DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Warner Bros. and the Homefront Collection (2008)

Warner Home Video (WHV) gives three cheers for the red, white and blue, saluting the studio's WWII legacy with a special new DVD collection entitled Warner Bros. and the Homefront. This highly anticipated three-disc set is built around the three all-star, song-filled extravaganzas made by the studio's finest talents during the tumult of WWII.

Headlining the collection is the first-ever WHV release of one of the biggest box-office hits of the era, Irving Berlin's This is the Army, starring Ronald Reagan, George Murphy and Mr. Berlin himself, presented in its original roadshow format for the first time since its opening engagements. The collection also contains the long-awaited DVD debuts of two irresistible musical cavalcades featuring the biggest WB stars trying their hands at musical entertainment in Thank Your Lucky Stars and Hollywood Canteen.

The Warner Bros. and the Homefront collection is laden with an impressive array of special features, including commentaries, vintage Warner short subjects and Looney Tunes classics from WWII. Most significantly, the collection also contains â"Warner at War," a brand-new documentary which explores the studio's fierce patriotism and unswerving dedication to aiding our country's armed services on the battlefront, while entertaining those left behind at home.


 

This is the ArmyThis is the Army (1942)

Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 121 mins.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Writer: Casey Robinson & Claude Binyon
Cast: Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan; Joan Leslie; George Murphy
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
Genre: Comedy | Musical | War
Tagline: It's your own army - in the army's own show!
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

Irving Berlin showed his abiding love for his country with, among other cultural accomplishments, decades of Broadway hits, the unofficial national anthem God Bless America (Veterans Day will mark the 70th Anniversary since the song was first performed and introduced to America and the world on â"The Kate Smith Hour" 1938 Armistice Day CBS Radio Show broadcast, and as recreated in the movie version) and this World War II spirit-lifter. Originally conceived as a Broadway musical, the original stage production featured 350 real-life GIs, giving their singing-and-dancing all to raise nearly $2 million (then an astronomical sum) for Army Emergency Relief. At every performance, the highlight of the show was the moment when its composer, Mr. Berlin himself, would take center stage and sing â"Oh, How I Hate to get up in the Morning." The show was such an enormous success that Warner Bros. assembled a film adaptation with lightning speed, in order to spread the show's unique blend of patriotism and entertainment to audiences everywhere.

This Academy Award-winning screen adaptation stars (future U.S. Senator) George Murphy and (future U.S. President) Ronald Reagan cast as a father and son producing team who put on one stupendous military musical revue before the son marches off to war. Most of the same GIs who earned standing ovations every night on Broadway appear in the film version, along with leading lady Joan Leslie and guest stars Joe Louis, Kate Smith and even Irving Berlin himself. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), This is the Army was an instant big-screen smash with audiences and critics, and became the top grossing film of 1943. All proceeds from the film were donated by Warner Bros. to Army Emergency Relief, and in 1950, Jack Warner donated the film itself to that organization. Removed from authorized distribution for more than a half century, Warner Home Video is proud to make the original roadshow version of the film available, under exclusive license from Army Emergency Relief and the God Bless America Fund.

The film is a thinly-plotted propaganda story that acts as a loose framework in which to cram a ton of patriotic songs. The story begins during WWI when a group of soldiers (George Murphy, Alan Hale, George Tobias, and Charles Butterworth) gather to perform a musical act with hopes of raising morale within the troops. Years later, during WWII, their descendants decide to put on the musical, which turns out to be a rousing success. So much so that they're eventually sent on a tour to increase the public's patriotism towards the war effort.

The filmmakers could have gotten a lot more mileage out of the film by beefing up the plot a bit, but as it is, it's a worthy exposition of the incredible composing skills of Irving Berlin. An interesting title card appears before the movie that points out how many scenes in the film can be construed as racist in nature but were considered commonplace at the time - such as an uncomfortable minstrel scene.

DVD

DVD Details:

Subtitles: English and French

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Commentaries: Feature-length audio commentary with Joan Leslie and Dr. Drew Casper.

Featurettes:

  • Warner Night at the Movies - collection of featurettes and other shorts
  • Edge of Darkness Theatrical Trailer original theatrical trailer for the 1943 Errol Flynn war drama Edge of Darkness
  • Newsreel - Global War Headlines - an authentic WWII newsreel featuring news of the day headlines from the front lines
  • The United States Army Band - A musical short featuring the U.S Army Band
  • Confusions of a Nutsy Spy - a short WWII era cartoon. The most interesting aspect is the disclaimer that appears before the cartoon and excuses itself for some of the forthcoming racial prejudices that were commonplace during World War II.

Music Video: My Brittish Buddy - A short musical number that has been restored by the National Film Archives. This short was never shown in North American theaters.

Trailer: Original theatrical trailer for This is the Army Now - self-proclaimed to be the proudest moment in the history of Warner Bros.


