The Maltese Falcon - This is a classic and many people like it but I just could not get into the movie.
One of the best of the TCM collections
calvinnme | 07/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not really a boxed set. Instead it is a two disc collection of four really good murder mystery films under the control of Warner Home Video. The purpose of these sets is to introduce people to the various genres of classic film at a low price. Unlike the Warner Archive collection, these discs are pressed DVDs, but there are no extras.
First, there are two classic Humphrey Bogart films, "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep". "The Maltese Falcon" is available in deluxe form as The Maltese Falcon Three-Disc Special Edition (1941 & 1931 versions / Satan Met a Lady). This film not only has Bogart in his prime, it has the great team of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Here they are not so much a team as on the screen simultaneously, but they are still fun to watch. Here Bogart plays a detective that is so tough he does things like pistol whip someone with their own gun and then give the gun back to him. Nobody but Bogart could pull off this kind of toughness.
"The Big Sleep" has Bogart teamed with Lauren Bacall, with Bogart playing Philip Marlowe in a well-acted film noir that is a bit confusing the first time you watch it. Things make more sense the second time around though. There were actually two versions of this film and they can be found on The Big Sleep, along with commentary comparing the two versions, if you want the extras.
Dial M for Murder was a Hitchcock film from 1954 starring Grace Kelly as the cheating wife of a tennis player (Ray Milland). Milland's character learns about her affair and, rather than feeling terribly hurt about it, he is worried about losing access to his wife's money should she divorce him. He makes plans to insure that never happens. I've always loved this one and the unexpected turn it makes in the middle - Ray Milland turns out to be quite the quick thinker under pressure. This is already available as Dial M for Murder. This more deluxe versions contains two featurettes.
Finally there is 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice. John Garfield plays Frank, a drifter, who gets a job at a restaurant run by Nick and his young wife, Cora (Lana Turner). Frank and Cora fall for each other, but Cora doesn't want to give up Nick's money. The two make one bungled attempt at murder that raises the suspicion of the D.A. Their second one is also bungled. It manages to kill Nick, but it also gets them accused of murder. This is available in a more deluxe edition as The Postman Always Rings Twice, which contains a documentary on John Garfield.
If you only pick up two of these TCM greatest collections make sure it is this one and TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: American Musicals (The Band Wagon / Meet Me in St. Louis / Singin' in the Rain / Easter Parade). They are the two best of the bunch."
TCM Finally Gets One Right
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 06/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For once, TCM has put together a worthy boxed set. Fans of classic films and crime, are in for a real treat at a very decent price. If you already own one or two of these films, it might not be worth it, but if you don't, this is a big dose of fabulous entertainment.
Perhaps the weakest film here is Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, and it's still a lot of fun. Ray Milland is cold and calculating as a former tennis pro named Tony who, unbeknownst to his wife Margo (Grace Kelly), has discovered her affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings) and plans to do something about it. He blackmails an old Cambridge mate into murder, intricately planning every last detail so nothing can go wrong. As with all plans of mice and men, it goes wildly wrong, and the fun is watching Milland think on his feet afterward and improvise, finding a way to be rid of his young beauty in a different way, without anyone suspecting a thing. But no plan is ever perfect. Hitchcock wasn't really able to overcome the stagey origins of Frederick Knott's suspenseful play, but a great cast, Dimitri Tiomkin's score, and the use of color, sort of cover up the film's deficiencies, making it entertaining, if not topflight Hitchcock.
John Huston's remake of Satan Met a Lady is a much better rendering of Dashiell Hammett's classic novel, The Maltese Falcon, and kept the title. It is a fine, literate translation of Hammett's detective story, with Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre all lusting after one thing; except perhaps for Astor, who may be after more. Bogart stays cool amidst this tale of moral ambiguity and greed, but Huston and Bogart let you know it's all an act when he shows Sam Spade's hands shaking. It is a cynical detective classic. It is perhaps a little too literate at times, as the viewer feels a distance from what's going on up on the screen, but nonetheless, it's an excellent film. Much of Hammett's dialog from the novel made it directly to the big screen, and coupled with Bogart's tough portrayal of Sam Spade, this film has stood the test of time and is a true screen classic.
Lana Turner and John Garfield hunger for something more in Tay Garnett's glossy soap opera noir, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Based on James M. Cain's lusty potboiler, Turner is fantastic as the manipulative yet vulnerable Cora Smith and Garfield excellent as the drifter who can't get Cora or her dreams out of his blood. Turner is like a white creme, icy cold on the surface but burning hot and deep with desire underneath.
Cora is a girl aware of her looks and effect on men. Since she was 14 she's had to argue with men about it. But she didn't have to argue with Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway), a much older man Cora marries for security, not love. When drifter Frank Chambers (Grafield) shows up to fill the help wanted sign at the Twin Oaks Diner Nick and Cora run, she discovers she can't live without love or passion.
Cora is a smouldering vision in white when Frank first sees her, a room full of gas that only needs a spark to ignite it. Frank knows he can sell anything to anybody and begins to fan the flames when he talks Nick into getting a neon sign for the diner Cora wants. Cora has big dreams for the diner and wants to be somebody. She tries in her own way to resist what is going to happen between she and Frank but deep down knows that all the things she married Nick for and clings to are the things she really wants with Frank.
Cora lets him kiss her once then stays away, working Frank into an internal frenzy of desire. After a midnight swim in the ocean they get a week alone and their fate is sealed, the gas ignited and burning out of control. It is Cora who lets Frank's lust simmer until he loves her and wants her so much nothing matters, not even what stands in the way of Cora's dreams.
