Nobody commanded the screen like Humphrey Bogart.
I sort of wonder what the point is of repackaging a bunch of films into a new collection.
Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 contains the following four films:
- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- High Sierra
- They Drive By Night.
While the first two titles are the more known out of this batch, this is a nice mix of films to give people who might be unfamiliar with who this iconic actor was. Casablanca sees Bogart in the role of Rick, a man who must give up the woman he loves for very noble reasons. This is a classic Bogart role and the kind of character who would soon be appearing in a lot of other movies (portrayed by other actors and Bogart). The Treasure of the Sierra Madre sees Bogart as Fred Dobbs, a man wrapped up in a world of greed, suspicion, and larceny. High Sierra sees Bogart as Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a man living in a different time and mindset. Many people think that is was the film that first introduced the Bogart swagger he would become famous for. Lastly, They Drive By Night as an interesting if unspectacular film in which Bogart and George Raft play truck drivers.
Overall, I found this set highly enjoyable because I feel that Bogart is very entertaining. Sure, he seems to fall all too easily into the swagger that he is known for, but this persona is very much something that he created. I see these films as a way for him to sort of perfect his craft and show the many shades to a character like his, even if together in Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 they seem a bit too similar.
As this is mainly a bunch of prepackaged films put together for this box set release, I have decided to simply list out some of he features and the URL where you can read the full list.
- 2 Feature-length Audio Commentaries: One by film critic Roger Ebert, the other by film historian Rudy Behlmer
- Introduction by Lauren Bacall
- Lauren Bacall Hosts You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca, a spellbinding backstage tour
Click here to read the full list of features.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- Probing documentaries on the movie's making and John Huston's career
- Audio commentary
- Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1948 with trailer, newsreel, comedy short, cartoon and additional vintage cartoon galleries of art/photo/publicity materials
Click here to read the full list of features.
They Drive By Night
- All-new making-of featurette "Divided Highway: The Story of They Drive by Night"
- Vintage musical short "Swingtime in the Movies"
- All-new making-of featurette "Curtains for Roy Earle: The Story of High Sierra"
All of the titles in this collection are in black and white and in the standard version presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of their original theatrical exhibitions. There is a sharpness that gets applied to black and white movies when they come to DVD that is very apparent here. I don't know if they went through the prints themselves, or if it is just a compression spec but these movies looked really good. I was especially taken with the detail on Casablanca. I first saw that film in a movie theater at Orange Coast College, and I don't recall the image having nearly the same quality as it did on my much smaller TV screen. Even the lesser known titles like They Drive By Night seem as if they have gotten some form of "treatment."
All of these movies are in Dolby Digital - English Mono. Casablanca can also be heard in French Mono. I thought the sound was quite solid on this four film set. The truth of the matter is that these are old films. No matter how advanced we may get in an audio sense there are always going to be issues with assets over time. While I can't say that any of the movies in this set sounded bad, I could tell that there was a bit of wear on the audio. However, I would have to get real nitpicky to pinpoint where everything was, and chances are if you are buying this set you understand that over time things happen. Truthfully, I think it's great to get these movies in as good a quality as they are.
Humphrey Bogart's mug graces this classy front cover. The back lists out the four movies in the set, a small description of each one, Special Features, and on the bottom of the box are some technical specs. Also on the back cover are the four covers of each film. I love looking at old movie posters so immediately these grabbed my attention. Warner Bros. has made this set a mix of digipack style and regular release DVDs inside the slipcase covering. While this is honestly little more than a collection of Bogart films repackaged in a "new" way, it's the covers of the films that really stand out amongst all the artwork.
I was really excited to get a chance to review Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 for two reasons. First of all, Casablanca is one of those movies that anybody can relate to. If you have ever been in a relationship than you know the pain that oozes off of Bogart's face in every frame of this film. He is a man who has to make a huge sacrifice for the woman he loves, and while this is noble, the pain of that sacrifice is palpable in every frame of this movie. Also, I have never owned it before on DVD so what better way to obtain it than to have it in this collection, and be able to bounce it off of other movies. Secondly, I am a big fan of Humphrey Bogart. Period. I may not be as up on him as a lot of people, but there is something about his demeanor, more importantly the piercing quality of his eyes that gets me as a viewer. Sure, I think he hid behind this in some of his roles, but I never felt he was redundant like some other actors with similar personas.
All in all, the Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 manages to deliver a very interesting retrospective of this iconic star.
High Sierra was released January 23, 1941.