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Controversial Classics Collection

    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Warner
Genre: Classics, Drama, Suspense/Thriller, Classic Drama

Synopsis
This collection contains the following titles on 7 DVDs:

  • Advise and Consent (1962)

    The first of Allen Drury "all names changed to protect the guilty" political novels, Advise and Consent was brought to the screen by producer/director Otto Preminger. The film hinges upon the appointment of Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) to Secretary of State. Leffingwell has been hand-picked by the President (Franchot Tone), meaning that there'll be a battle on the Senate floor between adherents of and opponents to the current administration. Among the participants are veteran Dixiecrat Charles Laughton, freshman Senator Don Murray and Nixonlike powerseeker George Grizzard. Burgess Meredith also shows up as a pathetic Whitaker Chambers type who is brought into the Senate to "prove" that Leffingwell is a communist. To neutralize Murray, Grizzard threatens to dredge up a homosexual incident in Murray's past, which results in the latter's suicide. Advise and Consent is a slow and old-fashioned film, coming to life only when Laughton and Grizzard are on screen--and in the climax, in which the fate of Leffingwell's appointment is left in the hands of acting President Lew Ayres. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

  • The Americanization of Emily (1964)

    The lively but somehow slightly distasteful The Americanization of Emily stars James Garner as a WWII naval officer who happens to be a craven coward. While his comrades sail off to their deaths, Garner makes himself scarce, generally hiding out in the London flat of his lothario navy buddy James Coburn. Garner falls in love with virtuous war widow Julie Andrews (the "Emily" of the title), but she can't abide his yellow streak. Meanwhile, crack-brained admiral Melvyn Douglas decides that he needs a hero--the first man to die on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Invasion. Coburn is at first elected for this sacrifice, but it is the quivering Garner who ends up hitting the beach. He survives to become a hero in spite of himself, winning Andrews in the process. Paddy Chayefsky's script, based on the novel by William Bradford Huie, attempts to extract humor out of the horrors of war by using broad, vulgar comedy instead of the light satirical touch that would seem to be called for. Americanization of Emily was Julie Andrews' second film; it should have led to a steady stream of adult-oriented roles, but the box-office clout of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music consigned her to "wholesome family entertainment". ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

  • Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

    This powerfully tense, fast-paced suspense drama also yields a grim social message about racial prejudice. Spencer Tracy is John J. MacReedy, a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock one hot summer day in 1945, the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for both a hotel room and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but his inquiries are greeted at first with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with escalating violence. MacReedy soon realizes that he will not be allowed to leave Black Rock; town boss Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who had Komoko killed because of his hatred of the Japanese, has also marked MacReedy for death. MacReedy must battle town thugs, a treacherous local woman (Anne Francis), and finally Smith himself to stay alive. The entire cast is flawless, especially Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin as the mean-spirited town bullies, and the relentlessly paced action never eclipses the film's sobering themes. ~ Don Kaye, All Movie Guide

  • Blackboard Jungle (1955)

    In this gritty urban drama, war veteran Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) wants to begin his career as a teacher and is given an assignment at a boys high school in inner-city New York. However, he soon discovers the school is overrun by delinquents, led by Artie West (Vic Morrow), an insolent hood who likes to call Richard "Mr. Daddy-O." Artie and his gang steal, destroy property, refuse to respect authority, and threaten the female teachers with rape. While most of the faculty have given up and meekly let the delinquents do what they want, Dadier is determined to bring order back to his classroom, even after Artie's thugs threaten Richard's pregnant wife. Keep your eyes peeled for a bit part by Jameel Farah, years before he would change his name to Jamie Farr. Blackboard Jungle was also the first major studio film to use rock & roll on the soundtrack; the film's success kick-started sales of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets, which helped to spark the rock & roll boom of the 1950s. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

  • A Face in the Crowd (1957)

