DVD Review: Humphrey Bogart-The Essential Collection

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A must-own for any film buff, Warner Brother has released a box set containing 24 of Humphrey Bogart’s most beloved films.  In going through this collection, it becomes apparent just how significant he was to the cinematic landscape.  He was one of the first true “movie stars,” and while not every film he made is perfect, his contributions to the industry are undeniable.

What’s great about this set is that it contains not only the classics such as Casablanca, the Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, etc., but also those a little less familiar.  Somehow, films like The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse and Virginia City have been under my radar, and I relished the opportunity to familiarize myself with them.  This set is as much an homage to Bogart as it is to classic film in general.

Each disc of this seven-disc set contains four Bogart films, and as a bonus, the last disc contains the 2008 documentary “The Brothers Warner,” in it’s entirety.  Directed by Harry Warner’s granddaughter Cass, this is an insightful and inspiring look at the family behind the studioand their desire to “educate, entertain, enlighten.”  Of course, she doesn’t fully explore some of the darker sides of their story, but she doesn’t exactly sugarcoat everything either.  It’s a fair look at one of the most significant families in Hollywood.

As a film and a history buff, I was eager for the opportunity to learn more about this pivotal family.  However, what I really found myself drawn to was the wealth of archival footage she was able to utilize to tell this story.  It appears as if she had free reign of the Warner Bros. archives, and there is some fascinating behind-the-scenes material of the workings of this iconic studio.

Not only does this box set contain the 24 films and the extra documentary, but there is also a hardcover book detailing all 24 of the films.  As mentioned above, not all of the films included are that well known, so I really appreciated this inclusion.  Each film is given a brief summary and a little bit of analysis.  Some contain critic comments of the day, and some just give a historical perspective.  The book also has photos and original posters from several of the films.  There’s nothing truly remarkable about the book, but I was grateful to have it as a reference.

Rounding out the set are a series of cards featuring looks at the original posters as well as recreations of significant correspondence within the studio regarding Bogart himself.  Some are memos among studio personnel, and some are actual letters from Bogart detailing his thoughts on various projects.  It was a neat addition that rounded out the set well.

Overall, Warner Bros. has done a great job putting this collection together.  I already have several of these films individually, but I love that they were released together in one collection.  Whether you’re a fan of Bogart specifically, or just a fan of classic cinema, you can’t go wrong with this terrific collection.

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