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Best of Warner Bros.: 50 Film Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

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    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (1 out of 1)

    Rating Breakdown

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    Common Sense Media Says:
    Still one of Hollywood's best sweeping epics.

    Synopsis

    Includes:
  • Grand Hotel (1932)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), MPAA Rating: NR
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939), MPAA Rating: G
  • Gone With the Wind (1939), MPAA Rating: G
  • Citizen Kane (1941), MPAA Rating: PG
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941), MPAA Rating: NR
  • Casablanca (1942), MPAA Rating: NR
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942), MPAA Rating: NR
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), MPAA Rating: NR
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), MPAA Rating: PG
  • An American in Paris (1951), MPAA Rating: G
  • Gigi (1958), MPAA Rating: G
  • Ben-Hur (1959), MPAA Rating: G
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • How the West Was Won (1962), MPAA Rating: G
  • Doctor Zhivago (1965), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967), MPAA Rating: PG
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), MPAA Rating: G
  • Bullitt (1968), MPAA Rating: PG
  • Dirty Harry (1971), MPAA Rating: R
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), MPAA Rating: G
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971), MPAA Rating: R
  • The Exorcist (1973), MPAA Rating: R
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), MPAA Rating: R
  • Superman: The Movie (1978), MPAA Rating: PG
  • The Shining (1980), MPAA Rating: R
  • Chariots of Fire (1981), MPAA Rating: PG
  • Risky Business (1983), MPAA Rating: R
  • Amadeus (1984), MPAA Rating: PG
  • The Color Purple (1985), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Lethal Weapon (1987), MPAA Rating: R
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987), MPAA Rating: R
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989), MPAA Rating: PG
  • GoodFellas (1990), MPAA Rating: R
  • Unforgiven (1992), MPAA Rating: R
  • The Bodyguard (1992), MPAA Rating: R
  • Natural Born Killers (1994), MPAA Rating: R
  • The Matrix (1999), MPAA Rating: R
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), MPAA Rating: PG
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Million Dollar Baby (2004), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • The Departed (2006), MPAA Rating: R
  • The Dark Knight (2008), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • The Hangover (2009), MPAA Rating: R
  • The Blind Side (2009), MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Inception (2010), MPAA Rating: PG-13

    Grand Hotel
    Based on Vicki Baum's novel and produced by Irving Thalberg, this film is about the lavish Grand Hotel in Berlin, a place where "nothing ever happens." That statement proves to be false, however, as the story follows an intertwining cast of characters over the course of one tumultuous day. Greta Garbo is Grusinskaya, a ballerina whose jewels are coveted by Baron von Geigern (John Barrymore), a thief who fancies Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford), a stenographer and the mistress of Preysing (Wallace Beery), businessman boss of Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), a terminally ill bookkeeper who is under the care of alcoholic physician Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone). Grand Hotel won Best Picture at the 1932 Academy Awards. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

    Mutiny on the Bounty
    The 1932 publication of Charles Nordhoff and James Norton Hall's Mutiny on the Bounty sparked a revival of interest in the titular 1789 ship mutiny, and this 1935 MGM movie version won the Oscar for Best Picture. Clark Gable stars as Fletcher Christian, first mate of the infamous HMS Bounty, skippered by Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton), the cruelest taskmaster on the Seven Seas. Bligh's villainy knows no bounds: he is even willing to flog a dead man if it will strengthen his hold over the crew. Christian despises Bligh and is sailing on the Bounty under protest. During the journey back to England, Bligh's cruelties become more than Christian can bear; and after the captain indirectly causes the death of the ship's doctor, the crew stages a mutiny, with Christian in charge. Bligh and a handful of officers loyal to him are set adrift in an open boat. Through sheer force of will, he guides the tiny vessel on a 49-day, 4000-mile journey to the Dutch East Indies without losing a man. Historians differ on whether Captain Bligh was truly such a monster or Christian such a paragon of virtue (some believe that the mutiny was largely inspired by Christian's lust for the Tahitian girls). The movie struck gold at the box office, and, in addition to the Best Picture Oscar, Gable, Laughton, and Franchot Tone as one of the Bounty's crew were all nominated for Best Actor (they all lost to Victor McLaglan in The Informer). The film was remade in 1962 and adapted into the "revisionist" 1984 feature The Bounty with Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian and Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Wizard of Oz
    The third and definitive film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's fantasy, this musical adventure is a genuine family classic that made Judy Garland a star for her heartfelt performance as Dorothy Gale, an orphaned young girl unhappy with her drab black-and-white existence on her aunt and uncle's dusty Kansas farm. Dorothy yearns to travel "over the rainbow" to a different world, and she gets her wish when a tornado whisks her and her little dog, Toto, to the Technicolorful land of Oz. Having offended the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), Dorothy is protected from the old crone's wrath by the ruby slippers that she wears. At the suggestion of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), Dorothy heads down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, where dwells the all-powerful Wizard of Oz, who might be able to help the girl return to Kansas. En route, she befriends a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), a Tin Man (Jack Haley), and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr). The Scarecrow would like to have some brains, the Tin Man craves a heart, and the Lion wants to attain courage; hoping that the Wizard will help them too, they join Dorothy on her odyssey to the Emerald City. Garland was MGM's second choice for Dorothy after Shirley Temple dropped out of the project; and Bolger was to have played the Tin Man but talked co-star Buddy Ebsen into switching roles. When Ebsen proved allergic to the chemicals used in his silver makeup, he was replaced by Haley. Gale Sondergaard was originally to have played the Wicked Witch of the West in a glamorous fashion, until the decision was made to opt for belligerent ugliness, and the Wizard was written for W.C. Fields, who reportedly turned it down because MGM couldn't meet his price. Although Victor Fleming, who also directed Gone With the Wind, was given sole directorial credit, several directors were involved in the shooting, included King Vidor, who shot the opening and closing black-and-white sequences. Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg's now-classic Oscar-winning song "Over the Rainbow" was nearly chopped from the picture after the first preview because it "slowed down the action." The Wizard of Oz was too expensive to post a large profit upon initial release; however, after a disappointing reissue in 1955, it was sold to network television, where its annual showings made it a classic. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Gone With the Wind
    Gone With the Wind boils down to a story about a spoiled Southern girl's hopeless love for a married man. Producer David O. Selznick managed to expand this concept, and Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, into nearly four hours' worth of screen time, on a then-astronomical 3.7-million-dollar budget, creating what would become one of the most beloved movies of all time. Gone With the Wind opens in April of 1861, at the palatial Southern estate of Tara, where Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) hears that her casual beau Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) plans to marry "mealy mouthed" Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). Despite warnings from her father (Thomas Mitchell) and her faithful servant Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), Scarlett intends to throw herself at Ashley at an upcoming barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Alone with Ashley, she goes into a fit of histrionics, all of which is witnessed by roguish Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the black sheep of a wealthy Charleston family, who is instantly fascinated by the feisty, thoroughly self-centered Scarlett: "We're bad lots, both of us." The movie's famous action continues from the burning of Atlanta (actually the destruction of a huge wall left over from King Kong) through the now-classic closing line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Holding its own against stiff competition (many consider 1939 to be the greatest year of the classical Hollywood studios), Gone With the Wind won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar). The film grossed nearly 192 million dollars, assuring that, just as he predicted, Selznick's epitaph would be "The Man Who Made Gone With the Wind." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Citizen Kane
    Orson Welles first feature film -- which he directed, produced, and co-wrote, as well as playing the title role -- proved to be his most important and influential work, a ground-breaking drama loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst which is frequently cited as the finest American film ever made. Aging newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) dies in his sprawling Florida estate after uttering a single, enigmatic final word -- "Rosebud" -- and newsreel producer Rawlston (Phil Van Zandt) sends reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) out with the assignment of uncovering the meaning behind the great man's dying thought. As Thompson interviews Kane's friends, family, and associates, we learn the facts of Kane's eventful and ultimately tragic life: his abandonment by his parents (Agnes Moorehead and Harry Shannon) after he becomes the heir to a silver mine; his angry conflicts with his guardian, master financier Walter Parks Thatcher (George Coulouris); his impulsive decision that "it would be fun to run a newspaper" with the help of school chum Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) and loyal assistant Mr. Bernstein (Everett Sloane); his rise from scandal sheet publisher to the owner of America's largest and most influential newspaper chain; his marriage to socially prominent Emily Norton (Ruth Warrick), whose uncle is the President of the United States; Kane's ambitious bid for public office, which is dashed along with his marriage when his opponent, corrupt political boss Jim Gettys (Ray Collins), reveals that Kane is having an affair with aspiring vocalist Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore); Kane's vain attempts to promote second wife Alexander as an opera star; and his final, self-imposed exile to a massive and never-completed pleasure palace called Xanadu. While Citizen Kane was a film full of distinguished debuts -- along with Welles, it was the first feature for Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, and Ruth Warrick -- the only Academy Award it received was for Best Original Screenplay, for which Welles shared credit with veteran screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    The Maltese Falcon
    After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941--or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his own personal code of honor. Into the offices of the Spade & Archer detective agency sweeps a Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor), who offers a large retainer to Sam and his partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) if they'll protect her from someone named Floyd Thursby. The detectives believe neither Miss Wonderly nor her story, but they believe her money. Since Archer saw her first, he takes the case -- and later that evening he is shot to death, as is the mysterious Thursby. Miss Wonderly's real name turns out to be Brigid O'Shaughnessey, and, as the story continues, Sam is also introduced to the effeminate Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and the fat, erudite Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet, in his film debut). It turns out that Brigid, Cairo and Gutman are all international scoundrels, all involved in the search for a foot-high, jewel-encrusted statuette in the shape of a falcon. Though both Cairo and Gutman offer Spade small fortunes to find the "black bird," they are obviously willing to commit mayhem and murder towards that goal: Gutman, for example, drugs Spade and allows his "gunsel" Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) to kick and beat the unconscious detective. This classic film noir detective yarn gets better with each viewing, which is more than can be said for the first two Maltese Falcons and the ill-advised 1975 "sequel" The Black Bird. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Casablanca
    One of the most beloved American films, this captivating wartime adventure of romance and intrigue from director Michael Curtiz defies standard categorization. Simply put, it is the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, notably the crafty Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick's café has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit which will allow them to escape to America. One day, to Rick's great surprise, he is approached by the famed rebel Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She still wants Victor to escape to America, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to stay behind in Casablanca. "You must do the thinking for both of us," she says to Rick. He does, and his plan brings the story to its satisfyingly logical, if not entirely happy, conclusion. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

