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Warner Bros. continue their exceptional series of gangster box sets with the Warner Bros. Gangsters Collection vol. 4. This release contains 4 Edward G. Robinson titles: The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, The Little Giant, Larceny, Inc., Kid Galahad, as well as the George Raft vehicle Invisible Stripes. Bogart, as always, features as a welcomed supporting player.

The box features the high standard of extra features we have come to expect: commentaries, documentaries, newsreels and cartoons, as well as an all-new feature-length documentary, Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film.

This really is film history in a box!

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)
Dr. Clitterhouse (Edward G. Robinson) is fascinated by the study of the physical and mental states of lawbreakers, so he joins a gang of jewel thieves for a closer look in this often amusing crime drama. Claire Trevor co-stars as a savvy crime queen, and Humphrey Bogart plays Rocks Valentine, whom Dr. C. calls “a magnificent specimen of pure viciousness.” The movie also marks the start of one of film’s most noteworthy collaborations. John Huston, who was to later direct Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen, co-wrote the screenplay of The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse.

Special Features:
Commentary by Dr. Drew Casper and Richard Jewell
Racket Busters theatrical trailer
Vintage newsreel
WB short: Night Intruder
WB cartoons:
Cinderella Meets a Fella
Count Me Out
1941 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Broadcast (audio only)
1944 Gulf Screen Guild Theater Broadcast (audio only)
Theatrical trailer

The Little Giant (1933)
The era of the bootlegger is past but liquor runner Bugs Ahearn (Edward G. Robinson) has a plan for what he’ll do now that Prohibition is history. He decides to head for California’s posh, polo-playing Santa Barbara to become part of the high society. What he finds there — swindlers, gold diggers, great fun – makes first class entertainment in this pre-Code gem. Edward G. Robinson shows his comedic chops for the first time, paving the way for such subsequent films as A Slight Case of Murder, Brother Orchid, Larceny, Inc. and more persona-skewering frolics.

Special Features:
Commentary by Daniel Bubbeo and John McCarty
Vintage newsreel
WB short: Just Around the Corner
WB cartoon: The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon
Theatrical trailer

Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Edward G. Robinson once more turns his gangster image on its head in a gleeful romp based on the Broadway farce penned by Laura Perelman and S.J. Perelman. Robinson plays Pressure Maxwell, who emerges from Sing Sing planning to run a dog track with cronies Jug (Broderick Crawford) and Weepy (Edward Brophy). But the plan needs funding, so the group (assisted by Jane Wyman) opens a luggage shop as a front while attempting to tunnel into the bank next door. Now add the store’s unexpected success, a gabby traveling valise salesman (Jack Carson) and the arrival of a sour con (Anthony Quinn) who wants in on the action, and the laughs are thick as thieves.

Special Features:
Commentary by Haden Guest and Dana Polan
Vintage newsreel
The Big Shot theatrical trailer
WB short: Winning Your Wings
WB cartoons:
Porky’s Pastry Pirates
The Wabbit Who Came to Supper
Theatrical trailer

Invisible Stripes (1939)
Parolee Chuck Martin is going straight when he gets out of jail – straight back to a life of crime. In lockup or out in the civilian world, he knows he’ll forever wear a con’s ‘Invisible Stripes.’ As Martin, Humphrey Bogart continues to battle and sneer his way to career stardom in this volatile social-conscience crime saga adapted from a book by warden Lewis E. Lawes. Top-billed George Raft plays Martin’s ex-Sing Sing yard mate Cliff Taylor, who vows to walk away from crime and be a role model for his kid brother (William Holden). But what awaits Taylor are suspicion, public disdain and joblessness. So he turns to a fellow con for help. Then, as now, he finds crime doesn’t pay.

Special Features:
Commentary by Alain Silver and James Ursini
You Can’t Get Away with Murder Theatrical trailer
Vintage newsreel
WB short The Monroe Doctrine and Quiet, Please
WB cartoons:
Bars and Stripes Forever
Hare-um Scare-um
Theatrical trailer
Kid Galahad (1937)
This influential ring saga dramatically links professional boxing to criminal gambling. Edward G. Robinson is racketeer/fight promoter Nick Donati and tightly coiled Humphrey Bogart is Turkey Morgan. They’re rival promoters who, like fighters flinging kidney punches, end up swapping close-range bullets. Bette Davis plays the moll who has a soft spot for the bellhop (Wayne Morris) that Nick is grooming for the heavyweight title. And prolific Michael Curtiz directs this first of his six collaborations with Bogart that would include the romantic masterwork Casablanca and the sly comedy We’re No Angels.

Special Features:
Commentary by Art Simon and Robert Sklar
It’s Love I’m After theatrical trailer
Vintage newsreel
WB Shorts: Alibi Mark and Postal Union
WB Cartoons:
Egghead Rides Again
I Wanna Be a Sailor
Porky’s Super Service
Theatrical trailer

Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film — Warner Home Video Documentary
As popular as these films were in their heyday, seminal giants like Little Caesar and Public Enemy as well as post-war gems like Key Largo and White Heat still hold power over their audiences today. Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film will explore the invention and development of the crime genre; the rise of Warner stars like Cagney, Bogart and Robinson; as well as directors like Walsh, Wellman and Curtiz. It will cover the films themselves and the influence they had on filmmakers all over the world; and the artistic merit that these defining classic films still warrant. Finally, the documentary will celebrate the impact that Warner Bros. Studios had in establishing the iconic Hollywood Gangster, often imitated but never equaled.

