Overall | The Big Sleep (1946) | Dark Passage (1947) | Key Largo (1948) | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

The Bogart Collection-Two (1946)

The Bogart Collection-Two (1946)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

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Overall Package

    After the rather excellent The Bogart Collection One, it was wonderful to continue on almost immediately with The Bogart Collection Two. After all, any collection of the work of one of the greatest screen legends of all time has to contain much of worth, and so it is here. Whilst there is nothing quite so pivotal about the four films included in this collection, the standard of the films is much higher and includes one genuine classic - as even agreed by the American Film Institute.

    The box set opens chronologically with The Big Sleep from 1946, the second film to feature the legendary screen coupling of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. A little disappointingly, it is just a reissue of the standalone release that initially made its appearance over three years ago in Region 4. This means that the presentation is not in accordance with the style adopted for the new releases contained in The Bogart Collection One, as well as being lacking in the extras department. Nonetheless, the film itself remains very good indeed. This reissue, however, does still fall short of the Region 1 release - although we no longer have to put up with the chapter listing for the version of the film that is not included here.

    We then head through the Dark Passage of 1947, one of the true eccentricities of the Humphrey Bogart lexicon. With its unusual first person style of shooting, which meant that we don't actually get to see Bogart until after an hour of the film has passed, this was not a well received film with American audiences. Even today that style of filming is not often used, and it needed a vastly better screenplay than it got here to really make it work. In the end, the film really had to be carried by Lauren Bacall, in their third outing together, and after some initial problems she comes through in fine style.

    Next up chronologically is Key Largo from 1948, even though the booklet for the box set swaps The Big Sleep and Key Largo around. The final outing for the famed partnership of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall that reveals a different side to it, the whole was completed by the presence of Edward G. Robinson. Despite the restrictive setting, John Huston managed to put together a little cracker of a film. A pity, however, that this is again just a reissue of the original standalone release from over three years ago. It needed restoration then, and it needs it even more after comparison with the final film in the box set.

    I know this is dealt with out of order, as Key Largo was made after it, but in many ways it is fitting that this film finishes off this short wander through the films of the great screen legend. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre dishes up what is generally considered to be Humphrey Bogart's finest performance on film. It is a vastly different role to that with which he was normally associated, which is perhaps why it failed at the box office, but there is no doubt that it did demonstrate how good an actor he was. With a superb supporting cast and a fine job from the director, this is a classic film to be enjoyed for a long time to come. It should be noted that the booklet is inaccurate with respect of this film - it has a French soundtrack not listed in the booklet. Technically this is as good as it gets with the film having been given a superb restoration.

    One thing that is very clear from this wander through the eight DVDs comprising The Bogart Collection One and The Bogart Collection Two: just how good was Humphrey Bogart and just how enduring his films are. This represents extremely good value for money, although when you see what the Region 1 DVDs have to offer, you know that we could and should have gotten something even better here. However, with a vast vault of Bogart films still not available on Region 4 DVD, I look forward to The Bogart Collection Three, The Bogart Collection Four and The Bogart Collection Five - especially with Columbia TriStar able to tip in at least four films on their own, amongst them films that are available in Region 2 that are not yet available in Region 4, Paramount being able to toss in four of their own, Twentieth Century Fox adding a few along with MGM. Heck, lets go for The Bogart Collection Six and The Bogart Collection Seven whilst we are at it!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
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Bogart Collections 1 & 2 -

Overall | The Big Sleep (1946) | Dark Passage (1947) | Key Largo (1948) | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep (1946)

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Released 4-Sep-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1946
Running Time 109:15
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Howard Hawks
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall
Martha Vickers
Dorothy Malone
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Ah man, they do not make films like The Big Sleep any more, where tough guys were tough guys and women were babes. The great partnership of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, in their second outing together, is the highlight here. When thinking about great screen partnerships, the very first that always springs to mind for me is Bogey and Bacall. Whilst this is generally not held in as high a regard as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, this to me is one of the great films of Humphrey Bogart and it is a delight to see it released on Region 4 DVD. Currently ranked at around 120 in the Internet Movie Database Top 250, this is still quite a powerful film sizzling with the touch of Lauren Bacall, Mary Vickers and Dorothy Malone amongst the dazzling array of female delights. It is also something along the lines of the quintessential Humphrey Bogart film: private eye in tough spot, falling for the beautiful dame with a secret she does not want to share.

    Based upon the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name, Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is a private detective given the task of sorting out what appears to be a simple blackmail case involving the beautiful but childish Carmen Sternwood (Martha Vickers). However, there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye, and when Carmen's sister Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall) summons Philip to find out exactly what he has been engaged to do, we sort of get the inkling of the multi-dimensional story that is to evolve here. It turns out that the Sternwood sisters have secrets they need to keep. Carmen is involved in certain activities that have exposed her to blackmail, and Vivian has a little habit that has also exposed her to danger and intrigue, all of which Philip Marlowe has to sort out. Add into the equation specialist book dealers who know nothing about books, murders and intrigue aplenty, and things never get dull around the Sternwood sisters. Just sit back and enjoy The Big Sleep.

