BLU RAY: 50 ESSENTIALS PT. 1
Are you one of those film geeks pondering whether to make the upgrade to HD and get BluRay equipment? Do you already have what is needed to enjoy movies in HD but haven’t really started acquiring some really cool flicks to show off? Here at Furious Cinema, we are not fully in HD mode yet, but we are great planners and we already know which BluRay discs are the cream of the cinematic crop, and on top of our list the minute we have bought all the fancy equipment: BluRay player, Full HD screen, 7.1 HD surround system…and a new house to put all that stuff in, including ordering a spa vacation for our loved ones to be sent off to, just so we can watch the movies by ourselves with beer and nachos!! (we kid, we kid).
With this essentials list we’ve tried to do most of the homework for you. Here’s what we think you should not miss in the BluRay world: a selection of classic movies on fantastic hi-definition discs. Almost all the films listed below are far more than just measly re-releases of previous DVD versions and the ones that aren’t are still titles that we consider cinematic gold. These are the classics we wholeheartedly recommend to every cineast for their permanent collections!
To purchase any of the titles on our list from Amazon, simply click the film’s Blu Ray cover. Thanks!
CITIZEN KANE: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition (1941, Dir: Orson Welles) – TO BE RELEASED
“Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.”
Why you need to have it: Although this title has not yet been released we can say with complete confidence that this will be a must own for classic cinema lovers collections. Orson Welles’ grand masterpiece about a larger than life newspaper tycoon was a truly watershed moment in early 20th century cinema. Welles never again reached the apex of visual and technical storytelling brilliance and perfection as he did with Kane. A timeless movie marvel to behold.
Special Features include: Collector’s book, replica documents and poster art stills, and four discs of digital material/The comprehensive two-hour documentary The Battle over Citizen Kane/HBO’s original docudrama RKO 281 (starring Liev Schreiber as Orson Welles and James Cromwell as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst)/Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (DVD only). More info TBA.
THE GODFATHER (Parts 1-3): THE COPPOLA RESTORATION
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Why you need to have it: Francis Ford Coppola’s operatic epic about The Corleone crime family spans nearly a century. The first film and it’s sequels are simply cinema storytelling at it’s very best from every standpoint. It boasts an incredible cast including: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, James Caan, John Cazale and many others. This definitive release of all three films also includes an extensive amount of extra features that the discerning film lover will enjoy.
Special Features include: Featurette: “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t”/Featurette: “Godfather World”/Featurette: “Emulsional Rescue: Revealing ‘The Godfather’/Featurette: “….And When the Shooting Stopped/The Family Tree/The Crime Organization/Montage: “’The Godfather’ on the Red Carpet”/Four Short Films on ‘The Godfather’/Audio Commentaries/Documentary: “The Godfather Family”/“Behind the Scenes” Featurettes/Storyboards/Additional Scenes/Historical Timeline.
APOCALYPSE NOW: FULL DISCLOSURE 3 DISC EDITION – (1979, Dir: Francis Ford Coppola) / Includes: Apocalypse Now/Apocalypse Now Redux/Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse)
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning!…smells like…victory.”
Why you need to have it: For hardcore film geeks this release is a must own not only because the different versions are all presented in glorious hi-definition, but the studio finally obtained the rights to include Ellen Coppola’s fascinating documentary on the making of the film appropriately titled: Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Now fans can enjoy the complete apocalyptic journey from start to finish! Check out our poster feature here.
BLADE RUNNER: 5 Disc Complete Collector’s Edition (1982, Dir: Ridley Scott)
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.”
Why you need to have it: This highly influential science fiction/neo-noir masterpiece has been given the full scale celebratory restoration with this collector’s edition that includes all the versions of the movie (Theatrical, International, Director’s Cut and the All New Final Cut which features added scenes, dialogue and restored special effects) as well as a selection of multi-perspective commentary tracks and furiously cool featurettes. The Final Cut, in its present restoration, is as close to Ridley Scotts’s original vision as it will ever get and the array of extras are astounding. A must own. Read our film review.
