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Warner Home Video presents
Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991)

"It was Bogart who said after he left the studio that the thing he missed most were the fights. And there were some great fights. Bogart with Jack Warner; Bette Davis with Jack Warner; Darryl Zanuck with Jack Warner; Errol Flynn, James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Hal Wallis—all with Jack Warner. Even Harry Warner fought with Jack Warner."
- Clint Eastwood

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: February 05, 2004

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Goldie Hawn, Steven Spielberg, Chevy Chase
Other Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Ida Lupino, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Judy Garland, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, John Barrymore, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson
Director: Robert Guenette

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief scenes of violence)
Run Time: 01h:47m:50s
Release Date: September 30, 2003
UPC: 085393269425
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-BC+ D-

DVD Review

The feature-length documentary Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. chronicles the growth, golden years, and continuing success of one of Hollywood's most legendary studios. Available only as a bonus disc through the purchase of the Warner Legends Collection, this absorbing, entertaining clipfest makes the already formidable boxed set featuring The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, a bona fide must-have. Reminiscent of That's Entertainment!, but spanning all genres, the 1991 film adopts a celebratory tone as it charts the studio's progression from its humble beginnings in the early part of the 20th century through the advent of talking pictures (which it pioneered), Depression-era escapism, the Second World War, and contemporary blockbusters. We learn some bare bones facts about founding brothers Jack, Harry, Sam, and Albert Warner, but the emphasis rightly remains on the films, actors, and directors that made Warner Bros. an industry giant.

In Hollywood's Golden Age, Warner's gutsy, gritty style extended to all its films, not just its signature gangster epics. Musicals, sudsy women's pictures, even comedies flaunt a tough, often cynical edge that's distinctly Warner, and hosts Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Goldie Hawn, Steven Spielberg, and Chevy Chase try their best to delineate and evaluate the unique look of the studio's product.

The documentary opens with a lengthy montage that carries audiences through 75 years of Warner history. From Robin Hood to Batman, and Ronald Reagan to Rin-Tin-Tin, some of the studio's greatest stars and characters are represented. We see James Cagney smashing a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face, Bo Derek jogging along the beach in slow motion, Superman and Lois Lane flying through the clouds, and Bogart and Bergman saying goodbye on the tarmac. And that's just the beginning.

In addition to extended sequences on Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland, the film touches upon various themes and trends, including the kaleidoscopic mind of director Busby Berkeley, the creativity of Looney Tunes cartoons, and the virility of 1980s heroes. Director Robert Guenette also combed the Warner vaults in search of rare material and struck gold. Some of his discoveries include priceless (and hilarious) bloopers and an array of screen tests featuring, among others, Marlon Brando, a very young Orson Welles, a brunette Lana Turner, and Paul Newman auditioning for East of Eden (a role he didn't get) with James Dean. A wealth of interviews with such legends as John Huston, Ruby Keeler, Ronald Reagan, and Natalie Wood add context and perspective to the productions discussed.

In trying to cram so much history into a comparatively short time, Guenette skimps on film clip length, but succeeds in whetting our appetite for upcoming DVD releases of many old and new classics. In addition, the documentary's scratchy, often faded clips make one doubly appreciate the meticulous DVD restorations currently being done. Casablanca, Robin Hood and Yankee Doodle Dandy especially stand out, looking like pale imitations of their DVD incarnations.

So in saluting the past, Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. also links us to the future. This enjoyable, involving documentary presents frame-by-frame evidence of the talent, savvy, vision, and grit of the four Warner brothers, who persevered and built a Hollywood empire. And thanks to DVD, their substantial legacy will continue to thrive indefinitely.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality remains average throughout, with the transfer never rising above its television roots. An overly soft look afflicts the host footage, and, as mentioned above, the film clips possess none of the sharpness and luster of their DVD counterparts. Yet as a whole, the documentary is quite watchable, with no major defects stealing attention from the stars on screen.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The stereo soundtrack is average as well, but levels remain constant in spite of the varying quality of the film, interview, and narration segments. Dialogue is always comprehendible and surface noise is detectable only on the oldest clips.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 44 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras, but with a whopping 44 chapter stops, it's easy to jump to specific topics.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

If you haven't already purchased individual titles in the Warner Legends Collection, do yourself a favor and pick up the boxed set, so you can enjoy this comprehensive Warner retrospective. Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. may pale in comparison to That's Entertainment!, but it's a strong, entertaining documentary that salutes Hollywood's original and most enduring dream factory. Here's looking at you, kid, indeed.

 


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