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HTF REVIEW: Lucille Ball Film Collection



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#1 of 43 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 25 2007 - 08:47 AM

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Lucille Ball Film Collection
Dance, Girl, Dance(1940)/The Big Street (1942)/Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)/Critic's Choice (1963)/Mame (1974)
The Films

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940 - RKO - 90 minutes)

Directed By: Dorothy Arzner

Starring: Maureen O'Hara, Lucille Ball, Louis Hayward, Virginia Field, Ralph Bellamy

"Dance, Girl, Dance" tells the story of dedicated dancer Judy O'Brien (O'Hara). As the film opens, she is part of a traveling dance troupe who find their show closed unceremoniously when the joint in which they are performing is busted for hosting illegal gambling. Adding insult to injury, Judy's friend Bubbles (Ball) makes a play for swanky customer Jimmy Harris (Hayward) when Judy is too slow to act on her own interest. Returning to New York and desperate for work, Judy convinces the troupe's ballet mistress Madame Lydia to let them audition for a lower rent club, but "Goody Toe-Shoes" (pun intended) Judy is not what they are looking to hire. Good time girl Bubbles, on the other hand, is right up their alley. Madame Lydia secures Judy an audition with a legitimate ballet company headed by Steve Adams (Bellamy), but tragedy and nerves get the best of Judy, and she runs out of the audition. Steve, for his part, develops a romantic interest in Judy after meeting her on an elevator, not knowing she just fled an audition. Judy does not reciprocate because she does not know who he is and, well, ... he is played by Ralph Bellamy - the cinematic equivalent of sex repellent. Bubbles, for her part, advances to the point of being a burlesque queen, changing her name to Tiger Lily White, and offers her old colleague a job as a "stooge", who dances straight ballet in between the burlesque acts to stir up the audience. Things heat up when Judy's new gig gets her noticed by both Steve Adams and a recently divorced Jimmy Harris.

Dorothy Arzner was the only female director from the classic Hollywood era, and "Dance, Girl, Dance" is the first of her features to be released on DVD. It is a "woman's picture" in the classic sense with the conflicts between O'Hara, Ball, and, to a lesser extent, Virginia Field's characters driving the plot while the male leads are more like plot devices.

The film is very much O'Hara's, and she carries it well, creating a very sympathetic character who endures a lot and brings the viewer solidly into her corner before getting to her "enough is enough" moment. While the film's plot gets convoluted on more than a few occasions and the melodrama is occasionally over-modulated, O'Hara's grounded performance helps to smooth over the rough edges. Lucille Ball also gives a great turn as O'Hara's vampy opposite number, tearing into the role with relish.

While the aforementioned plot confusion and overcooked melodrama keep the film from achieving greatness, there is still plenty of goodness to enjoy. The perfect example of this is probably a scene late in the movie where a character denounces the exploitation inherent in their entertainment to a burlesque audience. What happens immediately after this impassioned speech? Girl fight!

Trivia: Reportedly, the first time that Ball met future husband and co-star Desi Arnaz was while she was filming this movie while in black-eye make-up for a post-fight scene.


The Big Street (1942 - RKO - 88 minutes)

Directed By: Irving Reis

Starring: Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball, Barton MacLane, Eugene Pallette, Agnes Moorehead

"The Big Street", produced by Damon Runyon and adapted from his own story, tells the story of Augustus "Little Pinks" Pinkerton (Fonda). Pinks is a busboy in a gangster-run nightclub who idolizes star performer Gloria Lyons (Ball). His devotion to her remains unflagging despite her dismissive treatment of him. When Gloria is injured in a nightclub altercation and loses the use of her legs, Pinks takes care of all of her medical bills and even forges get well cards and flowers from her high-society friends who have abandoned her. Pinks even accommodates her when she asks to go to Miami to hang out with the jet set, pushing her wheelchair and hitchhiking most of the way. Just as Pinks' patience is pushed to extremes and he considers walking away from Gloria, he learns that the charade he has created may be the only thing keeping her alive. He becomes determined to give her a perfect evening out, no matter to what dangerous and illegal extremes he may have to go to accomplish it.

At its core, "The Big Street" is a gushy and fairly ridiculous melodrama. It is to the filmmakers' credit that this did not really bother me until the film's final scenes (okay, and maybe during the doctor's poorly conceived pop-psychology lecture 20 or so minutes before that).

