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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection "Wave 3"

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#1 of 2 Ken_McAlinden



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  • Real Name:Kenneth McAlinden
  • LocationLivonia, MI USA

Posted September 10 2009 - 08:50 AM

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection Wave 3 

Sci-Fi: Soylent Green (1973), The Time Machine (1960), Forbidden Planet (1956), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Horror: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Freaks (1932), The Haunting (1963), House of Wax (1953)

Murder Mysteries: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), The Big Sleep (1946), Dial M For Murder (1954), The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Studio: Warner
Year: Various 1932-1972
Release Date: September 1, 2009

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection

As with previous entries in the series, each of the releases in theTCM Greatest Classic Films Collection series pull together the most recent DVD masterings of four films from the catalog controlled by Warner Home Video including the classic Warner,  MGM, and RKO libraries.

Each entry in the series encodes its four films across two double-sided "flipper" discs (either DVD-18s, DVD-14s or DVD-10s depending on how the titles were authored originally). The discs are packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with a hinged tray allowing it to accommodate both discs. The hard case is inserted into a cardboard slipcover with slightly glossier graphics that are identical to the hard case on the front, but different and more promotional in nature on the back.


TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Sci-Fi

In the case of the "Sci-Fi" entry, contents are bit-identical to the first disc from the R1 2-disc Special Editions of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Forbidden Planet and to the to the R1 DVDs of Soylent Green and The Time Machine.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 - MGM - 149 minutes)

Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Douglas Rain

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: August 5, 2003

Forbidden Planet (1956 - MGM - G - 98 Minutes)

Director: Fred McLeod Wilcox

Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, and Robby, the Robot

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English, French

Original DVD Release: November 14, 2006 (Disc One of 50th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition), also part of Ultimate Collector's Edition released concurrently)

The Time Machine (1960 - MGM - G - 103 Minutes)

Director: George Pal

Starring: Rod taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot, and Tom Helmore

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Subtitles: English SDH, French

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English, Dolby Digital 1.0: French

Original DVD Release: October 3, 2000


All four films include original theatrical trailers.

2001: A Space Odyssey includes a commentary by actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood.  

Soylent Green
 includes Commentary from Leigh Taylor-Young and Richard Fleischer, vintage featurette A Look at the World of Soylent Green and vintage featurette MGM's Tribute to Edward G. Robinson's 101st Film.  

Forbidden Planet
 includes Additional Scenes, Lost Footage, Excerpts from the MGM Parade of Stars TV Series, "The Thin Man" TV Series Episode Robot Client, and a Science Fiction Movie Trailer Gallery with vintage trailers for: The Thing from Another World (1951), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Them! (1954), (the aforementioned) Forbidden Planet (1956), The Black Scorpion (1957), The Invisible Boy (1957), and The Time Machine (1960).  

The Time Machine
includes the 1993 documentary Time Machine: The Journey Back and some text-based information on the filmmakers.

Detailed Assessments

For a detailed assessment of the A/V Quality and extras for 2001: A Space Odyssey please click on the following link for my forum review of the Stanley Kubrick : Warner Home Video Directors Series box set.

For Soylent Green, Herb Kane's forum review can be found at this link

For Forbidden Planet, please click on the following link for Herb Kane's forum review of the Forbidden Planet - 50th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition.

There is no archived forum review for The Time Machine so I will address it directly.  The film is a fun slice of early 60s sci-fi that deviates at times from H.G, Wells source story, but remains largely faithful to its spirit.  The effects, which were state of the art for its time, will look dated today, but still have a certain handmade charm that works to create the film's own reality.  This is my favorite of the films that George Pal directed and I definitely would recommend it to fans of the genre.  The audio video presentation is outstanding with a very detailed video transfer that is quite impressive for a disc released nine years ago. I remember being especially impressed by this title and Warner's North by Northwest which came out around the same time.  From a present day perspective, The Time Machine holds up as the best of those two 2000 titles since the grain smoothing was applied much more lightly.  Colors are solid with consistent densities, contrast and shadow detail look spot-on, damage is minimal, grain is minimal, consistent, and natural-looking, and the only time the transfer suffers is during certain opticals and special effects sequences where dupe stock was used resulting in a loss of resolution.  The 5.1 remix is also exceptional with excellent fidelity, especially for the score, and some creative but not excessive use of the surround channels.  Extras-wise the 48 minute Time Machine: The Journey Back featurette is a clear highlight.  It is a fun piece for fans of the film.  It looks a bit dated and appears to have been shot on film and finished on video.  Hosted by Rod Taylor, it touches on the making of the film, the restoration of the time machine prop from the film by Bob Burns and a team of devoted fans, how that prop has been used and abused over the years since the film was produced, and even a 13 minute "sequel" segment where Taylor and Alan Young re-create their characters from the film and perform a reunion scene.  In addition to Taylor and Burns, we also hear on-camera comments from original special effects designers Wah Chang and Gene Warren.


