Sunday 30 November 2008


Columbia Pictures has a long, rich history of making movies. It was one of the original studios of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’. Like every other studio it’s been bought and trading numerous times over the years. Currently it’s part of the Sony conglomerate, but with the large bankroll backing it, it’s become one of the largest filmmaking companies in the world.

Fresh for a holiday gift for that cinephile in your family is a cleverly package box set containing every Best Picture Academy Award winner from the Columbia vault. No, the set is more than just a cardboard box enclosing their overstocked titles, this set of 11 films comes in a coffee-table book-like design, with a textured slipbox case complete with liner notes and all the special features we’d expect from these great films.

Packaging aside, the set represents a great snapshot Hollywood studio filmmaking. Despite almost a 50 year timespan, you can see consistency in these Best Picture winners - socially and politically conscious films about big stories and big events, often from revered literary material or about historically significant figures.

Here’s the rundown of these 12 great films which span 1934-1982

“It Happened One Night” (1934) dir. Frank Capra
Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
Capra’s screwball romantic comedy classic about a wealthy socialite falling in love with a mischievous reporter.

“You Can’t Take it With You” (1938) dir. Frank Capra
Starring: James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Jean Arthur
Capra’s tale of two lovers caught between their two ideological disparate families.

“All the Kings Men” (1949) dir. Robert Rossen
Starring: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek
The first adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning story of political ambition and corruption.

“From Here to Eternity” (1953) dir. Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed
The multi-award winning saga of WWII-era action and romance in the Pacific.

“On the Waterfront” (1954) dir. Elia Kazan
Starring: Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint
Brando’s seminal method performance as Terry Malloy still packs a wallop

“Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957) dir. David Lean
Starring: Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa
Guinness and Hayakawa's battle of wills in a Japanese POW camp anchor David Lean’s first masterpiece in epic filmmaking.

“Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) dir. David Lean
Starring: Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alex Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Lean romanticizes the desert as a hypnotizing environment and arena for politics and war.

“A Man For All Seasons” (1966) dir. Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave
The story of King Henry VIII told from the point of view of Catholic dissident Sir Thomas More.

“Oliver!” (1968) dir. Carol Reed
Starring: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Jack Wild, Shani Wallis
Dickens’ classic turned into a musical from the music of Lionel Bart.

“Kramer Vs. Kramer” (1979) dir. Robert Benton
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry
The only intimately-told story in the set is Robert Benton’s definitive film about divorce.

“Gandhi” (1982) dir. Richard Attenborough
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergin, Edward Fox, Roshan Seth, John Gielgud
One of the biggest films ever made, featuring Ben Kingsley's phenomenal embodiment of Mohandas Gandhi.

“Columbia Best Pictures Collection” is available on regular DVD only.

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