    Mrs. Miniver
    As Academy Award-winning films go, Mrs. Miniver has not weathered the years all that well. This prettified, idealized view of the upper-class British home front during World War II sometimes seems over-calculated and contrived when seen today. In particular, Greer Garson's Oscar-winning performance in the title role often comes off as artificial, especially when she nobly tends her rose garden while her stalwart husband (Walter Pidgeon) participates in the evacuation at Dunkirk. However, even if the film has lost a good portion of its ability to move and inspire audiences, it is easy to see why it was so popular in 1942-and why Winston Churchill was moved to comment that its propaganda value was worth a dozen battleships. Everyone in the audience-even English audiences, closer to the events depicted in the film than American filmgoers-liked to believe that he or she was capable of behaving with as much grace under pressure as the Miniver family. The film's setpieces-the Minivers huddling in their bomb shelter during a Luftwaffe attack, Mrs. Miniver confronting a downed Nazi paratrooper in her kitchen, an annual flower show being staged despite the exigencies of bombing raids, cleric Henry Wilcoxon's climactic call to arms from the pulpit of his ruined church-are masterfully staged and acted, allowing one to ever so briefly forget that this is, after all, slick propagandizing. In addition to Best Picture and Best Actress, Mrs. Miniver garnered Oscars for best supporting actress (Teresa Wright), best director (William Wyler), best script (Arthur Wimperis, George Froschel, James Hilton, Claudine West), best cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg) and best producer (Sidney Franklin). Sidebar: Richard Ney, who plays Greer Garson's son, later married the actress-and still later became a successful Wall Street financier. Mrs. Miniver was followed by a 1951 sequel, The Miniver Story, but without the wartime setting the bloom was off the rose. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    John Huston's 1948 treasure-hunt classic begins as drifter Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), down and out in Tampico, Mexico, impulsively spends his last bit of dough on a lottery ticket. Later on, Dobbs and fellow indigent Curtin (Tim Holt) seek shelter in a cheap flophouse and meet Howard (Walter Huston), a toothless, garrulous old coot who regales them with stories about prospecting for gold. Forcibly collecting their pay from their shifty boss, Dobbs and Curtin combine this money with Dobbs's unexpected windfall from a lottery ticket and, together with Howard, buy the tools for a prospecting expedition. Dobbs has pledged that anything they dig up will be split three ways, but Howard, who's heard that song before, doesn't quite swallow this. As the gold is mined and measured, Dobbs grows increasingly paranoid and distrustful, and the men gradually turn against each other on the way toward a bitterly ironic conclusion. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a superior morality play and one of the best movie treatments of the corrosiveness of greed. Huston keeps a typically light and entertaining touch despite the strong theme, for which he won Oscars for both Director and Screenplay, as well as a supporting award for his father Walter, making Walter, John, and Anjelica Huston the only three generations of one family all to win Oscars. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    A Streetcar Named Desire
    In the classic play by Tennessee Williams, brought to the screen by Elia Kazan, faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to visit her pregnant sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), in a seedy section of New Orleans. Stella's boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), not only regards Blanche's aristocratic affectations as a royal pain but also thinks she's holding out on inheritance money that rightfully belongs to Stella. On the fringes of sanity, Blanche is trying to forget her checkered past and start life anew. Attracted to Stanley's friend Mitch (Karl Malden), she glosses over the less savory incidents in her past, but she soon discovers that she cannot outrun that past, and the stage is set for her final, brutal confrontation with her brother-in-law. Brando, Hunter, and Malden had all starred in the original Broadway version of Streetcar, although the original Blanche had been Jessica Tandy. Brando lost out to Humphrey Bogart for the 1951 Best Actor Oscar, but Leigh, Hunter, and Malden all won Oscars. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    An American in Paris
    Gene Kelly does his patented Pal Joey bit as Jerry Mulligan, an opportunistic American painter living in Paris' "starving artists" colony. He is discovered by wealthy Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), who becomes Jerry's patroness in more ways than one. Meanwhile, Jerry plays hookey on this setup by romancing waif-like Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) -- who, unbeknownst to him, is the object of the affections of his close friend Henri (Georges Guetary), a popular nightclub performer. (The film was supposed to make Guetary into "the New Chevalier." It didn't.) The thinnish plot is held together by the superlative production numbers and by the recycling of several vintage George Gershwin tunes, including "I Got Rhythm," "'S Wonderful," and "Our Love Is Here to Stay." Highlights include Guetary's rendition of "Stairway to Paradise"; Oscar Levant's fantasy of conducting and performing Gershwin's "Concerto in F" (Levant also appears as every member of the orchestra); and the closing 17-minute "American in Paris" ballet, in which Kelly and Caron dance before lavish backgrounds based on the works of famed French artists. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Gigi
    Leslie Caron plays Gigi, a young girl raised by two veteran Parisian courtesans (Hermione Gingold and Isabel Jeans) to be the mistress of wealthy young Gaston (Louis Jourdan). When Gaston falls in love with Gigi and asks her to be his wife, Jeans is appalled: never has anyone in their family ever stooped to anything so bourgeois as marriage! Weaving in and out of the story is Maurice Chevalier as an aging boulevardier who, years earlier, had been in love with Gingold's character. Chevalier gets most of the best Lerner & Loewe tunes, including Thank Heaven for Little Girls, I'm Glad I'm Not Young Any More, and his matchless duet with Gingold, I Remember it Well. Caron's best number (dubbed by Betty Wand) is The Night They Invented Champagne while Jourdan gets the honor of introducing the title song. Filmed on location in Paris, Gigi won several Oscars, including Best Picture; it also represented the successful American movie comeback of Chevalier, who thanks to this film was "forgiven" for his reputed collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Ben-Hur
    This 1959 version of Lew Wallace's best-selling novel, which had already seen screen versions in 1907 and 1926, went on to win 11 Academy Awards. Adapted by Karl Tunberg and a raft of uncredited writers including Gore Vidal and Maxwell Anderson, the film once more recounts the tale of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), who lives in Judea with his family during the time that Jesus Christ was becoming known for his "radical" teachings. Ben-Hur's childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) is now an ambitious Roman tribune; when Ben-Hur refuses to help Messala round up local dissidents on behalf of the emperor, Messala pounces on the first opportunity to exact revenge on his onetime friend. Tried on a trumped-up charge of attempting to kill the provincial governor (whose head was accidentally hit by a falling tile), Ben-Hur is condemned to the Roman galleys, while his mother (Martha Scott) and sister (Cathy O'Donnell) are imprisoned. But during a sea battle, Ben-Hur saves the life of commander Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), who, in gratitude, adopts Ben-Hur as his son and gives him full control over his stable of racing horses. Ben-Hur never gives up trying to find his family or exact revenge on Messala. At crucial junctures in his life, he also crosses the path of Jesus, and each time he benefits from it. The highlight of the film's 212 minutes is its now-legendary chariot race, staged largely by stunt expert Yakima Canutt. Ben-Hur's Oscar haul included Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary William Wyler, Best Actor for Heston, and Best Supporting Actor for Welsh actor Hugh Griffith as an Arab sheik. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    North by Northwest
    While having lunch at the Plaza Hotel in New York, advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) has the bad luck to call for a messenger just as a page goes out for a "George Kaplan." From that moment, Thornhill finds that he has stepped into a nightmare -- he is quietly abducted by a pair of armed men out of the hotel's famous Oak Room and transported to a Long Island estate; there, he is interrogated by a mysterious man (James Mason) who, believing that Roger is George Kaplan, demands to know what he knows about his business and how he has come to acquire this knowledge. Roger, who knows nothing about who any of these people are, can do nothing but deny that he is Kaplan or that he knows what they're talking about. Finally, his captors force a bottle of bourbon into Roger and put him behind the wheel of a car on a dangerous downhill stretch. Through sheer luck and the intervention of a police patrol car and its driver (John Beradino), Roger survives the ride and evades his captors, and is booked for drunk driving. He's unable to persuade the court, the county detectives, or even his own mother (Jesse Royce Landis) of the truth of his story, however -- Thornhill returns with them to the mansion where he was held, only to find any incriminating evidence cleaned up and to learn that the owner of the house is a diplomat, Lester Townsend (Philip Ober), assigned to the United Nations. He backtracks to the hotel to find the room of the real George Kaplan, only to discover that no one at the hotel has ever actually seen the man. With his kidnappers once again pursuing him, Thornhill decides to confront Townsend at the United Nations, only to discover that he knows nothing of the events on Long Island, or his house being occupied -- but before he can learn more, Townsend gets a knife in his back in full view of 50 witnesses who believe that Roger did it. Now on the run from a murder charge, complete with a photograph of him holding the weapon plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the country, Thornhill tries to escape via train -- there he meets the cooly beautiful Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who twice hides him from the police, once spontaneously and a second time in a more calculated rendezvous in her compartment that gets the two of them together romantically, at least for the night. By the next day, he's off following a clue to a remote rural highway, where he is attacked by an armed crop-dusting plane, one of the most famous scenes in Hitchcock's entire film output. Thornhill barely survives, but he does manage to learn that his mysterious tormentor/interrogator is named Phillip Vandamm, and that he goes under the cover of being an art dealer and importer/exporter, and that Eve is in bed with him in every sense of the phrase -- or is she? ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

