For Hicksflicks.com, June 21, 2013

While browsing through titles in my friendly neighborhood DVD store I stumbled upon a movie set with a sepia-tone cover prominently featuring Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Cary Grant and Burt Lancaster, titled "10-Movie War Collection."

There are lots of box sets available that boast similar covers and similar "Collection" titles, and I took this to be yet another repackaging of the same old recycled public-domain movies that a number of fly-by-night home-video labels have put on store shelves again and again. Although the inclusion of Grant aroused some curiosity; what war films with Cary Grant could possibly be here?

Upon closer inspection I discovered that this set was released by a major studio, Universal, just this month, so I browsed the 10 titles. Included are several films that have long been available separately, including three World War II films that were previously packaged together: Murphy's autobiographical "To Hell and Back," Hudson in  "Battle Hymn," and "Wake Island" with Robert Preston. Also "Jet Pilot," a Cold War curio from Howard Hughes, starring Wayne and Janet Leigh (as a Russian!), which has been on DVD for awhile, as has Richard Burton's World War II actioner "Raid On Rommel."

But some films in this set are making their way to DVD for the first time: Another Hudson picture, the 1954 "Bengal Brigade," set in India (with Hudson as a British soldier!), and "In Enemy Country" (1968), a low-budget WWII thriller starring Tony Franciosa. Also, a sort of odd-man-out choice, the 1972 R-rated western, "Ulzana's Raid," starring Lancaster, which has previously been available only as a DVD-R (a manufacture-on-demand disc from the Universal Vault Series).

But the eye-openers did indeed prove to be the Grant titles, two films from his early days as a contract player at Paramount (films now owned by Universal) and which have been available only through the Turner Classic Movies website: "The Eagle and the Hawk" (1933), about British aviators in World War I, co-starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March, and "The Last Outpost" (1935), about soldiers on the ground during WWI, co-starring Claude Rains. Both provide fine co-starring roles for up-and-comer Grant and helped his upward trajectory (his starmaking roles in "Topper," "The Awful Truth" and "Bringing Up Baby" were only a couple of years away).

And at $14.99 retail — actually selling for $8 to $10 at most outlets — Universal's "10-Movie War Collection" is a steal, especially when you consider that the Grant films alone are $19.99 each at TCM and Amazon is selling "Ulzana's Raid" for $17.98, with similar high individual prices for the others collected in this set.