A Few Words About A few words about...™ Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory: Volume 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    As highly prized (and priced) as they are, every three-strip Technicolor production cannot find it's way to DVD via "Ultra-Rez."

    But in their continuing effort to meet public demand for Technicolor musicals of the classic (Arthur Freed) era, they've lovingly created a second package offered as Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory: Volume 2, and at a street price of under $45, it's a winner.

    While the films are all quality releases, it should be remembered that on a technical level of reproduction, they are generally derived from extant duplicating elements created from the originals by photo-chemical / photo-optical means.

    There may be an occasional registration anomaly or other defect, which is to be expected from the process, but this is the norm.

    Other than that, these films are a delight.

    There are a total of seven films, which works out to slightly more than $6 per film, with several major productions plus the 1985 documentary That's Dancing!, which like it's predecessors, That's Entertainment, covers the history of dance on film, but in this case spreading out to cover more than simply the M-G-M productions.

    There is a sequence in That's Dancing, covering the career of Busby Berkeley, that affords the DVD viewer, once again, a perfect example of what a film element from the 1930s can look like, if properly handled. You'll recognize these brililant black & white images when you see them.

    Probably at the top of the "must have" list is the 1948 Judy Garland / Gene Kelly production, The Pirate, in brilliant technicolor hues. In normal WB fashion, it is backed by a myriad of extras, which will remind some of the extra-packed laserdiscs of that earlier back-breaking boxed era.

    Words and Music, a star-laden biopic about Rodgers and Hart is also filled to the brim with Warner extras.

    Two Fred Astaire vehicles, The Belle of New York (1952) co-starring Vera-Ellen, and Royal Wedding (1951) also with Jane Powell, and herein bravely rescued from "public domain" hell, although never really in the PD, as it always held protection from music rights are next up. Royal Wedding was made famous for it's ship-board "dancing on the ceiling" number, one of the great pieces in musical film history.

    And finally, the first two films created around the man generally considered to be the greatest operatic talent of the post-war era, Mario Lanza, That Midnight Kiss (1949) and The Toast of New Orleans (1950).

    As a summer release, I want to make very certain that this wonderful boxed set isn't lost between trips to the beach, and receives the attention it deserves.

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Really looking forward to seeing The Pirate, you can't go wrong with Minnelli!
     
  3. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    I should have mine today, it shipped last week. [​IMG] I cannot WAIT to watch each and every title and all the extras. These are some of the very films that turned me into a classic movie fan and musical enthusiast as a pre-teen in the mid-80s. So I am forever grateful to THE PIRATE, WORDS AND MUSIC, ROYAL WEDDING, TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS etc. for making me discover the great musicals all those years ago and, by the same token, for giving me my lifelong passion for the classics. [​IMG]

    Already looking forward to the next volumes!!! [​IMG]
     
  4. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Can't wait to get this box. I have always loved The Pirate and have lately got a fetish for Belle of New York.
    Glad to see Royal Wedding and wish that Warners would do an Jane powell Box. Would love to see Athena remixed for stereo from the stereo music tracks.
    My only objection to Mr. Harris comments is calling Mario Lanza a possible greatest post war opera star. That might have been so, if he ever actually sang in an opera, but I don't think he ever did. He performed arias on recordings and in films (usually too loud and performed with both fists, if you know what I mean- i.e. great voice but a lousy artist).
    Anyway Warners, keep them coming. Would love to see the films where the filmed outtakes still exist - Jupiters Darling, Pagan Love Song, Rose Marie, Athena, etc.
     
  5. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    This box is well-worth the price, it is an incredible value.

    I am really enjoying seeing these films again - along with the outtakes! The Kathryn Grayson /Mario Lanza duet outtake and the Jane Powell/Peter Lawford duet outtake are both wonderful.

    However it is quite apparent as to why the second Perry Como outtake included on Words and Music and the 2 outtakes included with the Esther Williams' DVD set were deleted. I am happy to have them, but it is just a twist of fate that the Minnelli-directed Fred Astaire, Lena Horne and Avon Long outtakes from Ziegfeld Follies and the Judy Garland, Gene Kelly outakes from The Pirate were lost in a vault fire while these survived.
     
  6. bob kaplan

    bob kaplan Supporting Actor

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    Enjoyed the Pirate a lot!!! Can't wait to get at the rest of the set. Thanks Warner.
     
  7. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    This is set is a treasure-trove...so cleverly assembled with obvious care.

    Just the etxras alone are worth the purchase price....and indeed the films all look and sound terrific, some better than others, but very good at bare minimum.

    For a real treat, celebrate the resurrection of ROYAL WEDDING from the PD dung heap.......I have never seen RW look so gorgeous. The proof is in the wonderful documentary that accompanies the feature. It seems like the old transfer that has been on TCM for years was used for the docu. It is soft and lifeless in comparison to the feature itself.

    Warner deserves big kudos for this one....and I'm first in line tomorrow for FILM NOIR #4.
     
  8. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I agree about ROYAL WEDDING. The Technicolor fairly popped off the screen as I watched it last night. This is the way Fox's THE GANG'S ALL HERE should have looked!
     
  9. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    Agree on everything - ROYAL WEDDING looks simply glorious - I could hardly believe my eyes. I spent the whole evening watching favorite numbers from all the films as I could not decide which to watch first. [​IMG] This is an absolute goldmine, so beautifully presented. It also proves the point we need more Jane Powell on DVD.

