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The Steve McQueen Collection (Gift Set) (4 Discs)


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A stirring example of courage and the indomitable human spirit, for many John Sturges's The Great Escape (1963) is both the definitive World War II drama and the nonpareil prison escape movie. Featuring an unequalled ensemble cast in a rivetingly authentic true-life scenario set to Elmer Bernstein's admirable music, this picture is both a template for subsequent action-adventure movies and one of the last glories of Golden Age Hollywood. Reunited with the director who made him a star in The Magnificent Seven, Steve McQueen gives a career-defining performance as the laconic Hilts, the baseball-loving, motorbike-riding "Cooler King." The rest of the all-male Anglo-American cast--Dickie Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, James Coburn, and Gordon Jackson--make the most of their meaty roles (though you have to forgive Coburn his Australian accent). Closely based on Paul Brickhill's book, the various escape attempts, scrounging, forging, and ferreting activities are authentically realized thanks also to technical advisor Wally Flood, one of the original tunnel-digging POWs. Sturges orchestrates the climax with total conviction, giving us both high action and very poignant human drama. Without trivializing the grim reality, The Great Escape thrillingly celebrates the heroism of men who never gave up the fight.

Akira Kurosawa's rousing Seven Samurai was a natural for an American remake--after all, the codes and conventions of ancient Japan and the Wild West (at least the mythical movie West) are not so very far apart. Thus The Magnificent Seven (1960) effortlessly turns samurai into cowboys. The beleaguered denizens of a Mexican village, weary of attacks by banditos, hire seven gunslingers to repel the invaders once and for all. The gunmen are cool and capable, with most of the actors playing them just on the cusp of '60s stardom: Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn. The man who brings these warriors together is Yul Brynner, the baddest bald man in the West. There's nothing especially stylish about the approach of veteran director John Sturges (The Great Escape), but the storytelling is clear and strong, and the charisma of the young guns fairly flies off the screen. If that isn't enough to awaken the 12-year-old kid inside anyone, the unforgettable Elmer Bernstein music will do it: bum-bum-ba-bum, bum-ba-bum-ba-bum....

Millionaire businessman Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) is also a high-stakes thief; his latest caper is an elaborate heist at a Boston bank. Why does he do it? For the same reason he flies gliders, bets on golf strokes, and races dune buggies: he needs the thrill to feel alive. Insurance investigator Vicky Anderson (Faye Dunaway) gets her own thrills by busting crooks, and she's got Crown in her cross hairs. Naturally, these two will get it on, because they have a lot in common: they're not people, they're walking clothes racks. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) is a catalog of '60s conventions, from its clipped editing style to its photographic trickery (the inventive Haskell Wexler behind the camera) to its mod design. You can almost sense director Norman Jewison deciding to "tell his story visually," like those newfangled European films; this would explain the long passages of Michel Legrand's lounge jazz ladled over endless montages of the pretty Dunaway and McQueen at play. (The opening-credits song, "Windmills of Your Mind," won an Oscar.) It's like a "What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?" ad come to life, and much more interesting as a cultural snapshot than a piece of storytelling.

Junior Bonner (1972) is director Sam Peckinpah's lovely, elegiac look at the world of the rodeo--and his only film with nary a bullet wound. Steve McQueen, engagingly easygoing but determined, is the title character, a rodeo rider out to win a big bull-riding contest in his hometown. Even as he confronts his dwindling days on the circuit, he also must deal with his feuding parents, marvelously played by Robert Preston and Ida Lupino. Preston is particularly good as the randy old con artist; he and Lupino strike real sparks. Peckinpah's slow-motion camera is put to particularly good use filming the balletic violence of the rodeo, at once more terrifying and awe-inspiring than any gun battle. A lovely country-western valentine to a dying breed.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Flawless May 18 2005
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
In The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, Steve McQueen gives worthy performances but they are more or less ensemble films. In ESCAPE you might argue that McQueen is the actual star and the other characters, vivid as they are, serve only to support him, but in SEVEN he's not even the main star. People like myself with action fever in our blood think the world of these two films, early exposures to adrenaline pumping, and we remember them with the same intake of breath we remember the first time we jumped out of a plane or got into a fistfight.

In JUNIOR BONNER, the action is more subtle, though the rodeo background is colorful and McQueen, a little more weathered, is even better than before. His tangles with Ida Lupino are legendary and she was never better than in this film, a nice valedictory on Sam Peckinpah's part to one of Britain's (and Hollywood's) finest actresses, a woman who could spit out nails when she wanted to and a fitting progenitor for McQueen's icy stare (she plays his mother). It's a softer and more lyrical Peckinpah film, unlike the later THE GETAWAY (also with McQueen, although not in this boxed set).

