Blu-ray Review Hello, Dolly! Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Could not agree more. Again, I have to say that those who think they are seeing blooming or BRIGHT whites - well, I just think it's impossible because everyone is viewing heaven knows how on what kind of equipment. You've got a handful of people going on about these whites, and many more that don't see it at all - this would lead me to believe that those who are seeing whatever they think they're seeing either have problems with their set-up or just think that a bright transfer somehow equals blooming. Again, for me, there is not one shot in this transfer in which I see blooming anything other than what Hello, Dolly should look like.
     
  2. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    I just finished watching the Hello,Dolly! Blu-ray and thought it looked beautiful. I am a big Barbra Streisand fan and saw this movie many times at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood the year it was released. Personally, I see nothing in this Blu-ray that wasn't largely the way it looked in that theater in 70MM on its initial release. That includes skies, skin tones, costume/fabric colors, everything.

    Now, I will say that there is very little blue in this movie to begin with. That has nothing to do with the sky issue, but with the general production design of the whole movie. Sure, there are thin blue patterns woven into Cornelius' suit, Vandergelder's suit in some scenes will have a bit of a bluish tint in the grey, and Minnie's night on the town outfit is a lovely light blue. But, IMO, if you want to know why there is so little blue in the general production design, one has only to look at Streisand's eyes in her close-ups. I suspect the production designers, producers, et al were very conscious of making sure their number one star was not upstaged by anything under their control. And if her blue eyes were going to pull the kind of audience focus the filmmakers and the audience demanded in those post-Funny Girl blockbuster hit days, nobody was going to surround her or anyone else with blue sets, blue curtains, blue costumes, etc.

    IMO, the "don't upstage the Star" factor also pertains to the casting of the secondary leads. Not that this directive would come from Streisand herself, but she had at that time teams of management and agent representation that were all about developing this Mega-Super Star's full potential. And her fans expected nothing less from them. That would include making sure that whoever was cast in those secondary leads was not some stealth Movie-Star-In-The-Making whose personal charm and star quality would steal the show from her or Matthau, who was also a super star product of the day. Streisand had just come off a major hit in Funny Girl, where she was paired with a handsome matinee idol level leading man in Omar Sharif. A few years after Hello, Dolly! she would be paired to great box office success with another matinee idol level leading man, Robert Redford. Despite Barbra's unconventional good looks, audiences bought these pairings with gusto. Consequently, I think that accounts for the decision to go with the "goofy" Cornelius instead of the good looking Cornelius along with a lovely but rather un-charismatic secondary leading lady. Nobody behind the cameras was going to have some rival Prince Charming-Cinderella story going on while Barbra was wooing and winning a character written to be an old curmudgeon, risking that audiences might be drawn to and embrace the Prince Charming and the Cinderella over their stars' pairing, I'm sure nobody at the casting office or in the Producer's office was searching for the next Shirley MacLaine or the next Tony Perkins. Not this time.

    As far as the whitish skies go in the scenes shot at the Fox Studios, what I saw on the Blu-ray is the same thing I saw in the 70MM screenings at the Chinese Theater Hollywood way back in 1969 (other than the occasional blue patch of sky here and there); a typical Los Angeles Basin overcast sky.

    Fox Studios was then and still is located on West Pico Blvd, in Century City, not far from the beach and not on the San Fernando Valley side of the greater metropolitan L.A. area where a few other film studios are located. The San Fernando Valley side of L.A. is where you'll more likely get predictable blue skies much of the year. But Fox being on the beach-side of the "basin" means you'll get grey, overcast skies most of the year. See, the hot air on the San Fernando Valley side of the hills ("mountains", to L.A. residents) pulls cooler air over the Pacific Ocean into the L.A. Basin. When that cooler air slams on the "city" side of L.A. slams into the hotter air on the San Fernando Valley side (over the hill, it's really a desert area), you get haze. Most of the year really. What I saw of the sky in that movie is exactly what I had seen for lo' those many years I lived in the area, at one time or another on each side of those mountains; a hazy, overcast sky.

