has spent 17 years on Devil's Island...he escapes with a man who has perfected a way of shrinking animals and people down to barbie-doll size...the only catch is they lose all memory of who they were as well as their sense of will, while not losing basic instincts and abilities to perform tasks...well Barrymore decides to return to France in the guise of an old woman and seek revenge on his three partners who stole his fortune and accused him of embezzlement...what better way to do it then to shrink them down?? he has another reason...he wants his daughter's forgiveness and to explain to her that he was innocent all these years as she has grown up to hate him...the special effects in this film are spectacular even today...this is a must see!! Tod Browning (Freak!, The Unholy Three, Dracula) was a genius!! (except for that horrible "Mark Of The Vampire" movie...hahah!!

 

 

special features are pretty barebone on this collection...except for commentaries on all films except for "The Devil-Doll"...theatrcial trailers for all except "The Mask of Fu Manchu"...English French and Spanish subtitles on all films...

 

this collection is no must-have unless you are completist like myself and want evry film by a particular actor...Lorre and Bogart are my weakness...there is grain evident on most of the pictures but overall the sound and picture quality is pretty close to excellent as we've come to expect from WHV...

 

Nic Orizaga

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this is just my opinion but I needed to get it out...first I want to talk about Warner's Signature Collections....the earliest ones included Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne and the Tracy & Hepburn boxsets...little thought and care went into these collections as they were virtually culled packaging of already released titles...let me examine them set by set:

 

Elizabeth Taylor: I'm not a fan but these films span a 14 year period...National Velvet (1944), Father Of The Bride (1950), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Butterfield 8 (1960)...Cat On A Hot Tin Roof has since been re-released in the Tennessee Williams' Boxset in a deluxe edition making this boxset less than "Premiere"...

 

Judy Garland: hmmm...I'm only really know her from the Wizard of Oz and the Andy Hardy films but this includes 5 other films starring her...Zeigfeld Girl, A Star Is Born, In The Good Old Summertime, The Harvey Girls and For Me And my Gal...The Wizard of Oz was the prize here in a wonderful DVD presentation but has since been given an even better 3-disc presentation since...also there are plans for an Andy Hardy boxset (s?) in the works...A Star Is Born was re-released as a Deluxe Edition with the same DVD but better bonuses and goodies included...again this boxset is now less than "premiere"...

 

John Wayne: this covered decades with such previously released DVDs as "Stagecoach" (1939), "Rio Bravo", The Searchers" and "The Cowboys" (1972)...Stagecoach and The Searchers have been released in far superior versions in the "John Wayne/John Ford" boxset...this boxset is basically pointless in 2006...and looks really dumb as some titles are in snappers and others in standard DVD cases...

 

Tracy & Hepburn...this is a good set as it includes an exclusive disc "The Spencer Tracy Legacy"...WHV was finally on the right track...unfortunately they only included three of the 9 movies Tracy & Hepburn made together...Fox has released another but this boxset seems incomplete and begging for a sequel...Volume II anyone??

 

the next releases hit the nail on the head...quality films, shorts, newsreels, bonus cartoons, audio-only presentations, the works:

 

Cary Grant: sure WB doesn't own his most famous movies because he was under contract to Columbia in the 1930s...but they did release a nice selction from the 40s as evdienced by the titles "Bachelor & The Bobbysoxer, Night & Day, My Favorite Wife, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and Destination Tokyo...great job and all previously unreleased titles...a documentary would've been nice but there's already a great one on the "Bringing up Baby" special edition...

 

Greta Garbo: wow!! what can i say? six DVDs of new titles including "Camille" and its 1921 original version starring Rudolph Valentino...a new special edition of "Grand Hotel"...a TCM Archives featuring three silent films and new documetary on Garbo on its own disc??? flawless in every way...

 

Errol Flynn: another flawless collection...it doesn't feature "Adventures of Robin hood" possibly his greatest film but it was already released in the "Warner Legends boxset"...instead are included 5 very good films and a bonus exclusive disc "The Adventures of Errol Flynn"...flawless, once again...and in defintie need of a Volume 2 release...

 

Alfred Hitchcock: 9 films included in this boxset, unavailable elsewhere (at the time of release)...stars included Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery, Joan Fonatine, Marlene Deitrich and others...pretty flawless if you ask me...

 

now on to the newest releases (2005-2006) of which there have been plenty...

 

Clark Gable: great titles though I have a few complaints...five of the six films included are from 1933-1940...the final film "Mogambo" was made 13 years later...it was also a remake of another Clark Gable picture...why couldn't they have included both films together (as they did with Bogart and the Garbo sets)??? this title was also released almost 6 months prior to the boxset so it might have been a last minute edition...I'm not a huge fan except for "Gone With the Wind" and his numerous appearances in classic cartoons...haha!!

 

Bogie & Bacall: all of these titles have been previously released but its nice to have them together in standard DVD cases as opposed to snappers...minimal special features but a very nice affordable set...

