WB does it right; or, your favorite DVDs

Warner Brothers has been blasted for its lackluster and indifferent treatment of its huge library of classic films, but starting with Citizen Kane a couple of years ago, they have been producing some really great sets. I think the new 2-disc set of The Adventures of Robin Hood is probably one of the most worthwhile DVDs out there.

First off, there’s an amazing transfer of the movie – the colors are spectacular, and the sound is quite good for a 65-year-old film, especially important for this one, with its Korngold score.

But the extras put it over the top: Warner Night at the Movies 1938, which includes a trailer for Angels Wtih Dirty Faces, a newsreel describing Hitler’s annexation of Austria, a short film of a swing band, and a classic cartoon; two more cartoons, both of them Robin Hood-themed – Rabbit Hood and Robin Hood Daffy (“It’s actually a buck-and-a-quarter quarter staff, but I’m not telling him that”); a blooper reel from 1938; a short version of the 1922 Fairbanks Robin Hood film; about nine Errol Flynn trailers; documentaries; more short films; etc., etc., etc. This one is packed, and not with the usual filler.

Now, even though I actually started this thread to rave about this particular set, I’m opening the floor to everyone else’s opinions. What’s your favorite DVD and why? Is it just the movie, or is it the extras, or both?

The best DVD release I have ever seen by far is the LOTR:FOTR special edition released last year. A great film, a glorious transfer, four audio commentaries and two fat discs with making-of documentaries covering every aspect of the film.

The second-best is probably the Criterion release of Brazil. Another great film with the director’s cut and a terrific commentary by Gilliam on the first disc ,a solid second disc about the film and a fascinating third disc with the famouly butchered “Love conquers all” version which is a revealing example of Hollywood idiocy.

“Is it just the movie, or is it the extras, or both?”
Both. If I don’t like the film I usually don’t care too much about the extras. If I like the film and the DVD is without extras it feels incomplete.

There are two other just-released WB sets that match the format of ROBIN HOOD: TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. They all have a “Warner Night at the Movies,” featuring a trailer, newsreel, short, and cartoon on disc 1, and a bevy of special features on disc 2. I’ve seen ROBIN HOOD and TREASURE, and they’re both heartily recommended.

The FOTR: EE is perhaps the best DVD set yet released, but mention should be made of a couple of sets that inspired it: the SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB special editions.