Special Features:
Four WB Cartoons: I Like Mountain Music, She Was an Acrobat’s Daughter, Racketeer Rabbit and Bugs and Thugs

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It turns out that another Bogart movie is heading for a Blu-Ray release: Beat the Devil is slated for the High Definition platform. This is particularly interesting since Beat the Devil has always looked terrible on DVD. As an independent production it eventually fell into the public domain. This resulted in poorly produced DVDs from terrible prints. A motley crew of international thieves get together for a complex scheme, and the ramshackle nature of the plot makes the film quite difficult to follow. Featuring such John Huston regulars such as Peter Lorre and Robert Morley, this was one of six collaborations between Huston and Bogart. While the film often struggles to make sense there are some striking close-ups of Bogart’s particularly haggard face and thinning hair.

I’d be surprised if the film has been remastered but if it ever did receive a full restoration, it could indeed turn out to be a revelation?

Warner Brothers has announced a forthcoming edition of Casablanca on Blu-Ray to be released on 2nd December 2008. The ‘Ultimate Collector’s Edition’ will feature a host of extra features but what is most exciting about this release is of course the High Definition print itself. This will not actually be the first time that the film has been released in High Definition. It received spectacular reviews when it was released on the now (suddenly) obsolete HD-DVD format. Let’s hope the Blu-Ray edition at least matches this previous print and if we’re lucky it could possibly surpass it.

It is interesting how legacy title such as Casablanca continue to make money for studios such as Warner Bros. When films were released during the 20s and 30s it was not conceivable that these films could have a life beyond their initial release. At which point did studios suddenly understand that their giant back catalogues could actually continue to work for them? Did this occur during the late 1970s with the dawn of video or was it earlier?

It wouldn’t surprise me if many of you not only have video and DVD copies of the same film, but have even paid to see them in the cinema several times.

The following are the extras slated for the Blu-Ray release:

Disc 1

Behind the Story

Introduction by Lauren Bacall

Commentary by film critic Roger Ebert

Commentary by film historian/author Rudy Behlmer

1988 TCM special: Bacall on Bogart [Laurel Bacall’s candid and moving reminiscences about her husband’s life and career]

You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca [Bacall hosts this spellbinding backstage tour]

As Time Goes By: The Children Remember [Stephen Bogart and Pia Lindstrom remember their parents, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman]

Production history gallery

Additional Footage

Deleted scenes

Outtakes

Who Holds Tomorrow? Premiere episode from the 1955 Warner Bros. Presents series, starring Charles McGraw

1995 WB Cartoon: Carrotblanca

Audio

Scoring Stage Sessions

Knock on Wood Alternate Version, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part One Alternate Take, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part One Film Version, Wilson with Piano

Rick Sees Ilsa Instrumental Medley

As Time Goes By Part Two Alternate Take, Wilson with Piano

As Time Goes By Part Two Film Version, Wilson with Piano

At La Belle Aurore Instrumental Medley

Dat’s What Noah Done Outtake, Wilson with Piano

April 26,1943 Screen Guild Players Radio Broadcast

Trailers

Theatrical trailer

1992 re-release trailer


Disc 2

1993 documentary: Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul

Have you ever wondered how Hollywood studios made so many movies and you never saw the same set twice? Well it’s just a case of looking closely. Check out this scene from All Through the Night, produced by Warner Bros. and featuring Humphrey Bogart. It was release on 2nd December 1941.

Now compare the set to another film starring Humphrey Bogart, this time released only a couple of months earlier on 18th October 1941. Also produced by Warner Bros. and again starring Humphrey Bogart, a little film known as The Maltese Falcon.

Same lift, same hallway, same room. You’re going to have to do more than move the furniture around to fool me…

If you know of any other examples of this, drop me a line at classicfilmshow@gmail.com.

Joy Page in Casablanca

Talking of Casablanca, news recently emerged that the actress Joy Page has passed away at the age of 83. She had a small but memorable role in the film as the young Bulgarian wife who pleads for Rick (Bogart) to help her. Although Rick has already made it clear that he sticks his neck out for nobody, he allows her husband to win at roulette in order to pay for the visas they so desperately need.

Page was only 17 years old when she got the part, but it no doubt helped that her mother had recently married studio head Jack L. Warner. Page went on to have small roles in a limited number of films, but also made a variety of television appearances throughout the 1950s.

She was one of the last surviving members of the Casablanca cast. It is said that the only living actress from the film is Madeleine LeBeau, who played Yvonne, the bitter young beauty who Rick forces from his Café.

Watch Joy Page in Casablanca:

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Christian Hayes
classicfilmshow@gmail.com
christianhayes.net
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