Monday, February 07, 2005

Free Man in the Morning

Warner Brothers' next crack at a "themed" boxed set of classic movies is something called "The Controversial Classics Collection," to be released in May. The box (the movies are available separately as well, of course) consists of movies that deal with some important social theme or controversy like racism, war, juvenile delinquency. And yet, despite that unpromising description, they seem to have found mostly good, non-preachy, non-Stanley-Kramer "issue" movies for the set:

- Fritz Lang's Fury (lynching)
- Paul Muni in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (chain gangs and fugitives therefrom)
- John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (racism, not to mention society's deplorable tendency to underestimate the martial-arts abilities of one-armed men)
- Richard Brooks' The Blackboard Jungle (juvenile delinquency; rocking around the clock)
- Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent (dirty tricks in politics, a theme that marks this as so 1962)
- Paddy Chayefsky's anti-war movie -- and in my opinion by far his best script -- The Americanization of Emily
- And last and best, Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg's A Face in the Crowd.

According to the article in USA Today where this set was announced, each of the movies will have at least a commentary track or a featurette. Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Budd Schulberg all took part in the Face in the Crowd making-of documentary.

All the above movies are, as the director said on Monty Python, "pro-humanity and anti-bad-things," but many of them represent the best of Hollywood's socially-conscious side.

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