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NZ

MUSICAL WISH LIST

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As the holidays approach it is always a curiosity that studios don't realize what a bonanza they're missing out on by NOT releasing some of Hollywood's biggest musicals. Even those that do not contain a Christmas theme are ample fodder for this time of year when everyone's heart and head grow a bit softer for the simpler days idyllically fleshed out with 'all singing all dancing.'

 

My missing in action list include the following. I'd be interested to read yours.

 

THAT MIDNIGHT KISS - Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson - great music/great fun

HOLIDAY IN MEXICO - winsome Jane Powell in a frothy escapist tale of misguided teenage love

A DATE WITH JUDY - Powell again, with Robert Stack and Elizabeth Taylor and an Oscar winning song 'It's a Most Unusual Day.'

WORDS AND MUSIC - a veritable potpourri of memorable music from June Allyson, Judy Garland, Perry Como and many, many more.

KISMET - Howard Keel dreams the night of his nights in this garishly delightful romp through 101 Arabian nights

BATHING BEAUTY - dive into Esther Williams escapist aquacade

BABES ON BROADWAY - Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland put on one heck of a good show!

THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS - Lanza and Grayson again and bigger that before with the memorable 'Be My Love.'

HIT THE DECK - Tony Martin, Vic Damone and Russ Tamblyn take on the town in a sprite shore leave musical romp.

NANCY GOES TO RIO - and Rio is all aglow with Jane Powell's melodic tunes and the afterglow from Carmen Miranda's umbrella headdress.

PANAMA HATTIE - delightful big glossy bauble with Red Skelton, Ann Sothern and Lena Horne. It was just one of those things, I guess.

ROSALIE - Eleanor Powell taps out perfection in a gargantuan production that simply sparkles.

RIO RITA - Abbott and Costello make us laugh with Kathryn Grayson warbling some truly outstanding tunes.

THOUSANDS CHEER - and keep right on cheering for MGM's lavish war time salute to the armed forces

THIS TIME FOR KEEPS - Esther Williams gets wet - this time with Jimmy Durante

BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936/38 - lavish escapism with more than a touch of class

MAYTIME, ROSE MARIE, SWEETHEARTS, NAUGHTY MARIETTA - Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald...what more needs to be said?

GIRL CRAZY - and absolutely nuts for Garland and Rooney and the rest

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Great list, NZ. I'd especially like to have A Date with Judy, Girl Crazy and Bathing Beauty on dvd. Might I add a couple of my lesser-known favorites, Two Weeks with Love starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds in a fun turn-of-the-century musical (featuring Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter singing "Aba Daba Honeymoon"), and The Belle of New York, starring the lovely Vera-Ellen and the great Fred Astaire.

 

Sandy K

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Hi Sandy!

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and a great New Year.

I'm a huge "Belle of New York" and Vera-Ellen fan, I have it on laserdisc, Hopefully, it'll re-appear on DVD soon. I think I remember reading that the film's failure was a huge disappointment for all concerned. Besides the two wonderful leads, I think it also has a charming score. Perhaps it was a little too reminiscent of "Guys and Dolls."

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It's really a very light and sweet musical, and maybe the timing just wasn't right. There are some wonderful dance sequences in it--the beautiful Currier and Ives throughout the seasons, and the dance on the horse-drawn trolley are my faves. I think that Vera-Ellen was a good match for Astaire--she was obviously ballet-trained, but she has a light style and a great sense of humor that shines through, just like Astaire.

 

Have a wonderful holiday, Sheldon! I'll be watching 2 of my very favorites, like I do every Christmas, White Christmas and Meet Me in St. Louis.

 

Sandy K

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Your "missing in action" list is aptly named Mr. Z, as you were sorely missed over the past months. Glad to see your new post!

 

My list?