    Where The Big Sleep really scores is in the characters created by Raymond Chandler that have been brought to life so well. A mildly witty little piece at times, we get to see some great character pieces as this rather screwball collection interact. Of course, the entire film highlights the great partnership between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who were at this time married (his fourth marriage). Just about every scene involving them sizzles and sparks in some way that is central to the pace and atmosphere of this film. However, if you want sizzling, then the entrance of Martha Vickers takes some beating! Whilst not as utterly memorable as The Maltese Falcon, this is a very approachable film with its great collection of characters. Howard Hawks did a good job from the director's chair on this one and kept the pace up and the mystery enthralling.

    Humphrey Bogart made some classic films and this is certainly another one of them. It may not be in the top 100 lists, but The Big Sleep is a very watchable film indeed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer here is not a fully restored effort and it shows, but it is generally pretty good to start with before the ravages of time start to rear their ugly head.

    The transfer is presented in the original Full Frame format, and it is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    The main problem with the transfer is that for significant portions of the film, there is a rather noticeable difference between the left hand side of the picture and the right hand side of the picture. The left portion of the picture is generally very clear, nicely sharp and well detailed, with a nice tonal depth to it. The right portion of the picture, however, is not at all clear and is significantly diffuse and not too well detailed with a murkiness of tone that is quite detracting. The early parts of the film are far less of a problem in this regard than the later parts of the film. This is a real shame, as at its best this is a nicely sharp and detailed transfer that certainly shines as some of the best black and white film that I have seen on DVD. Detail is generally quite decent throughout, although seriously hampered when the right hand side of the picture gets diffuse. Shadow detail at times is a little ordinary, but overall this aspect of the transfer was quite acceptable. Clarity at times leaves something to be desired and there are certainly a number of sequences that give the distinct air of having been shot through dirty lenses. There were no real problems with grain throughout the transfer, and low level noise did not seem to be much of a problem either.

    In the "good" sections of the film, there is a lovely depth to the black and white tones in the film that presents a very nice glossy look to the transfer. However, when the transfer problems start getting too much, the tones slip into a murkier-looking area that at times is not pleasant to see. The lack of depth to the black and white tones during the poorer portions of the film are not at all consistent, which further detracts from the film enjoyment.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any serious problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. The film is somewhat less blighted with film artefacts than I was expecting, and looks a lot fresher than it really should do in this regard.

    It should be noted that the transfer is heavily windowboxed within the frame, but this does not create any problem on my television as it is almost totally hidden by overscan.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack. I stuck with the English default.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand throughout.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The musical score comes from Max Steiner, one of the true greats of film music and a very nicely complementary score it is. Whilst it is not the greatest thing he ever wrote, it does its job very well indeed in keeping the pace of the film moving.

    This is quite a decent monaural soundtrack and does a fine job. There is little to really worry about here as far as problems are concerned. There are no major flaws as far as distortion or congestion are concerned, and this is a quite clean-sounding mono sound that is not in any way raw. Obviously, there is no surround channel use or bass channel use at all. The soundtrack has been transferred at a decent level without any false boosting of aspects of the sound for emphasis' sake, with the result that this is a very natural-sounding mono soundtrack that conveys the feeling of the film pretty well indeed. It is pleasing to note that there has been no major remastering here so that the feeling of the film remains very much as I suspect it did on initial release all those years ago.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A little on the disappointing side, but I suppose that there is not an awful lot that would survive that could be used to flesh out the package.

Menu

    Somewhat perversely for a black and white film, we are blessed with a menu partially in colour! Whilst it is a little incongruous, it is nonetheless nicely-themed and comes with some audio enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

    A rather nice little effort, if suffering somewhat from the ravages of time. A little different in its conception, it is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is quite a significant difference between the Region 1 release and what we have been given in Region 4. The principal difference is the Region 1 release has two versions of the film on the DVD: the 1946 theatrical release and the 1945 pre-release version. There is also a short documentary on the DVD detailing the differences. You may of course be wondering about the two versions of the film since the Region 4 chapter listing details the two versions of the film! That is an unbelievable error by Warners that cannot be condoned in any way. Sorry, but Region 1 is definitely the way to go here.

Summary

    The Big Sleep is a great film that shows the great Bogey and Bacall partnership at its sizzling best. However, there are some quite serious source-related problems with the video transfer, and we have been well-and-truly stiffed in getting only the theatrical version of the film on the DVD. Warners then see fit to rub our noses in it by listing the full chapter listings for both versions of the film on the slip cover. Unbelievable! If you want this film, and it certainly warrants inclusion in the collection, head for your nearest online Region 1 e-tailer.

