The Best of Bogart Collection (Blu-ray Review)

bogart collection whysoblu box art-001Humphrey Bogart is widely and understandably recognized as one of the greatest, if not The greatest actor in the history of American cinema and it certainly helps that he is the star of many films considered classics, let alone some of the best of all time films ever made.  This Blu-ray collection includes some truly amazing features.  Within this collection is The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen.  With exception of maybe Sabrina, this really is the best of the best, when it comes to Bogart.  Continue on to read about what else comes with this Blu-ray collection, aside from films filed under the category of: “All Time Greats.”


[Note:  As I can only do so much to add to the conversation regarding these films, I am simply applying the 5-star grade to all of the films and adding only a bit of commentary regarding each film.]

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The Maltese Falcon

Sam Spade: I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.

This is the story of a private detective, Sam Spade (Bogart), and his dealings with treacherous people who are all willing to kill in order to get their hands on a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.  Plenty of dirty dealings and danger to look out for in this San Francisco-set noir, based on the pulp novel by Dashiell Hammett.

Largely recognized as the first major American film noir, if there was ever a film to see that both familiarizes audiences with the type of energy Bogart brings to his roles and the world of noir, The Maltese Falcon is a great film to use as that example.  The story is fairly airtight, as opposed to the amusingly complex plotting seen in the The Big Sleep, and the film is fairly lacking thrills like the gimmick-heavy Dark PassageThe Maltese Falcon is simple enough to enjoy, but fantastic in its presentation and for the way it stands up to the test of time.

The film has nearly everything one would want in an adult thriller of today: strong performances, a compelling murder mystery plot, an overarching story surrounding the titular prized possession, great writing, directing, and editing, and it only clocks in at around 100 minutes.  Sometimes there is a misconception that these old classics are also unending epics, but all the films in this collection pretty much fly by, which comes both from the brevity of this film, Casablanca, and The African Queen specifically and the strong handling on what makes these kinds of films work, without going overboard.

While not a winner of any Academy Awards, its status as a classic holds together thanks to the aforementioned cast, sure, but largely from John Huston’s work as a writer and director.  The film is pitch-perfect as far as execution goes and it is almost as easily watchable as the film coming up next.  If you haven’t seen The Maltese Falcon, it is a great film and a great one to start with, if it’s the beginning of some kind of wonderful marathon for those either revisiting or watching these films for the first time.

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Rick:  You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. Your business is politics, mine is running a saloon.

This story has nearly everything.  Set during the early days of World War II, Bogart stars as Rick Blaine, an American expatriate operating a nighclub and all around hot spot in the city of Casablanca.  This Moroccan city has Nazi eyes all over it, but things become very complicated for Rick (who has tried to keep things as uncomplicated as possible by staying out of the way of the war), when his former lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband, Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) arrive.  Rick becomes torn between pursuing the woman he loves and helping her husband escape the city.

I mentioned this with The Maltese Falcon, but Casablanca may be seen as some sort of epic story, but it really is not that.  There may be a lot of weight associated with this romance between Rick and Ilsa, but that really comes down to the presentation of this film and the power of these iconic performances.  Having the film set during World War II may give the implication that major things happen, but they really do not.  Even when you hear the score of the film, it could suggest some sort of grand film that will be an absorbing number of hours.  The film may be absorbing, but it is another quick-paced 100 minutes.

There are really few ways left to describe Casablanca, a film considered to on the short list of greatest films ever, so I find it best to write about it in terms of those who may not quite know what they are getting into, while reminding others of how simple it really is in presentation, despite how complex and character focused it really is, when more thought is applied to it.  One of the best things I can say about Casablanca is how timeless the film really is.  Regardless of the time this film came out, the time in which it is set, the ‘visual effects’ utilized, and even the acting style of the time, Casablanca is about as perfect as it gets when it comes to telling a story with mass appeal, given how well it works in the drama, comedy, and intrigue.

Everything about this film continues to work for me, no matter how many times I have seen it.  The film is immensely quotable, filled with memorable moments, gorgeously filmed, and everything else that could be said as far as recommending a true classic goes.  It is not even my favorite film in this set, yet I have nothing bad to say about it.

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The Treasure of Sierra Madre

Dobbs:  Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.

Speaking of favorite films in this set, The Treasure of Sierra Madre is truly my kind of movie.  There may be plenty to praise about The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, but I have always had the most love for this adventure/western/noir/thriller.  Not only do I believe this film to contain Humphrey Bogart’s best performance, it is one that I can easily recognize as the influence on many of my favorite films that come from more recent times.  ‘Sierra Madre’ is a film that I constantly cite as a masterpiece in filmmaking, given the complexity of the characters in it, the stakes of the story being told, the way darker themes and philosophical elements come into play for a story that is fairly outside the norm, and the true beauty to be found in the filmmaking on display.  John Huston may have an incredibly legacy, but I think this just might be his best film.

