Gangsters Collections

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GringoTex
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#1 Post by GringoTex » Mon Feb 07, 2005 1:03 pm

I spent this weekend devouring the set. With Maltin intro, featurette, commentary, newsreel, short and animation on each disc, it's an even better product than the noir set. And at $7.50 per disc if you buy it from a discount online retailer.

And the animated menus are fantastic.

nredding2
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#2 Post by nredding2 » Mon Feb 07, 2005 1:17 pm

I watched White Heat yesterday and I noticed that the audio went out of sync with the video for the last half or so of the movie. The out-of-sync amount was a second or two delay on the audio. Did anyone else notice this?

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Nihonophile
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#3 Post by Nihonophile » Mon Feb 07, 2005 1:54 pm

nredding2 wrote:I watched White Heat yesterday and I noticed that the audio went out of sync with the video for the last half or so of the movie. The out-of-sync amount was a second or two delay on the audio. Did anyone else notice this?
I thought I saw that, but when I thought it was out of synch, my brain read it as 'artistic' and I forgot about it.

Does this box exist in stores?

nredding2
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#4 Post by nredding2 » Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:56 pm

So it's not just me imagining it then! What's funny is all the clips in the featurette are in sync, including those from the latter part of the film.

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denti alligator
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#5 Post by denti alligator » Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:37 pm

I watched White Heat yesterday and I noticed that the audio went out of sync with the video for the last half or so of the movie. The out-of-sync amount was a second or two delay on the audio.
This is more common than you'd think, and I find it extremely annoying.
Can others confirm whether they've had this problem. I want to be sure before I buy this.

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Harold Gervais
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#6 Post by Harold Gervais » Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:57 pm

Nihonophile wrote: Does this box exist in stores?
I've seen sets in Best Buy, Circuit City & Tower.

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#7 Post by DrewReiber » Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:06 am

Harold Gervais wrote:
Nihonophile wrote: Does this box exist in stores?
I've seen sets in Best Buy, Circuit City & Tower.
Checked Best Buy, Circuit City AND Virgin Megastore and nada. In my area they either underordered it or didn't order it at all.

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GringoTex
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#8 Post by GringoTex » Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:00 am

denti alligator wrote: This is more common than you'd think, and I find it extremely annoying.
Can others confirm whether they've had this problem. I want to be sure before I buy this.
I didn't notice this the first time I watched it and so checked it out again. I could discern no out-of-sync audio on my copy. There were some instances of piss-poor dubbing, but that was it.

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#9 Post by Martha » Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:13 pm

Angels With Dirty Faces
Cagney's Rocky Sullivan is a charismatic ghetto tough guy whose underworld rise makes him a hero to a gang of slum punks. The 1938 New York Film Critics Best Actor Award came Cagney's way, as well as one of the film's three Oscar nominations. Watch the chilling death-row finale and you'll know why.

The Public Enemy
Showcases James Cagney's powerful 1931 breakthrough performance as streetwise tough guy Tom Powers. When shooting began, Cagney had a secondary role but Darryl F. Zanuck soon spotted Cagney's screen dominance and gave him the star part. From that moment, an indelible genre classic and an enduring star career were both born.

Little Caesar
The tale of pugnacious Caesar Enrico Bandello (played by Edward G. Robinson), a hoodlum with a Chicago-sized chip on his shoulder, few attachments, fewer friends and no sense of underworld diplomacy. And Robinson – a genteel art collector who disdained guns – was forever associated with the screen's archetypal gangster.

The Petrified Forest
Robert E. Sherwood's 1935 Broadway success about survival of the fittest, hit the screen a year later with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart magnificently recreating their stage roles and Bette Davis ably re-teaming with her Of Human Bondage co-star Howard.

The Roaring Twenties
The speakeasy era never roared louder than in this gangland chronicle that packs a wallop under action master Raoul Walsh's direction. Against a backdrop of newsreel-like montages and narration, it follows the life of jobless war veteran Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) who turns bootlegger, dealing in "bottles instead of battles."

White Heat
As a psychotic thug devoted to his hard-boiled ma, James Cagney – older, scarier and just as electrifying – gives a performance to match his work in The Public Enemy as White Heat's cold-blooded Cody Jarrett. Bracingly directed by Raoul Walsh, this fast-paced thriller tracing Jarrett's violent life in and out of jail is also a harrowing character study.