Chief among the enjoyable distractions are the performances of the two leads. Ball gives an impressive dramatic performance as the beautiful but unlikable nightclub singer, Gloria. While treating Pinks and almost everyone else as inferiors throughout the picture, you increasingly get the sense that she is really on the edge of falling apart herself. Fonda is charming, if a bit old for the part, as the wide-eyed devoted bus boy. His aw-shucks charm never comes off as shtick and helps to sell the concept that most of the film's supporting characters would rally around him in his efforts to help a woman who treats them all like dirt.

Secondly, the supporting cast is rounded out by appealing character actors playing the kind of amusing small-time good-hearted low-lifes for which Damon Runyon is known. They come complete with names along the lines of "Nicely Nicely" Johnson (Pallette), "Horsethief" (Sam Levene), and "Professor" (Ray Collins). As a matter of fact, I think I would like to have seen a domestic farce involving Pallette and Agnes Moorehead's characters as much as the film at hand.

Ultimately, the film is done in by its final scene, which I will not spoil for you even if it spoiled the rest of the movie for me. It is a big dramatic moment that, while certainly foreshadowed, did not feel dramatically "earned".

Du Barry Was a Lady (1943 - MGM - 101 minutes)

Directed By: Roy Del Ruth

Starring: Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Virginia O'Brien, Rags Ragland, Zero Mostel

"Du Barry Was a Lady" tells the story of nightclub hat checker Louis Blore (Skelton). Louis is infatuated with singer, May Daly (Ball), as is low on the totem pole dancer Alec Howe (Kelly), who conspires with his buddy, nightclub "Swami" Rami (Mostel) to sabotage May's dates with wealthy suitors. May is conflicted between marrying Alec for love and reeling in one of the club's rich customers for money. Things get interesting when Louis wins the Irish Sweepstakes lottery and announces his intention to marry May. Plot contrivances involving a spiked drink lead to Louis knocking himself into a stupor in which he imagines himself (influenced by one of May's earlier production numbers) as King Louis XV in seventeenth century France.

"Du Barry Was a Lady" is a strangely schizophrenic, silly, inconsequential, but ultimately very entertaining film from producer Arthur Freed and director Roy Del Ruth. Adapted from a Broadway show with songs from Cole Porter, the producers took the usual MGM route and jettisoned most of the songs. It starts out almost like a musical revue with several entertaining numbers featuring Lucille Ball, Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra, and the "Three Oxford Boys" along with an extended comic bit with Zero Mostel before the plot even begins to advance.

Red Skelton is top-billed, but due to his absence from the early production numbers and lack of credentials as a romantic leading man, this does not really become apparent until a good half hour into the film. He definitely drives the second half of the film with his gently moronic, broadly comic character taking center stage through the increasingly silly and slight plot events.

Zero Mostel shamelessly (and, more importantly, hilariously) mugs and steals almost every scene in which he appears in his film debut. Gene Kelly gets to sing and do an elaborate dance routine to the best song in the movie, Cole Porter's "Do I Love You". Aside from three musical numbers (two of which are clearly dubbed and the other which sounds like it may have actually been her) Lucille Ball is given very little to do except to look pretty and play straight-woman to the comic goings-on, but she pulls both tasks off admirably. She looks especially stunning in a red dress designed by Adrian in the scene where Kelly first sings "Do I Love You". This dress was worn previously by Joan Crawford in "The Bride Wore Red" and by an extra in the fashion show sequence in the Marx Brothers movie "The Big Store", but it makes the most of its Technicolor debut here.

Critic's Choice (1963 - Warner Bros. - 100 minutes)

Directed By: Don Weis

Starring: Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Maxwell, Rip Torn, Jessie Royce Landis, John Dehner, Jim Backus

The first film in the collection made after Lucille Ball achieved TV superstardom In "I Love Lucy" is "Critic's Choice". Ball plays Angela Ballantine, the second wife of a notoriously sharp-quilled New York theater critic Parker Ballantine (Hope). When Angela announces her intention to create a play based on her childhood experiences growing up with two sisters, Parker assumes that she will abandon this ambition like previous hobbies and is horrified when she actually goes through with it. Things do not get better when she allows him to read her first draft, and he offers his honest and overwhelmingly negative opinion of it. The ensuing battle of the sexes is complicated by Angela's close collaboration with young lothario theater director Dion Kapakos (an impossibly young-looking Rip Torn), and the unsolicited romantic overtures of Parker's actress first wife, Ivy (Maxwell).