    How the West Was Won
    Filmed in panoramic Cinerama, this star-studded, epic Western adventure is a true cinematic classic. Three legendary directors (Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall) combine their skills to tell the story of three families and their travels from the Erie Canal to California between 1839 and 1889. Spencer Tracy narrates the film, which cost an estimated 15 million dollars to complete. In the first segment, "The Rivers," pioneer Zebulon Prescott (Karl Malden) sets out to settle in the West with his wife (Agnes Moorehead) and their four children. Along with other settlers and river pirates, they run into mountain man Linus Rawlings (James Stewart), who sells animal hides. The Prescotts try to raft down the Ohio River in a raft, but only daughters Lilith (Debbie Reynolds) and Eve (Carroll Baker) survive. Eve and Linus get married, while Lilith continues on. In the second segment, "The Plains," Lilith ends up singing in a saloon in St. Louis, but she really wants to head west in a wagon train led by Roger Morgan (Robert Preston). Along the way, she's accompanied by the roguish gambler Cleve Van Valen (Gregory Peck), who claims he can protect her. After he saves her life during an Indian attack, they get married and move to San Francisco. In the third segment, "The Civil War," Eve and Linus' son, Zeb (George Peppard), fights for the Union. After he's forced to kill his Confederate friend, he returns home and gives the family farm to his brother. In the fourth segment, "The Railroads," Zeb fights with his railroad boss (Richard Widmark), who wants to cut straight through Indian territory. Zeb's co-worker Jethro (Henry Fonda) refuses to cut through the land, so he quits and moves to the mountains. After the railway camp is destroyed, Zeb heads for the mountains to visit him. In the fifth segment, "The Outlaws," Lilith is an old widow traveling from California to Arizona to stay with her nephew Zeb on his ranch. However, he has to fight a gang of desperadoes first. How the West Was Won garnered three Oscars, for screenplay, film editing, and sound production. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

