Columbia Classics 4K UHD Collection Vol. 1 — Review (Part 2 of 2, 1982–1996)

Modern classics GANDHI, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, and JERRY MAGUIRE are new on 4K with Columbia’s studio celebratory megaset

The Columbia Classics 4K UHD Collection is a gorgeous and prestige presentation of six of the studio’s greatest achievements. The set includes 6 certifiable classics produced from 1939 to 1996, both thematically and physically splitting its entries into older and modern eras: the double gatefold design effectively splits the films chronologically.

I’ve previously posted an unboxing of the set, showing off its overall impressiveness as a package, and a review of the first three films in the set, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Dr. Strangelove (1964).

This review covers the “right side” of the set, with three modern-era films produced post-1970s. Unlike the three earlier films which I was already familiar with, these were all first time viewings for me.

  • Gandhi (1982)
  • A League of Their Own (1992)
  • Jerry Maguire (1996)

Gandhi (1982)

Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi was the film which I had the least knowledge of, also extending to its historical subject matter, which actually put me in a place where I could more readily appreciate it. I have to be honest, I didn’t know much about Gandhi beyond the broadest strokes: a pacifist, thought leader, and prominent Hindu.

Attenborough’s biopic stars the great Ben Kingley in his breakout role, brilliantly depicting Mohandas Gandhi in his life’s journey, from a fiery young lawyer (with a silky crop of hair) to his later years as the bald, thin, humbly robed icon we know, his life cut short by an assassin’s bullet at the age of 78. From his initial civil and political demonstrations in South Africa, where Indians were discriminated against by apartheid, to his influence in India and role in ousting the British to create an independent Indian nation (and its Islamic sibling, Pakistan).

Throughout his life, Gandhi, with his faithful wife and growing throng of followers, encouraged and welcomed the support and cooperation of different creeds, notably depicted in the film by his key friendships with Christian and Muslim leaders who shared his principles of nonviolence and civil rights.

I was deeply moved by this film, enamored by both its fascinating subject, which I knew shamefully little about, and its tremendous scope and craft. Kingsley, who is partially of Indian descent, truly embodies the figure, message, and likeness of Gandhi, thanks not only to his tremendous performance, but also the incredible makeup and aging effects which appear completely convincing.

Like Lawrence of Arabia, this 4K edition of Gandhi is split at its intermission across two 4K discs to give it full room to breathe without trying to compress its three-hour runtime. And as with Lawrence, its intermission lacks a chapter stop in order to skip the two minutes of a black screen and jump back into the movie, my sole criticism an otherwise astonishing release.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Perhaps the most outright fun and straightforwardly entertaining film in the entire collection, A League of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall, is a terrific crowd-pleaser with an enjoyable ensemble cast.

As the nation (and much of its stable of professional baseball players) is embroiled in World War II, enterprising sports executives come up with a plan to save baseball: to give the ladies a shot.

Geena Davis and Lori Petty play competitive sisters who join the upstart league in its inaugural season, joining up with the scrappy ladies of the Rockford Peaches, under the captaincy of a resentful Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks). Dugan is a washed-up former all-star, sidelined by injury and in a drunken rut ever since. His celebrity gives the team major marquee power, but no actual leadership. That burden falls on the team’s most gifted player and natural leader, Dottie (Davis), though her success sows resentment with her loving but overshadowed sister Kit (Petty).

A huge part of the film’s appeal is simply getting to tag along with the group of girls as they goof around and get into various hijinks; thanks to the jovial cast of team members (among them Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Megan Cavanaugh), many of whom are taking advantage of the new freedom afforded by their new profession.

Hanks, meanwhile, plays somewhat against type as a disinterested and irritable lowlife, though of course he eventually comes around and starts to love his team, especially as he realizes how truly talented they are. While his memorable utterance “There’s no crying in baseball!” has become an all-timer movie quote, he’s rightfully the supporting figure to Geena and the girls — it’s a league, and a movie, of their own.

While the film naturally touches on ruminations of themes like sisterhood, sexism, jealousy, war, marriage, and sportsmanship, and some fun actors like Jon Lovitz show up in small scene-stealing roles, it’s really first and foremost just a super enjoyable story about a group of trailblazing ladies seizing an extraordinary opportunity and making their mark.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise is uncommonly conscientious sports agent Jerry Maguire in the rather oddball romance/sports film that somehow struck the right chord with audiences and became a huge hit.

Initially, it seems like an odd story to get invested in: its world is one of smooth-talking scumbag sports managers and rich, vain pro athletes whose stupid “problems” of entitlement you couldn’t care less about.

