A Few Words About A few words about...™ Hans Christian Andersen -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Charles Vidor's 1952 Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye, was a terrific piece of entertainment six decades ago, and remains so today. I saw it in its original release, and remember the music to this day.

    This is not a docudrama about the Danish creator of fairy tales, nor a bio-pic or re-enactment of his life. Rather, as the opening credits tell us, it is a fairy tale about a great spinner of fairy tales.

    I've not seen a dye transfer print of this in decades, and if I were to tell you that I recall how it looked, I'd be lying, as I don't.

    The new Warner Bros. Blu-ray of the Goldwyn production has nice looking color, with good shadow detail, but seems to be occasionally lacking a bit in overall resolution. I'm not certain what the HD master was made from. It's certainly adequate. I'm seeing occasional mis-regiatration of the records, which becomes obvious at times.

    This seems out of place for a WB release, as their Ultra-rez process generally takes care of most problems. If this did go through the process, I'm thinking that the elements may have become problematic, as they would not be nitrate. Early acetate is the enemy.

    Safety film, from the early 1950s tended to shrink, and differential shrinkage in a three-strip production is not our friend. Could it be too far gone to bring the image into perfect alignment? Anything is possible.

    Fortunately, those areas which have the problem, are few and far between.

    Audio works very nicely.

    What comes to the fore here, is that very special quality that was part and parcel of being a Goldwyn production. It was all about quality.

    A wonderful film, especially for children.


    Image - 3

    Audio - 4

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    This movie was a mainstay on Tom Hatten's KTLA Family Film Festival. Those songs are burned into my brain. Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen... Inchworm inchworm... Thumbelina Thumbelina... Every song repeated its title twice!
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    This brilliant score deserves nothing but praise. The movie surrounding the score is not always as satisfying as the songs but as Robert said, it is quality all the way. I will be eager to upgrade to Blu-ray. I've about worn out my old DVD of this favorite film. I've never replaced the original HBO release (I think MGM released a later DVD copy though it may have been the same transfer).
     
  4. Ejanss

    Ejanss Banned

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    Hallmark Channel did a much more true-to-life TV-miniseries version of Andersen's "My Life As a Fairytale" autobiography, and suffice to say, real-life Hans was a....rather odd sort, whose swans may have been missing a duckling or two. Nice chap, but being around him for ten minutes could wear you out. (As Charles Dickens once noted.)
    Danny comes close by playing Goldwyn's idea of a lovable dreamer who needs a smart kid to parent him, but it's just a showcase for the songs. There's so much musical number and pathos, he never gets to do much actual comedy on the level of "Court Jester". Apart from "Wonder Man", Goldwyn never quite knew how to get the best out of Kaye.
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Watching this with my kids tonight.  Will have the review up in a week or so as I have a couple of titles ahead of it in my hopper.  The last time I watched this, I was in elementary school, so my memory of it consists mainly of impressions of specific sequences like the "Inchworm" song outside the classroom where the kids are doing their powers of two.
    No extras on the disc save for the trailer, but the accompanying Blu-ray book is nice.  It talks about a lot of innovative things that Goldwyn did to promote the film on television.  It's a shame none of it is available to view.  I'm assuming that either recordings do not exist or there is some rights SNAFU.
     
  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    No soundtrack album of the score was ever issued, but Danny Kaye did release his versions of the songs on Decca, the LP of which I just wore out playing it so much because I loved the songs so much. Jane Wyman was brought in to duet with Kaye on "No Two People."
     
  7. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    I have the mp3 of inchworm song. That'll do the trick if you're feeling down, almost as well as Hi Lili Hi lo from Lili.
    Can't wait to get this one. Very high on my wish list.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Can't wait to see this again.
    I believe I've seen this on weekend afternoon TV sometime in the early 70s.
     
  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I saw the film on MGM-HD channel a year or two ago, and I certainly thought it looked superior to the DVD I've been watching all these years. I suspect the Blu-ray will be the same transfer, but who knows?
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Believe this to be a new transfer from a comped IP, and quite a bit higher quality than the earlier broadcast version
    RAH
     
  11. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Thanks, Robert. That's even BETTER news!
     
  12. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    I recorded my copy off of TCM in the 90s. I don't even know where my tape is. Really really want this one but I'll have to wait on a price cut.
     