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david hare
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#10 Post by david hare » Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:55 am

Apart from the anticipated pleasures of WHITE HEAT and ROARING TWENTIES which look the best they have for decades, I was knocked out by the level of restoration of LITTLE CAESAR and PUBLIC ENEMY. For the first time in thirty years I am actually motivated enough by the image quality to look at these pictures again with fresh eyes. (And have thrown out my ancient PD VHS transfers which only ever looked like smog.)

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Donald Trampoline
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#11 Post by Donald Trampoline » Sat Mar 05, 2005 11:34 pm

Do I see that Public Enemy is not presented in its correct original aspect ratio of 1.17:1?

Along with The Wrong Man aspect ratio mistake mentioned under the Hitchcock box thread, that's two.

1.17 is per IMDB HERE and also Bordwell and Thompson's Film Art: An Introduction, where they have a section on aspect ratios which features a frame enlargement from Public Enemy to illustrate the 1.17 aspect ratio.

Is the image pillarboxed or windowboxed during the opening credits revealing this error for all to see, or were they lucky and the credits could all fit even with the merciless cropping?

Essentially the implications of this are that the top and bottom of the image are hacked off.

Nevertheless, I'm glad it's out, but, sigh, will the 1.17 aspect ratio ever get the respect it deserves? See Cocoanuts (1929) also. Although IMDB lists that one as 1.33, I believe that's another 1.17 because in an early DVD release the opening credits had to be pillarboxed or windowboxed, after which the movie proceeded with a top-and-bottom cropped aspect ratio. And the year and studio is right for that aspect ratio.

Here's one web-based explanation of 1.17 in lieu of the Bordwell book itself:
Pre-Widescreen Movie Film Format Brief History

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swingo
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#12 Post by swingo » Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:50 am

Don, thanks for that link, it can always be helpful...


Axel.

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GringoTex
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#13 Post by GringoTex » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:31 am

Donald Trampoline wrote:
Is the image pillarboxed or windowboxed during the opening credits revealing this error for all to see, or were they lucky and the credits could all fit even with the merciless cropping?

Essentially the implications of this are that the top and bottom of the image are hacked off.
The opening credits are pillarboxed. I had the same issue when I screened a 35mm print of this film several years ago. We couldn't get a 1.17:1 mat in time. It wasn't too much of an issue- Wellman doesn't frame his images too tight anyway.

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GringoTex
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#14 Post by GringoTex » Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:36 am

I just watched Little Ceasar (hadn't seen it in years) and was surprised how badly it compares to Public Enemy. It creaks and groans with it's stagey mise-en-scene and rote narrative, while Public Enemy's technique is exciting and sophisticated.
SpoilerShow
The last shot of Cagney's corpse falling face forward through the doorway is as good as any "gotcha shot" in a Scorsese film.
.

The only other early talkies Wellman film I've seen is Wild Boys of the Road, but based on those two, he seems to have been a key figure in keeping the early sound film out of the rut.

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Michael Kerpan
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#15 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:12 am

I thought "Public Enemy" was more stylish than "Little Caesar" -- but that the script was ridiculously unbelievable -- while the earlier film had some plausibility. The other problem with "Little Caesar" was the general ineptitude of the supporting cast -- once past Robinson (who was phenomenal), not much real talent on display. "Public Enemy" was also surprisingly weak in male casting overall (aside from Cagney), but at least had some star power on the female side.

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Steven H
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#16 Post by Steven H » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:21 pm

Angels With Dirty Faces is probably my favorite of the bunch. It strikes me as very subversive, especially if you read Rocky's concession at the end as a favor for the priest. And then that brings in a whole other notion that the church is manipulating those kids (with the media no less!) while Rocky, the rotten gangster, maintains heroism even to the end.

Best short of the bunch, "Homeless Hare" on White Heat.

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Michael Kerpan
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#17 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:36 pm

For me -- the best by far was "Roaring 20s". To my mind, a virtually perfect film in every way.

I am not a Curtiz fan, something about him rubs me the wrong way -- in film after film. "Angels" didn't fare any better with me than any of his other films.

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david hare
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#18 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:54 pm

It's interesting to see the reaction of people to Curtiz against Walsh. This is indeed one thread I really hoped might open up with the Gangsters Box.
Certainly it's easy to consider them as alike -although Currtiz really pumped out the product while Walsh's output seems more restrained (but still considerable.)
They could both also tackle any sort of material - melodrama, western, action pic, noir and execute them with ease. Perhaps one way in which they differ is the way their collaborations , particularly the screenwriters conrtibute to the overall quality of the picture. Also, Curtiz' cinematography always looks a little more showy and glossy, even more exprssionist, where Walsh's formal style is perhaps more serviceable (but still very fine.) Curtiz screenplays are often filled with self-aware humor - see Casablana and Mildred Pierce - and so on. In short I think Curtiz' films come across very much as Hollywood "product" - but at a very high level. If anyone could define the best side of the studio system surely it was Curtiz.

