I came out here with one suit and everybody said I looked like a bum. Twenty years later Marlon Brando came out with only a sweatshirt and the town drooled over him. That shows how much Hollywood has progressed. – Humphrey Bogart
Just recently Warner Brothers released what they’ve chosen to call the Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection boxset.
The good: It is 24 films covering Bogie’s entire career with Warner Brothers. It is a wonderful set and the presentation is strong, with the set cased in an understated but elegant white box. The movies themselves are on double sided standard DVDs. Although I usually rather detest the double sided monster which is the double sided DVD, here it is a nice plus, as otherwise the sheer physical volume of the product would be overly daunting.
As you’d imagine with 24 features you get more than the de facto The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Casablanca, and the like. We also get lesser known films- and many well known films which really aren’t what one would say are Bogart films. In this later category I’d place, among others, Dark Victory and Virginia City, which really showcase Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, respectively.
Additional material is ample, with numerous commentaries, shorts, blooper reels, and the like. More on that later. Also on the upside is a 48 page booklet and several color reproductions of original movie posters, memos, etc.
Presentation, always a Warner Brothers strength for their catalog, is exemplary. It is a stupendous release.
The bad: As great as this release is, who will buy it? Most of the films (perhaps all, but I didn’t verify this) and the bonus disc have already been released. From my recollection, the supplemental materials are also all previously available. I didn’t watch every film in here on this release, but the ones I did (and others I merely checked out) appear to be the same quality (albeit overall of very good quality) as previous releases.
If you are already a diehard Bogart aficionado, you’ll have these previous releases. And if you are merely a confirmed classic film fan, but perhaps not the Bogart junkie you may need to be to get this, surely you have his bigger films – e.g. Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. All three of these are on blu-ray as well, in better quality than this standard DVD set will provide.
Also this set includes only films Bogart did for Warners, which of course encompasses much of his best work. However, for an essential collection you also need The African Queen, The Caine Mutiny, and Sabrina, all of which were made after he left the studio.
At the end of the day you need at least most of these films in your collection, but it is up to each of you what your individual tipping point is for investing in this new release. One solution may be trading in your existing standard DVD releases for this set, which presents them better than previous releases. And that isn’t a knock on the previous entries in the Signature Collections, as they were well presented as well- just The Essential Collection is a step above.
Of course, available at the usual suspects or at The WB Shop.
Here is a full listing of the 24 films included:
– Petrified Forest
– Marked Woman
– Kid Galahad
– Black Legion
– The Roaring Twenties
– San Quentin
– Dark Victory
– Virginia City
– Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
– Invisible Stripes
– High Sierra
– They Drive by Night
– Maltese Falcon
– Across the Pacific
– All Through the Night
– Brother Orchid
– Action in the North Atlantic
– Passage to Marseille
– To Have and Have Not
– The Big Sleep
– Dark Passage
Review copy provided by Warner Bros. Thanks!