Garfield is excellent as a guy who knows he's signed on for a one way ride to nowhere but can't help himself, because the mere thought of sharing the ride with Cora tips the scales. There is a tricky D.A. (Leon Ames) onto them after a botched first attempt to live out Cora's dreams fails, and only a crafty defense attorney, portrayed with zeal by Hume Cronyn, gets Cora off when they finally succeed. But an insurance policy Frank didn't know about causes distrust and the results are Cora and Frank on the outs again.
But they are chained to each other now. Jealousy and a blackmail attempt gone awry bring them back to the beach where they were happy. A dangerous swim to prove their trust in each other restores their love and they are happy and dreaming once again. They may be able to atone for their sins even, unless fate has other plans....
Turner gives an icy hot performance here, with many long takes between she and Garfield as they are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Much is made of director Tay Garnett framing Turner in sexy white outfits throughout the film. In her best scene, however, and the one in which she is the most strikinginly beautiful, she is dressed in a black bathrobe. She is in the kitchen caressing a knife and agonizing over her dreams and what needs to be done to make them come true. When Frank walks in on her, her voice catches, her reluctance to follow through real. She tells Garfield in a quivering voice: "If you really loved me."
Whereas Wilder's Double Indemnity was a dark noir of twisted passion and greed set in Claifornia, Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice uses the bright sunshine and beaches of L.A. County in the 1940's to create a soap opera noir, a shining blonde Turner and a reluctant drifter Garfield at its center. A must for Turner fans and good glossy noir to contrast the best film in this TCM package.
Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep is one of the most unique adaptations of a detective novel ever brought to the screen. Watching this film is one of the true joys of being a film buff. This is extraordinary entertainment that grabs your attention quickly and keeps it until the final shot. It is exciting and engaging, and a favorite of all detective film fans.
Director Howard Hawks turned Raymond Chandler's most popular story into an absolutely mesmerizing celluloid masterpiece. Raymond Chandler's complex novel was adapted for the screen by William Faulkner. We may never know for sure who committed one of the murders in this blurry crime noir, but as noted by many critics, it is so incredibly entertaining we really don't care. It is full of sharp dialog and dreamy images that leave the viewer mesmerized.
The story itself moves at a terrific clip, and there is so much going on you might get lost if you blink. Humphry Bogart is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and from the moment he arrives to talk to General Sternwood and gets mixed up with his daughters this is a film classic. Though a young and sultry Lauren Bacall gets tangled up with Bogart in their first film together, Martha Vickers steals every scene she's in, and has you thinking about her in every scene she isn't in. Her Carmen is one of the most memorable dolls in noir history.
Bacall portrays the General's sultry older daughter, Vivian, but Marlowe meets the sexy and thumb sucking younger daughter Carmen (Martha Vickers) first. She leaves an immediate impression on both the viewer and Marlowe, attempting to sit in his lap while he's standing up. The very sick General Sternwood wants him to look into a little matter involving blackmail and his two daughters.
As Marlowe follows the trail of gambling debts, he finds one body after another and tries to extricate the daughters from the mess. Marlowe and Vivian have a spark that gives him incentive to get the job done, but he may not be able to head off the rollercoaster headed for the little kitten Carmen, who may turn out to have some very large claws. Dorothy Malone has a brief but sexy role as a clerk who shares more than a drink with Marlowe.
Hawks filmed this as moody dream of dialog and images hard to forget. Bogart's Marlowe has his hands full trying to keep Carmen out of trouble. The sparks that begin to fly between he and Carmen's big sister, Vivian, is complicated by her involvement with some of the players for the other team. Trying to find a way to keep the fast rising body count from getting any higher, while keeping Vivian and her little sister Carmen in the clear, will take some dangerous turns for Marlowe.
Bacall has never been more beautiful or inviting than when she is slumped down in the seat of Bogart's car, just waiting for him to kiss her. You have to see this film to really appreciate it. No description could ever do it justice. You'll never see anything else like it in American cinema. A true noir classic, and one of Howard Hawks' masterpieces. A must see film for noir fans and a terrific addition to a surprisingly stellar boxed set of films from TCM."
Four Fantastic movies for a great price
Edmonson | Canada | 11/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing set of four great movies and for a decent price. "Dial M for Murder" appears to have been remastered, and cleaned up, and really looks fantastic. The colors are rich and vibrant and the blacks are deep. "The Big Sleep" though, is not remastered, and has dust spots on the negative. Also, the left side of the frame sometimes appears dull and lacks the deep blacks seen on the right side of the frame. "The Postman Always Rings Twice" also has dust spots, though "The Maltese Falcon" appears to be clean.
I was surprised to also see that each film has many special features, including interviews with other directors, film historians, or archival experts. The packaging is basic but it does the job with a movie on each side of two discs in a DVD case. This set is an excellent buy."
Tcm greatest classic films collection
Mary A. Brown | 10/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I AM VERY PLEASED WITH THIS PURCHASE AND I WOULD RECOMMEND TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS."
5 Stars for the Films, 3 for the Packaging
Angela Wilson | Midwest | 07/13/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this set because I LOVE the films in it - and it was very inexpensive. I bought it despite the fact that these were on double-sided discs - which never last as long and tend to have a lot of problems with skipping and locking up.
While the films themselves were great (I prefer them on full screen), the packaging was not. The first disc is in a hard plastic sleeve that slams against the second disc, which is attached to the back of the plastic jacket. The second disc had scratches on it when it arrived NEW. I had to clean it twice before it would play without skipping. This would not be an issue if they did not used double-sided discs. I won't buy any more of these sets because of that. They are priced great, but I'd rather get collections that don't get scratched right out of the factory."