The Brothers Warner (2008/Documentary/Warner Bros. DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Documentary: B
greatest early stories of the rise of Hollywood
become more distant every day, yet deserve to be heard. Even that of the family behind Warner Bros.
Studios has been lost in the shuffle for too long. Cass Warner Sperling has created a solid,
must-see documentary called The Brothers
Warner (2008) finally making its way to DVD so everyone can find out the
amazing story on how one of the biggest movies studios ever built got that way.
business from the outset, the family was originally involved in other endeavors
and trying to get by, maybe finding a way to make a fortune and stickling
together… at least at first. Albert,
Jack, Harry and Sam were the four brothers who would eventually form the studio
which began when two of them saw a silent film for the first time and kept
rewatching it until they were thrown out of the theater. They agreed that night to get into the
business and when one of them picked up an old Edison 35mm projector with a
copy of The Great Train Robbery
(1903) in it, they opened their first movie theater in New Castle, PA.
there, they found they could not get enough product to fill the projector, so
they decided to get into producing films never imagining what would
follow. They hung in there while larger
studios like Triangle, MGM and Paramount
reigned during the silent era, then when one of them discovered the Vitaphone
system for sound hey bet the house on it.
Even when the wife of one of the brothers who worked at Paramount insist
they cash the system in with that studio, the family intervened and cinema
history was changed forever when they hired Al Jolson to make The Jazz Singer (1927, reviewed elsewhere
on this site) and they became the next major movie studio. They have been a major ever since.
is more than just about film history, it is about people, the American Dream
and the history of no less than the United States itself. It shows that the heart and soul of the
studio was by human beings and it is they who ultimately make the best
films. It also shows how ahead of their
time the family was, a legacy to this day that has continued to make Warner
more often than not the #1 studio in the world.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 image is a mix of new interviews and vintage
footage that shows us as much as it can in its 94 minutes about a studio whose
archives are one of the largest we will ever see. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is just fine
with little audio trouble and its share of old monophonic archive audio. There are no extras, but more than enough
here in the main program to own the disc.
- Nicholas Sheffo