A couple years ago I was in Los Angeles for a few days. During my whirlwind weekend, my friend and I decided we wanted to go on a Hollywood Studio tour. Because of time, circumstance, and location, we randomly chose the Warner Bros. tour in Burbank, CA. At the time, if you had asked me to name a WB movie, I’d probably go initially blank, then blurt out “Harry Potter!” After the tour was over, however, you may as well have handed me some smelling salts as I was swooning from Hollywood overload.
Warner Bros. is truly one of the classic studios, and this year they are pulling out the stops to commemorate their 90th anniversary in the motion picture business. Many studios have come and gone, so Warner Bros. indeed has a lot to celebrate. When you have a roster of films like Warner Bros. has, you certainly can’t blame them for preening.
Among their many planned box sets to be released over the next few months, one of the first–nicely timed a month before the Oscars–is the DVD set, Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Best Pictures. With Warner having distribution rights to MGM’s classics, they have no problem collecting a fantastically broad group of Oscar winners in one inarguably impressive set.
The collection covers a huge span, from 1929’s hit musical The Broadway Melody (“All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!”), all the way up through Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Best Picture winner, The Departed. But here are some of the films that land somewhere between those two: Casablanca, Gone With the Wind. An American in Paris. Ben-Hur. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Unforgiven. And a dozen more! To help chronologically, the set is broken into three cases: 1929-1942 (A New Era), 1946-1959 (The Golden Years), and (jumping ahead, after an apparent dry period) 1975-2006 (The New Classics). There is seriously something for everyone to like in a collection like this.
If you are obsessed with a film (like I am with Gone With the Wind), you will most likely want to shell out the bucks for stand-alone special editions with the endless special features to get your fix. At least one film, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, is not exactly a movie that you would watch as a stand-alone without context of the rest of its film trilogy. However, if you are simply looking to be introduced to classic films that you may have missed somewhere along the line (like Mrs. Miniver, Grand Hotel, and The Best Years of Our Lives, all of which I finally saw recently), a set like this is surely a great way to start. Listed at a retail price of under $100 for the set, that’s less than $5 a movie, so you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck.
Here is the full list of movies included in the DVD box set:
1929-1942 (A New Era):
* The Broadway Melody (1929)
* Grand Hotel (1932)
* Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
* The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
* Mrs. Miniver (1942)
* Casablanca (1942) – 1943 Best Picture Winner
1946-1959 (The Golden Years):
* The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
* An American in Paris (1951)
* Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
* Gigi (1958)
* Ben-Hur (1959)
1975-2006 (The New Classics):
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
* Chariots of Fire (1981)
* Amadeus: Director’s Cut (1984)
* Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
* Unforgiven (1992)
* The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
* Million Dollar Baby (2004)
* The Departed (2006)
And when you start to think of all the great movies that haven’t won the Oscar for Best Picture, you may be getting an inkling of the other box sets being released by Warner Bros. throughout their 90th Anniversary celebration….
Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Best Pictures was released on DVD on January 29th, 2013. Find the collection at the WB Shop (click here) and join Warner Bros. in their 90th Anniversary celebration on their Official Facebook page (find it here).
On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, Warner Home Entertainment EVP Jeff Baker celebrated the 90th Anniversary of Warner Bros. Studios at the World Premiere screening New York City of the feature-length documentary Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot, an inside look at the workings of the legendary studio and its history. The screening took place at the Paley Center for Media. The documentary will be part of two new just-released Warner box sets, “The Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film DVD Collection” and “The Best of Warner Bros. 50 Film Blu-Ray Collection,” the largest ever collections of their kind in the history of home entertainment. Gerber produced the documentary with Gary Khammar, who directed. Designer Bill Gold, a veteran of six decades of advertising at Warner Bros. whose work is included in the collections, also attended.