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Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros.

If you tried to sell the plot to a movie studio, you would be laughed right out of the place. Imagine four immigrant brothers - call them, say, Jack, Harry, Sam, and Abe - hocking their father's horse and gold watch to buy a print of "The Great Train Robbery" and go into the business of showing silent films in a storefront "movie palace." They are so successful that they buy back the watch and horse, return them to Poppa, then go on to Hollywood, where they form their own studio ... and the rest is history. improbable or not, that's how Warner Bros. came into existence.

Few things are as irresistible to film buffs as snippets of scenes from favorite pictures, especially when the stars of yesterday and today pour across the screen almost faster than the mind can register. "Say, wasn't that (James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Olivia De Havilland, Edward G. Robinson, you name it)?" As narrated by Clint Eastwood, they appear in multitudes, triggering nostalgic delight.

From the studio's first stars - John Barrymore and Rin Tin Tinto - such modern-day icons as Robert Redford, Warren Beattie, Barbra Streisand, and Clint Eastwood, there are an abundance of film clips and interviews. Warner Bros. was the pioneer of sound, stunning the public with "The Jazz Singer." It dazzled audiences with the geometric choreography of Busby Berkely, and filled the screen with the toughest gangsters of them all in "Little Caesar," Public Enemy," and "The Petrified Forest."

High spots include screen tests for Paul Newman, Marion Brando, Lana Turner, and Orson Welles - all of whom Warner Bros. rejected! A series of blooper outtakes are uproarious, especially a sequence of Ronald Reagan frantically trying to zip up his pants in a scene from some unnamed World War II comedy. (Come to think of it, whatever happened to him?)

Clips from the studio's more recent successes after the Warner brothers had passed on - "all the President's Men," "Batman," "Superman," "Lethal Weapon," "Dirty Harry," "The Shining," "The Exorcist," et al - show the tradition is ongoing. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that Warner Bros. will be remembered always as being the home of the 3 B's- Bette, Bugs, and Bogie. If you have to have it explained to you that these are Davis, Bunny, and Bogart, you don't deserve to see Rick and Louie walking off again in the most beloved film Warner Bros. ever issued - "Casablanca."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rothenberg, Robert S.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:400
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