Great collecton of films mainly focusing on Stanwyck after 1
calvinnme | 08/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collecton honors Barbara Stanwyck's 100th birthday with six titles not previously on DVD and under the control of Warner Home Video. Her screen persona was generally that of a tough-as-nails woman of the world, sometimes with nefarious motives, and this collection tends to give you a broader view of her talents showing fine performances in some well-known as well as lesser known films. All of these films are in the post-code era, and this is probably because Warner Home Video has plans for her pre-codes in their Forbidden Hollywood series. For example, WB has already announced that they have plans for Stanwyck's classic pre-code "Night Nurse" to be put on DVD. At any rate, here are the films and extras in this set:
Annie Oakley (1935)
The oldest film in the collection, great dramatic license is taken with Oakley's real life story. Stanwyck does a good job of portraying Oakley in this film, still making use of the tough reputation she had in parts in the pre-code era and translating it into a time when less could get past the censors. There's quite a bit of comedy in this western, and George Stevens does a good job of directing all involved.
Main Street Follies, vintage 1935 short starring Hal Le Roy
Into Your Dance, vintage 1935 cartoon
Subtitles in English and French
My Reputation (1946)
Next we jump ahead ten years with Stanwyck playing a woman who is grieving over the death of her husband. She not only has the timeless problem of being a single mother raising two teenage sons, she must also deal with the issue of her reputation - as dictated by society at that time and by her mother and friends specifically. She gets involved with an Army officer (George Brent) who is the love them and leave them type, and as a result has trouble from everyone she knows. Stanwyck is great as a woman who has to learn to go it alone and stand up for herself for the first time. Brent is less convincing as a bit of a cad - he usually plays such stand-up guys and even played opposite Rin-Tin-Tin early in his career! At any rate, it's a good display of Stanwyck's talents in a different and vulnerable kind of role for her. Not previously on VHS or DVD.
Jan Savitt and Band, vintage Warner Bros. musical short
Daffy Doodles, vintage Warner Bros. cartoon
Audio Only Bonuses: Vintage Radio Versions - Lux Radio Theater adaptation with Barbara Stanwyck (4/47) and Screen Guild Theater adaptation with Alexis Smith (7/47)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (Feature film only)
East Side, West Side (1949)
This is a movie along the lines of a film noir and has Stanwyck playing a Manhattan woman who is devoted to her philandering husband (James Mason) who claims he loves her in spite of his weakness for serial affairs. One of his past flames, Ava Gardner, is back in town to try to take Mason away from Stanwyck permanently. This film also reunites Stanwyck with Van Heflin who both have great chemistry together. Great performances, a good plot, and an overall enjoyable film.
Counterfeit Cat, vintage MGM Tex Avery cartoon
Stuff for Stuff, vintage MGM short subject
Original theatrical trailer
Subtitles: English and French
To Please a Lady (1950)
This film pairs Clark Gable with Stanwyck. Gable plays a renegade racing driver whose driving tactics during a race cause the death of another driver. Stanwyck plays a no-nonsense newspaper reporter out to expose Gable's professional tactics and end his career. This might actually be more interesting to car racing fans than to Stanwyck fans because of the great footage of racing and behind the scenes footage of the sport as it existed in 1950. Stanwyck does the best she can with a somewhat thin script, and it is above average entertainment, but it is probably the weakest entry in the set.
This film is a thriller that is rather hard to categorize - it is almost avante-garde in nature. It starts out calmly enough - the Stilwin family is vacationing on an isolated stretch of beach. However, while rescuing their son, Doug Stilwin (Barry Sullivan) gets his leg caught and is stuck in the water. He is fine now - at low tide. High tide will be another matter. His wife (Barbara Stanwyck) goes for help and instead picks up an escaped killer. He proposes an interesting trade to her in exchange for his help. This is a great suspenseful movie and I'm surprised it is not better known and not shown more on TV. Meeker is very good as the criminal. His onscreen persona is an interesting cross between Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando and he has good chemistry with Stanwyck in this one. Not previously on VHS or DVD.
To Please a Lady and Jeopardy are a double feature and have the following extras:
To Please A Lady original theatrical trailer
Jeopardy original theatrical trailer
Audio Only Bonus: Jeopardy 1954 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast with Stanwyck
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (feature film only)
Executive Suite (1954)
Probably the best known of the six films in this set and probably the most awaited as far as DVD releases go. The funny thing is, Stanwyck isn't really the star in this movie - William Holden is. That's not to say Stanwyck fans won't get their money's worth though, particularly in her showdown scene with Holden and in the last scene where she outperforms everyone just by sitting in a chair and observing. This film is about the details of a power struggle when the founder of a large corporation suddenly dies. It basically boils down to two factions - the innovators and the bean counters. It's how these two groups dance around each other in their maneuvers for power that will hold your interest. The film is still relevant because big business is still about these two groups today. It is a common story of business - someone starts a company out of their love for building a superior product and somewhere along the way - often after the founder's death or retirement - the bean counters take over and regard only profits without remembering that the superior product is where those profits come from. Outstanding entertainment.