    BTW, many filmmakers don't like "blue skies" in their movies. I can imagine the producers of Hello, Dolly! being somewhat relieved that they had few of them to contend with in the Fox Studio shots. Unless you're shooting in a location specifically known for their blue skies, getting a cloudless blue sky day after day on a movie shoot is a rarity. Consequently, having somewhat more innocuous and nondescript overcast skies make it much easier to match a certain look on turn-around shots.
     
  3. noel aguirre

    noel aguirre Second Unit

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    Funny how The Sound of Music 5 years earlier also Deluxe and ToddAO 65 is so much better with its whites and blues. And has received universal acclaim in blu ray reviews except by those here who think it too dark and orange and say Hello Dolly is flawless. Yet my monitor is off - lol.
     
  4. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Wow, Streisand is such a diva that she can't be upstaged by the color blue. I'm laughing my ass off, except I think that you actually believe that!
     
  5. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    And whether its true or not, I find the "Don't upstage the star" idea is beyond silly. Nobody, but nobody was going to upstage Barbra Streisand in 1968. Not even Louis Armstrong. Any star only shines brighter when surrounded by talent.

    I'm reminded of the time someone asked Jack Benny if it ever bothered him that Rochester or Dennis Day often stole the show away from Jack, who often was left to play the straight man. And he wisely said, "No. Because if Rochester or Dennis get people laughing hard enough, then when they talk about it at work the next day, they are going to say, 'Did you hear the Jack Benny Program last night?'"
     
  6. noel aguirre

    noel aguirre Second Unit

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    You got that right- Sue Mengers wasn't her agent for nuthin'
     
  7. Richard Gallagher

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    The reviewer at blu-ray.com gave the video five stars, calling it "hands-down the most vibrant, candy-colored picture I've seen thus far this year." Based upon that and the other comments here, you are decidedly in the minority.
     
  8. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Yes, totally in the minority. And that's a good thing. And comparing it to The Sound of Music is hilarious - a film shot in EUROPE by completely different people. Wow. I rest my case.
     
  9. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    Um...I didn't say the secondary leads had no talent. Just that the producers were not interested in casting those roles with actors who lit up the screen...since they had a Star (two, actually) whose fans expected them to do almost all of it.

    I think you two way underestimate the detail that is put into a film production design to accommodate its stars' strengths and weaknesses, particularly in those days and on films of Hello, Dolly!'s budget. Whole sets were designed to accommodate what Barbra Streisand knew better than anyone was the better angle of her face, that 30 degree or so turn to the right that features her more of the left side of her face rather than the right. That is why her hairstyle in this movie and in almost every publicity photo of her in those days was more open on her left side rather than the right. It is the angle we see of her face in the key close-ups/medium shots scene with her and Matthau sitting at their Harmonia Gardens table. A publicity or prolonged movie scene featuring Barbra Streisand's right side profile is a rarity.

    Almost nobody in the history of movies was smarter about the camera and how to use it to highlight her physical strengths and downplay her physical weaknesses than Barbra Streisand. And anyone who worked with her or for her knew it and operated on that premise. Look at the scene, among others, of her and Matthau at Harmonia Gardens. In almost every shot of her close-ups or medium shots she raises one or both hands into the frame. Had this scene been done by an actress with more refined and conventional beauty, say a Grace Kelly type, I doubt you would have seen so much of her hands in that scene, in that movie or in most of her other movies. But Streisand cultivated a look and use of her hands in ways very few other film actresses did. The final shot of Funny Girl and many scenes in this movie are perfect examples of it. She works almost as hard to highlight her hands as her face in many close-up and medium shots. Why? Because when she flashes or places one or both of those lovely hands with their long fingers and long fingernails in the shot, her nose is no longer the biggest Streisand physical feature in the shot. She "shares" the shot with her hands. Very, very smart film actress.

    Do a google search on pics for Hello, Dolly! on stage. None of the production designers for stage versions of Hello, Dolly! shied away from the color blue in their production design. Sometime entire background scrims were awash in deep, deep blue. But in the movie of Hello, Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand, there is very, very little blue in the production design. What would your reasoning be for this uncharacteristic production design choice for the movie version of this otherwise very colorful show?
     