    Hearing Lanza and Grayson sing together is one of the greatest pleasures I could possibly ask for, and their films, especially, THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS are simply divine entertainment. Also marvelled once more at the musical numbers from WORDS AND MUSIC - all those first rate talents in one film.

    Next stop, watching THE PIRATE - one of my favorite musicals ever - tonight. [​IMG] We can never have enough Judy Garland or Gene Kelly for that matter.

    Astaire and Vera-Ellen were not the only ones walking on air last night, so was I!!! Thank you Warners, for this, the Esther Williams set from the week before and the Film Noir set which should reach me anytime now :)
     
  10. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Is it just me, or does THE PIRATE look a little desaturated? The trailer looks more vivid than the same shots in the film, and I compared the DVD release to a DVD I made from the Laserdisc from the Judy Garland LD box set and it appears to be the same transfer - but much lower in color saturation. I know that Laserdisc had color burst as part of its signal, so I wonder if perhaps transfers were lowered in saturation a bit to compensate for this, and that the Warner DVD uses such a master. Perhaps the LD is still over saturated, but it looks as bold as a lot of other MGM musicals from the era on DVD using newer transfers. Somehow, THE PIRATE disappoints me on DVD.
     
  11. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I have the laserdisc from the Garland box set, and I agree that the color pops more on it than it does on the new DVD. However, I had burned a DVD-R of THE PIRATE from a TCM broadcast, and it was REALLY lackluster, so I thought the DVD was a definite step up from that presentation and was rather relieved that what we got was better than I was anticipating.
     
  12. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Still, doesn't it looks desaturated from the LD? It also looks like the exact same transfer with the softness and edge ringing identical (check out the tiny print in the opening credits). The LD looks the way other Technicolor films look on DVD, but THE PIRATE looks far less so in comparison. :-(
     
  13. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    I totally agree about THE PIRATE, I just thought my mind was playing tricks on me as I haven't seen the LD in a few years now.
     
  14. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    The DVD is fine if you turn the color level up a few notches as it is a bit sharper than the LD and the colors don't bleed, but still....
     
  15. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I have always liked BELLE OF NEW YORK, but every incarnation including this dvd has 'warped' sound about midway through, especially noticable during the "Woops" song on the trolley car.
    Still, this is a wonderful box set.
     
  16. Porter Faulkner

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    There are so many great points in this set that it seems churlish to focus on the few flaws, but yes, THE PIRATE is a disappointment in the color department. The Garland Set laserdisc was glorious, this DVD is just acceptable. Why do studios keep getting the color transfer wrong? Somebody isn't doing their homework.

    The sound on BELLE OF NEW YORK does indeed distort for about 10 mins in the middle of the film, most annoyingly throughout a musical number. It loses all the treble and becomes 'thick'. Shame this couldn't be corrected.

    Still, a really lovely set of films that deserved to see the light of day. Thank you Warner Bros, can we have another set soon? What about a Musical 'B' set? I LOVE MELVIN, EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS, GIVE A GIRL A BREAK,A DATE WITH JUDY, NANCY GOES TO RIO,LUXURY LINER,SMALL TOWN GIRL, SOMBRERO.......theres loads of 'em!
     
  17. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I believe Robert caught that distinction, which is why he used the carefully chosen term "greatest operatic talent" rather than "greatest opera star". In his life, Lanza performed at least one opera, but no more than two, IIRC. Despite this, he remains a hugely influential tenor to this day due to his recording and film work.

    Regards,
     
  18. Daniel BARBIEUX

    Daniel BARBIEUX Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG] The pirate :

    you will have to turn the color level up a few notches to get a decent picture !

    The Belle of New-York :

    The sound on BELLE OF NEW YORK does indeed distort for about 10 mins in the middle of the film, so to correct this, you just have to decrease the sound level !

    And your conclusion is :

    Still, a really lovely set of films that deserved to see the light of day !!!!!!

    Don't forget the wonderful job Fox did on the "Gang's all here", here again
    just turn the color level up ! [​IMG]

    Also the Guys and Dolls DVD : They still need to fix the framing problem on this film ! [​IMG]

    Not a word about these problems from Warner Bros, Fox or MGM.

    And according of what I read in this thread and your conclusion : Thanks Warner, Fox and MGM [​IMG]
     
  19. Kenneth_C

    Kenneth_C Second Unit

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    Just got around to watching The Pirate tonight -- and, boy, am I disappointed! Not in the film, which I've seen many times in 35MM revival prints, but in Warner's transfer.

    As several have commented above, the colors are very desaturated. Even though in the featurette, John Fricke refers to the visual style as being "like looking at an hour and forty minutes of the Munchkinland set", there is nothing in this transfer that comes close to replicating that look.

    The whole picture also looks much darker than it should. As a result, detail is lost in the night scenes; and the daytime scenes are drab, never conveying the feeling of the shimmering Caribbean heat like they should. (When Judy and Gene first meet on the seawall, for example, this transfer makes it look like a slightly overcast day.)

    Once the film was over, I watched the trailer -- and suddenly saw glimpses of The Pirate of my memory. I've done some quick and dirty screencaps to show the huge difference between the trailer and the film. (They're not exact frames because the exact shot does not appear in both places. The trailer must have been assembled from alternate takes.) Although the trailer may be a bit too bright, overall it's the more pleasing image, imo.

    [​IMG]
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  20. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I cannot see any big improvement in color with the screen captures from the trailer. The contrast and brightness are quite a bit different, though.

    Regards,
     

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