Title: The Gary Cooper Signature Collection
Silent or Talkie: Talkie
Warner Brothers has released the Gary Cooper Signature Collection. This fantastic five movie set contains a 2-Disc Special Edition in Sergeant York (1941) and also the visually excellent The Fountainhead. Cooper earned himself the title of “rugged individualist” for his persistence and stubbornness in the personality of the characters he played. If any actor is deserving of the digital spotlight, it’s Cooper. This collection showcases some of Gary Cooper’s most revered work and justifies his position in the annals of Hollywood.
The Fountainhead (1949)
True to being an individualist, Gary Cooper plays Howard Roark, an architect whose militant creativity has made it difficult for him to find work in a city that continues to incorporate the same designs in its skyline. He believes in innovation and advancement, and will go without eating if it’s necessary to stand his ground. Just as a break seems to come his way, it vanishes with his inability to compromise his artistic integrity. However, Roark soon lands a job with a firm and finds himself in the same battle he’s fought time and time again. Patricia Neal co-stars as Dominique Francon, a woman who seems to have her eyes on Roark from the very beginning. When one of Roark’s buildings is changed without his consent, he resorts to measures most would find drastic, yet they are nothing but fitting in his quest to uphold his personal standards. This film is an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel. Rand insisted that none of her writing was to be cut in the transition to film. The novel itself was popular with World War II troops, which lead the way for a sure-fire success once it hit the silver screen. Special features include: Featurette: The Making of The Fountainhead and the Theatrical trailer.
The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959)
In and around the time of World War II, films about ships were wildly popular. Even though 1959 was years after the war ended, it appears that the public’s desire for those films did not end with it. In The Wreck of the Mary Deare, Gary Cooper stars alongside Charleton Heston in this film which sets Cooper as the lone passenger aboard a destroyed ship. Heston’s character, John Sands, nearly collides with the Mary Deare during a violent storm and quickly jumps on board to investigate when he finds Gideon Patch (Cooper) bleeding and delirious. The next day, both men make it to land and Patch concocts a story that the Mary Deare was lost at sea. Although he is hesitant, Sands agrees to back Patch’s story. Something seems amiss and Sands becomes more suspicious as time goes on. The action sequences and courtroom scenes make for a rocky voyage, much like the ship itself, and everything culminates in a surprise ending. What exactly is the mystery surrounding The Wreck of the Mary Deare and what secret is Patch concealing? This film was originally given to Alfred Hitchcock to direct. Hitchcock did not take it on but rather made “North By Northwest” with Cary Grant instead. There are no special features included on this disc.
Sergeant York – 2 Disc Special Edition (1941)
Sergeant York is the captivating true story of Alvin York. Gary Cooper plays York, a bit of a primitive country boy who disagrees with his mother about the importance of religion. She believes in it, he believes that he can get along fine without it. It is the kind of mother-son relationship that has come to be stereotypical; the mother is overbearing with her advice because a rough life has shown her the unpleasant reality of living, and the son is rebellious, swearing up and down that it won’t be like that for him. York tries to own his own piece of land, but when it is taken out from under him, he goes into a fit of rage looking to kill the man responsible, his pride obviously damaged. After being struck by lightning in a storm, York finds religion in the most awkward of moments. He’s drafted for World War I and finds comfort in reading about Daniel Boone, himself a man of the land. Upon entering the war, York finds that the skills and techniques he learned farming are very effective in battle. This serves to heal his previously wounded pride, restoring his feelings about himself as a man. He subsequently becomes a hero after implementing his methods of a turkey shoot into capturing the Germans. Special features include: Commentary by Jeannine Basinger, Classic Cartoon: Porky’s Preview, Vintage Short: Lions for Sale, Gary Cooper Trailer Gallery and two fantastic documentaries, one on the making of Sergeant York and the other a biographical look at Gary Cooper himself. Click here to watch the trailer!
Set during the time of the Civil War, Cary Cooper is Blayde Hollister, a confederate officer who is out for vengeance. His family in Georgia was killed and his home destroyed. Hollister sets out to find the villains in this western-ish tale that remains a staple in Gary Cooper’s signature genre. As one would expect, shootout scenes and intense horse riding are riddled throughout. Hollister does eventually catch up to the two men responsible for the travesty, except he finds them nothing like he expected. The two men are the Marlow brothers and they appear to be running the town, albeit a bit illegally. Will Marlow (played by Raymond Massey), is the town’s banker and his brother Brant (played by Steve Cochran) is the muscle end of the equation. Together, they orchestrate situations that render Dallas’ residents powerless, and force them into unnecessary financial binds. Little do they know that Hollister has some plans of his own. The long-standing clash culminates in a final battle of revenge and survival in a single room. Ruth Roman co-stars as Tonia Robles, an engaged woman who causes a bit of sexual tension and distress for Hollister as he struggles to stay focused. There are no special features on this disc.
Springfield Rifle (1952)
The second Civil War western in the collection. Springfield Rifle stars Gary Cooper as Major Alex “Lex” Kearney. This time however, Cooper plays a Union soldier who is discharged for acts of cowardice. After his dismissal, Kearney finds it hard to walk away quietly and decides to launch his own investigation into the sudden disappearance of the North’s supply of horses. Because he is essentially “under cover”, he must distance himself from his family and friends before stumbling across a hidden location where the truth surfaces. He discovers that the horses are being stolen and sold to the South by an independent group of soldiers. Kearney knows that this kind of operation could not succeed unless the perpetrators had an inside connection. In order to throw a wrench into the scheme, Kearney must blend among the thieves by pretending to be one of their own. Once he has their confidence, the fireworks fly in this roller coaster of a film, leaving the viewer hanging on to every word. Springfield Rifle turns out to be a mystery-western hybrid, and a rare one in that each genre relies on the other to work. Phyllis Thaxter and Lon Chaney, Jr. co-star, Thaxter as Lex’s wife Erin and Chaney as Pete Elm, the bandit leader. No special features on this disc.
Gary Cooper has his own private corner in Hollywood. When people think western and attitude, only two personalities come to mind, the other being John Wayne. With that kind of company, Gary Cooper is without a doubt a legend in his own right. Whether he’s playing the tough cowboy or the determined businessman, the result is always the same, guaranteed enjoyment for all who watch. Thanks to Warner Brothers’ Gary Cooper Signature Collection, his work is preserved for generations to come.
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