 

EVERGREEN - legendary 1934 musical featuring Jessie Matthews

MAZURKA - Pola Negri's German musical

DIE CSARDASFURSTIN - operetta with M?rtha Eggerth

ZU NEUEN UFERN - with Zarah Leander

ROMAN SCANDALS - Eddie Cantor, but it's really about the showgirls

GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 - Joan Blondell and Dick Powell; Busby Berkeley-o-rama

ROSALIE - Eleanor Powell; an Eleanor Powell box set would be awesome!

RIO RITA - Bebe Daniels and John Boles early sound hit

THE GANG'S ALL HERE - Carmen Miranda meets Busby Berkeley = an explosion of color. Alice Faye's voice was smokey!

YOLANDA AND THE THIEF - speaking of color; Vincent Minnelli's most interesting use of color is found in the rare musical

EVERYBODY SING - early Judy Garland; in a box set with LISTEN DARLING, THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY and PIGSKIN PARADE (though I imagine this would be impossible as the latter is from a different studio)

THE GREAT WALTZ - uberMGM with Ferdnand Gravet, Miliza Korjus and Luise Rainer

SHOW BOAT - Irene Dunne, Paul Robeson - pair it with HIGH WIDE AND HANDSOME and I'll swoon

THE MERRY WIDOW - a set with all three versions would be swell: 1925 John Gilbert/Mae Murray; 1934 Jeanette MacDonald/Maurice Chevalier; 1952 Lana Turner/Fernando Lamas

DEEP IN MY HEART - Seemingly everyone at MGM made an appearance

AS THOUSANDS CHEER - " " " " " " '

GIRL CRAZY - my favorite Garland/Rooney fest

LILI and THE GLASS SLIPPER - Leslie Caron double-feature

FIESTA - Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse, Esther Williams

An Esther Williams set

A Jane Powell set

A Broadway Melody set with '36 and '38

A George White Scandals set

 

Well, I guess that'll do for this year...

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An awesome list, Jack! I agree, an Eleanor Powell box set would be FABULOUS! I also love your idea of the Irene Dunne version of Showboat paired with High, Wide and Handsome.

 

Good news--I remember reading here that The Gang's All Here is going to be released on dvd this year.

 

Sandy K

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Hi Jack:

 

I think I read somewhere that the 1936 Universal version of SHOW BOAT is supposed to be released on DVD some time next year, paired with the MGM 1951 remake and the 1929(?) part-talkie version. I don't have a release date for it, though.

 

I'd love to see another DEANNA DURBIN SWEETHEART PACK series released. That would probably be my first priority, DVD-wise. Some of her most delightful films like MAD ABOUT MUSIC, THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP and HIS BUTLER'S SISTER haven't been released, and I'd love to see her dramatic turn in the stark Siodmak-directed CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY on DVD, which, I would think, would also be of interest to other Gene Kelly fans.

 

I think THE GANG'S ALL HERE is supposed to be part of an Alice Faye boxset. This is one of the relatively few Faye films I've seen. I like Alice a lot. Her voice and personality were lovely, but I'd like to see more of her early films released on DVD. I'm not holding my breath for it, though. Jane Powell and Jeanette MacDonald I think are other singers who deserve a box set devoted to them. I'm a little ambivalent about some of Jane's early performances. This is really probably more a consequence of the unlikable characters she played than Jane herself, though. I do like her singing very much.

 

Anyhow, I'm glad someone mentioned some non-MGM musicals as worthy of DVD consideration. I love the MGM films and stars, but other studios made fine films with talented musical stars during the Studio Era, and too often, even film buffs seem to consider Garland, Kelly, Astaire and MGM the only (movie musical) game in town. A real shame.

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I have to admit that in most cases I dislike remakes, however, in the case of 'Showboat', I much prefer Kathryn Grayson over Irene Dunne. Kathryn was cute and sweet and seemed like the over protected chickie. Irene Dunne has always struck me as too refined for comedy or musicals, just as I didn't care for her in 'A Guy Named Joe', I thought Holly Hunter whom is not one of my faves, did a better job as the tomboy pilot. Also, nobody can top Howard Keel, in addition to the remake had Marge and Gower Champion.

