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The Brothers Warner

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The Brothers Warner (DVD)

Of the major studios, one was family. Harry, Albert, Sam, Jack – the Warner brothers – turned a storefront that used a sheet for a screen into a dream factory rooted in the credo of educate, entertain and enlighten. In this fascinating documentary, filmmaker (and Harry's granddaughter) Cass Warner Sperling tells a story of sibling rivalry, social conscience and the silver screen. It's a story of pioneering (risking all for Talkies) and politics (standing alone in Hollywood against the Nazis), of reels (The Public Enemy, Casablanca and more) and rifts (including a shocking family betrayal). It's a story told from the inside (via rare family archives) by those who lived it (among them such stars as Dennis Hopper, Debbie Reynolds, Tab Hunter and more) and from the outside by film historians. The people, the pictures, the tales untold on camera until now – The Brothers Warner educates, enlightens, entertains, reveals.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Warner, Sam Warner, Albert Warner, Harry Warner
  • Directors: Cass Warner Sperling
  • Writers: Cass Warner Sperling
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 9, 2010
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002Y58G7S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,429 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Brothers Warner" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By calvinnme HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 6, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Cass Warner, producer of this film, is actually the granddaughter of Harry Warner, one of the four original Warner Brothers. This DVD is not a retread of "You Must Remember This", the documentary which focused on the studio. This is the story of the four Warner Brothers themselves, starting back in the 19th century and their ventures into the entertainment industry that predate the forming of Warner Brothers the company by twenty years. It goes forward past the time that they exited the running of Warner Brothers the company and talks about the lives of the brothers themselves. Although Ms. Warner is a descendent, she doesn't get overly sentimental about her subject nor does she try to smooth over the real problems that the brothers had in their own private lives and with each other. The book by the same name has much more detail, of course, but this is still a very fascinating documentary for those interested in film history.
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Format: DVD
Recently (on ebay) I was very fortunate to win a 1994 copy of CASS WARNER's beautifully written story of her family's Motion Picture and Television empire.

Jack Warner's "betrayal", as chronicled in the later Chapters was a real eye-opener for an interested reader not aware of all this previously "unaired" background history.

Being at the final couple chapters this afternoon, I was curious to check the IMDB Site to learn about the current story of the lady and the background of other original contributors to the book.

Having just learnt then, that a wonderful (Award winning) program had been recently made was an extra bonus. The DVD has now been ordered and is awaited with eager interest.

That such books and programs are still being produced is so special in that younger readers and filmgoers - as well as those of us born in earlier times - can learn even more about the basic background of what was entailed, and went on "behind doors" in the corridors and offices during the Studio System era.

Now in its Seventh printing, Cass's Book should be bought and read by everyone interested in "The Movies".

I have not read Jack Warner's Autobiography - and it seems that he overlooked many pertinent facts that were probably too sensitive to himself to admit to, but several other books on the Warner Studio are a wonderful read including:

INSIDE WARNER BRS. 1935 - 1951 by RUDY BEHLMER (1985) and

WARNER BROS. PRESENTS by TED SENNETT (1971), and especially:

THOSE CRAZY WONDERFUL YEARS WHEN WE RAN WARNER BROS. (1983) by STUART JEROME, who, in 1938, initially secured a position as a young man in the Warner Bros. Mail Room. A truly interesting "first hand" account of life on the Warner Lot.

Do try to obtain and read all these fine books.
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Format: DVD
I can't say enough about this wonderful film by Cass Warner, and ironically I can't add much to what has already been said: fascinating, illuminating, entertaining - especially to those of us who worked there at any time in the studio's history. A must-see!
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This is another very intersting video, for people interested in the history of the people that were responsible for our dreams, and the way we thought life would be like, when we were very young. It is amazing that people with little education shaped so well the minds of young people.
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This is a fascinating documentary about the 4 Warner Brothers who created their eponymous studio, by the granddaughter of Harry Warner, Cass Warner Sperling. There are sad elements to the documentary about the poor relationship between Harry and the youngest, Jack, and about Jack's dishonest takeover of the studio. But there is some great analysis of the social conscience of Harry reflected in such daring movies as I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Confessions of a Nazi Spy, and Sergeant York. Warner Brothers was the only studio to stand against Nazism before the US entered the war, and they received a lot of political pressure from Washington, D.C. and the censors for it, as well as serious threats from Nazis in America. Relations between the US and Nazi Germany were diplomatically and economically delicate. I also like the comparison made between Harry and Albert deeply resenting Jack's self-aggrandizement, to Walt and Roy Disney's 5-year strain over Walt's desire to control. Various people are interviewed and contribute anecdotes and informed analyses. I am a film buff, so I'm already interested in this subject matter, but I'll say that this documentary is as good as any I've seen, alternating between different types of interviews, narration, film clips, and historical footage. Variety is key to a good documentary, and this masters that. The one weak point, I feel, was in the analysis of the Hollywood anti-communist hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee. There were some confusing statements made on the documentary about "fascist" and "anti-Semitic" and "communist" elements, without clarification. Great documentary other than that!
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Format: DVD
I very much enjoyed this documentary. It is well worth the time and the price, especially now that it is on sale at Amazon. I will not comment more on the quality of the documentary, as others have done a good job.

But let me mention one technical flaw the recurs throughout the whole DVD. The flaw relates to how widescreen and 4:3 material is handled, and mishandled. DVD is a slightly tricky format. It is always 640×480 pixels, which is a ratio of 4:3. BUT, there is a digital code that is set (or not) to tell the DVD player and display that the picture should be stretched horizontally to 16:9 for wide screen (or not, in order to display the video at 4:3).

Though the whole DVD is presented as 16:9, it contains quite a bit of 4:3 material. Many times this is done correctly by presenting the material in "window box" format, that is the image is shown at 4:3 ratio on the 16:9 screen, where there are black bars at the left and right side of the 4:3 image. Here is where things go awry a number of times.

For example, toward the beginning of DVD, there is a clip of an early Warner Brothers movie. The movie is originally in 4:3 ratio. It was clipped on the top on the bottom to produce an image ratio of 16:9. If this clipped film was then presented correctly, it would have filled the whole 16:9 screen. But the video editor made a mistake. This clipped film was shown window boxed. Since it should have been stretched horizontally to 16:9, but was not, there were black bars at the left and right edges, and in the image the people came out tall and skinny. Similarly, towards the end, clips of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" were shown. This film would (properly) fill a 16:9 screen.
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