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Musicals: From Stage & Film to Blu-ray

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#1 of 333 Ethan Riley

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Posted April 13 2011 - 06:11 PM

With its 30th anniversary soon upon us, I think it's high time they started work on Annie for bluray. But somebody tell me what the deal is with the bizarro world soundtrack on that film. That movie always sounded extra funky to me. The ambient sound seems to be on a different recording style than the music and dialogue. And when there's dozens of orphans, their omnies (all looped) sometimes sound clearer than the stuff you're supposed to be listening to, not to mention that the girls sound like they're in a different room. Just some really bizarro looping and ADR here and there, especially in the street scenes. But this is the way that film has always sounded to me on home video; not just the current dvd. I guess a better balance with today's technology could fix all that (if it was a goof back in '82 and wasn't due to some weird filmmaking purpose). Well, I would guess that most of those omnies exist because the studio didn't want to pay a lot of onscreen actors to say them (it's cheaper to hire voice-over artists than to pay the extras Sag wages to say the lines on-camera). But the recording style and the fact that no lips are moving make for some awkward moments in that flick.


 

 


#2 of 333 GMpasqua

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Posted April 14 2011 - 02:18 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Riley 



(if it was a goof back in '82 and wasn't due to some weird filmmaking purpose)



The whole film was a goof.  a John Huston musical about little girls? a camerman who didn't know where to put the camera? A producer who hated the source material and tried to make it as unlike the play as he could. (to bad, the source material and the cast where all assets and yet they were all wasted)




#3 of 333 Matt Hough

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Posted April 14 2011 - 04:00 AM

Annie should have been foolproof material for the movies. Its ultimate disaster is one of the great lost movie musicals of all time. Thankfully, Rob Marshall rescued the property with his made-for-TV version, but one still wishes the big screen, widescreen version had been done right.



#4 of 333 Ethan Riley

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Posted April 14 2011 - 07:14 AM

Originally Posted by MattH. 

Annie should have been foolproof material for the movies. Its ultimate disaster is one of the great lost movie musicals of all time. Thankfully, Rob Marshall rescued the property with his made-for-TV version, but one still wishes the big screen, widescreen version had been done right.


That movie should have had everything! How can you screw up a musical filled with actual Broadway stars like Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Ann Reinking? And it had Punjab and the Asp--which the play did not.What bothers me in that movie are niggling little things like the dog staring at its trainer instead of Annie, and all those bits of dialogue coming from the speakers instead of from actors' lips. That and Greg's comment about the cameraman not knowing where to put the camera. I don't expect movie musicals to be exactly like their Broadway counterparts, but Annie's huge budget escalated the doings far beyond the simple little story told on stage. That whole bit at the end with the helicopter...sheesh! Too much money was spent. They spent too much on Hello Dolly too, but that one at least stuck much closer to the play.


Annie was a good movie, but what with all the housekeepers skating around the floor and the elephants and fireworks on Daddy Warbucks' patio, we just never saw it.


 

 


#5 of 333 GMpasqua

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Posted April 14 2011 - 07:37 AM

So much was wasted on "Annie" Columbia Pictures wrote everything off against this movie (and there were a lot of people paid who didn't work on the film - the original screen writer was paid off not to show his script when the new producer came on. Jack Nicholson was paid off not to play Daddy Warbucks.


Much of the film was re-shot after the original principle photography was completed. The producer was racing against a writer's strike etc and the child actors were growing taller. Carol Burnett had a chin implant after the filming finished but 6 months later was called back (so her chin changes from shot to shot).  Musical numbers "Easy street" "Maybe" "You're Never Fully Dressed" and "Let's go to the Movies" all had to be re-shot months after filming was done.


This film should have cost under $10 million to film (not including the $5.5 Million paid for the screen rights) but ended up costing over $50 Million - and the movie still was a dog.


