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1. Ben-Hur
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2. Roman Holiday (Special Collector's
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3. How to Steal a Million
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4. The Letter
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5. Funny Girl/Funny Lady Box Set
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6. The Best Years of Our Lives
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7. Funny Girl
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8. The Big Country
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9. The Children's Hour
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10. The Little Foxes
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11. Friendly Persuasion
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12. Mrs. Miniver
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13. The Collector
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14. Wuthering Heights
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15. Jezebel
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16. Dead End
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17. Dodsworth
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18. The Desperate Hours
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19. Ben-Hur - Limited Edition Collector's
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20. The Westerner

1. Ben-Hur
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.96
our price: $13.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000056BP4
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 1064
Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential video

Ben-Hur scooped an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards® in 1959 and, unlike some later rivals, richly deserved every single one. This is epic filmmaking on a scale that had not been seen before and is unlikely ever to be seen again. But it's not just running time or a cast of thousands that makes an epic, it's the subject matter, and here the subject--Prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and his estrangement from old Roman pal Messala (Stephen Boyd)--is rich, detailed, and sensitively handled. Director William Wyler, who had been a junior assistant on MGM's original silent version back in 1925, never sacrifices the human focus of the story in favor of spectacle, and is aided immeasurably by Miklos Rozsa's majestic musical score, arguably the greatest ever written for a Hollywood picture. At four hours it's a long haul (especially given some of the portentous dialogue), but all in all, Ben-Hur is a great movie, best seen on the biggest screen possible. --Mark Walker ... Read more

Reviews (210)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Presentation Of A Classic Film
Ben-Hur is a classic. It made AFI's top 100 films list. It's chariot race is one of the great moments in film, inspiring Lucas' near shot for shot remake in The Phantom Menace. Others here and elsewhere have admirably debated the merits of this film as cinema. Rather than concentrate on the film, I'd like to review this DVD presentation.

Pros :
- Excellent widescreen transfer. This disk is both dual layer and double sided. This nearly 4 hour film looks wonderful for its age.
- Excellent 5.1 mix from the original multitrack recording. The mix is relatively frequency limited and doesn't have the rumbling lows and crisp digital highs we've become accustomed to in modern films. This would have felt out of place on an almost 50 year old film.
- Excellent making of documentary. About an hour long, interesting and well produced.

Cons:
- Heston's commentary is not full length. It is probably about 30-45 minutes. It is also not very interesting, consisting largely of "This was a great scene." style remembrances.
- They failed to mark which side of DVD is which! To make matters worse the onscreen menus look identical on both sides of the disk. I did eventually realize that there is a serial number printed on each side of the disk which can be used to differentiate the sides. When "65506.1.A US & Canada 212 MINS. WARNER HOME VIDEO" is face up in your DVD player that means you are about begin watching the first part of the film. Intuitive, no?

All in all a good presentation of a classic film, and a good value.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ben-Hur EPIC DVD, 11 Oscars including Best Movie 1959 !!!
Only a handful of motion pictures compare or even come close to this EPIC of EPIC's. (Voted as one of the greatest 100 movies of the last 100 years (1998) by the American Film Institute.

Ben-Hur won 11 Oscar's in 1959 including the "Big 3", Picture, Director - William Wyler and Actor - Charleton Heston.

This widescreen digitally restored picture & full sound (stereoized) DVD version is an absolute joy to watch & listen to.

The cast was meticulously casted and proved to be the right combination to provide the drama for "General Lew Wallace's" epic story.

In summary; This story parallels the "The Story of the Christ" Wallaces actual book title of this tale.

The setting is a Roman conquered and imprisoned Judah. There is unrest & possible rebellion in the air. Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) a Jewish Prince and grown childhood friend Roman Centurian Messala (Stephen Boyd) clash with different adult views. Shortly after their falling out a serious accident occurs involving the new Roman Governor & the Hur family. Due to this accident Ben-Hur is arrested & sentenced to be Galley (slave) rower & his family is imprisoned to keep this possible rebellion from occuring. Hur promises he will return and seek Messala with a vengence.

The movie is a long interesting journey (over 3 hours)of Hur and Christ. Their paths crossing at key times in each ones life. The Sea Battle and the most famous & spectacluar 11 minute chariot race highlights this greatest of tales.

The DVD extras add to this package !! In closing a movie must for your library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really The End of an Era
One of the last great grand sweeping epics. Truly a cast of thousands. I've never been a big Heston fan but you got give the man his due. He was born to play these larger than life characters. The chariot race is really all its cracked up to be. One of the greatest cinematic moments ever. The chariot race in the silent version is even better, if you can believe that. Just amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars AMAZING MOVIE!!!
Definitely a great epic and one of my personal favorites, Ben Hur, brings to the screen such heavyweights as Charlton Heston and Jack Hawkins in a tale set during the times of the Roman Empire. There are no words to describe this multiple (11) Oscar winning movie. The acting, the chariot races (!!!) and the costumes are all wonderful! It is simply amazing how a movie made in 1959 surpasses by far most movies that have been made in later years. Ben Hur is about honor, bravery, and heroes from a time long gone.
Together with Spartacus, The 300 Spartans, Cleopatra, and the Fall of the Roman Empire, Ben Hur makes my list of Top 5 classics of all times.
A great marvel indeed!

5-0 out of 5 stars The greatest Movie of all times
This Movie no matter how many times i see it moves me. I have the Collectors Box Set. This set will be used to be passed down to my family forever. ... Read more


2. Roman Holiday (Special Collector's Edition)
Director: William Wyler
list price: $14.99
our price: $11.24
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Asin: B00003CXCD
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 574
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (104)

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Audrey Hepburn... with an Interesting "Backstory"
This is by far one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies. In "Roman Holiday," Audrey plays a reluctant princess who escapes from her repressive royal life to have a one-day adventure in Rome... with Gregory Peck. This is a classic 1950s fairy tale romantic comedy.

It's hard to believe that "Roman Holiday" was Audrey's first major film, because she's fabulous in it! She has a certain grace and charm that is unequaled. The Academy clearly agreed... Audrey won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Princess Ann.

What most people don't know is that the script was an original creation by the famous screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo had already been blacklisted for refusing to answer HUAC's questions regarding his possible Communist affiliations. Trumbo was sentenced to a year in prison, and he spent his last few months of freedom working diligently on the "Roman Holiday" script. He was able to sell the script (for much lower than his usual price) by putting a friend's name on it. The money he earned from "Roman Holiday" took care of his family's needs while he was in jail.

"Roman Holiday" is a fun, family-friendly romantic comedy. I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful
What a wonderful movie! What a great romantic fantasy!
It is one of my all-time favorites, one of the films I could watch several times, without getting bored.

I don't think that the plot is important here, but the way the actors performed and the place where the story is set.
In Rome, a European princess manages to escape the rigid and boring life and have and unforgettable experience, living for one day as a normal person. She does all the things that she was not allowed to do before, such as cutting her hair, eating ice-cream, strolling down the streets and why not, falling in love with an ordinary man.

This is the role that brought Audrey Hepburn an Oscar and made her a well-known star.
It is the natural and ingenuous performance that makes her such a charming and unforgettable character, a graceful presence on the screen.

Her companion is Gregory Peck who has also a great performance and makes the film even more delightful. He plays the part of a young and charming journalist, looking for news that might increase sales of his newspaper and bring some money in his pocket.

The DVD includes also a section with a kind of "making of": interviews of the people who participated at the shooting, memories, etc. This is even more interesting, as you will have the chance to listen to the people who were involved in this project, and the stories behind the scene. You will also see that time did not alter too many of Audrey Hepburn's features and even at an older age she still looks refined and elegant.

I have one complain about this movie: 118 minutes seemed to be not enough for such a romantic story. I believe that everyone of us would like to dream about what is like to be lost in the "eternal city" for one day and enjoy the simple things of life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Light, feel-good romance in Rome
Since my family is going to Italy this summer, my father had us watch Roman holiday because of the setting and all of the landmarks shown in the movie. It was my first Audrey Hepburn film, and it definately will not be my last. In this ligh hearted tale, a princess of a European country becomes fed up with her duties and sneaks out to enjoy a day in Rome, where she soon meets, and falls in love with, an american reporter. This movie is incredibly charming and very romantic, with one of the saddest endings that doesn't seem all that sad. I would recommend it to everyone, regardless of age or movie preference.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's always open season on princesses
ROMAN HOLIDAY should appeal to everyone who loves a good romance, and this one is a great one. The rest us of will be well content with the splendor of Rome and the chance to see the remarkable Audrey Hepburn in her debut movie. In other words, ROMAN HOLIDAY has something for every palate.
The plot? Princess Ann (we're never quite sure which country she's princess of) is enduring a grueling tour of European nations. Weary to death of the royal treatment, one night Ann escapes into the Roman night. Unfortunately for her she had a while earlier been given an injection to help her sleep. The drug takes effect while she's out and about, and reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) discovers her asleep on a street bench. Believing she's inebriated, and being a gentleman, he tries to deliver her safely to her home. That plan fails and, being a gentleman, Bradley arranges for the young stranger (he doesn't learn she's the missing princess until the next scene) to sleep on the sofa in his small, one-room apartment.
Cary Grant was originally offered the part of Joe Bradley and he turned it down. One of the dvd's specials tells us he refused the role because he didn't want to play second fiddle to an ingenue. Maybe so. It's tempting to decide, on the basis of this scene, that Peck was woefully miscast. Ann, nearly asleep on her feet, asks Bradley "Will you help me undress?" A natural enough request coming from royalty, I guess. Bradley fumbles around with her neck scarf, unties it, hands it to her and says "You can handle the rest."
Peck plays the scene for a smile. Grant would have made it one of the highlights of the movie. After savoring the opportunity for the audience's delight he would have removed the tie and given the camera a quick peek, as if to say "Listen here, I know this is a cliched, silly situation. But doesn't this look like fun. Don't we make a handsome couple?" Grant was a supple pagan god who drank more than once from the well of hedonism, and he was always careful to bring the audience along for the good times. Peck was an Old Testament prophet, a little too stern and stiff to give himself over to pleasure.
What Peck brings to the role is authority and a handsome arm for Hepburn to rest on. Grant would have distracted us, and ROMAN HOLIDAY is best when our attention is focused squarely on Audrey Hepburn. She delivers a tour de force performance, and you can understand the excitement she generated even after a half century.
The specials include the documentary "Remembering ROMAN HOLIDAY", which surprised me with all the people who were involved and dropped out of the production of the movie. "Edith Head: The Paramount Years" is a short biography of the famous and talented fashion designer. "Restoring ROMAN HOLIDAY" shows us a number of before and after shots - this is a VERY clean print. There is also a trio of theatrical trailers and a stills photo gallery.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most romantic movie ever made
This was Audrey Hepburn's debut in a starring role. She was 24-years-old and had appeared in two or three other movies but just in bit parts. Here she plays a reigning European princess visiting Rome who would like an escape from her daily regime of official duties, thus the title and theme of the movie, a Roman holiday.

Gregory Peck plays an American newspaper reporter living in the Eternal City. We first see him playing poker with his cronies, and losing. His relative "poverty" and Princess Ann's fabulous wealth and station present a formidable barrier to their ever finding true love and marital happiness. Part of the fun of the script is in seeing how this will play out and how their differences are resolved in the end. I will give you a small hint: very carefully!

The script comes from a story by Dalton Trumbo who is perhaps best known as the author of the anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Trumbo was one of the "Hollywood Ten" who were blacklisted from working in the industry during the excesses of the McCarthy era. He went to Mexico and continued working on film scripts but under assumed names or had his scripts presented by "fronts." In this case Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for Trumbo and won an Academy Award for the story. Later the Academy awarded Trumbo a posthumous Oscar for his work.

Long time Hollywood studio director William Wyler directed the film entirely on location in Rome. He has a formidable list of credits going well back into the silent film era including such outstanding films as Wuthering Heights (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), etc. His clear directorial style and his attention to detail work well here. The sets in Rome are charming, especially Peck's bachelor apartment. The bit players, especially Peck's landlord are excellent and the events are dreamy in just the way a romantic meeting in Rome ought to be. Wyler is especially effective in presenting Audrey Hepburn in the most flattering light and getting the audience to identify with her.

