Don't see another AVS thread or review for this. The HD Digest review goes into pretty good detail, so I'll just give a few highlights and my own impressions here.
I'm sure that the serious Marilyn collectors would've preferred a more fleshed out product than this set delivers. But as a more casual Marilyn fan (and fan of old movies in general) I appreciated the low street price on this set. (I paid $35 for mine, and it has sold for $25 at Costco.) The packaging is pretty cheap and flimsy though, and the discs can easily come loose and get scratched. All of the films in this collection are also available for purchase separately in their own keep-cases, though you'll undoubtedly pay more to get the whole set if you go that route.
The discs are chronologically arranged in two "books", which are just folded pieces of cardboard (no plastic used here). Two noteworthy omissions from the set are Bus Stop and Niagara.
|Title:||Year:||Color/B&W:||Image Aspect Ratio:||
(Very Good, Good, OK, Fair, Poor)
|Gentlemen Prefer Blondes||1953||Color||~1.33||Good. Gamma is on the bright side making video look a bit "flat" in many scenes, but contrast and color are good to very good overall, with vibrant color in several key scenes. Grain is virtually non-existent. Detail is a bit soft overall, but still pretty decent. Recommend 2.4 or higher display gamma to give the picture a bit more depth & dimension.|
|How to Marry a Millionaire||1953||Color||~2.35||OK.|
|River of No Return||1954||Color||~2.35||OK.|
There's No Business Like Show Business
|1954||Color||~2.35||Good. This is the darkest color film in the set. Pretty good color, contrast & detail, but gamma is definitely on the darker side making faces look too ruddy. Grain is also pretty aggressive. Lowering display gamma to 2.2 or lower could help alleviate some of these issues.|
|Title:||Year:||Color/B&W:||Image Aspect Ratio:||
|The Seven Year Itch
||1955||Color||~2.35||Fair. Color & contrast are ok. Detail ranges from good to poor. Noticeable color fringing.|
|Some Like it Hot
||1959||B&W||~1.66||Good to very good. Very good contrast generally. Detail ranges from very good to ok.|
|The Misfits||1961||B&W||~1.66||Good. Contrast is generally very good, except in a few night scenes. Detail ranges from very good to ok.|
I've watched most of the films in the set and skimmed through the others, and the quality of the transfers varies from pretty good to fair, as indicated above. There's not much visible ringing or EE though, so most of the PQ issues are related to color, contrast, gamma, level of detail, and grain which is sometimes lacking and sometimes a bit excessive. Black levels are generally good, and clipping is rarely noticeable.
The two B&W films (The Misfits and Some Like It Hot) are among the better looking in terms of contrast and detail, though the picture appears either a bit soft or excessively grainy at times in these. Some of that variation could be how they were filmed. PQ is a little weaker in general on the color films, though there are nice "color moments" in many of them, and I would not consider any to be unwatchable. The sound quality also seemed fairly decent on most of these (to my ears anyway), considering they were all made over 50 years ago.
There are no previews on the discs, forced or otherwise, and the introductory logos can be skipped on several of the titles, so load times are generally pretty quick for Blu-ray discs. And most of the discs appear to support the "resume playback" feature on my Sony player.
In terms of the movies themselves, there's alot to enjoy here, including many of Marilyn's most memorable moments on celluloid, like her famous take on "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (the inspiration for Madonna's "Material Girl" video, and other similar homages), and the scene where she enjoys a little breeze up her skirt while standing over an air vent on the street, which was probably pretty racy stuff at the time, and her rendition of "I Wanna Be Loved By You" (lampooned in "Gilligan's Isle" by Ginger Grant).
The only "stinker" (if you want to call it that) is probably TNBLSB, which is more of an Ethel Merman showcase that also features Marilyn in a few steamy numbers. If you're any kind of Marilyn fan though, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this collection, because she gets good face (and body) time in most of these. And several of them are just downright fun to watch, especially Gentleman Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, and Billy Wilder's classic Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis (which still puts me in stitches when I watch it).
My favorite Marilyn line is in GPB...
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
"I just love finding new places to wear diamonds."
...but there are alot of other equally good moments throughout the set. Just wish the HD PQ was a tad better on some of these.
Not having seen many of these films in quite awhile, I was pleasantly surprised how "svelt" Marilyn looked in the color films (HD has been kind to her in that way), and just how well she carries a tune, considering these were all made before Auto-tune. In spite of her reputation as a sex icon, when you watch these films, you really get a sense of just how versatile and talented a performer, actress and comedian she was... Well worth a look for fans of classic H-wood pictures.
Other related AVS threads:
^ Agree on the cardboard thing (though it's probably more eco-friendly). Two discs had dislodged in my set, and one had some visible scratches, so I may try to do an exchange. First thing I did though was put them all in separate keep-cases.
Added a few more PQ and disc details above fwiw.
AVSforum's Blu-ray Picture Quality Rankings (updated January 5, 2015)
Still, great to see all films in a single set, and I guess the $20 is justified after all is said and done (if you get it for that price, unlike some of the poor souls who paid over $60). I know I'm content with having spent $70 or so to buy them all separately.