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An Expert Review Of Three Classic DVDs

Sep 5, 2008
Somewhere along the line there was a misunderstanding where the film viewing world confused box office success with quality. Many films over the decades have achieved overwhelming financial success however that is no guarantee that is a classic. This article is an expert review of three classics that, like fine wines, have only got better with age.

First is the war time epic from occupied Morocco, Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart gives one of his strongest performances as Rick, an American ex-patriot bitterly resentful over the loss of his love, played by Ingrid Bergman. Bergman comes to Casablanca involved with a revolutionary who the NAZIs are looking to keep a close eye one.

Rick is torn between helping a revolutionary escape the country and loosing the woman whom he loves once more. The film delivers some of the most memorable film dialogue in history and is packed with conflict from beginning to end. The all star cast all live up to the expectations of their pay checks with a cameo by Peter Lorre and an excellent performance by the supporting Claude Rains.

Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock is fevered as one of the all time masterpieces, not only in the horror genre but of all films. It is the subject of much film criticism because of what it brought to the horror genre and is studied from many angles, from technical form to psychoanalytic film theory. Janet Leigh stars as a young woman who steals 40,000 dollars from her boss fleeing to a deserted motel.

Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates, the hotel owner and schizophrenic killer who kills Leigh in the shower murder scene which is one of the most famous film scenes of all time. The scene uses over fifty different shots and creates a chilling representation of murder without showing a naked breast of plunging knife in the whole sequence, dancing around the oppressive film sensors.

The killing of the protagonist half way through the film was a bold step and the story continues as the police, a private detective hired by the aggrieved employer, the sister and married lover of Leigh try and track down her whereabouts. The performance by Perkins as the deranged Bates is legendary and the film still holds weight against any modern horror.

Orson Welles produced one of the greatest films ever made in partnership with cinematographer James Toland when they teamed up to make Citizen Kane. The story follows Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a media magnate who was adopted by a bank. The story is told by character recollections of Kane as a journalist attempts to discover the relevance of the dying words by Kane, Rosebud.

The film was revered for the use of deep focus photography, using the theatrical background of Welles and many of the actors from the Mercury theatre company. The film caused great controversy as it was seen to be based on William Randolph Hearst, the media mogul and Hearst tried to ban the film and after the released went after Orson Welles and some believe destroyed his career, as he never made another film of such merit.

All the films mentioned can still be viewed today with the same awe that they were on release and are amazing achievements. They have become embedded in Western culture and are essential viewing for anyone with a interest and genuine appreciation for the film medium.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson writes DVD reviews for many trade publication and is involved in many aspects of the film industry.
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