Gregory Peck's character should be a bit of an adventurous rake who finds that love is more important than money or fame, but it is impossible for Peck to play a morally compromised character, and so even as he appears to be using Princess Ann for his own ends, his behavior is always correct. I was somewhat amused to notice that at all times Peck appears wearing a tie! Eddie Albert plays Peck's friend, a photographer/artist. It is interesting to note how Hollywood's perception of the paparazzi has changed over the years. Here blood-sucking, intrusive greed does not exist. Instead we have noble self-sacrifice!

I have seen most of Miss Hepburn's movies and I can say that she was never more enchanting than she is here. She is gorgeous and cute at the same time, charming and impish, sweet, regal and very winning. In a sense she started at the top with this film, garnering her only Oscar as Best Actress in 1953; but as her fans know she never came down off that pedestal. Even playing poor Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964), there was never any doubt about the quality of her style and character.

This is the most romantic film I have ever seen, perhaps partly because Miss Hepburn is so wonderful, but also because the script in a sense turns the usual woman's romantic fantasy upside down. Instead of the woman finding that the man she is in love with has fabulous wealth and position, it is the other way around!

The ending manages to be realistic yet romantic. There is a hint of something almost spiritual beyond what happens. So convincing are Hepburn and Peck that one can almost believe the story is true; and indeed I am sure that Trumbo lifted the essentials of the plot from some ancient tale.

I have a weakness for movies about unrequited love, or love that goes on forever, or love that is caught at some perfect moment and lives eternally in that moment. Roman Holiday is one of those near perfect movies that plays beautifully upon one of these themes. ... Read more


3. How to Steal a Million
Director: William Wyler
list price: $14.98
our price: $13.03
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Asin: B0002B15YM
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 546
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars "..OH, PA-PAHHH...SELLING A FAKE MASTERPIECE IS A 'CRIME'! "
This delightful comedy has all the delicate sparkle of a newly-opened bottle of French Champagne. Forget "My Fair Lady," forget "Breakfast At Tiffany's,"...1966's "HOW TO STEAL A MILLION" is Audrey Hepburn's best film from the 1960's. One of the last great romantic comedies of style to be filmed before the anti- establishment films of the late '60's prevailed, "How To Steal A Million" combines the elements of visual elegance (opulence even, look at the purple velvet bannisters and carpet on the golden staircase in Audrey Hepburn's Paris chateau) with sophisticated dry wit; a beautiful, romantic score with a "kooky" twist on the "French farce." Beautiful scenery, sublime chaos, near-Hitchcockian-intrigue, zippy car chases in quirky autos, and Audrey Hepburn's wacky fashions make for one of the best combinations the screen has seen so far. Ironically, the best twist in this story is that the "MILLION" Audrey Hepburn's and Peter O'Toole's characters are trying to "STEAL" is not what they 'actually' ARE stealing (on purpose). To figure that one out...watch AND ENJOY this MAGNIFICENT movie! "Oh, Pa-Pahhhh! ..."

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Movie :)
I love this movie. It has everything: romance, comedy, quirkiness and a kissing-in-a-closet scene! Audrey Hepburn was as adorable and entertaining as ever, and this was the first time that I'd ever seen a Peter O'Toole movie and he was fabulous! He's extremely funny and pretty darn spunky! You could just instantly fall in love with him, the second you saw those bewildered round blue eyes peering over the top of the "Van Gogh" painting. I didn't find this movie boring for an instant and I loved watching them steal back the "Cellini" sculpture, using, amongst other things, a bucket, a magnet and a boomerang! I think that this is now my favourite Audrey Hepburn movie. They make an extremely likable couple and their exploits in "How To Steal A Million" are engaging and engrossing.

5-0 out of 5 stars I give 5 stars to everything I review...Don't I?
I love Breakfast at Tiffany's, but this has to be my absolute favorite Audrey Hepburn film!!! It will be released in December 2004 on DVD!!! Very good plot...cool cool cool....beautiful actress...yeah yeah yeah.....what more could you ask for???...It is a long wait, maybe you should order the video cassette used......!

4-0 out of 5 stars You don't think I'd steal something that didn't belong to me
Charles Bonnet, Nicole Bonnet's incorrigible father, makes a living forging long-lost masterpieces and then selling them at auctions or to private collectors, such as American business magnate David Leland. Bonnet's quite a character and is an artist, albeit a forger, living the moment, but also being the artist. When he paints a Van Gogh, he IS Van Gogh. Nicole is exasperated, worried that he'll be caught and sent to prison. Charles' flippant response is "The trouble is, you're so honest." So when he authorizes the loan of the prize of his collection, the Cellini Venus, a copy of it sculpted by her grandfather which her grandmother posed for, Nicole thinks her father has flipped his wig. It is worth a million dollars--hence the title.

What Nicole dreads the most occurs when the museum announces that one Professor Bauer will be conducting tests to determine the statue's authenticity. To that end, Nicole enlists the aid of Simon Dermott, a burglar she caught in her father's house trying to steal a Van Gogh (fake, of course), to steal her father's sculpture to save him from being jailed for fraud. She doesn't tell him the real reasons, of course. Dermott thinks it's a crazy idea, given the high-tech security devices and the numerous police detail milling around the museum, but combined by Nicole's persistence and her charm, finally gives in. But just what does he hope to accomplish with a toy boomerang?

The actual heist and scenes in the museum are worth waiting for, as that's where the exciting parts are. The cramped quarters in the broom closet underlines the tension of two people scared that they'll be caught, although it furthers the budding romantic storyline. And Dermott's ingenuity is well demonstrated. As he says, "wait for normal human reaction." A particular comical touch comes in the form of a portly museum guard who has a large mustache and quite a fondness for the bottle. Oh, and that alarm is pretty annoying, so beware!

Audrey's Givenchy fashions become ridiculously funny, such as the pillbox hat and large-rimmed sunglasses in her opening scene, and even becomes a point of parody when Dermott remarks at Nicole dressed as a cleaning woman, "It Givenchy a night off." As it turned out, one night turned into thirteen years, as Givenchy was pressed back to work for Bloodline.

The last comedy Audrey acted in, How To Steal A Million, originally titled Venus Rising, was the third and last film Audrey did for William Wyler, after Roman Holiday and The Children's Hour. It was also the first time Hepburn acted with a leading man closer to her own age since Anthony Perkins in Green Mansions, Peter O'Toole being three years her junior. Her wide expressive eyes and that winning smile are put to good use here. And she does have a great line: "You don't think I'd steal something that didn't belong to me?"

Hugh Griffith is fun to watch as the rascally Charles Bonnet, with the same bulging eyes, funny hair, and goatee. O'Toole (Simon) is also an asset, suave, calm, clever, and quick with one-liners. So is Eli Wallach (Leland), an excitable and impulsive millionaire with his sights on the Venus. And Jacques Marin, who is the befuddled senior museum guard, previously appeared with Ms. Hepburn in Charade, as the chief of police.

Panned when it first came out, I'm not sure why this doesn't hold out even today. Hepburn herself acted in it because she felt indebted to Wyler, who made her what she became, but at least she had fun with O'Toole, as the two were gigglers and many takes had to be required, especially in the broom cupboard scene. It's an enjoyable and frantic caper film, a genre popularized by Topkapi six years ago.

5-0 out of 5 stars Who Knew I'd Fal, For Someone old Enough To Be My Father?
After watching this movie I was struck by how gorgeous Peter O'Toole's blues are. He's funny and sweet and sarcastic, as well as wealthy and intelligent, in other words, any straight woman's dream. The plot is sweet and quick and very tongue in cheeck. Audrey's at her best and "gives givenchy a break" "in one of the scenes, a genuinely hilarious one that I won't describe lest I ruin the plot. And remember - boomerangs and empty whisky bottles are a lot more useful than you might think them. ... Read more


4. The Letter
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.97
our price: $17.97
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Asin: B000055XM8
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 7863
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars GREAT FILM WITH A HOLLYWOOD ENDING
I call this a "Hollywood ending" not in the sense that it is a happy ening, but one which seems to be contrived to follow the production code of the day which stated that all wrongdoers must be brought to justice. Bette Davis, in one of her great performances, is killed off by Gale Sondergaard who herself is arrested by the police at the end. I really don't know if this ending is in the novel but it does not ring right with me. After all, Leslie Crosby was cleared of the crime and could have gone on living even with the torture memory of the lover she murdered in cold blood although I doubt if she would have remained faithful to wimpy Herbart Marshall for long. Gail Sondergaard, the dragon lady wife of the knocked off husband, just seems to be unable to get enough revenge. The 10 grand she got for selling the incriminating letter to Bette apparently was not enough to satisfy her. I especially liked the scene where Leslie tells her husband how much she still loves her vengefully slain adulterer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Getting Away with Murder
Who else could get away with murder and still get the approval of the audience but Bette Davis? Based on Somerset Maugham's story, THE LETTER relates the murder of a rubber-plantation owner (Herbert Marshall) in Malaya by his wife (Bette Davis). It is interesting how Davis approaches this part. She gives a brilliant study of a cold yet proper woman who intoxicates her society friends and authorities through a pretense of female sexual virtue. She deliriously illustrates the passion of a woman who would kill a man for attempting to leave her and in doing so entices the audience on her behalf. Davis is so brilliant at conveying such a cold woman who my in effect really need the warmth and passion of a desperate soul, that even she may not realize her actions are a desperate attempt to realize her own desires. Is her behavior a pretense or not? This was very erotic stuff for its time. This film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. Carl Jules Weyl's Art Designs combined with Tony Gaudio's Cinematography made a very provocative setting for the images. However the only fault I found with this film was Max Steiner's score. Max Steiner is one of my favorite film composers but I found his score too full of that heavy-handed Warner Bros. sound and not sensitive to the nature of the main character or the film.

5-0 out of 5 stars seven well-deserved Oscar nominations
"The Letter" is a superb adapation of the Somerset Maugham tale set in Malaysia. Bette Davis is at the top of her form in her role as a deceitful, anguished wife caught up in an illicit love affair. Her pleasant, steady, unexciting husband, a rubber plantation manager, is played exceptionally well by Herbert Marshall. James Stephenson, in the role of her defense attorney, turns in an admirably understated yet vital performance.

William Wyler's masterful direction, employing exotic settings and mysterious minor characters, make this spellbinding tale of passion and murder a can't-miss for all Davis fans.

"The Letter" deserves the highest recommendation!

5-0 out of 5 stars Exciting exotic thriller from the colonial age
Pistol shots bang through the starlit night in the malayan jungle and rubber planter Robert Crosbie (Herbert Marshall) is stupefied to learn that his own wife, Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) has bumped off his best friend, Jeff Hammond. "He tried to rape me, so I shot him" she tells her husband - and we know from the start that she is lying. Hammond's body is riddled with bullets, her magazine empty. Some shots were fired when he was already lying on the ground.

While her credulous husband coddles her, she gives her lawyer, Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) her version of the story - only interrupted by crocodile tears and a simulated fainting-fit. Joyce is really considerate: he even commends her on her courage. So good is her mood when she regales the police with a dinner that she is surprised to learn that she could face a murder charge. Robert, haggard from lack of sleep tries to convince himself that everything is O.K: "She shot the man like a rabid dog". But Hammond was so dashing, charming, a real ladies man - hard to believe that he was capable of such a thing...

Robert has every reason to be worried: Joyce is informed by his asian counsellor that a certain letter exists: written by Leslie on the last day of Hammond's life, inviting him to come and see her...This letter is in the hands of his eurasian widow (Gale Sondergaard) who runs a gambling house. Leslie's smiling self-confidence dissolves under Joyce's interrogation. She denies everything, she rages, but her lawyer is not dumb: "I dont't want to hear more from you than is necessary to save your head". He feels nothing but contempt for the woman who implores him to get her the letter, but he feels compassion for her husband. The price for the letter is 10.000 Pounds - the exact amount of Robert's bank deposit - and Mrs. Hammond made it a condition that she should bring the money personally. Leslie tries to hide behind a veil, but it doesn't help her: after letting her wait for nearly one hour in an opium-den, the widow demands to see her face - and throws the letter before her feet with disdain. A male jury acquits the virtuous lady of her indictment, but there is more trouble brewing: Her husband wants to leave for Sumatra, become independent and buy his own plantation. He does not realize that his money is gone...

This exciting thriller contains one of Bette Davis' most famous performances. Herbert Marshall is equally brilliant in the role of her gullible husband, especially in the final scenes. He must have been the most often cuckolded husband on screen: Greta Garbo deceived him in THE PAINTED VEIL, and Marlene Dietrich in BLONDE VENUS and the delightful, underrated ANGEL. Perhaps he was beyond help, because he did not learn from his faults: His next film was THE LITTLE FOXES where he played Bette's victim again.