 

Humphrey Bogart Vol. 1: this set loses points for including a title already previously available in another boxset ("Treasure of the Sierra Madre" from the Warner Legends" boxset) as well as combining the prestige packaging of the aforementioned DVD and "Casablanca: SE" with either standard or slimline cases of "High Sierra" and "They Drive by Night", depending which version you buy...in this case...snappers would've looked better as they all would've been cardboard... but its still a nice collection of previously released Bogart titles regardless of packaging flaws...

 

Humphrey Bogart Vol. II: glad to see they are willing to tread Vol. 2 territory in this line of boxsets...the slimlines aren't the most atractive presentaion but the DVDs are all top-notch with documentaries, nwesreels, cartoons and shorts on each title...highly recommended as all but the Maltese Falcon Special edition (which includes the 2 previous version of the film) are exclusive to the set...we need a new Bogart bio film though...the Bacall on Bogart that's included on Volume 1 is far from complete...no mention of his previous wives, his close relationship with his costar Peter Lorre and more info on his faceoff with HUAC...

 

Ronald Reagan: an odd choice for a signature collection as he wasn't a very hot commodity in his acting days and his most famous film "Knute Rockne" he plays a minor but very memorable supporting role...all the films in this set are highly enjoyable though and i'm glad I bought the boxset instead of just "Knute" and "Kings Row"...shorts and cartoons are on these discs as well...highly recommended whether or not you liked the man as a president (of which I did not!!)

 

James Stewart: I will not buy this boxset no matter how good some of the movies are...just because his career spanned 50 years doesn't mean i want to see movies from every one of those decades in one collection...especially when one is packaged in a cheap double feature package and includes two westerns from the 70s...I want classic films from the golden age not post 1955 films...sure most of James Stewart's classics are owned by other studios (Rear Window, Vertigo, harvey, Mr. smith Goes To washington) or have been released in previous boxsets ("The Philadelphia Story" in the Classic Comedies Collection") but this random assortment of titles isn't worthy of what this line aspires to be...

 

Henry Fonda: again a hodge-podge of titles as all the titles are from Fonda's later period (1955, 1956, 1962 and 1965)...the classic Fonda films are owned and have been released by other studios (Drums Along the Mohawk, The Grapes of Wrath, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Lady Eve) and the fourth title was already released in the Hitchcock Signature Collection, "The Wrong Man"...why would WHV do such a thing except to make a quick buck in time for the holidays?? After all, there were three Cary Grant movies in the Hitchcock Collection that didn't repeat in the Cary Grant Collection, so why are they repeating them now?...another less-than-worthy addition to this series...

 

Gary Cooper: this looks to be a promising collection of his films...almost a 20 year span though between "Seargeant York (1941) and The Wreck of Mary Deare (1959)...I don't know much about him but have seen other collections from other studios...will wait and see...

 

Robert Mitchum: what the hell? I don't think this guy is worthy just yet as many other more prolific actors have yet to recieve the Signature treatment...

 

such stars as James Cagney, John Garfield, Claude Rains, Lorre & Greenstreet deserve better treatment than they've been given....Bette Davis and Joan Crawford have their own collections (very similar to the signature collections so why are they separate?? other boxsets such as the Marx Brothers, James Dean, Astaire & Rogers, Doris Day & Gene Kelly could've fit into this collection too...hopefully the William Powell/Myrna Loy collection gets the Signatue Collection treatment...don't use all the Cagenys in the Gangster/tough Guy collections....what about an Olivia de Havilland boxset with "Hold Back The Dawn" (1941), "Wings of the Navy" (1939) and a couple more Errol Flynn films tossed in for good measure?? There are a lot more actors out there that deserve a Signature Collection before Robert Mitchum and even Ronald Reagan though WHV did make a strong case for the latter...

 

final tally:

highly recommended: Garbo, Flynn, Bogart 1& 2, Bogie & Bacall, Reagan, Hitchcock

 

also worth buying: Grant, Tracy & Hepburn, Cooper(?)

 

don't waste your money: Fonda, Stewart, Mitchum (?), Wayne, Taylor, Garland

 

nic orizaga

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Good examination. I picked up the Garland collection and Grant collection at half price at Amazon and think they are good...though I should have waited a few days longer, because the Garland set, an expensive one, was on sale at Costco for about $19.95 and the Grant at about $22.

 

I agree the Fonda was a waste, and I see little in the Mitchum that interests me. All that I really like from the upcoming Cooper one is the 2 DVD Sergeant York. Why was Saratoga Trunk not included? I love the WB packages but some of the releases, including Stewart, don't seem to have been together with that much thought. I am glad though they released The FBI Story on DVD.

 

The Flynn package is excellent, and I like the Bogart v.2. I have seen the Hepburn and Tracy on the shelves many times, but just never want to shell out money for things that don't thrill me. Same goes for Taylor. The Garbo set is a big chunk of change and I got the pics on TCM, so that is a pass. What I would like to see are great sets of Cagney and Robinson (though the Gansters and Tough Guys sets do manage to make me very happy).

 

All in all, though, WB makes really great box sets. (I would just like it if they didn't repackage DVDs from one set into another.)

