If you've been perusing the DVD and Blu-ray sections of your local retailers this year, then you've undoubtedly seen the banner atop many a disc that celebrates 100 years of filmmaking for Universal Studios. I know this comes off as a marketing gimmick to some, but the legacy Universal have established in the last century truly does warrant a bit of attention, don't you think? If you've always been an avid filmgoer, think back to your childhood 'career' at the movies - I'd bet most of your favorites were products from Universal. Hell, I'd go as far as to say my childhood was practically defined by watching the Earth rotate on-screen while 'Universal' spun counterclockwise in gold lettering. The logo was simple, yet effective, because every time I saw it, I knew the experience waiting on the other side would be something magical. E.T., Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and that's not even a microscopic chip off the tip of the iceberg. As I grew up and began dabbling in more serious films that were, at times, inappropriate for my age, that logo (with some variations along the way) continued to deliver with Jaws, Scarface, Apollo 13, To Kill A Mockingbird, Dracula, The Breakfast Club, and the list goes on. Sure, my experience with the studio very well may differ from yours, but regardless of how you feel about their catalog as a whole, nobody can deny that Universal is, historically speaking, the most important studio there is in the grand scheme of things. They're largely responsible for laying the groundwork for modern horror and monster films, science fiction, drama, comedy, or just about any genre variation you can come up with. Universal is proud of the century of classics they've provided to countless generations of the past, present and future (as they should be), and they're wrapping up their yearlong celebration by showcasing their cinematic staples in the Universal 100th Anniversary Collection, a limited set which features all of the above mentioned films and more.
And yes, the key word there was 'limited', because this set is only going to be available for a short time before it goes out of print. Of course, some of the largest questions on everyone's mind is likely to concern the prospect of double dipping on certain titles, and how that will impact the cost of each film they don't already own. As I already own 10 of movies featured in this set, I can certainly understand why this could impact your decision to pull the trigger. That being said, besides the gorgeous packaging and limited availability, which already makes this drool-worthy for anyone who loves having rare and collectable titles displayed on their shelves at home, Universal has truly gone above and beyond in making sure this set isn't merely 25 flicks already available at retail thrown together in a box.
The first item to note is the 72 page collector's book that chronicles the history of Universal over the last 100 years. After an introduction written by President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer, and a full spread dedicated to founder Carl Laemmle, the book details the studio's history by era (1912-1919, 1920-1929, 1930-1939, etc.). The most important films in Universal's legacy are touched upon, and iconic directors and stars are given their dues. The nicest touch of all is the implementation of a timeline across the bottom of many of the pages, as they show us exactly when the most notable Universal films were released. Promo shots, behind-the-scenes pics, and interesting film facts are all inside a design that's easy to digest.
The book that houses the discs is also a sight to behold. The Universal logo is in the center of the front hardcover, while the rest of the design sports all of the films names in blue lettering against a starry night sky. As you open each film's 'spread', you'll be treated to a large picture of the original poster art on the left, with an explanation as to why the film was important for Universal on the right. Also listed on the right page is an intriguing section called A Look Inside, which lists a couple of fun facts about each film (for example, we're told Gregory Peck's seven-minute courtroom speech in To Kill a Mockingbird was accomplished in one take). The bonus features on each disc are also listed at the bottom of the right page. I'll talk about the included bonus and music discs in a bit, but the silver and blue design of the set is further enhanced by the art on the discs themselves - Each one has the respective film's poster art attached (or a promo pic featuring the main characters in some cases), but with a decidedly silver finish. Just so you're getting the full picture of how much care went into crafting this set, take a look at this unboxing video:
So, this set is most definitely a looker and contains some wonderfully exclusive goodies. I mean, come on, who can resist having this package front and center in their collection? Furthermore, it's refreshing to see a music CD included instead of a disc that gives me access to digital copies. Anyway, enough about the set's design. Let's take a quick look at the films that are included:
*All bold movie titles are clickable links to existing DVDTalk reviews.
1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front - Mostly everything we see nowadays in regards to war films stem from World War II or Vietnam, but this powerful look at World War I's warfare still has more impact on audiences today than anything that followed. Especially considering the film is from 1930, it's shockingly brutal, yet still manages to deliver its message of anti-war with some poeticism. Frankly, I'm not surprised to see this title as the first amongst many in Universal's 100th Anniversary Collection.
