Grace Kelly Collection (2014) PICK
Looney Tunes: The Platinum Collection, Vol. 3 (2014) PICK
Recent home video releases include a couple of worthwhile Blu-ray collections from Warner Home Video.
The Grace Kelly Collection omits Kelly’s two most acclaimed films — High Noon and Rear Window — but with five films for under $20 at Amazon, it’s a bargain anyway.
The best of the lot is Dial M For Murder (1954). Kelly’s first Hitchcock film is a well-constructed thriller with an elaborately convoluted plot about a tennis pro plotting to have his wealthy, unfaithful wife murdered. He seems to have planned the perfect murder, but Kelly’s lover, an American mystery writer, says there’s no such thing in real life.
Then there’s Kelly’s last Hitchcock, To Catch a Thief (1955), a frothy trifle with Cary Grant as a dapper onetime cat burglar and French Resistance fighter and Kelly at her most glamorous as a frivolous American heiress. Although the plot is lightweight and slack, there’s a relaxed charm to the picture, with its spectacular location shooting and Grant and Kelly’s banter.
Kelly’s least glamorous performance, and possibly her best, occasioned her an Oscar: In The Country Girl (1954) she plays the long-suffering wife of broken, sodden Bing Crosby, a fading performer whom stage director William Holden is trying to rehabilitate as the star of his new musical.
The two remaining films, both remakes, are the first and last films of Kelly’s career. Mogambo (1953), Kelly’s debut, is a safari adventure-romance directed by John Ford, with Kelly, Clark Gable and Ava Gardner in a rather silly romantic triangle. Kelly’s last film, High Society, re-teams her with Bing Crosby for a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story. (Crosby plays the Cary Grant role, while Frank Sinatra takes the Jimmy Stewart role; I’d have reversed them.)
Then there’s Looney Tunes: The Platinum Collection, Vol. 3, continuing the migration of the classic Looney Tunes library to Blu-ray.
Among the best and most beloved shorts in this collection are Bully for Bugs, with Bugs as a matador taking on a massive black toro (one of the few cartoons in which Bugs’ antagonist gets in a few good licks); Hillbilly Hare, pitting Bugs against a pair of hillbillies (culminating in a spectacular comic square-dance gambit that the hillbillies never wise up to); and A Hare Grows in Manhattan, in which Bugs recounts his humble origins.
There are also some notable non-Bugs shorts, my favorite of which is Steal Wool, pitting Ralph Wolf against Sam Sheepdog. Great stuff.
Caveat Spectator: Grace Kelly Collection: All these films are suitable for teens and up. Looney Tunes: Fine family viewing.