Leading Men Collection [15 Discs] [DVD]

This 15 movie collection offers memorable performances from some of the most iconic leading men in Hollywood history including Paul Newman, John Wayne, and Cary Grant.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
A two-person character study directed by John Huston, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison stars Robert Mitchum as a World War II Marine sergeant and Deborah Kerr as a Roman Catholic nun. Both nun and sergeant are marooned on a South Pacific island, hemmed in by surrounding Japanese troops. Mitchum does his best to make the nun's ordeal less painful, but is torn by his growing love for her. Kerr is equally fond of Mitchum, but refuses to renounce her vows. Their unrealized ardor mellows into mutual respect as they struggle to survive before help arrives. Based on a novel by Charles K. Shaw, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison was coproduced by Eugene Frenke, who later filmed a low-budget variation on the story, The Nun and the Sergeant (62), which starred Frenke's wife Anna Sten. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember, director Leo McCarey's scene-for-scene remake of his own 1939 film Love Affair, isn't really an improvement on the original, but it's equally as enjoyable. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, high-profile types both engaged to be married to other people, meet and fall in love during an ocean voyage. To test the depth of their commitment to each other, Grant and Kerr promise that, if they're still in love at the end of six months, they will meet again at the top of the Empire State Building. Clips from An Affair to Remember were used as "reference points" throughout the 1993 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, which likewise concluded atop the Empire State Building. Disproving the theory that "Third Time's the Charm," Warren Beatty attempted to remake Affair to Remember, again titled Love Affair, in 1994. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Hustler
As The Hustler's "Fast" Eddie Felson, Paul Newman created a classic antihero, charismatic but fundamentally flawed, and nobody's role model. A pool player from Oakland, CA, as good as anyone who ever picked up a cue, Eddie has an Achilles' heel: arrogance. It's not enough for him to win: he must force his opponent to acknowledge his superiority. The movie follows Eddie from his match against billiards champ Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) as he falls in love with Sarah (Piper Laurie), an alcoholic would-be writer and sometime prostitute, and falls under the spell of Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), a successful gambler who offers to take Eddie under his wing and teach him how to play in the big time. However, when Sarah joins Eddie and Bert on a trip to Louisville for a high-stakes match with a dandy named Findlay (Murray Hamilton), the consequences prove tragic. Along with a classic performance by Newman, The Hustler also features turns by Scott, Laurie, and Gleason, in a rare dramatic role. Cameos from pool champ Willie Mosconi and boxer Jake LaMotta add to the atmosphere of Harry Horner's grubby production design and Eugen Schüfftan's camerawork. Director Robert Rossen, who had been working in films since 1937, was to direct only one more film, Lilith (1964), before his death in 1966. In 1986, Newman returned to the role of "Fast" Eddie in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, for which he finally earned an Academy Award as Best Actor. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

The Comancheros
Gentleman's Agreement
Adapted by Moss Hart from the novel by Laura Z. Hobson, this film stars Gregory Peck as recently widowed journalist Phil Green. With a growing son (Dean Stockwell) to support, Green is receptive to the invitation of magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker) to write a series of hard-hitting articles on the scourge of anti-Semitism. In order to glean his information first hand, Green decides to pose as a Jew. As the weeks go by, Green experiences all manner of prejudice, the most insidious being the subtle, "gentleman's agreement" form of bigotry wherein anti-Jewish sentiments are merely taken for granted. Green's pose takes a toll on his budding romance with Minify's niece Kathy (Dorothy McGuire), who comes to realize by her own example that even those who insist that they harbor no anti-Semitic feelings are also capable of prejudice. Watching from the sidelines is Green's lifelong Jewish friend Dave (John Garfield, in what may be his best performance), who despite his inherent rage over the iniquities of racism has learned to be philosophical about the failings of his fellow man-but not to the extent that he's willing to give up the fight against blind hatred. Though warned by several Jewish film moguls that to produce the film would merely "make trouble," 20th Century-Fox chieftan Daryl F. Zanuck (who was not himself Jewish) saw the project through to its conclusion. The wisdom of Zanuck's decision was proven when Gentleman's Agreement not only made a fortune for Fox, but also won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan) and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Desk Set
Based on the Broadway play by Robert Fryer and Lawrence Carr, Desk Set represents the eighth screen teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn plays the head of a TV network research department; Tracy plays an efficiency expert, hired to modernize Hepburn's operation. When Tracy has a huge computer installed, Hepburn and her co-workers (including Joan Blondell and Sue "Miss Landers" Randall) fear that they're going to lose their jobs. Their suspicions are confirmed when the computer merrily begins issuing pink termination slips. But something is obviously amiss: the computer not only fires the ladies, but also the head of the network--and Tracy, who isn't even on the company payroll! At this point, Tracy explains that the computer was designed to help Hepburn and her staff and not replace them; he also confesses that, given the pink-slip incident, this might not have been such a hot idea. But Hepburn, who has fallen in love with Tracy, is in just the right mood to forgive him--and doesn't need to consult her research files to come up with this decision. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Grapes of Wrath
The adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of dirt-poor Dust Bowl migrants by 4-time Oscar-winning director John Ford starred Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, who opens the movie returning to his Oklahoma home after serving jail time for manslaughter. En route, Tom meets family friend Casey (John Carradine), a former preacher who warns Tom that dust storms, crop failures, and new agricultural methods have financially decimated the once prosperous Oklahoma farmland. Upon returning to his family farm, Tom is greeted by his mother (Oscar-winner Jane Darwell), who tells him that the family is packing up for the "promised land" of California. Warned that they shouldn't expect a warm welcome in California--they've already seen the caravan of dispirited farmers, heading back home after striking out at finding work--the Joads push on all the same. Their first stop is a wretched migrant camp, full of starving children and surrounded by armed guards. Further down the road, the Joads drive into an idyllic government camp, with clean lodging, indoor plumbing, and a self-governing clientele. When Tom ultimately bids goodbye to his mother, who asks him where he'll go, he delivers the film's most famous speech: "I'll be all around...Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat...Whenever there's a cop beating a guy, I'll be there...And when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build. I'll be there too." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Von Ryan's Express
Von Ryan's Express is a fast-paced, well-acted World War II drama, featuring a squadron of Allied soldiers trying to escape a prison camp in Italy. While most of the prisoners at the camp are British, a determined, resourceful American Air Force colonel (Frank Sinatra) takes charge and leads the escape, which requires that the prisoners wrest control of a German train and propel it through Italy to Switzerland. The subsequent ride, featuring good special effects and outstanding stunt work, is great fun and very suspenseful. Frank Sinatra makes an effective action hero aided by veteran actor Trevor Howard as a British officer. The CinemaScope photography is outstanding and director Mark Robson directs the exciting action sequences with skill. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