    A problematic video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A poorish extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 17, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Overall | The Big Sleep (1946) | Dark Passage (1947) | Key Largo (1948) | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

Dark Passage (1947)

Dark Passage (1947)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Hold Your Breath And Cross Your Fingers: The Story Of
Short Film-Merrie Melodies - Slick Hare (7:44)
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:13)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1947
Running Time 101:50 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (39:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Delmer Daves
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall
Bruce Bennett
Agnes Moorehead
Tom D'Andrea
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Franz Waxman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
French
German
Spanish
Arabic
Romanian
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dark Passage seems to occupy an unusual place in the Humphrey Bogart canon. Whilst it reunited Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for their third film together - at a time when Lauren Bacall was having a hard job getting parts that suited her - and therefore should have been a box office smash, it did not do well at all. This may of course be something to do with the fact that this was not a typical film, shot in the usual sort of way. Even nearly sixty years on, the use of the first person style of shooting - where the camera takes the role of the main lead - is rarely used at all. It is perhaps a little too gimmicky and is very difficult to use at all well. That Delmer Daves chose to film in such a style seems rather odd in some respects, even though the story as written sort of required it. After all, here he has one of the greatest stars around and chooses not to reveal him until 60 minutes into the film. Even the most dedicated to the story and the style of shooting would have to agree that it results in a fairly lengthy exposition to the film that partly creates the other problem from which the film suffers: it seems to take a while to get going and by the time it does the third act has arrived and everything has to be resolved fairly quickly.

    The result is that the film loses a bit of the grip that the third act could have had, especially in the scene between Vincent and Madge, and sort of peters out. We all know the truth by now of course, but frankly it was a bit early to reveal all and the film ends up being slightly disappointing because of it.

    It did not help of course that at the time of the film's release, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were caught in the midst of the un-American activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee that was basically a witch hunt against communism - effectively meaning that the citizens of the land of the free were not able to exercise their freedom to choose their own political persuasion. The pair were very much the public figureheads of The Committee for The First Amendment that was seeking to support the rights of the members of the film community who were dragged before the House Committee. America has never been short of paranoia (as we can well see today) but in the post-war period it was even more pronounced. The film was perhaps not suited to the time in which it was released, which is perhaps why its stock has risen over the years as we can approach the film without the baggage of the post-war period to cloud our judgment.

    Not withstanding that however, it has to be said that the film is ultimately let down by the story which simply requires far too much suspension of belief in order to make it work.

    Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) has been incarcerated in San Quentin prison for the murder of his wife, a murder that he did not commit. He has now escaped in a desperate bid to clear his name. Whilst escaping through the nearby countryside, he happens upon Baker (Clifton Young) and hitches a ride, only to find that Baker asks too many questions. Whilst trying to solve that problem at the side of the road, Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall) happens along and makes Vincent get into her car and she takes him to her apartment in San Francisco to escape the police. Whilst hiding out in Irene's apartment, her manages to avoid her friend Madge Rapf (Agnes Moorehead) when she comes a-knockin' on the door. Of course, since this is a film of amazing coincidence, it turns out that both these ladies have a connection to Vincent - one good and one not so good. With the police desperate to catch the escaped con, Vincent decides to seek out his old friend George Fellsinger (Rory Mallinson) and hide out with him until the heat dies down. Just by a staggering coincidence, the cab driver he rides with is not only chatty but knows a d*** good back street plastic surgeon - so Sam (Tom D'Andrea) drops Vincent off at George's before heading off to make arrangements for Vincent to see Doctor Walter Coley (Houseley Stevenson). The operation is performed that early morning, and Vincent heads back to George's place to rest - only to find George murdered. With the murder almost certain to be pinned on him, Vincent heads to Irene's. Along the way he happens to find Baker's car...

    After a short period of recuperation, the bandages are off and the finally revealed "new" Vincent can now go off in search of the truth surrounding the murder of not just his wife but also George. With the circumstantial evidence all pointing to him, there is of course no doubt that he did not commit the murders and we are all interested to see who did. Along the way though, Vincent, even with his new appearance, still has to avoid the police - which ends up sending him straight into the clutches of a person who turns out not to be what he seemed. An almost innocent remark then apparently reveals the identity of the real murderer to Vincent who sets off with his accusation in hand.

    If the above all sounds a little cynical and far too trite, then that is intended: this is really not a great story and far too many coincidences occur to make it even remotely believable. So with a weakish story to work with, does that first person shooting style help or hinder proceedings? Well, I still remain unconvinced of its merit and feel that it was really done in too gimmicky a way. What the film really needed was a less gimmicky shooting style and a far more believable narrative, probably starting not from Vincent's perspective but rather Irene's or Madge's. Still, Delmer Daves did a fair fist with what he had, even after choosing the subjective shooting style. Given that we really don't see Humphrey Bogart until the sixty minute mark of the film, it has to be said that he really does not exert a vast amount of influence on proceedings from an acting point of view. That means of course that Lauren Bacall had to carry the film to a very large extent and whilst she certainly picks up in the second half, the first half of the film does see her wanting a little in her performance. The rest of the cast are just there to provide some minor support, which is what they did - although to be honest I still wonder why they even bothered with the Bob character (played by Bruce Bennett), which has no appreciable impact upon the film at all.