The basic premise for this film is full of promise, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The film is based on a play by Ira Levin with which I am unfamiliar, but I got the sense that it must have been watered down substantially for this screenplay, which seems to pull all of its dramatic and comic punches. The enterprise is also infected by a generally condescending and sexist attitude without even a hint of satire that probably made it seem dated even by 1963 standards. There are some subtly comic bits that I liked, such as the fact that Angela titles her play "Sisters Three" which, via its evocation of a famous Chekov play, would be the theatrical equivalent to titling your debut film "Kane Citizen".

Ball and Hope were friendly in real life, and had an easy chemistry on screen, but this particular film certainly does not do much to exploit it. Hope gets the most to do with his standard array of one liners for all occasions proving to be well suited to the role of a poison-penned critic. Ball plays the straight woman for most of the film and is rarely given a chance to be funny. That being said, when she does get a chance, she makes the most of it, such as in the sequence where Parker is reading her first draft and she is trying to clandestinely spy on him. Unfortunately, for too much of the film, they are bickering in a distinctly unfunny manner to the point that I had completely lost interest in them by the film's final act. The fact that the film rushes to an inevitable conclusion that moves Ball's character from one unreasonable emotional state to another does not help matters.

All in all, this was the most disappointing film in the collection and seemed a lot longer than its 100 minutes.

Mame (1974 - Warner Brothers/ABC - 132 minutes)

Directed By: Gene Saks

Starring: Lucille Ball, Beatrice Arthur, Robert Preston, Bruce Davison, Kirby Furlong, Jane Connell

"Mame", based on the Broadway musical of the same name that was in turn adapted from the Patrick Dennis novel "Auntie Mame", tells the story of the title character (Ball), a free-spirited 1920s bon vivant who's life, if not her enthusiasm for it, is changed when she becomes the guardian of her nephew, Patrick (Furlong as a boy, Davison as a young adult). Over a period of just over a decade, Mame faces adversities including the officious executors of her brother's Will, the Great Depression, two distinct instances of future in-law disapproval, and deaths of loved ones with an unflagging if impractical idealism and free-spirited attitude. Along the way, she is helped by actress Vera Charles (Arthur), her devoted but catty best friend in New York; Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Preston), a wealthy southern suitor who proves to be Mame's cure for The Depression; and mousy Agnes Gooch (Connell) the hapless woman who first delivers Patrick to Mame and then is taken in to work in her household.

Patrick Dennis' "Auntie Mame" has proven to be a durable property in a number of incarnations over the years. It began in 1955 as a much heralded novel which was adapted into a successful Broadway play starring Rosalind Russell. The play, in turn was adapted into a very successful Warner Brothers film with Russell which garnered six Oscar nominations. In 1966, the book and play were re-adapted as a musical called simply "Mame". It starred Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur and featured a musical score by Jerry Herman including "We Need a Little Christmas" and the popular title tune which was musically and thematically a close cousin to the title song from Herman's Broadway success from two years earlier, "Hello, Dolly".

While the formula for adapting the Broadway musical seemed pretty straightforward: (1) Retain key talent, (2) Adapt for film, (3) Count money, the process of bringing it from stage to screen proved to be somewhat arduous. Ultimately, the most controversial decision made by the producers was to pass over Angela Lansbury for Lucille Ball in the title role. Ball was 62 years old when the film was in production. She had never been more than a serviceable vocalist, and was also not the dancer that she used to be. Initial reviews decried her poor singing, pointed out how the choreography seemed to move dancers around her rather than with her, and criticized the dated look due to the amount of filtering and soft focus that was used for her close-ups. All are valid criticisms. The songs she sings along with child actor Kirby Furlong as young Patrick are particularly grating as his vocals sometimes border on high-pitched shouting.