The films are spread across one DVD-14 (2001: A Space Odyssey and Soylent Green) and and one DVD-18 (Forbidden Planet and The Time Machine).  The back cover of the hard case indicates that The Time Machine is in black and white, but it is presented in color as it should be.


TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Horror

In the case of the "Horror" entry in the series, contents are bit-identical to the first side of the R1 "flipper" DVD of House of Wax, the previous R1 DVD releases of Robert Wise's 1963 The Haunting, and Tod Browning's Freaks, and the "1941" side of the R1 "flipper" DVD release of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde double feature. 

House of Wax (1953 - Warner - GP - 88 Minutes)

Director: Andre de Toth

Starring: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, and Paul Picerni

The Haunting (1963 - MGM - G - 112 Minutes)

Director: Robert Wise

Starring: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: August 5, 2003

Freaks (1932 - MGM - NR - 62 Minutes)

Director: Tod Browning

Starring: Wallace Ford, Lela Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Rosco Ates

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English

Original DVD Release: August 10, 2004

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 - MGM - G - 113 Minutes)

Director: Victor Fleming

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, and C. Aubrey Smith

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0: English, French

Original DVD Release: January 6, 2004 ("1941" side of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Double Feature (1932/1941) "flipper" DVD)


All films except Freaks include original theatrical trailers.

House of Wax includes Premiere Newsreel footage.

The Haunting includes a Commentary from Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Director Robert Wise
, & screenwriter Nelson Gidding, Still Galleries, and a "Great Ghost Stories" Essay.

Freaks includes a Commentary from Tod Browning Biographer David J. Skal, the Documentary "Freaks: Sideshow Cinema", a Special Message Prologue Added for the Theatrical Reissue, and Three Alternate Endings.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde contains no extras beyond the trailer.

Detailed Assessments

For a detailed assessment of the A/V Quality and extras for The Haunting please click on the following link for Jack Brigg's forum review of the original release.

For Freaks, Herb Kane's forum review of the original DVD release can be found at this link

For Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Herb Kane's forum review of the original "Double Feature" release can be found at this link

There is no archived forum review for House of Wax so I will address it directly.  This film more or less established Vincent Price's "Master of the Macabre" persona that would serve him well for the rest of his extensive career as an actor.  At its core, the film is a pretty standard, even a bit creaky, horror film set in turn of the century New York with a fairly dull male protagonist played by Paul Picerni, but Price's persona-inventing performance sets it apart from other films of its time.  Setting it apart on the technical side of things, It proved phenomenally successful due at least in part to its exploitation of the fledgling 3D process.  It is presented on DVD in a flat color 4:3 presentation.  Viewers will be tipped off to its 3D origination via the tendency to have things fly towards the camera during fight scenes and the required intermission at the 44 minute point to accommodate the necessary double reel change.  The video transfer occasionally sports coarse grain that gives the compression algorithm fits, but it otherwise has solid colors, consistent densities, and a pleasing range of contrast that is crucial for the darker scenes in the film.  The 2.0 stereo surround audio sounds a bit rough with only middling musical fidelity and distortion during louder passages.  Beyond the film's enjoyable theatrical trailer, the only extra is some silent newsreel footage of the films theatrical premiere set to music from the film called "Round the Clock Premiere: Coast Hails House of Wax".  It looks like a pretty wacky premiere even by Hollywood standards, and this star-studded footage is worth checking out at least once.