    It was certainly a high profile film, but it was not a successful film. Whilst the passage of time has been kind to the evaluation of the worth of the film - and lets face it, most of Bogart's films have improved the further away from the period from which they were spawned we get - in this instance, I simply don't see it. The shooting style is relatively easy to adjust to, even if it is not wholly successful. However, what cannot be adjusted to is the staggering number of coincidences that have to be believed in order to follow the film to its conclusion. That ultimately is where I find the film a little disappointing. Most of that disappointment could have been overcome by a little bit of thinking in the screenplay. Still, there is certainly another fine performance in the latter part of the film from Lauren Bacall, which is always worthwhile seeing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    With the films included in The Bogart Collection Two being from the second half of the 1940's, as opposed to the films in The Bogart Collection One being from the first half of the 1940's, then the expectation is for better transfers. After all, the war was over and the film industry was starting to get back on its feet, there was a bit more money around and better cameras and film stock would have been available. That the second box set starts chronologically with the previously released The Big Sleep, that expectation was not met as it had inherent problems. Was Dark Passage to see the expected improvement in the transfer?

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that accords with the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 pretty well. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    The fact that much of the film was shot on location - another improvement permitted with the end of the war - is probably the reason why there is an inherent improvement in the look of the film. Obviously being on location means a natural look, with plenty of space, rather than the occasional claustrophobic appearance that can result from shooting supposedly outdoor scenes on a soundstage. Locations also mean that the detail is real, that there is a proper depth to the detail and that all adds a lot more credibility to proceedings. All this is well captured in what is generally a sharp, well detailed transfer. It is however offset by some light grain throughout the film. Shadow detail is generally very good. Just ignore the obligatory soft focus in the close ups of Lauren Bacall though.

    The black and white tones are improved by the location shooting and this is a very natural looking and quite vibrant effort that has excellent definition across the grey scales. Whilst the blacks can be a little variable in depth, at their best they are very good and certainly never drop below better than average.

    There were no obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were few indications of any real issues with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Aliasing is the main issue with examples appearing in the bridge at 7:54 but most notably in the clothing worn by Agnes Moorehead between 86:30 and 90:00. At times this also looks like moiré artefacting is breaking out. Film artefacts are very prevalent at times (such as the snowstorm at 23:45), but mainly are of the speck variety and so they don't really impinge upon the film all that much.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change occurring at 39:06. The layer change was not noted during playback and was only found during the checking and confirming of the DVD specifications on my computer.

    There are ten subtitle options on the DVD. The English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are good efforts, with only the odd lapse here and there in the dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are the same two soundtracks on the DVD as we have found on the DVDs from The Bogart Collection - One box set: an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack.

    In broad terms there is nothing awry with the dialogue, which comes up well in the transfer and is easy to understand. There were no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original score is from the renowned Franz Waxman. If you think you know the main theme from somewhere - you do. It was the theme that the uncredited Franz Waxman composed for To Have And Have Not. This is a good, although not spectacular, dramatic score that does a fine job of supporting the film.

    At normal listening levels, you might just hear some hiss here and there - nothing that approaches the problem in the main menu though - which might or might be annoying depending upon how touchy you are about such things. It was just below the level where I took any notice of it and it certainly did not bother me in the slightest. The sound is a little strident at times, but this again was not overly bothersome. With it being a less primitive style of mono sound to begin with, the overall quality of the soundtrack is much improved here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Another decent package has been assembled for the film.

Menu

    In a similar style as the new release DVDs in the first box set, this is decent looking but is marred somewhat by the somewhat hissy audio enhancement. This is also not aided by the fact that the menu audio is at a higher level than the feature film.

Featurette - Hold Your Breath And Cross Your Fingers: The Story Of Dark Passage (10:32)

    We have seen the format in the previous new releases in the first box set. This retrospective look at the film has contributions by Eric Lax (Bogey's biographer), Leonard Maltin and Robert Osbourne (both film historians). This nicely fills in some of the detail about the problems Lauren Bacall was facing in her career after Howard Hawks (well miffed that she chose Humphrey Bogart it seems) sold the balance of her contract to Warner Bros. It deals with the pre-production of the film as well as the problems confronting the film as a result of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Quite an interesting effort, albeit way too short, and worth the effort to watch it. From a technical point of view, it is quite decent . The presentation is in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced, with the audio being Dolby Digital 2.0. There are selectable English, Italian, French and Dutch subtitles.

Short Film - Slick Hare (7:44)

    Dating from 1947, this Merrie Melodies animated short sees Humphrey Bogart at the Mocrumbo Restaurant (complete with a not-so-sly dig at the pretentiousness of restaurants frequented by the stars) requesting fried rabbit for dinner. Elmer Fudd is in a quandary - he has no rabbit and Bogey has given him twenty minutes to produce the meal. So when he spies Bugs Bunny, naturally his troubles are just beginning. With the deadline Bogey set fast approaching, all seems to be lost until Bugs finds out that the meal is for Baby - and happily throws himself onto the plate (fans will understand). The inclusion of other well known characters as patrons of the restaurant lifts the whole thing - Bugs doing a very good Groucho Marx too. Technically it leaves a bit to be desired with some inconsistency in the colour and obvious film artefacts floating around. The presentation is Full Frame of course, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are selectable English, Italian, French and Dutch subtitles.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13)