Sondergaard looks spectacular, but is psychologically wrong: Men usually fall in love with little Miss Butterfly - not with the empress of China. Bette Davis was universally praised. A very intelligent actress, she was on the right track: She wears glasses, she concentrates on her embroidery with great patience - needle-work and sex-appeal don't exclude each other, but there must have been a reason why her lover became tired of her...I think that she lacked the boldness to steep herself completely in Leslie Crosbie's true character. This type of woman ("One is getting so lazy here, the boys do everything" she says) has survived until recently in South Africa: she has no goal, no funcion, and my guess is that she was growing fat...Leslie Crosbie was porridge - and Bette plays her like caviar! W. Somerset Maugham, like Agatha Christie, is very good to read to this day: They were not dishonest authors, just one-sided: they nurture a nostalgia for the "glorious" age of colonialism, which existed only for a small part of mankind.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great deal
It is a real crime story. Only at the end of this story you experience what happened in this special night. It is hard to feel how this nice beautiful woman can be a murderer.I was surprised that a lawyer does such a great deal (with that letter) to save the life of his client who is guilty. At the end you are in doubt if it is a fair end or not. The book is interesting to read. ... Read more


5. Funny Girl/Funny Lady Box Set
Director: William Wyler
list price: $24.96
our price: $22.46
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Asin: B00070HK24
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6. The Best Years of Our Lives
Director: William Wyler
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5-0 out of 5 stars A poignant drama that provides insight into post-WW2 America
"The Best Years of Our Lives" is a compelling dramatic masterpiece, and certainly one of the best films ever made. It's not as well known today as other pieces from the period, such as "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane", but it is nevertheless a classic that deserves ranking with those same films.

This film paints a picture of the struggles of World War II servicemen that they faced AFTER the war was over. It was a more personal struggle of men returning home after being away for many years, and after experiencing horrors that their loved ones could never fully understand. They return home as changed people, and come home to changed lives.

The story of such a homecoming experienced by thousands of men after World War II is told from the perspective of three fictional characters: Captain Fred Derry, a bombadier in the Army Air Corps (Dana Andrews), Sergeant Al Stevenson, an Army infantryman (Frederich March), and Seamen Homer Parrish(Harold Russell). They happen to meet on the plane to their hometown, having never met before, and immediately form a bond built upon mutual understanding of the experiences of war and the anxieties of returning home again.

Captain Derry came from a poor background before the war, and married a blond bombshell (Virgnia Mayo) while in the Air Corps. He hopes to return home to a better life, a nice home with his wife, and a better job. This was not to be, as Derry struggles to try and deal with bad job prospects (no one in the civilian world needs a bombadier) and a cheating wife. In a poignant moment in the film, Derry (at his lowest) tells his Father to throw away the citations for his medals, because "they don't mean anything". His Father reads the one for the Distinguished Flying Cross, signed by General Jimmy Doolittle, and a look of pride comes over the old man's face for his son's heroism that makes you want to cry and cheer all at the same time. It also makes the viewer see how criminal it was for such a man to be made to feel worthless.

Sergeant Stevenson comes home to better circumstances, being a banker in the civilian world with a wife, two grown children, and a nice apartment. But he too must confront troubles, as Stevenson must get to know a family that progressed without him, and balance his job with his desire to aid servicemen seeking G.I. Bill loans. He battles with his bank's bosses over the loan issue, and also struggles with alcoholism.

Seamen Parrish's problems are the most obvious. He lost his hands during the war, and now must come home to his family and fiancee with hooks for hands. The actor who potrayed Parrish, Harold Russell, was a real disable veteran, and lends credibility to the role that no one else could have due to real life experience.

This may seem like a depressing film, but it is actually uplifting in its entirety because it does show that hope doesn't die, and that you really can come home again after all. It is also a film of historical importance due to the insights it provides into post-World War II America, and the struggles of veterans in the post-war years. Captain Derry, Sergeant Stevenson, and Seamen Parrish, and their individual struggles to reclaim their lives can provide the student of history an important perspective on the many real life veterans who returned home, and the country of the time they returned home to.

The film has certainly earned accolades over the years. It won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1946. It was named by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Best Movies ever made, and was also named as one of the most important films of all time by the National Archives for the National Film Registry.

"The Best Years of Our Lives" is not to be missed for both its dramatic poignancy and its insight into an important period of American History. And its a beautiful sight to behold in DVD quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best pictures of our lives
The story of three American veterans of WW II and their adjustments to civilian life remains as poignant and moving today, as when it was first released. The three veterans (Fredric March, Harold Russell, and Dana Andrews) all from the same town, but different backgrounds, journey home together on a military transport plain. Fredric March's character, Al Stephenson, is a mature married man with a good profession, a beautiful wife (Myrna Loy), and two grown children (Teresa Wright and Michael Hall); Harold Russell is a disabled Navy veteran (he lost both hands in battle) unsure of where he stands in life and with his high school sweetheart (Cathy O' Donnell); and Dana Andrews is the "glamour boy" bombardier who comes home to find that the civilian world, which includes his wife (Virginia Mayo), cares little about his exploits as a caption in the Air Force. The journey each man takes is both engrossing and entertaining. It's hard to believe this movie is almost 3 hours long; it moves along so quickly. With a dream cast of top talent from 1940s Hollywood, director William Wyler gets superb performances from the stars as well as the most minor bit players. The action begins with a night on the town with March, Loy, and Wright celebrating March's return home. During their celebrating, they run into Russell and Andrews at Russell's uncle's (Hogey Carmichael) tavern. Having celebrated a bit too much, Loy and Wright load March and Andrews into their car to take them home. They drop Andrews off at his wife's apartment building, but he doesn't have a key to get in, and in a drunken stupor collapses outside its entrance. Loy and Wright proceed to load Andrews back in the car and take him in for the night. The relationships between all the main characters reach a level of poignancy without being overly sentimental, which is no easy feat, especially with what must have been tough stuff to watch for an overwhelming majority of the audience when originally released. Russell and O' Donnell's scenes are moving and sensitive, as are Loy and March's. Even though Andrews arrives home physically intact, his lot seems to be the worst of the group. Married to a self-centered-woman who doesn't love him, he longs for a relationship with someone like Peggy Stephenson (Wright). Things get complicated when the feelings are mutual, with Wright beginning to have strong feelings for Andrews. There are many wonderful moments in this film. Roman Bohnen as Andrews's father is terrific as a man who has a tough time expressing his genuine love for his disillusioned son. When he reads the official letter recounting his son's bravery to his wife (Gladys George), it's an incredibly powerful moment. Another wonderful scene is Wright's visit to the store where Andrews works as a salesman at the perfume counter (as well as at the soda fountain). The good-natured flirting between them seems both honest and real in the hands of these two pros. One could go on and on about the wonderful score, the great Gregg Toland cinematography--from the opening shots from the transport plane to the aircraft "graveyard,"--but this is one wonderful whole that is equal to the sum of its parts; everything falls together seamlessly. Top talent at their peak; run don't walk to get a copy of this classic Best Picture winner (1946).

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Film.
I was fortunate enough to see this movie on TV a few nights ago, and I must say that it is one of the best films I've seen for YEARS. It's hard to believe that I've never heard of this movie. Even though I was born more than 30 years after this movie's release, it melted my heart unlike any film I've seen. I was very surprised by some of the material in the movie. It seemed way ahead of its time, with topics like alcohol addictions, the questionable results of WWII, etc. It's definately a movie that I'll be adding to my DVD collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb (and Still Relevant)
I'm usually reluctant to watch old movies no matter how good they're supposed to be. I'm thankful that for some reason I decided to at least watch the beginning and see if it held my attention. This movie will break your heart, all of the characters are sympathetic, and although it is almost 60 years old it is extremely relevant right now, since the US is now in the middle of a war and a new generation of veterans is coming home. It is moving, touching, disturbing, thought-provoking, and inspiring, and for someone too young to have known any family members who remembered WWII or post-war America, highly informative. I suspect, from the number of awards this movie won in the 1940s, that it was well-received, but if this movie were released today it would be denounced as anti-American and unpatriotic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Correction to Jeff Shannon's Review
The Best Years of Our Lives may have perhaps drawn from some things in a Life Magazine article on returning vets, but the plot is really based on MacKinlay Kantor's 1945 novel Glory for Me, which follows a similar trio of returning GIs. ... Read more


7. Funny Girl
Director: William Wyler
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Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 884
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (67)

5-0 out of 5 stars Streisand's First, Streisand's Best
Wow. One usually becomes a Streisand fan after seeing this movie. I certainly did. Streisand's movie debut begs the question: "Is a nose with deviation such a crime against the nation?" (sung by Fanny Brice's mother in the film). Barbra is Fanny is Barbra. When Streisand as Fanny tells Omar Shariff as Nick that he made her feel "beautiful", who can not love this woman?

The new DVD includes a restored version of the film and an incredibly clear soundtrack. Unless you saw the limited theatrical release this summer, then you have probably never seen FUNNY GIRL in its widescreen presentation. For years I had watched a faded pan-and-scan VHS version. Barbra's hilarious business of straightening her dress in the "You Are Woman" scene is completely cut out in pan-and-scan! Director William Wyler shot the film with a lot of widescreen compositions that the pan-and-scan versions always butchered. Thank you, Columbia, for this restored, widescreen DVD!

I remember watching THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and seeing highlight clips from famous musicals. They showed "Don't Rain On My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL ...Barbra on the tug boat holding that note ("Paa-aa-raaaaaad-de") as the camera revealed the Statue of Liberty. I was thrilled. The DVD contains a theatrical short that shows behind the scenes footage of how they shot the entire "Parade" number -- really incredible footage!

The movie's second act, a bit slow, gives Streisand the chance to show her acting chops!

"My Man" at the movie's end features a "live" Streisand vocal as she cries on stage then triumphantly finishes. That scene won Barbra the Oscar. It is truly incredible.

I am disappointed that the DVD did not include more of the scenes I've always heard about but never seen. The AFI tribute (on ABC earlier this year) remains the only place you can see scenes from the Swan Ballet number that were cut. Also, I wish there was a Streisand commentary. Can you imagine the reflections about making this film that she could share?

People who see FUNNY GIRL are the luckiest people in the world.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Star Comes to DVD - Worth the Wait!
First off - the DVD: It's a letterbox transfer of pristine new print that has been digitally restored (sometimes frame by frame) back to its original condition. Funny Girl hasn't looked this good in thirty years - so if you've only seen it on VHS or TV, you're in for a visual treat. I saw the restored print on a huge screen this past fall, and believe me, this transfer does it justice. In addition they have included the pre-show and intermission music as well. The additional documentary material is nothing to write home about. But I think whoever did the DVD menu deserves kudos for styling it like the New Amsterdam theater marquee from the first shot of the movie, with highlights from the film playing in the background. Very appropriate and very clever.

Funny Girl is A.) the musical biography of comedienne-singer Fanny Brice, and B.) the Oscar-winning film debut of 26 year old Barbra Streisand. As theatrical history lesson it's pretty flawed - (Arnstein was Brice's *second* husband, for example). The Streisand - Brice connection is strong, however. Fanny, like Barbra, wore her Jewishness as a badge of honor - in contrast to most Jewish performers of the day, who tried to blend in as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the "You Are Woman, I Am Man" seduction scene plays like a Brice "Follies" sketch.

And as a star vehicle for Striesand, it's a winner. When she belts out "I'm the Greatest Star" at the beginning of the picture you will understand what it feels like to be in the presence of raw, pure talent. At the end of them film when she falters on the opening words of "My Man", you'll remember what it feels like to watch your beloved walk out of your life.

William Wyer seems to be aware that he's launching a new star. The way he introduces Barbra - that long walk with her back to the camera in the leopard coat - ending with the first teasing glimpse of her face in the mirror - "Hello, gorgeous." It was certainly a closeup that many film folk were sure would have audiences recoiling in horror. Certainly plain looking Barbra couldn't make it as a movie star. Well, it's not news anymore, but certainly a surprise at the time, Barbra photographs beautifully. Even Barbra-hater Rex Reed had to admit at the time, "It took the combined efforts of God knows how many people to do it, but I'll be damned if they haven't made her beautiful!"