Feature commentary by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone
Out for Fun, vintage MGM Pete Smith Short
Billy Boy, vintage MGM Tex Avery Cartoon
Original theatrical trailer
Subtitles: English & Spanish (feature film only)
My biggest disappointment in this set is a lack of biographical material on Stanwyck's career, which was a long and illustrious one. It does look like WB gave Executive Suite good treatment with the feature commentary, though."
Barbara Stanwyck Signature Collection DVD Review
thejoelmeister | www.GoneWithTheTwins.com | 11/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In honor of the 100th birthday celebration of silver screen legend Barbara Stanwyck, Warner Home Video finally releases six classic films, previously unavailable on DVD, remastered and complete with special features galore.
The prestigious "Signature Collection" series boasts excellent packaging and ample special features, but this time around the selections of films aren't quite as spectacular as some of their previous choices. Several of Stanwyck's better films may be wrapped up in rights issues, and this feels lacking due to the absence of more noticeable titles.
Stanwyck was destined for fame ever since landing her first movie role in a Frank Capra-directed feature and then in Baby Face for Warner Bros. which notoriously forced the creation of the production code. During her 37 years, she received four Academy Award nominations, an honorary Oscar in 1982 and the American film Institute's Life Achievement award in 1987.
One of the stronger films of the collection, Annie Oakley sees George Stevens direct, Preston Foster as Toby Walker and Barbara Stanwyck as the title sharpshooter. Years before Irving Berlin's hit Broadway musical, Stanwyck shaped the historical figure into a memorable bit of cinema. Despite being largely inaccurate to the real-life Oakley, this western comedy is still remarkably entertaining and carries a carefree lightheartedness as only ever-present in such silver screen fun. A 1935 vintage short and a cartoon accompany the feature.
East Side, West Side has a great cast including James Mason, Ava Gardener, Van Heflin and Cyd Charisse. Stanwyck plays a loyal housewife who has difficulty hanging on to her husband after he is seduced by Gardener, whose performance almost outdoes the leading lady. A great dramatic tale this 1949 classic features its original theatrical trailer plus a companion short subject and a Tex Avery cartoon.
Perhaps the most revered and critically acclaimed film of the lot, Executive Suite reunites Stanwyck and William Holden in a captivating boardroom drama. Directed by legendary Robert Wise, this Ernest Lehman adapted film, based on the best-selling novel by Cameron Hawley featured an impressive MGM cast including Frederic March, Walter Pidgeon, June Allyson and Nina Foch, who earned an Oscar nomination for her role. A Venice film Festival special jury prize winner, this powerful drama features a full-length commentary track by Oliver Stone, its original theatrical trailer and a vintage cartoon and short subject.
Barbara Stanwyck plays Jessica Drummond, a wealthy suburban housewife, in My Reputation. Grieving over the loss of her husband who died in battle, she must raise her two adolescent sons alone, resulting in further empathy from the audience. Jessica meets an army officer on leave and hopes to find love again, despite the interference and meddling of her social circle friends. Not one of her more memorable roles, My Reputation features a musical short, cartoon and audio tracks of radio theater adaptations with Stanwyck and Alexis Smith.
The final disc of the set is a double feature combining Stanwyck's To Please a Lady and Jeopardy. In To Please a Lady, Clark Gable joins the fun as a renegade racecar driver whose questionable tactics result in the death of another driver. Stanwyck is the no-nonsense reporter out to end his career - except that the two fall in love, expectedly complicating matters. Shot at the site of the Indianapolis 500, this largely forgettable film has more lasting power for auto racing enthusiasts. Jeopardy features director John Sturges keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan search for their missing son on the Mexican coast. With plenty of twists and turns, this Hitchcockian thriller features the original theatrical trailer and Stanwyck's 1954 Lux Radio theater broadcast.
Barbara Stanwyck is undoubtedly one of the greatest actresses of the silver screen, and this set gives a decent sampling of her undeniable talent, but her absolute best works are either part of other company's collections, still currently unavailable, or curiously absent.
- Mike Massie
'Annie Oakley' Review
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 01/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was really glad to see this finally come out on DVD, but I wish it would be available separately (although you usually can't go wrong with a Barbara Stanwyck movie.) The transfer is pretty darn good, too, for a film this old.
Stanwyck's portrayal of Annie Oakley made this film. Tough-as-nails, Barbara also had a soft side she could show, and she does both here. She was a versatile actress who could play any role.
Preston Foster's character, "Toby Walker," meanwhile, undergoes one of the fastest transformations I've ever seen on film, from arrogant pig to very likable good guy in no time at all.
I've seen movie twice now and enjoyed it very much both times. It's a fast-moving film that entertains.
Warner Bros should get busy releasing all of her 30's output
Iowahawkeye "Warren" | Astoria, NY United States | 06/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a shame that Miss Stanwyck finally gets a box set released (celebrating her 100th birthday), and most of the films are lackluster, or not the smashes that her ealier stuff was. When we are now seeing Tyrone Power having a 2nd box set released of all his 30's films (by Fox), it's a downright SHAME that we only have this one set showcasing the #11 All Time Female Movie Star, as determined by AFI. The difficulty is that she freelanced with all the studios, making it harder to get everything released and cross-licensing would be involved to have an extensive set. I hope that by the end of 2008 we'll see more of her ealier work on dvd. Or even Sony/Columbia needs to step up w/all of her Capra films. What a bummer, but i'll keep hoping!"