A Few Words About A few words about... Astaire & Rogers Collection I

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Of the several studio "periods" which one might use to break down the cinematic dancing career of Mr. Astaire and Ms. Rogers, the earliest was their work for Radio Pictures, later RKO, from the 1933 Flying Down to Rio to their final RKO in 1939, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.

    If one were to remove the filet of this group, those produced from 1935 to 1937 -- Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time and Shall We Dance, and add to these a single M-G-M, the 1949 Technicolor The Barkleys of Broadway, one would have the films represented by this first boxed set.

    While the quality of the first four black and white productions varies from Shall We Dance with several rather dupey sections (obviously unavoidable) to the stellar Swing Time, which although showing its age (myriads of prints were struck from the original negative) also exhibits a beautifully rendered gray scale with clean whites and rich detailed blacks, to a point at which one can see the scuff marks on the dance floor.

    The Technicolor Barkleys of Broadway is unfortunately unacceptable, as the three black and white elements making up the color image have been composited out of registration in many shots (usually dissolves), creating an annoying 3-D, rather than 3-strip image, which should not have found its way into final DVD production.

    That aside, the collection is inclusive of some of the finest musicals ever produced, and much of the cream of the crop of the Astaire / Rogers legacy.

    Four fifths of this collection is:

    Extremely Highly recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    great news about Swing Time!
    that's the one of the bunch i've been most looking forward to.
    looking forward to checking out Follow The Fleet at some point as well, but i'll be passing on the rest.
     
  3. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    As long as Top Hat is OK, then I'm a happy camper. I've been waiting for that great musical for a long, long time.
     
  4. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Sadly, one of these I was most looking forward to is Barkleys of Broadway. It is a highly underrated film, which made the most of this late "reunion" of Fred and Ginger, including a reprise of the brief but beautiful "They Can't Take That Away From Me," from Shall We Dance. Ginger was a tremendous talent as an actress/comedienne, and Fred was no slouch either! Originally meant for Judy Garland with Fred, "Barkleys" is a very good movie -- I'll continue to hold onto my TCM copy which is very watchable.
     
  5. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    When are these being released?
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  7. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    Thanks Crawdaddy [​IMG]

    The wife is a HUGE Astaire/Rogers fan. This will make her year!
     
  8. Paul Borges

    Paul Borges Stunt Coordinator

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    It's too bad about Barkleys. Is this something that could be easily fixed for the next gen dvd....or would a whole new transfer need to be made?

    And how bad is it? Is the movie still watchable?
     
  9. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    In some ways, it's too bad that Warners goes back to the original negatives, because you've got to use the Ultra-Resolution treatment to fix this problem, very expensive.

    I think a reasonable print like they've got on TCM would suffice to make this film (Barkleys) very watchable. The color is good, and it's really a lovely, lovely movie. Fred Astaire's scenes on the phone might be the best acting he ever did.
     
  10. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Just putting the finishing touches on Swing Time and will have it posted tomorrow, but it is indeed GORGEOUS...!
     
  11. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    Where's the love for TOP HAT???

    That one's my personal fave, but I love all the rest too.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I adore all these movies, and I've seen them all countless times, and I have copied them as they appeared on TCM.

    Swing Time is probably the best, but Top Hat, Shall We Dance? are right up there too. And Follow the Fleet too --

    One thing that people forget is that many of the songs we think of as "standards" came from these movies, with scores written by the greatest songwriters of their day, and maybe of all time. Shall We Dance? has a score by George and Ira Gershwin, Top Hat and Follow the Fleet by Irving Berlin, and Swing Time by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.
     
  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I want to make very certain that my comment regarding Barkleys is properly understood.

    My feeling is that most three-strip films should look, and can look registered
    throughout, without going the full Ultra-rez route.

    The Barkley problem should not dissuade anyone from adding this DVD to their library, as the problem, like that on Dodge City, concerns the dissolves in the film, inclusive of the shots on either side.

    The body of the transfer is fine. On VHS, the misregistration would probably not be visible.

    RAH
     
  14. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Excellent! I'm getting the whole set anyway, of course.
     
  15. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Thank you RAH. Now I can purchase this one, inclusive of mis-registered opticals!
     
  16. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    But it does bring up an interesting point. A number of Warners Technicolor movies, released over the last year, have had this problem. Notably, I could hardly sit through The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex because of this -- misregistered dissolves. Now you mention Dodge City, and now Barkleys.

    Are they doing something wrong over at Warners DVD production studio?
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No. These are lab introduced errors.

    Specific three-strip elements necessitate a dual set-up for compositing, which either the lab isn't doing by choice, or WB is not paying them to do, as extra charges would be incurred.

    RAH
     
  18. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Oh, gotcha.

    It really is too bad that all these movies can't be properly registered, the money spent...

    Every movie should look like Robin Hood, or Gone with the Wind.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Every film doesn't necessarily have to look like Robin Hood or GWTW. For some productions, the look works out nicely, but properly composited photo-optical elements can look quite beautiful and appropriate for the three-strip productions they represent.

    RAH
     
  20. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I got this set tonight, and I just have to tell you all how excited I am by it. The first one I watched was Shall We Dance?, and in the little documentary included there is some footage of Fred doing Slap That Bass -- footage taken by a home movie camera using kodachrome film, I guess. It's in COLOR.

    I don't know why this made me so excited, but you realize these black and white films were very carefully photographed that way.

    Just thought you'd like to know. I'll go back to my movie watching cave, now.
     

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