So I must ask...Why give a smash (one you out bid every other studio for and paying big bucks to acquire) to a  film producer who hates the material  who tries his best to make it into something completely different? (Ray Stark is the man behind the 1982 film disaster of "Annie" ...he succeeded in taking a smash hit and tuning into a huge flop)


On stage "Annie" was originally an Adult musical, later it was shaped more to the children audience, but the Rob Marsall version eliminated all the adult humor and made it Politically correct (but not at all true to it's time period)



John Huston - "Ray, how can we make this fluffy musical more gritty?"


Ray Stark - "Toilets, John, add more toilets!"



#6 of 333 Rick Thompson

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Posted April 14 2011 - 08:29 AM

Originally Posted by Ethan Riley 


I don't expect movie musicals to be exactly like their Broadway counterparts, but Annie's huge budget escalated the doings far beyond the simple little story told on stage. That whole bit at the end with the helicopter...sheesh! Too much money was spent. They spent too much on Hello Dolly too, but that one at least stuck much closer to the play.


Annie was a good movie, but what with all the housekeepers skating around the floor and the elephants and fireworks on Daddy Warbucks' patio, we just never saw it.

Speaking as someone who saw the original musical on Broadway, the new bridge/helicopter sequence didn't bother me at all. Actually, it was kind of neat, and Miss Hanigan's actions trying to stop Rooster were OK, too. It's one thing to say you want to kill someone; actually doing it or letting it done is quite something else.  What killed the movie was that bit with the celebration at the end, where Miss Hanigan comes in on the elephant as one of the good guys. HUH? That ripped the bottom out of the show and the movie. There was no filmdom punishment too severe for John Huston after that.




#7 of 333 MatthewA

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Posted April 14 2011 - 10:51 AM



Originally Posted by Rick Thompson 

Speaking as someone who saw the original musical on Broadway, the new bridge/helicopter sequence didn't bother me at all. Actually, it was kind of neat, and Miss Hanigan's actions trying to stop Rooster were OK, too. It's one thing to say you want to kill someone; actually doing it or letting it done is quite something else.  What killed the movie was that bit with the celebration at the end, where Miss Hanigan comes in on the elephant as one of the good guys. HUH? That ripped the bottom out of the show and the movie. There was no filmdom punishment too severe for John Huston after that.



I was wondering when the "Annie" shoe was going to drop.


I saw a production of the original play recently (with Andrea McArdle playing Miss Hannigan), and Annie actually invited Miss Hannigan to her adoption party along with the other orphans! She's pretty quick to forgive, isn't she? Posted Image While I enjoyed the play overall (I even did a 3rd grade production of it in school where I played Bert Healy and FDR), I didn't get the feeling of "wow, this is so much better than the movie" that I expected. Parts of it I think work better on screen, others on stage. It's a draw, IMO.


Despite some reservations (mostly similar to those that Ethan expressed), I really don't think the movie is anywhere near the disaster it was made out to be. It's certainly in the higher echelon of musicals made that year, in which, in addition to the more successful Victor/Victoria and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, we were subjected to Grease 2, The Pirate Movie, and Yes Giorgio. Huston did a decent job for someone who really didn't want to be there, and wouldn't have been if he didn't need the money and hadn't made two supposedly pretty dire films coming into this (I haven't seen Victory and assume no one has seen Phobia since it came out). I wonder who was plan B if he turned it down. Maybe Mike Nichols (who produced the show on Broadway, yet whose involvement in it is played down) might have worked. You can't really blame him when he was basically doing what Ray Stark (who got the job because the show's creators refused to allow David Begelman, who convinced Columbia to buy the property in the first place, to produce it because of his check-forging scandal) told him to do, and, presumably, Stark had to answer to the suits at Columbia. While it is overdone ("I Don't Need Anything But You" now seems to be an ironic commentary on the action surrounding Annie and her new father) and often poorly edited (When Annie sings the last line of "Dumb Dog", we hear the line "you're the most presuming dog that a human could know", but she's walking down the street and smiling at some boys passing by while walking Sandy, and not saying anything!), the cast really sells it, the cinematography looks better than the majority of films from the era (although some of the dance numbers are framed too tightly), and the sets and costumes really make it feel like 1930s New York. I felt like the overall intent was to mix parts of the play and the comic strip in equal measure, and its tone never bothered me; it is darker and more strident (the comic strip was supposedly much darker than the show and less child-oriented), but these girls were angels in comparison to my two younger sisters! But I still think that a genuinely good movie does shine through the overinflated budget, problematic editing and re-dubbing, and the director's lack of enthusiasm for the material.


