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Controversial Classics 1 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Controversial Classics 8 July 2005
By Steven Hellerstedt - Published on
Format: DVD

Controversy: The oldest movie in the controversial classics set, FUGITIVE also lays claim to the most unwieldy title. Chain gang prison labor is the controversial topic.

Strengths: Paul Muni is absolutely riveting, and his final scene is one of the more memorable in movies.

Weaknesses: The last chain gang prison system was outlawed in the 1940s. The oldest title is also the least relevant.

Bottom Line: Inspiration for other classic movies like Cool Hand Luke and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Although severely dated, FUGITIVE still delivers as top-drawer entertainment.

FURY (1936)

Controversy: German director Fritz Lang's first American film is an exposé of lynching, mob violence, and the corrosive effects of living for revenge.

Strengths: Spencer Tracy's transformation from good-natured innocent to bitter victim is breathtaking. Lang's depiction of the mob is still quite strong

Weaknesses: The first and last act tends to stall out the story. The studio imposed ending is unsatisfying.

Bottom Line: Although not quite as powerful as Lang's German film M, which it resembles, FURY still has a number of memorable moments, and Tracy's Jekyll and Hyde transformation works very well.


Controversy: Xenophobia during World War II and a small southwestern town with a big, ugly secret.

Strengths: Spencer Tracy always adds value to a movie. Robert Ryan, as Tracy's chief nemesis, turns in a typically fine performance, too.

Weaknesses: Anne Francis isn't anything more than a token female and doesn't really seem to fit in the story. A little too much attention paid to the secret keeping, and not enough on what was done that must remain hidden.

Bottom Line: A good Decent Stranger Against the Mob movie that may have dealt a little more directly with the shameful incident everyone was trying to keep buried.


Controversy: Rock `n roll infected juvenile delinquents are taking over the world.

Strengths: Director Richard Brooks really wades into it, and doesn't pull his punches on some issues one simply didn't talk about in the 1950s - racial tensions, rape, middle class apathy and cynicism. Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier and especially young Vic Morrow are very good.

Weaknesses: Because it shows few if any female students, no parents and otherwise little of the students' lives away from school this one's a little exploitative.

Bottom Line: Overall an excellent and honest look at urban troubled youth. Probably Glenn Ford's best film.


Controversy: Director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg's warning about the pernicious encroachment of mass media, especially television, in American life.

Strengths: They got it right, although they were about a decade ahead of the rest of us. Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau, as worried onlookers, are very good.

Weaknesses: I may be a minority of one, but Andy Griffith in the lead role too often goes way over the top. Kazan may have wanted to portray him as an irresistible force of nature, but at times he's simply too loud, too out-sized, too outlandish.

Bottom Line: Still fun and entertaining, especially to see how much of it Kazan on got right. After the 2004 elections, it was somewhat chilling to see a politician go geese hunting with the Griffith character in a bid to develop his `common man' credentials.


Controversy: Director Otto Preminger's adaptation of best-selling novel and hit play deals with Washington in-fighting over a presidential cabinet nomination.

Strengths: Charles Laughton and Walter Pidgeon as savvy senators give this one backbone and keep it interesting.

Weaknesses: Episodic and ultimately more soap opera than exposé.

Bottom Line: In my opinion this is the weakest entry in the set.


Controversy: The Navy needs a hero on D-Day and this movie not only questions hero worship, it pulls it apart and blows it up, bit by bit.

Strengths: Paddy Chayefsky's script is perfect. James Garner and Julie Andrews are perfect as the mismatched lovers.

Weaknesses: Addictive.

Bottom Line: My favorite movie in the bunch, a perfect satire while treating with compassion those it satires. One of the great comedies of the twentieth century.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Controversial Classics Collection 26 Aug. 2005
By Gold God - Published on
Format: DVD
What a wonderful treat this collection first I was skeptic because I am a big Film Noir fan...and did not think that this collection would wrong I was. The commentaries are crisp, clean and full of information...the movies are some of the Best Produced...Bad Day At Black Rock...starring Tracy as in Spencer...and Ryan. Then there is The Americanization of Emily with a script by one of the best writers: Paddy C......and one of my favorite movies starring Julie Andrews fresh from Mary Poppins..thank God...and James Garner...both of them a treat. A face in the Crowd should be one of the 10 BEST Movies Ever Produced...Andy Griffith is just magnificent along with Patricia Neal...Watch This Movie! I am a Fugituve from a Chain Gang...a must see of what happened in the disgrace of the American Judicial System...Advise and Consent I really did not care for but it was worth watching just to listen to the commentary....and finally Blackboard Jungle which still pulls no punches with a very young Glenn Ford...with funny commentary by the teen-agers (I am not going to tell you who) that were in the movie.

