A few words about…™ Swing Time — in Blu-ray

Time has not been especially kind to the film's elements - the OCN does not survive - but Criterion's offering has been nicely cleaned, and not overly so. A bit of wear and tear is still obvious, especially in projection. 4 Stars

Back in 1933, after appearing in Dancing Lady for M-G-M, Fred Astaire, who received 6th billing, just beneath Winnie Lightner, made a move to RKO, and so began a series of classic musicals that fans have been waiting to appear on Blu-ray.

There were ten films in the series, and the first to appear on Blu, via Criterion and their license with WB, is number six, Swing Time.

The great George Stevens directed, which was unusual. He only did one other musical, Damsel in Distress, a few year later.

As a film, it’s still charming, especially in its innocent ways – it was the ’30s, after all. It beautifully stands the test of time, in all its black & white glory, as captured by David Abel.

Time has not been especially kind to the film’s elements – the OCN does not survive – but Criterion’s offering has been nicely cleaned, and not overly so. A bit of wear and tear is still obvious, especially in projection.

The score is by someone named Kern.

Swing Time is an auspicious beginning for the Astarie/Rogers films on Blu-ray.

One down, nine to go.

Image – 4

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – You bet’cha

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Kevin Collins

administrator

40 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    Back in 1933, after appearing in Dancing Lady for M-G-M, Fred Astaire, who received 6th billing, just beneath Winnie Lightner, made a move to RKO, and so began a series of classic musicals that fans have been waiting to appear on Blu-ray.

    There were ten films in the series, and the first to appear on Blu, via Criterion and their license with WB, is number six, Swing Time.

    The great George Stevens directed, which was unusual. He only did one other musical, Damsel in Distress, a few year later.

    As a film, it's still charming, especially in its innocent ways – it was the '30s, after all. It beautifully stands the test of time, in all its black & white glory, as captured by David Abel.

    Time has not been especially kind to the film's elements – the OCN does not survive – but Criterion's offering has been nicely cleaned, and not overly so. A bit of wear and tear is still obvious, especially in projection.

    The score is by someone named Kern.

    Swing Time is an auspicious beginning for the Astarie/Rogers films on Blu-ray.

    One down, nine to go.

    Image – 4

    Audio – 5

    Pass / Fail – Pass

    Upgrade from DVD – You bet'cha

    Highly Recommended

    RAH

    Sounds like a release to look forward to! Any word on whether any of the other films in the series are being worked on?

  2. My favorite is Top Hat but this is just as good. Last week I was watching the Fellini film Ginger & Fred and did read that Ginger Rogers sued the production and the distributors for 'misappropriation and infringement of her public personality'. The case was dismissed.

  3. Clay_E

    Oh please tell me this is a joke and you know who Jerome Kern was.

    Mr. Harris certainly knows the work of Jerome Kern, but he implies that not many recognize the name in 2019, even if they should.

  4. Robert Harris

    Back in 1933, after appearing in Dancing Lady for M-G-M, Fred Astaire, who received 6th billing, just beneath Winnie Lightner, made a move to RKO, and so began a series of classic musicals that fans have been waiting to appear on Blu-ray.

    Well, Winnie Lightner was a big star back then.

  5. haineshisway

    Oh, dear. The fact that you would NEED to be told this is a joke is the problem.

    Joke?

    I loved his scores for the Flynn films. I believe he used two variants of the name, lengthening it for adventure yarns, but his Hart was in the musical genre.

  6. Robert Harris

    The score is by someone named Kern.

    I don't know if this story is true, but I heard that the someone named Kern was originally hired as a gopher, but early on in the production Mr. Astaire heard him humming a tune.

  7. Robert Harris

    Joke?

    I loved his scores for the Flynn films. I believe he used two variants of the name, lengthening it for adventure yarns, but his Hart was in the musical genre.

    Mr. Harris, I don't know where you get your information from, but I believe a Stein is larger than a Kern.

  8. haineshisway

    Oh, dear. The fact that you would NEED to be told this is a joke is the problem.

    I am hoping that Top Hat gets the Criterion treatment because:

    1. It's wonderful; and,
    2. The AFWA review will have the opportunity to say the music is by some guys named Irving and Max. :laugh:
  9. Clay_E

    Oh please tell me this is a joke and you know who Jerome Kern was.

    Well, I'd heard that a lot of Americans don't understand irony. So, can I presume that… <_<

  10. This has become very frivolous. But that's entirely appropriate of course. It's a wonderful movie, my personal favourite in the series. Now I'm hoping for Follow the Fleet, Gay Divorcee and Top Hat at the very least, also featuring some composers no-one's heard of.

  11. Nope, got mine. The image quality is interesting, we are far from O-Neg ville here. I don't know if you've seen it but there's an itunes 720p HD Gay Divorcee around the place which looks terrificand very nice white and black levels. I remember years ago Feltenstein said the Astaire Rogers RKOs were "a mixed bag". One thing that's finally corrected on Swing Time is that hideous audio compression and manipulation that used to whomp with rapit transients (high to low levels.)

  12. AnthonyClarke

    My Swing Time disc is shown in Amazon's queue as still just ordered but not shipped.
    Not good enough for a pre-purchase dated April 9,.
    Is anyone else experiencing shipment problems?

    I ordered through Target.com and received mine today …

  13. TJPC

    Ok, now that that has been beaten to death, how is the disc?

    As RAH notes, it's not a show-stopper due to the condition of the elements, but it's more than watchable.

    Certainly an upgrade over the ugly DVD!

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