But Jerry Maguire is the spark. Disillusioned and appalled by the greed, shallowness, and dishonesty of his profession, he authors a treatise on a radically ethical, personable approach to sports management — and promptly gets railroaded out of his agency. He’s joined by Dorothy (Renée Zellwelger), an office employee who was touched by his words and decides on the spot to stake out on the journey with him.

The film is a unusual look at an unusual profession: having lost all of his clients but one, Jerry scrambles to attract new high-value clients, and keep the one he has left, egotistical and highly demanding NFL star Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr).

What makes this film (which, on paper, sounds pretty unappealing) work so well is the way that these relationships unfold and impact each other. Jerry and Dorothy soon complicate and risk their working relationship by becoming romantically involved, and Jerry bonds immediately with Dorothy’s adorable (and show-stealing) young son, Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki), the father-figure imposition of which could ultimately prove to make things more difficult and painful if their romance doesn’t work out.

Meanwhile Rod, who initially comes off as a stereotypically self-important football star, contains multitudes. As Jerry and Rod become closer in both their business realationship and as friends (a development which would be impossible if Jerry had a stable of other clients), a mutual agreement to candor allows them the freedom to criticize each other: Jerry gives Rod straight talk about his career and contract value, and Rod, a family man, sees Jerry’s mishandling of his relationship with Dorothy and tells him how to set things right. It’s the refreshing analysis of the cultivation of personal and professional relationships which makes Jerry Maguire such an interesting and compelling story.

The Package:

Columbia Classics 4K UHD Collection Vol. 1 includes slipcovered editions of all 6 films packed into a unique double-gatefold box which also houses a hardcover book. I’ve previously posted a deluxe unboxing of the set which goes into very deep detail on the set’s packaging.

As a total package, this set truly does get it right. I have to credit its approach for not only sucking me in with titles I definitely wanted, but using that to introduce me to other films — all of them excellent — which I might not otherwise have checked out.

Being shot on film, each of these movies gets the full benefit of true 4K representation with gorgeous masters and best-ever presentation- not only the best they’ve ever looked at home, but probably the best they ever will look.

I have no doubt that these wonderful films will find their way to individual 4K releases, but I’m impressed with what a wholly stunning achievement this box set is.

Special Features and Extras — Gandhi (4K Disc)

  • NEW: Theatrical Trailers

Special Features and Extras — Gandhi (Blu-ray)

  • Introduction & Commentary with Director Richard Attenborough
  • Gandhi’s Legacy: Feature-Length Picture-in-Graphics Track
  • Sir Ben Kingsley Talks about Gandhi
  • Vintage Newsreel Footage
  • In Search of Gandhi
  • Reflections on Ben
  • Madeleine Slade: An Englishwoman Abroad
  • The Funeral
  • Looking Back
  • Shooting an Epic in India
  • Designing Gandhi
  • From the Director’s Chair
  • The Words of Mahatma Gandhi
  • The Making of Gandhi Photo Montage

Special Features and Extras — A League of Their Own (4K Disc)

  • Domestic Theatrical Trailer
  • NEW: 5 International Teasers & Trailers

Special Features and Extras — A League of Their Own (Blu-ray)

  • NEW: 3 episodes from the 1993 TV series, “A League of Their Own”
  • Feature Commentary with Director Penny Marshall and Actresses Lori Petty, Tracy Reiner, and Megan Cavanagh
  • Nine Memorable Innings Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Enduring Legacy of A League of Their Own
  • “This Used to Be My Playground” Music Video by Madonna

Special Features and Extras — Jerry Maguire (4K Disc)

  • NEW: “The Fast Times and Long Career of Cameron Crowe” episode of the “Here’s The Thing” podcast, hosted by Alec Baldwin and produced by WNYC Studios

Special Features and Extras — Jerry Maguire (Blu-ray)

  • Feature-Length Picture-in-Picture Commentary with Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger & Cuba Gooding, Jr.
  • Jerry Maguire: We Meet Again 3-Part Documentary
  • Nearly 1 Hour of Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Behind the Scenes at the Video Commentary
  • The Making of Jerry Maguire
  • Photo Gallery
  • “My First Commercial” by Rod Tidwell
  • Drew Rosenhaus: “How to Be a Sports Agent”
  • Original Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Rehearsal Footage
  • “Secret Garden” Music Video by Bruce Springsteen
  • Theatrical Trailer

Special Features and Extras — Bonus DVD

  • Columbia Pictures 50th Anniversary TV Special (1975) in edited form
  • Mr. Attenborough and Mr. Gandhi (1982) documentary

A/V Out.

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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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