Omar Sharif plays opposite Barbra, and he holds up his end of the film nicely, no small feat when you consider that the script gives him little to do and the entire property has been tailored to Streisand's strengths. No one else registers, with the possible exception of Kay Medford as Fanny's mother. (Poor Anne Francis sued Columbia after the film was released, claiming Streisand had her cut out of the finished film. Most of you are sitting there thinking, "Anne, who?")

All in all, one of the better Sixties Broadway musical adaptations. (Note: Funny Girl was nominated for Best Picture in 1968. It lost to another Columbia Pictures musical - Oliver! If you liked Funny Girl, check out Oliver! - it's a better movie, even though it has no star names over the title. More 1968 Oscar trivia - Barbra won for Best Actress in a tie with Kathrine Hepburn of "Lion in Winter". In Oscar balloting there can only be a tie when there are the exact same number of votes. Why do I mention this? Well, it just so happens that because of her "special stature" in the industry, Barbra Streisand was admitted as a voting member of the Academy that year - with the release of just her first film. I wonder who she voted for???? If she hadn't been given special treatment, maybe Kate Hepburn's name would had been the only one announced that night!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Musical
I saw this movie as a teenager and loved it. Barbra Streisand is timeless. I can't wait to add Funny Girl to my collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars "He's got polish on his nails."
The ultimate showcase for an actress, Barbra Streisand's highly publicized film debut in FUNNY GIRL met every single expectation and then some. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1968, and it's very easy to see why. The film has many great qualities: It's expertly directed by three-time Academy Award winner William Wyler (the finale of the "Don't Rain On My Parade" number is just as astonishing as the chariot race in Wyler's BEN HUR), the storyline is extremely compelling, Omar Sharif is an incredibly suave and charismatic leading man, the supporting players are perfectly cast (particularly Kay Medford, Lee Allen, and Walter Pidgeon), and the song score (primarily by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill) is first-rate.

However, virtually everything that FUNNY GIRL has working for it would be worthless without Barbra Streisand's absolutely phenomenal performance. I honestly cannot think of enough good descriptive adjectives to do justice to her amazing performance in this film. She handles drama, comedy, music numbers, and tearjerking sentiment with equal aplomb, and she does it all better than any actress before or since. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had no choice but to honor her with the Oscar for Best Actress (in an extremely rare tie with academy favorite Katherine Hepburn; only the second tie in Oscar history to date), it is a performance that is nothing less than perfect.

About the DVD: Columbia-Tristar has done an excellent job in bringing FUNNY GIRL to DVD. The restoration of the original source elements may have taken nearly three years to complete, but it was time well spent - the picture quality is gorgeous! Sure, there are a few nicks on the print, but the color, sharpness, and virtually everything else is nearly flawless. Quite possibly one of the best vintage transfers yet. The sound is also excellent, and while there are no new features included (only vintage featurettes - I expect we'll see a special edition re-issue in the future) the menu design is fantastic.

5-0 out of 5 stars She "IS" The Greatest Star
My dad was a movie projectonist when I was growig up and he took me to see Funny Girl when I was in the 4th grade. I saw that movie 5 times that week and a total of 26 times in every movie theater in town. What an impression it made on me as a yougster, that if you believed in yourself there isn't anything that you can't do. Of course it is my favorite movie of all time and one that I watch over and over again as if I had never seen it before. I see something new every viewing. Do you want to see one of the greatest performances of all time, then watch her perform "I'm The Greatest Star" and then watch it again and again, there has never been a debut performance like this one and probably never will again.

I have been the BIGGEST Streisand fan since and have followed her through all her movies, saw her twice in concert and have everything she has recorded, albums, tapes, 45's, CD's, foreign releases and hard to find classics, every movie poster, every book written about her and every magazine cover she has been on. This collection started back in 4th grade and now I am 47 years old so you can imagine the collection. Of it all Funny Girl has to be the shining moment . If I could have just a few hours with Ms. Streisand I would thank her and ask hundreds of questions, we are only seperated by 2 degrees of seperation, maybe that day will come! Buy this movie, if you are not a fan, you will be--I PROMISE. ... Read more


8. The Big Country
Director: William Wyler
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Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars A big Western with a stupendous music score.
I loved this movie as a kid when I saw it in the theatre back in 1958 or 1959 and I still love it. The movie score by Jerome Morass is absolutely magnificent. Gregory Peck plays a pacifist Easterner who's trying to avoid getting caught up in the land dispute his fiance's (Carol Baker) family is having with a local clan. His shallow fiance and her father (Charles Bickford) interpret his unwillingness to fight as a sign of weakness. Charlton Heston and the beautiful Jean Simmons are fine in their roles. Burl Ives won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rufus Hennesey, the leader of a very large extended family. Last, but not least, Chuck Connors (of the Rifleman TV series) turns in his finest film performance. A big movie with big stars made by a big-time director (William Wyler who won best director Oscars for Ben-Hur and The Best Years of Our Lives). A fine film with a good message about the futility of fighting in order to resolve conflicts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good performances in a beautiful Hollywood Western
THE BIG COUNTRY is a very good Hollywood Western, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies: a first-rate cast and fine production values, but a less-than-imaginative script written by a studio committee. The story is a variation on the tried-and-true "Eastern Dude Tames Wild West" theme. Co-produced by director William Wyler and star Gregory Peck, it strives a bit self-consciously for epic grandeur, and lacks the comparatively gritty realism of John Ford's thematically related THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

As the transplanted Easterner, Peck's understated performance is a pleasure to watch. Jean Simmons is fine as the schoolmarm, and the two Chucks (Conners and Heston) are equally good in their roles. A supporting actor Oscar went to Burl Ives, but the standout performance belongs to Carroll Baker as Peck's spoiled fiance. Franz Planer's cinematography is quite good, too, but like the script, performances, and pacing, it's just a little bit too self-conscious. The picture feels more like OKLAHOMA! than like THE SEARCHERS--altogether too theatrical to sustain the suspension of disbelief.

Yet this is a very entertaining movie--at least for those who value character, conflict, and beautiful imagery over car chases, explosions, and other special effects. And fans of Westerns in particular should appreciate the many virtues of this near-Classic. Four solid stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Atticus Finch goes West
This is a sprawling, glorious saga that will be appreciated by people who don't even like the Western genre. With fabulous cinematography, an excellent script, and two of my favorite actors, it's a film I never tire of watching.
Gregory Peck is the sea captain with principles who goes west to meet his future bride, only to find feuds and fighting, and some lawless varmints who need his "non violent" ways of resolving territorial issues. He is terrific as James McKay, who is sort of an Atticus Finch in boots, and looks mighty fine as well.
Charlton Heston has the smaller part as Leech, a foreman who is seething with jealousy and obeys the orders of his unscrupulous boss (rancher Terrill, played with subtle menace by Charles Bickford) as he yearns for his daughter. Heston is brilliant as this rather complex character, and would a year later star in director William Wyler's next epic, "Ben Hur", which is perhaps my all-time most viewed and enjoyed film.

Both female leads are wonderful, and are portrayed with enormous strength; Jean Simmons, with her luminous eyes is the schoolteacher, and Carroll Baker is the tough daughter of rancher Bickford, and is too much like her daddy to make a suitable bride for Peck.
Among the many strong performances in the supporting parts are Burl Ives, and received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his gnarly old Rufus, Chuck Connors is his bad to the bone son, and Alfonso Bedoya, is a delight as Ramon, who along with a horse named "Old Thunder", provides some of the humor in the film.
The score by Jerome Moross is lovely (and received an Oscar nomination) and the cinematography by Franz Planner spectacular. The film was shot in the Yuba and San Joaquin Counties in California, as well as canyon country in Chinly, Arizona, and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

If you like a good screen fight like I do, this has a great one, "mano a mano" between Peck and Heston; it initially has no music, just the pounding of the fists and the men gasping for breath, and is very effective.
Romance, drama, and lots of action make this a film that appeals to many, and is suitable for the whole family. Total running time is 165 minutes.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good Western movie


Director: William Wyler
Format: Color
Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Video Release Date: May 2, 2000

Cast:

Gregory Peck ... James McKay
Jean Simmons ... Julie Maragon
Carroll Baker ... Patricia Terrill
Charlton Heston ... Steve Leech
Burl Ives ... Rufus Hannassey
Charles Bickford ... Major Henry Terrill
Alfonso Bedoya ... Ramon Guiteras
Chuck Connors ... Buck Hannassey
Chuck Hayward ... Rafe Hannassey
Buff Brady ... Dude Hannassey
Jim Burk ... Blackie/Cracker Hannassey
Dorothy Adams ... Hannassey Woman
Chuck Roberson ... Terrill Cowboy
Bob Morgan ... Terrill Cowboy
John McKee ... Terrill Cowboy
Slim Talbot ... Terrill Cowboy
Donald Kerr ... Liveryman
Carey Paul Peck ... Boy
Jonathan Peck ... Boy
Stephen Peck ... Boy
Ralph Sanford ... Party Guest
Richard Alexander ... Party Guest, (Oceans)
Harry Cheshire ... Party Guest

It is said that Gregory Peck and William Wyler, erstwhile friends who had previously worked together successfully had a falling out over this film and never spoke for years afterward. Both were co-producers, and Peck became agitated over the fact that Wylie was working too slowly and the film was going 'way over budget. Wylie resented anyone else telling him how to make a movie. It also appears that three of Peck's children had children's parts in the film.

The fight seen between Peck and Heston is one of the high points of the film that has caused much comment, as it was filmed from a great distance, rather than close-uo.

Such details aside, the story depicts a sea-captain, James McKay (Peck) coming West to marry Patricia Terrill (Carol Baker). He walks straight into a personal vendetta between Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) and Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives) over an old grudge, and the usual battle over water rights typical in many Western stories. McKay is a peaceful man who tends to avoid resorting to violence, causing his would-be bride to accuse him of cowardice.

Buck Hannassey (Chuck Connors) and Steve Leech (Charlton Heston) play supporting roles, each of whom has designs on the leading women in the story, leading to antagonisms. Ramon (Alphonso Bedoya) plays his part well, as a Mexican ranch employee. He was better in the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I think, but he always turns in a good performance.

This is a good Western, with the usual scenery typical of the West. The plot is somewhat hackneyed, but is well-played and comes off well, thanks to the staff.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books

5-0 out of 5 stars The only Western that I highly recommend watching
Although my tastes in film are very broad, I am not fond of Westerns. However, "The Big Country" is an excellent film. It is a Western, but in many ways it doesn't FEEL like a Western. The film's intelligence, strong characters, and reliance on humanity provide a superior storyline to the traditional shoot-'em-up mentality so common in Westerns.

The basic premise concerns retired sea captain James McKay (Peck), who travels West to marry his fiancé Pat Terrill (Baker), whom he met while she was visiting Baltimore. He is quickly thrown in the middle of a huge family feud between the wealthy Terrills and the struggling Hannasseys, presumably over water rights at the Big Muddy, a dormant ranch owned by the lovely schoolteacher Julie (Simmons). However, McKay, the intelligent outsider, sees through the feuding patriarchs (Bickford and Ives). What follows is, in my opinion, one of the most effective showdowns in Western cinema (forget "High Noon").

The characterization in this film is particularly strong. Gregory Peck is very good, as always, even though his McKay character has a level of integrity that may be just a BIT hard to swallow. Carroll Baker's role as the spoiled only child is sickeningly good. Jean Simmons is sweet and demure, but strong and self-sufficient, a perfect contrast to her friend, Pat. Charles Bickford's egotistical role as Major Henry Terrill is great, and his questionable relationship with his daughter raised my eyebrows. Charlton Heston's role is relatively small, but he provides the necessary tension and jealousy between himself, Baker, and Peck. In addition, his character's loyalty to Terrill, although misplaced, is touching. Chuck Connors' character as Buck Hannassey is vile, trashy, and degrading, but his performance is one of the most credible in the film. And, saving the best for last, Burl Ives is absolutely superb in the role of Rufus Hannassey, the overweight, bullying patriarch who simultaneously loves and hates his son Buck. He deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that he won for this role.

There is one flaw to this film that stands out, and another reviewer mentioned it below: watch the canyon barricade scene near the end. The Terrill bunch HAD to see that coming, yet they acted surprised. Wyler missed it there, I think, but overall the film is a beautiful piece of cinema.