    Doctor Zhivago
    Based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago covers the years prior to, during, and after the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of poet/physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif). In the tradition of Russian novels, a multitude of characters and subplots intertwine within the film's 197 minutes (plus intermission). Zhivago is married to Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), but carries on an affair with Lara (Julie Christie), who has been raped by ruthless politician Komarovsky (Rod Steiger). Meanwhile, Zhivago's half-brother Yevgraf (Alec Guinness) and the mysterious, revenge-seeking Strelnikoff (Tom Courteney) represent the "good" and "bad" elements of the Bolshevik revolution. Composer Maurice Jarre received one of Doctor Zhivago's five Oscars, with the others going to screenwriter Robert Bolt, cinematographer Freddie Young, art directors John Box and Terry Marsh, set decorator Dario Simoni, and costumer Phyllis Dalton. The best picture Oscar, however, went to The Sound of Music. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cool Hand Luke
    Paul Newman was nominated for an Oscar and George Kennedy received one for his work in this allegorical prison drama. Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) is sentenced to a stretch on a southern chain gang after he's arrested for drunkenly decapitating parking meters. While the avowed ambition of the captain (Strother Martin) is for each prisoner to "get their mind right," it soon becomes obvious that Luke is not about to kowtow to anybody. When challenged to a fistfight by fellow inmate Dragline (George Kennedy), Luke simply refuses to give up, even though he's brutally beaten. Luke knows how to win at poker, even with bad cards, by using his smarts and playing it cool. Luke also figures out a way for the men to get their work done in half the usual time, giving them the afternoon off. Finally, when Luke finds out his mother has died, he plots his escape; when he's caught, he simply escapes again. Soon, Luke becomes a symbol of hope and resilience to the other men in the prison camp -- and a symbol of rebelliousness that must be stamped out to the guards and the captain. Along with stellar performances by Newman, Kennedy, and Martin, Cool Hand Luke features a superb supporting cast, including Ralph Waite, Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers, and Joe Don Baker as members of the chain gang. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    2001: A Space Odyssey
    A mind-bending sci-fi symphony, Stanley Kubrick's landmark 1968 epic pushed the limits of narrative and special effects toward a meditation on technology and humanity. Based on Arthur C. Clarke's story The Sentinel, Kubrick and Clarke's screenplay is structured in four movements. At the "Dawn of Man," a group of hominids encounters a mysterious black monolith alien to their surroundings. To the strains of Strauss's 1896 Also sprach Zarathustra, a hominid invents the first weapon, using a bone to kill prey. As the hominid tosses the bone in the air, Kubrick cuts to a 21st century spacecraft hovering over the Earth, skipping ahead millions of years in technological development. U.S. scientist Dr. Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) travels to the moon to check out the discovery of a strange object on the moon's surface: a black monolith. As the sun's rays strike the stone, however, it emits a piercing, deafening sound that fills the investigators' headphones and stops them in their path. Cutting ahead 18 months, impassive astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) head toward Jupiter on the spaceship Discovery, their only company three hibernating astronauts and the vocal, man-made HAL 9000 computer running the entire ship. When the all-too-human HAL malfunctions, however, he tries to murder the astronauts to cover his error, forcing Bowman to defend himself the only way he can. Free of HAL, and finally informed of the voyage's purpose by a recording from Floyd, Bowman journeys to "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite," through the psychedelic slit-scan star-gate to an 18th century room, and the completion of the monolith's evolutionary mission. With assistance from special-effects expert Douglas Trumbull, Kubrick spent over two years meticulously creating the most "realistic" depictions of outer space ever seen, greatly advancing cinematic technology for a story expressing grave doubts about technology itself. Despite some initial critical reservations that it was too long and too dull, 2001 became one of the most popular films of 1968, underlining the generation gap between young moviegoers who wanted to see something new and challenging and oldsters who "didn't get it." Provocatively billed as "the ultimate trip," 2001 quickly caught on with a counterculture youth audience open to a contemplative (i.e. chemically enhanced) viewing experience of a film suggesting that the way to enlightenment was to free one's mind of the U.S. military-industrial-technological complex. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    Bullitt
    Robert L. Pike's crime novel Mute Witness makes the transition to the big screen in this film from director Peter Yates. In one of his most famous roles, Steve McQueen stars as tough-guy police detective Frank Bullitt. The story begins with Bullitt assigned to a seemingly routine detail, protecting mafia informant Johnny Ross (Pat Renella), who is scheduled to testify against his Mob cronies before a Senate subcommittee in San Francisco. But when a pair of hitmen ambush their secret location, fatally wounding Ross, things don't add up for Bullitt, so he decides to investigate the case on his own. Unfortunately for him, ambitious senator Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn), the head of the aforementioned subcommittee, wants to shut his investigation down, hindering Bullitt's plan to not only bring the killers to justice but discover who leaked the location of the hideout. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

