Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 3


Picture Snatcher (1933)      Lady Killer (1933)      Smart Money (1931)


Black Legion (1937)       The Mayor of Hell (1933)       Brother Orchid    (1940)

 


Titles

 

 


 

PICTURE SNATCHER (1933): An admirably tough B-picture enlivened by an energetic James Cagney performance, Picture Snatcher stars Cagney as Danny Kean, a former gangster who has decided to go straight after a stretch in the big house. Danny has fallen for Patricia (Patricia Ellis), the daughter of the cop who put him away (Robert Emmett O'Connor). Dad isn't convinced that Danny has left his life of crime behind him, and he isn't too impressed with his new career taking pictures for a sleazy tabloid newspaper. Between getting a lurid photo of a fireman in front of a burning building (where his wife and her lover met their fate) and a daring shot of a woman being executed (based an actual incident when a New York Daily News photographer got a photo of Ruth Snyder in the electric chair), Danny's work is selling papers but hardly making Officer O'Connor think his daughter is in good hands (especially since he was in charge of press security for the execution). Short, sweet and sassy, Picture Snatcher is the sort of gutsy fare Warner Bros. did best in the 1930's; Ralph Bellamy turns in a great supporting performance as Danny's boozy editor.

 

LADY KILLER (1933): When a movie theater usher is fired, he takes up with criminals and finds himself quite adept at various illegal activities. Eventually though, the police catch up with him, and he runs to hide out in Los Angeles. There he stumbles into the movie business and soon rises to stardom. He has gone straight, but his newfound success arouses the interest of his old criminal associates, who are not above blackmail...

 

SMART MONEY (1931):Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were teamed for the only time in their careers in Smart Money. Robinson has the larger part as a small-town barber who fancies himself a big-time gambler. He travels to the Big City in the company of his younger brother Cagney, who wants to make sure that Robinson isn't fleeced by the high-rollers. Unfortunately Robinson has a weakness for beautiful blondes, most of whom take him for all his money or betray him in some other manner. The cops aren't keen on Robinson's gambling activities, but they can pin nothing on him until he accidentally kills Cagney in a fight. The incident results in a jail term for manslaughter, and a more sober-sided outlook on life for the formerly flamboyant Robinson. Watch closely in the first reel of Smart Money for an unbilled appearance by Boris Karloff as a dope pusher.

 

BLACK LEGION (1937): Factory worker Frank Taylor believes that he has missed out on a deserved promotion when it is instead given to a Polish immigrant. Angry and looking for a scapegoat, he is an ideal mark for the Black Legion, an underground group who want to get rid of immigrants and racial minorities through violent means. Frank joins the Legion, and with his new friends, he dons black robes and drives the Polish family from their home. His aim achieved, Frank gets his job, but soon the Legion begins to take up more of his time and money, and turns his character darker and darker. He leaves his wife, begins to drink heavily, and soon is on a downward spiral.

 

MAYOR OF HELL (1933): Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the State Reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former gangster appointed Deputy Commissioner as a political favor, arrives complete with hip flask and blonde. Gargan falls for activist nurse Dorothy and, inspired by her, takes over the administration to run the place on radical principles.

 

BROTHER ORCHID (1940): Racket Boss John Sarto, tired of gang violence, quits and goes to Europe for "culture." His fortune soon dissipated by European swindlers, he returns to the old mob; but new boss Jack Burns finds him strictly superfluous. Narrowly escaping being rubbed out, Sarto is taken in by the monastery of the "Little Brothers of the Flower." His unique talents prove very useful to the monks...especially when Sarto's old mob forces them out of the flower market.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: Various from 1931 - 1940

  DVD Reviews

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

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

NOTE: Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 appears to be exactly the same content as Warner Bros. Pictures - Tough Guys Collection released June 6th, 2006 (and reviewed HERE)

 

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

The Warner Gangsters Collection (Vol. 1) is getting re-released March 25th, 2008 and is reviewed HERE

 

NOTE: Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (also released March 25th) appears to be exactly the same content as Warner Bros. Pictures - Tough Guys Collection released June 6th, 2006 (and reviewed HERE)

 

Time: over 8 hrs. total on six discs
Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English (CC), French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

• Commentary on Picture Snatcher by Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta
• Commentary on Lady Killer by Dr. Drew Casper
• Commentary on Smart Money by Alain Silver and James Ursini
• Commentary on Black Legion by Patricia King Hanson and Anthony Slide
• Commentary on The Mayor of Hell by Greg Mank
• Commentary on Brother Orchid by and Alan L. Gansberg and Eric Lax

• Warner Night at the Movies (includes newsreel, a short, a cartoon, and trailers)

• Theatrical trailers


DVD Release Date: March 25th, 2008

6 standard keep cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters:

Picture Snatcher - 19
Lady Killer - 21
Smart Money - 21
Black Legion - 19
The Mayor of Hell - 26
Brother Orchid - 25

 

Comments:

Strangely, Warner are re-releasing Gangsters Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at the same time as this. But Vol. 2 appears to be exactly the same content as Warner Bros. Pictures - Tough Guys Collection released June 6th, 2006 (and reviewed HERE) with Bullets or Ballots / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men / San Quentin and A Slight Case of Murder. There may be some difference in the packaging - if we can confirm that we will post it here.

