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TCM Greatest Classic Legends - Gary Cooper

by Ed Tapper
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Monday Nov 11, 2013
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With a screen career that spanned nearly 40 years, Gary Cooper starred in countless movies, several of which have been already issued on DVD. Turner Classic Films has culled four favorites of the beloved leading man for a new DVD compilation, TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Gary Cooper. There are no surprises, nor anything that has not been previously available. However, all are major films in the actor’s output, and can be enjoyed by devoted fans as well as neophytes.

In 1942, Cooper won a Best Actor Oscar for "Sergeant York," edging out the likes of Orson Welles as Citizen Kane. And he gives one of his finest performances as a hell-raising hayseed who finds religion, becoming a conscientious objector, and later, in spite of his ideals, a celebrated, WWI hero. Coop exudes that air of oafish sincerity that perfectly suits the title character. He is assisted by a high-caliber supporting cast, and veteran director Howard Hawks. The film delivered a pertinent message just as America was just about to enter WWII.

A pacifist again in the 1956 "Friendly Persuasion," Coop plays a Quaker during the Civil War. When renegade Confederates threaten his farm, he and his family are forced to modify their strict religious beliefs. Suavely directed by William Wyler, the film is nonetheless prolix, with far too many comedic vignettes of Quaker life before the action finally commences. The young Tony Perkins looks handsome as Cooper’s sensitive son.

Coop exudes that air of oafish sincerity that perfectly suits the title character.

In the worthwhile 1949 film version of Ayn Rand’s sensational novel, "The Fountainhead," Cooper excels as the scrupulous architect Howard Roark. Patricia Neal is a natural as rich-bitch Dominique, who maintains a love/hate relationship with Roark, while marrying powerful mogul Raymond Massey. The author’s original intentions were guaranteed when Rand was given free reign to write her own screenplay.

Representing the comic genre is the 1957 "Love in the Afternoon." For his first collaboration with fellow screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder wanted Cary Grant for the leading role. When Grant refused, Cooper was selected, and in spite of the age difference, the actor was convincing as the mature playboy who captures the fancy of soubrette Audrey Hepburn. She is delightful as Ariane, capricious daughter of private eye Maurice Chevalier, who is hired to catch Cooper with his pants down. Filmed on location in Paris, the film, with its winning performances and polished script, has a decidedly European flavor.

The entries are accompanied by sparse extras, and are presented in attractive black-and-while picture quality." "Friendly Persuasion," shot in color and widescreen, is in need of some refurbishing.

TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Gary Cooper
Blu-ray
$19.98
www.TCM.com

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