A Few Words About A few words about...™ Kismet -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. CarlLaFong

    CarlLaFong Agent

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    The best part about that commercial was (at least the version airing on WPIX-NY) was the eventual price increase. They just overdubbed John Williams with a completely different actor, doing a bad British accent, for two seconds: "$14.98." My brother and I had a good cackle over that, back in the day!
     
  2. lionel59

    lionel59 Supporting Actor

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    I noticed that error in The Age too. A ten year old can google 'Rodgers and Hammerstein' and get a list of their musicals to check on details like that. If the critic was simply attempting to equate the two musicals and did not mean to classify KISMET as a R+H show, then their command of expression with the English language is deficient. (A song from MY FAIR LADY comes to mind: "Why can't the English teach their children (and journos) how to speak?")
    R+H trail-blazed in their shows and were decidedly not PC in their era. SOUTH PACIFIC caused shock waves with it's inter-racial romance and the song 'Carefully Taught', the King of Siam is both funny and threatening in equal measure (qualities sorely missing from Chow Yun-Fat's interpretation of the role in the tedious and unsubtle dramatic remake) and 'Flower Drum Song',while somewhat patronizing in its tone, was still the first Broadway musical to deal with the generation-gap issues between Chinese-Americans. Updating these shows with "modern sensibilities" is disastrous and often ignores the manners and mores of the periods in which they were set.
    KISMET is hardly an 'Asian musical' unless someone wants to alter geography and call Middle Eastern people Asian. As a witty, romantic farce set in the Baghdad of centuries ago, it has-apart from its beautiful score and being from the '50's-little or nothing in common with THE KING AND I. The latter is a musicalized autobiography with a message of mutual respect between people of diverse cultural backgrounds .It also presented the difficulties certain nations had in modernizing themselves in the 19th century while remaining independent under the threat of colonialism. Like SOUTH PACIFIC, it is an entertainment with a message pervading it and better written and more moving than any "PC Entertainment" of recent years.
    I'll wager the reviewer in Melbourne's Age has never even seen KISMET.
     
  3. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    My thought was that perhaps the reviewer had his facts right but some sub-editor didn't like the way he expressed them and took it on him(her)self to rewrite it. The Age has contracted out most of its subbing and the paper has suffered from this. I worked for The Age for 20 years and it was a very different newspaper in my day!
     
  4. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I watched it tonight. The soundtrack is full and lush. It's miles ahead from the superb CD soundtrack that came out many years ago. Haven't actually seen the film since the 90s. I noticed a lot of variances between the film score and the soundtrack CD. I wonder if the soundtrack CD was a rerecording for home audio? On the CD the prince makes a nice dip when he sings "...a stranger...no more..."

    Also, Keel sings "...for fate has found its child and smiled on me..." while in the movie it's "...for fate has claimed its child.."

    Also, in the extras, the intro section for Radhadlakum is totally different from what you hear on the CD. I think that outtake was probably taken from a work print and you hear the bit players' actual voices, whereas those voices were dubbed over for the soundtrack. But anyway, the blu-ray soundtrack is probably the best I've heard from the 50s. It sounds...brand...new.

    All Eastman widescreen pictures from this time look a little stretchy to me...people's faces look a little wide. Is that just a Cinemascope quirk? The colors are bright and amazing but the film overall looks a little dim and muddy. But again--all Eastman flicks from this time look that way to me. The color values on the brighter costumes pop so much they almost look like Technicolor. Whatever's going on here, they did a good job.

    I don't know why this film doesn't have a better reputation. It's one of those rare Broadway musical comedies that's actually funny. I remember the first I saw it, thinking that Keel's character got himself into and out of scrapes quicker than Bugs Bunny. As quick-witted, too. Very enjoyable. I do note that as an early Cinemascope film, they may have been spending so much time exploiting that new toy that they didn't figure out the script and the relationships very well. And again, people in this thread were saying Minnelli didn't really want to do it. The film lacks a little fire. It plays out properly, but it needs a little more juice. When it needs to move, it does, but the rest of the time it looks like dozens of people standing around doing nothing. This can denote a lack of interest on the part of the director. I don't know...I give it a 3.8 out of 5 when comparing it to the greatest of MGM musicals (probably only Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain would get a 5 from me).

    I think some people freak out because it supposedly takes place in the Middle East. They talk about Islam, but this isn't a historical film. I seriously doubt anyone involved in this thing ever intended its setting to be anything other than a fantasy Arabian Knights type of thing. It's easy to see that Kismet is Disney's Aladdin's closest antecedent; even the colors and set designs look the same.
     
  5. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    It's an issue encountered with most 'Scope titles, referred to as "mumps".
     
  6. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Yeah, I notice it on "There's No Business Like Show Business" too. I only ever had that movie and Kismet on vhs P&S in the past, so didn't really notice. Both movies on blu are miles away from their earlier releases. Keep 'em coming!!
     