Walsh on the other hand seems to have a particular style, and some definable thematic concerns - fast driving action, conflicted characters driven to the edge, and with a great screenplay like HIGH SIERRA or WHITE HEAT the films jump up into completely remarkable territory. To Take another example - THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT - a terrific picture that embraces a lot of the studio 's own trademarks - blue collar workers and exploitation, the corrupted nouveau riche, the driven dame (Ida Lupino)i, tough sexy females (Ann Sheridan). While essentially operating as an action/melodrama Walsh takes the movie up another level into nascent noir territory with Lupino's staggering courtroom scene. And I find a similar degree of tragic fatalism at the end of ROARING TWENTIES.

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#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 08, 2005 8:22 pm

Curtiz always strikes me as a bit too facile. He reminds me of the big names of the Grand Old Opry -- who took that crude old-fashioned country music and made it glossy and safe -- and bland.

Walsh's work definitely seems more distinctive. I haven't seen "High Sierra" for millions of years -- and have yet to see "They Drive By Night". I actually prefer the cinematography in his films to that in Curtiz's. ;~}

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david hare
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#20 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:13 pm

Michael I know what you mean. Anyway Walsh was certainly always part of the post Cahiers Pantheon, but is still unduly neglected as an auteur.

Nevertheless for pure enjoyment of the machinery of the Warner's "system" Curtiz is exemplary and I think his pacing and sense of humor are virtues, even if the cinematography and the Steiner scores sometimes become overstated (as they do in MILDRED, although this is part of the fun for me.) He is maybe more to your taste in films where a single actor seems to dominate the proceedings, say Claude Rains in THE UNSUSPECTED or Joan in FLAMINGO ROAD.
As for Walsh, much, much more needs to be said.

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david hare
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#21 Post by david hare » Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:20 pm

Another thought occurs to me. Hopefully this Warner section will open up some discussion about other movie collaborators: writers, producers, cameramen even actors and lurch into some kind of post-auteurist analysis. Curtiz' films are not a bad place to start for this - say Ernest Haller, Steiner, Jerry Wald etc...

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Steven H
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#22 Post by Steven H » Wed Mar 09, 2005 12:19 am

Roaring Twenties is pretty damn good, and White Heat is brilliantly directed (both seem spontaneous but when you consider the editing, specifically match cutting and scene segues, etc. it's stunning stuff). I probably feel more drawn in and emotionally involved during his films (Roaring Twenties especially, hands down the best drawn characters in the box).

But Curtiz is politically subversive through his directing, which is pretty fascinating in the context of Hollywood films (one of the bigger things that interest me about Sirk and Preminger as well). I'm not too familiar with most of Curtiz's films, but I wonder how strong this cynical streak is.

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david hare
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#23 Post by david hare » Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:11 am

Another stunning example of Walsh's formal concerns - when Cagney goes into the big epilectic scene in WHITE HEAT - and you KNOW it's going to be a huge performance, Walsh cuts away to a long shots to show the suddenly solitary figure in the prison mess and (I am sure) to avoid the inevitable histrionics of closeups Then his wide shots of the action show the physicality of the character -Cagney staggering, lashing out etc. Whatever, this is surely masterful mise-en-scene! And Cagney's biggest scene in the picture!

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zedz
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#24 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:38 pm

It's great to see The Roaring Twenties getting so much attention. The one and only time I saw it about twenty years ago I was blown away, and was surprised to find hardly any mention of it in standard texts (and none of those mentions suggested how great a film it was). At that time it was easily the best gangster film I'd seen, and I was hugely impressed by how beautifully Walsh calibrated the epic narrative and how detailed the characters were. It seemed to me to be the grand summing up of a genre (almost in the manner of Once Upon a Time in the West), and I can't wait to get my hands on the Gangsters box to see how it holds up.

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Steven H
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#25 Post by Steven H » Tue Mar 15, 2005 4:56 pm

Just want to add that Petrified Forest has a really informative commentary track, giving extensive seemingly in-the-know accounts of production history and actor biographies. Most of the other commentaries were nonstop helping hands in pointing out the obvious.

Could the best performance in the bunch be Cagney in White Heat? Really fascinating stuff. He seems to be wearing the skins of his previous incarnations. Other than Yankee Doodle Dandy, I'd like to hear some other recommendations of his work. Preferably on DVD, but not limited to.

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