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Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (Bullets or Ballots / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men / San Quentin / A Slight Case of Murder) (2008)

James Cagney , Pat O'Brien , Anatole Litvak , Lloyd Bacon  |  NR |  DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Blondell
  • Directors: Anatole Litvak, Lloyd Bacon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 519 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00114XLUA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,390 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (Bullets or Ballots / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men / San Quentin / A Slight Case of Murder)" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Say "Warner Bros. in the '30s" and you're talking, first and foremost, about the tough, gritty, urban, street-smart movies that help define that American decade for us. Which means you're talking about James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and Humphrey Bogart: unpretty but charismatic guys with lived-in faces, and bodies that always seemed cocked, ready to spring. When one of them entered a room, he owned it, no matter how many people were there already. Their most celebrated habitat was the gangster picture. The genre didn't originate with them, but they, more than anybody else, defined it, gave it a face and a silhouette and a heartbeat.

The films in this set were produced half a decade and more after Little Caesar and The Public Enemy made stars of Robinson and Cagney, respectively, and after repeal had begun to lend Prohibition the patina of nostalgia. The studio's gangster franchise was evolving, and so were the careers of its top stars. When it came to toughness, the boys could still dish it out, and take it, too. But increasingly they were doing it on the other side of the law-and-order divide.

Cagney was first to reform. In 1935's "G" Men he plays a lawyer put through college by the avuncular neighborhood crimelord. After a law-school pal turned F.B.I. agent is murdered, Cagney abandons his (resolutely legit) one-man practice and joins the Bureau. The film memorializes several big moments in F.B.I. legend, but what's grabbiest is the personal drama growing out of Cagney's lingering underworld friendships. William Keighley directs the murders and shootouts with jolting ferocity, Barton MacLane and Edward Pawley supply flavorful villainy, and there are times when Sol Polito's cinematography literally glows (all these films have been restored, but "G" Men looks especially terrific). One gripe: The movie should have been presented without the F.B.I.-classroom intro tacked on for 1949 reissue (which belongs under "Special Features").

In Each Dawn I Die (also Keighley, 1939), Cagney teams with George Raft making his Warners debut. It's mostly a prison picture, with muckraking reporter Cagney behind bars after being framed by crooked politicos. Career felon Raft has little sympathy for him till Cagney proves to be a stand-up guy, whereupon the two bond in mutual loathing of sadistic guards, rat-fink convicts, and the endlessly malleable system. The movie boasts one indelible scene (involving a movie screening for the cons), some evocative prison workhouse detailing, and a fine Cagney performance as always. But it's undone by a script cluttered with melodrama and contrivance.

Bullets or Ballots (Keighley yet again, 1936) is much more satisfying. Again we get two icons for the price of one, with Robinson as a tough but square-shooting police detective and Bogart as the ambitious number-two man to a big-time racketeer. Bogart's effectively the co-star, albeit fourth-billed behind Robinson, Joan Blondell, and Barton MacLane. But it's Eddie G.'s movie, and he walks the line beautifully as an honest cop who, unjustly jettisoned from the force, signs on with the mobster he's long pursued. Despite a rhetorical reference to "ballots" as the public's means of combatting crime, it's bullets that get the job done. Bullets and fists: the movie makes clear that Robinson has beaten confessions out of people plenty of times, just as it has no illusions about the empty symbolism of crime commissions and grand juries.

The only other Bogart vehicle in the set is San Quentin (Lloyd Bacon, 1937), a scrap-work effort below the standards of everybody involved. Bogart's a small-time crook whose arrest at a nightclub occasions a meet-cute for his big sister Ann Sheridan and Army training officer Pat O'Brien--who's on his way to become yard captain at the penitentiary where Bogart will be interred! O'Brien tries to reform the lad, but with corrupt/sadistic guard Barton MacLane on one side and sociopathic con Joe Sawyer on the other, Bogart never has a chance. Neither does the viewer.

