on 4 October 2012
for those who wish to discover why "warner bros." were one of the top hollywood studios during the golden era of hollywood, then fans should look no further than these four classics from the 1930s.
from a personal point of view, i would rate "the public enemy" and "the roaring twenties" as being the best ones in this dvd set but "little caesar" and "smart money" are also worthy of your attention.
each production crackles with tension, excitement and entertainment. the acting, directing, dialogue and the stories keep you nailed to your seat as the likes of james cagney and edward g. robinson fight their way to the top of the underworld, only for their success to come crashing round their ears as they struggle to regain their empires. i have rarely seen two more evil and sadistic villains in gangster films than little rico(robinson) or tom powers(cagney). both performances were star-making back in the early 1930s and they deserve to be. i still consider the grapefruit scene from "the public enemy" to contain quite an impact and i can understand how 1931's audiences were shocked by it. cagney's tom powers is one of those hoodlums who's destined to be thoroughly evil and vicious from the beginning. he shows no mercy when he's either shooting someone or threatening and carrying out violence. a splendid performance from james cagney.
"smart money" shows a slightly different side to the underworld as edward g. robinson builds up an empire based more on gambling than any other rackets. his character is also a lot more likeable and therefore, i spared a bit more sympathy for him at the film's conclusion. in the one and only on-screen teaming of the two actors, it's a shame that cagney and robinson didn't appear in more films together. they have good on-screen in "smart money."
"the roaring twenties" was one of the last gangster films from the studio for the next several years or more but it is one of the best of the bunch. cagney wants to earn a decent and honest living after the end of the first world war by returning to his taxi job. however, times have changed and he struggles to secure employment elsewhere. as a result, he goes into the liqour business and builds quite an empire as the city's leading bootlegger. the stock market crash follows and there's a good old showdown between cagney and humphrey bogart, one of the film's many highlights.
this dvd set doesn't contain any special features but that hardly matters as it is the films that count. enjoy!
on 8 June 2014
This is a really good deal - four films, including extras. The films are good quality and well-restored. The acting is first rate, and the extras add to the understanding of the background to each film. Plot-wise, the only sub standard one is Smart Money; all the rest are deservedly top notch.