Last year, Universal and Paramount celebrated their centennial years with a deluge of deluxe packagings, repackagings and restorations of their greatest screen hits on DVD and Blu-ray, but Warner
There will also be five 20-film DVD collections released throughout the year, including a Best Picture Oscar winners package and bundles of musicals, romances, comedies and thrillers. In addition, “The Best of Warner Bros. Animation” collections will be released throughout the year, along with a roundup of essential “Superman” live action and animated TV shows.
For the big sets, two fascinating new documentaries have been made: “Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot” and “The Warner Bros. Lot Tour.” The former is mainly full of interviews with current stars (Steve Carrell, Ben Affleck, William H. Macy, Michael Keaton), surviving former heads of various studio departments, people recalling the rise and fall of the not lovingly-remembered Jack Warner (except by 90-something Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who adored the guy), and Clint Eastwood grinning about his name being plastered across the lot’s new and improved recording studio.
Obviously, Eastwood has been the studio’s king in the last 40 years of its existence, through several administrations. While bosses have come and gone, Eastwood has remained tall in the saddle. Many years after Bette Davis, James Cagney, Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart have passed into the star-dusty mists of history, Eastwood is worthy of having his name on the studio water tower — and he says so, laughingly, in the “Tales” documentary.
As far as recent history goes, we can’t help but agree. But from the late ’30s to the early ’60s, Warner Bros. also made the best cartoons of any studio. Maybe Bugs Bunny’s name should be up there, too.
— Gene Triplett
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