- Actors: Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Loretta Young, Barbara Stanwyck, Elissa Landi
- Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
- Writers: Harold Lamb, Waldemar Young, Walter DeLeon, Dudley Nichols, C. Gardner Sullivan
- Producers: Cecil B. DeMille, Cecil B. De Mille
- Format: Box set, NTSC, Subtitled, Black & White, Full Screen
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 5
- Canadian Home Video Rating : Ages 14 and over
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Release Date: Jan. 15 2013
- Run Time: 571 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000E8JO32
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,629 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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The Cecil B. DeMille Collection (Cleopatra/ The Crusades/ Four Frightened People/ Sign of the Cross/ Union Pacific) (1935)
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Legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille earned a place in cinematic history when he helped create Hollywood's first feature-length film, an event that established Hollywood as the motion picture capital of the world. A master of spectacular epics, his films garnered unparalled acclaim for their scope and grandeur. Now, for the first time ever, five of his most popular films are available in one premium DVD collection. Experience the breathtaking dangers and delights of ancient Rome in The Sign of the Cross; trek through a perilous jungle with Four Frightened People; thrill to the passion, suspense and intrigue of Cleopatra; journey back in time with the glorious story of The Crusades; and see how the West was really won in the explosive Union Pacific. With a glamorous roster of screen legends, including Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton, Barbara Stanwyck, Anthony Quinn and many more, this 5-disc collection is a phenomenal reminder of the innovator who made moviemaking what it is today.
One of Hollywood's greatest showmen gets a worthy showcase in The Cecil B. De Mille Collection, consisting of five of the legendary producer-director's most characteristic films. As noted by David Thomson in his influential book A Biographical Dictionary of Film, "De Mille's movies are barnstormers, rooted in Victorian theatre, shamelessly stereotyped and sentimental, but eagerly courting 20th-century permissiveness, if only solemnly to condemn it." That's an apt description of the films included in this nicely packaged box set, which offers no extras beyond the films themselves. Thomson is equally accurate in calling De Mille's films "simple, raw, pious, and jingoistic," but as these five well-preserved films make abundantly clear, De Mille was always a consummate entertainer. One of Hollywood's foremost pioneers, De Mille cut an iconic figure, single-handedly defining the archetypal image of the dictatorial director, complete with boots, jodhpurs and an ever-present riding crop to enforce his domineering authority. After failed attempts to work independently and, later, for MGM, De Mille found a permanent home at Paramount in 1932, and it's there that he made these five films (now owned by Universal as part of their pre-1948 Paramount library), which represent the glorious clash of Christian virtues, epic-scale production values, lurid sexuality, and self-important grandiosity that make De Mille's films so curiously (and in many cases hypocritically) enthralling.
The Sign of the Cross (1932) is quintessential De Mille, now famous for its pre-Code (i.e. pre-censorship) scene of peep-show nudity as Claudette Colbert (playing Poppaea, wife of Charles Laughton's Roman emperor Nero) takes a tantalizing bath in goat's milk, daring DVD viewers to freeze-frame "the naughty bits" while Roman prefect Marcus (Frederic March) struggles to reconcile his loyalty to Rome with his forbidden love for the Christian maiden Mercia (Elissa Landi), who's destined for the lion's den. Full of outrageous spectacle (including dwarves in the Roman arena), this blood-and-guts epic is pure De Mille compared to the more conventionally formulaic adventure of Four Frightened People (1934), also starring Colbert as one of the four titular characters shipwrecked on a remote Malay island (filmed at Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, in Hawaii) and forced to fend for themselves. It's a stodgy but frequently amusing adventure, with Colbert's uptight schoolmarm growing sexier and less inhibited with each passing scene. Colbert returns (De Mille obviously adored her) in the title role of Cleopatra (1934), easily seducing Marc Antony (played by De Mille favorite Henry Wilcoxon) in a film as lavishly appointed as it is melodramatically extreme. Wilcoxon pairs with Loretta Young in The Crusades (1935) with De Mille once again mixing piety with prurience in a religious epic that promises plenty of sex but, in classic De Mille fashion, remains steadfastly chaste. Union Pacific (from Hollywood's golden year of 1939) is a grandly entertaining Western that mangles history (specifically, events surrounding construction of the transcontinental railroad) while casting gunslingers Joel McCrea and Robert Preston in a contest for Barbara Stanwyck's affections.
Choosing a favorite among these five films is purely a matter of personal taste, but for all of his weaknesses as a director (not the least being a condescending and self-righteous arrogance toward his audience), De Mille was never, ever boring. These films helped to make Paramount the most profitable studio of the 1930s, and they hold up remarkably well. Despite the complete absence of bonus features (Universal once again taking the low-cost option with no-frills packaging), each film is presented in pristine or near-pristine condition, ripe for first-time viewing or nostalgic rediscovery by vintage film buffs everywhere.--Jeff Shannon
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Of the other two films in this DVD collection, "The Crusades" stars Loretta Young and Henry Wilcoxon in a quite good tale of King Richard, while "Union Pacific" is a dull western railroad film with Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Ms. Colbert, is fashionable, glittery, gilded, bejeweled, entertaining, funny and sensuous. She makes the film and I so glad that this version of Cleopatra, has been preserved. A real hit, if one enjoys older movies. I loved it and watch this film often, it cheers me up when I am sad. The overdone sets, the fabulous, heavy gilded costumes and the great campy dialogue.
WARNING: to animal lovers, there is an extensive use of dead animals (cheetahs, lions, etc.) and animal skins, parts of this film are difficult to watch, with all the wasted Cheetah skins. There ARE NO ANIMLAS KILLED IN THIS FILM!! that was already done long ago. It is just that, years later where many people have developed a sensitivity to scores of dead animals in films, it is a little bit sickening to see so much animal skin and fur usage.
But then again this film is from the 1930's when an animals life meant absolutely nothing, unless it was dead.
Overall, I think the Universal transfer could use some work. The films do not appear to be re-masters but taken from quality prints. Hey, Universal, we are talking about one of the founding fathers of the movies. His work diserves some work in return. Re-master these films then the collection would be worth 6 stars.
Of the 5 flims presented, "Cleopatra" stands out for it's humor and collective performances. I will say it right now, DeMille's Cleo is 10 times more entertaining than the film that broke 20th Century Fox (Cleo with Liz Taylor). This is why Universal has recently re-released "Cleopatra" in a 75th anniversery edition. All the films are very watchable.
Recommended for: An absolute must for DeMille fans, Claudette Colbert fans (she appears in 3 of the films) and pre-code fans.