 

filmlover

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that's my main complaint too...repackaging of films...I could understand if its an improvement over an earlier edition (Stagecoach, Wizard of Oz, Maltese Falcon) but I absolutely hate pointless doubledipping...

 

one of the best things about WHV is how they make wonderful boxsets around themes (Warner Legends, Classic Comedies, Warner Gangsters, Warner Tough Guys, Thin Man, Tennessee Williams, etc.)...

 

I would be **** if Vol. II of Errol Flynn contained "Robin Hood", a Cagney set included "Public Enemy", a Powell/Loy set featured "Libeled Lady" or "The Thin Man", a Robinson set featured "A Slight Case of Murder" or "Little Caesar", etc...sure they are all great movies and would seemingly fit in as "signature" films, but they would deter me from buying the boxsets because I ALREADY OWN THESE MOVIES IN OTHER EQUALLY WONDERFUL BOXSETS!!!

 

I guess the "signature" title is open to interpretation as sometimes it just means the autograph is on the packaging, not that every title is a classic or standout performance...

 

just like the word "premiere" could mean "first" or "best"...but often times means neither and is just used to draw in unsuspecting consumers...

 

Nic

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just picked this up but have not had a chance to review the titles but knowing it is issued from WB,, it will be worthwhile.

 

First this set does contain all 10 films they made together: Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Carefree, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, and The Barkleys of Broadway. The set also contains a bonus DVD with a documentary, "Astaire and Rogers Partners in Rhythm," and a CD with 10 songs from the original soundtracks. In addition, there are replicas of the Roberta and Shall We Dance campaign books, 10 behind-the-scene photocards, and an offer for four free A&R posters (but you have to pay $5.80 for shipping, which still seems reasonable as all four posters are 27"x40" size). Somebody finally did right on this latter offer and printed the proof of purchase tabs and and UPC bar code thing on a loose sheet that was on the back of the package in the plastic. Yay!

 

All films are on slimcases. which I normally don't like, but for some reason look nice here in this set. The box cover even has a three-dimensional look to it.

 

Each film title has cartoons and shorts, plus some have commentaries and new documentaries.

 

I will review in more detail when I have had a chance to go through all, but for now it looks to be well worth the money (the street price is $99.98 but I got the set in a Costco store for $62.89. You can also get them at Amazon and other places at different discounts.)

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due to (I assume) many complaints from angry consumers Barry Maxwell posted this on digitalbits.com:

 

"I begin this column's section on new announcements with some comments that George Feltenstein, Senior Vice President of Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Bros., kindly passed on to me. I've already mentioned above the hiatus in Bogart titles for 2007, but that will be more than compensated by Warners' plans to release 200 or so titles new to DVD this coming year. Although no specific titles were mentioned, classic enthusiasts can look for at least one collection and usually two each month. These will include all new-to-DVD titles except where a previously released title has been substantially upgraded in terms of master quality and supplements (such as was the case with The Maltese Falcon recently). In addition, there will be some repackagings of previously-released titles into box sets, but that will be distinct from the 200 or so new titles. There will be no sets issued that include a mixture of old and new releases. It sounds like Warner Bros. is already staking out best studio of the year status for 2007. Classic fans can only rejoice in the continued commitment!"

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They have a lot of good sets coming out next year:

 

-Mickey & Judy

-Bette Davis Vol. 3

-Frank Sinatra

-Doris Day Vol. 2

-Lon Chaney Vol. 2

-Joan Crawford Vol. 2

-Robert Mitchum

-James Cagney

-Burt Lancaster

-Glenn Ford

-Esther Williams

-Jean Harlow

-Classic Silents

-Clark Gable Vol. 2

-Errol Flynn Vol. 2

-Film Noir Vol. 4

-Classic Musicals Vol. 4

-Loy & Powell

-possibly Andy Hardy

 

For 2007 or 2008:

-Dr. Kildare

-Maisie

-Edward G. Robinson

-Fred Astaire

-Forbidden Hollywood Vol, 2

-Ginger Rogers

-John Garfield

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This is a terrific set. I bought the Partial Ultimate Set (since I already had the prior Astaire-Rogers boxset) from Amazon and got it for about $15.90 when I opened a new charge card with Amazon which entitled me to $30 off the first purchase. I have no problem with the slim cases. This boxset takes up much less space on the shelves. The documentary on Astaire-Rogers included in this set is teriffic. I expected the same old info for this documentary but instead was pleasantly surprised about how much new info was included and how well done this documentary was which included home movies of Astaire, home movies of Rogers and interesting comments from various people including Joan Leslie, Liza Minnelli and Ava Astaire. Also incldued in the set is a CD of Astaire-Rogers musical numbers. This is one of the best box sets of 2006.

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shearerchic04 mentioned that 2007 will see the release of the boxed set: "Classic Musicals Vol. 4". I hadn't realized there were already three volumes. I bought the set that came out last spring (with Ziegfeld Follies[i/], Til the Clouds Roll By, etc.). What was included in the first two volumes?

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