The films are spread across two DVD-14 "flippers".  Disc One features House of Wax on its single layered side and The Haunting on its dual-layered side.  Disc Two features Freaks on its dual-layered side and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on its single-layered side.  Since these are straight re-purposings of prior DVD releases, there are built in anomalies on the House of Wax and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde menus that indicate features on the flip side of the disc that are not present.

TCM Greatest Classic Films: Murder Mysteries

In the case of the "Murder Mysteries" entry in the series, contents are bit-identical to the first disc from the R1 3-disc Special Edition of The Maltese Falcon the "A-side" of the previously released "flipper" DVD of The Big Sleep and the previously released DVDs of Dial M for Murder and the 1946 version The Postman Always Rings Twice.

The Maltese falcon (1941 - Warner Bros. - NR - 100 Minutes)

Director: John Huston

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, and Sydney Greenstreet

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono: English

Original DVD Release: February 15, 2000 also included in subsequent box sets: Bogie and Bacall - The Signature Collection and The Bogart Collection

Dial M for Murder (1955 - Warner - PG - 105 Minutes)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams, and Anthony Dawson

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0 mono: English, French

Original DVD Release: September7, 2004.  Also included in concurrent box set: The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection and subsequent (August 29, 2006) box set Leading Ladies of the Studio Era

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 - MGM - NR - 113 Minutes)

Director: Tay Garnett

Starring: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames, Audrey Totter, Alan Reed, Jeff York

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0 mono: English

Original DVD Release: January 6th, 2004


All four films include their original theatrical trailers.  

The Maltese Falcon
 includes a commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax, and a set of Warner Night at the Movies vintage materials including a Vintage Newsreel clip, the Technicolor musical short The Gay Parisian, Bob Clampett directed Looney Tunes cartoon Meet John Doughboy, Friz Freleng directed Technicolor Merrie Melodies cartoon Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt, and a trailer for the film Sergeant York.

The Big Sleep includes a featurette called The Big Sleep Comparisons 1945/1946 with UCLA archivist Robert Gitt analyzing the differences between the 1945 pre-release and 1946 theatrical versions of the film.  It also has some text based features with a short essay on the film and a list of key cast and crew members.

Dial M for Murder includes a featurette called Hitchcock and Dial M looking at the film's itself and another featurette called 3-D a Brief History that looks at the 50s 3-D phenomenon and how Dial M... fit into it.

The Postman Always Rings Twice includes a documentary profile The John Garfield Story, an introduction by film critic Richard Jewell, and a behind-the-scenes image gallery.

Detailed Assessments

For a detailed assessment of the A/V Quality and extras for The Maltese Falcon please click on the following link for Herb Kane's forum review of the Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection Vol. 2

For The Postman Always Rings Twice, Herb Kane's forum review of the original DVD release can be found at this link

There is no archived forum review for The Big Sleep, so I will address it directly.  The Big Sleep  is an unqualified classic despite, and in a weird way because of, its nearly impenetrable plot.  Raymond Chandler's source novel was complex enough to begin with, but as adapted by Leigh Bracket and William Faulkner (with subsequent contributions from Jules Furthman) and conformed to the requirements of the Production Code so that key plot elements could only be addressed tangentially, things became so confusing that even the  filmmakers were unclear about certain plot points.  Director Howard Hawks has expressed the view that a good movie has at least three great scenes and no bad ones.  There is probably no better illustration of that philosophy than The Big Sleep which is a masterpiece of local optimization.  Even if viewers becomes totally lost in the plot, on a scene by scene basis, the film is just so darn cool that they are not likely to mind.  The initial 1945 cut of the film was retooled to include more of the sexy banter between Bogart and Bacall that had worked so well for audiences in Bacall's film debut in To Have and Have Not.  This was done at the expense of some potentially useful plot exposition, but having seen both versions, I would say that the filmmakers made the right choice.  The DVD presentation dates back to early 2000, and teh A/V quality was not even especially impressive for its time.  It is not as riddled with massive edge ringing and other video-realm artifacts as early Warner DVD titles such as The Music Man were, but it does have more than its share of anomalies including compression artifacts.  The biggest loss from the original DVD release is the complete 1945 pre-release cut of the film, which had been presented on the opposite side of the disc from this theatrical cut.  One can still at least get a feel for what changes were made, however with the included sixteen and a half minute The Big Sleep Comparisons 1945/1946 featurette in which UCLA film archivist Robert Gitt takes the viewer on a reel by reel tour of the significant differences between the cuts with plenty of clips from the 1945 version.