    Well if the promotion for To Have And Have Not was fairly obvious, then this was even more so. After all, if they were such a pairing in that film and in The Big Sleep, exactly why would you promote the film in any manner other than - Bogey and Bacall? There are film artefacts floating around but not more than would be expected in such material of this age. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and features at times quite strident Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are no subtitles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The DVD is available as a standalone release in Region 1 that seems to have the same content as appears on this disc, with just language and subtitle options being different. As usual, it comes in a snapper case. By the reviews located, it would seem the overall transfer quality is probably on a par with this Region 4 release, if not slightly better. Accordingly, there would perhaps be nothing too significant to balance the scales either way. In Region 2, the DVD is only available as a part of their version of The Bogart Collection Volume 1 - partnered with Casablanca and High Sierra. The actual DVD itself is the same as the Region 4.

Summary

    Dark Passage was certainly a high profile film that simply did not gel with the audience of the time. Its quirky style of shooting for the first hour certainly had something to do with that, but so did the times in which the film was released. Whilst the passage of time has been generally good to the critical acclaim of the film, it remains one of the less successful of the films from the Humphrey Bogart after his breakout role in High Sierra. There is nothing really awry with the transfers though, so it makes a worthy enough inclusion in The Bogart Collection Two.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Overall | The Big Sleep (1946) | Dark Passage (1947) | Key Largo (1948) | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

Key Largo (1948)

Key Largo (1948)

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Released 4-Sep-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1948
Running Time 96:18
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Huston
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Edward G. Robinson
Lauren Bacall
Lionel Barrymore
Claire Trevor
Thomas Gomez
John Rodney
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Key Largo is another great Humphrey Bogart film, and the last from the recent batch to be released from Warner Home Video to make it through my DVD player for review. Whilst Key Largo is by no means the greatest film Bogey ever made, it is an enjoyable little romp that showcased three great actors: Bogey, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson. This also shows a slightly different side to Bogey, a more vulnerable character that really expanded the range of the great man.

    Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) has returned from the war, and on his way to Key West he decides to stop off and visit the father and widow of a late friend from the war. James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) runs the Largo Hotel, with the help of daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall) and are grateful to meet the best friend of the late George Temple. However, the timing of the visit is not exactly the greatest, with a hurricane bearing down on the Keys, and the hotel being taken over by mobster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) and his henchmen. Johnny Rocco is making an illegal visit to the United States, as he has been deported as an undesirable and is now based out of Cuba, in order to dispose of some counterfeit notes. Holed up in the Largo Hotel, with his business associates prevented from reaching the Keys owing to the hurricane, Johnny goes a little stir crazy and threatens the unwitting detainees. McCloud needs to keep everything together in order to ensure that everyone not only survives the hurricane but survives the ruthless attitude of Johnny Rocco.

    Despite the fairly restricted scope of the setting in a hotel, Key Largo presents an opportunity for a bit of character development that we rarely get to see in films these days. Whilst the characters get just a tad clichéd at times, this is a very nice character-driven effort that does not drag at all. This was not quite the sizzling screen partnership of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall of say The Big Sleep, but adds another dimension to their relationship. Lionel Barrymore is quite droll and cutting as the invalid hotel owner, but this film really scores with the great Edward G. Robinson in the role of the bad guy. One of the greatest bad guy actors to ever grace the silver screen, there is a certain menacing appeal to his character, balanced by just a little uncertainty. Claire Trevor as Johnny's lush of a girlfriend is thoroughly convincing and walked away from the 1949 Oscars with the Best Supporting Actress statue. This is a reunion of sorts for John Huston and Humphrey Bogart, as they once again combine for this particular film - one of many that they made together. This is another tight piece of direction from Huston, making the most of the talents of the great team he had at his disposal.

    Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in a film together? What more do you need? Add in Lauren Bacall, an Oscar-winning performance from Claire Trevor and the great Lionel Barrymore and this is really a classic film that commands inclusion in any comprehensive film collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Of the three Bogart films through my player this weekend, this is by far the most consistent transfer, but even so it is not without its problems.

    The transfer is presented in the original Full Frame format, and it is of course not 16x9 enhanced. The packaging claims that this is a 1.85:1 transfer, which is completely false.

    This transfer may not be the sharpest that I have ever seen, but it has a very nice consistency to it that has thus far eluded most black and white films that have made their way through my player. The only real lapses were the inevitable soft focus shots involving Lauren Bacall. The detail is pretty good throughout, although this is to be expected given the relatively simple setting of the film. Shadow detail is also generally quite good, far better than I was expecting. Clarity is pretty good throughout and this never seemed to be any sort of problem here. There were no real problems with grain throughout the transfer, and low level noise did not seem to be much of a problem either.

    Whilst this does not display the ultimate in the depth of the black and white tones in the film, the overall result is quite decent and does not descend into any sort of murkiness. The transfer is quite consistent in its presentation and this is an eminently watchable transfer.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any serious problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, but minor aliasing was occasionally noted. The film is somewhat afflicted with film artefacts, but apart from some rather obvious blotches in general they were not especially distracting to the film.

