Turner Classic Movies: Romantic Dramas

Turner Classic Movies: Romantic Dramas
It's hard to write new reviews of classic films. What insight can I provide on great filmmakers such as Nicholas Ray and Elia Kazan that hasn't already been repeatedly discussed by a litany of critics and film theorists over the past 50 years? Probably none. So instead I'm going to talk about Ted Turner. Media mogul Ted Turner is a classic movie fan. Not only did he marry Barbarella, he used his wealth and clout to acquire the rights to a library of classic films from studios such as RKO, Warner Bros. and MGM (although his attempts to colourize many of these films cost him a good deal of cred in the cinephile community). In the mid-'90s, Turner launched Turner Classic Movies, a cable station dedicated to classic films, airing familiar favourites and even rarities never issued on VHS or DVD. So, keeping this in mind, it's a little disappointing that this new Turner Classic Movies DVD box set contains four films that, while undeniably true classics, are already readily available on both VHS and DVD. Couldn't TCM have delved a little deeper into the archives? A Streetcar Named Desire, Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are grouped together under the label TCM: Romantic Dramas, a title that's slightly misleading. Each film has elements of romance but the romance is often surrounded, or contorted, by angst and emotional instability. My favourite of the lot is Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, not only for the fact that it's a brilliantly original screen story, whereas East of Eden is an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel and the other two are based on Tennessee Williams plays. Presented on two double-sided discs, the set's special features are scant; there are commentaries for each film and a few trailers. With each film already available in individual special edition DVD versions, the only true benefit of this set is the immediacy of owning four compulsory classics at a relatively inexpensive price (about $25). Though whatever faults are to be found in the set, there's no denying the timeless relevance each of these films wields. (Warner)