 

Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 124 mins.
Director: David Butler
Writer: Norman Panama & Melvin Frank
Cast: Humphrey Bogart; Bette Davis; Olivia de Havilland; Errol Flynn
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
Genre: Comdey | Musical
Tagline: Thank Your Lucky Stars
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

The stars come out to play in the joyous World War II-era Thank Your Lucky Stars. A breezy, behind-the-Hollywood-scenes story about young talents hoping for a big break glitters with specialty numbers featuring Golden Era greats. Virtually every Warner star under contract to the studio braved the opportunity to sing and dance for the good of the nation's morale, with the result making the film an instant classic. The one Warner star who declined to break character was perhaps the studio's biggest, but Humphrey Bogart's appearance in a scene being out-tough-guyed by S.Z. â"Cuddles" Sakall virtually steals the film. Legendary song and dance man Eddie Cantor takes a leading role in the film's story, with Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie featured as the romantic leads. The film also provided Dinah Shore with her film debut, taking on several of the film's great songs by Frank Loesser and Arthur Schwartz. Warner stars best known for more serious roles let their guard down in memorable musical sequences including John Garfield, Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Miss Bette Davis, whose witty, wry, jitterbugging rendition of They're Either Too Young or Too Old is â"the cherry on the top" (Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical).

Eddi Cantor is one of the main focal points in this star-studded musical. He plays both himself and a look-alike bus driver trying to break into the business. But undoubtedly, the appearance of Bette Davis singing They're Either Too Young or Too Old is the star of the show. Thank Your Lucky Stars feels like it may have been perfect for its time, but with its overly-produced immaculate stage sets and corny numbers, it's definitely beginning to show its age.

DVD

DVD Details:

Subtitles: English, French

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Featurettes:

  • Warner Night at the Movies
  • Watch On the Rhine Theatrical Trailer - Original theatrical trailer for the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's celebrated play.
  • Newsreel - Authentic vintage newsreel footage of a performance at the Hollywood Canteen. Sadly, no audio though.
  • Food and Magic - produced by Warner for the United States Government, this patriotic short emphasizes the need to not be wasteful with food during times of war.
  • 9/27/43 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Broadcast: Audio-only broadcast of the Radio Show adaptation of Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Trailer: Original theatrical trailer for Thank Your Lucky Stars.


 

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen (1944)

Rated: Not rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 124 mins.
Director: Delmer Daves
Writer: Delmer Daves
Cast: Laverne Andrews; Maxene Andrews; Patty Andrews
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
Genre: Musical | Comedy | Romance
Tagline: 62 Stars in Warners' Biggest Ever!
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

The legendary Hollywood Canteen was a massive and glamour-filled nightclub for GIs, located in the heart of tinseltown. Stars from every studio in town sacrificed any extra hours they could to help entertain soldiers who were temporarily in Los Angeles. The Canteen was where Joan Crawford might cook the eggs and John Garfield might scrub out the frying pan. The movie Hollywood Canteen is a snappy, starry salute to that World War II landmark, built around a storyline involving a corporal who wins a date with winsome Joan Leslie. Real-life Canteen co-founders Bette Davis and Garfield plus dozens more luminaries including The Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Barbara Stanwyck and even Roy Rogers with his horse Trigger dazzle the troops as well as modern fans in â"a great big scrambled vaudeville show with enough talent to have made a dozen fine movies" (Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune).

Built around the thinnest of plots, the undoubted star of Hollywood Canteen is its cast, packed with scores of Hollywood luminaries.

The film is a great opportunity to see the stars in their prime. And of course for most, their prime was singing and performing on stage. One of the highlights for this reviewer was seeing the Andrew Sisters perform Corns for My Country.

DVD

DVD Details:

Subtitles: English, Closed-Captioned; French

Language and Sound: English remastered on Dolby Digital 5.1

Extra Features:

  • Warner Night at the Movies:
  • The Doughgirls Theatrical Trailer
  • Newsreel - Authentic wartime propaganda newsreel features wartime footage, awards ceremony and troop advancements - no audio.
  • I am an American - Patriotic short about the discovery and founding of America.
  • Proudly We Serve -Another patriotic short produced by the Marine Corps that highlights military training methods . Note: please pardon the film's sexist nature.
  • Report From the Front - Red Cross promotion narrated by Humphrey Bogart.
  • Stage Door Cartoon - Warner Bros Merrie Melodies color short featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
  • Herr Meets Hare - Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny. Not sure why this one is not located within the Warner Night at the Movies section with the other Merrie Melodies feature. Iincludes a disclaimer excusing its off-color tendencies that were considered commonplace back in that day.
  • Hollywood Canine Canteen - Another Warner Bros Merrie Melodies short that features dogs in the likenesses of Hollywood movie stars spoofing the idea of the Hollywood Canteen.

Trailer - Original theatrical trailer for Hollywood Canteen.

{pgomakase}

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video DVD/Blu-ray Warner Bros. and the Homefront Collection (2008)
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Reel Reviews - Youtube Channel
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes