10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Reagan was a star,
This review is from: Ronald Reagan Centennial Collection (8-Pack) (DVD)
Pretend for a moment you recently arrived on this planet with no awareness of politics, just a keen interest in American cinema. Acquainting yourself with the classics and thus becoming familiar with the finest actors of the golden era-- Bogart, Grant, Gable, Stewart, Wayne, Tracy, Cooper and Cagney-- your curiosity compels you to dig a little deeper, gaining appreciation for the likes of (Williams) Powell and Holden, Robert Mitchum, Edward G. Robinson, Kirk (and Melvyn) Douglas, Errol Flynn, Fredric March, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, etc. Then someone hands you a copy of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Collection. After watching the eight films (each on its own disc) included in the set, you wonder, 'What happened to that guy? He was really good.' Though his body of work is comparatively slight, there's no question he has that same star quality attributed to his more famous Hollywood contemporaries: he doesn't seem to be acting; his characters embody his own character, and he is formidable, believable and sympathetic by degrees with charm to spare. You want to see more. Well, Reagan's career, of course, made history on a different level, but I'm confident that had fortune zigged instead of zagged for him, his talent would have earned him a spot on that second rung of big-letter marquis names. There are four great dramas here ('Dark Victory,' 'King's Row,' 'The Hasty Heart' and 'Storm Warning'), two sappy-but-entertaining sports biopics ('Knute Rockne, All American' and 'The Winning Team'), an action-packed WWII adventure ('Desperate Journey,' which also appears on an excellent Flynn set) and a fair flag-flying wartime musical ('This Is the Army'-- the biggest grossing film of 1943). Reagan plays parts ranging from throwaway supporting roles to co-star to lead, all with style and poise, hitting a note somewhere between Jimmy Stewart's goofy nice guy and Gary Cooper's quiet hero. Prints are in decent shape across the board ('Army,' the lone color production, being the shakiest) with a couple insightful commentaries (I was particularly absorbed by that on 'Hasty Heart') and other, more superfluous extras. So, if you will, put aside your political passions for a day, and consider this Reagan collection on its own merits. Content combined earns 4-minus stars; attractively packaged presentation, 4-plus.