One last praise: the score. From the opening credits, this beautifully motivating music resounds throughout the film and is one of my favorites. Just beautiful. ... Read more


9. The Children's Hour
Director: William Wyler
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Asin: B00006L92W
Catlog: DVD
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Description

A child's lie has life-shattering consequences in this daring adaptation of Lillian Hellman's celebrated play from legendary director William Wyler. Starring Academy Award* winners* Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine and co-starring James Garner, Miriam Hopkins and Fay Bainter, this landmark film is "one of the most finely wrought dramas in the history of the screen" (Motion Picture Herald). Karen (Hepburn) and Martha (MacLaine) are the headmistresses of an exclusive school for girls. When they discipline a malicious little girl, the vindictive child twists an overheard comment into slander and accuses her teachers of questionable behavior. Soon the scandalous gossip engulfs the school's community, with repercussions that are swift, crushing...and tragic. ... Read more


10. The Little Foxes
Director: William Wyler
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Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4240
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars NEGLECTED MASTERPIECE....
William Wyler's film of Lillian Hellman's play is a fine old example of masterful filmmaking. Scripted by Hellman, it tells of the ultimate greedy Southern clan circa 1900. Thankfully most of the leading players came from the play with the exception of Bette Davis who assumed the role of Regina---originally played by Tallulah Bankhead---and she is magnificent. Regina is embroiled with her brothers in a greedy and corrupt get-rich-quick scheme to open a cotten mill and needs the final third of the money to come from her ailing husband (a grand Herbert Marshall) who is opposed to the plan with good reason: he's honest and sensible. The brothers are cold, evil and despicable. But Regina is all that and more---she's smarter and greedier. Since Marshall won't give her the money, she withholds his heart medicine and allows him to die knowing she'll get the money now that he's dead. This is an unforgettable scene and there are many in this outstanding film. In contrast to the evil characters, there's Teresa Wright in her film debut as Alexandra---Regina's daughter---who represents innocence and hope and the marvelous Patricia Collinge (from the play) as the sweet, alcoholic and abused sister-in-law Birdie who represents the painful trampling of gentility by corruption and greed. Her performance is heartbreakingly good. Beautiful b&w photography and the recreation of small town Southern life are right on target here. And Davis is at her best as the wicked Regina. She performs feats of acting magic that no other actress could have accomplished in this role. "The Little Foxes" is a must see and a vintage classic that garnered 9 Oscar nominations for 1941. It deserved every one of them. Excellent DVD treatment from MGM as well. A collector's item.

5-0 out of 5 stars DAVIS TERRIFIC AS REGAL REGINA GIDDONS
Bette Davis gave one of her better performances as the greedy Regina Giddons. A chilling story of greed and deception in the South circa 1900, THE LITTLE FOXES is a cold, cynical look at the dark side of human nature, but the acting makes this movie fascinating and well worth watching. Teresa Wright is spendid as Alexandra, and the great Irish stage actress Patricia Collinge is heartbreaking as the alcoholic Birdie (she admits doesn't like her own son, Leo). Herbert Marshall is gives a sympathetic portrayal of Horace (he's married to the witchy Regina) and Carl Benton Reid is top drawer as the brother who's in cahoots with Davis. The rest of the cast give uniformly excellent performances. Davis was loaned to Goldwyn by Warner Brothers to make this her third and final film directed by the legendary William Wyler. Highly Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to Be Greedy and Mean by Bette Davis
Nobody played coldhearted, caustic and ruthless better than Bette Davis. She sweated acid. One can only imagine what her childhood must've been like. Fascinating on the screen but I wouldn't want to have known her in real life. The movie is just about perfect. Power and money corrupt absolutely. She gains the whole world but loses her soul in the process. A brilliant character study.

4-0 out of 5 stars Power Hungry Southern Family
This is in the deep south, right after the turn of the century. There are a brother and sister Hubbard, who want money and lots of it. They don't care about their wives,husbands or children, all they want is money and power. Regina is the most calculating, this is Bette Davis's character. They want to get a cotton mill and Regina will sacrafice her husbands health and her daughter's happiness to get her hands on money so she can gain control of the main share of the mill. Blood is not thicker than greed. This film is chilling in that it shows how corruption and greed survived then as it survives now.

Lisa Nary

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gloriously Atmospheric Moral Fable
Ben and Oscar Hubbard (Charles Dingle and Carl Benton Reid), their sister Regina Giddens (Bette Davis) and Oscar's son Leo (Dan Duryea) are not nice people. They are a family of profiteering entrepreneurs who have grown to prominence in a small southern town, grabbing the assets of its oldest aristocratic family through Oscar's cynical marriage to Birdie (Patricia Collinge) who has since been driven to alcoholism by his abusive lovelessness. Ben and Oscar's latest plot is to do a big deal with a business bigshot from Chicago who is keen to set up a new cotton mill with them on the understanding that the wages will be extremely low. Ben and Oscar are keen. Regina is keen. But Regina can't come into the deal in her own right: she must persuade her husband to do so. And her husband Horace (Herbert Marshall) is a very different kind of man from her brothers. To complicate matters further he is dying. Meanwhile her daughter Alexandra (Teresa Wright) is getting close to idealistic young journalist David Hewitt (Richard Carlson) and, not, as her scheming relatives intend, to the useless and corrupt young Leo.

This 1941 movie is adapted from a Lillian Hellman's classic 1939 play of the same year. The dates make it closer enough where we are - an era when the overwhelming political issue in the USA was whether to join a European war against Hitler. It's not hard to see from this where Hellman's sympathies lie. The movie's theme is the division of humanity three ways: the bad people, the good people who fight the bad people and the good people who just sit by and watch the bad people as they destroy the world; and the clearly articulated thought is that, for good people, sitting by and watching, is not, ultimately, an option.

The movie is a classic and richly deserves to be. The performances are remarkable: notably Davis at her most magnificently malign, Dingle splendidly hateful as her cynical and brutal brother, Duryea as the good-for-nothing Leo, Marshall as the profoundly decent but physically desperately weak Horace and Collinge as the pathetically wrecked Birdie who adumbrates horrifically what, if they are not resisted, her unspeakable relatives might eventually contrive to turn the charming young Alexandra into. Wyler directs brilliantly and the camerawork by Gregg Toland is astonishing in its use of shadowy, long, deep-focus shots. The oppressive atmosphere of hostile emotions running far too high in the southern heat is captured to perfection.

There is certainly a degree of simple-mindedness in the moral landscape of the film. The characters divide rather neatly into two sorts: very good, gentle, decent people and irredeemably evil people. There are no shades of grey, just jet black and lustrous white. And of course the world isn't that black and white. But perhaps insofar as the play is about the issues that World War II was fought over, that is an excusable fault; for those issues, if any ever have been, really were that black and white. ... Read more


11. Friendly Persuasion
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.98
our price: $15.98
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Asin: B00004XMV9
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2861
Average Customer Review: 4.77 out of 5 stars
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Description

For two years the Civil War has been elsewhere.Now Confederate forces are nearby, looting and burning.It is time to fight back, Jess Birdwell's neighbors insist.Yet Birdwell, a Quaker, knows there must be a better way to settle things.

Year: 1956

Director: William Wyler

Starring: Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire ... Read more

Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story about pacifist Quaker family in Civil War
Gary Cooper shines as a Quaker alongside a resolute and opinionated Dorothy McGuire as his "congregation elder" wife. They live in the rural "North" at the outbreak of the Civil War, raising 2 eligible teenagers (a boy and a girl), as well as a 10 year old boy. The emminent Civil War has the Quaker community divided on the issue of pacivism. Several "older men" in the congregation quickly turn coats, urging Cooper to join them in fighting the Rebels who plunder and burn Northern villages and kill women and children. When put to the true test, it is Cooper who proves to be the "true Christian". -- A love story between the teenage girl and her soldier suiter is a beautiful bonus. The entire cast is excellent, and the timeless theme song by Pat Boone puts the icing on the cake. This is a 5-star classic. You'll want to watch "Friendly Persuasion" again and again.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cooper is magnificent
This is a lovely movie, beautifully photographed on location (no phony Hollywood sets here). The performances are stellar throughout, but Gary Cooper is outstanding as the family patriarch. Watch him acting, the subtle shifts in gait, his facial expressions and nuances make him the great star that he was. They don't make 'em like Cooper anymore. Anthony Perkins is also excellent as the vacillating Josh Birdwell, the Quaker boy gone off to fight in the Civil War and Dorothy McGwire is quietly effective. There is much humor throughout the movie, you'll laugh our loud many times.

This is a great movie for everyone in the family, adults and children alike. "Wholesome" is an old-fashioned concept, this this movie lives up to that billing.

5-0 out of 5 stars An all but perfect movie
This gentle, sensitively crafted story of a loving Quaker family is the closest thing to a perfect movie I have come across.

Usually touted as an anti-war film, Friendly Persuasion deals with young Josh Birdwell's (Anthony Perkins) crisis of conscience over whether to fight the Confederate forces that have invaded his home area. But, the film has a broader sweep as well, fitting Josh's struggle into the broader life of the Family. Sister Mattie is in love with a Methodist, son of Papa's friend Sam Jordan, with whom he races to Meeting and/or Church on Sundays. Little Jess, the youngest, has a mortal fude with Mama's pet goose Samantha.

And, Mama and Papa? Different as their outlooks on life seem, they love each other very much. Without sinking to the maudlin this film, like The Sundowners, portrays two people who have been married for about twenty years and are totally, charmigly in love.

The story takes place over just a few weeks, but the brief time-span allows for a depth of realization which, by the end, leaves the viewer feeling that she/he kknows and is very fond of this family.

Perfect for snuggling with that special someone, or watchig as a family project.

5-0 out of 5 stars revisiting a classic
I'd seen this film once as a child since it is one of my mother's favorites and recently we obtained a copy. I'd only remembered the goose! Upon seeing it again, I can safely say this is a classic to be viewed numerous times. It never slides into mockery and presents the Quakers as a family struggling with temptations forbidden by their religion from dancing to violence. The trip to the fair is a wonderful example of this: Little Jess's adventure with gambling, Josh's friend Caleb wrestling and their fight with other spectators, the father, Jess, played wonderfully by Gary Cooper, squirrel shooting and singing with friend and racing competitor, Sam Jordan, and the daughter Mattie dancing with epitomy of non-Quakerness, a Methodist Union Officer.

The trip Josh takes with his father to Ohio and meets a widow and her three very single daughters is delightful. Anthony Perkins is fabulous as he tries to keep away from the girls who hardley ever seen men!

THings turn serious as the Civil War which was always somewhat distant (even with Gard, Mattie's suitor and Sam Jordan's son, coming home on furlough wounded in battle) finally comes to fore. Enoch, the hired hand and runaway slave, must leave to save himself from the Confederates and Josh must choose between his country and his religion. The war literally comes to their front porch as Eliza, the mother and minister, Mattie and Little Jess are left defenseless at home.

One of the best parts is the culmination of the courtship between Gard and Mattie where he asks her to marry him. What will they go through during and after the war as Mattie will have to reconcile the conflict between her religion and Gard's occupation and what will her family's reaction be? There's a sense that her father doesn't mind Gard and would welcome a marriage between Gard and his only daughter. She could honestly not do better. The man is the son of her father's friend and is highly trusted by the family.

The characters and stories are delightful and I've rewatched this film several times over and still find great things in it every time. Well worth owning.

