2 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
Blu-ray Shopping Bag: World War I Centennial Commemorative Collection
The Great War
By Robert T. Trate
July 29, 2014
Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941)
© Warner Bros.
On July 28th, one hundred years ago, the first World War began. The Great War, as it was later called, brought the world together like no other event at the time. Its impact can still be felt to this day. Hollywood was effected by the war and it marked a great turning point for the motion picture industry, as well. Now there are numerous films that I could recommend that would haunt you with both their images and stories. My personal favorite is Johnny Got His Gun (1971). The film was written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, who also wrote Spartacus and Roman Holiday, and is a nightmare that must been seen to be believed. It is not a pro-war film, but an anti one, which just happened to surface during the Vietnam War.
The sad irony of many films based on World War I is that they became propaganda films for World War 2. The films had hard lessons to be sure, but many featured heroic acts and left the audience feeling that everything would be alright in the end. Neither Johnny Got His Gun, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) nor Joyeux Noel (2005) leave you with that feeling. Warner Brothers has assembled a DVD box set to commemorate the centennial of The Great War. The films included here are The Big Parade (1925), Wings (1927), The Dawn Patrol (1938), and Sergeant York (1941).
These films have been available before. It is just Warner Brothers’ great sense of timing and historical accuracy that they are releasing them for the first time together on this anniversary. I wanted to go back and watch Gary Cooper in Sergeant York again. It sounds strange, but the film is really a perfect piece of apple pie. Cooper plays Alvin York, a real person who was known to be a conscientious objector to the war, but turned into one of its greatest heroes. The world has seriously changed since the last time I saw it and I wondered what effect it would have on me now. I have also seen a few other WWI movies that were a tad more realistic than something that was shot on the Warner Brothers backlot.
This film really holds up. The simplicity of the characters and York’s passage from town drunk to hero are still captivating. This, of course, is due to Gary Cooper’s incredible performance. The disc is packed with tons of special features and even a “Warner Brothers Night at the Movies” playlist. What really stood out for me this time was the mention of this war happening again. America was clearly not in World War 2 at the time, but was on the precipice of joining. Don’t believe me? Watch the Porky Pig cartoon included with this film. You will never see the likes of that again, trust me.
To keep this brief, I’ll only dive into one other film. Wings is hands down a silent era classic, but it was the chance to see Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Basil Rathbone in The Dawn Patrol that made it the obvious choice. Flynn and Niven are two ace flyers in World War I who are quickly becoming the old men in their squadron. As each of the younger, less experienced flyers (some with as little as 7 hours of flight time) fail to return home, Flynn begins to question their orders. His commander is played by Basil Rathbone and we quickly see that rivalry that we have loved watching in films like Captain Blood re-ignite. Only here swords and fisticuffs are not used. It is a battle of wills and one that Flynn must succumb to.
The film takes different turns and doesn’t follow the typical Hollywood war plotline. In fact, when you think it will, the film changes direction. Flynn and Niven’s crazy act of defiance actually lands Flynn Rathbone’s position. The irony is that he must now send Niven and the young boys out there to get the job done. He quickly learns that Rathbone wasn’t so hard after all. He was just doing a hard job that had to get done.
This is great collection for the film aficionados that need some of these classics on DVD. These films may not pack the realistic punch of Johnny Got His Gun, but their acts of heroism are still inspiring.
Top 5 Picks of the Week:
1. Grace Kelly Collection
3. The Big Chill
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics
5. Ong Bak Trilogy
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
Amber Alert: Terror on the High Way
Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior
Ong Bak Trilogy
The Protector 2
Bleach Movies Double Feature
Dr Slump Original Movie Collection
Monster Rancher: Complete Season 2
Monster Rancher: Complete Season 3
Problem Children: Complete Collection
Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash
Vampire Knight: The Complete Collection
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics
At War With the Army 1950
Duel at Diablo 1966
Paris Blues 1961
Separate Tables 1958
The Big Chill
Complete Blind Dead Saga 2014
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
The Eagle - A Crime Odyssey, Season 1
Midsomer Murders, Set 24
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery
Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
Herzog: The Collection
Grace Kelly Collection