Finally there's Norman Jewison's remake/remodel of Steve McQueen as a dashing, dapper Cary Grant type in the sophisticated caper thriller THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. To McQueen's credit, he was able to st-r-e-t-ch his screen image to accommodate the rapier verbal wit of the screenplay as well as do his customary "blue haze" screen stare. Faye Dunaway, as the curious heroine, is also very good and hardly mannered at all. When the film appeared, there was a lot of attention paid to their chess scene, which more or less frankly tried to imitate the baroque erotics of TOM JONES' famous "eating scene" with Albert Finney. Everything in the sequence is a complex double entendre, and often the actors are photographed in intense closeup, letting their eyes do all the talking for them. It works today, even though it has itself been imitated dozens of times since. On the entertaining commentary track Jewison acknowledges the prickly personae of his stars, and hints at how difficult they both could be, and he'll make you smile with some of his insider info.

This MGM set is released at a low (if not quite budget) price and has four great films in it. The competing McQueen set may have more discs, but it has more duds too. You pay your money, and you make your choice!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A nice sampling from McQueen's career June 6 2005
By Cubist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The one word that is always used to describe actor Steve McQueen is cool. He was the essence of cool. The movies he made were always considered the epitome of cool. He was a hard working, hard playing rebel who had the kind of dangerous charisma that women found attractive and men wanted to emulate. McQueen died in 1980 but left behind a considerable legacy. MGM has repackaged several of his movies in a box set that provides an interesting cross-section of his work, that ranges from the ensemble piece, The Magnificent Seven to the rich, characterization of Junior Bonner that would mark his later films.

McQueen died from lung cancer at the age of 50 but left and enduring legacy behind. He continues to be a much admired and respected actor. This box set is a fitting reminder of the kind of range McQueen was capable of as an actor.

On The Magnificent Seven DVD there is an audio commentary by James Coburn, Eli Wallach, producer Walter Mirisch and assistant director Robert Relyea. This is a solid commentary packed with rich anecdotes with no one person dominating.

"Guns for Hire: The Making of The Magnificent Seven," is a retrospective look at the making of this classic. Most of the main cast are interviewed either in new or vintage footage in this excellent documentary.

There are two trailers and a still gallery with behind the scenes photos, portraits and production and poster art. *NOTE* However, be forewarned, this is not the awesome 2-DVD Special Edition that came out awhile ago. Why MGM didn't include this version in the box set is beyond me. Disappointing.

The Great Escape DVD features a decent making of documentary entitled, "Return to the Great Escape." Interestingly, the screenplay was never finished and this upset McQueen so much (because his part had not been defined) that he walked out after six weeks demanding his part be rewritten. It took Coburn and Garner to coax him back.

Also included is a theatrical trailer.

The Thomas Crown Affair disc has an audio commentary by Norman Jewison. He admits that the film places an emphasis on style over content and saw it as an experiment in film style. This is a solid track from the veteran filmmaker.

There is also a trailer.

Finally, on the Junior Bonner DVD is an audio commentary by Peckinpah authors Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle with moderator Nick Redman. They point out the richness of the direction and how it is a very visual film with minimal use of dialogue, especially McQueen's character. Like with their Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia commentary track, these guys provide an excellent analysis of the movie.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: March 21 2005
By iLLMATiC81 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Description for Steve McQueen Giftset - 4 Pack DVD

--This exciting compilation features four classic Steve McQueen adventures, described individually below:

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) - John Sturges's dramatization of the true story of a group of British, American, and Canadian POWs who successfully escaped from Stalag Luft III in Upper Silesia in March 1944 remains arguably the best World War II adventure film ever made. A host of excellent up-and-coming actors, including James Garner (MAVERICK and THE ROCKFORD FILES), Richard Attenborough (future director of GANDHI), James Coburn (IN LIKE FLINT), and Charles Bronson (DEATH WISH) mesh beautifully in this meticulous recreation of the legendary escape. The German high command rounded up all of the allies' most talented escape artists and placed them in a POW camp specifically designed to foil any unwanted departures, but many of them laboriously tunnel out anyway. Steve McQueen's thrilling motorcycle chase sequence instantly made him a major movie star.

