The Aisle Steat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"HUMPHREY BOGART: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION"

Bogart

Any serious movie lover can point to a handful of crown jewels in his/her DVD collection - discs with special and/or valued films and, often, an abundance of the sort of bonus materials that make DVDs and Blu-Rays so enticing. Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection is destined to be one of those crown jewels for those who purchase it. Beautifully packaged by Warner Home Video, this box set offers 24 of Bogey's best on six discs. There is also a seventh disc containing the excellent documentary The Brothers Warner. (Read my review of that film here.)

Here's the disc-by-disc breakdown:

Disc 1 - The Petrified Forest, Marked Woman, Kid Galahad, Black Legion

Disc 2 - San Quentin, The Roaring Twenties, Dark Victory, Virginia City

Disc 3 - The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, Invisible Stripes, High Sierra, They Drive by Night

Disc 4 - The Maltese Falcon, Across the Pacific, All Through the Night, Brother Orchid

Disc 5 - Action in the North Atlantic, Passage to Marseille, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep

Disc 6 - Dark Passage, Key Largo, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Disc 7 - The Brothers Warner

That's an amazing set of films, and every single one of them comes with an assortment of first-class supplementary material. You get audio commentaries from film scholars, classic cartoons and trailers, making-of documentaries, blooper reels, vintage short subjects and newsreels, and radio adaptations. Several of the movies come with the "Warner Night at the Movies" feature, which lets you watch era-appropriate pre-show entertainment before the main attraction. Great care has gone into selecting the bonus goodies; these are not mere tack-ons, but rather features designed to enhance your appreciation of the films themselves.

Some physical extras come inside the box, starting with a beautiful hard-bound book with plot descriptions, poster art, and photographs of the movies. There are seven recreations of lobby cards for some of the most well-known Bogey flicks, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, and Casablanca. Perhaps most fun are the reproductions of studio correspondence, including a Western Union telegraph from Bogart to producer Hal Wallis expressing concern over Sierra Madre. In another, Bogey informs studio chief Jack Warner that he wants to take a vacation from making movies to entertain the troops overseas. If you love classic cinema, all this stuff is immensely valuable.

This DVD set provides a nice overview of Bogart's career as it progressed from working actor to legendary star. Younger viewers may not have seen all these pictures, so the set provides a good way to discover the wide-ranging talents of one of our greatest screen actors. Those who know the movies by heart will enjoy having them all together in one box, to revisit again and again.

The films look and sound great on disc, and the package has been gorgeously designed. Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection is indeed an essential item for the serious collector.

( out of four)


Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection - Own it on DVD Oct. 5.