Film specs are courtesy of IMDB. These DVD transfers conform to those specs without exception. Sound for all six films was done by Westrex Recording System. Each film has its own chapter-encoded DVD in its own thin-style keep case, all packaged together in one slip case. Outstanding transfer! Purists should remember that these films were made 40 to 50 years ago, and take that into account when critiquing things like picture and mono sound fidelity, which are consistently crisp and blemish-free for these six films.
Mirage, 1965, Edward Dmytryk, 1.85:1, 108 min, b/w, mono sound; based on Howard Fast's 1952 novel (Fallen Angel; Little, Brown and Company; 1952; as Walter Ericson); a beautiful black and white anamorphic wide screen picture in its original aspect ratio; first time on DVD. Good noir photography and a Quincy Jones musical score adorn this edge-of-the-chair nightmarish tale of amnesia, conspiracy and murder. Peck was never better; with a stellar supporting cast of Diane Baker, Walter Matthau, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Weston, Leif Erickson, George Kennedy, and Robert Harris. Except for a couple loose ends and a dated conclusion, it still rates 5 stars!
Arabesque, 1966, Stanley Donen, 2.35:1, 105 min, Panavision Technicolor, mono sound; co-star Sophia Loren; vibrant anamorphic widescreen color picture. Light entertainment only; the film is second-rate in comparison with Charade or To Catch A Thief, which it tries (unsuccessfully) to imitate. Previously out on DVD but almost impossible to find. 3 stars for the film.
Captain Newman, M.D, 1963, David Miller, 1.85:1, 126 min, Eastman Color by Pathe, mono sound; vibrant anamorphic widescreen color picture with music by Frank Skinner. Supporting cast includes Tony Curtis, Angie Dickenson, Eddie Albert, and a very young Robert Duvall. Way too long, desperately needing cuts! Scenes range from a WWII soldiers' mental ward suicide one minute, to a Santa-costumed Tony Curtis leading the recovering soldiers in singing Jingle Bells the next. Maybe watch this one at Christmas? The DVD keep-case erroneously lists running time as 91 minutes. 3 stars for the film.
The World In His Arms, 1952, Raoul Walsh, 1.37:1, 104 min, color by Technicolor, mono. Picture is full screen 1.33:1, the original aspect ratio, with music by Frank Skinner. Supporting cast includes Ann Blythe, Anthony Quinn, and a cast of thousands (of seals). Colors are vibrant with some fine but not intrusive grain, not surprising considering the film's age: one could hardly expect better. SPOILER ALERT: A rousing, swashbuckling rogue sea captain (Peck) and his sealskin-poaching pirates fight the 1850s Alaska Ruskies, with Peck snatching the about-to-be-married (Countess) Blyth away from the evil Ruskie's marriage clutches mere moments before the final vows! 3.5 stars for the film.
To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962, Robert Mulligan, 1.85:1, 129 min, b/w, mono; black and white anamorphic wide screen picture, in its original aspect ratio. Sound is generally fine though the kids' diction lacked clarity. Won three Oscars! Concerns childhood and race prejudice in the 1932 depression-era south; and a white lawyer (Peck) defending a black man accused of assault and rape of a white woman. Aside from Peck, the principal actors are really the three kids who have far more screen time than anyone else: Phillip Alford, age 14; Mary Badham, age 10; and the youngest of the three (age five, maybe six; not credited but whose role exceeded that of most adult actors whose credited roles were barely more than cameos). A MESSAGE film so boring it must spice up the action with a racist white mob hell-bent on a hanging; and a racist, drunken white-male stereotype who also attacks women and children on the side. 2 stars for the kids.
Cape Fear, 1962, J. Lee Thompson, 1.85:1, 105 min, b/w, mono; co-star Robert Mitchum; supporting cast includes Polly Bergen, Martin Balsam, and Telly Savalas. Beautiful black and white anamorphic wide screen picture in its original aspect ratio: incredible black and white noir photography with a formidable Bernard Herrmann musical score, and with great performances from Mitchum and Peck. After viewing (and hearing!) the quality of this production and the stark film-noir imagery and atmospherics, that this film was remade in 1991 demonstrates the abject poverty of modern Hollywood thinking: Who would want to watch an inferior would-be substitute remake (or any of these modern slasher pics for that matter) instead of this masterpiece? For better appreciation you might want to watch the 28-minute making-of documentary first. 5 stars for the film.
Special Features: To Kill A Mockingbird's keep case encloses a second DVD which has two documentaries: A Conversation with Gregory Peck, encoded with 18 chapters at 97:23 minutes; and Fearful Symmetry, a making-of documentary, encoded with 24 chapters at 90 minutes. The Cape Fear DVD also contains a making-of documentary at 27:45 minutes; a self-playing montage of production photograph stills intercut with full-sound segments of the film and closing with a gallery of eight posters and a few stills, at 4:48 minutes; and an original theatrical trailer, at 2:06 minutes. Picture and sound of these special features is fine.
Adding .4 stars for the fine transfer quality and general product excellence to the averaged film rating of 3.6 stars sums to 4 stars.