1931 - Dracula / Spanish Dracula - Dracula is a masterpiece, plain and simple. Sure, the psychological terror the film provides is tame by today's standards, but this film has something that most others don't - An atmosphere that seemingly drips from the cold cobblestone ceilings, and oozes through the cracks in the floor like an invading fog. The cinematography is that good. The lighting is meticulously done and shadowing is used to play tricks on the mind. It's really no wonder why Dracula has endured through the years as one of the most effective horror films of all time. And then there's the Spanish version to consider, which had been filmed in the evenings, opposite of the English version's schedule. The natural darkness actually lends a bit more atmosphere, although Lugosi is and always will be the iconic version of Dracula no matter what.
1941 - Buck Privates - You can't have a serious discussion about 'the funny business' without bringing up Abbott and Costello, unquestionably the most iconic comedic duo in all of film. They've starred in many Universal films together, but this tale of troublesome street peddlers turned army recruits is widely considered their best. Their on-screen routines are hysterical and the musical numbers so catchy they're unforgettable. If you've never seen or heard anything from Abbott and Costello before, this set is going to change that and leave you begging for more (in a good way).
1959 - Pillow Talk - Rock Hudson and Doris Day starred in multiple films that changed the face of romantic comedies forever, but Pillow Talk is where the 'unlikely couple come together in even unlikelier circumstances' formula began to take shape. Not only that, but this film was also the first time having sex before marriage was flirted with in a major motion picture. A lot of entertaining rom-coms owe a pretty hefty thanks to Pillow Talk's playful push against the stereotypical boundaries set by Hollywood, and so do we, for that matter.
1960 - Spartacus - Starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Stanley Kubrick, Spartacus is just as much a cerebral experience as it is a Hollywood epic. Reception was sort of a mixed bag upon its initial release though - Certain critics praised the film, which eventually won four academy awards, whereas others advised audiences to stay away from it at all costs because the original story was written by a 'commie'. Time has been much kinder to this film and its controversy has fortunately been left in the past, which is just as well because Spartacus is a film that deserves to be seen and judged on its own merits.
1962 - To Kill a Mockingbird - Gregory Peck starred in many well received flicks, but To Kill a Mockingbird is, in my opinion, both his best performance and film. It's a drama that strikes so many chords, that it's difficult to peel back all of its layers in a single viewing. The gripping story follows a brother and sister who are as innocent as children can be, but their father, a lawyer held in the highest regard in their community, pits himself against the townspeople for the sake of justice. Throughout the trial, the children are exposed to the unfortunate things that plague our society, such as racism and all the ugly biases that stem from it, which begins their first major steps into understanding what the real world is truly made of. Not your typical coming of age tale nor a mere courtroom drama, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best examples of storytelling and character development to date.
1963 - The Birds - Alfred Hitchcock has quite the filmography under the Universal logo, and The Birds is up there as one of his most highly praised films. Personally, on the Universal Hitchcock short list, I'll take Psycho, Rear Window, or Vertigo any day of the week, but that's mainly because I grew up with those films and they hold far more nostalgia for me than The Birds. This classic focuses on a small town in Bodega Bay, California, in which normal everyday life is turned upside down when they're unexpectedly bombarded with vicious bird attacks. Their eerie presence even causes some of the townsfolk to call it a sign of the apocalypse. So, what's the reason for it all? Well, that's just it - Hitchcock never revealed the answer, and although that sounds like a bad thing on paper, it actually helps his slow-burn flick linger in your mind long after it's over. If this happened in your hometown and was bad enough to have the National Guard brought in, you'd probably never find out what happened either, so Hitchcock gets major points for keeping things grounded to reality instead of coming up with a bazaar explanation. Furthermore, the ambiguous ending leaves us with the unnerving possibility that this could happen again. So, although this isn't my favorite Hitchcock film, it's still a shocking thriller from one of the finest directors the world has ever known.
1973 - American Graffiti - George Lucas' coming of age film has been described by some as being about 'nothing', but that's oversimplification at its very worst. American Graffiti essentially takes us back to 1962 and provides us with an intimate look at what life was like for a teenager at the time - as long as you were in to cruising around town and gettin' down with the rock and roll - and the whole package is tied up nicely as a series of vignettes. The characters don't stay with you long after seeing the film and the 'plots' that are strung together are mostly trivial, but the whole point of this film is to take a good, hard look at 1960's pop-culture. In the wrong hands, this film could have flopped as an experiment that did little more than waste a whole lot of money and film stock, but George Lucas actually turned this into the genuine article. This isn't a film I can watch over and over again, but it's an inspired film with an inspiring (and young) cast that features Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Richard Dreyfuss amongst others. Its historical significance to filmmaking is valued on a multitude of levels, and despite how you feel about Lucas nowadays, this one isn't to be missed.
