Grace Kelly Collection [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Swan
Frances Howard starred as Princess Alexandria in the 1925 silent version of Ferenc Molnar's play The Swan; Lillian Gish assumed the role in the 1930 talkie version. The third and final adaptation starred Grace Kelly, who had one slight advantage over her predecessors; she would soon become a real princess instead of a make-believe one. And don't think that MGM, knowing full well that Grace would retire from moviemaking upon ascending the throne of Monaco, didn't carefully select the timeworn Molnar play for the express purpose of extra publicity. Outside of its mercenary considerations, The Swan is an enjoyable bittersweet tale of a princess who falls in love with her handsome tutor (Louis Jourdan), only to be required to give him up in favor of an arranged marriage of state. The nicest element of the story is that the prince to whom Kelly is engaged, as played by Alec Guinness, is a decent sort, who voluntarily asks for the princess' hand instead of forcing the issue. Of course, the issue has been forced upon him when he realizes the depth of the love Kelly harbors for her tutor. It may well be that this version of The Swan will be the last; on the other hand, who'd a' thunk that someone would want to make Sabrina again in 1995? ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

High Noon
This Western classic stars Gary Cooper as Hadleyville marshal Will Kane, about to retire from office and go on his honeymoon with his new Quaker bride, Amy (Grace Kelly). But his happiness is short-lived when he is informed that the Miller gang, whose leader (Ian McDonald) Will had arrested, is due on the 12:00 train. Pacifist Amy urges Will to leave town and forget about the Millers, but this isn't his style; protecting Hadleyburg has always been his duty, and it remains so now. But when he asks for deputies to fend off the Millers, virtually nobody will stand by him. Chief Deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) covets Will's job and ex-mistress (Katy Jurado); his mentor, former lawman Martin Howe (Lon Chaney Jr.) is now arthritic and unable to wield a gun. Even Amy, who doesn't want to be around for her husband's apparently certain demise, deserts him. Meanwhile, the clocks tick off the minutes to High Noon -- the film is shot in "real time," so that its 85-minute length corresponds to the story's actual timeframe. Utterly alone, Kane walks into the center of town, steeling himself for his showdown with the murderous Millers. Considered a landmark of the "adult western," High Noon won four Academy Awards (including Best Actor for Cooper) and Best Song for the hit, "Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darling" sung by Tex Ritter. The screenplay was written by Carl Foreman, whose blacklisting was temporarily prevented by star Cooper, one of Hollywood's most virulent anti-Communists. John Wayne, another notable showbiz right-winger and Western hero, was so appalled at the notion that a Western marshal would beg for help in a showdown that he and director Howard Hawks "answered" High Noon with Rio Bravo (1959). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