    Dirty Harry
    "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry provoked a critical uproar in 1971 for its "fascist" message about the power of one, as it also elevated Clint Eastwood to superstar status through his most enduring screen persona. Harry Callahan (Eastwood, in a role meant for Frank Sinatra) is a sardonic, hard-working San Francisco cop who can't finish his lunch without having to foil a bank robbery with his 44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world." When hippie-esque psycho Scorpio (Andy Robinson) goes on a killing spree, Harry and new partner Chico (Reni Santoni) are assigned to hunt him down, but not before the Mayor (John Vernon) and Lt. Bressler (Harry Guardino) admonish Callahan about his heavy-handed tactics. Racing against a deadline to save a kidnap victim from suffocating to death and unbothered by the niceties of Miranda rights and search warrants, Callahan brings in Scorpio, only to see him released on technicalities. "The law's crazy," opines Harry in disgust, before taking it upon himself to ensure that Scorpio doesn't kill again. Directed in violent and efficient fashion by Don Siegel, with a propulsive score by Lalo Schifrin, Dirty Harry was the fourth Siegel-Eastwood collaboration after Coogan's Bluff (1968), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), and The Beguiled (1970). Critics at the time strongly objected to the heroic image of a cop's violations of a suspect's Miranda rights, forcing Siegel and Eastwood to deny that they were right-wing reactionaries. All the same, Dirty Harry proved to be highly popular and spawned four sequels: Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988). ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Promoted as a family musical by Paramount Pictures, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is more of a black comedy, perversely faithful to the spirit of Roald Dahl's original book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) stages a contest by hiding five golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whoever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats: the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum), who takes the tour in the company of his equally amiable grandfather (Jack Albertson). In the course of the tour, Willy Wonka punishes the four nastier children in various diabolical methods -- one kid is inflated and covered with blueberry dye, another ends up as a principal ingredient of the chocolate, and so on -- because these kids have violated the ethics of Wonka's factory. In the end, only Charlie and his grandfather are left. Ostensibly set in England, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was lensed in Germany (as revealed by the film's final overhead shot). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    A Clockwork Orange
    Stanley Kubrick dissects the nature of violence in this darkly ironic, near-future satire, adapted from Anthony Burgess's novel, complete with "Nadsat" slang. Classical music-loving proto-punk Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his "Droogs" spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on "a little of the old ultraviolence," such as terrorizing a writer, Mr. Alexander (Patrick Magee), and gang raping his wife (who later dies as a result). After Alex is jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady (Miriam Karlin) to death with one of her phallic sculptures, Alex submits to the Ludovico behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he's conditioned to abhor violence through watching gory movies, and even his adored Beethoven is turned against him. Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims, with Mr. Alexander using Beethoven's Ninth to inflict the greatest pain of all. When society sees what the state has done to Alex, however, the politically expedient move is made. Casting a coldly pessimistic view on the then-future of the late '70s-early '80s, Kubrick and production designer John Barry created a world of high-tech cultural decay, mixing old details like bowler hats with bizarrely alienating "new" environments like the Milkbar. Alex's violence is horrific, yet it is an aesthetically calculated fact of his existence; his charisma makes the icily clinical Ludovico treatment seem more negatively abusive than positively therapeutic. Alex may be a sadist, but the state's autocratic control is another violent act, rather than a solution. Released in late 1971 (within weeks of Sam Peckinpah's brutally violent Straw Dogs), the film sparked considerable controversy in the U.S. with its X-rated violence; after copycat crimes in England, Kubrick withdrew the film from British distribution until after his death. Opinion was divided on the meaning of Kubrick's detached view of this shocking future, but, whether the discord drew the curious or Kubrick's scathing diagnosis spoke to the chaotic cultural moment, A Clockwork Orange became a hit. On the heels of New York Film Critics Circle awards as Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, Kubrick received Oscar nominations in all three categories. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    The Exorcist
    Novelist William Peter Blatty based his best-seller on the last known Catholic-sanctioned exorcism in the United States. Blatty transformed the little boy in the 1949 incident into a little girl named Regan, played by 14-year-old Linda Blair. Suddenly prone to fits and bizarre behavior, Regan proves quite a handful for her actress-mother, Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn, although Blatty reportedly based the character on his next-door neighbor Shirley MacLaine). When Regan gets completely out of hand, Chris calls in young priest Father Karras (Jason Miller), who becomes convinced that the girl is possessed by the Devil and that they must call in an exorcist: namely, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow). His foe proves to be no run-of-the-mill demon, and both the priest and the girl suffer numerous horrors during their struggles. The Exorcist received a theatrical rerelease in 2000, in a special edition that added 11 minutes of footage trimmed from the film's original release and digitally enhanced Chris Newman's Oscar-winning sound work. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including cowed mama's boy Billy (Brad Dourif) and silent Native American Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Ratched and McMurphy recognize that each is the other's worst enemy: an authority figure who equates sanity with correct behavior, and a misfit who is charismatic enough to dismantle the system simply by living as he pleases. McMurphy proceeds to instigate group insurrections large and small, ranging from a restorative basketball game to an unfettered afternoon boat trip and a tragic after-hours party with hookers and booze. Nurse Ratched, however, has the machinery of power on her side to ensure that McMurphy will not defeat her. Still, McMurphy's message to live free or die is ultimately not lost on one inmate, revealing that escape is still possible even from the most oppressive conditions. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    Superman: The Movie
    Richard Donner's big-budget blockbuster Superman: The Movie is an immensely entertaining recounting of the origin of the famous comic book character. Opening on Krypton (where Marlon Brando plays Superman's father), the film follows the Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve) as he's sent to Earth where he develops his alter-ego Clark Kent and is raised by a Midwestern family. In no time, the movie has run through his teenage years, and Clark gets a job at the Daily Planet, where he is a news reporter. It's there that he falls in love with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), who is already in love with Superman. But the love story is quickly sidetracked once the villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) launches a diabolical plan to conquer the world and kill Superman. Superman: The Movie is filled with action, special effects and a surprising amount of humor. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

    The Shining
    "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" -- or, rather, a homicidal boy in Stanley Kubrick's eerie 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel. With wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) in tow, frustrated writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as the winter caretaker at the opulently ominous, mountain-locked Overlook Hotel so that he can write in peace. Before the Overlook is vacated for the Torrances, the manager (Barry Nelson) informs Jack that a previous caretaker went crazy and slaughtered his family; Jack thinks it's no problem, but Danny's "shining" hints otherwise. Settling into their routine, Danny cruises through the empty corridors on his Big Wheel and plays in the topiary maze with Wendy, while Jack sets up shop in a cavernous lounge with strict orders not to be disturbed. Danny's alter ego, "Tony," however, starts warning of "redrum" as Danny is plagued by more blood-soaked visions of the past, and a blocked Jack starts visiting the hotel bar for a few visions of his own. Frightened by her husband's behavior and Danny's visit to the forbidding Room 237, Wendy soon discovers what Jack has really been doing in his study all day, and what the hotel has done to Jack. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    Chariots of Fire
    Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man's life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires. As compelling as the racing scenes are, it's really the depth of the two main characters that touches the viewer, as they forcefully drive home the theme that victory attained through devotion, commitment, integrity, and sacrifice is the most admirable feat that one can achieve. (Ian Holm was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Abrahams' coach), and this powerful film ended up with four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