    It should be noted that the transfer is heavily windowboxed within the frame, but this did not create any problem on my television as it is almost totally hidden by overscan.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack. I stuck with the English default.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand throughout.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The musical score once again comes from Max Steiner. This is definitely one of his more memorable efforts and it really helps to keep the film flowing along at a nice pace.

    This is quite a decent monaural soundtrack and does a fine job. There is little to really worry about here as far as problems are concerned, the main issue being some slightly recessed dialogue on a few short occasions. There are no major flaws as far as distortion or congestion are concerned, and this is a quite clean-sounding mono soundtrack that is not in any way raw. There is no surround channel use or bass channel use at all. The soundtrack has been transferred at a decent level without any false boosting of aspects of the sound for emphasis' sake, with the result that this is a very natural sounding mono soundtrack that conveys the feeling of the film pretty well indeed. It is pleasing to note that there has been no major remastering here so that the feeling of the film remains very much as I suspect it did on initial release all those years ago.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Again, a little on the disappointing side. Note that once again the packaging shows a screen capture for the Region 1 release of the film and not the Region 4 release.

Menu

    Somewhat perversely for a purely black and white film, we are blessed with what seems to look like a colorized black and white menu! Whilst it is a little incongruous, it is nonetheless nicely themed.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

    A rather nice little effort, if suffering just a little from film artefacts. It is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There would appear to be no real difference between the two versions, so the region of choice would be Region 4.

Summary

    Key Largo is a great way to finish this little voyage through the films of Humphrey Bogart, and I hope that we see some more real soon. Whilst it would be nice if a little more serious restoration work had been done on all the films, this suffers the least in this regard and I would encourage you to indulge in this effort.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A poorish extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 17, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Overall | The Big Sleep (1946) | Dark Passage (1947) | Key Largo (1948) | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1947)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Eric Lax (Biographer)
Featurette-Discovering Treasure: The Story Of (49:59)
Listing-Cast & Crew
Awards
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:43)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1947
Running Time 120:58 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By John Huston
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Walter Huston
Tim Holt
Bruce Bennett
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Romanian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    And so, chronologically speaking, we get to the last of the films making up The Bogart Collection - Two - and one of the best. Indeed, so good that when the American Film Institute came to decide upon the Top 100 films of the twentieth century, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre came in at number 30. This was a film that had a fairly long gestation and whilst efforts were made with the film during the Second World War, production seems to have been stymied deliberately in order to await the return from the services of director John Huston. He had long been a fan of the book, by the mysterious B. Traven, and prior to going into the services had made a couple of attempts at a screenplay. Given the masterpiece he turned out, it seems strange that anyone else was even contemplated for the film.

    By this time of course, Humphrey Bogart was a well established star and had signed a new contract with Warner Bros. that guaranteed him $200,000 a picture (given the amount talentless jerks are now paid for lousy half hour sitcom episodes, this is worth about $100,000,000 in today's terms). He was also given control over directors and screenwriters, and one of those directors named was John Huston. There were also some named films in his contract - and one of those was The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. Humphrey Bogart was therefore already set for the part that has produced what many argue is his finest performance ever - Fred C. Dodds. However, the other cast members were a little more problematic to cast. Eventually the choice for Howard was settled upon as Walter Huston. Cries of nepotism you say, since he was John Huston's father? No way - he was a well known actor and a d*** fine one. The role of Howard gave him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1949 and it was thoroughly deserved. He was nominated for an Oscar four times and this was the only one he won. The film is the one for which he is most often known, with good reason. Tim Holt was a B-grade movie star and the choice for the role of Bob Curtin. A much different actor in both style and appearance to either Humphrey Bogart or Walter Huston, the casting was inspired as it produced a very divergent range of characters on-screen. It was undoubtedly his finest moment on film, but did not generate for him the leap from B-grade film to stardom. After his almost non-entity role in Dark Passage, it seems rather odd that his very next role saw Bruce Bennett not only teamed up with Humphrey Bogart again but again playing an almost non-entity role. Whilst this time he had a bit more influence on things, it sure was not a whole lot more.

    With a very well crafted story, a very well cast collection of characters and the three main actors turning in arguably career best performances to complement perhaps the best directorial performance of the director's career, this was almost a once-in-a-lifetime coming together of all the right elements for turning out a classic film, which this obviously is since it ranks so highly on many a Top 100 film list.

    Yet despite even the enthusiasm of the legendary Jack L. Warner himself for the film that he actually did not want to have made, and heavy promotion, the film pretty much tanked at the box office. It would seem that the ever-present dullness of the American viewing public simply did not want to see Bogart playing such an unsympathetic character. Now let me see if I get this straight - they loved him playing the gangster, shooting people to death with little rhyme or reason, they loved him making out with some hot chick but simply did not want to know him as a down-on-your-luck person succumbing to the glitter of gold. Don't ask me why this was so - I found more sympathy with the ever-increasingly unbalanced Fred C. Dodds than any number of those earlier characters he played. Whilst the audiences stayed away in droves, at least the critics pegged the film right with almost universal acclaim (which might well be the first time that has ever happened).