In the grand tradition of "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?", almost everything else about the production is first rate. Broadway director Gene Saks expanded things nicely for a cinematic big screen experience; key supporting actresses Bea Arthur and Jane Connell were retained from the original Broadway cast and had nice comic chemistry with Ball; Robert Preston was perfectly cast as the big money southerner; and even "Loving You", the new Jerry Herman song written for the movie, was a welcome addition.

To be fair, when Ball is not singing or dancing, she seems much better suited to the part. A couple of slapstick scenes involving a disastrous attempt at acting and a runaway horse on a fox hunt allow Ball to show that her capacity for physical comedy remained undiminished.

The Video

The 4:3 black and white transfer for "Dance, Girl, Dance" appears to come from a less than ideal element. The picture is soft and grainy. Compression is generally well done, although some artifacts are noticeable in the grain patterns of bright areas of the screen.

The 4:3 black and white transfer for "The Big Street" is a substantial improvement over that of "Dance Girl Dance". Film damage is limited to light speckling. There is a natural, but not excessive, level of film grain, and contrast and shadow detail are well rendered. I noticed little to no issues with compression artifacts or edge ringing.

The 4:3 transfer of the Technicolor "Du Barry Was a Lady" shows evidence of very slight misregistration which results in a hint of softness and some narrow color fringing along high contrast areas such as the line between a black tuxedo lapel and a white shirt. Other than that minor quibble, the transfer is very film-like with bright colors (an early backstage scene with Ball in a red dress with bright red lipstick will put your display's chromatic tolerance to the test), light to medium grain, good compression, and little to no ringing along high contrast edges due to video processing.

The 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 color transfer for "Critics Choice" is very sharp with a somewhat dated appearance due as much to its bland production design as anything. Colors are generally not deeply saturated. Light film element damage appears from time to time, but there is little else to mar the presentation.

The 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 color transfer for "Mame" is outstanding. Other than a small hint of ringing along some high contrast edges and some infrequent light speckling, it looks as close to perfect as I could hope for. This is easily the best looking video transfer in the collection.

The Audio

All of the films in "The Lucille Ball Film Collection" feature Dolby Digital 1.0 English audio tracks.

The audio for "Dance, Girl, Dance" has moderate levels of hiss and crackle and a low frequency rumble that is particularly noticeable during dialog scenes without underscore.

The audio for "The Big Street" features a very clean track marred somewhat by distortion in the dialog when characters raise their voices. Critical listening will also reveal digital noise reduction artifacts.

The audio for "Du Barry was a Lady" is a generally solid effort that does justice to the many musical numbers with light hiss.

The unambitious dialog-heavy mix for "Critic's Choice" is served up acceptably, but sounds a little too dynamically compressed for my tastes.

The audio track for "Mame" is a very solid mono presentation with excellent fidelity and modest levels of dynamic range compression. My understanding is that in order to present the film in stereo, Warner would have had to use alternate vocal takes than were used in the film's original theatrical mix.

The Extras

"Dance Girl Dance" includes the 1940 short subject "Just a Cute Kid" which is based on a Damon Runyon story that starts off with a typical Runyonesque situation involving Cliff Edwards as a likeable nebbish mixed up with colorful criminals and takes left turns into Abbott and Costello-style buddy comedy and mad scientist horror. Unlike a lot of vintage supplemental material, the audio/video transfer quality of this short is outstanding. Also included is the 1940 Friz Freleng "Merrie Melodies" cartoon, "Malibu Beach Party" in which "Jack Bunny" hosts a party which is attended by caricatures of several Hollywood big-shots.

"The Big Street" includes "Calling All Girls", a 1942 musical short that uses a loose framing story about girls auditioning in Hollywood as an excuse to present clips from 1930s Busby Berkeley production numbers from "Gold Diggers of 1933", "Gold Diggers of 1935", "Footlight Parade", and "Wonder Bar". Also included is the first color cartoon in the "Looney Tunes" series: 1942's "The Hep Cat" directed by Bob Clampett.

"Du Barry Was a Lady" includes "Seeing Hands", a 1943 short from the "Pete Smith Specialty" series that focuses on the story of Ben Helwig who is struck blind after a childhood accident, but finds a way to contribute to the war effort by developing his dexetrous hands so that he can do detailed machining work. Also included is "Bah Wilderness", a 1943 Rudolf Ising MGM short in which Barney Bear encounters myriad complications in his efforts to camp in the woods.

