Case Number 25555: Small Claims Court

BEST OF WARNER BROS. 20 FILM COLLECTION: ROMANCE

Jezebel
Warner Bros. // 1938 // 103 Minutes // Not Rated
Gone With The Wind
Warner Bros. // 1939 // 233 Minutes // Rated G
The Philadelphia Story
Warner Bros. // 1940 // 112 Minutes // Not Rated
Casablanca
Warner Bros. // 1942 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG
Mrs. Miniver
Warner Bros. // 1942 // 133 Minutes // Not Rated
Now, Voyager
Warner Bros. // 1942 // 118 Minutes // Not Rated
Annie Get Your Gun
Warner Bros. // 1950 // 107 Minutes // Not Rated
A Streetcar Named Desire
Warner Bros. // 1951 // 125 Minutes // Rated PG
Rebel Without A Cause
Warner Bros. // 1955 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Warner Bros. // 1958 // 108 Minutes // Not Rated
Splendor In The Grass
Warner Bros. // 1961 // 124 Minutes // Not Rated
Doctor Zhivago
Warner Bros. // 1965 // 200 Minutes // Rated PG-13
A Touch Of Class
Warner Bros. // 1973 // 106 Minutes // Rated PG
A Star Is Born
Warner Bros. // 1976 // 140 Minutes // Rated R
The Goodbye Girl
Warner Bros. // 1977 // 110 Minutes // Rated PG
The Bodyguard
Warner Bros. // 1992 // 129 Minutes // Rated R
You've Got Mail
Warner Bros. // 1998 // 120 Minutes // Rated PG
Two Weeks Notice
Warner Bros. // 2002 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
The Lake House
Warner Bros. // 2006 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Nights In Rodanthe
Warner Bros. // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // April 17th, 2013

The Charge

"I wish I didn't love you so much."

The Case

The most surprising thing about the Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Romance is how broad its definition of the word "romance" really is. The standard-def box set compiles twenty films released between 1938 and 2008 that cover just about every sort of romance under the sun. Here, you'll find screwball romance, historical romance, domestic romance, sci-fi romance, literary romance, musical romance, forbidden romance, situational comedy romance, doomed romance, jaded romance, old-fashioned romance, modern romance, and even some films that don't really seem to contain all that much romance, honestly. While it's too scattered to offer much of a genre commentary (aside from the noteworthy fact that the earliest films are among the best and the most recent films are among the worst), it does offer an opportunity to take a generally enjoyable journey through some of the gentler chapters in the famed studio's history.

The collection is neatly divided into three sections, with each section being housed inside its own plus-sized DVD case (all three cases are contained within a fairly standard cardboard box). The first section -- labeled "Timeless Love" -- is generally the most satisfying, despite the fact that it contains the thoroughly overrated Gone with the Wind (an impressive technical achievement, to be sure, but time has not been kind to its portrait of the antebellum south). Elsewhere, however, you're treated to gems like the marvelous comedy The Philadelphia Story (featuring crackerjack early performances from Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart), the absorbing Bette Davis vehicles Jezebel and Now, Voyager, the stirring wartime drama Mrs. Miniver (one of the most effective and moving propaganda flicks of the WWII era, and one that feels unique due to its emphasis on the domestic side of things) and the incomparable Casablanca (surely one of the greatest love stories of all time, but also so much more than a mere love story).

The next batch of flicks ("Unforgettable Affairs") kicks off on an old-fashioned note, with the cheerful musical Annie Get Your Gun. It's a light, fluffy romp that offers an amusingly sanitized portrait of Calamity Jane (it's especially fun when you contrast it to Deadwood's take on the character), but it's charming enough. However, things take a turbulent, method-y turn afterwards, with such groundbreaking dramas as A Streetcar Named Desire (featuring a smoldering, moody Marlon Brando), Rebel Without a Cause (featuring a smoldering, moody James Dean), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (featuring a smoldering, moody Paul Newman) and Splendor in the Grass (featuring a smoldering, moody Warren Beatty). All terrific flicks, though the momentum slows a bit when the set concludes with the sprawling Doctor Zhivago (in many ways, it's David Lean at his best and worst).