    Risky Business
    Risky Business is the film in which 19-year-old Tom Cruise dances around his living room in his underwear. He does this to celebrate the fact that his parents have left him alone while they go on vacation. Somewhere along the line, hooker Rebecca De Mornay, fleeing her vicious pimp, hides out in the Cruise manse. Things go from bad to worse to as Cruise inadvertently drives his father's Porsche into Lake Michigan and nearly scuttles his college recruitment interview. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Amadeus
    For this film adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Broadway hit, director Milos Forman returned to the city of Prague that he'd left behind during the Czech political crises of 1968, bringing along his usual cinematographer and fellow Czech expatriate, Miroslav Ondrícek. Amadeus is an expansion of a Viennese "urban legend" concerning the death of 18th century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From the vantage point of an insane asylum, aging royal composer Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) recalls the events of three decades earlier, when the young Mozart (Tom Hulce) first gained favor in the court of Austrian emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones). Salieri was incensed that God would bless so vulgar and obnoxious a young snipe as Mozart with divine genius. Why was Salieri -- so disciplined, so devoted to his art, and so willing to toady to his superiors -- not touched by God? Unable to match Mozart's talent, Salieri uses his influence in court to sabotage the young upstart's career. Disguising himself as a mysterious benefactor, Salieri commissions the backbreaking Requiem, which eventually costs Mozart his health, wealth, and life. Among the film's many pearls of dialogue, the best line goes to the emperor, who rejects a Mozart composition on the grounds that it has "too many notes." Amadeus won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham. In 2002, the film received a theatrical re-release as "Amadeus: The Director's Cut," a version that includes 20 minutes of additional footage. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Color Purple
    Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple spans the years 1909 to 1949, relating the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), a Southern black woman virtually sold into a life of servitude to her brutal husband, sharecropper Albert (Danny Glover). Celie pours out her innermost thoughts in letter form to her sister Nettie (Akousa Busia), but Albert has been hiding the letters Nettie writes back, allowing Celie to assume that Nettie is dead. Finally, Celie finds a champion in the don't-take-no-guff Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), the wife of Glover's son from a previous marriage. Alas, Sofia is "humbled" when she is beaten into submission by angry whites. Later, Celie is able to forge a strong friendship with Albert's mistress Shug (Margaret Avery). Emboldened by this, Celie begins rifling through her husband's belongings and finds Nettie's letters. Able at last to stand up to her husband, Celie leaves him to search for a new life on her own. A major box-office hit, The Color Purple was nominated for eleven Oscars. The film was co-produced by Quincy Jones, who also wrote the score. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Lethal Weapon
    L.A. cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whose wife has recently died, is a loose cannon with a seeming death wish. This makes him indispensable in collaring dangerous criminals, but a liability to any potential partners. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a conservative family man who wants to stay alive for his upcoming 50th birthday, is partnered with Riggs. As Riggs gets to know Murtaugh and his family, he begins to mellow, though his insistence on using guerilla tactics to catch criminals is still (put mildly) above and beyond the call of duty. The main villain is The General (Mitchell Ryan), a drug dealer responsible for the death of the daughter of one of Murtaugh's oldest friends. The General is also in charge of a deadly, militia-like gang of smugglers. Adding fuel to the fire is The General's chief henchman, played with all stops out by Gary Busey. Moviegoers familiar only with the relatively tongue-in-cheek Lethal Weapon sequels may be amazed to find out how dangerous and unpredictable Riggs is in the first Lethal Weapon -- and how likely it seems that Murtaugh might not survive until fade-out time. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Full Metal Jacket
    Stanley Kubrick's return to filmmaking after a seven-year hiatus, this film crystallizes the experience of the Vietnam War by concentrating on a group of raw Marine volunteers. Based on Gustav Hasford's novel The Short Timers, the film's first half details the volunteers' harrowing boot-camp training under the profane, power-saw guidance of drill instructor Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey, a real-life drill instructor whose performance is one of the most terrifyingly realistic on record). Part two takes place in Nam, as seen through the eyes of the now thoroughly indoctrinated marines. Ironically, Full Metal Jacket was filmed almost entirely in England. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Driving Miss Daisy
    Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Alfred Uhry, Driving Miss Daisy affectionately covers the 25-year relationship between a wealthy, strong-willed Southern matron (Jessica Tandy) and her equally indomitable Black chauffeur, Hoke (Morgan Freeman). Both employer and employee are outsiders, Hoke because of the color of his skin, Miss Daisy because she is Jewish in a WASP-dominated society. At the same time, Hoke cannot fathom Miss Daisy's cloistered inability to grasp the social changes that are sweeping the South in the 1960s. Nor can Miss Daisy understand why Hoke's "people" are so indignant. It is only when Hoke is retired and Miss Daisy is confined to a home for the elderly that the two fully realize that they've been friends and kindred spirits all along. The supporting cast includes Esther Rolle as Miss Daisy's housekeeper and Dan Aykroyd as Miss Daisy's son, Boolie (reportedly, playwright Uhry based the character upon himself). Driving Miss Daisy won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), Best Screenplay (Uhry), and Best Makeup (Manlio Rochetti). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    GoodFellas
    Martin Scorsese explores the life of organized crime with his gritty, kinetic adaptation of Nicolas Pileggi's best-selling Wiseguy, the true-life account of mobster and FBI informant Henry Hill. Set to a true-to-period rock soundtrack, the story details the rise and fall of Hill, a half-Irish, half-Sicilian New York kid who grows up idolizing the "wise guys" in his impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood. He begins hanging around the mobsters, running errands and doing odd jobs until he gains the notice of local chieftain Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino), who takes him in as a surrogate son. As he reaches his teens, Hill (Ray Liotta) is inducted into the world of petty crime, where he distinguishes himself as a "stand-up guy" by choosing jail time over ratting on his accomplices. From that moment on, he is a part of the family. Along with his psychotic partner Tommy (Joe Pesci), he rises through the ranks to become Paulie's lieutenant; however, he quickly learns that, like his mentor Jimmy (Robert DeNiro), his ethnicity prevents him from ever becoming a "made guy," an actual member of the crime family. Soon he finds himself the target of both the feds and the mobsters, who feel that he has become a threat to their security with his reckless dealings. Goodfellas was rewarded with six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture; Pesci would walk away with Best Supporting Actor for his work. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi

    Unforgiven
    Dedicated to his mentors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, Clint Eastwood's 1992 Oscar-winner examines the mythic violence of the Western, taking on the ghosts of his own star past. Disgusted by Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett's decree that several ponies make up for a cowhand's slashing a whore's face, Big Whiskey prostitutes, led by fierce Strawberry Alice (Frances Fisher), take justice into their own hands and put a $1000 bounty on the lives of the perpetrators. Notorious outlaw-turned-hog farmer William Munny (Eastwood) is sought out by neophyte gunslinger the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) to go with him to Big Whiskey and collect the bounty. While Munny insists, "I ain't like that no more," he needs the bounty money for his children, and the two men convince Munny's clean-living comrade Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) to join them in righting a wrong done to a woman. Little Bill (Oscar-winner Gene Hackman), however, has no intention of letting any bounty hunters impinge on his iron-clad authority. When pompous gunman English Bob (Richard Harris) arrives in Big Whiskey with pulp biographer W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) in tow, Little Bill beats Bob senseless and promises to tell Beauchamp the real story about violent frontier life and justice. But when Munny, the true unwritten legend, comes to town, everyone soon learns a harsh lesson about the price of vindictive bloodshed and the malleability of ideas like "justice." "I don't deserve this," pleads Little Bill. "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it," growls Munny, simultaneously summing up the insanity of western violence and the legacy of Eastwood's Man With No Name. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

    The Bodyguard
    Lawrence Kasdan originally wrote his script for The Bodyguard in the late 1960s as a vehicle for Steve McQueen; by the time it reached the screen, Kasdan's star was another movie hearthrob, Kevin Costner. When imperious musical superstar Whitney Houston begins receiving death threats, she is compelled to hire a bodyguard. Enter Costner, who immediately incurs the wrath of Houston and her entourage by imposing prison-like security measures. An ex-Secret Service agent, Costner still hasn't purged himself of his guilt feelings over his inability to protect President Reagan from would-be assassin John Hinckley (in the original concept, the agent had been guarding JFK in Dallas, but Costner was too young to make this credible; besides, he and Oliver Stone had been there before). Gradually, and inevitably, Costner and Houston fall in love. Ralph Waite is cast as Costner's father, while Robert Wuhl and Debbie Reynolds please the crowd in their cameo roles. The Bodyguard was a huge box-office success, helped along in no small part by Whitney Houston's bestselling rendition of the old Dolly Parton hit "I Will Always Love You." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Natural Born Killers
    A frenetic, bloody look at mass murder and the mass media, director Oliver Stone's extremely controversial film divided critics and audiences with its mixture of over-the-top violence and bitter cultural satire. At the center of the film, written by Stone and Quentin Tarantino, among others, are Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis), a young couple united by their desire for each other and their common love of violence. Together, they embark on a record-breaking, exceptionally gory killing spree that captivates the sensation-hungry tabloid media. Their fame is ensured by one newsman, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.), who reports on Mickey and Mallory for his show, American Maniacs. Even the duo's eventual capture by the police only increases their notoriety, as Gale develops a plan for a Super Bowl Sunday interview that Mickey and Mallory twist to their own advantage. Visually overwhelming, Robert Richardson's hyperkinetic cinematography switches between documentary-style black-and-white, surveillance video, garishly colored psychedelia, and even animation in a rapid-fire fashion that mirrors the psychosis of the killers and the media-saturated culture that makes them popular heroes. The film's extreme violence -- numerous edits were required to win an R rating -- became a subject of debate, as some critics asserted that the film irresponsibly glorified its murderers and blamed the filmmakers for potentially inciting copy-cat killings. Defenders argued that the film attacks media obsession with violence and satirizes a sensationalistic, celebrity-obsessed society. Certain to provoke discussion, Natural Born Killers will thoroughly alienate many viewers with its shock tactics, chaotic approach, and disturbing subject matter, while others will value the combination of technical virtuosity and dark commentary on the modern American landscape. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

