Sign in to follow this  
filmlover

Musicals

30 posts in this topic

Please review musical film DVDs here, thanks. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holiday Inn(1942) starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel, Louise Beavers

 

I watched the new dvd issue of Holiday Inn recently. I also listened to the audio commentary by Ken Barnes. Mr. Barnes worked with Bing Crosby and knew both Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire personally. I found his commentary informative and informal, and quite pleasant to listen to. There are 2 short features on the disc--one is about how sound is used in musicals, dubbing in of taps and such that was interesting, but too brief. The other was a conversation with Ken Barnes and Fred Astaire's daughter, Ave Astaire MacKenzie. She tells a great story about her father filming the drunk dance in the New Year's Eve section of the film.

 

The sound and picture quality were very good. I have the old dvd issue of Holiday Inn, which was a double feature with Going My Way and the picture quality is better on the newer issue, although it was ok on the earlier release.

 

Definitely recommended for fans of Astaire, Crosby, holiday films, or musicals in general. I bought mine for $14.99 at Best Buy--great price.

 

Sandy K

 

Message was edited by:

sandykaypax

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The special 50th anniversary release of Carousel is really terrific. The print is excellent, there is a heartfelt and enlightening commentary by Shirley Jones, some good outtake songs set to photos, premiere footage, plus over 200 photos behind the scenes. There is also a very good featurette called Turns on the Carousel. An extra bonus on the second DVD is the 1934 film, Liliom, upon which Carousel is based, and it is a very interesting, if somber look, at the story. Charles Boyer plays Liliom (the character became Billy Bigelow in Carousel) and the film was directed by Fritz Lang.

 

(Speaking of Liliom, wouldn't we all loved to have seen the Broadway 1940 revival of the play starring Burgess Meredith as Liliom and Ingrid Bergman as Julie?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to recommend the gorgeous new DVD of Till the Clouds Roll By recently released by Warner Home Video. :D

 

We all hate it when a title is in public domain hell but perhaps we don't give enough credit to the studios' home video divisions when one of them is rescued from PD hell. For many years, this was the fate of Till the Clouds Roll By one of those ol' MGM musicals of which many people would probably say that the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

 

Sure, there's no denying that the Jerome Kern biopic is not as solid a film as some of the other MGM musicals, but it still has many great numbers. You'll probably watch it once from beginning to end, but you may find yourself playing it often for the great numbers by some of MGM's best and brightest, as well as for the condensed version of Show Boat that takes up about 17 minutes right at the movie's beginning.

 

My favorite number would have to be "Cleopatterer" with June Allyson, but don't forget that MGM stars like Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson also have some great numbers here.

 

Some great extras, too, with more information on Jerome Kern and the making of the movie (Kern died shortly before it was completed) but even without any extras, the crisp transfer and great sound would more than make it worthwhile!

 

P.S. Since a lot of video stores and even Netflix used to carry public-domain copies, this may be a title that is much easier to buy than to rent... still well worth it, especially if you love MGM musicals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just bought The Busby Berkeley Collection Vol 1. It's great for many reasons-the picture quality is good, the variety of films, many rarely seen and the bonus "extras".

I was HUGELY disappointed this was released without any audio remastering. Don't people who like musicals, like hearing the music?

If it's too old to remix it in stereo, fine, just have the same music come out of multiple speakers. Instead, it's tinny and only comes out of the primary speakers instead of all 5 when using 5.1 SS.

They really missed the boat on this one....I won't be bothering with Vol 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

actually, i've always felt movies originally filmed in mono--especially the early talkies--should stay that way. trying to convert mono soundtracks to stereo have been met with some disastrous results.

 

my only real complaint with Vol. 1 was that the DVDs didn't seem to be thought out as units, and so they only make sense within the complete package. for instance, the extras on Gold Diggers of 1933 pertain mostly to 42nd Street, and things that would have made more logical sense on the Gold Diggers of '33 disc (like the Gold Diggers on Broadway excerpts) came about later.

