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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 10:50 am

Cinematic holiday gifts

Boxed DVD%u2008sets for the film buff in your family

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With the film industry heading towards instant downloads and video streaming via the Internet and other delivery modes, the release of large DVD sets is becoming more and more rare. That’s a shame because much of the fun for cinephiles when purchasing such collections comes from discovering the many extra features they contain. Various outtakes, alternate endings, “Making of” features and, where Warner Brothers is concerned, artifacts from their massive movie vaults which include screen tests, newsreels and cartoons, are just some of the gems that movie buffs clamor for. And while these boxed sets might be getting a bit harder to find, there are still a few must-have collections out this holiday season that will please any film fanatic. What follows is the cream of the crop. And remember that if you search a bit, you’ll be able to purchase these for far less than the prices listed below.

Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years – No modern film star is as popular as Eastwood, an acclaimed international director as well as a cinematic icon. By watching the films included in this set, you’re able to witness the development of the Eastwood persona as well as its deconstruction. Starting with 1968’s Where Eagles Dare and ending with 2008’s Gran Torino, this collection includes all of the filmmaker’s classics (Dirty Harry, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven) as well as some overlooked gems (Honkytonk Man, Bronco Billy). Sure, there are a few clunkers (Pink Cadillac?) but this collection has more winners than losers, which is indicative of Eastwood’s career. (List price $179.98)

ESPN Films: 30 for 30 Gift Set Collection, Vol. 1 – Commissioned by ESPN to celebrate its 30th year on the air, a series of 30 movies were made by some of the best filmmakers working today, all of them focusing on key moments during the last 30 years of sports. This collection contains the first 15 films and there’s not a second-stringer in this eclectic bunch. From Albert Maysles’ Muhammad and Larry, which focuses on the 1980 Muhammad Ali/Larry Holmes heavyweight title bout, to Billy Corbin’s The U, which charts the rise and fall of the University of Miami’s football program, to Fritz Mitchell’s The Legend of Jimmy the Greek, this set contains tightly constructed, engaging films that are fascinating and engaging. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the quality of the movies this set contains. (List price $74.95)

Fox 75th Anniversary Collection – If money is no object, then this is the set for you. In recognition of the 75th anniversary of 20th Century-Fox, this collection has been assembled featuring the studio’s greatest films. Box office hits (The Sound of Music, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Star Wars), message pictures (The Grapes of Wrath, The Ox-Bow Incident, Gentleman’s Agreement) as well as new and old classics (Cast Away, Minority Report, How Green was My Valley, All About Eve) are included. While the price is steep, it breaks down to about $7 per movie (even less if you go the Amazon.com route). An instant cornerstone to any film collection, this set will provide hours – strike that – days of entertainment. (List price $499.98)

Warner Brothers Archive Collection – One of the neatest things available for film buffs today is a service provided through Turner Classic Movies. With the entire Warner Brothers film vault at its disposal for programming, the channel also facilitates the production of DVDs featuring films that have never been or are no longer available on this format. With 720 movies to browse, you’re sure to find a forgotten favorite that TCM will make a copy of from the original master for your personal collection. From classic Lon Chaney Sr. silents to forgotten features of the 1990s, ordering a film through the channel’s website (www.tcm.com) will provide a unique gift that any film fan will cherish. (List price $19.99 per film)

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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