5-0 out of 5 stars About Quakers By A Quaker
This is my favourite movie and I refer people to it often to explain the Quaker Distinctive of Non-Resistance (pacifism is something different). Based on the book by Jessamine West (who was also the consultant on the set), there are many 'inside' jokes only a Quaker (Friend) would get. Many non-Plain Faith people think we plod peacefully and quietly along through life (refering to noise level and degree of emotions), and that our children are born that way, too. This movie does an excellent job of showing we are all human, laugh, cry, etc., and especially why Quakers (Friends) do not bleieve in 'returning violence for violence done' (one of Dorothy McGuire's lines), why we do not believe in the 'glory' of war (there isn't any), and why we stress the sacredness of all human life. I also like how, when the teenage son (Anthony Perkins) feels compelled to choose differently, his dad reminds the mother (who is not just an Elder, but the Recorded Minsister of the Meeting) that one of the principal beliefs of Friends is each individual being directly responsible for their own actions/decisions to God through their individual consciences. An outstanding movie, with lots to keep you intertained and interested all the way through. Look for the humorous scene with Marjory Main (Ma from the Ma and Pa Kettle movies). ... Read more


12. Mrs. Miniver
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.98
our price: $15.98
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Asin: B00011D1OU
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 3766
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

A movie doesn't win seven Oscars for nothing. A glowing Greer Garson (Best Actress) commands the screen as Mrs. Miniver, a middle-class British housewife whose strength holds her family together as World War II literally hits their home. Walter Pidgeon as her architect husband seems to be the prototype for future TV dads in this affecting portrait of love--familial and romantic--during war. But the relationship between Mrs. Miniver's college-age son (Richard Ney) and the upper-crust Carol (Best Supporting Actress Teresa Wright) is filled with inherent drama--as the war speeds up their young love, it also has the potential to doom it. The 1942 film, which also won for Best Picture and Best Director, is filled with colorful characters, snappy dialogue, and sensational plot twists. Although you spend much of the movie dreading that one of the Minivers will become a casualty of war, when it finally happens, it's not what you anticipated. Exactly what you'd expect from a legendary film that lives up to its billing. --Valerie J. Nelson ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCEPTIONAL WAR TIME MELODRAMA/BEAUTIFUL TRANSFER!
"Mrs. Miniver" is one of those non-factual, war time propaganda tear jerkers that has proven itself to be enduring and immensely entertaining. Upon its release, Winston Churchill declared the film more influential in getting America involved in WWII than a fleet of destroyers. The plot concerns Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson) the atypical English housewife quietly enduring the hardships of war and capturing a downed Nazi pilot in her begonias in the process. It sounds hoaky but actually the story is incredibly stirring. Walter Pigeon, Garson's frequent costar, is cast as her tender husband, Clem. Richard Ney plays her slightly opinionated son, Vin who rises to the occasion and becomes a flyer for the RAF. Aside: Ney and Garson were carrying on an affair during the filming that eventually resulted in a disastrous marriage and a quicky divorce. Oh well, at least the relationships in the film are perfect. Of merit is Teresa Wright's outstanding performance as Carol, Vin's doomed fiancée.

Previously issued versions of this film were near perfect so it's really no surprise to discover that this DVD carries on in the same tradition. Quite simply: the picture is outstanding. Blacks are deep and solid. The gray scale is beautiful and well balanced. There is hardly a scratch or a bit of grit or grain to distract. The soundtrack is equally impressive in MONO but very, very nicely balanced. A bit of a disappointment comes from the fact that no one at Warner Brothers had the foresight to do a "making of" featurette. All we get is a couple of short subjects and a stills gallery.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Miniver married her son!
Great movie; interesting tidbit: Richard Ney (Mrs. Miniver's older son "Vin") was 27 at the time this movie was released; Greer Garson was 38. They married in 1943 and the studio was afraid of negative publicity about it! They divorced in 1946.

5-0 out of 5 stars Propaganda as Entertainment
This IS [or was] a wartime propaganda film, but one extremely well directed and played. In fact, Adolph Hitler stated that this was be best propaganda film produced by our side during WW II. The only ovely emotional and melodramatic moments typical in such films are the concluding scenes in the church. Otherwise, the approach is restrained, believable and thoroughly entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even for John Wayne Fans
This is by far not your typical war movie. I love war movies. I have the vast majority of war movies on DVD or VHS. I have been anxiously awaiting some of the older classic war movies like "The Enemy Below (1957)", "African Queen (1951)", "Mrs. Minniver (1942)", and "The Pied Piper (1942)" to come out on DVD. I am delighted to see this will be available in February.
No movie that I have seen about WWII tells a better story of how the English endured so much hardship and personal loss for so many years. This could easily have been a very depressing movie but it has many lighter and uplifting moments that balance out the sorrow and make you feel good at the end of the movie. If you bought this just because of the award nominations it received you should consider yourself pretty smart. If you buy it because of the good reviews from people here at Amazon you are intelligent. If you bought it because you only buy the best movies, and this is a great movie with a boat load of extras, well there aren't words to describe how gifted you are.

If you enjoy movies that take a more personal look at the impact of war on families you will like this movie. Far from being boring as some family movies drag when they get into far to many personal details. This movie has plenty of action with the Battle of Dunkirk, German bombings and strafings, and a enemy parachutist on the loose. Mrs. Miniver reminds me a little of a tough woman like Maureen O'Hara in the John Wayne movies. Her strength is a little more sophisticated but nonetheless you know it is there. She is the kind of woman you know can weather the storm and you are happy to have her with you. The DVD includes Greer Garson academy award footage, photos, and a couple wartime shorts. The movie itself makes it a great buy, but with these bonuses it's a steal.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mrs Miniver.
Come on you guys, this has to be one of the most heart rendering stories ever put on to celluloid. Now we have digital disc, and the ability to touch the world with devastating sound and picture quality....and what...sit on your fingers waiting for the studio....we want the movie on disc...so hurry up...PW. ... Read more


13. The Collector
Director: William Wyler
list price: $24.95
our price: $22.46
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Asin: B00006RJ5W
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 17651
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars it's been so long...
following my graduation from an all-girls public school in baltimore, i had a summer to kill, so to speak. worked a bit part-time, and got on my mom's nerves to the point where she gave me a few bucks to take the streetcar downtown and see a movie. i went alone to see 'the collector'. he (stamp) was brilliant, sick and irresistible; she (eggar) was stunning, irresistible and smart enough - one hoped - to ultimately evade his sick and relentless capture...not. when i left the theater and waited for the transit bus to take me safely home, i shuddered every time an unmarked telephone company van passed by. ironically, just watched a 'discovery' channel documentary about teenie-bopper mallrats who were engaged, seduced and ultimately murdered by a "talent agent". perhaps ' the collector', one of the penultimate, yet subtle, stalker movies of all times, should be required viewing for today's psuedo-sophisticated teens. though i subliminally rooted for stamp's tragic character, he was unmistakably ill and - to my mind - more frightening than any obvious cad i've seen since. maybe it's just me...sd

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as Disturbing as the Book
There was a time in the mid-1960's when movies were becoming more explicit in their handling of sex and violence, but they still hadn't caught up with what could be depicted on the printed page. This is the problem with "The Collector" which is based on John Fowles' novel. Terrence Stamp is quite good as the kidnapper, but his full creepiness doesn't really come off as vividly as it does in the book. The last act of violence towards the Eggar character (which is fully and horrifyingly told in the novel) couldn't be shown in a movie made at that time, especially not by a director with the old-time Hollywood reputation of William Wyler. It would take another few years for a big-time filmmaker like Alfred Hitchcock in "Frenzy" to up the ante in sexual violence. Whether the results, made manifest in the violent movies of today, are a blessing or a curse is of course up to you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Id related
This movie is about a man, actually very good looking, who is obsessed with collecting beautiful things, mainly butterflys. If you thing of a butterfly it is fragile, feminine and colorful. The character played by stamp begins to transfer his need to collect butterflys to women. He has become obsessed with one woman in particular and sets about devising a plan to capture her. It is sad in that he does not know how to relate to people, and I think turns inward, using his collection to fill his lonliness and isolation. She becomes his link to happiness, unfortunately all she does is intensify his abandonment issues. He wants her to feel the same way as he does for her. She wants to escape and trys to control him so she doesn't have to feel her fear. He allows the control trying to please her so he can make her fall in love with him, up to a point, he will not let her go. Stamp's character cannot push past his id to allow a real relationship to happen it has to be in the confines of his collecting behavior. There is definately a human element to the film, which makes it really worthwhile, its not a slasher horror film, it might look that way, but it is not. In a way, it is a delicate film, sad and somewhat scary as perceived if looking at the girl's point of view. The only thing I didn't like is the common approach Stamp's character took at the end of the film. Otherwise a good film, not something appropriate for children.

Lisa Nary

4-0 out of 5 stars Well Made Movie for 1960s (worst decade except for present)
This is not the kind of movie you can easily forget! A mentally disturbed (or at least emotionally retarded) man kidnaps and imprisons a young woman that he has "fancied" his entire life. I will admit that I was a little turned on with certain "fantasy" elements presented in this movie BEFORE seeing the film. After a short time watching the events around the unjust abuse experienced by this innocent, trusting woman, I could only feel pity that several women have had to deal with similar or worse circumstances caused by men. There is an argument (weak one) justifying some of the man's action; he felt love for this woman and had great difficulty expressing his emotions in a conventional manner. The two main actors are excellent and the movie was well done in the style of classic films. I don't want to give away events of the film (AS OTHERS HAVE DONE BEFORE I SAW THE MOVIE- THANKS- NOT).

5-0 out of 5 stars On my A list !
Two great and favorite actors-Samatha Eggers and Terrence Stamp in a great thriller and well acted. For years I have tried to find this movie but had to be content with a copy off the TV. Now in glorious DVD I am looking forward to settling down for an evenings movie enjoyment. Will Samatha escape the clutches of Terrence? Will Mr. Stamp relent and let Samatha go? or will she grow to love him? Watch the DVD and find out.

Where are all the great movies missing from DVD? Like Hold Back the Dawn, Joan of Arc with Bergman, Yellow Sky and the Big Carnival?

Well, thankfully here is one movie I can scratch off my WANTED list. Buy it. It never goes out of style. ... Read more


14. Wuthering Heights
Director: William Wyler
list price: $24.98
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Asin: 6304696620
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2878
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Amazon.com essential video

One of the most compelling tragic romances ever captured on film, Wuthering Heights is an exquisite tale of doomed love and miscalculated intentions. Though only half of Emily Bronte's classic tale of Heathcliff and Catherine was filmed by director William Wyler, it lacks for nothing.

The story begins when a Yorkshire gentleman farmer brings home a raggedy gypsy boy, Heathcliff, and raises him as his son. The boy grows to love his stepsister Catherine, with catastrophic results. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon were perfectly cast as the mismatched lovers, with Olivier brooding and despairing, Oberon ethereal and enchanting. This won cinematographer Gregg Toland a much-deserved Oscar for his haunting and evocative depiction of mid-19th century English moors. (Quite a trick, as this was shot in California!) Though nominated for seven other Oscars, it won none of them, as it was released in 1939, one of the best years in Hollywood history and the same year as Gone with the Wind. Interestingly, the script was written by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, best known for their witty 1931 flick, The Front Page. --Rochelle O'Gorman ... Read more


15. Jezebel
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.98
our price: $17.98
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Asin: B00004RF99
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4612
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bette Davis's Oscar winning performance now on DVD!!
In 1938 Bette Davis was a beautiful captivating actress who auditioned and lost for "Gone With the Wind" like every other female star did, with one difference, she starred in "Jezebel" winning an Oscar for Best Actress the year before.

"Jezebel" like Scarlet manipulated men with her destructive flirtatous desires. The setting was 1852 New Orleans pre-Civil War but abolotionists were abundant & the southern & northern relations were already politically strained. Davis's is outstanding in her role and quite beautiful. Henry Fonda & George Brent are her victims & pawns in her game chess. This movie even today remains as a classic Golden Hollywood film.

Standard Format this Black & White film is a great Warner Brothers picture. Only extra feature is a theatrical trailer. This is a great addition to your DVD library. Enjoy.

3-0 out of 5 stars JULIE NEEDS SOME SHININ' ON THIS DVD TRANSFER!
Bette Davis took home the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as spoiled Southern belle, Julie in "Jezebel". More than anything Julie wants to be loved. But her mean spirit destroy her chances at happiness with a rich lawyer (Henry Fonda)and result in the death of one of her closest friends(George Brent). Then 'yellow fever' hits and the whole south begins to fall around her ankles. Davis is superb and she is supported by a stellar cast of character actors, topped off by Faye Bainter, as her sympathetic aunt. This film really stirred the breeze toward epics taking place in the south - branded box office poison up until then. It also killed whatever small chances Bette Davis had in her desire to play Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With The Wind". This is no "Gone With The Wind" but, as told by director William Wyler, its a finely crafted melodrama and a tour de force for Bette Davis. So where's the problem?
In the TRANSFER: Warner doesn't give us much to hope for. Like "Dark Victory" this DVD is riddled with artifacts and digital compression problems that leave most of the image looking excessively harsh and grainy. The audio is mono but nicely balanced. Black levels are good but the gray scale seems to be lacking - too much middle range and not enough high and low end balance so that everything registers a dismal gray rather than a vibrant silvery spectrum of lights and darks.
EXTRAS: Not a one.
BOTTOM LINE: Don't waste your money!

