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Review - The Humphrey Bogart Collection (DVD-2003)
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The Humphrey Bogart Collection (DVD-2003)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Daniel Severin

 

Humphrey Bogart is the Number One actor of all time, according to the American Film Institute and an Entertainment Weekly readers’ poll. To honor his legacy, Warner Brothers has recently released The Humphrey Bogart Collection, a box set containing DVDs of five of his finest performances. Comprising the set are Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, and To Have and Have Not. We recently reviewed the amazing new DVDs of Casablanca and Sierra Madre on Celluloid Dreams; both editions are packed with bonus features, including commentaries, documentaries, and Bogart and Warner Brothers-related materials.

 

Also included in The Humphrey Bogart Collection are two classic noir films. In The Big Sleep, Bogart plays private detective Philip Marlowe, investigating a blackmail attempt that threatens to scandalize a wealthy Los Angeles family. The story of how The Big Sleep was made is as interesting as the film itself, and this impressive DVD chronicles it all. The disc contains the prerelease version of the film, as well as the 1946 theatrical version. You can watch both and look for the modified and deleted scenes, or view the behind-the-scenes featurette that explains what was changed and why before the picture was released.

 

Next in the set is The Maltese Falcon, the original film noir. Bogart plays Sam Spade, a San Francisco private eye who wants to find out who killed his partner and help Mary Astor find a famous missing statue. In a convoluted series of double- and triple-crosses, The Maltese Falcon ushered in a new chapter in cinema history and defined the genre of film noir. The DVD also includes an intriguing documentary on how the Warner Brothers publicity team crafted Bogart’s image using the trailers for his films.

 

Rounding out the set is To Have and Have Not. This is the film that brought Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall together for the first time. Love blooms on and off the screen as the couple’s relationship grows parallel to that of their characters in the film. Set in the French colony of Martinique during World War II, the plot embroils Bogart in the struggle between French loyalists and the corrupt, German-appointed French government. To Have and Have Not is based on an Ernest Hemingway novel and has never been available on DVD until now. The disc’s extras include a making of the film featurette and a Lux Theatre radio adaptation of the film, also starring Bogart and Bacall.

 

Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and To Have and Have Not are all essential viewing. Even if you’ve already seen them, the quality of the presentation, the comprehensive supplementary materials, and the convenience of having all five films in one box, make The Humphrey Bogart Collection a worthwhile purchase. It makes a perfect gift for any movie fan on your holiday shopping list, or if you want to treat yourself to some four-star films from some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, you can’t go wrong with The Humphrey Bogart Collection.

 

 

2003 Daniel Severin/Celluloid Dreams

 

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