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Documentary - The Brothers Warner

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The Brothers Warner
Directed by Cass Warner Sperling
Originally released 2008
Warner Home Entertainment 2010
94 minutes

The Brothers Warner is a fascinating documentary about the Warner brothers, the Warner Brothers studio, and the first fifty or so years of American film making. Written and directed by Cass Warner, Harry Warner’s granddaughter, this documentary DVD is not just a puff piece about how great Jack, Harry, Albert, and Sam. If you like movie history or biographies The Brothers Warner is quite interesting and entertaining.

The Brothers Warner DVD opens with a mystery: what was the original family name when the family landed on Ellis Island from Poland. It then tells the story of the four brothers who get into the Nickleodeon business, then distribution, and then go west to Hollywood to make movies. Cass Warner makes the story entertaining and guest commentators like George Segal, Roy Disney, and Dennis Hopper add to that.

The problem with this documentary DVD is there is so much material it could easily have been a six part series.

One of the missions of Warner Brothers was to educate. This aspect is mentioned but not really explored. There are a couple of most interesting facts such as the Hays censor board stopped Warner from making anti-Nazi pictures until Pearl Harbor and the same thing happened when the Warner brothers wanted to make a movie about the concentration camps in 1933, 12 years after their supposed discovery.

“You had an industry run by Jews, censored by Catholics, and an audience of Protestants.” Is but one of the many witty but perceptive comments in The Brothers Warner.

A lot of this documentary DVD focuses on the disagreements between Jack L. Warner and Harry Warner. It is interesting but after a while you lose track of which of the four brothers is which and does what when.

The Brothers Warner belongs in the DVD collection of any film history fan.It will also interest anybody interested in the movies

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