 

Vol. 2 wasn't really as great as Vol. 1 anyway, i felt they should have included some of his earlier, more innovative work, like Wonder Bar. my guess is they were leaving just enough material for a Vol. 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just received the two-disc special edition of *An American in Paris*, and it is spectacular. For this edition, the film was remastered using Warner's ultra-resolution process, and the color and clarity is beyond belief. If I didn't know better, I would swear that the picture was made yesterday! I'm a big fan of Freed, Minnelli, Kelly, et al; so perhaps I'm a bit biased, but the entire package including some great extras is magnificent. Thank you Warner's for keeping the MGM musical alive. Now, let's have *Yoland and the Thief*.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today we watched *Scrooge* (1970) on DVD. I'd passed on watching it when TCM showed it because I wanted to make sure to get the best possible version, and even though it is not available on Blu-Ray, the regular DVD looks very impressive when played in a Blu-Ray player with the upconverting feature.

 

The colours are very strong, the sound is very good for an early 70's movie, and the transfer is crisp enough that I couldn't help but notice the wires used in one of the scenes where Alec Guinness' character flies around in Scrooge's place. The performances are quite good, although of course Guinness himself has a relatively small supporting part (in which he nonetheless makes a strong impression) but the movie really depends on Albert Finney, who does a credible enough job playing the old miser Scrooge. (He also has a few scenes as a young man, which remind us how handsome Finney was as a younger man.

 

Just to state the obvious, I'm posting this in the "Musicals" thread because of the Leslie Bricusse songs in the movie, which are good and enjoyable, although not - on a first viewing at least - particularly memorable. *Scrooge* was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Music (Original Song) and Best Music (Original Song Score).

 

There aren't really any bonus features, although the movie does come with an overture, and an option that allows you to play the movie with or without the overture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*Bugsy Malone (Blu-ray) (UK import)*

 

This was a popular film when it first came out, featuring a young Jodie Foster around the time of Taxi Driver and Scott Baio from the TV series Happy Days. Alan Parker, an excellent director, did pick an offbeat way of handinling this film...tell a gangster story similar to old WB movies, but with musical numbers (by Paul Williams) and kids in all the adult roles.

 

It was amusing to see it again, but a lot of the charm has worn off, and Parker in his comentary said he was seeing it again for the first time in about 20 years and that he considers it basically absurd.

 

The UK Blu import plays the feature perfectly but none of the extras, which are recorded in PAL.

 

The picture quality isn't much for this Blu release, lacking sharpness, but then the original wasn;t any greatr shakes to begin with. The sound quality is good.

 

I'd recommend passing on ordering this title.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*South Pacific (Blu-ray)*

 

I have never been a great fan of this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, but I have to admit it is a stunner in high definition Blu-ray. Even the dreaded color-filter sequences work better than I have seen them before on TV and on the big screen.

 

There are a lot of extras on these two discs, including an excellent new hour-and-a-half-documentary for the Blu release on the history of South Pacific, including the stage musical and the movie. The second disc also has the road show, extended version of the movie (in standard definition).

 

Worth getting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music (blu-ray)

 

This is a terrific blu-ray, and will likely be the definitive home video presentation of Woodstock for the foreseeable future. Great video and audio, although the picture may not benefit as much from the HD presentation since it appears the documentary was originally filmed in 16mm.

 

The video transfer adequately maintains the movie's variable aspect ratios, which also include frequent use of split screens. The surround sound is very good. Although it doesn't appear to be labeled "director's cut" on-screen, this is the longer 3 hour-43 minute version of the movie that was restored some years after the theatrical release (which reportedly was closer to 3 hours).

