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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: A Date with Judy



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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted May 07 2008 - 08:57 AM

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A Date with Judy

Directed By: Richard Thorpe

Starring: Wallace Beery, Jane Powell, Elizabeth Taylor, Carmen Miranda, Xavier Cugat, Robert Stack, Scotty Beckett, Leon Ames, Selena Royle

Studio: Warner Brothers

Year: 1948

Rated: Unrated

Film Length: 113 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Subtitles: English, French

Release Date: April 22, 2008

The 1948 MGM musical A Date with Judy was released on DVD by Warner Bros. Home Video in late 2007 and distributed exclusively through the Deep Discount DVD web site and the affiliated Critics Choice Video web site and catalog. It is now available at all major retailers and has been provided to sites such as ours for review.

The Film

A Date with Judy adapts a popular 1940s radio show for the big screen. It follows the travails of the Foster family of Santa Barbara, CA. In particular, we chart the chaste romantic life of eldest daughter Judy (Powell) as she falls for older drug-store employee Stephen Andrews (Stack), much to the chagrin of Ogden "Oogie" Pringle (Beckett), the boy who leads the high school band and has been dating Judy until recently. Oogie's sister, Carol, Judy's manipulative, marginally more worldly, best friend, also takes a shine to Stephen resulting in some passive aggressive competition for his attention. A subplot involving the impending anniversary of Judy's parents leads to her father, Melvin (Beery) secretly taking rhumba lessons in his office from Rosita Cochellas (Miranda). This unwittingly leads to Judy and Carol suspecting that he is stepping out on Judy's mother.

Producer Joe Pasternak plays it extremely safe, plugging teen soprano Powell directly into the same formula that resulted in his string of successful films with Deanna Durbin at Universal. Powell and Taylor make a slight but significant transition from their typical juvenile roles to older teenagers with (gasp!) romantic interests. For the object of their mutual affection, Pasternak cast Robert Stack, who, in his screen debut, memorably helped Durbin make a similar transition by sharing her first on-screen kiss in 1939's "First Love".

The "sitcomish" plot is decidedly old-fashioned. The deepest social issue the filmmakers seem to ponder is whether or not the wealthy and the fabulously wealthy can successfully maintain a friendship in this crazy world. Things are prevented from becoming too dull or derivative thanks to an amusing performance from Scotty Beckett as the romantically confused and sympathetically gullible Oogie, and the entertainment inherent in the very idea of Wallace Berry learning how to rhumba.

Highlight musical numbers include Powell's take on "Love is Where you Find It" (which Pasternak would re-use a few months later with Kathryn Grayson in "The Kissing Bandit") and Carmen Miranda and Xavier Cugat's "Cuenta La Gusta".

The Video

The 4:3 Technicolor film is well represented by the transfer and compression on this DVD. Grain is noticeable, but natural looking. Damage is light and infrequent, and colors and contrast are very good, with near-perfect registration. There is occasionally some light fluctuation in density, but nothing significant.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital 1.0 audio is a fine representation of the film's original sound. Digital noise reduction is employed judiciously but not excessively, resulting in ligh hiss and decent fidelity.

The Extras

Extras consist of a vintage featurette, a vintage cartoon, and the film's theatrical trailer. All are presented in 4:3 video with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Martin Block's Musical Merry-Go-Round #3 (10:51) is a 1948 black and white featurette from a series where DJ Martin Block would feature music, scripted interviews, and performances from popular music performers. For this installment, British bandleader Ray Noble, and vocalist Buddy Clark are featured. Songs include "I'll Dance at Your Wedding", "Goodnight Sweetheart", "Linda, and "Serenade".

Professor Tom (7:34) is a 1948 Technicolor Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom tries to teach a young protégé cat that he should hate mice. Jerry offers a counter-lesson resulting in Tom absorbing a tremendous amount of punishment.

Theatrical Trailer (2:47) is a pretty straightforward affair with promotional text superimposed over film clips.

Packaging

The disc comes packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with cover art adapted from original promotional art.

Summary

A Date with Judy nicely compliments the recent slate of Jane Powell titles released in the Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Vol. 3 box set. It is a pretty by the book entry in her early film career, representing a transition to slightly less juvenile, but still innocent and wholesome parts for both Powell and Elizabeth Taylor. It is presented on DVD with a very good transfer, representing its Technicolor origins nicely, and a good mono soundtrack. Extras include a trailer along with a vintage featurette and cartoon.

Regards,


[PG]100528703[/PG]
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Jefferson

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Posted May 09 2008 - 11:44 AM

Here is one I never thought would make it to dvd, as it has always been considered, 'second string'....however, it is most enjoyable, and in some regards, a time capsule of late 1940's life in the USA.

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Edward Weinman

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Posted May 10 2008 - 05:44 AM

I hope that classical movie musical lovers connect with Jane Powell and, those of us in the "older" brackets, reconnect ourselves with this gifted, talented and lovely star.

Jane Powell was one of the most popular entertainers not only during her years before the camera but, also, before live audiences. (I especially remember "An Evening With Lerner and Lowe" at the Hollywood Bowl during the 1959 and 1960 seasons in which Johnny Green specifically arranged, and conducted, four of their great shows for Ms. Powell...he loved her voice.)

It wasn't hard, during the MGM years, for the studio to have a beautiful, soprano-voiced star to which the public loved and responded in a great way.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Jefferson

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Posted May 12 2008 - 10:02 AM

I agree.
I'm glad that she did one real blockbuster, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, which has stood the test of time, and is a favorite of even the more casual movie musical fans.

I'm in my forties, and growing up I only knew her from that movie...but it led me to others like TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE, which I'm glad made it to dvd as well.
Her interview with Robert Osborne on the TWO WEEKS disc is really touching.

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   CineKarine

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Posted May 13 2008 - 01:17 AM

This is one of my favorite musicals of the 40s Posted Image Loved the review, Ken!

Just found another very enthusiastic review about it here
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 6 OFFLINE   John_S

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Posted May 13 2008 - 08:54 AM

Yes, thanks for the fine review, Ken. A fun movie!