3-0 out of 5 stars Terrific performance, pointless and annoying story
The lead character is so very manipulative and knee-jerk reactionary that it's a wonder anyone fellow story charadctput up with her. Her love for her fiance played by a very wooden Henry Fonda seems non-existant, and when he leaves her after an impossible humiliating stunt of hers, she suddenly can't live without him. The story is drawing-room dull, all manners and behaviors. None of the characters are interesting enough to give a rat for. The dramatic ending is inconsequential and improbable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Oscar-Winning, Oscar-Deserving. Excellent.
Poor Jack Warner. Imagine having to be the man who denied Bette Davis the role of Scarlett O' Hara. Imagine Bette's rage at the success of that particular picture. Imagine poor Jack's mind working nineteen tot he dozen, desperately searching for something, ANYTHING, to appease the wrath of The Davis.

Happily, Jack Warner came up with this: a 1938 movie about a spoilt southern Belle whose willful machinations eventually lose her the man whom she truly adores.

In my opinion, this is quite possibly Bette Davis' best ever moment in motion pictures. As Jezebel, she is old enough and established as an actress to bring real depth and credibility to the role, while being young enough so as not have established the Davis Trademarks to demean the role with. Playing the part of Julie Marsden, the titular Jezebel, Davis displays a rare understated pathos and a real sense of connection to her role. As with Regina Giddens in 'The Little Foxes', Bette's mastery of her craft is best displayed in the role of Julie. She is an emotional powerhouse, and the 'Let's raise a Ruckus' scene, as well as the final scenes of the picture, showcase that Oscar-winning mastery beautifully.

Henry Fonda is totally acceptable as the henpecked, hapless Preston Dillard, and in places gives a performance to match Bette's own. Other impressive supporting cast turns come in the shape of Margaret Lindsay as Yankee interloper Amy Bradford Dillard and the always-excellent Fay Bainter as Aunt Belle Massey.

Direction for the period is superior, too. Paced perfectly and beautifully photographed, William Wyler (whose talent is surely the only one to rival Joe L. Manckewiecz) has created a visual backdrop of opposite poles of emotion - the hubbub of city life, the quiet languor of plantation, and the terror and chaos of the epidemic are all as convincing as they are captivating. The infamous Red Dress scene has lost none of it's power, even after 74 years, Wyler's depiction of social ostracisation and slow realisation is masterful.

The DVD transfer for a 74 year old film is as good as can be expected. Sadly in parts the contrast between black & white is not as sharp as it could be, and the special features are not so good, but neither of these minor bad points will detract rom the overall majesty of 'Jezebel'.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful Love Story From Bette Davis
"Jezebel" is a true classic released in 1938. Its plot about a woman, Julie, who loses her fiance, Preston, because of being greedy and manipulative is brilliant. Its powerful theme keeps audiences watching every scene closely. The plot builds up to the end, especially as her former fiance returns after being gone for one year. She's waited so long to beg for his forgiveness. Problem: he's now married. Jelousy begins lingering through every scene, keeping the plot interesting. There is never a dull moment through any movie detail. The intensity builds as yellow fever strikes, which offers a brilliant conclusion.

The set construction and the costume designs are amazingly ahead of their time. Few other movies in 1938 mastered such elaborate settings so flawlessly. Every detail is accurate to the actual 1850's New Orleans style.

Bette Davis deservingly won her Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Julie. She proves as always that she is one of the greatest and most influencial actresses of Hollywood history. Her heart and soul through her character is obvious. Henry Fonda's role as Preston is beautiful. His character's anger and love are expressed to his fullest. In this movie, Davis and Fonda answer why they deserve their legendary status. All other actors, major or minor, also perform their roles wonderfully.

"Jezebel" is a great movie for those looking for a great movie classic and/or a unique love story. This is sure to please audience for many more years to come. ... Read more


16. Dead End
Director: William Wyler
list price: $14.95
our price: $13.45
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Asin: B0006TPDZC
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4322
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bogie and The Dead End Kids
This is the film that propelled the Dead End Kids (Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan et al) to stardom.
Humphrey Bogart portrays a gangster who returns to his old neighborhood only to come to grief.
The Dead End Kids portray slum kids living right next door to the luxurious apartment houses of the rich.
Sylvia Sidney and Joel McCrea are the star-crossed lovers who try to battle their way out of the slums.
Gangster melodrama at its finest!

5-0 out of 5 stars can't beat bogart and dead end kids
this performance doesn't rank with bogart's most famous but it should, since he is darn near perfect in the part. it makes you wonder why he struggled for so many years in his career. it also has sylvia sydney, the perfect depression era actress with her nobility and wounded sweet beauty. even joel mccrea, who i usually find to be a dud (wait, he was phenomenal in "Sullivan's Travels" and "Palm Beach Story"!) is excellent here. of course, the dead end kids became national institutions with this movie. a fine, fine, really fine movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Yeah, she was my goile when we was kids"
This is a wonderful film about the life of people living in a Manhattan ghetto in the 30's. Their life is starkly juxtaposed against that of an upper class family living in a posh residence in the same neighborhood--moving there for a desirable view of the river. From their terrace, the rich folks are insulated from, and can look down upon, the poor people living in tenements.

The film has a very theatrical feel; most of the action happens right on the street in the neigborhood. The dialouge, written by Lillian Hellman, is snappy and excellent.

The kids of the Dead End are young adolescent boys on the verge of growing up. Their choices in life are constrasted by the characters of Joel McCrea and Humphrey Bogart: adults who were also once Dead End kids. McCrea, who still lives in the neigborhood, has been to college but is now is looking for work. Bogart, who is returning to the neighborhood after many years away, is the nortorious gangster, Baby-faced Martin; he has killed eight men.

The adults are facing tough choices too: McCrea is torn beween two women: Sylvia Sidney, a neighborhood friend who is trying to raise her younger brother (one of the Kids) on her own, and Wendy Barrie, a member of the rich family (her father is brother to a Judge). Sidney, when her brother gets in trouble, contemplates helping him run away. Barrie is apparently engaged but wants to go with McCrea--if a prospective job for him comes through.

Bogart has come back to the neighborhood for something...he's not sure. Perhaps he wants some stability in his life so he seeks out an former girlfriend, Clair Trevor, leading to a memorable scene:

Bogart (reminiscing): "Remember that night on the roof?"
Trevor: "The night was full of stars and I was full of dreamy ideas."

He makes a pitch for her to come away with him but she tells him to take a closer look at her... Bogart feels betrayed--and this comes shortly after being rejected by his own mother--whom he hasn't seen for years. Trevor, like other characters here, feels as if her life is at a dead end. What hope? But this film is not depressing. There is a glimmer of hope offered through the characters of McCrea and Sylvia; and, of course, in the boys.

This is a very enjoyable film, well written and executed. And the dilemmas portrayed are still with us today.

5-0 out of 5 stars AN all time great movie
This is the movie that made Billy Halop a star..He was a fine actor and its a shame his last job was a male nurse, before he died in 1976...Only 56 years old .God Bless You Billy...You are missed indeed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Park Ave. it ain't!
In the film Dead End, the murky waters of Manhattan's East River served as an appropriate backdrop for the squalor that manifested itself within the conefines of tenament housing. City streets that offered little hope for the jobless, poor, and oppressed were truely "dead ends". Written by Lillian Hellman and directed by William Wyler, Dead End exposed the stark social and economic divisions between the affluent and the underpriveledged. Logistically, the film was easily adapted from Sidney Kingsley's stage play, as most of the scenes are shot within the shadows of Manhattan's East 53rd street highrises. Dead End is essentially about people and their relationship with the neighborhood that spawned them. Gangster Baby Face Martin ( Humphrey Bogart) returns to his old block seeking glorified acceptance from his mother, only to be rudely rebuffed. Plastic surgery may conceal Martin's outward identity, but his crimminal persona is clearly defined through his street wise and violent attitude towards survival. At first Martin basks in the limelight; preening with sharp suit, hat, and polished shoes. As if to make a social statement exclaiming the virtues and rewards of crime, Martin becomes an icon for a teenage street gang (The Dead End Kids). When Martin is shocked by his mother's repulsive behavior, he seeks out his old flame (Clair Trevor). When she reveals that she is now a prostitute, Martin once again becomes tormented that his homecoming is a lonely one. Sylvia Sydney plays Drina, a young unemployed woman struggling to forge an identity of her own while raising her teenage brother. Drina can only dream about escaping the confines of her depressing neighborhood, since her childhood beau ( Joel McCrea) has been enticed by a society girl ( Wendy Barrie) who resides in an exclusive penthouse overlooking the shoddy apartments that define Dead End. Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Leo Gorcey, and the rest of the Dead End kids provide enough street talk to make an English teacher cringe with embarrassment. Is there a way out of Dead End? Most street toughs assumed a life of crime would free them from poverty. Others set up businesses relying on the patronage of tenanment residents to keep the bills paid. Others relied on marriage in hopes of "marrying up". Still others sought education as a way out. The year is 2000, and if you visit the streets of Manhattan above 110th street not much has changed since Wyler's 1937 film Dead End. ... Read more


17. Dodsworth
Director: William Wyler
list price: $19.98
our price: $17.98
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Asin: B00005PJ6U
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 15372
Average Customer Review: 4.93 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superior film of adult behaviour and society
Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor, Kathryn Marlowe, and John Payne headline this study of marriage and early 20th Century culture. The story line is solid, the script is restrained, direction & acting excellent. Typical of many lesser known films, Dodsworth combines the best of book-to-film conversions (Sinclair Lewis-book, Sidney Howard-script), and accurate psychological drama - for thinking adults.

Dodsworth offers a rare chance to see musical stage star Kathryn Marlowe as the daughter. Marlowe (AKA Kay Kimber on Broadway & London stage, Kay Rea on radio and TV), was brought to Hollywood as Fred Astaire's choice to be his movie partner at RKO studios. In typical Hollywood politics, this was stopped by Ginger Roger's mother, an RKO executive. Marlowe is the person who introduced Iowa radio sports announcer Ronald Reagan to Hollywood, getting him his agent, and introducing him around. Underused as a Goldwyn personal contract player, Marlowe returned to the London stage, starring in "High Button Shoes". There, she also pushed careers of newcomers in her shows, such as Audry Hepburn. Married to famed bandleader Roy Fox, after World War II Marlowe stopped touring, and became Production Manager of KTVO TV in Ottumwa, Iowa to be near her parents, and to raise a family.

John Payne can be seen early in his busy career.

5-0 out of 5 stars A movie for adults--in the best sense of the term.
It is a stinging indictment of today's Hollywood that a movie like Dodsworth probably couldn't get made today. In its emotional richness and complexity, it demands an audience that doesn't expect an explosion or a poopoo joke every ten seconds. Walter Huston gives one of the all-time great performances as Sam Dodsworth, a self-made millionaire who goes to Europe searching for his roots. Unfortunately, his neurotic wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton, an unjustly forgotten actress) goes with him searching for something else entirely, and the movie is largely about the suffering her emotional games-playing causes him. Add Mary Astor as an elegant American divorcee, Paul Lukas and David Niven as shady Europeans, and Maria Ouspenskaya as a wise old Austrian baroness, and you have a great cast giving life to a screenplay of uncommon literacy and wisdom. Dodsworth is a movie for people who are willing to pay attention, who don't want everything spelled out in huge letters, and who agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald that action is character.

5-0 out of 5 stars Oh, for the good old days of films!
Ruth Chatterton, William Wyler, Walter Huston - how could you go wrong with these film greats involved? I loved every minute of it. It was romantic, touching, funny -- black and white and I wouldn't have it any other way. Such a great film -- please, do yourself a favor and buy this NOW! It's how movies should be!

5-0 out of 5 stars A movie for a desert isle....
If I can only have one movie to take with me to that proverbial desert isle, I pick this one. The play between Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton is really something to see...they gave the best performances of their careers here (and I love Chatterton in a little-known Pre-Code film called "Lilly Turner" which you should definitely seek out). The script VASTLY improves upon the book by Sinclair Lewis, and fleshes out the part of, to quote Chatterton, "that washed-out ex-patriate" played by Mary Astor. Praised in its day for its maturity and its sumptuous production, it is still an absolutely perfect film. The final 5 minutes show what an intense climax a director can create from a relatively tiny story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A GREAT FILM FROM 1936.
This movie holds a special fascination for me. First off, the little-seen-on-video actress Ruth Chatterton does a superlative job as Fran Dodsworth, the hopelessly vain forty-something wife of a successful American Industrialist

I love the remark Mary Astor makes to Chatterton when Fran states to the younger Edith: "I hope I look as good as you do at your age" - "You're almost certain to, my dear" replies Mary.