Departing from the pattern of coupling the films in the collection with contemporaneous shorts, "Critic's Choice" comes with "Calling All Tars", a vintage Bob Hope short from 1936 running just under 18 minutes. It features Hope and Johnny Berkes masquerading as sailors in order to improve their luck with women only to be impressed into service on an actual Navy ship where their incompetence leads to comic havoc. Also included is the 1963 Chuck Jones Looney Tunes short "Now Hear This" which is a tour de force for sound designer Treg Brown. The premise of the short, designed in a minimalist "UPA-style" manner, involves a man who mistakes a devil's horn for a hearing aid and uses it to surreally comic effect. Finally, we have the film's theatrical trailer which is "hosted" by Bob Hope and Lucille Ball who each humorously try to upstage the other. Truth be told, the trailer is funnier than the movie, and worth checking out.

"Mame" includes a vintage promotional short called "Lucky Mame", which consists entirely of narration and clips from the film reconfigured to a 16:9 aspect ratio amounting to a ten minute theatrical trailer. The films original theatrical trailer is also presented in 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen.

Packaging

All of the films are packaged in standard Amaray-style cases with cover art derived from vintage promotional art. The cases are in turn enclosed in a thin cardboard case with a cover image showing a head shot of Lucille Ball in costume from each of the five films.

Summary

Warner has provided fans with an eclectic mix of five first time on DVD films featuring Lucille Ball spanning 34 years. Those who know her only from her successful television work may be interested to see her versatility, particularly her finely modulated dramatic performance in "The Big Street". All are presented with good to great audio/video transfers, although "Dance Girl Dance" is hampered by a rougher source element than the others. Vintage featurettes, cartoons, and trailers are the only type of extras present.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 43 OFFLINE   Richard M S

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Posted June 25 2007 - 02:18 PM

Great collection of reviews! I love the anecdote about the Joan Crawford dress in DuBarry Was A Lady, which I am going to watch tomorrow night. By the way, I saw The Big Street over 20 years ago when I first started getting into classic movies and your review sums up that frustrating film quite well.

#3 of 43 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

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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!


#4 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 25 2007 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for the thorough review, Ken. These box sets take a great deal of time to do right, and you always do.

On the question of Lucy's dubbing in DUBARRY, it was done by Martha Mears. Ms. Mears was a great singer, but I can't think of a worse match for Ball's speaking voice. Usually, MGM was very careful to match singers with their stars who weren't vocalists so it would be as seamless as possible. I suspect no one at the time of the release was fooled by this really poor vocal matching (especially since we hear Lucy's mediocre-at-best singing in "Friendship" at the end of the picture).

#5 of 43 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted June 26 2007 - 01:01 AM

Loved the reviews as always, Ken.Posted Image

Martha Mears (the most frequently used voice double in American film history) also supplies the vocals for Miss Ball in THE BIG STREET by the way. That's Lucy singing herself in DANCE GIRL DANCE and in the "Friendship" finale from DU BARRY.

I find it hard to believe that Miss Ball did not insist on being dubbed in MAME - I can't believe she really wanted the world to hear this... Everyone knew she was no singer, so it would have been no shock to anyone if she had used and acknowledged a voice double to help her. With better vocals, the film would have been greatly enhanced, although I plead guilty to enjoying it very much, mostly because it looks and feels like a movie from the early 50s and not at all from the 70s!!!Posted Image The transfer does look beautiful and the supporting cast is so marvellous.
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#6 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 26 2007 - 02:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CinéKarine
Loved the reviews as always, Ken.Posted Image

Martha Mears (the most frequently used voice double in American film history) also supplies the vocals for Miss Ball in THE BIG STREET by the way. That's Lucy singing herself in DANCE GIRL DANCE and in the "Friendship" finale from DU BARRY.


And yet, MGM used Gloria Grafton to dub Lucy in BEST FOOT FORWARD. Strange inconsistency there. Maybe Mears wasn't available. Still neither lady sounds at all like Lucy.

#7 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted June 26 2007 - 02:40 AM

I remember at the time, on some talk show, Lucy saying they wanted Lisa Kirk (who had dubbed most of Rosalind Russell's vocals in GYPSY) to dub her. I guess ego stood in the way -- the same ego that made Natalie Wood, again in GYPSY, insist on doing her own singing, so that "Together, Wherever We Go" had to be cut because she was so awful in it. Or that made Audrey Hepburn think she could sing the MY FAIR LADY songs.