THE THING (1982, Dir: John Carpenter)
“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”
Why you need to have it: John Carpenter’s remake of the Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby sci-fi thriller brought a completely modern, visceral and shocking vision to the screen. The movie is a potboiler of paranoia as a group of men stranded in the Arctic must fend off an alien that can replicate anything from human to animal. Unsuccessful on its initial release the film has gone on to have a wildly popular cult fanbase because of it’s incredible special effects and use of psychological suspense sequences.
Special Features: Audio commentary with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter.
MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981, Dir: George Miller)
“In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again…”
Why you need to have it: While Mad Max reignited the world of post-apocalyptic cinema, The Road Warrior was the movie that made the (I hate the word but here we go) franchise successful. This movie set new action scene standards. The BluRay is a restoration that is unavailable on DVD and repairs audio glitches that made many scenes close to inaudible on previous releases.
THE COMPLETE METROPOLIS (1928, Dir: Fritz Lang)
Why you need to have it: German newspaper weekly Die Zeit (the times) ran an exclusive article a a few years back that brought the breathtaking story to the surface of long believed lost footage of Metropolis rediscovered in a museum in Buenos Aires. Metropolis is probably the most amazing sci-fi movie ever made, making every sci-fi movie after it pale in comparison (considering the technology they had in 1926), and the movie’s turbulent history of releases (the most recent only a few years ago and hailed as a definitive restoration) made the rediscovery all the more exciting. The footage that was found restores some pivotal plot elements and experts say it is a completely different movie now and very close to the original 1927 exhibition. The scenes are of course in lousy condition but this BluRay should count as the most definitive way to watch Metropolis. Period. Read Sebastian’s article on the recent re-release of the film here.
THE EXORCIST: Extended Director’s Cut & Original Theatrical Edition (1973, Dir: William Friedkin)
“Your mother sucks cocks in Hell, Karras, you faithless slime.”
Why you need to have it: When a young girl (Linda Blair) becomes possessed by the devil, her mother (Ellen Burstyn) calls in two priests to help save her. It’s an epic battle of good against evil set in a bedroom. This film was released over 35 years ago and it remains one of the most disturbing works of cinema ever made.
Special Features include: Disc 1: Extended Director’s Cut (2000 version) English DTS-HD MA 6.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 (both Parisian and dubbed in Quebec), Spanish 5.1 (both Castilian and Latin 2.0 stereo)/New 3-part documentary on the movie’s production and legacy – for the first time, relive the actual on-set filming of classic scenes via never-before-seen set footage: Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist, The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now and Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist Commentary by director William Friedkin. Disc 2: Original theatrical cut (1973 version) English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Dolby Digital 1.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (both Castilian and Latin) 2 commentaries: 1) director William Friedkin, 2) producer/screenwriter William Peter Blatty, plus sound effects tests/Introduction by William Friedkin/Feature-length 1998 documentary The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist/Interview gallery covering the topics: the original cut, the final reckoning and stairway to heaven/Original ending and more.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968, Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
“Open the pod bay doors Hal…”
Why you need to have it: Stanley Kubrick broke new cinematic ground with this big screen adaptation of Arthur Clarke’s visionary science fiction story. While this film was always meant to be experienced on the big screen because of it’s epic visual atmosphere, the new hi-definition blu ray edition is as close as home viewers will get to the magnificent theatrical adventure into outer space and beyond!
Special Features include: Commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood/Theatrical trailer/Channel 4 documentary: 2001: The Making of a Myth/Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001/Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001/2001: A Space Odyssey – A Look Behind the Future/2001: FX and Early/Conceptual Artwork/Look: Stanley Kubrick!/Audio-only interview with Stanley Kubrick.
COOL HAND LUKE (1967, Dir: Stuart Rosenberg)
“What we’ve got here is failure to commun’cate…”
Why you need to have it: Paul Newman gives one of his greatest performances in one of his most iconic roles playing a staunchly rebellious southern convict who fights the system during his time on a chaingang. Featuring a stellar supporting cast including George Kennedy, Strother Martin and Harry Dean Stanton. It’s a timeless story that film fans will want to revisit for years to come. Look at our poster art feature here.
Special Features include: New digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements/Commentary by Historian/Newman Biographer Eric Lax/New Documentary: Natural Born/World Shaker: Making Cool Hand Luke/Theatrical Trailer.