1973 - The Sting - The plot may be simple - A con-artist lifts a surprising amount of dough from a crime boss, and when murder comes into play, the grifter springs into motion with a long-con that's fit for revenge - but its execution is so flawless, it actually makes The Sting feel more in-depth than it actually is. The strength of this film is undoubtedly its charm, partly thanks to the reunion of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, as well as the directors superb pacing, but what surprised me most the first time I saw it was just how rich of an experience it is. From start to finish, it's a roller-coaster that drags you to the depths of darkness, but eventually transitions into something lighter and much more fun. The Sting is one of the more diverse entries in 'Universal's 100th' catalog that practically defines what entertainment is all about - That a film can be a near masterpiece without being too complicated or over the top.
1975 - Jaws - This was easily one of the most highly anticipated Blu-ray releases of 2012, so it was a no brainer for Universal to include it in this prestigious set. Simply put, Jaws is a masterpiece. Funny thing is, some of the creative decisions were forced upon Spielberg due to difficult shooting conditions, since he insisted they film on open water (something Universal made sure never to agree to do again). Originally, the shark was to be featured more than it was, but thanks to some mechanical troubles, it doesn't make its appearance until halfway through the film. This is one of the more notable facts in the history of cinema, because these series of unforeseen circumstances are largely responsible for the film's immaculate, tension-building pace. Some of the film's success can be attributed to chance, but Spielberg was able to create something that would resonate with audiences for decades to come. Hell, Jaws still has people afraid to go in the water!
1978 - National Lampoon's Animal House - Say hello to the film that made John Belushi a star! More than that, Animal House is the first of many films in the 80's that pitted the 'unlikely' against the 'almighty'. What makes this film work so well, is that it begins as a 'respectable' comedy, but as soon as it flips the party switch, it instantly and surprisingly turns into a vulgar visual and audible display of sloppy frat house excess (and I mean that in the best possible way). This film is responsible for making comedy a viable genre again (after a lackluster run through the 70's), and has served as inspiration for numerous imitations ever since. These imitations have gone out of their way to 'one up' each other at every turn, so newcomers to Animal House have been known to say it's not as funny as the hype pretends it is. That being said, keep this in mind - Without Animal House setting the genre defining template, we probably never would have had Caddyshack, American Pie, Old School, Wedding Crashers or even Meet the Parents.
1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - This is the second Spielberg film to appear in this set, and it's certainly not the last, but this very well may be the director's best. E.T. is the touching story of a boy who makes friends with a gentle alien, but when he attempts to help his extra-terrestrial friend get back home, he comes against seemingly insurmountable odds that can only be overcome by the strength of their bond. Although most films about aliens set out to frighten you, E.T. is gentler and loaded to the brim with suspense, laughter and warmth, and it's a film that the entire family can enjoy together time and time again. In my experience, E.T. has actually aged better than a fine wine, and screening this film is an even more rewarding experience now in adulthood than it ever was. When people refer to films that are 'magical' and capture the imaginations of kids and adults alike, E.T. is usually the first that comes to mind.
1983 - Scarface - After you strip away all the mobsters, guns and 'yayo', Scarface is a violent and foul mouthed rags to riches story (and again, I mean that in a good way), but because the character is such a villain and obtains his empire by making enemies out of everyone he meets, the film leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering when his castle will collapse. Al Pacino was already huge in Hollywood thanks to his portrayal of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, but there's something far more gratifying in watching him deliver lines as Tony Montana. Pacino commands the screen from the first frame to the very last, and leading lady Michelle Pfeifer is spectacularly feisty as the woman that's stuck between two mob bosses. This film is a fair mix of drama and tragedy with generous doses or comedic relief sprinkled throughout, but the film's ultimate appeal is that more than ever before, you can't help but root for the bad guy. If you haven't seen this film yet, you need to, as it contains one of the most compelling performances of all time.