    The meteoric popularity of Arthur Godfrey was allegedly the basis of the 1957 drama Face in the Crowd. Andy Griffith makes a spectacular film debut as Lonesome Rhodes, a philosophical country-western singer discovered in a tanktown jail by television talent coordinator Patricia Neal and her assistant Walter Matthau. They decide that Rhodes is worthy of a TV guest spot, the result being that the gangly, aw-shucks entertainer becomes an overnight sensation. As he ascends to stardom, Rhodes attracts fans, sponsors and endorsements by the carload, and soon he is the most powerful and influential entertainer on the airwaves. Beloved by his audience, Rhodes reveals himself to his intimates as a scheming, power-hungry manipulator, with Machiavellian political aspirations. He uses everyone around him, coldly discarding anyone who might impede his climb to the top (one such victim is sexy baton-twirler Lee Remick, likewise making her film debut). Just when it seems that there's no stopping Rhodes' megalomania, his mentor and ex-lover Neal exposes this Idol of Millions as the rat that he is. She arranges to switch on the audio during the closing credits of Rhodes' TV program, allowing the whole nation to hear the grinning, waving Rhodes characterize them as "suckers" and "stupid idiots." Instantly, Rhodes' popularity rating plummets to zero. As he drunkenly wanders around his penthouse apartment, still not fully comprehending what has happened to him, Rhodes is deserted by the very associates who, hours earlier, were willing to ask "how high?" when he yelled "jump". Written by Budd Schulberg, Face in the Crowd was not a success, possibly because it hit so close to home with idol-worshipping TV fans. Its reputation has grown in the intervening years, not only because of its value as a film but because of the novelty of seeing the traditionally easygoing Andy Griffith as so vicious and manipulative a character as Lonesome Rhodes. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

  • Fury (1936)

    Fritz Lang's first American film is a vigorous and perceptive indictment of mob law, starring Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney. Katherine (Sidney) leaves her boyfriend Joe Wilson (Tracy) behind in their Midwestern hometown when she takes a job in another city. Joe is a decent, hard-working soul, who wants to save up to buy a gas station and looks forward to the future when he and Katherine can get married. A year later, Joe is driving to meet Katherine so that they can be married. Driving through a small town, Joe is stopped by a deputy sheriff waving a shotgun. Apparently there has been a kidnapping, and the fact that Joe has peanuts in his pocket circumstantially incriminates him in the crime. Joe is arrested and jailed. As Joe sits in his jail cell, the local townspeople begin to talk and whisper and spread rumors. Finally, a lynch mob forms and heads toward the jail. The mob tries to storm the jail and frustrated over their inability to penetrate the prison walls, they set the jail on fire. Joe barely manages to escape ("I could smell myself burning"), but the mob thinks that Joe has been burned to death. Behind the scenes, and with the help of his brothers, Joe tries to rig the verdict in the impending trial of the twenty-two vigilantes. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

    Warner Bros.' hard-hitting chain-gang movie was a faithful adaptation of the similarly titled autobiography of Robert Elliot Burns. Paul Muni plays World War I veteran James Allen, whose plans of becoming a master architect evaporate in the cold light of economic realities. Flat broke, Allen is forced to pawn his war medals, which have become a glut on the market. When Allen is innocently involved in a restaurant holdup, the police don't buy his story that the robber (Preston S. Foster) had forced him to clean out the cash register, and Allen is sentenced to ten years on a chain gang. The brutal scenes that follow make the later chain-gang movie Cool Hand Luke (1967) look like a picnic in the country. Unable to stand any more, Allen escapes and heads to Chicago. Using an alias, he builds a new life for himself and within five years is the respected president of a bridge-building firm. His landlady (Glenda Farrell), learning about his past, forces Allen to marry her. When he falls in love with another girl (Helen Vinson) and asks for a divorce, his wife turns him over to the authorities. The real-life Robert Elliot Burns was still a fugitive when he wrote his exposť of the chain-gang system; the publication of Burns' book led to the abolishment of that system and an erasure of Burns' sentence. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide




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