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- Original Year of Release: 2012
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Universal 100th Anniversary Collection Blu-Ray Review
Varied Film Collection fails to connect
By Tim Janson
November 18, 2012
Universal 100th anniversary Collection
© Universal Studios
Universal Studios is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and they have already blessed horror fans with its release of Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. Now along comes 100th Anniversary Collection with, and let me make sure I phrase this correctly, “25 Unforgettable Films.” I think that phrase is key as even Universal isn’t calling these their 25 greatest films. In an effort to give a sampling that spans decades and genres, Universal has given film fans a collection that doesn’t completely connect with any particular audience. Even worse, you can practically feel Universal straining as some of the films included in this set are a definite stretch.
First, let’s start with the fact that while this may be a 100th anniversary collection, the oldest film included is from 1930 (All Quiet on the Western Front), a mere 82 years old. What this means is that there are no films included from the silent era…meaning no Phantom of the Opera, no Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc…Now part of this is, I believe, due to who holds the rights on those films but surely something from the earlier era could have been included.
But even more egregious is that fact that so many of the films come from the modern era, 1970 and forward. 18 of the 25 films included are from that 40 year period while only 7 films come from the 40 year period of 1930 to 1970. This is absolutely inexcusable and a slap in the face to fans of classic films. The 1931 version of Dracula is included along with the Spanish language version but that’s the only inclusion as far as the Universal Monsters go. That’s fine since they received their own set but Frankenstein or The Bride of Frankenstein are both better films.
But in the end we are not talking best films. What Universal’s criteria was for determining which films are unforgettable is a mystery. In looking at the list any average film fan could probably toss out half the films with a cursory glance. One cannot argue with the inclusions of Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Spartacus, The Sting, The Birds, All Quiet on the Western Front, Schindler’s List, or To Kill a Mockingbird. These are all legitimate classics.
And if you want to consider Apollo 13, Field of Dreams, Animal House, American Graffiti, Scarface, and Jurassic Park as classics, I won’t argue with you. But other inclusions are simply mystifying. The Bourne Identity, Mamma Mia, The Fast and the Furious, Despicable Me, and Pillow Talk? These choices leave much to be desired and underscore the inconsistency of the set. In an effort to try to appeal to all film fans Universal is seriously reaching on some of these film choices.
The boxed set comes with over 50 hours of special features so I won’t detail them. They are the same features that have been included on the previous releases of these films however.
The set does come with two bonus discs. The first is a 15-track music CD containing a selection of the most popular music scores from Universal films including Psycho, The Sting, Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Out of Africa.
The second disc features 8 “100 Years of Universal” featurettes along with three vintage short subject films from the 1930s. Probably the best of the extras is a collection of rare vintage cartoons from the 1930s to the 1950s. These include toons such as The Merry Old Soul and Wx Works starring Oswald Rabbit; Life Begins for Andy Panda and Knock Knock starting Andy Panda; The Barber of Seville starring Woody Woodpecker; and several other great toons.
The set also includes a 72 page, full color book detailing Universal’s 100 year history.