Bogart Classics on Blu-ray disc
Humphrey Bogart may be long gone, but his shadow looms over the movies as if he were still here. It isnt hard to see why; his work includes such masterpieces as Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and many more.
Warner Home Video is releasing Bogie titles onto Blu-ray in dribbles and drabs - a good way to keep fans salivating for more. Their release of Casablanca a couple of years ago made for a spectacular collector's edition, and though not all the releases are that substantial, the ones we've seen so far all stand up as easily the best video versions yet.
The Maltese Falcon on Blu-ray
They say that film noir kicked off with this Bogart/John Huston classic about the stuff that dreams are made of.
Bogart is Sam Spade, hard boiled detective, yet a guy who obviously enjoys his life. Its the role that made Bogie a star as he unraveled the threads of deceit and adventure surrounding a fabled, lost statuette of (you guessed it) a jewel-encrusted bird of prey from the Mediterranean.
It all kicks off when a woman shows up at his and his partners office to hire them for what appears to be a straightforward shadowing job. But if that were all there was to it, we wouldnt have much of a movie, and when you get right down to it this is one terrific piece of cinematic history so we're glad there was more to it.
So Spade embarks on a quest to find out whos who and whats what and why everyone seems to want everyone else dead. Its a tale full of twists and turns and betrayals, with memorable performances and featuring a terrific screenplay and direction by Huston. If you have yet to see The Maltese Falcon, youre in for a marvelous roller coaster ride.
And what a supporting cast! Mary Astor is at one moment sexy and vulnerable and the next a conniving wench you want to pick up and shake. Sidney Greenstreet kicks off his movie career with a marvelous portrayal of the honestly unscrupulous villain of the piece, with Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook Jr. both at their best as mousey weasels.
The BLu-ray is excellent, and with enough extras to choke a horse - or even a falcon. The 1080p black and white full screen picture (4:3 aspect ratio) is really good, with excellent sharpness and great contrast. It's a great example of just how good a black and white movie can look.
Audio is dts HD Master Audio mono and, not surprisingly, its only about as good as one would expect from 1940s-vintage mono analog recording.
And unlike the last DVD version we reviewed, which really could have used some extra oomph so far as supplements are concerned, this one's full of stuff, including Becoming Attractions, a look at Bogies Warner Brothers career through his movie trailers.
As has been Warners' bent periodically, the film is offered as a "night at the movies", where you can experience it like you would have in a theater when the film was new. You can watch the movie preceded by a newreel, trailer, musical short, a couple of cartoons, etc. It's a delicious way to experience this disc.
And that ins't all. Warners also includes an audio commentary track, by Bogart biographer Eric Lax, the featurette "The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird", an entertaining blooper reel from 1941 movies where you'll hear some big classic Hollywood stars utter words you never heard them blurt out before.
There's also a feature on the makeup tests, and even some audio-only features, in this case three audio adaptations of the story.
It's a terrific package!
The Maltese Falcon, from Warner Home Video