Love Me Tender
Elvis Presley made his motion picture debut in the Civil War drama Love Me Tender. Elvis, however, is not the star of the proceedings: that honor goes jointly to Richard Egan and Debra Paget. The story concerns three brothers--Egan, William Campbell and James Drury--who steal a Union payroll on behalf of the Confederacy, only to discover that the war is over and that they're now technically outlaws. Rather than return the money, the brothers divvy it up amongst themselves. Upon returning home, Egan discovers that his sweetheart (Debra Paget) has married Elvis, his youngest brother. Since Love Me Tender has been played incessantly on TV since the early 1960s, it is giving away nothing to reveal that the film is one of two in which Elvis Presley's character dies at the end. Naturally, Elvis is afforded plenty of opportunities to sing: the scene in which he launches into an anachronistic hip-swivelling performance at a county fair is one of the high points of mid-1950s kitsch. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Towering Inferno
A skyscraper and an all-star cast go up in flames in Irwin Allen's classic disaster movie. To celebrate the construction of the Glass Tower, the world's tallest building, architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) and builder James Duncan (William Holden) hold a gala bash on the highest floors. Trouble is, Duncan's son-in-law and electrical subcontractor Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain) installed faulty wiring throughout the 138-story behemoth to save money. While the guests -- including Doug's lady friend (Faye Dunaway), a rich widow (Jennifer Jones), a con man (Fred Astaire), and a politico (Robert Vaughn) -- enjoy the party, and a security guard (O.J. Simpson) wonders why his equipment is on the fritz, a burnt-out circuit breaker ignites some garbage on the 85th floor, swiftly turning the high-rise into, well, a towering inferno. With the guests trapped on the 135th floor, it's up to Roberts and Fire Chief O'Hallorhan (Steve McQueen) to find a way to stop the blaze. Though not the first all-star '70s disaster movie (1970's Airport and 1972's The Poseidon Adventure preceded it), The Towering Inferno was the most popular and the most spectacular. In a move that would become more common in late-'90s blockbuster Hollywood, The Towering Inferno's mammoth production was mounted by two studios; screenwriter Stirling Silliphant combined the two novels owned by the studios into one saga. 1970s "shake 'n bake" maestro Allen, with co-director John Guillermin (Allen did the action sequences), tapped into deep fears about the fragility of modern life in the face of extreme natural phenomena, as well as into the envies and insecurities of middle-aged professional men. The Towering Inferno packed theaters and earned eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture; it won for Cinematography, Editing, and Song. While its heroic, no-nonsense men provided some traditional comfort, The Towering Inferno still might provoke second thoughts about going into a skyscraper. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Opening with a silent "movie" of Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang, George Roy Hill's comically elegiac Western chronicles the mostly true tale of the outlaws' last months. Witty pals Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) join the Gang in successfully robbing yet another train with their trademark non-lethal style. After the pair rests at the home of Sundance's schoolmarm girlfriend, Etta (Katharine Ross), the Gang robs the same train, but this time, the railroad boss has hired the best trackers in the business to foil the crime. After being tailed over rocks and a river gorge by guys that they can barely identify save for a white hat, Butch and Sundance decide that maybe it's time to try their luck in Bolivia. Taking Etta with them, they live high on ill-gotten Bolivian gains, but Etta leaves after their white-hatted nemesis portentously arrives. Their luck running out, Butch and Sundance are soon holed up in a barn surrounded by scores of Bolivian soldiers who are waiting for the pair to make one last run for it. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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