I recently saw the film in a great-looking 35mm print of recent vintage struck by Sony Repertory (with mono sound, unfortunately), and it should make a darn good Blu-Ray (do NOT get me started on the "Special Anniversary Edition" DVD, or as I call it "the reason I went region-free"). Assuming they still exist, I would kill to see those cut/alternate scenes released in some form. Carol Burnett writes about reshooting "Easy Street" in her new book, and she describes it as damage control; from the clips I saw of the PBS special "Lights, Camera, Annie" detailing this [the first verse of the song was also recorded and presumably filmed but cut], I have to agree with her. The whole special has surfaced on YouTube and on annieorphans.com, the site set up by the people who made "Life After Tomorrow"; there was also an extra verse to the last reprise of "Maybe" that was in no other version and didn't make the final cut. I did feel like the studio forced cuts to keep the running time down once they saw all the books adding up on this film. It just feels incomplete, like the theatrical versions of Bedknobs and Broomsticks or 1776  do after the longer cuts came out. I suppose a re-cut might not be considered blasphemy and may even make the film better (seamless branching was made for just this reason), although no one with the authority to do so is alive to give the go-ahead. Still, I'd be satisfied with a good, OAR Blu-Ray of the version we all know and either love or hate.


I wanted to like the TV version, but I didn't care for the performances, I felt the condensation of the story to fit into the two-hour time slot (thanks a lot, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) made it seem rushed yet surprisingly dull, the fact that it's set in a 1933 where America's problematic racial history never happened defies credibility, the minimization of the Depression makes things worse (at least the movie paid lip service to it and the New Deal), and the fact that Miss Hannigan pretended to be nice to Annie in the first scene and then impersonates her mother in the last act shatters their already tenuous grasp on reality. They really lost me with that. In trying to strip out the production excesses of the first one they also took out the fun. That makes the original film's faults more forgivable. Even the elephants. But I'll never say a word against it again if that Willow Smith thing happens and it's as bad as it sounds on paper. Who will be there to rescue the piece's reputation from this debacle-in-the-works ten or fifteen years later with Annie v4.0?


If you want to see a really lost opportunity to transfer a Broadway show to the screen, have y'all seen A Chorus Line lately? I just saw the touring company and then re-watched the film. Seriously, who was in charge of that one? Richard Attenborough misinterpreted the show's meaning, but I don't think he acted alone. It felt like too many cooks spoiled this broth.


But all talk of bad films of Broadway shows begins—and ends—with the animated version of The King and I.


Rant off.


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 will not support anything your company produces until then.


#8 of 333 GMpasqua

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Posted April 14 2011 - 12:01 PM

Who's idea was it to cut the show's hit number "Tomorrow" from the film?

I've heard that neither Ray Stark nor John Huston liked the song....this is why the rights were purchased guys....because of that song!


Yet when Annie meets Sandy and they are homeless on the streets (in the dead of winter) she sings "Dumb Dog" (and it's June and Annie's wearing a sweater! in New York!  It's got to be 75 degress (no one else has a sweater...they're all running throught the city sprinklers to keep cool)



#9 of 333 Rick Thompson

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Posted April 14 2011 - 12:23 PM



Originally Posted by MatthewA 

Speaking of lost opportunities to transfer a Broadway show to the screen, have y'all seen A Chorus Line lately? I saw the touring company and then re-watched the film. Seriously, who was in charge of that one? Richard Attenborough misinterpreted the show's meaning, but I don't think he acted alone. It felt like too many cooks spoiled this broth.
But all talk of bad films of Broadway shows begins—and ends—with the animated version of The King and I.