  7. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    "Keep 'em coming" indeed! I wonder what is lined up as the next Blu-ray release?
     
  8. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I noticed that the beginning of the film where Keel is begging is very similar in staging to the beginning of "Thief of Bagdad" with Fairbanks.
     
  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I wouldn't complain if it were Love Me or Leave Me or High Society.
     
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  10. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    With all the bruhaha surrounding "Grace of Monaco" I wouldn't be surprised if Warners released "High Society" on Blu this year.
     
  11. lionel59

    lionel59 Supporting Actor

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    I'm voting for 7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS and LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME.
    I'd also like more Minnelli CinemaScope titles such as BRIGADOON, HOME FROM THE HILL, THE 4 HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE,TEA AND SYMPATHY, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER, THE COBWEB + LUST FOR LIFE
     
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  12. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I think the most prominent title is Seven Brides. Either that, or a Judy Garland title or the Bandwagon.
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    My hopes are GOOD NEWS, SUMMER STOCK, SILK STOCKINGS, SMALL TOWN GIRL, UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER or DEEP IN MY HEART. I'm not sure WAC has the ok to release some of the other great MGM musicals such as THE BAND WAGON, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS or BRIGADOON on Blu. It's a fine line drawn between WAC and WHV.
     
  14. John Maher_289910

    John Maher_289910 Supporting Actor

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    Gee imagine so many people liking a film without a blue tint! From some of the other threads, it would appear to be a preference for some. Bring on THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, for me! It's always been my favorite musical from MGM. Well, that HIGH SOCIETY and LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME.
     
  15. JoelA

    JoelA Screenwriter

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    Very funny John. I was going to post a similar comment that I couldn't imagine anyone enjoying this because it's not in the spirit of what mid-50's CinemaScope/Deluxe/Eastman Color releases should look like in that it doesn't have the requisite blue/teal tint. All kidding aside, this version of Kismet is spectacular and thanks again to WAC for putting out such a fine product. Looking forward to more including any or all of the titles previous posters have listed above.
     
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  16. John Maher_289910

    John Maher_289910 Supporting Actor

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    Although, KISMET has always bothered me, in that it never quite takes off, no matter what is happening. As much as I love Gray's vocals, she really does look bored, and while they are in pretty good voice, both Ann Blyth and Vic Damone, are rather lackluster in their roles. Sebastian Cabot seems rather lifeless and without humor, as the Wazir, and Minnelli's direction is pedestrian, at best. Still, the color, choreography, vocals, music and orchestrations are superb.
     
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  17. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    I watched KISMET over the weekend after not having seen it since the laserdisc came out. My memory of it was vague -- I remember Dolores Gray bringing the only life to the film and Sebastian Cabot wearing that dopey-looking hat. And, of course, the songs, which for me, will always be associated with John WIlliams telling me that "I'm sure you'll recognize this lovely melody as 'Stranger in Paradise'."

    After reading Minnelli's autobiography and numerous other books covering the film and his participation in it, I wasn't expecting another "Gigi" or "The Band Wagon." I wasn't even expecting "Brigadoon." So I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It moved along quite nicely and, unlike Miss Gray, I was never Bored. The songs were witty and the whole thing was played as if it were a cartoon, which worked for me, with its shameless anachronisms likening Baghdad to 1950s Las Vegas. Vic Damone should never try to play period parts, or try do anything but sing and look handsome in a mid-20th Century sort of way. Ann Blyth was okay and Howard Keel played it like he was Screwy Squirrel, which given the cartoonish atmosphere, worked. Of course, Dolores Gray saved the show. Thank goodness she had as much screen time as she did.

    Oh, and did anyone else notice that Eliza from "The King and I"'s The Little House of Uncle Thomas was one of the slaves of Abubu?

    It all looked and sounded so amazing, so I went back to the old laserdisc to compare and, to my surprise, the old laserdisc looked and sounded pretty wonderful too. I won't wait so long before revisiting again.
     
  18. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I liked seeing Klinger from MASH as one of the street vendors.
     
  19. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    Do you mean the dancer Yuriko? That is a very interesting observation, as that film isn't in her credits. If it is indeed her it is a very happy discovery. Yuriko appeared in the original 1951 Broadway cast of "The King and I" and later appeared in the film version; and it was Yul Brynner who asked her to recreate the choreography for his return in the 1977 Broadway revival. Yuriko's daughter Susan Kikuchi has now inherited her mother's legacy of keeping the show's choreography alive.
     
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  20. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    My mistake - I checked IMDB. The #1 Princess of Abubu was Reiko Sato, who played Helen Chao in Flower Drum Song. She was NOT in The King and I I knew I had seen her in an R&H musical recently.
     

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