Lucy would have been great in MAME in 1954 -- but in 1974, no.

#8 of 43 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
And yet, MGM used Gloria Grafton to dub Lucy in BEST FOOT FORWARD. Strange inconsistency there. Maybe Mears wasn't available. Still neither lady sounds at all like Lucy.

I always thought Gloria Grafton was her best match in both BEST FOOT FORWARD and MEET THE PEOPLE. Trudy Erwin (who had dubbed her in TOO MANY GIRLS) initially recorded Lucy's solo for BEST FOOT, but her version was scrapped when it was felt Gloria Grafton was a better match. I think the match in BEST FOOT is the only time Lucy was perfectly in sync with her voice double. Virginia Rees was also a good match in EASY TO WED. But Lucy could not mouth in sync to Annette Warren's voice in either SORROWFUL JONES or FANCY PANTS.

Not really an inconsistency - most dubbed performers in the 40s went from one voice double to another, often a different one in each film. The only really lucky ones were Jeanne Crain (for a while), Veronica Lake and Joan Leslie. All others - Maria Montez, Mary Beth Hughes, Vera-Ellen, Virginia Mayo (she did get a regular voice double in the 50s), Marie Windsor, Adele Jergens, Leslie Brooks, Audrey Totter, Lizabeth Scott, Alexis Smith etc. etc. etc. - sang with a different voice in just about every or every other picture. Even Rita Hayworth went through 7 different voices between 1935 and 1957.
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#9 of 43 OFFLINE   Greg_M

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Lugoff
I remember at the time, on some talk show, Lucy saying they wanted Lisa Kirk (who had dubbed most of Rosalind Russell's vocals in GYPSY) to dub her. I guess ego stood in the way -- the same ego that made Natalie Wood, again in GYPSY, insist on doing her own singing, so that "Together, Wherever We Go" had to be cut because she was so awful in it. Or that made Audrey Hepburn think she could sing the MY FAIR LADY songs.

Lucy would have been great in MAME in 1954 -- but in 1974, no.

That's from the Merv Griffen show and you can view it on You-Tube. Licy even mentions Lisa Kirk was going to dub her and that they changed their minds. Lucy Arnaz even says at the end of a clip - "Who says you can't sing"

(the song was "my best girl" and Lucy sounds okay on this one song (at least in certain parts of it))

#10 of 43 OFFLINE   DaveK

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CinéKarine
I always thought Gloria Grafton was her best match in both BEST FOOT FORWARD and MEET THE PEOPLE. Trudy Erwin (who had dubbed her in TOO MANY GIRLS) initially recorded Lucy's solo for BEST FOOT, but her version was scrapped when it was felt Gloria Grafton was a better match. I think the match in BEST FOOT is the only time Lucy was perfectly in sync with her voice double. Virginia Rees was also a good match in EASY TO WED. But Lucy could not mouth in sync to Annette Warren's voice in either SORROWFUL JONES or FANCY PANTS.

Not really an inconsistency - most dubbed performers in the 40s went from one voice double to another, often a different one in each film. The only really lucky ones were Jeanne Crain (for a while), Veronica Lake and Joan Leslie. All others - Maria Montez, Mary Beth Hughes, Vera-Ellen, Virginia Mayo (she did get a regular voice double in the 50s), Marie Windsor, Adele Jergens, Leslie Brooks, Audrey Totter, Lizabeth Scott, Alexis Smith etc. etc. etc. - sang with a different voice in just about every or every other picture. Even Rita Hayworth went through 7 different voices between 1935 and 1957.


I thought Lucy did her own singing in the last number of Meet The People. I also thought Joan Leslie did her own singing. Was she dubbed in all of her movies? What about Esther Williams; what's her story?

#11 of 43 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Lugoff
I remember at the time, on some talk show, Lucy saying they wanted Lisa Kirk (who had dubbed most of Rosalind Russell's vocals in GYPSY) to dub her. I guess ego stood in the way -- the same ego that made Natalie Wood, again in GYPSY, insist on doing her own singing, so that "Together, Wherever We Go" had to be cut because she was so awful in it. Or that made Audrey Hepburn think she could sing the MY FAIR LADY songs.