The biggest and most problematic section is "Modern Romance," which has a smattering of good, bad and ugly to dig through. A Touch of Class and The Goodbye Girl are satisfying little light comedies about grown-up romance, but the 1976 A Star is Born is the least interesting incarnation of that particular tale (I'll stick with the stormy, heartbreaking Judy Garland/James Mason version). Still, it's a masterpiece in contrast to drippy, bland affairs like The Bodyguard (which has a memorable Whitney Houston soundtrack and little else of value) and Nights in Rodanthe (a typically irritating Nicholas Sparks adaptation). Two Weeks Notice manages to avoid drippiness, but the Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock rom-com is fairly formulaic and forgettable. However, not all the new stuff is a waste of time: You've Got Mail is one of Nora Ephron's most effortlessly charming flicks, and The Lake House remains an underrated, sensitive slice of romantic sci-fi.

So, the ratio of good-to-bad is fairly impressive in terms of the actual films which are included. However, whether you should purchase this set depends on what kind of home video collector you are. If you've made the transition to hi-def, it's worth noting that quite a few of the films included in this set are already available on Blu-ray, so you may prefer to seek them out that way. If you're a DVD collector, odds are you already own quite a few of these (Warner Bros. has simply repackaged older releases, many of which have been reviewed on this very site). If you don't mind the overlap, $90 isn't a terrible price, but I imagine many folks will already have something from this collection.

Since a number of these titles have already been reviewed here, I won't bother with individual audio/video breakdowns, but let's run down the special features included.

Jezebel: an audio commentary from historian Jeanine Basinger, two featurettes ("Jezebel: Legend of the South" and "Melody Masters: Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra"), an animated short ("The Mice Will Play") and a trailer.

Gone with the Wind: An audio commentary from historian Rudy Behlmer.

The Philadelphia Story: Another Jeanine Basinger commentary and some trailers.

Casablanca: A great Roger Ebert commentary, a Rudy Behlmer commentary, some featurettes ("Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of" and "Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic") , an introduction by Lauren Bacall and some trailers.

Mrs. Miniver: Two vintage shorts ("Mr. Blabbermouth" and "For the Common Defense"), archival footage of Greer Garson accepting her academy award, a stills gallery and a trailer.

Now, Voyager: Scoring session music cues and a trailer.

Annie Get Your Gun: A Susan Lucci intro, musical outtakes, audio recording sessions and a trailer.

A Streetcar Named Desire: A commentary with Rudy Behlmer, Karl Malden and Jeff Young, and some trailers.

Rebel Without a Cause: A commentary with historian Douglas L. Rathgeb and a trailer.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: A commentary with historian Donald Spoto and a trailer.

Splendor in the Grass: An animated short ("Beep Prepared") and a trailer.

Doctor Zhivago: A commentary with Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger and Sandra Lean and a documentary ("Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration").

A Touch of Class: Nothing.

The Goodbye Girl: Nothing.

A Star is Born: A commentary with Barbara Streisand, wardrobe tests, deleted scenes and a trailer.

The Bodyguard: A featurette ("Memories of The Bodyguard"), a Whitney Houston music video and a trailer.

You've Got Mail: A commentary with director Nora Ephron and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, some featurettes ("Delivering You've Got Mail," "You've Got Chemistry," "HBO First Look: A Conversation with Nora Ephron" and "Discovering New York's Upper West Side") and an isolated score track.

Two Weeks Notice: A commentary with Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock and director Marc Lawrence, a featurette ("HBO First Look: The Making of Two Weeks Notice"), some deleted scenes and a trailer.

The Lake House: Deleted scenes and a trailer.

Nights in Rodanthe: Nothing.

Overall, a decent supply of supplements, with the film historian commentaries standing out as a particular highlight.

Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Romance is inevitably a mixed bag -- and I'd be considerably more excited if it were being offered in hi-def -- but there are far more hits than misses included in this collection. Cuddle up with your significant other and dig in.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2013 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Jezebel
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Jezebel
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1938
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Jezebel
* Commentary
* Featurettes
* Animated Short
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Gone With The Wind
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Gone With The Wind
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 233 Minutes
Release Year: 1939
MPAA Rating: Rated G

Distinguishing Marks, Gone With The Wind
* Commentary

Scales of Justice, The Philadelphia Story
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, The Philadelphia Story
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 1940
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Philadelphia Story
* Commentary
* Trailers

Scales of Justice, Casablanca
Judgment: 100

Perp Profile, Casablanca
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1942
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Casablanca
* Commentaries
* Featurettes
* Introduction
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Mrs. Miniver
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, Mrs. Miniver
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 133 Minutes
Release Year: 1942
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Mrs. Miniver
* Vintage Shorts
* Archival Footage
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Now, Voyager
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Now, Voyager
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 1942
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Now, Voyager
* Music Cues
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Annie Get Your Gun
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Annie Get Your Gun
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Annie Get Your Gun
* Introduction
* Musical Outtakes
* Recording Sessions
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, A Streetcar Named Desire
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, A Streetcar Named Desire
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 1951
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, A Streetcar Named Desire
* Commentary
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Rebel Without A Cause
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Rebel Without A Cause
Video Formats:
* 2.55:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1955
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Rebel Without A Cause
* Commentary
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1958
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
* Commentary
* Featurette
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Splendor In The Grass
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile, Splendor In The Grass
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 124 Minutes
Release Year: 1961
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Splendor In The Grass
* Animated Short
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Doctor Zhivago
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Doctor Zhivago
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 200 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Doctor Zhivago
* Commentary
* Documentary

Scales of Justice, A Touch Of Class
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, A Touch Of Class
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, A Touch Of Class
* None

Scales of Justice, A Star Is Born
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile, A Star Is Born
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 140 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, A Star Is Born
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Wardrobe Tests
* Trailers

Scales of Justice, The Goodbye Girl
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, The Goodbye Girl
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Goodbye Girl
* None

Scales of Justice, The Bodyguard
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile, The Bodyguard
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Bodyguard
* Documentary
* Music Video
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, You've Got Mail
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, You've Got Mail
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, You've Got Mail
* Commentary
* Featurettes
* Isolated Score

Scales of Justice, Two Weeks Notice
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Two Weeks Notice
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Two Weeks Notice
* Commentary
* Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, The Lake House
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile, The Lake House
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French

Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Lake House
* Deleted Scenes
* Trailer

Scales of Justice, Nights In Rodanthe
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Nights In Rodanthe
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Nights In Rodanthe
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb: Jezebel
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0030287/combined

* IMDb: Gone with the Wind
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/combined

* IMDb: The Philadelphia Story
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0032904/combined

* IMDb: Casablanca
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/combined

* IMDb: Mrs. Miniver
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0035093/combined

* IMDb: Now Voyager
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0035140/combined

* IMDb: Annie Get Your Gun
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042200/combined

* IMDb: A Streetcar Named Desire
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0044081/combined

* IMDb: Rebel Without a Cause
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0048545/combined

* IMDb: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0051459/combined

* IMDb: Splendor in the Grass
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0055471/combined

* IMDb: Doctor Zhivago
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0059113/combined

* IMDb: A Touch of Class
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0070819/combined

* IMDb: A Star is Born
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0075265/combined

* IMDb: The Goodbye Girl
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0076095/combined

* IMDb: The Bodyguard
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0103855/combined

* IMDb: You've Got Mail
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/combined

* IMDb: Two Weeks Notice
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0313737/combined

* IMDb: The Lake House
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0410297/combined

* IMDb: Nights in Rodanthe
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0956038/combined