As Dodsworth himself, Walter Huston is amazing: a brilliantly effective performance, simple, unaffected -- basking in its realism.

Mary Astor is wonderful as the true blue widow Edith Cortwright. Astor plays her role with a sincere confidence and her character is a nice contrast to the foolish Fran (Who gets more ridiculously affected and flirtatious as the film progresses)

Apart from the great Maria Ouspenskaya - who has one telling scene - David Niven is merely adequate here and the other supporting players (John Payne, Spring Byington, etc.) aren't particularly memorable.

But Huston, Chatterton and Astor carry the film aided by William Wyler's superb direction. And that lovely semi-sentimental musical theme heard throughout doesn't exactly mar the film, either.

DODSWORTH is an uncommonly adult film for the 193O's (Nineteen thirties Hollywood, anyway!) And it's a joy to relish for those interested in fine vintage performances from three pros doing some of their finest work on screen. ... Read more


18. The Desperate Hours
Director: William Wyler
list price: $14.99
our price: $13.49
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Asin: B00008Z44E
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 14021
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Humphrey Bogart is at his villainous best in William Wyler's taut home-invasion thriller, The Desperate Hours. Sharply adapted by John Hayes from his own fact-based novel and Broadway play, this marked a slight departure for Wyler, whose celebrated versatility is on ready display as Bogart--leading a panicky trio of escaped convicts--seizes control of a suburban family in the (dis)comfort of their own home. The domestic terror (similarly dramatized in the 1954 potboiler Suddenly) escalates as cautious patriarch Frederic March waits for an opportunity to retaliate, while the police (led by Arthur Kennedy) close in for an ambush. Viewers may recognize the home's exterior from TV's Leave It to Beaver, while its interior gives Wyler a sealed chamber for nail-biting advances and setbacks--and Bogey was rarely better at portraying ruthless, unpredictable menace. Poorly remade in 1990, The Desperate Hours remains a potent precursor to the many similar films (like Panic Room) that followed its enduring example. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more

Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Top-drawer thriller from Hollywood's 'golden age'
THE DESPERATE HOURS (USA 1955): The patriarch of a middle-class suburban family (Fredric March) is forced to take action when they're held hostage in their own home by three escaped convicts, one of whom (Humphrey Bogart) is an experienced lifer with nothing to lose...

The first and only pairing of superstars Bogart and March is a tightly-wound thriller, written by Joseph Hayes (based on his novel and stageplay, inspired by actual events), and directed by Hollywood veteran William Wyler, distancing himself from the 'women's pictures' he had helped to popularize during the 1940's (THE LITTLE FOXES, MRS. MINIVER, THE HEIRESS etc.). Photographed in gleaming deep-focus VistaVision by Lee Garmes (SCARFACE, THE PARADINE CASE), the movie wrings incredible tension from the claustrophobic settings and frequent stand-offs between staunch family man March and embittered con Bogart. The movie's themes are fairly conservative and the outcome is never really in doubt, but this is a top-drawer thriller from Hollywood's 'golden age'. Also starring Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin and Gig Young in crucial supporting roles. Unmissable.

The movie runs 112m 25s on Paramount's region 1 DVD, and the image is letterboxed at approx. 1.85:1 (anamorphically enhanced), the recommended aspect ratio of most VistaVision movies. The beautiful black and white photography is supported by a strong Dolby 2.0 mono soundtrack, and the disc contains English captions and subtitles. There are no extras, not even a trailer.

NB. Though nowhere near as dreadful as most critics would have you believe, Michael Cimino's remake DESPERATE HOURS (1990) isn't a patch on the original.

4-0 out of 5 stars SUPERB THRILLER
William Wyler directs Humphrey Bogart in the super tense thriller THE DESPERATE HOURS. Three on the lam thugs invade a heartland American home and hold a family hostage. Everyone seeks survival and an ordinary dad (Frederick March) puts his life on the line for his family. Bogie at his very best as a snarling, deadly con. Heartstopping showdown. Unforgettable climax. You'll hold your breath and bite your nails. This is one to own. See what great filmmaking and storytelling is all about.

Don't confuse this with the pallid 1990 remake starring Mickey Rourke, directed by Michael Cimino.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing
With all the thrillers, i've watched till date, The Desperate Hour is truely the king of them all. Humprey Bogart rocks in this movie and while March plans to protect his family with the unloaded gun, the tension grips high times. This is a classic that need to be in every movie collectors shelves.

3-0 out of 5 stars Only a 50's paranoia
I am such a fan of Bogie and Wyler, but although the production is impeccable, the screenplay is so boring, and the typical "happy 50's family" is so square, that I was begging at the end of this feature, "C'mon Bogie, kill'em all! Kill'em all!".Unfortunately, he didn't.

2-0 out of 5 stars Filmed In DesperationVision
Boring, boring, boring ...

That's really all that can be said for this William Wyler "thriller." While the performances of all of the principles (with the notable exception of Humphrey Bogart) are almost laughably unconvincing, even Bogart's magic isn't enough to elevate this drama filmed in DesperationVision to anything above passable ... yes, even for cinema's golden years.

Perhaps if they had given Bogey more screen time, I might feel different, but, that fact aside, HOURS plays out like hours ... upon hours ... upon hours ... upon hours ...

ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ..... ... Read more


19. Ben-Hur - Limited Edition Collector's Set
Director: William Wyler
list price: $79.98
our price: $71.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0000683U6
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 24097
Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (210)

5-0 out of 5 stars A true gem, with a stunning print to boot
While perhaps lacking the disturbing and emotional depth of an epic like _Lawrence of Arabia_, _Ben Hur_ largely makes up for it with its sheer energy. The great sea battle and the famed chariot race are (unsurprisingly) two of my favorite scenes. The film is presented in its super-wide MGM Camera 65 aspect ratio, and the transfer looks beautiful. The colors are deep and rich, the picture virtually free of blemishes (except for two or three instances of a dropped frame). Rozsa's beautiful music also shines through in a lovely 5.1 channel track.

The one danger, however, is in letting this splendid DVD lead viewers into thinking that this film has been fully restored, like _Lawrence of Arabia_. As Robert Harris said in an interview, a DVD transfer can be made to look pristine, even though the film itself may be in terrible condition. I sincerely hope this is not the case with _Ben Hur_, and if this is the unfortunate case, I urge that it be fully restored so that future generations can enjoy it in its original form and not only in a digital format.

5-0 out of 5 stars Timeless, Huge and Most Honored
Titanic and Ben-Hur stand alone as the occupants of that rare honor: 11 Oscars won. The differences in both movies include script, plot, story, and character development. Which is to say neither movies did or did not deserve all those awards. Like me, Titanic and Ben-Hur captivated the Academy with their expansive shots, and loads-upon-loads of extras. Both are masterpieces. I beg to differ with most of these reviews on that.

5-0 out of 5 stars It is one if not THE best biblical film
Ben Hur features Charleton Heston's greatest performance. It features some of the greatest and largest scale scenes in film history (example: The Chariot Race). It might not be everyone's cup of tea, I mean just look at it's length, but that does not mean you shouldn't at least experience this one time in your life. And the DVD version is the best to see, and or own.

5-0 out of 5 stars ERIC C`S REVIEW
THIS IS TIED WITH THE GODFATHER AS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER! CHARLTON HESTON RULES!!

5-0 out of 5 stars this is an all-time classic!
I first came across this movie at a local library, and I subsequently decided to obtain a copy for my personal library. It is a classic in every respect. Two thumbs high up! It is sad that the present crop of Hollywood directors/producers do not generally feature movies of this quality and depth these days. ... Read more


20. The Westerner
Director: William Wyler
list price: $24.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6305082367
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 22970
Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A marvelous and strikingly unique Western
This is one of the most unusual and delightful Westerns ever made. What sets it apart is the relative lack of action, the way that director William Wyler shifts most of the interest onto the relationship and interpersonal interplay between Cole Hardin (Gary Cooper, in one of his finest Western roles) and Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan). The way the two move from instant enemies, to unexpected friends, to uneasy opponents, to reluctant enemies, and finally back to sympathetic friends is masterfully portrayed. As fine as Cooper is, much of the credit lies with Brennan, who became the first person to win three acting Oscars by picking up his third Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Unlike his other Oscar wins, this role was essentially a lead role. Although many actors have portrayed Judge Roy Bean over the years, Brennan's is the definitive one, despite being the least historically accurate. If his version isn't the most faithful, it is the most compelling. He manages to be utterly absurd, dangerously unpredictable, and utterly likable at the same time.

The story essentially falls into two halves. The first involves Gary Cooper's accidental identification in Judge Bean's saloon as a horse thief, his trial and conviction, and clever manipulation of the Judge to gain a reprieve. The second half concerns Cooper's taking sides in a range war, siding with a lone female farmer against cattlemen. Both halves are brought together nicely in Cooper and Brennan's final struggle that ends the film.

Along with Walter Brennan and Gary Cooper, the real star of this film is Gregg Toland, whose cinematography rivets the viewer's attention on the screen from beginning to end. Toland, who died tragically young in 1948 at the age of 44, is universally regarded as one of the very greatest cinematographers of all time, and THE WESTERNER was one of his finest efforts in a very, very great streak of films over a relatively short period of time. In the period running from 1939-41, Toland was responsible for filming such extraordinary classics as WUTHERING HEIGHTS, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE WESTERNER, and CITIZEN KANE. Has any cinematographer ever had a two-year period matching this one? I saw THE WESTERNER years before I knew who Gregg Toland was, but I long retained the memory of several of the amazing shots Toland framed. He was a favorite of director William Wyler, who would employ him often during Toland's tragically short career.

Toland's photography manages to give this film an epic feel and scope, while the tensions in the relationship between Cooper and Brennan make it a highly intimate film. This is easily one of the most unique Westerns in the history of Holly, and one of the best.

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Westerner": Brennan's acting and Toland's photography
Director William Wyler began his career making two-reel westerns in the late 1920s, but did not return to the genre or filming outdoors until this 1940 classic. The traditional story of the conflict between the farmers and the cattlemen is represented by Gary Cooper as Cole Hardin and Walter Brennan as "Judge" Roy Bean. Hardin is brought before the self-appointed Judge ("the only law west of the Pecos") as a horse-thief. Fortunately, Hardin notices the giant pictures of Lily Langtry behind the bar of the Jersey Lily (Langtry's nickname as well as the name of the Judge's bar). Playing upon Bean's love for the actress (better known as the mistress of Prince Edward), Hardin wins a two-week reprieve and becomes embroiled in the coming range war. Brennan deservedly won an Academy Award for his portrayal, but for me the star of the show is cinematographer Gregg Toland ("Citizen Kane" as well as Wyler's "Wuthering Heights). The only other western to really come close in terms of compositional artistry is "My Darling Clementine." The climatic showdown between Hardin and the Judge in the deserted auditorium Bean had bought out to watch Lily performed without being disturbed evidences Wylers touch as a director, but most of the film's memorable moments are Toland's photography, such as the young girl standing by her father's grave reading the scorched pages of the family's Bible. "The Westerner" is arguably the most cinematic film in the genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cooper cracks necks with the best of em'
The Westerner is simply one of the best westerns ever made. It has all of the elements of the genre, the lonesome drifter (Cooper), the half-evil judge (Brennan as Judge Roy Bean), the "searching-for-a-real-man" women, the gang of thug rustlers (played by a gang of various thugs), the wimpy farmers (played by a bunch of wimpy farmers), the raunchy bar-room singer (played by a lock of golden hair), and the climatic shoot-out (Cooper versus Brennan). The scenes that steal the movie are those in which Cooper kindly agress to gently crack Judge Roy Beans stiff neck with a quick twist. You can hear the pops and also feel the relief as you watch.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE Classic Western
Anyone who likes westerns will treasure this
gem. Cooper and Brennan at their best. Wyler's
direction and Tiomkin's music unequaled.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest movies of all time!
This movie has everything: humor, history, adventure, great acting, and a terrific story. No actor today has more appeal than Cooper. Tom Cruise? Pshaw--a star manque. Coop was afraid Brennan would steal every scene; in fact they work quite well together. This is Coop before High Noon, another classic. ... Read more


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