You are SOOOOO right!!!!
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#12 of 43 OFFLINE   Conrad_SSS

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK
I thought Lucy did her own singing in the last number of Meet The People. I also thought Joan Leslie did her own singing. Was she dubbed in all of her movies? What about Esther Williams; what's her story?

In MEET THE PEOPLE, Lucy's real voice is intercut with Martha Mears' voice.
There are phrases that are spoken in the song...that's Lucy. The singing is Mears'. Mears was an excellent voice double for Lucy.

Esther Williams did her own singing in virtually every film. They didn't have her sing much, but she was 'capable', certainly much better than Lucy...

The one film where Esther's singing was obviously dubbed was JUPITER'S DARLING, where her vocals were dubbed by JoAnn Greer.

As to MAME, I doubt that Lucy ever being dubbed was ever seriously considered. By the time it was made, everyone knew what her singing voice sounded like (during that period, she "sang" on HERE'S LUCY almost weekly), and would have obviously recognized a dub job. Additionally, Lisa Kirk's voice was, in 1973, pitched much higher than Lucy's, whose voice was practically a Bass by that point.

#13 of 43 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted June 26 2007 - 04:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK
I thought Lucy did her own singing in the last number of Meet The People. I also thought Joan Leslie did her own singing. Was she dubbed in all of her movies? What about Esther Williams; what's her story?

Lucy is dubbed by Miss Grafton in all the MEET THE PEOPLE numbers for any actual singing. The marvellous Sally Sweetland sang for Joan Leslie in all her films between 1942 and 1945 (except CINDERELLA JONES, that one was Louanne Hogan, Jeanne Crain's regular vocal standby). I had the good fortune to interview Miss Sweetland (a lovely lady, now 96 I believe) and she mentioned how Joan Leslie could have sung some things for herself, but did not feel comfortable about recording. The only time you hear Joan herself is when she speaks a few lines in the middle of some of her songs and her "Am I Blue?" parody version in THE HARD WAY. She was no soprano but that's the voice the studio wanted for her.

Esther Williams was dubbed in some of her films only - her own voice being adequate for not too demanding songs. That was her talk-singing "Baby, it's Cold Outside" in NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER, singing in Spanish in EASY TO WED and performing quite a few numbers in SKIRTS AHOY. But it was Betty Wand who sings "Sea of the Moon" in PAGAN LOVE SONG (for the soundtrack album, Esther's own version was heard, exactly like Ava Gardner for SHOW BOAT). Miss Wand also sings that short harmony with Tony Martin in EASY TO LOVE. Jo Ann Greer performs her solo "I Have a Dream" in JUPITER'S DARLING. Miss Greer was Rita Hayworth's voice double in all her films of the 50s and sang for some other famous actresses including Kim Novak, Gloria Grahame and even June Allyson ("A Perfect Love" in THE OPPOSITE SEX).

That's my favorite topic, I have been researching it for years and years Posted Image
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#14 of 43 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted June 26 2007 - 05:04 AM

[quote=Conrad_SSS]In MEET THE PEOPLE, Lucy's real voice is intercut with Martha Mears' voice.
There are phrases that are spoken in the song...that's Lucy. The singing is Mears'. Mears was an excellent voice double for Lucy.[quote]

That was Gloria Grafton singing for Lucy in MEET THE PEOPLE - MGM did not think Miss Mears was a good match for her and did not use her again after DU BARRY. The speaking parts in the MEET THE PEOPLE finale are of course Lucy, but the singing is all Miss Grafton. Great match.

Even on Here's Lucy on TV and on some TV specials from the 70s, Lucy's singing was often dubbed by Carole Cook.
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#15 of 43 OFFLINE   Corey

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Posted June 26 2007 - 05:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Conrad_SSS
As to MAME, I doubt that Lucy ever being dubbed was ever seriously considered. By the time it was made, everyone knew what her singing voice sounded like (during that period, she "sang" on HERE'S LUCY almost weekly), and would have obviously recognized a dub job. Additionally, Lisa Kirk's voice was, in 1973, pitched much higher than Lucy's, whose voice was practically a Bass by that point.

