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Screen Couples [Universal 100th Anniversary] [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

My Little Chickadee
Double Indemnity
Directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from a James M. Cain novel by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, Double Indemnity represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman amidst the dark shadows and Expressionist lighting of modern cities. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces insurance agent Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the couple's passion cools, each becomes suspicious of the other's motives. The plan is further complicated when Neff's boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), a brilliant insurance investigator, takes over the investigation. Told in flashbacks from Neff's perspective, the film moves with ruthless determinism as each character meets what seems to be a preordained fate. Movie veterans Stanwyck, MacMurray, and Robinson give some of their best performances, and Wilder's cynical sensibility finds a perfect match in the story's unsentimental perspective, heightened by John Seitz's hard-edged cinematography. Double Indemnity ranks with the classics of mainstream Hollywood movie-making. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

Charade
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn star in this stylish comedy-thriller directed by Stanley Donen, very much in a Hitchcock vein. Grant plays Peter Joshua, who meets Reggie Lampert (Hepburn) in Paris and later offers to help her when she discovers that her husband has been murdered. After the funeral, Reggie is summoned to the embassy and warned by agent/friend Bartholemew (Walter Matthau) that her late husband helped steal 250,000 dollars during the war and that the rest of the gang is after the money as well. When three of the men who attended her husband's funeral begin to harass her, Reggie goes to Joshua for help, at which time Joshua confesses that his name is actually Alexander Dyle, the brother of a fourth accomplice in the gold theft. The three men from the funeral are revealed to be the three other accomplices in the crime, and though she knows next to nothing of the heist, Reggie is caught in a ring of suspense as she is followed by the shadowy trio, all after the money. Apparently, the only person she can trust is Joshua/Dyle -- until Bartholomew tells Reggie that the fourth accomplice had no brother, and Joshua/Dyle reveals that he is, in fact, a crook named Adam Canfield. Now Reggie doesn't know where to turn. The musical score by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini was nominated for an Academy Award. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Pillow Talk
The fabulously successful Pillow Talk was essentially Shop Around the Corner for the 1950s. Playboy composer Rock Hudson and interior-decorator Doris Day are obliged to share a telephone party line. Naturally, their calls overlap at the least opportune times, and just as naturally, this leads to Hudson and Day despising each other without ever having met in person. In a cute but convenient coincidence, Doris' boy friend is Tony Randall, who also happens to be Hudson's best pal. Thus Hudson gets a glimpse at Day, and it's love at first sight. To avoid revealing that he's her telephone rival, Hudson poses as a wealthy Texan and turns the charm on Day. But when he starts pitching woo, Day instantly recognizes all the "make-out" lines Hudson has used on the phone with his other conquests. She gets even by decorating Hudson's apartment in a hideous manner. But Hudson loves her all the same; he "kidnaps" her, carrying her through the streets in her nightgown in full view of everyone, including a laughing cop who refuses to intervene. He praises her horrifying interior decoration job effusively, and at this point Day can't help but give in to his marriage proposal. A bit too arch and cute for modern tastes at times, Pillow Talk is still one of the best of the frothy Doris Day-Rock Hudson vehicles; it made a fortune at the box office and garnered five Oscar nominations. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Mae West
    Mae West - Flower Belle Lee
  • W.C. Fields
    W.C. Fields - Cuthbert J. Twillie
  • Joseph Calleia
    Joseph Calleia - Masked Bandit
  • Dick Foran
    Dick Foran - Wayne Carter
  • Ruth Donnelly
    Ruth Donnelly - Aunt Lou
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