  13. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    I love the first half of this movie, and I agree with Mr. Harris that children will love it. The music is memorable and outstanding. I grew up on "Ugly Duckling" and "Thumbelina." But once the story moves to the love triangle in Copenhagen, my interest flagged, and I will just about guarantee that will happen with young children also. This is like two movies sewn very loosely together, and only one of them (the first) is really emotionally involving.
     
  14. Ejanss

    Ejanss Banned

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    Sam G. always believed in the Big Ballet to give studio-prestige, and even for the youngest Ariel fan, it's tough getting kids all the way through the Little Mermaid Ballet. (Or the "No Two People" fantasy.)
    "The king's new clothes are altogether, but altogether..." Darnit, you're RIGHT! :D
     
  15. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Yep, the ballet parts are why I rank this far below my other fav Kaye films. As an adult I can take those parts better. But it sure changes things for the worse.
    I had a record album of HCA songs that I believe Kaye sang, I played that thing to death. Stupidly, gave it to nephew (along with some other records/books) and never saw it again. Definitely regret that. I'm trying to find it again but having limited luck.
     
  16. Matt Hough

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    I suspect this is the album I was describing several posts ago. I played it all the time after I saw the movie. I just love those songs.

    It's funny that even though MGM had gotten into the soundtrack album business back in 1946 with Till the Clouds Roll By, soundtrack albums of popular musical films weren't really issued on a regular basis apart from MGM. Instead, Bing Crosby's Decca label or Doris Day's Columbia contract would make studio albums with some (but not always all) of the movie cast recreating their music. Danny Kaye recorded that album for Decca but it, of course, wasn't the movie soundtrack at all.
     
  17. Radioman970

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    I'm not sure if that's the same one. Could have been.... so long ago since I was able to hear those. :(
    I know I get my old albums mixed up, but I'm sure the Hans Christian Anderson had Emperor's New Clothes and The Red Shoes on it. Red Shoes made me uneasy as a child and I'd avoid it most of the time. For some reason I'm thinking it had 3 Billy Goats Gruff on it too, with a catchy song sung about a goat being in a "little row bow"... something about "always eating oats". He eats the boat,... I'd really like to hear those again. That is probably another album. I searched and never found it. I did find several places with similar songs. HERE HERE one of those... and you can listen from their site, although I believe my browser would lock up at one point and I had to shut down just the browser then restart the browser each time. Worth the trouble.
    I found a few on youtube that I used to have. Pony Named Tony by Dora Hall (backed by another song Faniculi Fanucula! about the lovely lady sat upon my hat! lol ). Tinker Town Santa Claus.
    (might as well drag this desperate search out too!) I'm also trying to find Superscope Story Teller. Namely Puss in Boots and Rumpelstiltskin. I found my old cassette of Puss in Boots but that box of stuff was left outdoors and attacked by roaches. It has "some stuff" in it. :( I haven't repaired the sponge thing and given it a whirl yet to see if it plays. I've heard where some might have mp3 files of these. Would love a set of those.
    Books: all those old Peanuts books. Also a book about horses (a double book with another on the reverse side)... perhaps something about them in the circus with some clowns and they dressed the horses up so they could take them on a train in a car meant for humans. Wonderful illustrations that stayed in my mind. Stupidly gave these to my sister's kids and they probably got thrown out. Same with the records. Luckily I did save a few.
     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

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    The non-soundtrack Kaye recordings of the HCA songs have been re-purposed for various releases over the years. They are still in print in various reasonably(and not so reasonably) priced digital formats. They are pretty good (except for the arranging and/or conducting on "Inchworm", IMHO). I was listening to them in the car via Spotify just the other day. My kids really enjoyed it, especially the five year old. She was singing "The King's New Clothes" all weekend. She hit the "Altogether as naked as can be" line especially hard while walking into church on Sunday which raised a few eyebrows.
     
  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Frank Loesser would be quite pleased!
     
  20. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    I'm sorry the PQ on this one isn't better. Was hoping for at least a 4.
    Haven't seen this one, but obviously I'm a big Danny Kaye fan, and so for me probably it's worth the $27 at amzn. Normally I expect close to perfect PQ (as we had for Meet Me in St. Louis) for a price like this, but probably I'll make an exception....Hope the other Goldwyn elements are in better shape.
    Do you think, RAH, that WB HV did all they could for this title, or is there just not enough information on that to say much about that? I guess I trust WB HV enough to think that they probably did the best they could with what they had....Maybe some of the original 3-strip negative was missing.
     

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