Lloyd Bacon, normally one of Warners' zippiest directors, is back on his game with A Slight Case of Murder (1938), a delicious gangster comedy. Robinson plays beer baron Remy Marco, who craves respectability as a legitimate businessman once beer is legal again. Problem is, nobody has ever had the heart to tell him his product tastes like varnish, and soon the bank is out to foreclose on his brewery. At which point Remy learns that his summer home upstate is full of fresh gangland corpses.... Based on a play by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay, the picture gives a trio of glorious goons--Allen Jenkins, Edward Brophy, and Harold Huber--a rare chance to shine as Marco's house staff.

City for Conquest (1940) ought to be the showpiece here. It's the longest and most ambitious entry, with prestige-picture scale and production values (including Polito and James Wong Howe as cameramen) and a cast including Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Arthur Kennedy, Frank McHugh, Donald Crisp, Anthony Quinn, Jerome Cowan, and--in his first of only two film performances--future directorial giant Elia Kazan. Working-stiff Cagney loves his gifted musician brother (Kennedy) and childhood sweetheart (Sheridan), a dancer with her own aspirations for the limelight; he becomes a boxer in order to pay for the brother's musical education. Triumph and tragedy ensue. The film's avowed aim, and Kennedy's, is to create an urban symphony of New York and the many little people striving against all odds to rise; there's even a one-man Greek chorus--Frank Craven, the Stage Manager of the recent Our Town--to hammer the theme periodically. But over the previous decade Warners' honest, hard-charging, small-scale movies had collectively achieved that "symphony," without the pompous flourishes Anatole Litvak's direction brings to the project. Here's hoping DVD showcases more of them. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Six hot stuff" gangster flicks loaded with cinema legends, and if ya know what's good for ya, you'll buy it, see. Includes Bullets or Ballots (Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart. 1936/82 min.), Each Dawn I Die. (James Cagney. 1939/92 min.), G-Men (James Cagney. 1935/86 min.), San Quentin (Humphrey Bogart. 1937/70 min.), A Slight Case of Murder (Edward G. Robinson. 1938/85 min.) and City of Conquest (James Cagney, Ann Sheridan. 1940/104 min.). 6 DVDs. B&w/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here comes another one... June 13, 2006
Format:DVD
The descriptions of each film in the product information are comprehensive enough so I won't go on about the story-lines of individual titles, this review is just to highlight the fact that this set is, in format, a follow-up to the Warners' Gangsters Collection. That is, each disc not only has a magnificently restored print of the film, but a set of extras to watch before and after the film hosted by Leonard Maltin, the 'Warner Night at the Movies' section. These extras more often than not run even longer than the film and are thankfully relevant both to the film and to the year that it was released.

Typically you get a cartoon, a newsreel, a preview for another movie of the same year and a short film. At the end there is invariably a ten or fifteen minute retrospective in the form of interviews with leading film critics and sometimes even cast and crew associated with the film (if they're not dead).

The value for money with sets like these (see also Errol Flynn Signature Collection and Film Noir Collection) could not be better, highly recommended.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A box of good stuff October 1, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A couple years ago, Warner Brothers issued a top-notch set of its classic gangster movies. Included were such all-time greats as Little Caesar, Public Enemy and White Heat. On the heals of that boxed set, a new one was issued: the Tough Guys boxed set. This companion piece to the Gangster set features slightly less well-known movies but is definitely worth watching.

The big difference in the two sets are the roles of its principal players. In the Gangster set, the stars - in particular, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson - were criminals. As the studio got more pressure to stop producing movies in which the heroes were crooks, they merely switched their actors from one side of the law to the other.

In more-or-less chronological order, the first in this six-movie set is G-Men, featuring Cagney as a struggling lawyer who joins the fledgling FBI. This puts him at odds with his friend, a genial crime boss who opts to retire rather than contend with Cagney. Unfortunately, his successors are not so nice, setting up a lot of gunplay. Of the three Cagney movies in this set, this is the weakest, although it is still decent.

Also relatively weak is Bullets or Ballots which features Robinson as a cop who joins the mob after he is fired (an obvious ruse that not even the villains totally buy). Once again, there is a "good" mob boss who is Robinson's friend. Humphrey Bogart, in a standard role for him in the 1930s, is a much more evil gangster.