There is also no archived forum review for Dial M for Murder, so I will address it directly as well.  Dial M for Murder is a largely faithful, mostly successful, adaptation of the hit Robert Knott stage play of the same name.  Director Alfred Hitchcock enlisted Knott to adapt his own work and did very little to "open it up" from its single apartment setting.  Instead, Hitchcock used the nascent 3-D process to create an even more theatrical feeling of actors moving through the limited space.  Given the limitations the filmmakers imposed on themselves, the film is surprisingly successful and engaging, even in its 2-D presentation.  In additon to Hitchcock's technical expertise, the film's success can also be attributed to some excellent casting decisions, starting at the top with Grace Kelly in her breakthrough leading role after well-received supporting parts in High Noon and Mogambo.  She would, of course, come to embody the ideal of the Hitchcock "Cool Blonde" in subsequent years.  Every bit as good if not better is Ray Milland as a curiously sympathetic antagonist.  He is right up their in the pantheon of Hitchcock villains with Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train, James Mason in North by Northwest, and Barry Foster in Frenzy.  Robert Cummings is a bit of a stiff as the ostensible male protagonist, but this actually helps in Hitchcock's slyly subversive efforts to shift the audience's sympathies in dramatically different directions from scene to scene.  Anthony Dawson and Hitchcock favorite John Williams provide excellent support in their roles as a man blackmailed into murder and a "British Columbo" style police inspector respectively.  Williams' character more or less takes over the plot in the final reel of the film, and is probably the most competent and sympathetic policeman to ever appear in a Hitchcock film.  The A/V presentation is a bit hit and miss, due partly to source issues which result in substantial drop in resolution and noticeable artifacts during the rear projection process shots and opticals such as titles or fades.  Additionally, the color timing imbues fleshtones with an orange-brown hue that makes the actors look like they have spray tans. The extras are highlighted by a pair of Laurent Bouzereau featurettes.  The 21 and a half minute "Hitchcock and Dial M"  looks at the film's genesis and production with on-camera comments from Actor Nat Benchley, Director Peter Bogdanovich, Director Richard Franklin, Patricia Hitchcock, Historian Robert Osborne, Critic Richard Schickel, and Director M. Night Shyamalan.  "3D: A Brief History"  is a seven minute featurette focusing specifically on the 3-D era of the 1950s, where DIal M for Murder fit into it (the tail end), and the unique way that Hitchcock used the format.  On camera comments are provided by Director Joe Alves, Bogdanovich, Franklin, and Osborne.  Both featurettes are a blend of talking head interviews with film clips and occasional archival photos.


The Maltese Falcon (dual layered) and The Big Sleep (single layered) share opposite sides of a DVD-14.   Dial M for Murder and The Postman Always Rings Twice share opposite sides of a DVD-18.  The back cover of the hard case indicates that all titles are dual layered, but The Big Sleep is actually encoded on a single disc layer.


Everything old is new yet again in the case of these sets of re-packaged titles from TCM/Warner . All of the sets present excellent value for those who do not already own these films in any of their prior incarnations with nothing new beyond packaging to entice viewers who already own them all.

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 2 Jeff Willis

Jeff Willis


  • 3,382 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 01 2005
  • LocationDallas TX

Posted September 10 2009 - 09:32 AM


Thanks for the post. BTW, Time Machine is among my all-time favorite movies.  I remember seeing that on TV when I was 7 or 8 yrs old.  Scarrryyy.  Those "talking rings" were awesome back then.

ml1fyo.jpg  "Checkmate King Two, 'Out'" "Combat! A Selmur Production"


TV/DVD Collector, mainly 50's thru 90's with a few 2000+ shows.
My 2 all-time favorite TV shows:
"Combat!" & "The Fugitive"
My 2 all-time best blind-buys: "The Fugitive"   "The Donna Reed Show"

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