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Warner Gangsters Collection: Vol. 3 (Smart Money / Picture Snatcher / The Mayor of Hell / Lady Killer / Black Legion / Brother Orchid)

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Frequently Bought Together

Warner Gangsters Collection: Vol. 3 (Smart Money / Picture Snatcher / The Mayor of Hell / Lady Killer / Black Legion / Brother Orchid) + Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (Bullets or Ballots / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men / San Quentin / A Slight Case of Murder) + Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4 (The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse / Invisible Stripes / Kid Galahad / Larceny, Inc. / The Little Giant / Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • 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: 518 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00114XLUU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,217 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Warner Gangsters Collection: Vol. 3 (Smart Money / Picture Snatcher / The Mayor of Hell / Lady Killer / Black Legion / Brother Orchid)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes:
  • Smart Money (1931)
  • Commentary by film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini
  • Vintage newsreel
  • Musical short George Jessel and His Russian Art Choir
  • The Smart Set-Up
  • Classic cartoon Big Man from the North
  • Picture Snatcher (1933)
  • Commentary by film historians Jeff Vance and Tony Maietta
  • Musical short Plane Crazy
  • Classic cartoon Wake Up the Gypsy in Me
  • Bonus trailers of I Loved a Woman and the storyline-linked Escape from Crime
  • The Mayor of Hell (1933)
  • Commentary by film historian Greg Mank
  • Musical short The Audition
  • Classic cartoon The Organ Grinder
  • Bonus trailers of the storyline-linked Crime School and Hell's Kitchen
  • Lady Killer (1933)
  • Commentary by film historian Dr. Drew Casper
  • Movie retrospective short The Camera Speaks
  • Musical short Kissing Time
  • Classic cartoon The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives
  • Black Legion (1937)
  • Commentary by film historians Patricia King Hanson and Anthony Slide
  • Musical short Hi De Ho with Cab Calloway
  • Technicolor historical short Under Southern Stars
  • Classic cartoon Porky and Gabby
  • Brother Orchid (1940)
  • Commentary by Robinson biographer Alan L. Gansberg and Bogart biographer Eric Lax
  • Musical short Henry Busse and His Orchestra
  • Classic cartoons Busy Bakers and Slap Happy Pappy

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Warner Gangsters Collection Volume 3 (DVD)


The third volume of the Warner Gangsters Collection can be heartily endorsed--just so you emphasize the "Warner" and go light on the "Gangsters." Warner Bros. was the feistiest studio in 1930s Hollywood and these movies exemplify its street savvy, proletarian gutsiness, and drive. Warners was also home to the classic gangster cycle, from Little Caesar and The Public Enemy through The Roaring Twenties (all included in Volume 1)--but none of the six films in Volume 3 bears more than a tangential connection to that cycle. Yes, every picture boasts one or more of Warner Bros.' "Murderers Row" stars: Edward G. Robinson toplines in two of the half-dozen films, Humphrey Bogart is featured in two, and James Cagney skitters through no fewer than four. And there's lashings of lawbreaking, raffishness, and tough talk--albeit a lamentable shortage of tommy guns. But Brother Orchid is a gangster spoof, the Cagney vehicles feature scalawags rather than mobsters, and the "gang" in Black Legion, although dangerous and despicable, has nothing to do with organized crime.

The best movies of the bunch fall farthest from the gangster family tree. Picture Snatcher (1933) is exemplary early Cagney, 77 hard-charging minutes with the favorite son of the Lower East Side as a brash ex-con determined to go straight. How straight is a delicate question, since his job is scoring sensational photos for a raunchy tabloid. Picture Snatcher was made before the Production Code cast its puritanical shadow over Hollywood, and the script features two memorably morbid sequences--Cagney's debut as a literal picture snatcher, and the snapping of a clandestine prison-death-house photo--as well as abundant opportunities for risqué byplay, gallows humor, and freewheeling amorality. Lloyd Bacon (soon to direct Cagney in Footlight Parade) makes yeoman work of it all, even getting away with scenes in the newspaper's restroom, and staging a last-reel shootout ferocious enough to be worthy of a real gangster movie.