    The passage of time has revealed the film to be the classic it is and it is now very much a film that is evoked by the very name of Humphrey Bogart. As such it is a very fitting way to end The Bogart Collection - Two.

    Fred C. Dodds (Humphrey Bogart), a down on his luck American is stuck in Tampico, Mexico trying to raise a buck. He puts the sponge on fellow Americans on the street in order to raise money for a meal. One such touch turns him down but does offer him and another down-on-his-luck American, Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), a job for the princely recompense of $8 per day. It sounds too good to be true because it turns out to be too good to be true - their benefactor, Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane), often gets Americans with this con and never pays them. This time Dodds and Curtin extract their money, which comes in handy when they decide to go prospecting for gold after listening to an old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston), spouting about it in the local flophouse where they spent the evening. By pooling their resources, they manage to raise $500, but they need more. This fortuitously arrives in the form of a wining lottery ticket that Dodds had bought off a pesky local kid. So with money and enthusiasm, they head off in search of the untouched wilderness where they will seek their fortune. Of course, finding fortune is not going to be easy, especially when Dodds in particular starts casting wary eyes over his partners. And that is even before worrying about the local banditos, quite ready to separate them from money, clothing, burros and whatever else they can grab. With everything, including themselves, ready to deny them their fortune, the Sierra Madre might just provide them with good fortune - providing they can trust each other long enough to dig it out.

    One of the genuinely great classics that Humphrey Bogart made, this is an essential film for any collection, Since it is only available in the box set however, you will have to endure it with a couple of other great films. Gee, life is tough sometimes.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Of all the films in The Bogart Collection, this is the only one that has quite obviously been subjected to a full restoration. The result is a most amazing looking transfer that really sparkles at times. At times you would be able to compare this to the very best that The Criterion Collection produces without fear of being ridiculed. It is amazing how much difference a transfer of this quality can make in how easily a review session goes. This one was real easy.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that accords with the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 pretty well. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    What the restoration has done is left us with a film that certainly looks as good now as it did when first released. Whilst there might be the odd quibble about it being just a tad overbright, what we have here is a very sharp and wonderfully detailed image that makes the most of the location shooting whilst also not giving away too many clues as to the sound stage shot bits. Shadow detail is very good, although obviously to heighten the suspense at times the image has been deliberately kept a little darker. Clarity is wonderful with very little in the way of grain noted, and even when it is present (mainly in some of those night-time scenes) it remains at very low levels. There is nothing in the way of low level noise in the transfer.

    The black and white tones are very good too with some nice depth to the blacks and whites. Indeed, the white clothing that Walter Huston is wearing towards the end of the film in the Mexican village could almost pass muster for inclusion in one of those washing detergent commercials. Tonal contrast is very good and the transfer is generally quite vibrant - certainly more than usual for a black and white film of this age.

    There were no obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although some inherent resolution loss is seen in the source material (the reputed cameo of Ann Sheridan at the beginning of the film for instance is a little blurry if you step forward frame by frame). There were very few indications of any real issues with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Aliasing is hardly an issue, although some instances of cross colouration are noted - notably in the shirt at 23:38 and 83:15. In fact, these were the only times I felt the need to make any notes, so anything else present must be rather minor indeed. The restoration has virtually returned the image to a pristine state, with only the odd mildew blemish still to be seen, aside from rather obvious white blobs on the image at 41:40 and 91:01. Most film artefacts seen are of the very small speck variety that barely get any notice.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change occurring at 58:06. Once again I could not note the layer change during playback and it was only found during the checking and confirming of the DVD specifications on my computer.

    There are ten subtitle options on the DVD. The English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are very good efforts, with barely any lapses noted in the dialogue. Interestingly, the Mexican dialogue does not always have subtitles to assist with understanding what is going on.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are the four soundtracks on the DVD, which is quite a difference to the previous new releases in the two box sets. One of them is an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack of course, but what of the other? It is a French Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack to add to the usual English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English soundtrack in full and about 75% of the Audio Commentary.

    It might be mono but it is restored mono by the sounds of it. There is certainly nothing wrong with the dialogue and it is easy to understand, other than where it was supposed to be otherwise. There are no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original score is from Max Steiner, another of those renowned score composers from the 1930's and 1940's who turned out many of the great scores of the era. This one is very good indeed, even if it does go a little over the top at times - I am not sure that Max Steiner could ever be accused of understatement! Still, in general terms it does a terrific job of supporting the film.

    At normal listening levels, this is undoubtedly the best of the new releases in the two box sets from an audio point of view. There is very little evidence of any sort of hiss, and certainly nothing in the way of any other problems like stridency or drop-outs. Thankfully the restoration has been very true to the original intent of the sound and simply has been used to remove the blemishes and freshen up the mono sound a little. The dialogue as a result has a bit more presence, as do some of the sound effects, but in an entirely natural, sympathetic way.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    So we get to the eighth DVD in the two box sets making up The Bogart Collection - and we finally get something truly worthwhile, something to really drill home exactly what we missed on the other seven DVDs.