    The Matrix
    What if virtual reality wasn't just for fun, but was being used to imprison you? That's the dilemma that faces mild-mannered computer jockey Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix. It's the year 1999, and Anderson (hacker alias: Neo) works in a cubicle, manning a computer and doing a little hacking on the side. It's through this latter activity that Thomas makes the acquaintance of Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who has some interesting news for Mr. Anderson -- none of what's going on around him is real. The year is actually closer to 2199, and it seems Thomas, like most people, is a victim of The Matrix, a massive artificial intelligence system that has tapped into people's minds and created the illusion of a real world, while using their brains and bodies for energy, tossing them away like spent batteries when they're through. Morpheus, however, is convinced Neo is "The One" who can crack open The Matrix and bring his people to both physical and psychological freedom. The Matrix is the second feature film from the sibling writer/director team of Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, who made an impressive debut with the stylish erotic crime thriller Bound. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    The best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling (titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in England, as was this film adaptation) becomes this hotly anticipated fantasy adventure from Chris Columbus, the winner of a high-stakes search for a director to bring the first in a hoped-for franchise of Potter films to the screen by Warner Bros. Upon his 11th birthday, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), who lives in misery with an aunt and uncle that don't want him, learns from a giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) that he is the orphaned son of powerful wizards. Harry is offered a place at prestigious Hogwarts, a boarding school for wizards that exists in a realm of magic and fantasy outside the dreary existence of normal humans or "Muggles." At Hogwarts, Harry quickly makes new friends and begins piecing together the mystery of his parents' deaths, which appear not to have been accidental after all. The film features alternate-version scenes for every mention of the titular rock. Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, John Cleese, and Fiona Shaw co-star. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson fulfills his lifelong dream of transforming author J.R.R. Tolkien's best-selling fantasy epic into a three-part motion picture that begins with this holiday 2001 release. Elijah Wood stars as Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit resident of the medieval "Middle-earth" who discovers that a ring bequeathed to him by beloved relative and benefactor Bilbo (Ian Holm) is in fact the "One Ring," a device that will allow its master to manipulate dark powers and enslave the world. Frodo is charged by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to return the ring to Mount Doom, the evil site where it was forged millennia ago and the only place where it can be destroyed. Accompanying Frodo is a fellowship of eight others: his Hobbit friends Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin (Billy Boyd); plus Gandalf; the human warriors Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean); Elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom); and Dwarf soldier Gimli (John Rhys-Davies). The band's odyssey to the dreaded land of Mordor, where Mount Doom lies, takes them through the Elfish domain of Rivendell and the forest of Lothlorien, where they receive aid and comfort from the Elf princess Arwen (Liv Tyler), her father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). In pursuit of the travelers and their ring are Saruman (Christopher Lee) -- a traitorous wizard and kin, of sorts, to Gandalf -- and the Dark Riders, under the control of the evil, mysterious Sauron (Sala Baker). The Fellowship must also do battle with a troll, flying spies, Orcs, and other deadly obstacles both natural and otherwise as they draw closer to Mordor. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) was filmed in Jackson's native New Zealand, closely followed by its pair of sequels, The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The second film in Peter Jackson's series of screen adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's internationally popular Lord of The Rings trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers literally begins where The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ended, with the Fellowship splitting into three groups as they seek to return the Ring to Mordor, the forbidding land where the powerful talisman must be taken to be destroyed. Frodo (Elijah Wood), who carries the Ring, and his fellow Hobbit Sam (Sean Astin) are lost in the hills of Emyn Muil when they encounter Gollum (Andy Serkis), a strange creature who once carried the Ring and was twisted by its power. Gollum volunteers to guide the pair to Mordor; Frodo agrees, but Sam does not trust their new acquaintance. Elsewhere, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) are attempting to navigate Fangorn Forrest where they discover a most unusual nemesis -- Treebeard (voice of John Rhys-Davies), a walking and talking tree-shepherd who doesn't much care for Hobbits. Finally, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) arrive in Rohan to discover that the evil powers of Saruman (Christopher Lee) have robbed King Theoden (Bernard Hill) of his rule. The King's niece Éowyn (Miranda Otto) believes Aragorn and his men have the strength to defeat Saruman, his henchman Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), and their minions. Éowyn soon becomes infatuated with Aragorn, while he struggles to stay faithful to the pledge of love he made to Arwen (Liv Tyler). Gandalf (Ian McKellen) offers his help and encouragement as the Rohans, under Aragorn's leadership, attempt to face down Saruman's armies, but they soon discover how great the task before them truly is when they learn that his troops consist of 10,000 bloodthirsty creatures specially bred to fight to the death. Most of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was shot in tandem with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King during a marathon 18-month shooting schedule, overseen by Peter Jackson. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King brings Peter Jackson's mammoth adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to a close in suitably epic fashion. Instead of starting just where the previous film left off, however, it goes far back in time to the moment the tormented creature Gollum first came to possess the One Ring. In this flashback, actor Andy Serkis (who voiced Gollum and performed his movements onset prior to the final CGI effects) finally gets to appear onscreen, portraying Gollum's former self, Sméagol. This disturbing scene serves as a potent reminder that the Ring seeks to corrupt even the well-intentioned Frodo (Elijah Wood), who is increasingly struggling with the dark power of the Ring himself. Thus, the film returns to the present, following Frodo, Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum as they journey ever closer to the foreboding land of Mordor. They pass by the terrifying dark city of Minas Morgul, watching as the dreadful army of the Witch King sets out for the human strongholds in Gondor, and move on to the rocky stairs to Cirith Ungol, where an even darker enemy lies in wait. Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship reunites in Rohan, having defeated the wizard Saruman on two different fronts, at Helm's Deep and Isengard. They are not together for long, though, since the hobbit Pippin (Billy Boyd) gets into trouble, making it necessary for him and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to hastily depart for Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor. Once there, they find the steward of Gondor, Denethor (John Noble), in an unstable mental state and the city preparing for battle against the amassing forces of Sauron. Denethor unwisely sends his only remaining son, Faramir (David Wenham), back into bloody battle to prove himself. He returns nearly dead, sending Denethor over the edge of sanity. In another realm, elf Arwen (Liv Tyler) begins her journey to immortal life in the Grey Havens, on her way to leave Middle-earth -- and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) -- forever, but has a vision that causes her to once again reconsider her decision. Back in Rohan, the men are preparing to ride to Gondor's aide. Éowyn (Miranda Otto) desperately wants to join the men in battle, but her uncle, King Théoden (Bernard Hill), orders her to stay and defend Rohan if necessary. The hobbit Merry (Dominic Monaghan) also desires to ride with the men, but is denied due to his small size and inexperience. Aragorn is met there by the elf Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who brings him the re-forged Sword that was Broken (in the ancient battle with Sauron) and urges him to take a different route to Gondor. Heeding Elrond's advice, Aragorn, along with elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), takes a cavernous path through the mountains, where they meet ghoulish ghosts who betrayed Aragorn's ancestors and are doomed to eternal unrest unless they fulfill their broken oaths by aiding him. All but Frodo, Sam, and Gollum will meet on the massive battlefield of the Pelennor before the gates of Minas Tirith. The former three instead engage in a battle of wills between each other and the One Ring as they head toward the fires of Mount Doom to destroy it. Released in December 2003, The Return of the King topped even its massively successful trilogy predecessors at the box office, and went on to garner a whopping 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- winning in all the categories in which it was nominated and tying the record of total awards won with Ben-Hur and Titanic. ~ Dana Rowader, Rovi