Rant off.


No question about "A Chorus Line." Richard Attenborough made a ballsy decision to keep the movie in the original place -- all in a theater save for the flashbacks so he could shoehorn in Michael Douglas -- and then proceeded to make every possible wrong decision from that point forward.  Showcase example: Replacing "The Music and the Mirror," probably the single greatest solo showpiece in the musical. All he had to do was point the camera and stay out of the song's way. Instead we get the pedestrian "Let Me Dance for You." Yech!


And I also agree: It's "Singin' in the Rain" compared to the animated "King and I."



#10 of 333 ahollis

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Posted April 14 2011 - 12:55 PM

MGM RENEWS BLU-RAY AND DVD PACT WITH FOX UNTIL 2016


LOS ANGELES, CA April 14, 2011 – MGM announced today that the company has renewed its worldwide Blu-ray Disc and DVD distribution pact with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment through 2016. As part of the new agreement, Fox will now oversee electronic-sell-through for MGM titles and will continue to handle MGM’s vast and extensive movie and television library, as well as distribute several upcoming new release productions in the home entertainment market, including the next JAMES BOND film, set for global theatrical release on November 9, 2012.”

“Twentieth Century Fox is a valued partner that has taken great care of the MGM library for many years with the highest degree of integrity,” said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of MGM. “They are a tremendous asset to the studio as we look towards the future.”

“MGM and UA have made enormous contributions throughout the history of film, and we’re proud to be part of that legacy,” said Fox Filmed Entertainment’s chairmen and CEO’s Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “We’re delighted that we are extending our partnership with the studio under the leadership of our friends Gary and Roger.”

Twentieth Century Fox began managing MGM’s international home video distribution in 1999. The flourishing partnership expanded in 2006 when MGM signed a worldwide distribution pact with Fox. Fox’s home entertainment group has enhanced the MGM legacy by maximizing key franchises and legendary films from the library that include JAMES BOND, ROCKY and WEST SIDE STORY. Additionally, Fox leveraged MGM’s deep catalog to offer a selection of never before released classic films and TV shows via CreateSpace’s DVD On-Demand service.

“The MGM brand has become part of our DNA,” said Mike Dunn, President Worldwide, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “We are privileged to handle this incredible library of acclaimed films, many that rank as the most commercially and critically successful films of all time.”  


With thanks to Deadline Hollywood


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#11 of 333 GMpasqua

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Posted April 14 2011 - 01:08 PM

Actually Fox was releasing MGM/UA films as early as 1983 when Fox was parterned with CBS. I believe Mike Dunn worked for FOX way back then


This is really good news as SONY seems to all but disappeared on the blu-ray front (we got maybe 4 catalog titles since last over the last 6 months)

What IS Sony waiting for? 


#12 of 333 MatthewA

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Posted April 14 2011 - 02:24 PM



Originally Posted by Rick Thompson 




No question about "A Chorus Line." Richard Attenborough made a ballsy decision to keep the movie in the original place -- all in a theater save for the flashbacks so he could shoehorn in Michael Douglas -- and then proceeded to make every possible wrong decision from that point forward.  Showcase example: Replacing "The Music and the Mirror," probably the single greatest solo showpiece in the musical. All he had to do was point the camera and stay out of the song's way. Instead we get the pedestrian "Let Me Dance for You." Yech!


And I also agree: It's "Singin' in the Rain" compared to the animated "King and I."


