Universal Studios Home Entertainment has been unveiling a string of impressive collections of late that deserve attention. In August, it was classic TV. This month, the studio released the first three outstanding titles in its new Legacy Series -- "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Sting" and "The Deer Hunter" ($26.98 each).
The three Legacy titles all have a solid place in film history, especially "To Kill a Mockingbird." The Academy Award-winning film is an adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his portrayal of attorney Atticus Finch, a character named the No. 1 Hero in 100 Years of Film History by the American Film Institute.
The outstanding sepia-toned packaging on the two-disc set includes an envelope with a heartwarming letter written by Lee about Peck for the DVD and 11 colorful postcards depicting the film's theatrical posters from around the world.
Bonus features include Peck's short but sweet 1963 Academy Award speech for Best Actor; his speech after receiving the AFI's Life Achievement Award in 1989; a new documentary produced by Peck's daughter, Cecilia; and a 1999 NBC News interview with Mary Badham, who played Scout.
"It's so difficult to separate the man from the character because they were so similar. They believed in justice and honor, family and community," Badham says, echoing the remarks of others who knew Peck.
* "The Sting" is considered one of the greatest con artist-heist movies ever made -- and it has the Oscars (seven, including Best Picture) and all-star cast (Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw, Eileen Brennan) to prove it.
"The Art of the Sting" is a documentary that includes interviews with cast and crew including Newman, Redford, Charles Durning, Ray Walston, writer David Ward and composer Marvin Hamlisch, who discusses his score and the use of Scott Joplin's ragtime music.
Newman, who thought he was "dead wrong for the part," says, "I can't remember a more perfect script," a thought shared by Redford, who calls it "a perfect piece of work."
* Michael Cimino's powerful Vietnam story, "The Deer Hunter" (winner of five Oscars), includes deleted and extra scenes and a feature commentary with film journalist Bob Fisher and extraordinary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond.
Other new releases include:
"Pretty Woman 15th Anniversary Special Edition" ($19.99, Buena Vista) is the movie that made Julia Roberts with her portrayal of the hooker with the heart of gold. The anniversary edition includes a blooper reel, a "Live from the Wrap Party" segment featuring a duet by Roberts and Richard Gere; and a commentary by director Gary Marshall.