 

It's hard to think of any other documentary that could so effectively hold one's attention during almost 4 hours and remain so entertaining throughout.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gigi (blu-ray)

 

I'm delighted with the new blu-ray of Gigi from WHV. There's simply no adequate way that this movie could have been fully appreciated before an HD version was available. Due to the aspect ratio of the movie, and the fact that director Vincente Minnelli shot nearly everything with long shots, with characters usually shown from the feet up, nearly every previous video incarnation suffered due to the inability to really see the expressions on the faces of the actors, both because they were so small and also due to the lack of detail.

 

In blu-ray, Gigi comes alive as I'd never seen it before - and it's a lovely musical, with some great performances and great Lerner-Lowe songs. Although it is not my favorite musical, it is nonetheless a pleasure to watch, and also an important milestone for musical fans, since it pretty much marked the end of the Arthur Freed era.

 

Aside from the great picture and sound, there are a few neat bonus features, including a documentary that is about 30 minutes, and the original 1949 French-language version of Gigi, which served as inspiration for the stage musical and the MGM screen adaptation. The original theatrical trailer is also included.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chess: in concert (DVD)

 

With the exception of Jesus Christ Superstar, nearly every musical that Tim Rice has worked on either took an awfully long time to get to the big screen, or simply didn't make it at all. Evita wasn't made into a movie until the mid-90s, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat was never made into a movie, although an official video was released of the 90s theatrical production.

 

Now comes along a DVD of Chess: in concert, which was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London and features some great performers, in what may come to be the most widely-seen version of this cult musical. The DVD presents the material in a 1.85:1 screen ration, with optional surround sound. There are no bonus features except a trailer for the musical.

 

Although fans of this musical might wish it were also released on blu-ray, prospects for such a release would seem iffy at best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition (Blu-ray)*

 

I got my Blu-ray Ultimate Collectors Edition box set from Wbshop.com and I must say, this is a very attractive package. After I carefully removed the plastic wrap, I could feel the excitement pouring out of the box as I opened the lid (the inside of which is decorated with a color photo of Dorothy , the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, The Lion, and the Wizard).

 

The first thing you see inside the box is the book, ?The Wizard of Oz: Behind the Curtain of Production 1060.? The book is slender (only 52 pages) but LAVISH in photos. This is truly a nice item to appreciate for the on-set photos, script excerpts, and more.

 

Another item in this box set is a tin case holding the watch, which is actually quite nice looking (but I won?t be wearing it any time soon). (I did check and it does work fine.)

 

You will also find a very nice reproduction of the Campaign Book, filled with exploitation ideas and advertising from 1939. (Ah, so many great posters and standees that would be wonderful to own today.)

 

There is also a one-page budget sheet, which strikes me as an odd item to include.

 

There is also a digital copy disc, as well as some advertising sheets; one of which is for the upcoming Gone with the Wind Ultimate Collectors Edition set.

 

(Note: this Oz UCE does not include postcards or photos that are in exclusive packages issued by places like Amazon and Best Buy, but is otherwise the same.)

 

Then there is the heart of the whole thing, the case containing the lovely silver foldout containing the two Blu-ray discs and a double-sided DVD.

 

Now on to the movie itself. If you have been reading the reviews about how amazing, glorious, spectacular, etc. the restoration is?you don?t know the half of it until you see it. Warner Bros. has done a MAGNIFICENT restoration of the film. The Blu-ray release is sharply detailed, the colors are so beautiful that it makes every other motion picture look pale by comparison, and you can see jus the right amount of grain in the image to show all the fine details. I can barely tell you what a joy it is to watch this on Blu-ray, as my words fail me. The audio is available in its original mono or a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. For the latter, the audio separations come into play mostly with the music only sequences, but it is still a sound treat. There is also a ?Sing Along? feature available through the menu (according to the package insert, you will need a Blu-ray player that has BonusView or BD-Live capability?in other words, if you have a Blu-ray player that is only Profile 1.0, it will not play the sing-along feature).

 

And you?ll be glad to know that it looks like all of the extras available on the 2005 DVD set have been brought over and they are on both of the 2 Blu-ray discs (but in standard definition).