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) - John Sturges's remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic THE SEVEN SAMURAI has become an extremely influential film in its own right. A small farming Mexican village that makes involuntary donations of its harvest to a gang of bandits led by Calvera (Eli Wallach) decides to hire a group of professional gunmen, headed by gunslinger-for-hire Chris (Yul Brynner), to protect them. Despite the meager pay, Chris and Vin (Steve McQueen) sign on after the Mexicans see them face down some racist thugs. As they ride back to the village, Chris begins to pick up other gunmen, including Bernardo (Charles Bronson), Lee (Robert Vaughan), Britt (James Coburn, looking eerily like his alter ego in the Kurosawa epic), Harry (Brad Dexter), and aspiring gunslinger Chico (Horst Buchholz falling short in the role played to perfection by Toshiro Mifune in the Japanese original). This rousing action film launched the movie careers of McQueen, Coburn, and Bronson. Although McQueen's character had only a few lines of dialogue, Sturges told the young actor that he would "give him the camera," and certainly kept his word. The movie also benefits tremendously from the unforgettably polyrhythmic score by Elmer Bernstein, among the most famous in film history, so popular and effective that it was used to sell Marlboro cigarettes for years afterward (and was memorably "sampled" in a very early Yes album from the 70s).

JUNIOR BONNER (1972) - Steve McQueen plays Junior Bonner, an aging rodeo champ who returns to his hometown to participate in the annual rodeo. He finds his family estranged, does what he can to help, and then moves on...after some serious rodeo riding and a few brawls. Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, and Ben Johnson lend strong support to McQueen's laconic loner.

THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968) - Rich and charming (but thrill-seeking) businessman Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) must be the last person anyone would suspect as a bank-robbing mastermind, but Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway of NETWORK and BONNIE AND CLYDE), the insurance investigator assigned to the case, gradually catches on. A memorably erotic chess match between McQueen and Dunaway, both at their stratospheric career heights when the movie was filmed, serves as a metaphor for their relationship in the film.

DVD Features:

Region 1

4-Disc Box Set

Disc 1: THE GREAT ESCAPE

Widescreen - 2.35

Single Side - Dual Layer

Audio:

---Dolby Digital Mono - English

---Dolby Digital Mono - French

Additional Release Material:

---Making-of

---Trailers - 1. Original Theatrical Trailer

Text/Photo Galleries:

---Production Notes

---Additional Text - 1. Trivia

Disc 2: JUNIOR BONNER

Widescreen - 2.35

Audio:

---Mono - English

Additional Release Material:

---Audio Commentary

---Trailers - 1. Original Theatrical Trailer

Disc 3: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Keep Case

Widescreen - 2.35

Audio:

---Dolby Digital 5.1 - English

---Dolby Digital Mono - Spanish

---Dolby Digital Mono - French

Additional Release Material:

---Audio Commentary - 1. Eli Wallach - Star, James Coburn - Star

---Trailer - 1. Original Theatrical

---Documentary

Text/Photo Galleries:

---Stills/Photos - 1. Gallery

Additional Products:

---Booklet

Disc 4: THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR

Full Frame - 1.33

Letterboxed - 1.85

Audio:

---Mono - English

---Subtitles - English - Optional

---Subtitles - French - Optional

Additional Release Material:

---Audio Commentary - 1. Norman Jewison - Director

---Trailers - 1. Original Theatrical Trailer

Additional Products:

---8-Page Booklet featuring Trivia, Production Notes, and Making of the Film

Release Info:

--Color Film

--Year Released: 1960-1972

--RunTime: 502 Min.

--Release Language: English

--Original Language: English
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
action star Aug. 25 2008
By Bennet Pomerantz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Actor Steve McQueen was a man of a few words and plenty of action...Whether it be horses, motorcycles or a dune buggy, he takes the film goer for the thrill ride that they never will forget

The four in this collection (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Junior Bonner) highlight McQueen as action star.

In the Magnificent Seven, MCQueen is one of seven gunslingers (Others include Yul Brenner, Brad Dexter, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, and James Colburn) who protect a small town from bandits Lead by Eli Wallach

In The Great Escape, McQueen plays the Coller King. He is part of a POW Camp in Germany who work out an escape plan. In the cass are the acting talents of Charles Bronson, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Colburn and David McCallum. Great Motorcycles stunts are part this film.

In the film Junior Bonner, This film is a tribute to the rodeo and its cowboys. McQueen plays the title character.

There is a cat and mouse game between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. This stylist caper mystery plays out in the jet setters playground and trapping of the 1960's.

All these films are well made and still holds up today. If you like these four films, seek out more McQueen stuff like The Essential Steve McQueen Collection (Bullitt Two-Disc Special Edition / The Getaway Deluxe Edition / The Cincinnati Kid / Papillon / Tom Horn / Never So Few) for more action and thrills or Wanted: Dead or Alive - Season One

Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
Two great movies out of four Nov. 16 2014
By Kelvin Garvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Two great movies out of four. The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven are two milestones in movie making. Both movies have brilliant casts and are well put together. Junior Bonner and The Thomas Crown Affair, on the other hand, are looking quite dated with their weird montages. You probably wouldn't normally notice them but I watched one after the other and both movies used this to bad effect. Still the set was reasonably good value.

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