    Million Dollar Baby
    Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran boxing trainer who has devoted his life to the ring and has precious little to show for it; his daughter never answers his letters, and a fighter he's groomed into contender status has paid him back by signing with another manager, leaving Frankie high and dry. His best friend and faithful employee Eddie Dupris is a former fighter who Frankie trained. In his last fight, Eddie suffered a severe injury, a fact that brings Frankie great guilt. One day, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) enters Frankie's life, as well as his gym, and announces she needs a trainer. Frankie regards her as a dubious prospect, and isn't afraid to tell her why: he doesn't think much of women boxing, she's too old at 31, she lacks experience, and has no technique. However, Maggie sees boxing as the one part of her life that gives her meaning and won't give up easily. Finally won over by her determination, Frankie takes on Maggie, and as she slowly grows into a viable fighter, an emotional bond develops between them. When a tragedy befalls one of the three characters, each comes to a decision that shows how the relationships in the film have changed them. Adapted from a short story by F.X. Toole, a former corner man with years of experience in the fight game, Million Dollar Baby also stars Morgan Freeman, Anthony Mackie, and Mike Colter. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    The Departed
    Legendary director Martin Scorsese takes the helm for this tale of questionable loyalties and blurring identities set in the South Boston organized crime scene and inspired by the wildly popular 2002 Hong Kong crime film Infernal Affairs. As the police force attempts to reign in the increasingly powerful Irish mafia, authorities are faced with the prospect of sending in an undercover agent or seeing their already frail grip on the criminal underworld slip even further. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young cop looking to make a name for himself in the world of law enforcement. Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is a street-smart criminal who has successfully infiltrated the police department with the sole intention of reporting their every move to ruthless syndicate head Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). When Costigan is assigned the task of working his way into Costello's tightly guarded inner circle, Sullivan is faced with the responsibility of rooting out the informer before things get out of hand. With the stakes constantly rising and time quickly running out for the undercover cop and his criminal counterpart, each man must work feverishly to reveal his counterpart before his identity is exposed by the other. Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Ray Winstone co-star, and writer William Monahan adapts a screenplay originally penned by Alan Mak and Felix Chong. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

    The Dark Knight
    Christopher Nolan steps back into the director's chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming face to face with his greatest nemesis -- the dreaded Joker. Christian Bale returns to the role of Batman, Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel Dawes (played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins), and Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger dons the ghoulishly gleeful Joker makeup previously worn by Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero. Just as it begins to appear as if Batman, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are making headway in their tireless battle against the criminal element, a maniacal, wisecracking fiend plunges the streets of Gotham City into complete chaos. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

    Sherlock Holmes
    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, gets an update with this adaptation of Lionel Wigram's comic book series by writer/director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla) starring Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective, with Jude Law stepping into the shoes of his sidekick, Dr. Watson. Heading up the rest of the cast are RocknRolla's Mark Strong as the film's villain, Blackwood, and Rachel McAdams portraying the love interest, Irene Adler. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

    The Hangover
    A blowout Las Vegas bachelor party turns into a race against time when three hung-over groomsmen awaken after a night of drunken debauchery to find that the groom has gone missing, and attempt to get him to the alter in time for his wedding. In 48 hours, Doug is scheduled to walk down the aisle, effectively ending his reign as a rowdy bachelor. Realizing that this is their last blowout with their best friend, Doug's groomsmen organize a Sin City bachelor bash he'll never forget. The next morning, the groomsmen come to in their Caesar's Palace suite to find a tiger in the bathroom and a six-month-old baby tucked away in the closet. Unfortunately, Doug is nowhere to be found. With no memory of the previous night's transgressions and precious little time to spare, the trio sets out in a hazy attempt to retrace their steps and discover exactly where things went wrong. Will they find Doug in time to get him to the wedding back in Los Angeles, or will his bride experience the sharp sting of disappointment when she walks down the aisle to discover that her future husband is nowhere to be found? Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Heather Graham star in a rambunctious comedy from Old School director Todd Phillips. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

    The Blind Side
    Taken in by a well-to-do family and offered a second chance at life, a homeless teen grows to become the star athlete projected to be the first pick at the NFL draft in this sports-themed comedy drama inspired by author Michael Lewis' best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. Michael Oher was living on the streets when he was welcomed into the home of a conservative suburban family, but over time he matured into a talented athlete. As the NFL draft approaches, fans and sports radio personalities alike speculate that Oher will be the hottest pick of the year. Sandra Bullock stars in a film written and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Alamo). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

    Inception
    Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who possesses the power to enter into the dreams of others. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) doesn't steal things, he steals ideas. By projecting himself deep into the subconscious of his targets, he can glean information that even the best computer hackers can't get to. In the world of corporate espionage, Cobb is the ultimate weapon. But even weapons have their weakness, and when Cobb loses everything, he's forced to embark on one final mission in a desperate quest for redemption. This time, Cobb won't be harvesting an idea, but sowing one. Should he and his team of specialists succeed, they will have discovered a new frontier in the art of psychic espionage. They've planned everything to perfection, and they have all the tools to get the job done. Their mission is complicated, however, by the sudden appearance of a malevolent foe that seems to know exactly what they're up to, and precisely how to stop them. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

  • Cast & Crew

    • Charlton Heston
      Charlton Heston - Judah Ben Hur
    • Stephen Boyd
      Stephen Boyd - Messala
    • Jack Hawkins
      Jack Hawkins - Quintus Arrius
    • Haya Harareet
      Haya Harareet - Esther
    • Hugh Griffith
      Hugh Griffith - Sheik Ilderim
    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.