  10. Erik_H

    Erik_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Regarding Streisand's influence in casting the supporting roles in "Dolly." While I don't disagree that she or her representation could have had some influence in the casting process, the box office success of "Funny Girl" had nothing to do with it, contrary to what was suggested above. "Funny Girl" was released in the fall of 1968, after "Dolly" had completed filming. "Dolly"'s release was delayed due to a contractual obligation with David Merrick (producer of the stage version) that the film could not be released until the stage version had closed on Broadway. After months of squabbling between Merrick and Fox, Merrick agreed to waive that condition (at a price, of course), although Merrick insisted that the release be further delayed in some cities due to engagements of the national touring company (the roadshow release opened in most major US cities in December 1969, but the openings in Boston and Chicago were delayed until spring 1970 for that reason).
     
  11. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    I didn't mean to suggest that Streisand and her team wielded their Funny Girl box office clout to have final say in the Hello, Dolly! casting, but rather that it was clear her career path as a leading lady included being believably paired with handsome matinee idol leading men and, either as chicken or egg, whichever came first, that had an influence on whether she would agree to do the movie with this particular production team. If she or Sue Mengers had had any inkling that the suits at Fox, Ernest Lehman or associate producer Roger Edens were inclined to cast Streisand as their top billed name and then try to make dreamy new romantic stars out of the secondary leads, leaving Barbra with her curmudgeon, I doubt Streisand or Mengers would have agreed to do the movie. On the other hand, if they had gone with a 45ish leading lady of lesser current music and musical theater mojo it is very likely that the producers would have gone for a more attractive and compelling Cornelius and Irene pairing.

    I think she and her management team felt confident that the powers that be on the Hello, Dolly! production side would not throw her a curve ball in that way and would instead do whatever they could to help them build the product and not undermine it. It wasn't a matter of her being treated like a "diva", that is someone else's mis-characterization of it. It is likely neither side said a specific word about it, held a secret meeting on the subject or anything like that. But the most experienced hands on the production side would know exactly what the reaction from camp Streisand likely would have been and, honestly, should have been if the impression was they were casting Barbra Streisand in order to help launch the careers of newcomers who showed real promise as the romantic movie leads of tomorrow. The reaction would likely have been, "Thanks for the offer, but we'll pass."
     
  12. noel aguirre

    noel aguirre Second Unit

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    On a clear day you can see a non-blooming funny girl singing Hello Dolly forever.
     
  13. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    That's why I would have liked a commantary for "Dolly.
     
  14. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    Or would have been refilmed ala "Viva Las Vegas" due to shots high lighting Ann Margreat not star Elvis!
     
  15. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    The weather was the main reason movie production moved to the West Coast,from New Jersey in the early days of movies!
     
  16. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes. Although it would have been great to have had a Gene Kelly commentary, the real get for the nuts and bolts production decisions might have been associate producer Roger Edens. Unfortunately, Edens died in mid-1970, not long after Hello, Dolly! was released.

    Edens had been integral to the development of Judy Garland's career and work at MGM. A major figure in many of the most successful MGM musicals, he would have brought a wealth of information about how and why certain choices were made. Without that kind of input it can only be speculation on our part based on the final result.

    Edens was so close to Judy Garland throughout her lifetime, it is more than likely Barbra Streisand met and knew him as early as 1963 when she appeared with Judy on her television show. It would have been wonderful to hear Edens' thoughts on Barbra. Whenever I see the big musical number at the train station and those shots of Barbra singing on the trolly-style open car I can't help thinking that was all Edens' doing to place it at the train station, to get Barbra in that setting. It was right out of the MGM/Garland playbook.

    Roger Edens
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Edens
     
    Everett Stallings likes this.
  17. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    ^ btw, I've never seen the stage version of Dolly! and assume that number took place at a train station or something like it on stage as well. Still, Edens' input on how to do it a la' Garland at MGM (or not) would have been wonderful.
     
  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Yes, it does.
     
  19. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the link. Very interesting.
     
  20. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    For those who were waiting for Mr. Harris to chime in - he has. And if those complaining about blooming whites and contrast problems and whatever else were hoping he'd be the one to say "Yeah, wow, I agree" you will be sorely disappointed. Those who've followed my posts here and in the other thread know that I and a few others, including the HTF reviewer, agree with him wholeheartedly.
    http://www.hometheat...lly-in-blu-ray/
     

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