Posted June 25 2007 - 03:51 PM
Ken, thanks for the great review. My main interest in this set was mame. Mame has always been (as a big Broadway fan) my favorite musical, as I am a big fan of Jerry Herman's music.
I was the one on the last 2 Warner chats who asked about the release of Mame, and if it would finally be in stereo. The film was released in theaters in mono, something I can't believe for a musical of this scope. Years ago, I was so upset with the first (pan and scan) laserdisc of MAME that I took my VHS recorder, my lp soundtrack album, and made a stereo version of Mame from the lp onto video cassette. I have to say that 95% of the soundtrack fit in perfectly, it was identical to the picture. There was a moment in the title song that was deleted for the soundtrack album. And one other song was missing about 30 seconds, but I used the mono track from the laserdisc. Of course, the switch to mono for those few seconds was somewhat annoying, but I had most in stereo. The soundtrack was recently beautifully remastered for release on Rhino.
This is what I cannot understand. The movie has some excellent orchestrations, so why didn't Warner Home Video at least do that? Most of it fit perfectly. In the chat, Mr. Fentenstein told me the first year that if they ever did release Mame, that they wanted to do it right in stereo. The last chat, they said it was being issued in a few months and that it would be mono, as they couldn't archive the stereo track. I am not 100% sure I know what that means, could it have been destroyed...it was 1974, not all that long ago considering many stereo tracks from the 50's remain. Weren't there music masters that contained the score and underscore?
It looks like now I will never get Mame in stereo, unless I remix my own. I have to say that this is the very first time I have been disappointed in Warner Home Video. Even if some had to be mono, why not mix stereo where they had it? Fans would have at least been satisfied with the stereo they got, which as I said was 90% of it. Even the overture and opening, which are on the album in their entirety, mix in perfectly.
While the picture is beautiful, and the mono sound much improved over the 2 laserdisc versions, I am personally unhappy no effort was made to use at least what they had (the Rhino soundtrack cd is actually a Warner release through Rhino).I certainly understand that MAME was far from a hit (as far as you can get), but every movie has its fans, and this was a big budget major musical, regardless of the fact that Angela Lansbury should definately have played the lead, with Lucy really ruining a terrific score.
In Jerry Herman's book SHOWTUNE, he talks about this film. He says he was so upset when Lucy was cast he went in to Warner Brothers and talked to management. He asked why they were hiring Lucy to play an eleagant woman, someone who cannot sing the score. The president told him that he knows nothing about movie boxoffice, and that Lucy will sell tickets. After the disasterous release, he called again for something, and that president was not employed there anymore. One can surely see why.
Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!