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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The WB Ultimate Gangsters Collection -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Through the decades, each studio was known to excel in specific areas.  For M-G-M it seemed to be historical dramas and musicals.  Fox seemed to have a similar bent.  Universal had its monsters.

And WB was the home of the gangster film.  As far back as the beginnings of sound, the studio cut its teeth on the genre, and no one did it better.

The Ultimate Gangsters Collection, to which I'd love to be able to append a "First Series," contains the penultimate early progression of the genre, beginning with Little Caesar (1930), Public Enemy (1931) on to The Petrified Forest (1936) and ending for this set with the incomparable White Heat (1949).

With the exception of Little Caesar, which looks fine for its age, but not quite as good as even Public Enemy, which is one year newer, these films are akin to a window to the past.  As Blu-rays, because of the care for the original elements, along with the care that went into their image harvests and mastering, they are nothing less than revelatory.  Possibly Public Enemy and Petrified Forest are the best.  White Heat has occasional contrast build-up, but nothing untoward, and is generally beautiful.

As examples of black & white cinematography the four films shine.  A quick look at the talent behind the four.

Directors: William Wellman, Mervyn LeRoy, Archie Mayo and Raoul Walsh

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Virginia Mayo, Edmund O'Brien, Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell,

Jean Harlow, Joan Blondell

I'm hoping that The Roaring Twenties, Angels With Dirty Faces, Key Largo and High Sierra won't be far behind.

Image and Audio scores are averaged.

Image - 4.5

Audio - 4.5

For those who have not experienced these films, they are among the best ever created.  Currently being offered at $42 for the four films plus an additional disc of extras.  They are worth their weight in gold.

Highly Recommended.

RAH

 

lukejosephchung

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"Mornin', Ma...TOP OF THE WORLD!!!" Thank you for such a positive and enthusiastic reaction to this newly-minted collection of gangster-genre classics, Robert...can't wait to soak in the old-school feel of these vintage Warner classics from the original ownership's salad days!!! :thumbs-up-smiley:
 

Robert Crawford

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Professor Echo said:
Actually, that's "MADE IT MA, TOP OF THE WORLD!" ;)
Great line, but my favorite examples of Cagney's acting in that film are that one scene in which he sits on his mother's lap like he's a little boy again and his reaction in prison mess hall of
her death.
 

Matt Hough

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Robert Crawford said:
White Heat has one of the great acting performances ever capture on film.
You can say that again! A brilliant, nuanced study of a psychotic, sadistic personality.

I've had this set on preorder almost when it was announced. Can't wait to watch these great classics in HD.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Thanks for the seal of approval on this set, Robert. It has been on my wish list since being announced. I was just waiting to hear if the transfers were worth the upgrade over the DVD's before ordering.

Yes, Cagney was stellar in White Heat.
 

jsteed

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Looking forward to buying this set, especially White Heat. Thanks for the review RAH.
 

JoshZ

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Robert Harris said:
The Ultimate Gangsters Collection, to which I'd love to be able to append a "First Series,"

I'm hoping that The Roaring Twenties, Angels With Dirty Faces, Key Largo and High Sierra won't be far behind.
Warner is releasing two "Ultimate Gangsters Collection" box sets on the same day. This is the "Classics" set. A second box has reissues of Mean Streets, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Heat and The Departed. So I think the intention is to do a series of these, assuming that these two sell well enough.
 

David Weicker

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I've had this pre-ordered since day one. My only complaint is that it doesn't also contain the other two films from the original set - The Roaring Twenties and Angels With Dirty Faces. Hopefully they will be coming soon. As for Key Largo, I'm hoping we see a Bogie & Bacall set as well.
 

JohnMor

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Awesome news! Can't wait to pick this up. Public Enemy is probably my favorite of the bunch, but love them all.
 

Robert Crawford

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David Weicker said:
I've had this pre-ordered since day one. My only complaint is that it doesn't also contain the other two films from the original set - The Roaring Twenties and Angels With Dirty Faces. Hopefully they will be coming soon. As for Key Largo, I'm hoping we see a Bogie & Bacall set as well.
I think Warner has a marketing strategy if this boxset sells well for future releases and probably didn't want to include too many Cagney films in this initial set even if Bogart appears in those two films in supporting roles.
 

Professor Echo

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What is on the bonus disc, is it in Blu or SD and will any of the individual Blu titles from this set include the bonus disc or is it exclusive to this set? Anyone know?
 

McCrutchy

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Professor Echo said:
What is on the bonus disc, is it in Blu or SD and will any of the individual Blu titles from this set include the bonus disc or is it exclusive to this set? Anyone know?
The bonus disc is a DVD with the documentary Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film, which appears to be available separately here for less than $5 right now.

I think I shall go with the individual releases, as I prefer the covers.
 

Billy Batson

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David Weicker said:
I've had this pre-ordered since day one. My only complaint is that it doesn't also contain the other two films from the original set - The Roaring Twenties and Angels With Dirty Faces. Hopefully they will be coming soon.
Yup, I don't know how they could leave those two films out. I wouldn't have included White Heat, at 1949 it doesn't come from the same era, & is a true classic, & maybe shouldn't be in a box set...but I suppose Warner knows what they're doing.
 

Lromero1396

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Robert Crawford said:
I think Warner has a marketing strategy if this boxset sells well for future releases and probably didn't want to include too many Cagney films in this initial set even if Bogart appears in those two films in supporting roles.
Which is why it is crucial for everyone to support this release.
 

Colin Jacobson

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McCructhy said:
The bonus disc is a DVD with the documentary Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film, which appears to be available separately here for less than $5 right now.

I think I shall go with the individual releases, as I prefer the covers.
This disc was also the DVD included with the "GoodFellas" 20th Anniversary Blu-ray.

I watched all four of the "Classics" this weekend and felt very pleased with them. Yes, "Caesar" is spotty, but that's clearly an issue with the source. "Public Enemy" looks much better - it still has some ups and downs, but it's usually quite nice.

"Forest" and "White Heat" look GREAT!

Very nice set at a very appealing price...
 

zoetmb

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When I was a kid, Million Dollar Movie on New York's WOR Channel 9 (then owned by RKO General) used to play White Heat very often. Million Dollar Movie repeated the same movie 16 times per week - twice per night and three times each day on weekends. I'd watch the same movies (King Kong, Godzilla, Son of Kong but also La Strada and others, possibly including Citizen Kane and The Bicycle Thief if my memory serves) over and over. I don't know why my mother let me watch White Heat, but she did and I loved it.
 

Oblivion138

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I've REALLY been looking forward to this set. Now even more so. Can't wait to pick it up.
 

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