The Gary Cooper Collection (DVD, 2005, 2-Disc Set) Reviews

The Gary Cooper Collection (DVD, 2005, 2-Disc Set)

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Gary Cooper Collection

Aug 30, 2009 (Updated Sep 1, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Well restored, good video and audio

Cons:No extras except subtitles

The Bottom Line: Some early Gary Cooper movies that show him in a wide range of roles;  Not just the cowboy star he was later known as.


Gary Cooper Collection

Design for Living
(1933), Beau Geste (1939), Peter Ibbetson (1935), The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), The General Died at Dawn (1936)

The Gary Cooper Collection is a recent release (2005) from Universal that includes the foregoing five films from the early years of Cooper's great career.  At least a few of them have not been released on DVD before.

Design For Living (1933) The lone comedy in the collection is by director Ernst Lubitsch who directed Garbo and Dietrich in some of their hits, too.  This movie stars Gary Cooper, Frederic March, and Miriam Hopkins in a racy romantic comedy. The two men are bohemians living in Paris, with Cooper a painter and March a writer, or both trying to be those things, anyway. Miriam Hopkins finds herself torn between the two, so she decides to move into their apartment with them. This arrangement tests the friendship like nothing else and there are lots of shenanigans. This film was produced before the critics began to enforce the Production Code so it is filled with sexual innuendo and risqué jokes. I found it fairly engaging but it is a chick flick and will mainly appeal to that demographic unless you are a fan of early talkies like I am.

Peter Ibbetson (1935) Fantasy film shot as a romantic period drama reminiscent of Wuthering Heights or The Ghost and Mrs Muir stars Cooper as a young boy separated from his childhood sweetheart and his later meeting her under another guise.  Both are completely different and Cooper actually doesn't recognize her at first.  He is an architect and she is a duchess when they meet again. The story has some surreal aspects that make it a little far fetched for my tastes but romance fans will want to see it and Gary Cooper is so handsome in these 1930s movies. Anne Harding plays the grown up version of his lady love with a pair of child actors playing them in an introductory scene.  The two kids don't resemble the adults much, but they actually do a little better in their fifteen minutes, from my viewing. Neither this film nor Design for Living is available on DVD except in this collection.  

The General Died At Dawn (1936) Cooper stars as an international man of mystery who is trying to smuggle cash to Chinese rebels so they can buy guns and fight against the title character, General Yang (Akim Tamiroff).  The ensemble cast includes nearly every famous face in 1930s Hollywood, with William Frawley, Akim Tamiroff, and Madeleine Carrol are a few of the co-stars and Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front) directed so it is well paced and well shot.  Good characters but Cooper is not glib enough to handle the excessive gab he is given.

Lives Of A Bengal Lancer (1935)  Out of the whole five movies, Lives of a Bengal Lancer is the pick of the litter. This is a film you will remember forever, if you like adventure. Gary Cooper stars as a real he-man in the cavalry in British India. His squad or the few guys under his command, anyway, include Franchot Tone and Richard Cromwell, who happens to be the commander's son!!  The movie has a thrill a minute as the lancers fight to stop an uprising by an evil khan (Douglas Dumbrille). Lots of action with good direction from Henry Hathaway with many familiar faces - Lewis Stone, C Aubrey Smith, Sir Guy Standing, Akim Tamiroff, J Carroll Naish, and more.  Charles Nash did the cinematography and it was superb.

Beau Geste (1939) This is one of the best of the bunch as well and is a good version of the PC Wren original novel of the same name.  Cooper is the oldest of three English brothers who, because of circumstances involving the disappearance of a family heirloom all run away to join the French Foreign Legion.  The other brothers are Robert Preston and Ray Milland, and they are all good.  Brian Donlevy plays the sadistic sergeant who trains them, disciplines, them and leads them into battle against the Tuaregs of Morocco. Susan Hayward plays the girl they left behind.  - Also starring Broderick Crawford as a runaway cowboy from America who befriends the Geste brothers.

The Gary Cooper Collection is on Universal DVD which has acquired the movies from Paramount, the original studio. The films have been cleaned up very nicely and seem to have been restored with good video and audio.  The movies are on a pair of disks with movies on all four sides. There are no extra features which is a shame because these are from the early days and Gary Cooper was a much bigger star than you would know today.    


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