To Catch a Thief
A jewel thief is at large on the Riviera, and all evidence points to retired cat burglar Cary Grant. Escaping the law, Grant heads to the Cote D'Azur, where he is greeted with hostility by his old partners in crime. All of them had been pardoned due to their courageous activities in the wartime Resistance, and all are in danger of arrest thanks to this new crime wave. But Grant pleads innocence, and vows to find out who's been copying his distinctive style. With the reluctant aid of detective John Williams, Grant launches his investigation by keeping tabs on the wealthiest vacationers on the Riviera. One such person is heavily bejeweled Jessie Royce Landis, who is as brash and outspoken as her daughter Grace Kelly is quiet and demure. But "still waters run deep," as they say, and soon Kelly is amorously pursuing the far-from-resistant Grant. Part of Kelly's attraction to Grant is the possibility that he is the thief; the prospect of danger really turns this gal on. Being Cary Grant, of course, he can't possibly be guilty, which is proven in due time. But by film's end, it's obvious that Kelly has fallen hard for Grant, crook or no crook. Occasionally written off as a lesser Alfred Hitchcock film (did we really need that third-act fashion show?), To Catch a Thief is actually as enjoyable and engaging now as it was 40 years ago. Though the Riviera location photography is pleasing, our favorite scene takes place in a Paramount Studios mockup of a luxury hotel suite, where Grant and Kelly make love while a fireworks display orgasmically erupts outside their window. And who could forget the scene where Jessie Royce Landis disdainfully stubs out a cigarette in an expensive plate of eggs? Adapted by frequent Hitchcock collaborator John Michael Hayes from a novel by David Dodge To Catch a Thief won an Academy Award for cinematographer Robert Burks. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Country Girl
Bing Crosby does the Academy Award-bid bit in the atypical role of a self-pitying alcoholic, but it was his co-star, a deglamorized Grace Kelly, who won the Oscar for her performance in The Country Girl. This adaptation of Clifford Odets' play stars Crosby as Frank Elgin, a once-famous Broadway star who's hit the skids. Hotshot young director Bernie Dodd (William Holden), a longtime admirer of Elgin, tries to get the old-timer back on his feet with a starring role in a new play. But Dodd must contend with Elgin's hard, suspicious wife Georgie, who seemingly runs roughshod over her husband. Dodd holds Georgie responsible for Elgin's lack of self-confidence and his reliance upon the bottle--a suspicion fueled by Elgin himself, who insists that Georgie has been suicidal ever since the death of their son. When Elgin goes on a monumental bender during the play's out-of-town tryouts, the truth comes out: it is Elgin who is suicidal, and Georgie has been the glue that has held him together. Adopting a now-or-never stance, Dodd forces Elgin to stay off the sauce long enough for the play to open--and, in spite of himself, falls in love with Georgie. A few Hollywood liberties were taken with the Odets original, including a slightly altered ending. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rear Window
Laid up with a broken leg, photojournalist L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to his tiny, sweltering courtyard apartment. To pass the time between visits from his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his fashion model girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), the binocular-wielding Jeffries stares through the rear window of his apartment at the goings-on in the other apartments around his courtyard. As he watches his neighbors, he assigns them such roles and character names as "Miss Torso" (Georgine Darcy), a professional dancer with a healthy social life or "Miss Lonelyhearts" (Judith Evelyn), a middle-aged woman who entertains nonexistent gentlemen callers. Of particular interest is seemingly mild-mannered travelling salesman Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), who is saddled with a nagging, invalid wife. One afternoon, Thorwald pulls down his window shade, and his wife's incessant bray comes to a sudden halt. Out of boredom, Jeffries casually concocts a scenario in which Thorwald has murdered his wife and disposed of the body in gruesome fashion. Trouble is, Jeffries' musings just might happen to be the truth. One of Alfred Hitchcock's very best efforts, Rear Window is a crackling suspense film that also ranks with Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) as one of the movies' most trenchant dissections of voyeurism. As in most Hitchcock films, the protagonist is a seemingly ordinary man who gets himself in trouble for his secret desires. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

High Society
High Society is a glossy Technicolor-and-VistaVision musical remake of Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story (1940), decked out with million-watt star power and a Cole Porter score. Set amongst the rich and famous in Newport, RI, the story revolves around the wedding plans of socialite Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly). Tracy is all set to marry stuffy George Kittridge (John Lund), while magazine writer Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) intend to cover the ceremony. Meanwhile, Tracy's ex-husband C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) also comes calling, ostensibly to the attend the annual Newport Jazz Festival, but actually for the purpose of winning Tracy back. In the course of events, Mike falls in love with Tracy, and she with him. The Jazz Festival subplot allows scriptwriter John Patrick to bring Louis Armstrong into the proceedings, much to the delight of anyone who cares anything about music. The Cole Porter tunes include the Crosby-Sinatra duet "Well, Did You Evah?," the Crosby-Armstrong teaming "Now You Has Jazz," the Kelly-Crosby romantic ballad "True Love," and the Sinatra solo "You're Sensational." Though it lacks the satiric edge of the Philip Barry original (Barry, incidentally, is not given any screen credit), High Society succeeds on its own lighthearted terms. The film represents Grace Kelly's final acting assignment before her real-life wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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