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Humphrey Bogart The Signature Collection: Volume 2

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DVD Features
Films: The Maltese Falcon (Three-Disc Special Edition) which includes the wonderful documentary, ”One Magnificent Bird.”
Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, All Through the Night, and Passage to Marseille.
Plus interesting featurette accruements that compliment each film; Call the Usual Suspects, The Free French, Hollywood Helps the Cause, and Credit Where Credit is Due
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Review: Bluntly speaking? Bogart is probably the world’s most popular movie star – still. His on-screen mixture of bad boy devil may care that hides a soft heart had audiences glued. He commanded every scene he walked into. And remains a true platinum card carrying, U.S. Commemorative Stamp assigned, American Icon when today, being a movie star is handed out like an Altoid mint to a smirking disheveled half-talent neurotic that's been visually pre-fabricated to a fit a People Magazine trend by a team of image makers, and given a bag of cash and a short term lease to a Hollywood Hills bungalow. Ultimately they will have a shelf life of about two films and one scandal with culminating in a trip to a swanky rehab. Bogart was, and is, above that; he was legit, and swell in the acting department too - when he tried.

Though there's still a few Bogart film's out there that are "better" than this collection, they had a point in this second thoughtful set. The first signature collection had the Big Bogies. This set has one major Bogie, The Maltese Falcon, as its rock - er, diamond.

The Maltese Falcon, more so then The of Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is the most important film of Humphrey Bogart's career. Sure, Treasure gave him a meaty role, but Falcon made him a star, and gave him his eternal persona. But, the coolness of the set does’t stop there. The studio added two previously released versions of The Maltese Falcon that didn’t end up in cinema history. One stars the ever wonderful Bette Davis as the infamous Ms. Wonderly in Satan Met a Lady. The other is a pre-code version also called The Maltese Falcon that is almost unwatchable. But, thankfully, among the cinema le poo is the crowning jewel of the set, the disc dedicated to the magic of The Maltese Falcon we all know and covet, they have included a feature documentary called, “One Magnificent Bird.” Hollywood big shots and scholars talk about Huston’s dynamic film, its often surprising residual effect on film, and the careers of most of its stars. The special also enlightens the viewer on author of the book which started it all, Dashiell Hammett. This is one helluva documentary.

In the rest of the "smaller" films, you'll see what a big star does over the summer. The films are historically fun, if not the ones Humphrey was probably most proud of . For example, there's a scene in Passage to Marseille, where Free French beau Bogie, gal in arms, glances over an obvious set painting of a French valley and in his best New Yorkese states, "Dis is where I grew up..." or some such brouhaha of bull. I still have to pull over the car when I think of that scene. He made NO attempt to "French it up." And he didn't have to, he was Bogart - plus how silly would that have been? Of course, now the street wise delivery is just precious. If he wasn't a huge star when the film was made, I am sure the press would have served up a hefty verbal lashing. But that small scene is also a microcosm of the real Humphrey Bogart, honest and no bullcrap.

And, though the films aren't award winners, as after-the-fact viewers will relish in the familiar faces upon his screen. Costarring faces you'll squeal at like Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet, and peppered in the "background" are few of the Warner Bros. stable of multi-talents like Barton McLane and Frank McHugh.

Which brings me to another jewel in the set. They have four mini-docs of high caliber included. One, an ode in the form of featurette to these character actors of Warner Bros. (and film really) called, Call in the Usual Suspects, reminds you how important these folks are. The other featurettes look at the agenda behind each film’s release. The Warner Bros. were very politically active and were not opposed to creating biased films with their studio.

Warner Bros. of today adds dollops of time capsule goodies in the form of cartoons, and newsreels, plus loads of never-before-seen snippets and uber detailed film geek heaven styled audio commentary. And the speakers in the set are brilliant; if you don't usually listen to commentary, you'll want to listen here. It's like film school lectures on Bogart and early films of Warner!

DVDs by Warner Home Video always seem absolutely jam packed with great film lover extras. Bogart’s second set simply confirms their dedication to making home viewing an event. This set (and most of their others) are like a home film festival on their subject.


 

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