1985 - The Breakfast Club - At the time of its release, or even today for that matter, The Breakfast Club fascinates because it's such a unique blend of comedy and drama that propels an intimate coming of age story. A group of misfits spend Saturday morning detention together, but realize their lives aren't exclusively bleak when everyone begins to reveal stories of their own personal hell. This is an important film not just because it was one of John Hughes finest, or that the cast flawlessly executed the deep characters they had to portray, but rather the message it provided to lost teens and adults who were quick to jump on the 'generational hate' bandwagon - Stereotypes are deceiving, and if you just give someone a fair shot and hear what they have to say, you might be surprised with how much you actually have in common. I guess 'never judge a book by its cover' works, too, but the film is so meticulously pieced together that such a generalization just doesn't seem fair.
1985 - Back to the Future - Here's another film where I think the phrase 'Hollywood magic' applies. When Marty McFly is sent back to the past in a Delorian time machine with no way back, he inadvertently crosses paths with his teenage mother. Obviously unaware of their relation, she gets the hots for him so Marty has to do whatever it takes to make sure she falls in love with the right guy. It sounds like a ridiculous story on paper, but throw in a menacing gang of thugs, a kooky mad scientist played by Christopher Lloyd, the excellent direction and production of Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg respectively, the slick acting of Michael J. Fox and a soundtrack that's still ear-worming its way through people's brains nearly 30 years after the fact, and it's easy to see why this film has endured. There's action, adventure, romance and comedy, and the imagination a time traveling Delorian evokes is endless. I've considered this to be a perfect film at the age of 5, and it's still one of my favorite films to this very day. That's the power of love (sorry, I couldn't resist)!
1985 - Out of Africa - This was one of the few films I wasn't accustomed to before receiving this set, and to be honest, I'm not exactly a fan of romantic dramas. That being said, I was surprised when I actually found myself enjoying the story of a married woman who falls for another guy. This sort of thing typically makes me groan, but Meryl Streep's performance kept me wanting more, and the romance between her and Redford was conveyed spectacularly. On top of it all, the cinematography on display is amazing for any film, let alone this particular genre, and there's even a bit of action and adventure thrown into the mix. Even if you're not a fan of the genre, this still may be something you'd enjoy.
1989 - Field of Dreams - A farmer in Iowa envisioned a baseball field, a voice in his corn field said "If you build it, they will come", Kevin Costner was attached to star, and filmgoers flocked to theaters in droves to see what the hubbub was all about. Many were surprised at just how deep and moving this film turned out to be, especially those who weren't really paying attention to the trailers on TV. Instead of a film about baseball, Field of Dreams is a story that works with an abundance of metaphors to examine the concepts of fate, love, purpose and sacrifice. This film is served best when you don't know much about it going in, but that word 'magic' comes up again here - Field of Dreams is a picture that plays close to the heart of anyone who's ever had a dream, and watching someone else's dreams come to fruition in this film is an enchanting experience that you, nor the history of cinema as a whole, won't be able to forget any time soon.
1989 - Do the Right Thing - Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee's third film, is a powerful look at how racial tensions are boiling over in our society. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the ending of the film, which is difficult to discuss without spoiling it for you, but the strength of this film comes from both its message ("are we ever going to live together?") and more importantly, the execution of that message. There are some moments where racial slurs are being thrown about, but Spike Lee chose to have the characters deliver those lines directly at the camera, putting the audience in an awkward position where they have to question how such yarns of hate make them feel. The film is surprisingly metaphorical, too, as one of the main characters take the time to explain that the rings of duality he wears on each hand represents a conflict between two opposing sides. There are other powerful films that hit hard with their examination of racial bias (American History X being one of them), but Spike Lee's masterpiece has yet to be topped.
1993 - Jurassic Park - Jurassic Park - The fourth and final film Steven Spielberg was involved with in this set, Jurassic Park is one of the best popcorn chompin' action flicks of all time. It isn't incredibly deep or all that moving, but it does present some interesting philosophical ideas about life and cloning. There are some fantastic performances all around, but the stars in this film are the special effects, computer animated and practical alike. Spielberg uses them to great effect - The first time we lay eyes on a brontosaurus actually evoked an emotional response from me. Furthermore, the film was convincing enough, that it's actually (loosely) considered one of the last great 'monster flicks' in Universal's long standing tradition of horror. The imagery on display is just as iconic as the dinos themselves - Even if you haven't seen this movie before, you're still undoubtedly familiar with the water cup shaking in the jeep as the T-Rex approaches. In short, Spielberg brings the entire island of Isla Nublar to prehistoric life, and it needs to be seen to be believed. After all, it was 65 million years in the making...