    Well, truly worthwhile until such time as you wander down to the R1 vs R4 section...

Menu

    Slightly different in style to the other new releases in the two box sets, perhaps a little less decent to look at but with adequate audio enhancement.

Audio Commentary - Eric Lax (Biographer)

    Whilst I will admit to not listening to the entire commentary (aside from hating these things as you well know, the review session was conducted whilst I was not very well and I was simply not up to watching the film twice in rapid succession), this one is very informative indeed, if rather dryly presented. Eric Lax obviously has a pile of background information about the people involved in the film, as well as the production itself, and tries to communicate as much as he can! If you don't discover a whole raft of stuff about the film from this effort, as well as about the Warner Bros. studio and the mysterious B. Traven, then you simply are not paying any attention whatsoever.

Featurette - Discovering Treasure: The Story Of The Treasure Of the Sierra Madre (49:59)

    So there I was expecting another of those interesting but slightly too short featurettes that have graced the previous new releases in the two box sets. Nearly fifty minutes later and there is no way that this is in the same vein at all. This is what we have truly missed on those earlier new releases! With a wealth of information contributed by the likes of Martin Scorsese (you know who he is right?), Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin, Robert Osborne, Bob Thomas (all film historians), Judy Stone (author of the book The Mystery Of B. Traven), Evelyn Keyes (John Huston's wife at the time of the making of the film) and Eric Lax (Bogey's biographer), this is essential stuff that fills in a vast amount of background to not just this film but the careers of John Huston and Humphrey Bogart, along with Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bruce Bennett. Wonderful, wonderful stuff that is tremendously satisfying as well as tremendously annoying - why could the other films not get this sort of treatment? The presentation is in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced, with the audio being Dolby Digital 2.0. There are selectable English, Italian, French and Dutch subtitles. There is some aliasing to found, especially in the photographs, but nothing really annoying. Surprisingly, there are some outtakes included in the featurette too.

Listing - Cast and Crew

    Exactly what it says it is. One day someone will be able to explain to me the point of simply repeating in part the information already seen in the credits to the film and set out in the booklet included in the box set. Where are the biographies and the filmographies?

Awards

    Four pages of text listing out some of the accolades given the film including the three 1949 Oscars (Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor), three 1949 Golden Globes and so on.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13)

    Err, you just might get the idea that Humphrey Bogart stars in the film and John Huston directed the film from the trailer! One thing stands out about this trailer - just how good it looks. This is certainly one of those rare instances where the theatrical trailer as well as the feature film have been subjected to full restoration. Of excellent quality, I doubt you have seen a film trailer of this age look quite so good. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (although it is windowboxed in that ratio), it is not 16x9 enhanced and features very decent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are no subtitles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Released late in 2003, Region 1 has a two disc Special Edition version of the DVD. In comparison to that release, the Region 4 is woefully lacking the following essential inclusions:

    You seriously expect me to say anything nice about the package Warners have foisted on Region 4 when that veritable treasure trove of additional extras is being deprived us? What do we get instead? A couple of language soundtracks we don't really need and a bunch of subtitles that could cheerfully have been lost. Another travesty of the highest order from a major distributor.

    In Region 2, the DVD is only available as a part of their version of The Bogart Collection Volume 2 - partnered with To Have And Have Not and They Drive By Night. Staggeringly, in the promotional release for that set, the DVD is actually referred to as a Special Edition. Do they really think that people are that stupid that they don't know the lack of content of the Region 2/Region 4 release compared to the genuine Special Edition available in Region 1? This comparison is so far in favour of the utterly superb Region 1 Special Edition that the Region 2 and Region 4 versions don't even leave the starting gate. In fact, they probably have not even made the starting gate.

Summary

    Even the legendary hard man Jack L. Warner called The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre the best film that Warner Bros. had ever made. That it was hardly a box office success says more about the stupefying idiocy and dullness of the American cinema-going public, who only wanted to see a real Humphrey Bogart film (lots of gangsters, beautiful dames and happy endings), rather than the quality of the film itself. Naturally you find none of those things in this gritty, down-to-earth (literally) drama played out in the mountains of Mexico. That the film survived the initial hammering at the box office and came to be regarded as one of the greatest American films of all time is sufficient proof of how good the film really was. It features what many consider the finest performance of Humphrey Bogart on film - and makes one ponder why he never even got nominated for the Best Actor Oscar of 1948. It was a film that John Huston was born to make and it is rightly regarded as amongst his finest, if not the finest work he ever did (and considering some of the films he did make, it is no small accolade). Warner Bros. have shown the film the care it deserves with a remarkably good restoration that has left the video transfer almost breathtaking in its quality at times. The audio might not be quite in the same league but for its age it is still remarkable. On the face of it we have an excellent extras package - at least until you see how much more is available in Region 1. Up until that extras package, The Bogart Collection Two was an essential purchase simply for this film alone (let alone the other excellent films it contains) but once you see that travesty then it really horrendously diminishes the worth of this DVD and hence the whole package. We can but hope that Warner Home Video see fit to redeem themselves with a reissue of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre in a full two disc Special Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, April 05, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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