The worst part of that was not so much the replaced song (reducing Hello 12… to merely being the lead-in to the totally out-of-place "Surprise, Surprise" was even more unforgivable), which was still a loss, but the fact that, like almost everything else, the dancing is forced to submit to the pointless flashbacks. Take away the flashbacks, put Zack and Cassie back into subplot status where they belong (I imagine the reason for the "problems" translating the show to the screen stemmed from trying to shoehorn it into the conventional 3-Act Structure), and get rid of those drum machines punctuating every sub-Flashdance bump and grind, and you would have had something. But the film of A Chorus Line is unique in the level of vitriol and virtually unanimous disdain fans of the original have towards it (most others, the hits and the flops alike, have plenty of fans and foes). Even members of the original Broadway cast have come out against it. And I recently found an excerpt from an article from less than two years after the film's release, in which Alyson Reed talks about the film offers that hinged on the film's success being pulled as soon as the reviews came, and no one on Broadway would consider her for an audition. Unfortunately, while I don't share in the level of vitriol—I tolerate the film enough to own the DVD—I can't defend it. This time more than any other stage-to-screen transfer the purists are right. And I doubt there'll be a remake any time soon (why didn't they tape the revival?).


Is it a new HTF rule that every thread about a musical gets wildly off track and starts talking about other musicals? Posted Image


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 will not support anything your company produces until then.


#13 of 333 Matt Hough

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Posted April 14 2011 - 02:37 PM

Of the many sins of A Chorus Line (the movie), the biggest is that the dancing is lousy. Jeffrey Hornaday's choreography is SO uninteresting.



#14 of 333 dana martin

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Posted April 14 2011 - 02:48 PM

well if it is such a good deal between Fox/MGM and they seem to really go all aout on the musical releases, i have something to say, where the hell is a restored Porgy and Bess, one of the few remaining grails never officialy released, come on

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#15 of 333 Mike Frezon

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Posted April 14 2011 - 04:06 PM



Originally Posted by MatthewA 



Is it a new HTF rule that every thread about a musical gets wildly off track and starts talking about other musicals? Posted Image


Yes.  It is listed right in the HTF's Rules.


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#16 of 333 Matt Hough

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Posted April 15 2011 - 12:22 AM



Originally Posted by dana martin 

well if it is such a good deal between Fox/MGM and they seem to really go all aout on the musical releases, i have something to say, where the hell is a restored Porgy and Bess, one of the few remaining grails never officialy released, come on



Isn't the lack of a Porgy and Bess release completely the fault of the Gershwins' estates who despise the movie and never want it to see the light of day again?




#17 of 333 ahollis

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Posted April 15 2011 - 01:20 AM

Did anyone pick up on the MGM/Fox announcement on their new deal that WEST SIDE STORY is on its way to Blu-ray?


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#18 of 333 JoHud

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Posted April 15 2011 - 02:08 AM

Any news on the Samuel Goldwyn properties?  They have been noticeably absent from both Blu-ray and DVD lately, including the MOD program.  The last Goldwyn title I recall them releasing was A Song is Born and Goldwyn Follies.  Any hope we might at least see one of the frontrunners on Blu-ray?



#19 of 333 GMpasqua

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Posted April 15 2011 - 07:00 AM

"Porgy and Bess" needs restoration.  MGM considered releasing it a few years ago but the video rights were limited to a few years and MGM couldn't justify the restoration costs.  Maybe that will change now?


And by the way, where is "Guys and Dolls? MGM released this one a few times on DVD


"West Side Story" will probably be a big box set like Fox did with "The Sound of Music" last year (I guess Target may even have an exclusive Digibook?)






#20 of 333 MatthewA

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Posted April 15 2011 - 09:39 AM

Guys and Dolls had problems on DVD: the first one was non-anamorphic and the special edition was misframed. I hope the eventual Blu-Ray corrects that. I also imagine How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying will get some attention because of the upcoming Broadway revival with Daniel Radcliffe (although Hair, which was revived a couple years ago, is only coming now; BTW I love the cover art on that).


Since West Side Story is all but confirmed (and the fears that Fiddler would be a screw-up on BD were unfounded), I think we can rest assured that no expense will be spared in its treatment.


Is there a blessing for the Blu-Ray people at MGM?


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 will not support anything your company produces until then.






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