CLINT EASTWOOD DIRTY HARRY: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Dirty Harry/Magnum Force/The Enforcer/Sudden Impact/The Dead Pool)
“A man has got to know his limitations.”
Why you need to have it: For crime and action film fans, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character has become an American icon. This saga of one man’s uncompromising code of justice against the criminal underworld spans 25 years and has been remastered to a stunning degree with this superb ultimate collector’s edition. Make your day and pick this collection up!
CASABLANCA: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1942, Dir: Michael Curtiz)
“Here’s lookin at you kid.”
Why you need to have it: Casablanca is one of those super perfect movies, that has it all. A cool lead, a pretty female, some exciting side kicks, great music, an amazing epic story condensed into a small bar in Casablanca, a suspenseful historic backdrop, great dialogue. Watching a movie like this as pretty as possible is almost too good to be true. Casablanca in HD is like strawberries with whip cream: so sinful.
Special Features include: Commentary by Roger Ebert/Commentary by historian Rudy Behlmer/Introduction by Lauren Bacall/Additional scenes and outtakes/Two documentaries: Bacall on Bogart, You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca/Featurette: As Time Goes By: The Children Remember with Pia Lindstrom and Stephen Bogart/Production research gallery/Homage cartoon Carrotblanca/Who Holds Tomorrow?: Premiere episode from the 1955 Warner Bros. Presents TV series adaptation of Casablanca/Scoring session outtakes/Audio-only bonus: Radio production with the movie’s three key stars/Theatrical trailer/Bonus disc of the documentary Jack Warner: The Last Mogul/Exclusive passport holder and luggage tag/48-Page Photo Book.
PLANET OF THE APES: 40 Year Evolution Collection – (Planet of The Apes/Beneath the Planet of the Apes/Escape from Planet of the Apes/Conquest of the Planet of the Apes)
“Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!”
Why you need to have it: Science fiction and pop culture fans couldn’t ask for a greater cinema collectible than this expansive set that includes all the classic Ape films remastered in high definition glory!
THE GREAT DICTATOR: Criterion Collection (1940, Dir: Charlie Chaplin)
“We’ve just discovered the most wonderful, the most marvelous poisinous gas. It will kill everybody.”
Why you need to have it: Charlie Chaplin’s first talking picture is also one of his most hysterical as well as politically powerful and deeply moving. Criterion’s newly restored release successfully broadens the visual and audio experience for classic cinema fans who have waited years for a definitive collector’s edition.
Special Features include: New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition/New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin historians Dan Kamin and Hooman Mehran/The Tramp and the Dictator (2001), a documentary narrated by filmmaker Kenneth Branagh and featuring interviews with author Ray Bradbury, director Sidney Lumet, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., screenwriter Budd Schulberg, and a host of others/Two new visual essays, by Chaplin archivist Cecilia Cenciarelli and Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance/On-set, color production footage shot by Chaplin’s half-brother, Sydney/Deleted scene from Chaplin’s 1919 film, Sunnyside.
RIO BRAVO (1959, Dir: Howard Hawks)
“Hey, Dude! How do ya like them apples?!”
Why you need to have it: Read our review here.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST: 50th Anniversary Edition (1959, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
“Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.”
Why you need to have it: One of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest thrillers which features Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill a man who finds himself thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse when he is mistaken for someone else. This furious, edge of your seat cross country adventure is The Master of Suspense at his nail biting best. The newly restored edition is must have for both Hitchcock fanatics and the all around movie lovers’ hi-definition film collection.
Special Features include: Commentary by screenwriter Ernest Lehman/New 2009 documentary: The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style/Feature-length career profile: Cary Grant: A Class Apart/North by Northwest: One for the Ages: explore the movie’s innovations and influences/Vintage 2000 documentary: Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest/Music-only audio track/Stills gallery/Theatrical trailers and TV spot.
THE SEARCHERS (1955, Dir: John Ford)
“Injun will chase a thing till he thinks he’s chased it enough. Then he quits. Same way when he runs. Seems like he never learns there’s such a thing as a critter that’ll just keep comin’ on. So we’ll find ’em in the end, I promise you. We’ll find ’em. Just as sure as the turnin’ of the earth.”
