Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics Blu-Ray
On Sale May, 21 2013
Barnes & Noble
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!