Pros: Gangsters, Crime, Action, Good Acting, Cinematography
Cons: Not well enough known
Warner Gangsters Collection - Vol 4
Warner’s made lots of gangster movies from the early 30’s when the first talking pictures were released. WB Studios became known for action pictures like Little Caesar and Public Enemy and continued on with many more in that vein starring Jimmy Cagney, Edward G Robinson, George Raft, Bette Davis, and others with stories ripped from the headlines and supported by Warner’s stable of fine character actors.
This collection contains five old movies and a recent documentary about them that was prepared by Turner Classic Movies.
This collection consists of older movies that are well preserved and usually run about an 90 minutes – long enough to tell the story and yet not long enough to bore the viewer. When you watch these you will probably join me in thinking that Hollywood has forgotten its stuff because these movies beat the socks off what they are currently offering both in story content and in acting.
There are six disks in the set, each with separate keep case and the stories are ones that the whole family will like. I’ll give a general idea of each disk’s content and a capsule review and link it to a longer review I’ve done if you want to know more.
Amazing Dr Clitterhouse This was the first teaming between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart who as director and actor were one of the greatest teams in movies. They made several of the best together. In this one Huston wrote the story while Bogey plays the former big cheese who gets supplanted by the title character, a doctor who turns to crime, played by Edward G Robinson; also starring Claire Trevor one of the better femmes in the Warner Bros lineup. Lots of double crosses as the two rivals struggle for supremacy.
The movie has Warner Night at the Movies accompaniments including a newsreel, a trailer for the feature and next week’s movie; a true adventure story from Floyd C Gibbons; a Toyland featurette, and a radio broadcast.
Little Giant As Prohibition ends, a beer baron leaves the life and crime to take his place in California society. Lots of laughs watching the fish out of water Edward G Robinson trying to adapt to the unfamiliar lifestyle like polo, yachting, and investing in stocks – but I’ll let you watch the rest for yourself. Also stars Mary Astor of Maltese Falcon fame.
Larceny, Inc. Three gangsters try to tunnel into a downtown bank using a small retail store as a front. The only trouble is, the store begins doing land office business and they don’t have time to do the tunneling. Lots of comedy with Edward G Robinson, Jack Carson, Broderick Crawford, and Jane Wyman.
Special features on the DVD include a full length commentary by Haden Guest and Dana Polan, vintage newsreels, a short subject, a pair of cartoons, and the theatrical trailer.
Invisible Stripes Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, and William Holden star as three cons that learn to their dismay the old adage is true – crime does not pay. Fairly straightforward story with good acting by listed actors and excellent supporting characters make this worth watching.
Extra content is included like a newsreel, short subject, cartoon, trailer and a full-length commentary by Alain Silver and James Ursini that discusses the movie’s details and indicate the progression that will result film noir which soon followed.
Kid Galahad A good boxing movie that was remade with Elvis Presley as the boxer but this is the original starring Wayne Morris as the boxer and Edward G Robinson as the promoter. Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart are supporting players here, too, so there is a lot to like.
There is a full length commentary and several special features like all the movies in this collection, newsreel, short subject, trailers, and a pair of cartoons.
Public Enemies This is a full length 106 minute documentary that shows the impact of the gangster movie worldwide. The presenters are the usual talking heads who produce the full length commentaries included with many classic movie Warner Bros DVDs like Leonard Maltin who discuss crime directors William Wellman, Michael Curtiz, and Raoul Walsh who did lots of famous crime dramas between them.
As bonus material there are four Looney Toons cartoons with gangster themes starring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and other favorites.
The set is well worth getting and the price is reasonable given all the films and extras. Any crime movie fan will enjoy the Warner’s Gangster Collection.