I find it so funny that Lucy went from having a high pitched voice to a bass. The power of cigarettes and scotch.
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

Little Darlings (1980), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Deep Blue Sea (1955), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivy (1947), Reckless (1935), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Barretts of Wimpole Street

#16 of 43 OFFLINE   Greg_M

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Posted June 26 2007 - 06:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CinéKarine
Lucy is dubbed by Miss Grafton in all the MEET THE PEOPLE numbers for any actual singing. The marvellous Sally Sweetland sang for Joan Leslie in all her films between 1942 and 1945 (except CINDERELLA JONES, that one was Louanne Hogan, Jeanne Crain's regular vocal standby). I had the good fortune to interview Miss Sweetland (a lovely lady, now 96 I believe) and she mentioned how Joan Leslie could have sung some things for herself, but did not feel comfortable about recording. The only time you hear Joan herself is when she speaks a few lines in the middle of some of her songs and her "Am I Blue?" parody version in THE HARD WAY. She was no soprano but that's the voice the studio wanted for her.

Esther Williams was dubbed in some of her films only - her own voice being adequate for not too demanding songs. That was her talk-singing "Baby, it's Cold Outside" in NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER, singing in Spanish in EASY TO WED and performing quite a few numbers in SKIRTS AHOY. But it was Betty Wand who sings "Sea of the Moon" in PAGAN LOVE SONG (for the soundtrack album, Esther's own version was heard, exactly like Ava Gardner for SHOW BOAT). Miss Wand also sings that short harmony with Tony Martin in EASY TO LOVE. Jo Ann Greer performs her solo "I Have a Dream" in JUPITER'S DARLING. Miss Greer was Rita Hayworth's voice double in all her films of the 50s and sang for some other famous actresses including Kim Novak, Gloria Grahame and even June Allyson ("A Perfect Love" in THE OPPOSITE SEX).

That's my favorite topic, I have been researching it for years and years Posted Image


If you already haven't you might want to visit this site:

http://www.classicim....idibthee3.html

#17 of 43 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted June 26 2007 - 08:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey
I find it so funny that Lucy went from having a high pitched voice to a bass. The power of cigarettes and scotch.

That, and the number of smokers my father has seen as a radiation oncologist, have kept me from smoking.

Didn't she have a throat operation that affected her voice at some point?

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#18 of 43 OFFLINE   DaveK

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Posted June 26 2007 - 08:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_M
If you already haven't you might want to visit this site:

http://www.classicim....idibthee3.html

Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban and Ann Sheridan needed to be dubbed???

#19 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 26 2007 - 09:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveK
Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban and Ann Sheridan needed to be dubbed???

In the case of Van Johnson in GROUNDS FOR MARRIAGE, that was in a dream sequence where he's singing opera, something beyond his expertise.

MGM did use a dubber for Montalban in that one movie, but I believe he was allowed to sing for himself in his other musical films.

That link to the list of dubbers was very nice, and it's good to have so much information in one place. She's right, however, that there are some notable omissions, even among the dubbers she named (Imogene Lynn, for example, who also dubbed Leslie Parrish in LI'L ABNER and Mona Freeman in MOTHER WORE TIGHTS).

#20 of 43 OFFLINE   DaveK

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Posted June 26 2007 - 09:30 AM

Being a Lucy fan...I wish that Lucy had a big dance number in the movies, similar to the jitterbug dance she did on I Love Lucy; maybe a tap number.

Prior to Lucy, she did a ballroom dance number for That Girl from Paris in 1936, but it was a comedy routine; she constantly had to fall on her behind for every two or three steps she took. That's why I said before it was the most painful-looking Lucy slapstick EVER.

During the early part of her career, she wasn't trained for physical comedy, and the stagehands waxed the floor so thoroughly that Lucy didn't have any more control of the dance routine than her character. If you never saw the movie before just picture how Miss America fell during the Ms. Universe pagent (you can probably youtube that), now picture Ms. Ball falling like that at least 20 or 30 times, and the look of pain and fear on her face made it worse. I personally cannot even watch this movie anymore, it looks so bad.

I'm surprised her friend Ann Miller never coached her on any dance steps. Also, she was originally slated to be in Yolanda and the Thief with Fred Astaire as Frank Morgan's character. Maybe she could've done a dance routine with Fred....Oh well