Movie mobsters highlight newly released Blu-ray sets

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

Edward G. Robinson as the title character in "Little Caesar" is wounded in a drive-by shooting. The film made Robinson a star in 1931.

Warner Bros.

Classic mobster movies old and young are being released in upgraded Blu-ray packaging, as are two of the “Vacation” comedies.

“Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1931-49, b/w, five discs, $49.99, featurettes, documentary: “Public Enemies: the Golden Age of the Gangster Film”; 32-page booklet).

“Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Contemporary” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1975-2006; R for violence, language, sex, drugs; five discs, $49.99, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes; 32-page booklet). Digging into its vast archives, Warner Bros. has upgraded to Blu-ray four classic mob movies from the 1930s and ’40s and reissued Blu-rays of five more recent gangland pictures.

“Classics” includes the films that made stars of Edward G. Robinson (“Little Caesar”), James Cagney (“The Public Enemy”) and Humphrey Bogart (“The Petrified Forest,” though it would be a few more years before he would climb to the level of Robinson and Cagney). Also here is a later Cagney classic, “White Heat.” All are excellent black-and-white films and each looks fabulous with crisp definition in these new editions.

“Contemporary” has five films, three directed by Martin Scorsese and four starring Robert De Niro: “Mean Streets,” “The Untouchables,” “Goodfellas,” “Heat” and “The Departed,” all of which are very good pictures, albeit very deserving of their R ratings.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1983; R for language, nudity, sex; $19.98, new introduction, audio commentary, episode of “Inside Story,” trailer).

Vegas Vacation” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1997, PG, $19.98). The original “Vacation” film starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo is a Blu-ray re-release with all the previously issued bonus features, along with a 2011 episode of A&E’s cable series “Inside Story,” which spends 90 minutes discussing the making of the movie. The film itself is quite racy, earning its R rating, and is equal parts hilarious and lame. But it was a huge hit, No. 11 on the 1983 box-office chart, a list led by “Return of the Jedi.” For “Vegas Vacation,” Chase and D’Angelo (and Randy Quaid) return for this fourth and final theatrical film, a so-so effort, and the first in the series to get a PG rating (earlier sequels are PG-13).

My Neighbor Totoro” (Disney/Blu-ray, 1988, G, $39.99, Blu-ray and DVD versions, featurettes, storyboards, trailers).

Howl’s Moving Castle” (Disney/Blu-ray, 2004, PG, $39.99, Blu-ray and DVD versions, featurettes, storyboards, trailers). These Japanese animated favorites by Hayao Miyazaki, dubbed in English by star performers, including Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Jean Simmons and Billy Crystal, were released in this country by Disney and remain popular with cartoon buffs. Both are wildly imaginative fantasies involving children and both are highly entertaining and visually striking.

E-MAIL: hicks@deseretnews.com

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