Under the Radar

USMC Captain Mike Corleone Headlines Our 2017 Home Video Gift Guide

Black Friday is over and you haven't really started on your holiday shopping. Here are five reasonably-priced movie sets that you can order right now and be done with the movie lover on your gift list.

The Godfather - Omerta Collection


"The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition" is an upgraded Blu-ray version of the revered 2008 "Coppola Restoration" of the all-time gangster classics (at least the first two, anyway).

The movies are exactly the same, so the attraction here is the new packaging and physical extras. The movies come in a box made it look like a white family Bible and you get trivia cards, quote cards featuring photos of the movie's characters and a fold-out card featuring images and the annotated screenplay from Michael Corleone's showdown with Virgil Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey in the Louis Italian American restaurant in "The Godfather."

It really is better to watch these movies without commercial interruption even though I'm writing this while I've been sucked into an AMC Channel Godfather marathon for probably the 25th time. If you have someone like me in your life, they really deserve their own copies of these movies.

Alfred Hitchcock - The Ultimate Collection


"Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection" is an expanded version of the "Alfred Hitchock: The Masterpiece Collection" set that was release on Blu-ray back in 2012. Here's our in-depth review of that set:

Hitchcock Arrives on Blu-ray

The Ultimate Collection keeps all 15 movies from the original collection and adds two DVDs that feature episodes from Hitch's TV shows, seven episodes from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and 3 episodes from "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour."

This set includes most of the great films from Hitchcock's Hollywood era: Here’s the complete list of movies, in chronological order: Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Trouble With Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972) and Family Plot (1976).

Best movies missing from this collection: The 39 Steps (1935), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951), Dial M for Murder (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955).

Unlike the previous version, "The Ultimate Collection is also available on DVD. If you don't care about the TV show episodes, you can still get "The Masterpiece Collection" on Blu-ray at a slightly lower price.

Bob Hope - The Ultimate Movie Collection


When Bob Hope was entertaining the troops on his Vietnam War-era USO tours, most of the men and women in the audience were too young to know who this old guy with the golf cap and racy jokes about women really was.

Bob Hope was a huge movie star in the '30s and '40s and "Bob Hope: the Ultimate Movie Collection" collects 21 movies released between 1938 and 1949 that make the case for Bob the actor.

This combines two different releases in one box. "The Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Essentials Collection" features the four best of the pair's seven "Road" moves: "Road to Singapore" (1940), "Road to Zanzibar" (1941), "Road to Morocco" (1942) and "Road to Utopia" (1o46). This set also includes "Star Spangled Rhythm" (1942) and "Variety Girl" (1947).

The Bob Hope Comedy Essentials Collection" features 15 movies starring Bob without Bing: "The Big Broadcast of 1938" (1938). "College Swing" (1938). "Give Me a Sailor" (1938), "Thanks for the Memory" (1938), "Never Say Die" (1939), "The Cat and the Canary" (1939), "The Ghost Breakers" (1940), "Caught in the Draft" (1941), "Nothing But the Truth" (1941), "Louisiana Purchase" (1941), "My Favorite Blonde" (1942), "Monsieur Beaucaire" (1946), "Where There's Life" (1947), "The Paleface" (1948) and "Sorrowful Jones" (1949).

Also included: bonus features that include footage of Hope's earliest performances for the troops and the PBS documentary "American Masters: This is Bob Hope." Bob Hope lived to age 100 and kept performing long for at least a couple of generations after anyone young people remembered these movies. They're worth revisiting.

Transformers: 5-Movie Collection


Michael Bay is the best filmmaker with a terrible Rotten Tomatoes score. The things he does well are loved by audiences and hated by movie critics. The new "Tranformers: 5 Movie Collection" highlight Bay in all his glory with Blu-ray and Digital HD copies of all five movies and a bonus disc with an hour's worth special features for 2017's "Transformers: The Last Knight."

These movies are showcases for state-of-the-art CGI-assisted action sequences and it's fun to see how Bay incorporates the latest technology into the Transformer fight scenes. The movies are all too long but that's mostly because Bay refuses to skimp on the action sequences at the expense of the studio and Hasbro-mandated plot and Transformers mythology.

All five movies are loud, obnoxious and a blast to watch on a big TV with surround sound. They may solemnly spell out the Transformers story but, in their lowbrow souls, they're never very serious.

The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick


We've written a lot about "The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick." Even if you watched all ten episodes when PBS aired it in September, there was no way to take in everything on first viewing. Now it's available on Blu-ray and DVD with some interesting bonus features, as detailed in our review:

Bringing 'The Vietnam War' Home

Everyone can learn something from this film: those too young to remember, those who lived through the era and (especially) anyone who thinks "The Greatest Generation" has cornered the market on bravery and patriotism.

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