The Henry Fonda Film Collection is being marketed as a Father's Day gift from Fox, and that's fine.
I've always liked him, and his work. Back around 1974, I had set up an interview with him for a book on which I was working, and he had to bail on me.
And for a very good reason. He had just had an implant to control his heart functions. Good enough for me. Did he have some underling contact me? No.
He picked up the phone, called and offered his apologies.
Accepted. Way accepted.
Fox's new DVD boxed set entitled The Henry Fonda Film Collection is an interestingly mixed bag. But not because of the quality of the films.
Ten great titles:
Jesse James *
Drums Along the Mohawk *
The Grapes of Wrath
The Return of Frank James *
The Ox-Bow Incident
My Darling Clementine
The Longest Day
The Boston Strangler
At least half of these are bono fide classics of the first order. But here's where it gets interesting.
Every title has been released previously under one banner or another -- one set or another, either singly or in the 147 pound goliath Ford at Fox, which I purchased and treasure.
So, seriously, what have we got here?
If one is a collector -- if you already have Grapes of Wrath on Blu-ray. If you have Ford at Fox, or single titles, this may not be for you.
However, for the uninitiated, and I presume there are many, this is a treasure trove, and to my mind, it's virtually free.
The three-strip Tech films will all be problematic technically. I viewed The Return of Frank James last night, and while I loved the film, came away extremely distressed at what Fox had done to it's history. The people who created these elements should be taken out in the street and shot down like dogs.
And I'm quoting here.
Horrific sequences interlaced with an occasional okay. But it's the film that matters, and no one is going to try to do a digital clean-up in the near future on these color classics.
Here's the bottom line as I see it.
If I didn't already have the majority of these films in one Fox collection or another, or as singles, I'd grab this for myself.
But the reality is extremely simple.
If you lack even half these great titles, buy the Collection, and give away what you don't need.
At under $5 a film, there is no downside.
Thinking through this, I'm actually a bit jealous of those who have few or none of these films, as that $40 price beckons for some of the greatest films ever made.
* three-strip Technicolor