Humphrey Bogart wasn't yet a star when he appeared in Black Legion (1937), but among his pre–High Sierra assignments at Warners, here's a rare one in which he doesn't play second or third fiddle to Robinson, Cagney, and/or Pat O'Brien. It's a surprisingly powerful social-consciousness fable, in the muckraking tradition of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. Bogart plays a working-class family man with his eye on promotion to factory foreman; when the job goes instead to a co-worker with a foreign-sounding name, Bogart's character--basically a decent guy--gets drawn into a secret, Ku Klux Klan–like organization espousing "America for Americans" and ready to stomp anyone deemed less than "real 100-percent American." (Such groups weren't exactly rare at the time, as the commentary track details--nor are their sentiments unfamiliar today.) Robert Lord's original screen story was Oscar nominated, and the screenplay is careful to make Bogart's actions understandable and also to create a whole community of characters affected by the Black Legion's atrocities. The finale is uncompromising, with a last shot like a fist to the chest. Archie Mayo directed; Bogart's fellow name-below-the-title players include Erin O'Brien-Moore (impressive as his wife), Dick Foran, Joe Sawyer, and future star Ann Sheridan in her first Warners film.

Edward G. Robinson spent a lot of his Warner years resisting Little Caesar typecasting, and Smart Money (1931) is a fascinating case in point. Although the story of "Nick the Barber" recalls elements of Robinson's starmaking hit, the actor insisted on script modifications so that Nick, a compulsive gambler, emerges as a sympathetic character--and a fatally soft touch where women are concerned. His itinerary takes him from small-town barbershop with an after-hours game in the back to operating his own swank casino in the big city, but he never comes off as a criminal except by prissy legal technicality. Directed by Alfred E. Green, the movie marks the sole occasion of Robinson and Cagney working together. Really, it's Robinson's picture--though Jimmy the Gent outshines him in a classic scene where they discuss a woman's attributes ... in mime.

In Lloyd Bacon's Brother Orchid (1940), it's Bogart who's relegated to supporting status while Robinson plays "Little John" Sarto, a comic variant of guess-who who decides to retire as mob boss and pursue "class" by collecting art in Europe (an inside joke on Robinson's real-life standing as art connoisseur?). After blowing his fortune, Sarto attempts to reclaim his old job, which his former lieutenant (Bogart) isn't about to give up. Taken for the proverbial ride, Little John escapes and finds shelter among the Floracians, a monastic order devoted to "beautifying the lives of men with flowers." Thus is "Brother Orchid" set on the path to spiritual rebirth--after settling some old business, of course. Robinson agreed to make this gangland comedy if Warners let him star in a pair of historical biopics, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet and A Dispatch from Reuter's--his own pursuit of class, perhaps. It was a good deal all around. Brother Orchid also features Ann Sothern as Sarto's patient moll, Ralph Bellamy in one of his trademark amiable-sap roles, Donald Crisp and Cecil Kellaway among the horticultural monks, and a funny, Runyonesque screenplay by Earl Baldwin.

The final entries, two more from Jimmy Cagney's busy year of 1933, both suffer from weak scripts. Archie Mayo's The Mayor of Hell focuses on the plight of inner-city youth sent to reform schools where they're more likely to be destroyed than rehabilitated. We get a full two reels of setup (featuring troubled lad Frankie Darro, soon to star in Wild Boys of the Road) before Cagney shows up 24 minutes in, as a political hack whose newly won sinecure of "deputy commissioner" includes token responsibility for Peakstown State Reformatory. A former slum kid himself, he evolves from "What do I have to do to make things look regular?" to taking an active interest in his charges, at the mercy of a warden (Dudley Digges) who's both corrupt and sadistic. An absurdly pain-free revolution reforms Hell for a fleeting moment, till a subplot involving Cagney's larcenous interests sidelines him and opens the way for a violent and anarchic climax. Roy Del Ruth's Lady Killer is much lighter fare, with Cagney as a movie-theater usher who falls victim to a con game, then joins in the scam and soon is running the outfit. When one ornate caper results in a bystander getting hurt, Cagney has to hop a train two steps ahead of the law. At the other end of those train tracks is Hollywood, where he catches the eye of someone from Central Casting who thinks he'd make a good gangster type in the movies. Full-fledged stardom is only a reel change away--whereupon that old gang of his comes sniffing around. Some of this is diverting, some is just sloppy; the film gives the impression of having had different writers assigned from scene to scene. However, the satiric jabs at Hollywood are fun, and Cagney, as always, has his lyric moments.