Bogart returns in San Quentin as a small-time crook sent to the title prison. The principal character, however, is Pat O'Brien as a reform-minded Captain of the Yard, who tries to turn Bogart around, partly out of good intentions and partly because he's dating Bogie's sister.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The extras July 15, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a big Cagney fan, so this set is great for me. I might have considered just buying the 3 Cagney films all by themselves if not for the incredible extras. I have the Flynn collection as well as the Gangster collection and they are all done with such love and care, it is unbelieveable. You really feel like you are sitting and watching a movie in the theatre in the 30's and 40's. With newsreels, cartoons, and shorts, this set is a real treat. Warner did not censor the period racism, so everything is as it was originally presented. This is a must have for any film fan. Other studios should watch this to see how box sets should be done.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Tough Guys" collection renamed January 10, 2008
Format:DVD
The Warner Gangsters Collection Volume 2 is a renamed version of the Tough Guys set issued in mid-2006 (and which still seems to be on sale). What follows is my review of the original set, which should apply to this one as well.

A couple years ago, Warner Brothers issued a top-notch set of its classic gangster movies. Included were such all-time greats as Little Caesar, Public Enemy and White Heat. On the heals of that boxed set, a new one was issued: the Tough Guys boxed set. This companion piece to the Gangster set features slightly less well-known movies but is definitely worth watching.

The big difference in the two sets are the roles of its principal players. In the Gangster set, the stars - in particular, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson - were criminals. As the studio got more pressure to stop producing movies in which the heroes were crooks, they merely switched their actors from one side of the law to the other.

In more-or-less chronological order, the first in this six-movie set is G-Men, featuring Cagney as a struggling lawyer who joins the fledgling FBI. This puts him at odds with his friend, a genial crime boss who opts to retire rather than contend with Cagney. Unfortunately, his successors are not so nice, setting up a lot of gunplay. Of the three Cagney movies in this set, this is the weakest, although it is still decent.

Also relatively weak is Bullets or Ballots which features Robinson as a cop who joins the mob after he is fired (an obvious ruse that not even the villains totally buy). Once again, there is a "good" mob boss who is Robinson's friend. Humphrey Bogart, in a standard role for him in the 1930s, is a much more evil gangster.

Bogart returns in San Quentin as a small-time crook sent to the title prison.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great collection of classic Warner Bros gangster movies.
Published 21 hours ago by Outerlimit
5.0 out of 5 stars especially when it comes to classic films like this one
As an avid movie buff, especially when it comes to classic films like this one, this is a definite welcome to my large and growing home library collection. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Wa2oosy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great classic 40's movies
Published 20 days ago by Mstr_Acct_03
5.0 out of 5 stars Great set
Great set of Gangster movies and actors , every film in the set is very good . You make like some more than others but they are all worth watching . Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jerry G
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Ganster Classics
I'm not gonna go into the synopsis of each movie. That's been done, many times. These are all great B&W gangster classic movies that just aren't made anymore. I love 'em all
Published 4 months ago by JJ452
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD Collection
Get this collection asap along w/ vol 1,3,4, its worth the money in the long run!!! Especially if you like crime/gangsters films.
Published 6 months ago by JT
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
My husband hasn't stopped watching, he loves, loves, loves the mobster movies! Bring on more volumes with all of the gansta characters.
Published 7 months ago by Lorraine Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
Got this item for my husband and he loved all the movies. All the black and white movies are the best.
Published 7 months ago by Raven
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie Tough Guys
This collection has the likes of James Cagney and other big stars from the 1930's and 40's. these movie are all classics, and if you like classic movie tough guys, this collection... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Cynthia Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gangster Flicks!
Everyone needs a copy of G Men if they consider themselves Cagney fans! This collection is a great bang for the buck, and the films have been touched up remarkably well.
Published 12 months ago by Darth Ghranna
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Packaging Question
I don't think so: Warner Bros website states Amaray w/slipcase, and judging by the picture there it looks very much like the old, wide package.
Check for yourself:
http://whv.warnerbros.com/WHVPORTAL/Portal/product.jsp?OID=31328
Jan 28, 2008 by E. Eldror |  See all 2 posts
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