1995 - Apollo 13 - Who ever thought that Ron Howard, the guy who played Richie on Happy Days, would turn into a director whose name is synonymous with inspired filmmaking? Although he had many great films before it (Cocoon, Willow and Backdraft), Apollo 13 is what truly showed Howard's directing chops. It's a powerhouse drama that tells the story of a space mission that was widely neglected by the media, due to the growing lack of interest for space shuttle launches in America. It certainly doesn't hurt that the entire cast is made up of A-list actors, either! This film has never held a great amount of replay value for me, but every time I have seen it over the years, I find myself asking, "Why haven't I seen this within the last couple of years again? It's such a great film!"
2001 - The Fast and the Furious - I remember sitting on the bus during my senior year of high school, listening to a freshman drill me about how awesome The Fast and the Furious was going to be, and he reiterated this to me in various ways, day in, day out. I kept telling him, "You're nuts about cars, man. You have a pretty intense bias dictating how you feel about the project, and you're just getting yourself wound up every time a new picture of a car from the film ends up in a magazine." After I graduated, I saw the film anyway out of curiosity, and I'll be honest - It really wasn't my bag. I don't care much for Paul Walker and the story was loosely strung together for the sake of action scenes with fast cars. That being said, the action scenes did provide some high octane thrills, and as far as its significance in this set, The Fast and the Furious has been a successful franchise for the studio ever since.
2002 - The Bourne Identity - Let's be honest - The Brosnan starring Bond films went downhill pretty fast. I loved Goldeneye, and appreciated certain aspects about the films that followed, but the 'advertise friendly' franchise was suffering. Universal set out to redefine the spy genre with The Bourne Identity, and its modern approach proved to do just that. I know it's going to sound blasphemous to some of the die-hard Bond fans out there, but I'll take the Bourne Trilogy over Brosnan's Bond era any day of the week. Something else worth noting, is that a lot of people had their eyes pop out of their skulls when it was announced that none other than Matt Damon was going to play the lead. They said, "Damon? An action star?" And laughed at the idea... until this film was released and proved those naysayers wrong. If you want intense action and nail biting suspense, this is the film to see.
2008 - Mamma Mia! - I didn't care much for this film when my wife first made me see it in 2008, but I've had a child since then and I've begun to finally feel like I'm a part of the 'unhip' generation. So, watching the film now pulls a different response out of me - It's refreshing to see a musical that stars a middle-aged cast that isn't afraid to tackle things like parenthood and sex. I know a lot of people were probably curious why Universal chose this flick when there are so many other classics available in their catalog, but I can't imagine Universal not covering their bases by including a little bit of every genre in this 25 film collection, and for what it's worth, this is a fine musical to choose for the occasion.
2010 - Despicable Me - Universal doesn't exactly have a reputation for animated films that can hold a candle to the likes of Shrek or Ice Age, but they took a chance on Despicable Me, a delightfully hilarious film with Steve Carell as the main talent. Seems the risk paid off, because a sequel is set for 2013 and Universal have announced plans to release two animated films a year from here on out!
Now, let's take a look at what's available on the exclusive bonus DVD:
Extras - 100 Years of Universal
-The Carl Laemmle Era - Since Laemmle was the founder of Universal, it's only fitting that his story also fleshes out the early history of the studio. This serves as a nice tribute to his vision and contributions.
-The Lew Wasserman Era - Another historical look at an important figure in Universal's history.
-Academy Award Winners - This featurette highlights the most honored films in the last century of Universal filmmaking.
-The 70's / The 80's - These two featurettes take a closer look at the films that defined these particular decades for Universal.
-The Backlot - Universal's back lot is infamous and is the home of many famous films. This piece reveals it in full and details its significance.
-Unforgettable Characters - Some of you may have already noticed that many of these '100 Years' featurettes have mostly been included in the Universal Classic Monsters Collection, and this one is no different. That being said, this supplement doesn't detail only the monsters in Universal's past, but a generous sampling of the most infamous characters in their catalog.
-Restoring the Classics - This piece details how the studio has gone into 'preservation' mode, mastering many of their best films at 4K and storing them under the utmost care. The technical process they use in order to create these new masters is also touched upon in great detail by video and audio experts working on the source footage from within the studio.