Set in the 1920s, with the Mexican Revolution coming to a close and with bandit gangs now mostly existing in the countryside, the story revolves around three Americans looking for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico.  These men are Frank C. Dobbs (Bogart), Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), and Howard (Walter Huston, aka John’s Dad).  While the plan is simple enough, despite the potential danger they could encounter, it is the inner dilemma mainly seen in Dobbs that threatens to challenge the success that these men have in both obtaining and holding onto the fortune they seek.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre may be the shaggiest film of this collection, as it clocks in at just over two hours and is a bit rough around the edges, but I love what it tries to do as far as maintaining a tension based on who these main characters are and how they evolve based on the events of their treasure-seeking adventure.  There may be other dark films that Bogart was involved in, but I find everything about his Frank C. Dobbs character to be fascinating and a great reflection of what this actor is capable of, when it comes to flipping some of the roles he has played on their head for the sake of a story like this.

There are many other aspects of this film that I could go into, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is another film that falls into the realm of classic cinema, complete with memorable characters, lines, and moments.  It continues to resonate with me in terms of the performances these actors put forward and the nature of the core story.  The Maltese Falcon may be the ‘coolest’ of this bunch, Casablanca may have the widest appeal, and The African Queen may be a great way to see what happens when you put two of the best in the business together on an adventure, but ‘Sierra Madre’ left the biggest impact on me, which is worth praising, as far as I am concerned.

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The African Queen

Charlie:  What a time we had Rosie, what a time we had.

Set in Africa during World War I, Bogart plays Charlie, a riverboat captain, convinced by Rose (Katharine Hepburn), a straight-laced missionary, to attack an enemy warship with his boat, the African Queen.  This is not the easiest plan, as it involves a lot of tricky river boating to reach the intended target, along with a lot of patience on the part of both main characters, who will of course end up liking, if not loving each other.  Still, this is an adventure film through and through, plus a chance to see Bogey in color!

The African Queen could practically open with John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, and Katharine Hepburn looking into the camera and saying, “Look how F-ing great we are!”  While maybe not as ‘essential’ in the same way I find the other three to be, The African Queen came at a time when these actors and filmmakers had all the respect in the world.  If it was made today, it would likely star George Clooney and Meryl Streep (a Fantastic Mr. Fox re-teaming!), who would go on to be directed by Spielberg in what would likely be regarded as the easiest film ever, as far as natural performances, chemistry, visuals and more go in an effort to please just about anyone.  I say this all with respect, as 1951’s The African Queen is so naturally charming that it all feels effortless.

Bogart and Hepburn have great chemistry, John Huston has filmed another impressive feature, making use of the African setting and now having the added color aspect to work with as well.  I feel like I have the least to say about this film, but it is one that works due to seeing these two greats working together and the fact that the adventure aspect is such an enjoyable one, whether the film hits on the comedic beats or the dramatic ones.  While other films like this one may not know how to separate genuine feeling from coming off as too “corny”, The African Queen is a strong example, when it comes to watching an adventure/romance do a fantastic job of making its story feel relevant and expertly crafted.


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The African Queen (1951) Directed by John HustonShown from left: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn

Encoding:  AVC MPEG-4

Resolution:  1080p

Aspect Ratio:  1.37:1

Clarity/Detail:  Two of these films (Casablanca and The African Queen) were treated to 4k remasterings in recent years, which basically makes these old classics look about as good as they could.  The other two films have solid restorations from recent years as well and they certainly stand up as quite strong.  There is a lot to be said for the detail in all of these films, given how well they hold up, since so much attention was given to them in their restorations.  The clarity of The Maltese Falcon, for example, given that it is the oldest in this set, is quite wonderful, even when considering how age has affected the print in ways that can’t be solved with a transfer.  All of these films are impressive to look over.

Depth:  Obviously the old fashion nature of these films suggest that the Blu-ray transfers may not do a whole lot to add much depth, but the sharpness and contrast of these films can be found in this area.  Given the use of locations on some of these films and the basic construction of sets on others, the video presentations of these films and the quality of their transfers really allows for a set of features that can really pop out at the viewer, despite their age.

Black LevelsCasablanca is easily the winner, as far as this section concerned.  The deep black levels are superb to see in a film that plays heavily on its use of shadow and darkened moments, which can also be said for The Maltese Falcon.  Overall though, there really is not much to complain about, given how solid these transfers have been to preserve some of the best visual qualities concerning these films and their Blu-ray potential.

Color Reproduction:  Obviously this only applies to The African Queen, but it is worth noting that the Blu-ray’s color reproduction does a fine job of presenting a warm-looking film, with lots of details to take in, given the environment these characters journey through.

Flesh Tones:  Color or not, there is a level of texture and sharpness to the look of all the actors that has been served well by these Blu-ray transfers.  From the grizzled nature of Bogart in The Treasure of Sierra Madre to the silky smoothness of Bergman in Casablanca, these characters really stand out in the right way.

