Monday May 20, 2013
For more than 80 years, the gangster flick has been a staple at Warner Bros. So it should come as no surprise that the studio plans to release two gangster collections as part of their 90th anniversary celebration.
The first set, The Ultimate Gangster Collection: Classic, will contain several great Warner productions from the classic era, some of which make their debuts on Blu-ray. Included are Little Caesar (1931) starring Edward G. Robinson in his defining role; William A. Wellman's The Public Enemy (1931) featuring James Cagney as ruthless Chicago mobster Tom Powers; and The Petrified Forest (1936) with Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart. The classic collection will also contain another Cagney classic, White Heat (1949), directed by Raoul Walsh, as well as the feature-length documentary Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film.
The second box set, The Ultimate Gangster Collection: Contemporary, has several gangster films from more recent decades. Naturally, Martin Scorsese is well represented with three films covering different eras, including his breakout film Mean Streets (1973); Goodfellas (1990), arguably his best movie; and the Oscar-winning crime saga, The Departed (2006), which finally earned him the Academy Award for Best Director. Also in the set are Michael Mann's moody crime thriller Heat (1995) and Brian De Palma's Depression Era classic The Untouchables (1987).
Both collections will be released tomorrow, May 21st.
Blu-ray covers for 'The Public Enemy' (1931) and 'Goodfellas' (1990)/Warner Bros.
Sunday May 12, 2013
This weekend, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic The Great Gatsby over-performed at the box office with a $52 million take, though the comic book sequel Iron Man 3 still came in first place in its second week of release.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as mysterious Jazz Age millionaire Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as self-absorbed flapper Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Gatsby's optimistic neighbor Nick Carraway, Luhrmann's Gatsby featured lavish costumes, extraordinary sets, and an anachronistic hip-hop soundtrack from Jay-Z that helped lure a younger audience.
The film received a mixed reception from critics, however, while becoming the fourth adaptation of Fitzgerald's book to hit the big screen. The first was a silent version from Paramount Pictures in 1926 starring Warner Baxter as Gatsby, Lois Wilson as Daisy, and Neil Hamilton as Nick Carraway. William Powell had a supporting role as doomed mechanic George Wilson.
In 1949, Paramount made the first sound version with Alan Ladd as Gatsby and Betty Field as Daisy, though certainly the most famous adaptation came in 1974 with Robert Redford playing Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy, and Sam Waterston as Carraway. Directed by Jack Clayton from a script by Francis Ford Coppola, that film was walloped by negative reviews despite praise for its adherence to the source material.
While Lurhamann's version undoubtedly speaks to the current times while remaining true to its source, filmmakers are sure to find inspiration in Fitzgerald's novel years from now and make a fifth film for a newer generation.
The cast of Baz Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby' (2013)/Warner Bros.
Wednesday May 1, 2013
Here is a list of classic movie stars and directors who were born in the month of May. A few are still with us, but all should be remembered for how their lives and work touched us deeply.
- Glenn Ford - May 1
- Bing Crosby - May 3
- Audrey Hepburn - May 4
- Tyrone Power - May 5
- Orson Welles - May 6
- Gary Cooper - May 7
- Don Rickles - May 8
- Albert Finney - May 9
- Fred Astaire - May 10
- Katharine Hepburn - May 12
- James Mason - May 15
- Joseph Cotten - May 15
- Henry Fonda - May 16
- Frank Capra - May 18
- James Stewart - May 20
- Laurence Olivier - May 22
- Peter Cushing - May 26
- Vincent Price - May 27
- Bob Hope - May 29
- Howard Hawks - May 30
- Clint Eastwood - May 31
Promo still of Katharine Hepburn/Unknown
Sunday April 28, 2013
Every month, I try to dig up enough films that are being released on Blu-ray to make it worth writing an article. Most months, I'm hard-pressed to find much of anything, which often leads to writing about obscure films released by an indie distributor.
But that's not the case this month. In May, major studios are set to release a number of great classics on the popular Blu-ray format. In fact, there were enough films that I had to put them on two separate lists. You can read Part I here and Part II here.
Of the all the major studios, Warner Bros. has the most to offer with the release of four classic gangster flicks from the 1930s and '40s as part of their 90th anniversary celebration, including Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), The Petrified Forest (1936), and White Heat (1949).
Also among those making the transfer this month are the classic World War II action thriller The Great Escape (1963), Alfred Hitchcock's experimental thriller Rope (1948), Sidney Lumet's great courtroom drama The Verdict (1982), and Cleopatra (1963), one of the most notorious box office flops of all time.
Of course, all the films being released next month will make great additions to anyone's movie collection.
Blu-ray covers for 'Cleopatra' (1963)/20th Century Fox and 'Little Caesar' (1931)/Warner Bros.