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Controversial Classics Collection Boxset (7 disc)

directed by Otto Preminger, Arthur Hiller, John Sturges, Richard Brooks, Elia Kazan, Fritz Lang, and Mervyn LeRoy
USA 1932 - 1964

Advise and Consent      The Americanization of Emily      Bad Day at Black Rock      Blackboard Jungle      

A Face in the Crowd      Fury       I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang


  out of

DVD Review: Warner Home Video Boxset -  Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner -  Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC (except where noted below)
Audio English (Dolby Digital original), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

NOTE: I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Fury and A Face in the Crowd have no French DUB.

Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratios:
Advise and Consent - 2.34:1, The Americanization of Emily 1.78:1, Bad Day at Black Rock - 2.47:1, Blackboard Jungle 1.78:1, A Face in the Crowd 1.78, Fury and I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang and both 1.33:1

Edition Details:

 Advise and Consent (1962)
Commentary by film historian Drew Casper
Theatrical trailer

 The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Commentary by Director Arthur Hiller
Featurette Action on the Beach
Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Surround Sound
Theatrical trailer

 

 Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Commentary by film historian Dana Polan
Theatrical trailer

 

 Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Commentary by co-stars Paul Mazursky and Jamie Farr, Glenn Ford's son Peter Ford and Assistant Director Joel Freeman
Droopy Cartoon Blackboard Jumble
Theatrical Trailer

 A Face in the Crowd (1957)
New documentary Facing the Past
Theatrical Trailer

 Fury (1936)
Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich, with interview excerpts of director Fritz Lang
Theatrical trailer

 I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Commentary by film historian Richard B. Jewell
Vintage musical short 20,000 Cheers for the Chain Gang
Theatrical trailer

 Number of discs: 7

DVD Release Date:
May 10th, 2005
Cardboard Box with 7 Keep Cases

Comments:

Comments are included below for each individual release, but I will note some of the exceptions in the overall set. All these DVDs are encoded for Regions 1 - 4 NTSC except "Advise and Consent" and "A Face in the Crowd" which are Region 1 only. "I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang", "Fury" and "A Face in the Crowd" have no French DUB where the other 4 titles in the set do. Each individual release here is tight (no borders limiting horizontal resolution), 16X9 enhanced (not the two 1.33 ratios), they are all progressive with excellent subtitles, static menus, original audio and all have commentaries except "A Face in The Crowd". Marginal film grain is visible most prominently on the two oldest releases - "Fury" and "I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang" which also show the most damage. I think "The Americanization of Emily" may have the sharpest transfer, but all are of a very high standard.

 

The best value in this boxset are these films which many may rank as 'unrevealed classics'. Warner has again done them justice and this may be the leading contender for DVD of the Year. No-brainer purchase folks. Warner are bordering on Criterion-level status. out of   

Gary W. Tooze


directed by Otto Preminger

USA 1962

 

Probably my favorite film from the Boxset, I rank this with Frankenheimer's powerful "Seven Days in May" as a favorite political film. A dynamic plot shows the deceitful inner workings of Washington - Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) is the president's (played by Franchot Tone) number one candidate for Secretary of State. Prior to his approval, he must first go through a Senate investigation as part of the approval process. Leading the Senate committee is idealistic Senator Brig Anderson (Don Murray), who soon finds himself unprepared for the political dirt that's revealed, including Leffingwell's admitted affiliations with a Communist organization. Cloaked blackmail and self-serving 'patriots' surface to conclude the hearings with shocking results.

Along with Fonda and Tone we have a dream cast of supporting player - Charles Laughton, Lew Ayres, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney and Burgess Meredith. Typical Preminger precision heeds a forgotten masterpiece. A true gem!
out of

Gary Tooze

 

Posters etc.

Theatrical Release:  June 6th, 1962 - USA

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Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links: 

   

Runtime 2:17:55
Video

2.34:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 35

Extras:

Commentary by film historian Drew Casper
Theatrical trailer

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Excellent transfer and minutely softer than I was anticipating as it is a favorite film. Great grey-tones and the overall contrast is superb. 16X9 friendly subtitles and Warner maintained the 2.35 original widescreen ratio. NOTE: This Disc is only encoded for Region 1 and there is only original English as the audio track. I will report back on the commentary as I complete it. Great film and another strong DVD.  out of



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directed by Arthur Hiller

USA 1964

(aka "Emily")

During the build-up to D-Day in 1944, the British found their island hosting many thousands of American soldiers who were "oversexed, overpaid, and over here". That's Charlie Madison exactly; he knows all the angles to make life as smooth and risk-free as possible for himself. But things become complicated when he falls for an English woman, and his commanding officer's nervous breakdown leads to Charlie being sent on a senseless and dangerous mission.  

Posters

Theatrical Release:  October 27th, 1964 - USA

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Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links: 

  

Runtime 1:54:36
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.12 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 29

Extras:

Commentary by Director Arthur Hiller
Featurette Action on the Beach
Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Surround Sound
Theatrical trailer

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Possibly the best transfer of the Controversial Collection boxset. Very sharp with deep, rich black levels. A bumped audio track is included with the original mono and a French dub as options. I've listened to portions of the Hiller commentary and it is excellent. This is as close to a perfect DVD as you will find.  out of



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directed by John Sturges

USA 1955

 

John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) doesn't know it, but when he steps off the train at the jerkwater town of Black Rock, he will soon find himself the object of fear, hatred, and even a murder plot! The altruistic Macreedy came to Black Rock to hand over a posthumous military award to a local man whose son had died gallantly in the Second World War. What Macreedy couldn't know when he stepped off of that train was that the town had a shameful secret, one that must be kept at all costs.    

