The Music ManRelease Date: February 2, 2010
Studio: Warner Brothers
Running Time: 2:31:00
|1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1||480i or 480p standard definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 5.1||Stereo and mono|
|Subtitles||English SDH, French, and Spanish||English SDH and Spanish|
The Feature: 4.5/5Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston) doesn't know a thing about music, but the con man is as good as any virtuoso musician when it comes to playing the human heart. Traveling through the Midwest in the early 1900s, he poses as a teacher promising the restorative benefits of a town music program, namely a boys marching band. Though the purchased instruments, songbooks and uniforms may actually arrive as promised, Hill will skip town with the good people's money before anyone has learned to play a note.
For the latest con in River City, Iowa, Hill exploits the citizens' fears of juvenile delinquency (what with the recent addition of a pool table to the downtown entertainment options), making the wholesome qualities of musical education that much more attractive. That's for everyone except Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones), the town librarian and piano teacher, who sees through Hill's hucksterism from day one. But Hill also knows about librarians and piano teachers. Romantically wooing away their opposition is usually just icing on the cake, but Miss Paroo will challenge the professor in a way he least he expected. After all his years of stealing people's money, for once Professor Harold Hill will have something stolen from him.
The 1962 production of "The Music Man" is by all accounts incredibly faithful to Meredith Wilson's highly successful Broadway stage musical. Not only does it retain its original lead actor (despite initial attempts by Warner Brothers to recast the part with Frank Sinatra), but its director (Morton DaCosta), choreographer (Onna White), and a number of supporting cast members (actress Pert Kelton and the Buffalo Bills barbershop quartet) were also involved in the stage production. Of course faithfulness to source material is not always a good thing, especially when a film demands, among other things, greater physical scope. But the use of Warner Brothers' now-iconic, town square back lot, the excellent casting of Jones as Preston's romantic interest, and retaining almost all of the original musical numbers, help make the production's transition from stage to screen feel quite natural. Though there were certainly no guarantees that the film would meet with the same success as the stage musical, the filmmakers ultimately made a lot of smart choices, resulting in "The Music Man" being one of the few musicals produced in the 1960s that got it all right.
Video Quality: 4.5/5The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Though black levels are not always the deepest, the instances when shadow areas look too opened up seem to be mostly nighttime scenes, suggesting a limitation with the source material rather than the transfer. Otherwise, scenes in daylight or brightly lit studio environments show excellent depth and range of contrast. Colors are uniformly satisfying, the technicolor reds in particular holding up very well with no signs of bleed or bloom. Detail is similarly excellent, most often showcased in the variety of fine textile patterns, straw hats, and wardrobe fringe and feathers. At times things can look a little too sharp, almost edgy, as in the second musical number "Iowa Stubborn," but the overall clarity in its deep focus shots is nevertheless impressive. Healthy grain structure is consistently visible, indicating the absence of aggressive noise reduction measures, but the picture is also prone to moments of background flicker or flutter and there are a few instances of white "sparkle" dotting the image. Still, it's an overall excellent looking picture and no doubt the best it has ever looked on home video.
Audio Quality: 4/5I admit I was expecting the mix on the the DTS-HD Master Audio track to be a straightforward
Special Features: 1.5/5Extras, pulled from the 1999 DVD release, are noticeably meager and primarily promotional in nature. Given the popularity of the film, I would have expected a little more content.
Introduction by Shirley Jones (2:00, SD): Jones hits a few high points about the film before letting the film speak for itself.
Right Here in River City: The Making of Meredith Wilson's The Music Man (22:01, SD): Though Jones serving as both the host and occasional talking-head interview subject is a little unusual, the featurette hits all the requisite points about the film's inspiration, adaptation, and production, albeit in a rather promotional and effusive tone. Additional interview subjects include Buddy Hackett (Marcellus Washburn), Choreographer Onna White, and Susan Luckey (Zaneeta Shinn).
Theatrical Trailer (:56, SD)
RecapThe Feature: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5
Warner Brothers turns in an excellent audio and video presentation for one of the more successful musicals of the 1960s. Fans of the film will likely be disappointed in the spartan special features package but should be very pleased by the technical presentation.