September 9th, 2008
The Brothers Warner
About the Film

The Brothers Warner, an AMERICAN MASTERS presentation premiering nationally Thursday, September 25, 2008 on PBS (check local listings), is an intimate portrait and epic saga of the four film pioneers who founded and ran the Warner Bros. studio for over 50 years.

Narrated by family member Cass Warner Sperling (Harry Warner’s granddaughter), the 60-minute film gives an insider look at these original Hollywood independent filmmakers and their varied personalities and business sense: the little-known major player, Harry Warner; Albert or “Honest Abe”; visionary Sam; and volatile Jack. Rare archival footage, family photos, and documents trace their scrappy rise from nothing, along with the personal tragedies and professional battles they overcame along the way.

From opening their first storefront theater by hanging a sheet on the wall and borrowing chairs from a funeral parlor to creating one of the top studios in America, these four brothers built an empire on a dream and revolutionized Hollywood, and were the first to use mass media to “educate, entertain, and enlighten.”

Visit Warner Sisters online to learn about Cass Warner Sperling’s production company.

To order The Brothers Warner on DVD, call 1-800-336-1917.

  • Al Bozzo

    Truly an insightful, intimate look at one of this country’s greatest success stories – Warner Brothers Pictures. After watching this film, the viewer will understand why Harry Warner was the true visionary responsible for this success. Cass Warner delivers a heartfelt and objective peek into the lives of one of Hollywood’s pioneering families. Excellent!

  • Susanna Speier

    Warner Bros is a couple miles away from me in Burbank. I’ve worked on the lot several times and never really thought of it as anything besides just another mega corporation out to absorb another corporation and another and another and another. Went to a preview screening of this docu at the other night in West Hollywood and was utterly stunned by how similar it was to the story of my own family—Easter European Jews who immigrated to America, settled in Iowa, started a grocery business and tirelessly strove to make the most of the opportunities that, had they stayed in Europe, would have been denied them. What most resonated for me most, however, was the shattering impact of the family’s sibling rivalry. Although I never met my mom’s father and only met his brother on a few occasions, I grew up on the stories Mom used to tell me about the crippling impact of the rivalry between her father and his brother who repeatedly tried and failed to run a business together. Cass Warner, the filmmaker, narrator, and host of this preview, brought such insight, fairness and universality to this ancient and poignant theme, that I left the screening feeling more connected to and at peace with my own family history, as a result.

  • Alan De Petro

    Simply loved the presentations about the four Warner Brothers who grew up in my hometown, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO when it was America’s THIRD largest steel producer and a city of 170,000 souls. Also remembering that the more contentious and youngest brother, Jack was the quarterback on the 1911 YOUNGSTOWN RAYEN HIGH football team (the city’s first high school….and that the beautiful WARNER Theater in downtown Youngstown dedicated to brother Samuel Warner was an absolute treasure. Many, many thanks to Cass Warner.

  • Chris Crist

    Will PBS repeat “The Brothers Warner, An American Masters Presentation”
    What happened was that we had it programed to record Thursday, 9/25/2008 (The Brothers Warner) on DirecTV on PBS 7pm (PDT) but another programed on PBS was record instead “Copland and the American sound.”What happened?

    Please advise.
    Thank you

    recorded instead “Copland and the American Sound” .
    Please advise.
    Thank you

  • Arte Maren

    Creating a documentary can be a dry, historical exercise or it can be done with emotion, coming from the heart…not the head. Cass Warner not only did her homework but she did her heartwork and it shows.
    Highly enjoyable and highly recommended.

  • just curious

    it was wonderful showing the true history of how warner bros got started. however,from reports, lawsuits and the like that are happening today, it has fallen from its original premise. that saddens me.

    it would be nice to see warner goes back to the roots of where it all started. just a thought.

  • F.M. Osborne

    WHY IS IT you have no problem feeding us Suzie Orman until we choke, but you parcel out new programs like the American Masters YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS like Hershey Bars at FAT CAMP!?!?

  • Dr. Keiko

    Congratulations Cass, you did it! I know your Grandfather Harry is so proud of you. I am still on
    my journey of acomplishing my promise. New Zealand is
    incredible. I have been working with the Mauri Elders.
    I would love it if you did the History of Mauri’s.
    The Global Indiginious Congress are looking up to Mauri’s to step up to the table and I have been working with the Elders with their Constitution
    and the Freedom of All Indiginious People, “The Guardians of the Mother Earth”. They are the only
    Indiginious People on the Planet who has the Treaty
    with the Crown of England, Treaty of Wytangi. They
    celebrate every year. But, just like the American
    Indians, they need the confident boost. A film about
    them would be incredible. I am still in the process
    of creating The Whale Rider Film Institute( International Center for Transformational Film Institute/ International Transformational Film Festival, and International Creative Arts ECO
    Comm-Unity in Heavenly Valley in New Zealand.
    So much has happened since we were together,
    I would like us to get together again. I am still
    definitely going to do Willy’s(Keiko) Adventure
    from Free Willy. This time it is my story with Keiko
    (Willy) the Whale. You are such a beautiful soul !
    Thank you for coming into my life !
    Much Love & Blessings, Dr. Keiko

  • Tashia M.Peterson

    please have a American Masters on,Carson Mccurllers,and Tennesse Williams,Richard Wright,Nella Larsen,Langston Hughes,but mostly Carson Mccullers,and Nella Larsen.Please answer assap.Give me a detailed answer about what you think.

  • Doug Sinclair

    I’ve found the previously unknown immigration records for Benjamin Warner (1888) (father of the Warner brothers) and those of his wife and children (1889), which show what was likely the family name they used in Russia/Poland and that Albert (originally Abraham), Sam (originally Schmuel) and Rose (originally Reisel) were born there and not in the United States. These and other new insights that supplement the early history of the Warner family can be found at “The Benjamin Warner Family: Early Primary Records” (

  • Michael in Fair Oaks Michael Genung

    Started a bit slow – “pacing” it seemed BUT then quickly hooked me. From historical perspective and the “spiritual” perspective/ “Purposes” – WOW~!~!~! Powerful POWERFUL STUFF~!~!~! Thank you so much for passing this along and for picking up and running with the torch that Harry, your grandpa, passed to you!!! Michael Genung, Fair Oaks, CA

  • Joe Corrigan

    I saw this documentary at the St. Louis Int’l Film Festival in November, 2009. Cass Warner Sperling was there to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. I really enjoyed the movie. It’s not only a history of these movie pioneers but also a “no holds barred” account of the pitfalls of a family business. There is a “Shakespearean” nature to a “betrayal” that takes place at the end which is sad yet honest. I commend Cass for her courage in confronting some of these “family ghosts” and telling her view of the story. Harry surely would be proud of her!

  • betty

    Please tell me the title of the musical piano/keyboard piece played during the last 5-7 minutes of this documentary. I believe Bettie Ross is on piano and David Campbell is the composer. The music is beautiful and added to the Documentary. I would love to purchase this piece.


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