Excerpt from Alfred Jingle's comments at IMdb located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release:  January 7th, 1955

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Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links: 

      

Runtime 1:21:27
Video

2.47:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 22

Extras:

Commentary by film historian Dana Polan
Theatrical trailer

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Colors seem a shade dull and this image may be the least sharp of the widescreen films in the Controversial Collections boxset. Portions of the commentary appeared informative at times and dry in others. 16X9 friendly subtitles are excellent and the grandiose anamorphic 2.47 widescreen is a treat. Very good DVD but colors, although apparently non-manipulated and true seem a small degree washed out from my recollection of seeing this film years ago. out of  



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directed by Richard Brooks

USA 1955

 

(aka "The Blackboard Jungle')

 

Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) earns a teaching assignment at a tough high school, where the teenagers make the rules and the staff meekly accept the fact that they've lost control. When Dadier tries exerting his authority, he receives much hostility from both students and faculty, culminating with his pregnant wife receiving anonymous letters with false accusations that he is romantically involved with another woman at school. In anger, Dadier hurls an accusation at Gregory Miller, a black youth whom he fears is against him. Miller doesn't deny the accusation. Instead he escalates the confrontation, but does that mean that he was the culprit?  out of

Excerpt from Alfred Jingle's comments at IMdb located HERE 

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release:  March 19th, 1955

Reviews                             More Reviews                               DVD Reviews 

Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links:  

     

Runtime 1:40:27
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 28

Extras:

Commentary by co-stars Paul Mazursky and Jamie Farr, Glenn Ford's son Peter Ford and Assistant Director Joel Freeman
Droopy Cartoon Blackboard Jumble
Theatrical Trailer

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Strong progressive image with excellent contrast and a tiny bit soft. I noted no damage marks. As commonly accepted these days ratio moved from 1.85 to 1.78 losing a negligible 4%. I enjoyed assistant director Freeman's limited remarks on the audio commentary. The cartoon is a nice touch and always wish this were done more often. Original audio was consistent throughout. Another winner -  out of  



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directed by Elia Kazan

USA 1957

 

Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes is a hobo. Discovered by Marcia Jeffries, he will become a very famous TV star. His success gives him more and more power. That power will corrupt him, turning him from a sympathetic singing vagabond into a cynical and powerthirsty egotist.

Excerpt of Yepok's comments at IMdb located HERE

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release:  May 28th, 1957

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Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links:   

     

Runtime 2:05:48
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.56 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 28

Extras New documentary Facing the Past (29:08)
Theatrical Trailer
Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Never being a strong Kazan fan, this film was new to me, but I enjoyed it quite a lot (especially as I have always had a crush on Patricia Neal!). The 30 minute documentary "Facing the Past" is an adequate replacement for a commentary with quite a few talking heads and clips from the film. The image quality of the feature is very strong with piercing blacks and good detail.  out of      

NOTE: This Disc is only encoded for Region 1 and there is only the original English soundtrack.



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(aka "The Mob" or "Mob Rules")

 

directed by Fritz Lang

USA 1936

 

Based on the story "Mob Rule" by Norman Krasna. Joe Wilson and Katherine Grant are in love, but he doesn't have enough money for them to get married. So Katherine moves across the country to make money. Through the course of the movie, Fritz Lang shows us how a decent and once civilized man can become a ruthless and bitter man.

Excerpt of Andre'a M. Thompson's summary loacted on IMdb HERE.

Posters

 

Theatrical Release:  May 29th, 1936

Reviews                                                    More Reviews                                                   DVD Reviews 

Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links:  

      

Runtime 1:32:24
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 24

Extras: Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich, with interview excerpts of director Fritz Lang
Theatrical trailer
Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Considering the age of this film, the image quality is stupendous. Yes, there is some damage and minor contrast flickering, but overall it is exceeding sharp with good film grain showing through. One from Fritz Lang's ouvre is a huge bonus for this already bravisimo Boxset. I was very impressed with this film and DVD and Bogdanovich's commentary awaits - he is usually and excellent film historian... and Lang excerpts!.  out of  



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directed by Mervyn LeRoy

USA 1932

 

Returning veteran James Allen, rejecting a return to the old factory grind, degenerates into a hobo. Innocently involved in robbery, he is railroaded onto an incredibly brutal chain gang. Finally escaping, he makes his way to Chicago, where he finds success in the construction industry...and grasping girlfriend Marie, who threatens to expose him if he doesn't marry her. When he meets and falls for Helen, things go from bad to worse.

Excerpt of summary by Rod Crawford on IMdb located HERE

Posters

 

Theatrical Release:  November 19th, 1932

Reviews                                             More Reviews                                                 DVD Reviews 

Cover and Individual purchase link:

 

Controversial Classics Collection purchase links:   

  

Runtime 1:32:27
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.73 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 27

Extras:

Commentary by film historian Richard B. Jewell
Vintage musical short 20,000 Cheers for the Chain Gang
Theatrical trailer

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments: Firstly, I LOVE the Main Menu screen art. This film looks as good as I have ever seen it, but saying that it does have some limitations. Contrast flickering is present throughout as are scratches and damage marks. I liked the visible film grain showing through, although some my find it excessive. Audio has similar fluctuations in volume level with the occasional background hiss. Thankfully no brightness boosting but the film is very dark at times. I haven't made it through Jewell's commentary but what I have heard I liked. Those keen on older films will feel this long-awaited classic is the biggest bonus of the Controversial Collection Boxset. I suspect that Warner did the best they could with this print.  out of      



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Incidental Reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

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Distribution Warner -  Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC (except where noted above)




 

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Gary Tooze

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