Michelle Kung
February 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Mixing crackerjack must-haves, like the Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn romps Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story, with lesser-known laffers, Warner’s Classic Comedies Collection does a genre proud. Spanning a decade of smart golden-era filmmaking, the set also includes Ernst Lubitsch’s audaclous To Be or Not to Be, in which Carole Lombard (in her final role) and Jack Benny spear the Nazis (during wartime!) and beat Mel Brooks to the punch (the one-liner ”Hell myself” makes its debut here). More welcome additions are Philadelphia helmer George Cukor’s ensemble piece Dinner at Eight, starring Jean Harlow and at least two Barrymores, and Stage Door, which pits Hepburn against Ginger Rogers as wise cracking aspiring actresses. The most underrated of the bunch is Libeled Lady, a zany comedy that remains marvelously prescient even today. Spencer Tracy plays an over eager editor who, after erroneously printing that heiress Myrna Loy is a husband-stealer, brilliantly decides to beat her inevitable lawsuit by sending the married William Powell to seduce her. EXTRAS Although Baby and Philadelphia are given special-edition treatments filled out with docs about the filmmakers and factoldy commentaries, the remaining four must make do with short featurettes and original advertising. Baby, Philadelphia, Libeled: A To Be: A – Dinner: B Stage Door: B+

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