The Bonus Disc:
With this “Columbia Classics Collection” 4K UHD package, we get six of the studio’s most acclaimed movies. These span nearly 60 years from 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to 1996’s Jerry Maguire.
Five of the six received nominations for the Best Picture Academy Award, and two – 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia and 1982’s Gandhi - took home the big prize.
Four of the six also won at least one Oscar. 1964’s Dr. Strangelove got three nominations but went home empty, while 1992’s A League of Their Own received zero Oscar love despite the presence of a popular Madonna song on the soundtrack.
Though this article covers the set as a whole, I want to concentrate mainly on the package’s final platter. Called “Bonus Disc”, this standard DVD includes two added programs.
From 1975, we get excerpts from Columbia Pictures 50th Anniversary TV Special. Narrated by Orson Welles, it runs 44 minutes, 45 seconds and features comments from filmmaker Frank Capra and actors Ernest Borgnine, Rosalind Russell, Glenn Ford and Phil Silvers.
Though we do get a smattering of notes from the subjects mentioned above and see some prominent locations, “Anniversary” exists more as a repository for movie clips. It’s watchable for archival reasons but that’s about it, as it brings few actual informative nuggets to the table.
With Mr. Attenborough and Mr. Gandhi, we find a 50-minute, 45-second documentary from 1983. It delivers comments from director Richard Attenborough, co-producer Rani Dube, production designer Stuart Craig, Gandhi Museum’s Usha Metha, Gandhi’s secretary Pyarelal, assistant to the director Michael White, assistant director Steve Lanning, and actors John Mills, Candice Bergen, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen, Alyque Padamsee, and Geraldine James.
Most of this documentary mixes shots from the set with film snippets. Interview material appears somewhat infrequently and fails to tell us much of use, though we do get a handful of notes that relate to the historical Gandhi.
The behind the scenes material works fine, though the awful quality of the videotape makes it less than appealing. This documentary fares better than the dull “Anniversary” but it never becomes especially compelling, as we don’t learn enough about the production.
Finally, the “Columbia Classics” package includes a hardcover book. It mixes photos, archival materials and essays. This becomes a nice addition to the set.
With six well-regarded movies, “Columbia Classics” offers a little something for everyone. Of course, some of the films fare better than others, but this nonetheless becomes a nice collection of films. The 4K UHDs present all six well, with high-caliber picture and audio as well as useful supplements. This bonus DVD doesn’t add much value to the package, but it does no harm.
With a list price of almost $165, viewers will need to enjoy most of the movies to make a purchase worthwhile. If you fit that bill, you’ll find this package well worth the money.