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Case Number 15744

Buy TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Dramas at Amazon

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Dramas

A Streetcar Named Desire
1951 // 122 Minutes // Rated PG
East Of Eden
1954 // 118 Minutes // Rated PG
Rebel Without A Cause
1955 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
1958 // 108 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // February 19th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik thinks Warner Bros. should have packaged this set with the "I Love The '50s" moniker.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Romance (published April 17th, 2013), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (published May 8th, 2006), The Complete James Dean Collection (published June 6th, 2005), East Of Eden (published May 7th, 2009), A Streetcar Named Desire (published April 30th, 1999), A Streetcar Named Desire (Blu-ray) DigiBook (published April 23rd, 2012), A Streetcar Named Desire: Two-Disc Special Edition (published May 2nd, 2006), and TCM Greatest Classic Film Legends: Marlon Brando (published April 14th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

"YOU'RE TEARING ME APART!"—Jim Stark, Rebel Without A Cause

Opening Statement

Warner Bros. presents four films where the main courses are James Dean and Tennessee Williams. Nice packaging, but is the set really worth it?

Facts of the Case

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: This 1958 MGM release is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play about a dysfunctional Southern family. The birthday celebration of Big Daddy (Burl Ives, East Of Eden) arouses arguments between who will or will not receive anything from his fortune. The main conflict is between Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman, Road To Perdition), an injured ex-football star now suffering from alcoholism, and his beautiful, cat-like wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra).

East of Eden: Based on John Steinbeck's celebrated novel, Eden also marks the starring debut of the legendary James Dean. An update of the Cain and Abel story from the Bible, the film has two feuding brothers who constantly fight for the attention and respect of their father, Adam (Raymond Massey, Mackenna's Gold). The favored offspring is Aron (Richard Davalos, Ninja Cheerleaders) who is engaged to the lovely Abra (Julie Harris, The Member Of The Wedding). The rejected offspring/bad seed is Cal (James Dean, Giant) who discovers his mother Kate (Jo Van Fleet, who won an Oscar) as the madam of a Salinas whorehouse.

Rebel Without a Cause: Dean is perfectly cast as Jim Stark, a troubled, new-in-town high school kid who forges a deep friendship with loner Plato (Sal Mineo, Exodus) and "bad girl" Judy (Natalie Wood, West Side Story). Soon, he becomes the target of a local switchblade gang who vow revenge for their leader dying in a car dual he had with Stark.

A Streetcar Named Desire: Tennessee Williams' play is given pristine treatment by Elia Kazan (East Of Eden). Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind) emotionally soars as the delusional Blanche DuBois, who comes to a New Orleans slum district to see her sister Stella (Kim Hunter, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). Her husband is the brutish, muscular Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando, The Godfather), who takes the defensive against Blanche's interfering with their marriage.

The Evidence

It would be impossible to deny this set has four truly great films. All contain images that have become iconic, lines that are now oft-repeated, and all had their rocky relationships with censors at the time. These are among the best films of the 1950s. Yet, with all of those facts, I must stipulate this set is not worth purchasing for a variety of reasons.

I've always had several issues with these multi-film sets. On one hand, the consumer does save money in the long run, and the picture and sound quality on all four films are terrific. The problem is they all have already been released several times before, with all but Cat on a Hot Tin Roof getting two-disc, special edition treatments. So, if you already own one or more of these films, then what is the point of getting this set, unless you want to have back-up copies? Even the inclusion of the TCM moniker adds nothing new, with no Robert Osborne intros or new bonus features. In fact, all we have here are the commentaries (which are all excellent, by the way) from the previous releases, as well as a 10-min featurette for Cat. Adding to the aggravation, the films are crammed onto two discs, with one film on each side.

Warner Bros. may be trying to target a certain genre audience (hence the "romantic dramas" label) but that doesn't mean fans of Rebel will love Cat. In other words, I may be a huge fan of James Dean, but I'm not so much a devotee of playwright Williams; those who agree will be better off getting The Complete James Dean Collection, which the studio released in 2005. Same goes for Williams' enthusiasts, as I'd recommend the 2006 Tennessee Willliams Film Collection, which has four more films other than Cat and Streetcar. To be honest, I don't care how great the films are, this collection was unwarranted and uncalled-for, a most blatant case of double-dipping and decreasing warehouse stock if I ever saw one.

Closing Statement

If you're a fan of these films, don't own the earlier releases, and aren't that interested in lots of supplements, then it is worth $25 to pick up this set. Otherwise, I'd keeping walking down the Wal-mart aisle.

The Verdict

Not guilty, considering the rich cinematic material, but Warner Bros. needs to re-think their double-dipping strategies.

Court is adjourned.

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Genres

• Classic
• Drama
• Romance
• Teen

Scales of Justice, A Streetcar Named Desire

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 87
Acting: 100
Story: 97
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile, A Streetcar Named Desire

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Release Year: 1951
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, A Streetcar Named Desire

• Commentary
• Gallery

Scales of Justice, East Of Eden

Video: 95
Audio: 98
Extras: 90
Acting: 100
Story: 100
Judgment: 99

Perp Profile, East Of Eden

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 1954
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, East Of Eden

• Commentary
• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Rebel Without A Cause

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 90
Acting: 100
Story: 100
Judgment: 96

Perp Profile, Rebel Without A Cause

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1955
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Rebel Without A Cause

• Commentary
• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Video: 98
Audio: 97
Extras: 83
Acting: 88
Story: 84
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
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








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