Seems like everyone is putting out western collections this year, and Universal is no exception. The westerns included in this set are:
Destry Rides Again (1939) - NO EXTRAS
Winchester '73 (1950) - features Interview with James Stewart that is actually a commentary that runs throughout the film.
Bend Of The River (1952) - NO EXTRAS
The Far Country (1955) - NO EXTRAS
Night Passage (1957) - NO EXTRAS
The Rare Breed (1966) - NO EXTRAS
They are all already on DVD. The press release says that Universal will repackage the same content with the exception of The Far Country. Its original aspect ration is 1.85:1, but its May 2003 DVD release was in the full screen format. However, the specs for this set show The Far Country as being released in 1.85:1.
Here you get to see James Stewart evolve as a western star. In "Destry Rides Again" he plays the same old likable character we have seen throughout the 30's. It was too bad it was made in the golden year of 1939, or else the film would probably be better known. "Winchester 73" sees the beginning of Stewart's teaming with Anthony Mann. Together they made what can almost be described as film noir westerns. Here Stewart plays a much darker and more complex character than you are probably accustomed to seeing in westerns of this era. The trend continues in "Bend of the River" and "The Far Country".
"Night Passage" was supposed to be another Mann/Stewart western, but the two had such a falling out during filming that another director took over and the two didn't work together again. For whatever reason, this film isn't quite as good as the others in this set, but it is still worthwhile. Finally there is "The Rare Breed". Stewart's later comedy/western combinations didn't work as well as his earlier more complex efforts in my opinion, but star power makes this one hold up, with Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith also featured. Plus there are some interesting plot twists involving Stewart's character.
I won't take off points for it, but this set has two drawbacks. First, the only film with any extras is "Winchester '73" with Stewart's great commentary. Second, all of these films have been released as singles before. This punishes diehard Stewart fans who bought these films when they were first available less economically. Universal has also been releasing a series of "Universal Cinema Classics" including some really great comedies (Midnight/The Major and the Minor/Easy Living). This makes me wonder if I should just wait and see if those films come out in an economical collection later on too.