The title tells the truth. Even by 1930's golden age of Hollywood standards, these five movies are literary masterpieces and true film classics. I remember all five fondly as a teenager in the late 1960's and early 1970's in long-gone San Francisco art theaters, and cut to threads on morning prize movie TV shows. It is an honor to watch them now in a comfortable bedroom, uncut and non-commercial. They are, of course, MGM studio print editions that in one instance, MARIE ANTOINETTE, even contains roadshow music and an intermission never seen on television.
TREASURE ISLAND (1934) stars Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, was directed by Victor Fleming (CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, GONE WITH THE WIND), and is based on a Robert Louis Stevenson novel about pirates and buried treasure. In gorgeous B&W, it reunites Beery and Cooper from THE CHAMP (1931) and also features Lionel Barrymore and Lewis Stone. Come to think about it, this is a reunion for half the cast of GRAND HOTEL (1932).
DAVID COPPERFIELD and A TALE OF TWO CITIES (both 1935) are towering masterpieces based on Charles Dickens novels; both are impeccably produced by David O. Selznick. Painstakingly faithful to very long books, they both have gorgeous art direction and are cast to perfection down to the bit roles: W.C. Fields as Micawber, Freddie Bartholomew and Frank Lawton as David, Basil Rathbone as Mr. Murdstone, and Edna May Oliver as Aunt Betsey in DAVID; and Ronald Colman in maybe his greatest performance in TALE, which also features Oliver and Rathbone. At about 130 minutes each, they are long enough to do justice to the Dickens novels; I am sure he would have loved both immensely.
MARIE ANTOINETTE (1938), presented in a never-seen 157 minute roadshow edition, has an Oscar-nominated Norma Shearer in a wonderful role. If someone wanted to know who Shearer was, I would show this incredibly opulent and literate costume romance to them. It is the underrated masterpiece of this box set and also stars Tyrone Power and an Oscar-nominated Robert Morley as a shy, child-like King Louis XVI. The magnificent art direction and regal music were also Oscar-nominated. W.S. Van Dyke (THE THIN MAN, SAN FRANCISCO) directed.
Finally, we have a splendidly cast and written adaptation of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940), starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Oliver as Mr. Darcy. Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin scripted this lovely and witty romantic comedy of manners that won an Oscar for B&W Interior Set Decoration.
But you don't just get five great movies in this Warner Home Video boxed set. TREASURE ISLAND also comes with two shorts, a cartoon, and a theatrical trailer. DAVID COPPERFIELD has the marvelous Technicolor short PIRATE PARTY AT CATALINA ISLE, along with a second Technicolor short, a cartoon, and a theatrical trailer. A TALE OF TWO CITIES has a memorable 60 minute Lux Radio Theater adaptation of TALE from 1942, starring Ronald Colman, along with two vintage cartoons and the theatrical trailer. MARIE ANTOINETTE has two shorts and a theatrical trailer, all tied in to the 1938 movie. And PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has an Oscar-nominated patriotic short on Navy training during World War Two, plus a color cartoon and theatrical trailer. It is one hell of a DVD boxed set, a labor of love and an absolute must-see on a slow TV week.