 

Anne

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Happy New Year to all. Dear Sandy and Jack - yep, you're both correct. The Gang's All Here will be out in late Feb. as part of an Alice Faye box. Sandy, you can already check out Alice in Weekend in Havana - a gaudy, gutsy good time from Fox Home Video with the very great Carmen Miranda doing her thing. The film also costars Caesar Romero in rare form and John Payne looking quite dashing in Technicolor.

 

Personally, though I enjoy the Fox musicals, I don't think that genre was their forte. Few musicals of the 30s and 40s put out by most any other studio couldn't hold a candle to MGM's illustrious output. Rare exceptions to this rule (at least in my opinion) are Warner's Busby Berkeley series, Paramount's Holiday Inn and Fox's Alexander's Ragtime Band, Moon Over Miami and Down Argentine Way.

 

Fox musicals really came into their own just as MGM's were on their way out - in the fifties and sixties. Check out There's No Business Like Show Business, Call Me Madame, all of the Rodgers and Hammerstein titles and Hello Dolly! Though the latter was considered a financial flop it is hardly an artistic one.

 

PS - Jack, ab/fab list. I want them all. Oh, and Home Theatre Review has a rather choice comment made by Robert A. Harris that Warner Home Video might finally be getting ready to save what's left of their badly deteriorated masterpiece; Irving Berlin's This Is The Army, which thus far has been religated to public domain hell. The film features the US military choral, one Berlin hit after another, a cast that includes Ronald Reagan and George Murphy and has Kate Smith singing her signature tune - 'God Bless America'. I quite agree.

 

Message was edited by:

NZ

 

Message was edited by:

NZ

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Although mangled by Paramount, I would like to see a DVD release of LADY IN THE DARK which starred Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. Studio head Buddy DeSylva hated the beautiful song My Ship and it was cut from the final release print of the film. Oddly enough the song was essential to the plot. The other musical I would like to see on DVD is CASBAH which is a remake of ALGIERS. On the plus side, the film contains some of the most beautiful music Harold Arlen has ever written. The film stars Tony Martin as Pepe Le Moko, beautiful Marta Toren and Yvonne DeCarlo. DeCarlo even gets to sing!

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Anne, I just bought a copy of Showboat 1951 DVD version with GraysonKeelGardner and I was overjoyed to find it at Barnes and Noble, tho somewhat pricey at $20. But I am also somewhat disappointed with the quality. Both the audio and video quality leave much to be desired reminding me a bit of what one might expect from a VHS bootleg tape copy. However the original may be damaged so maybe there was no choice?. Still it is a welcome addition and I am glad to have found it. The Champion dance scenes are great to see. I also feel the 1951 version trumps the '37 version by a wide margin. Just thought you might be interested in another opinion. Jack Keim.

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I just bought a copy of Showboat 1951 DVD version with GraysonKeelGardner and I was overjoyed to find it at Barnes and Noble, tho somewhat pricey at $20.

 

Did you check carefully for the most recent date/year on the box, etc.? There has been a lot of talk about a new edition containing all three films; lots of the music from Show Boat (1951) exists in stereo, which will surely be used in the new one, if it wasn't in the one you have. Can't tell you which step to take next, but you may want to consider taking one.... In any event, back in (early) VHS days, it was one of the murkiest/fuzziest ones out there, and all since then have been better. It looks sparkling on TCM, so if it looks less on yours, ......

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The 1951 Showboat is available from Warner Home Video but the reissue is merely the same disc that MGM DVD released in 1997. Though the image is sharp, it has not been progressively processed, so perhaps the 'quality' issue you mentioned stems from turning off the progressive mode on your DVD player and viewing the film in interlaced format.

 

Warner Home Video has promised us a full blown restoration reissue - but then again, they've said as much about redoing An American In Paris as a deluxe 2 disc. Restorations take time. More importantly, they take money. Neither comes easy, fast or cheap, so as best I can offer - wait and see. The best (hopefully) is yet to come!

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