 

Disc 2 has the new documentary on ?Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman? and it is an interesting overview of the director?s career. Also new to the set is ?Hollywood Celebrates Its Biggest Little Stars!?, a featurette about the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the Munckins. A few of those actors who played the Munchkins attend the ceremony and offer their thoughts on the making of the movie and its afterlife.

 

Another new addition to this set not on the 2005 set is a 1990 TV-movie starring John Ritter as L. Frank Baum. ?The Dreamer of Oz,? is, if you have read the reviews elsewhere of this set , is quite poor in video quality. It looks like they wanted to add in everything they could that was Oz related for this 70th anniversary, and despite the picture quality it is watchable (with a screenplay by Richard Matheson). It begins and ends at the premiere of The Wizard of Oz at Graumann?s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with the stars being cheered on by the fans, but the arrival of Mrs. Baum (played by the lovely Annette O?Toole) is only recognized by one reporter who proceeds to interview her about their life together, leading into the longest flashback before the start of a movie premiere that I can recall.

 

Also on disc 2, they have carried over from the 2005 release silent versions of The Wizard of Oz stories, plus one new addition for this set??The Patchwork Girl of Oz? from 1914, a 51-minute movie.

 

The double-side DVD in the set contains the wonderful 6-hour documentary, ?MGM: When the Lion Roars.? This is a must-see.

 

You will find there are a number of versions of the 70th anniversary release in the stores, but not all contain all of the items, so my advice is to get one of the Ultimate Collectors Edition. But whatever you do, get some version where you get to see the movie in glorious high definition on Blu-ray.

 

This could go down as the Blu-ray release of the year (though we still have Snow White and GWTW still to go.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*Fiesta* (DVD - released as part of Esther Williams Vol. 2 boxset)

 

I'm probably going to buy the Esther Williams Vol. 2 DVD boxset eventually - perhaps if they put it on sale during the holiday season, or at the Deep Discount sale next month. In the meantime, I had a free rental to use and the thought of getting a bit of a sneak peak proved to be to tempting to pass.

 

So, I picked up *Fiesta* and watch it this week. I'm very happy that this relatively rare MGM musical has been finally released on a proper DVD (as opposed to WAC) and I couldn't have been happier to once again find myself watching a new WHV title with a few extra features - even if they aren't anything spectacular.

 

Those who've already watched the whole set say that this may be the weakest transfer of the set, and I don't doubt it. The source material is far from pristine, although not in a way that would seriously detract from the pleasure of watching this colorful movie, filmed in Mexico with a great cast - Williams, Cyd Charisse, Ricardo Montalban, and Mary Astor.

 

I'm going to assume that the colors are reasonably faithful to the original, and that what we're seeing in terms of "dark-skinned" make-up is more or less what audiences saw originally - in this regard, Cyd definitely looks the best, looking absolutely beautiful, only even more so.

 

And while the movie stars Esther Williams, there's plenty of stuff for the supporting players to do, especially a couple of colorful dance numbers with Cyd and Ricardo (my favorite was the one set to "La Bamba"). Having said that, many people wouldn't consider this to be a musical in the strictest sense of the word, since nearly all music is just incidental, unlike most of the old-fashioned MGM musicals.

 

In addition to a cartoon and a short, the DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer. The movie's English subtitles are generally accurate, although one may notice the odd typo - such as "La Scala" instead of "Tlaxcala".

 

All in all, it's great to have a 2nd volume of Esther Williams musicals and I can't help but wish that there's still enough movies left for a 3rd one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*The Harvey Girls* (DVD)

 

I?m not going to comment on the picture and audio quality (except to say they are both excellent) because the reason I wanted to post this review is the audio commentary by director George Sidney.

