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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Comedy > Thriller > Mystery > Spy > Drama > Medical > The Gregory Peck Film Collection (Universal DVD)

The Gregory Peck Film Collection (Universal DVD)




The World In His Arms (1952) C+/C+/D/C+


To Kill A Mockingbird – Special Edition (1962)  B-/B-/A-/A-


Cape Fear (1962)  C+/C+/C+/B-


Captain Newman, M.D. (1963) C+/C+/D/B-


Mirage (1965) C+/C+/D/C+


Arabesque (1966) B-/C+/D/B



Without any doubt, Gregory Peck is one of the great leading men going back to his earliest appearances in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 masterwork Spellbound.  Hitting new highs and peaks over at Universal, he made some of his most interesting and important films, six of which have been collected in the new DVD box set The Gregory Peck Film Collection.  The transfers are pretty good and we’ll now look at each film, some of which had never been issued on DVD before until now in the U.S. market.



The World In His Arms is a Raoul Walsh drama with Peck as a sea captain (in the 1850s!) and Ann Blyth as a Russian Countess.  It is a beautiful production with a mixed script, decent acting (including Anthony Quinn) and is a romance with mixed results.  The money is on the screen, though and it has its moments.  The DVD includes the original theatrical trailer.



To Kill A Mockingbird is dubbed a “Special Edition” on the back of the box, but is actually the newer Legacy Edition of this classic that we already covered at this link:




Cape Fear is the original 1962 edition of the thriller that has been in print for years and is J. Lee Thompson’s memorable look at the thin line between innocence and guilt, good and evil and pits Peck against Robert Mitchum in a film Martin Scorsese later remade into a hit.  Extras include stills and a making of featurette.



Captain Newman, M.D. has Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Eddie Albert, James Gregory, Robert Duvall, Bethel Leslie, Jane Withers, Dick Sargent, Larry Storch, Vito Scotti, Barry Atwater, Jack Grinnage, Ted Bessell and Bobby Darin in this David Miller–directed drama/comedy set in 1944 in a mental institute and during WWWII.  The film is good and Darin is impressive in a role recently revisited by Kevin Spacey, whose Darin film Beyond The Sea recreates the behind the scenes of this film briefly.  Bold for its time, it holds up better than expected and deserves rediscovery.



Mirage is another one of Edward Dmytryk’s interesting post-HUAC commercial film thrillers in which Peck plays an amnesia victim who slowly starts to investigate what is going on, who is his friend, his enemy and who is after what.  Peter Stone (Charade, Arabesque) wrote the script, but it just becomes too muddled despite the talent involved.  The cast includes Walter Matthau, Diane Baker, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Weston, Leif Erickson, Walter Abel, George Kennedy and Franklin Cover.  It would be remade only three years later as Jigsaw.



Arabesque is my personal favorite on the set, long overdue for release on DVD with Peck as a professor of hieroglyphics who is recruited to figure out the meaning of a message he is unaware was obtained by murdering its carrier.  Soon, he finds himself in a web of intrigue that includes a power struggle between visiting Arab powers, a mysterious, beautiful woman played by Sophia Loren in her best outright Hollywood film work ever and is one of director Stanley Donen’s greatest, most underrated films.


Though he had great success with Charade (1963), Donen was unhappy with his film being compared to the work of Alfred Hitchcock over and over again as if he was just some imitator.  The film was much more and Donen decided to make another witty thriller and go all out in a way that would distinguish it from Hitchcock’s work, even if it was still in the Hitchcock mode.  This time, it would be shot in real anamorphic Panavision (a format Hitchcock never used), have even more action & spy elements and with his cinematographer Christopher Callis (who was also Director of Photography on Charade) to push the camera and composition in every way imaginable, no matter how unusual, distorted, unique or wild.  Add Henry Mancini’s score (including the great instrumental theme song) and the result is a great comic thriller that was even more in the spirit of the new spy thrillers (think The Ipcress File and the darker side of the Bond films) than Hitchcock, who was set in his own style with Spy thrillers like Torn Curtain (1966, same year and studio) and Topaz (1969).  The film would influence everything from The Spy Who Loved Me to True Lies and will continue to be one of the great films of its genre, as well as one of the visual Hollywood A-productions of its time.  Henry Mancini’s theme song and score are also




The 1.33 X 1 Technicolor image on World is pretty good for color, though detail can be an issue; one that will hopefully be solved when the Blu-ray arrives.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Mockingbird is better than Cape Fear (which is simply an older transfer of good film materials), Mirage (which is a bit softer than I would have liked) and Newman (which is Eastman/PathéColor and is a bit pale).  The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Arabesque is the real winner here, as shot in real anamorphic Panavision and printed in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor, this often looks like one of those great prints,


Except for Mockingbird with its 5.1 upgrades, all the films have good, clean for their age Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks form the original theatrical mono sound.  Only Mockingbird, World and Cape Fear have extras, as noted above, but they all should have at least had trailers and Arabesque deserved even more.  Still, this is a fine set and highly recommended.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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