All the films in the set look spiffy, and each comes with a "Warner Night at the Movies" package of cartoons, trailers, and sometimes other short subjects. The full-length commentary tracks range from fanboy blither (Picture Snatcher, alas) to authoritative testimony, with Anthony Slide and Patricia King Hanson offering socio-historical insights on Black Legion and veteran noiristes Alain Silver and James Ursini paying close attention to matters of style and nuance on Smart Money (though one of them twice misstates that the Hawks-Hughes Scarface was made at Universal). --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
I am one satisfied customer.
The stars, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart, are the real draws.
Douglas M
In the 1930's Warner Brothers made the best gangster movies ever.
Tony Marquise Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Erik Rupp VINE VOICE on January 15, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Warner Brother's Gangsters Collection, Vol. 3 is a really nice set filled with classic movies starring some of biggest movie legends of all time. While none of these movies have the reputation of a Public Enemy or The Roaring Twenties they are still quite good and very entertaining movies all the same. One of these films is a welcome surprise, even if it really isn't a "Gangster" movie; Black Legion.

Black Legion was an early starring role for Humphrey Bogart, one that showed that he could play someone other than a gangster, and play the part well. It might be another 3 or 4 years before Bogart shook off the reputation as a supporting player in Gangster movies, but this movie helped get him there. It is well written, well directed, and well acted by all involved. (And it features one of my favorite actresses of the 30's and 40's - Ann Sheridan!)

Now, maybe Kid Galahad would have been more appropriate for a "Gangsters" Box Set, but Black Legion is a fantastic movie, and I'm very glad to see that it will finally be released on DVD. (And maybe Kid Galahad will see the light of day as a DVD in the next Gangsters set.)

As for the other movies in the set, since there are other reviews with synopses and opinions I won't repeat that information, but I will note that they are all worthy of inclusion (well, we could debate Brother Orchid, but with Robinson AND Bogart it's easy to understand why it was included), and despite most of these films not being particularly well known they are all good to nearly great!
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By R. C. on December 18, 2007
Format: DVD
i cant wait march 25 will be like xmas. yeah yeah now lets get an hd release on blu ray....... 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.

Special Features:
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.

Special Features:
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.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Douglas M VINE VOICE on December 20, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Since the previous volumes in this series contained all of the best known films in this genre from Warner Brothers, it is inevitable that the third volume will include a number of lesser known titles. The stars, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart, are the real draws. All of the films are set around crime, if not gangsters, and most contain some fast paced comedy. All are very good entertainment.

The good news is that we get 4 pre-codes (before 1934) when the Warner's product was at its most relentless and entertaining. Cagney stars in 3 and any Cagney is better than just about anyone else! His star rose very quickly and the studio churned out a series of fast moving modern stories to showcase him. He quickly balked at the treadmill and he slams his way through the cliches and is magnetic.

- First off is "Smart Money", released in 1931. Following the success of "Little Caesar", Edward G. Robinson stars as a barber involved in gambling. Cagney plays a supporting role but the film consolidated that he was a star in his own right, after his success in "The Public Enemy". The film is very well directed by Alfred E Green and shows an attention to detail not often visible in Warner's films of this period.
- "Picture Snatcher" is a beautifully made melodrama in which Cagney plays an ex-con who becomes a paparrazi for a crummy tabloid. The film has some great lines, an excellent narrative and Cagney is riveting. It is surprising that the film's themes are just as relevant today as they were in 1933.
- "The Mayor of Hell" is a reform school yarn, a story Warners remade later in the decade as "Crime School" and rich in familiar cliches.
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