 

His commentary, without a doubt, is one of the greatest I have heard. It was recorded for the laserdisc version, I believe, and the man was bright and clear about the filming even though it was something like forty years later. He fills the commentary track with so much enthusiasm amd so many insights almost nonstop while he watches the film that one wishes every film had his input. Though not listed among the usual gang of world?s greatest directors, he was a remarkable creative force. Look at the list of titles he directed: Thousands Cheer, Bathing Beauty, Anchors Aweigh, Ziegfeld Follies, The Harvey Girls, Till the Clouds Roll By, The Three Musketeers (1948), Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat (1951), Scaramouche, Young Bess, Kiss Me Kate, Jupiter?s Darling, The Eddy Duchin Story, Pal Joey, Bye Bye Birdie, and Viva Las Vegas?to name a few.

 

There are many remarkable stories he tells about the making of The Harvey Girls that I want you to get it and listen to them yourself. Here are just a couple: Clark Gable was the person they wanted for the John Hodiak role but it seemed to weird to cast him as the romantic interest of Judy Garland after she sang that love song to him as a child a few years earlier; the lengthy Judy Garland opening part of the ?Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe? number was done in one shot and in only one take; Virginia O?Brien started to show a bulge during the filming and was subsequently out of most of the film because she was pregnant; he said he heard people razzing about how Marjorie Main was making all this money but not spending anything, but Sidney tells how she was using it to support a school, and so many more insights.

 

Highly recommended!

 

filmlover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*The Music Man (Blu-ray)*

 

I got this today, the first day of release and was looking forward to seeing it in high definition with great anticipation...and it didn't disappoint at all. The picture quality and sound are miles ahead of the standard DVD.

 

The introduction by Shirley Jones is here, as is the featurette on the making of the movie, plus there is a trailer. Regrettably, the items are all in standard definition.

 

This movie on Blu-ray is a treat!!! A must buy!!

 

filmlover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi. It seemed to be a good time to ressurect the individual threads that were set up when I helped get this Forum created. We are getting so many threads being started for so many things that could all be in one place that it makes it hard to find anything.

 

Keeping within a theme thread makes the Classic Film DVD Reviews Forum a much neater place and better organized.. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7809003794_52d8358387_m.jpg

 

*Bye Bye Birdie - Blu-ray (limited to 3,000 copies)*

 

Bye Bye Birdie is 50 years old and still a joyous celebration of teenage youth during the Elvis days. While the Broadway version differs in that Kim is a supporting character, with the super presence of Ann-Margret, the story was changed to focus on her. It was a smart deciision because this is definitely the film when Ann-Margret became a star. She is soft, sultry, outrageous and funny. She will raise any male's body temperature right from the opening pre-credit sequence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Songs are a delight, with nary a clunker among them. Paul Lynde even gets the utterly delightful "Hymm for A Sunday Evening," the song which is an homage to Ed Sullivan. Bobby Rydell is a little-less-than-adequate as Hugo, Kim's boyfriend, but then who could match up to A-M without being Elvis himself. Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh are fun, and get the best lines and a few nice songs. But make no mistake, this is Ann-Margret's film from beginning to end. Those who see this movie for the first time will recognize the opening as something the ad team on "Mad Men" tried to imitate for a commercial, but the commercial was a failure and it was summed up that the reason was "It's not Ann-Margret."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The video is exceptional, vibrant colors, probably as good as we will ever get from the film (though it did look like there was a tiny bit of ghosting in the sequence where Birdie makes his motorcycle entrance into the town square). It is a major improvement over the DVD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio is also a great improvement over the DVD. But while everything is clear on the 5.1 DTS-MA track, very little comes from the side speakers. However, the isolated 2.0 score fills the room when played on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extras are the isolated score mentioned above, as well as a trailer and a teaser. There is also a good 8-page booklet with Twilight Time's release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very highly recommended.

 

NOTE: This is currently only available from Screen Archives Entertainment: http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/20584/BYE-BYE-BIRDIE-1963-PRE-ORDER/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us