Noise/Artifacts:  There are some defects here or there that are due to the films themselves and not the actual Blu-ray transfers, so it is a little hard to fault the Blu-ray for this, but minor issues aside, these movies look about as good as they can.



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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese Mono

Subtitles:  English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, and Swedish

Dynamics:  The remastered lossless mono tracks on all of these films are great, with the balance between the scores for each, the sound effects and ambient noises heard, and the dialogue all playing well for the Blu-ray experience.

Low Frequency Extension:  While not bombastic films, the low-end channel does its job for each of these films, with the musical scores getting a bit more kick because of it and some of the larger-scaled events playing well due to the solid work on each of these tracks.

Surround Sound Presentation:  With great work done on balancing all the elements on the soundtrack as far as clarity goes, it helps to that each film plays really well from a surround sound standpoint.  The African Queen stands out given the use of location to really play into how we hear all the audio elements that film has to offer, but the recent remastering of Casablanca really shines overall, thanks the great work done to make it look and sound almost perfect.

Dialogue Reproduction:  As dialogue plays a great role in all of these films, it makes sense that this aspect has been reproduced as well as it has.  Given all that is going on in these films on a mono audio track, it is impressive to hear each classic so clearly, yet still have an aspect like this standout, yet it does.  It has been reported that The Maltese Falcon is the weakest from an audio standpoint, but that still does not take away much from how great these old films sound.



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While I am never a fan of stacking Blu-ray discs within a single case, I am still quite pleased with the compact nature of this collection, as the packaging is simple to handle, fitting for a Blu-ray shelf, yet just nice enough to make it stand apart.  While all of the features for these films have been available on previous releases, this is definitely a set worth picking up for those who have only one or two or none of these films and are happy to have a nice, consolidated package.  The small box that contains the Blu-ray case also includes a set of mini-movie art cards for each film.  Almost each disc is packed with extras.

Features Include:

The Maltese Falcon

  • Warner Night at the Movies – The idea of this feature is to recreate the experience of seeing this film in a theater with newsreel footage and cartoons, before the feature films starts.
  • Commentary by American biographer Eric Lax
  • The Maltese Falcon:  One Magnificent Bird – A featurette covering the history of the film.
  • Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart
  • Breakdowns of 1941 – A blooper reel for classics!
  • Makeup Tests
  • Audio Vault – Nearly two hours’ worth of radio programs from the 40s, with actors reprising their roles from The Maltese Falcon.
  • Trailers


  • Introduction by Lauren Bacall
  • Commentary by Critic and author Roger Ebert – One of the best commentary tracks you’ll ever hear.
  • Commentary by American film historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Warner Night at the Movies
  • Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart – A documentary focusing on the films and life of Bogart, hosted by his wife until death, Lauren Bacall.
  • Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You’ve Never Heard Of – A look at the director that is seemingly overlooked.
  • Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic – Modern day filmmakers discussing Casablanca.
  • You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca
  • As Time Goes By: The Children Remember:  The sons and daughters of the actors discuss their famous parents.
  • Who Holds Tomorrow – A brief TV show that recalls the classic film.
  • Carrotblanca – A Bugs Bunny cartoon that spoofs the film.
  • Audio Vault
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Trailers

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

  • Warner Night at the Movies
  • Commentary by Eric Lax
  • John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick – A huge documentary that goes over the famous director and is hosted by Robert Mitchum (this documentary is from 1988).
  • Discovering Treasure: The Story of The Treasure of Sierra Madre
  • 8 Ball Bunny – Another cartoon that spoofs the film.
  • Lux Radio Theater Broadcast
  • Theatrical Trailer

The African Queen

  • Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen – The only feature on this disc, but it is an hour long documentary that is informative enough.


Image: FILE PHOTO: 70 Years Since The Casablanca World Premiere Casablanca

While this set has nothing new to offer those who may already own these films individually, beyond a fancy-ish box and some collectable cards, it does not take away from the quality of these Blu-rays.  The films are classics, the remastered video and audio make them look and sound better than ever, and there are plenty of extra features to keep anyone satisfied.  If one needs a great set of films, a great gift to give, or just a cool little collection of Bogart’s finest, this collection is a fine addition to anyone’s Blu-ray shelf.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com


2 Responses to “The Best of Bogart Collection (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brandon Peters

    Wow…procrastination pays off for me. Since I’ve held off on purchasing all 4 of these titles to replace my DVDs for the longest time, Warner has gone and done me a favor putting them all together (great price too!). Any person who claims to be a film lover or fan should have this in their collection. You’ve done Bogart proud with your review, I loved it. Now, I just need to stroll on down the interwebs and get myself a copy!

  2. Brian White

    All you have to do B is click the link above 🙂