Friday, May 24, 2013

Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics Blu-Ray Review


Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics Blu-Ray 
On Sale May, 21 2013
Buy on:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
Warner Bros.

The Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics Blu-Ray boxed set went on sale this week. There is also a Contemporary version of the same set with 4 different movies. The Classics set includes four of the best original gangster movies including Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), The Petrified Forest (1936) and White Heat (1949).

Thanks to Warner Bros. I got a chance to review this set. I've had a Blu-Ray player for quite a while but haven't really been upgrading to Blu-Rays quite yet since so many classics are still only available on DVD. I was happy to get this on Blu-Ray because I love the quality even with black and white films.

This set comes with four Blu-Ray discs, each with one of the movies  Each Blu-Ray has some extras including commentary, an intro by Leonard Maltin, a newsreel, a short, a trailer and a featurette. I don't believe these extras are anything new and were most likely available in the previous editions of these films on DVD.

I had a Twitter conversation with some folks about DVD and Blu-Ray extras. Some folks didn't care about extras and others thought really good extras could make or break a set. I liked what Laura from Laura's Miscellaneous Musings had to say. She says the best DVDs or Blu-Rays with extras are like a "film school in a box". The extras add to your knowledge of the film and that time period. I agree with her. Those types of extras really add big value to a set. I wouldn't say that this Blu-Ray set is a "film school in a box" however it's a nice introductory set for people who like the gangster movie genre but didn't know much about these films to begin with. Perhaps a "gangster film intro class in a box".

The Blu-Ray set also comes with a Bonus DVD (note it's a DVD not a Blu-Ray) which has the feature-length documentary Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film. The documentary has interviews with notable film experts. I noticed that almost all of the talking heads were men except for Molly Haskell. I found the documentary a bit repetitive and I lost interest in it. I do think it has value perhaps for someone who is learning about these films for the first time. I'm definitely going to give the documentary another shot!

The set also comes with a 32 page 2-color booklet (black and white with gold) which includes some information about the time period, the gangster movie genre and the specific films. I'm always happy to see booklets in DVD or Blu-Ray sets because I think they add nice value to the set.

I would recommend this Blu-Ray set as a gift to someone who you think would appreciate early gangster movies. This would make a great Father's Day gift especially since that's right around the corner. However, I think women would enjoy this set too because I know I love gangster films and can't get enough of them! Also, if you are a classic film enthusiast looking to encourage someone to watch more old movies, I think this would be a great way to convert them. The real value of this set is as a gift or as a collector's item.





I loved revisiting Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931) and The Petrified Forest (1936). I was especially moved by The Petrified Forest and I connected with the film on this viewing in a way I hadn't done so before. The message of personal freedom and independence of spirit really struck me. White Heat (1949) is one of those films I always thought I had seen but really had not. It comes pretty late in the era of gangster movies and is famous for the last scene with James Cagney saying "made it Ma, top of the world!". I enjoyed White Heat immensely. I love Cagney and one of my favorite actors Edmond O'Brien plays opposite him. There are a lot of O'Brien haters out there. I know a particular blogger who found the worst picture of him she muster up to demonstrate how gross he was. Pshaw! Just watch O'Brien in White Heat and you'll learn to appreciate him. White Heat is such a fantastic film and I'm glad I got a chance to see it. And with this set you get three of the best actors at the top of their game playing the gangster roles: Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney.

Thank you to Warner Bros. for sending me a copy of this set to review!



5 comments:

  1. I bought this set on DVD a couple of years back and really got upset when I heard it was coming out again on Bluray with all the extras and the book. Don't you hate when that happens?! Ugh. I'm debating whether or not I should sell my original DVD pack and then buy this one instead. Chances are, I probably will.

    Thanks for this review!

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  2. This looks like a terrific set! I love gangster movies and this set has some of my faves.

    Also, I like the description of the extras as "film school in a box". Very true.

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  3. I love gangster films, and the only new to me in this set is The Petrified Forest.
    When I rented DVDs of modern movies, the extras were what I liked the most. Unfortunately, it's not always that classic films have wonderful extras, simply because there were no worrying with shooting making-offs and interviews by that time. Usually, I only come across trailers as extras.
    Kisses!

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  4. Thanks for the review-- I've got this box set at the top of my wish list. :)

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  5. Glad I ran into this, Raquelle! I have the The Warner Gangsters Collection on DVD, which has a couple more films than this bluray set. I always consider upgrading - or am tempted to - when new bluray editions are released but can't afford to do so with them all. And the special features are one of the major things I compare.

    Will have to give this one more thought. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    Aurora

    ReplyDelete

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