Get this collection and give yourself a Treat that is seldom if ever seen in the Movies now days....
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Eric - Published on
Format: DVD
Warner Brothers home video department just keeps topping their previous exceptional achievments.

Here we have SEVEN magnificent, acclaimed feature films from the 1930s to the 1960s that still have the power to reach the "gut" of the viewer and be profound and provocative. Of course, each film is available individually, but the value of buying this boxed set brings the price to around $8 per film. Unreal.

Any serious cinema afficiando owes it to him or herself to buy this.

Pre-release reviews have praised the exceptional transfers (typical of WB), and I cannot imagine anyone not being blown away by this boxed set of incomparable films.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A controversial seven-pack 13 May 2007
By mrliteral - Published on
Format: DVD
Even in the early days of film, there have always been controversial movies. While the majority of films play it reasonably safe, there is that minority of movies that take risks and generate talk. Nowadays, for better or for worse, the truly controversial movie is a little bit more of a rarity, as there are less taboos that aren't discussed or shown. The Controversial Classics boxed set collects seven older movies that deal with dicey subjects in the Production Code-enforced era that tried to keep everything safe and bland; these films are far from the only ones that could be called controversial or classic, but they are a good sampling.

First (chronologically) is I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, an early talkie with Paul Muni as a man unwittingly implicated in a robbery in the deep South. He is put on a chain gang, and though he eventually escapes and rebuilds his life, his past does catch up with him. This is a powerful but very dark film, with even the last line filled with grimness.

Fury is the first of two starring Spencer Tracy. In the first, Fury, he is a man arrested while driving through a small town. He is suspected of a kidnapping and a lynch mob destroys the jail he is in, apparently killing him. He survives, however, and - now embittered - secretly works to get those responsible tried for his murder. Bad Day at Black Rock has Tracy as a crippled World War II veteran who goes to a small desert community and stirs up memories of an old murder. This one co-stars Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Anne Francis. Both films are decent but far from great.

Things pick up with Blackboard Jungle, which also has Anne Francis, though Glenn Ford is the star as a novice teacher at a tough school. It is one of the earliest films to highlight juvenile delinquency. Sidney Potier, Vic Morrow and Jamie Farr are some of the students, each with their own level of criminality. Although preachy at times, it is still pretty good.

A Face in the Crowd stars Andy Griffith in his earliest movie role. For those used to Griffith from his nice guy roles, particularly in The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, this is quite a contrast as he plays an utterly amoral man who uses his homespun humor to go from a bum to an immensely powerful entertainment personality. Also starring Patricia Neal, Lee Remick and Walter Matthau, this is both a great movie and an insightful one.

Advise & Consent starts slow but picks up as it moves into its second half. Otto Preminger's adaptation of the best-selling novel presents the inner workings of the Senate in a somewhat darker light than Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The plot deals with a controversial pick by the President for Secretary of State. This is another great movie, marred only by the ending which wraps things up in a bit too conveniently. Instead of a true star, this features an ensemble cast, including Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, Burgess Meredith and Charles Laughton.

If the set begins with a rather depressing movie, it at least ends with a somewhat happier film, the war satire The Americanization of Emily. James Garner is at his most James-Garner-est as the wheeler-dealer Navy Commander serving as a "dog-robber". His job is to make sure that the admiral he works for gets all the pleasures of home. Set in England in the days before D-Day, Garner is a self-admitted coward; he refuses to die just to become a hero. Julie Andrews is the war widow with whom he gets romantically involved. When his admiral decides that the first man to die on Omaha beach must be a Navy man (to help glorify the Navy), Garner is forced to take part in the invasion. As Arthur Hiller relates in the commentary, this is not so much an anti-war film as one opposing the false glorification of war. Not unlike the much more recent Flags of Our Fathers, this film is critical of the manufacturing of heroes; based on recent news stories on Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, this lesson still needs to be taught.

With I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, A Face in the Crowd and The Americanization of Emily all meriting five stars and the rest four, this set gets five stars overall, helped by the numerous extras, most particularly the commentaries (on all films except A Face in the Crowd, which does have a mini-documentary). I don't know if this is the ideal sampling of controversial classics, but it is a set of good-to-great films.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
no weak link 11 Dec. 2007
By Kevin Maness - Published on
Format: DVD
There have been a lot of these genre or theme boxed sets released in the past several years. Some of them are obvious strategic attempts to force people to buy some weak movies in order also to have some great movies--kind of like "block booking" for the 21st century.

This is NOT one of those sets. Every movie in this box is wonderfully written, acted, and filmed, and each one is thought-provoking and, as strange as it may sound, timely. To be honest, I hadn't heard of all of these movies when I bought the set (although I've heard and read about all of them since), so I was absolutely thrilled to find that each one was a thoroughly entertaining and enriching picture.
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