NOTE: The 6 main features of this boxset are housed in individual keep cases (see images above and below) and are also sold separately although a substantial savings (in the neighborhood of double) can be accrued by purchasing the Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 3 as opposed to individually.

Technical specifications of the discs: All six are coded for regions 1,2,3, and 4 in the NTSC standard and all six discs are dual-layered and progressively transferred. Each have original English audio and options for English (CC), or French subtitles (no Spanish) in an off-white font with black border. Each film is supplemented by an optional, expert, audio commentary and each have a Warner Night at the Movies section which includes a newsreel, a short, a cartoon, and various trailers.

Image: Smart Money, perhaps the only legitimate 'Gangster' film here although all touch on the subject, tends to show its age more than the other five and the image contrast can look fairly faint at times. There is noise in all six to varying degrees with Brother Orchid distinguishing itself as looking the best. It being the 'youngest' of the six features is no coincidence to its superior appearance. The Mayor of Hell can also look better than one might expect. Speckles and light scratches are minimal - the bulk successfully removed by Warner's restoration system. There are no surprises - these DVDs look and sound as good as previous from the same era - and generally, maybe only a small notch below Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. but I'll wager it has more to do with the source material than anything absent in the transfer process. I don't think any fans will be unhappy with the quality.  

NOTE: We feel the selected screen captures below give a good representation of the image quality. 

Audio - All original (monaural) and are as correspondingly as limited as the image but dialogue was always clear and consistent. I have always said that this is one of Warner's strengths - they rarely issue DVDs with substantial audio deficiencies. I noted no excessive gaps, pops or hisses just remember how old these films are and they never sounded like our current state-of-the-art to begin with. 

Extras - I always enjoy the seasoned and professional commentators like Alain Silver, James Ursini, Patricia King Hanson and Drew Casper. You can appreciate their styles (Casper's occasional exuberance and Silver's more matter-of-fact, impressive knowledge).  The commentaries are all excellent. I especially liked Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta on Picture Snatcher for a change of pace. All are brimming with information from gossip to production facts to monetary details of costs and performers salaries. I, personally, found these commentaries extremely enjoyable. Immense value for those interested in advancing their knowledge of Cagney, Edward G. and Bogie... as well as the film era in general.

Theatrical trailers are included for all (respectively) except Smart Money.

Each disc offers a Warner Night at the Movies section which includes a newsreel, a short, a cartoon, and various trailers. A decent touch to separate them as those keen would likely view all... and those uninterested wouldn't venture into that section anyway. 

Overall impression: talking about Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 this might genuinely be the weaker in terms of film content, but I still strongly feel the package has great value especially in terms of supplements with the commentaries alone worth the price of admission. These belong in a grouping of films that I can pick up and watch at any time - the appeal being their simplicity, Americana nostalgia, and, of course Cagney, Edward G. and Bogie before their respective primes. I loved Brother Orchid and Black Legion the most but the other four aren't far behind. I think the package is a great deal.         

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus


 


 

Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

Starring James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis and Alice White

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed Roy Del Ruth


Starring James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay, Leslie Fenton and Douglass Dumbrille

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

Directed by Alfred E. Green


Starring Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Margaret Livingston, Ralf Harolde and Noel Francis

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Archie Mayo


Starring Humphrey Bogart, Dick Foran, Erin O'Brien-Moore and Ann Sheridan ... Betty Grogan

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Archie Mayo and Michael Curtiz (uncredited)


starring James Cagney, Madge Evans, Arthur Byron, Allen Jenkins and Dudley Digges

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

Starring Edward G. Robinson, Ann Sothern, Humphrey Bogart, Donald Crisp, and Ralph Bellamy

 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

NOTE: Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 appears to be exactly the same content as Warner Bros. Pictures - Tough Guys Collection released June 6th, 2006 (and reviewed HERE)

 

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

The Warner Gangsters Collection (Vol. 1) is getting re-released March 25th, 2008 and is reviewed HERE

 

NOTE: Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (also released March 25th) appears to be exactly the same content as Warner Bros. Pictures - Tough Guys Collection released June 6th, 2006 (and reviewed HERE)

 





 

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