Why you need to have it: An epic western from a time when they still made westerns that were politically incorrect, historically inaccurate and so unrealistic they were what original westerns were all about: adventure tales. And The Searchers is probably the greatest tale of them all. John Wayne is at his most furious and fierce in this movie.
BULLITT (1968, Dir: Peter Yates)
“Look, you work your side of the street, and I’ll work mine.”
Why you need to have it: For fans of Steve McQueen Bullitt features his finest ‘minimalist’ style of acting. Not only do you get a great supporting cast but some superb stuntwork with one of the all time best car chases ever filmed. These details automatically make this title something to watch again and again (especially in high-def!). It’s a tough as nails police procedural that also features a dynamic score by legendary composer Lalo Schifrin!
Special Features include: Commentary by Director Peter Yates/2 Feature-Length Documentaries: - Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool – The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing in 1080p High Definition - 5.1 Audio Vintage/Featurette Bullit: Steve McQueen’s Commitment to Reality/Theatrical Trailer.
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER: Criterion Collection (1955, Dir: Charles Laughton)
“Lord, you sure knew what you were doing when you brung me to this very cell at this very time. A man with ten thousand dollars hid somewhere, and a widder in the makin’.”
Why you need to have it: Read our film review here
Special Features include: New, restored high-definition digital transfer/Audio commentary with assistant director Terry Sanders, F. X. Feeney, and more/Night of the Hunter – a treasure trove of outtakes from the film (2.5 hrs)/Interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and Jeffrey Couchman/New video interview with Simon Callow/Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show/Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show “Moving Pictures”/Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez/Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb/New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin/Original theatrical trailer/PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow.
KING KONG (1933, Dir: Merian C. Cooper/Arthur Shoedsack)
“Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”
Why you need to have it: A giant ape, an innocent girl, an exotic island and rudamentary stop motion animation: these are the basic elements that make up this emotionally captivating high adventure tale that still brings more enjoyment to classic film lovers than millions of dollars and all the hi-tech CGI in Hollywood could ever deliver.
Special Features include: Blu-ray book with production photos, notes, and a background of director Merian C. Cooper/Commentary by Ray Harryhausen, Ken Rolston, Fay Wray, and Merian C. Cooper/Two documentaries: “I’m King Kong: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper” and “RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World”/Original creation test footage with Ray Harryhausen commentary/The Lost Spider Pit sequence in its entirety.
EASY RIDER: 40th Anniversary Edition (1969, Dir: Dennis Hopper)
“It’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace.”
Why you need to have it: In 1969, cinema was undergoing a sea change in the form of a new movement of independent filmmaking. Easy Rider is one of the primary projects that ushered in the era of the 1970s and it’s furious legacy of rebellious, thought provoking cinema. Not only that, it is a highly enjoyable (not to mention rewatchable) work of pop/counter-culture filmmaking.
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948, Dir: John Huston)
“This is the country where the nuggets of gold are just crying out for you to take them out of the ground and make ’em shine in coins on the fingers and necks of swell dames.”
Why you need to have it: Read our film review here
Special Features include: Audio Commentary – Bogart biographer Eric Lax/Warner Night at the Movies 1948/Documentary: “John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick/Documentary: “Discovering Treasure: The Story of ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre/Vintage Cartoon: 8 Ball Bunny/Lux Radio Theater Broadcast /Theatrical Trailer.
TAXI DRIVER (1976, Dir: Martin Scorsese)
“The idea had been growing in my brain for some time: TRUE force. All the king’s men cannot put it back together again.”
Why you need to have it: As we have explored in our exclusive review of this restoration in our article about its Berlin premiere (read more), the movie has never looked this good, but it has kept its grittiness. This BluRay (read our review) brings back an old audio commentary that was much heralded and exhibits the movie in a really extravagant restoration. A must own.
BLOW OUT: Criterion Collection (1981, Dir: Brian DePalma)
“It’s a good scream.”
Why you need to have it: Read our Blu Fury review here.
STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA (1977-2005)
“Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.”
Why you need to have it: This long awaited mega release of George Lucas’ science fiction space opera epic is a must own for film fans, plain and simple.
Special Features: Impossible to count. Especially nice however on Disc 7 or so: THE STAR WARS DOCUMENTARIES