Gangsters Collection Vol. 3
It would be a crime to miss 'em!
On March 25, Warner Home Video (WHV) had a “packing heat” a third time with the DVD release of the Warner Bros. Pictures Gangsters Collection Volume 3. This latest group of crime genre classics, starring some of Hollywood’s top tough guys – James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart – features six new to DVD gangster flicks, three of which make their first home video appearance: Picture Snatcher, Lady Killer, Smart Money, Black Legion, The Mayor of Hell and Brother Orchid. The films have been given brand new transfers from newly restored film elements, and also include bonus features such as rarely-seen Warner Bros. shorts, vintage newsreels and classic cartoons, plus original theatrical trailers.
Major Hollywood studios in the ‘30s and ‘40s were each known for their distinctive styles (MGM for its musicals; Universal for its horror films, etc.). Warner Bros. was best known for firmly establishing the genre of gangster films, which also contained socially conscious themes and a simple visual look (low key lighting and sparse sets).
“The gangster film is a huge cornerstone in the legacy of our studio, and we take great pride in bringing freshly-minted, restored digital masters to new generations of fans via DVD”, said George Feltenstein, Warner Home Video’s Senior Vice President, Theatrical Catalog Marketing. “We are particularly excited about this new collection, which features Cagney, Bogey, and Edward G. Robinson in films that many folks have not had the opportunity to see in decades. Three of the six were never even released on VHS or laserdisc, and all six have been restored from their original camera negatives. Sixty to seventy years after they were made, the WB gangster films still pack a mighty wallop.”
Picture Snatcher (1933)
James Cagney portrays Danny Kean, a gangster looking to reform himself -- after a stretch behind bars -- with a new career as a tabloid newspaper photographer. He’s also fallen for Patricia Nolan (Patricia Ellis), the daughter of the cop who put him away (Robert Emmett O'Connor). Dad is less than impressed with Kean’s new career and none too happy about his daughter’s budding relationship. Danny and his editor (Ralph Bellamy) may be selling papers, but is Danny able to sell Dad? Some of the photographs featured in the movie were recreated from sensational images of a 1928 electrocution that were printed in the New York Daily News. The music is by Ray Heindorf and Cliff Hess.
• Vintage theatrical trailer: I Loved A Woman
• Classic WB short: Plane Crazy
• WB cartoon: Wake Up The Gypsy In Me
Lady Killer (1933)
In one of his more comedic efforts, Cagney plays Dan Quigley, a former con artist who goes to Hollywood to hide out and ends up becoming a star. Making it in show business may have its perks, but it also puts him in the spotlight and in jeopardy of being recognized by the thugs he ran away from. By turns, Lady Killer is a filmmaking spoof, a crime thriller and a character study. With Cagney’s vitality out front, it’s definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The likable cast includes Mae Clarke, his co-star from Public Enemy (part of the first Warner Bros. Gangster Collection) and the recipient of the famous grapefruit. The music is by Bernhard Kaun.
• Two exclusive WB shorts: The Camera Speaks and Kissing Time
• Original theatrical trailer
• WB cartoon: The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives
Smart Money (1931)
Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were teamed up for the only time in their careers in Smart Money. Robinson has the larger part of a small-town barber who fancies himself a big-time gambler. He travels to the Big City carrying ten grand from backers at home with his younger brother (Cagney), who comes along as his bodyguard. Unfortunately Robinson has a weakness for beautiful blondes, which means trouble with a capital T. Watch closely in the first reel for an unbilled appearance by Boris Karloff as a dope pusher. Smart Money was Oscar® nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The music is by David Mendoza.
• Theatrical trailer: Other Men’s Women
• Two WB shorts: George Jessel and His Art Choir and The Smart Set-Up
• WB cartoon: Big Man From the North
Black Legion (1937)
Factory worker Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart in one of his early starring roles) believes that he has missed out on a deserved promotion when it is instead given to a Polish immigrant. Angry and looking for a scapegoat, he is an ideal mark for the Black Legion, an underground “Pro American” group that wants to get rid of immigrants and racial minorities through violent means. Frank joins, and with his new friends, he dons black robes and drives the Polish family from their home. His aim achieved, Frank gets his job, but soon the Legion begins to take up more of his time and money, and turns his character darker and darker. Co-starring Ann Sheridan, Black Legion was inspired by a real case and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay. The music is by W. Franke Harling, Howard Jackson and Bernhard Kaun.
• Theatrical trailer: The Perfect Specimen
• Two WB shorts: Hi De Ho and Under Southern Stars
• Authentic newsreel
• WB short: Porky and Gabby
The Mayor of Hell (1933)
Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith (Frank Darro), are sent to the State Reformatory, ruled with an iron fist by a callous warden. Soon, Patsy Gargan (James Cagney) - a former gangster - arrives, having been appointed Deputy Commissioner as a political favor. Gargan falls for activist nurse Dorothy (Madge Evans) and, inspired by her, takes over the administration to reform the reformatory and institute some formerly ignored basic Roosevelt-era principles, like humane treatment and democracy. The music is by Bernhard Kaun.
• Four exclusive theatrical trailers: The Kennel Murder Case, The Mayor of Hell, Crime School, and Hell’s Kitchen
• WB Short: The Audition
• WB Cartoon: The Organ Grinder
Brother Orchid (1940)
Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart made five films together and Brother Orchid is the only one in which neither is killed! In this gangster comedy, Little John Sarto (Robinson), returns from Europe where he was hoping to find some “class” and finds his old mob has been taken over by Jack Buck (Bogart). Barely escaping an attempt on his life by the new regime, Sarto takes refuge in the monastery of the “Little Brothers of the Flower,” pretending he’s interested in becoming a monk so that the Brothers will let him stay while he plots his revenge. However, the kindness of the monks gradually changes him and he resolves to turn over a new leaf and reject his violent past. The music is by Heinz Roemheld.
• Theatrical trailer: It All Came True
• WB short: Henry Busse and His Orchestra
• Two exclusive WB cartoons: Busy Bakers and Slap Happy Pa