Extras - Vintage Cartoons
-1930 - Spooks - A parody of Universal's Phantom of the Opera featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
-1933 - Merry Old Soul - Universal's first Academy Award® nominee for Best Short Subject featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
-1934 - Wax Works - A spoof of Universal's classic monsters featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
-1934 - Jolly Little Elves - A Cartune Classic nominated for Best Short Subject Academy Award.
-1938 - Hollywood Bowl - A Cartune Classic featuring caricatures of some of the most popular Hollywood stars at the time.
-1939 - Life Begins for Andy Panda - Andy Panda in his debut cartoon.
-1940 - Knock Knock - Woody Woodpecker in his debut cartoon.
-1941 - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B - Academy Award® nominee for Best Short Subject based off the song from Buck Privates.
-1944 - The Barber of Seville - Often considered one of the greatest cartoons from this era featuring Woody Woodpecker.
-1947 - Musical Moments from Chopin - Academy Award® nominee for Best Short Subject featuring Woody Woodpecker.
-1953 - Maw and Paw - Inspired by the popular "Ma and Pa Kettle" film series.
-1953 - Chilly Willy - Chilly Willy in his debut cartoon.
-1955 - Crazy Mixed Up Pup - Academy Award® nominee for Best Short Subject directed by animation legend Tex Avery.
-1955 - Sh-h-h-h-h-h - A Cartune Classic directed by animation legend Tex Avery.
Extras - Vintage Short
-1932 - Runt Page - Starring Shirley Temple
-1932 - Slide, Babe, Slide - Starring Babe Ruth
-1936 - Cartoon Mysteries - Go behind the scenes at the Walter Lantz studios as an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon is created in this vintage "Going Places" short.
Extras - Music CD
01. The Bride of Frankenstein - Main Title - Frank Waxman - 1935
02. Touch of Evil - Main Title - Henry Mancini - 1958
03. Psycho - The Murder - Bernard Herrmann - 1960
04. Spartacus - Love Theme - Alex North - 1960
05. To Kill a Mockingbird - Main Theme - Elmer Bernstein - 1962
06. Airport - Main Title - Alfred Newman - 1970
07. The Sting - The Entertainer - Marvin Hamlisch - 1973
08. Jaws - Main Title - John Williams - 1975
09. E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial - End Credits - John Williams - 1982
10. Scarface - Tony's Theme - Gorgio Morodor - 1993
11. Back to the Future - Back to the Future - Alan Sylvestri - 1985
12. Out of Africa - I Had a Farm In Africa - John Barry - 1985
13. Jurassic Park - End Credits - John Williams - 1993
14. Apollo 13 - Main Title - James Horner - 1995
15. The Bourne Identity - Main Title - John Powell - 2002
100 years of filmmaking... My how things have changed...
Some people are probably going to quibble about the final five films included in this set and why they were chosen over so many other classics, but the answer is simple - The Universal 100th Anniversary Collection isn't a mere 'best of'. No, it's intended to celebrate the 100 years they've been in the business of filmmaking, and considering we have a slew of films that range from 1930-2010, I'd say they did an admirable job of plucking appropriate catalog titles, while making sure they included a little something for everyone. After all, Universal are largely responsible for pioneering many of the genres that are represented in this set.
As far as value is concerned, especially if you own some of these films - I say it's worth the coin if you have it. You really can't go wrong with the selection of films Universal has provided for us, and at roughly $10 a pop (retail price, not MSRP), this is a bargain set that also opens up some very intriguing opportunities depending on what kind of a collector you are. Let's say you didn't want to buy all three Back to the Future or Jurassic Park films - You can finally add them to your collection without picking up the sequels you didn't necessarily want. It's also worth noting some of these films are only available in multi-disc boxed sets that already cost a pretty penny, such as Dracula, Spanish Dracula and The Birds. It's also pretty nifty that buying this set nets you exclusive disc art, and the packaging? Do I even need to continue about that? It's gorgeous, sturdy and the bonus DVD is a film historian's dream. If you're a music lover (or just a lover of movie themes in general), the included CD is also a gem. The only complaint I have about this set overall, is that the bonus disc is a DVD and not a Blu-ray disc. All in all, this set is a fine representation of one of, if not the most important studio thus far. Highly recommended.