A Musical Revue at The Digital Bits -- Dancers and Crooners on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Burns, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not sure if Ron or Bill Hunt might like to start their own thread for this (feel free to close this one if so), but I just happened across Barrie Maxwell's latest column (among many excellent entries) in his continuing Classic Film coverage, and it serves as an excellent overview of the great musicals of the 30's-50's from several major Hollywood studios: WB, MGM, and RKO. A few films from Fox are also mentioned (and reviewed), and note Robert Harris' recent announcement regarding a replacement for Kiss Me Kate here at HTF.

    Barrie's article itself is great and highly recommended, but what caught my eye was his fine list of musicals from this period currently on DVD or known to be on the way (scroll down the article a bit to find it). He mentions not only the major studio releases, but a couple from The Roan Group which I haven't seen but would very much like to check out (including their edition of Dixiana), as their company occasionally brings out golden transfers (The Dick Tracy Collection is the best I've seen from the company on DVD, a truly first rate third party effort, and their good edition of The Stranger / Cause for Alarm also comes to mind) amidst their majority of only average-to-poor offerings, making them (not unlike Artisan) something of a crapshoot, but one that occasionally pays off. Barrie also steers prospective buyers clear of a few public domain releases that will likely strain the eye.

    At any rate, I found the article (as I do many by Mr. Maxwell) engaging and very informative, and highly recommend it. [​IMG] Here's a link:

    Classic Coming Attractions: Musicals (I) and the Usual New Announcements Update
     
  2. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh, as a quick update: I believe the 1947 musical he refers to in the list is Good News, rather than Good Times -- I haven't seen it myself (I've seen the film, which I enjoyed on a decidedly goofy level and for the ever-radiant June Allyson, but I haven't seen the DVD), but I seem to recall positive comments on the Technicolor transfer by Robert Harris quite a while ago (please correct me if this isn't so). Also, I think Gigi's current transfer is anamorphic, but I've heard that the film (at least in certain spots) looks rather shabby and would benefit from restoration (and of course a new high definition, downconverted video master). Trivia note: this is Robert Osborne's favorite musical. My own is Fox's Oklahoma!, also in need of a remastered DVD.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    I read this and while I found it mostly interesting and informative, I have to disagree very strongly with him about Hello, Dolly! He seems to love every musical that ever came out in the 40s and 50s and jump on the mainstream critical bashing of Dolly. Dolly has far better music than many, many of those 'golden age' musicals (though not all), better dancing than lots, and is more enjoyable than most. The bashing of Walter Matthau is pretty ridiculous if you listen to the broadway cast version that includes singing by Charles Nelson Reilly of all people. And the argument that Streisand is too young just doesn't hold water with me (who cares that Channing in the original was older? That's like calling Julie Andrews too tall for the role of Maria in Sound of Music because Mary Martin was shorter). And no, I'm not a Streisand fan (this and What's Up, Doc? are the only two movies of hers I like).

    Other than his misguided review of Hello, Dolly! however, it was a pretty good column. [​IMG]
     
  4. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 1998
    Messages:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    7
    Real Name:
    Glenn
     
  5. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    it seems that every time I read one of Barrie's Articles, my credit card is always nearby for another purchase.

    keep them coming

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2003
    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes another excellent article from Barrie. I'm an old fan of his updates/guides to classic film DVDs back to the days when he posted at DVD Verdict. Keep up the good work ,can't wait for Part Two.

    I thought you were a bit harsh though on the composer biopics : yes the acting and plot were corny but the music was surely better than good or adequate particularly in the Gershwin one Rhapsody in Blue which featured a full scale performance of the title piece and Al Jolson singing Swanee among other delights. No it isn't a classic but an excuse for a 2 and a half hour Gershwin concert surely isn't all bad.

    I have the Eureka DVD of another composer biopic Till the Clouds Roll By about Jerome Kern. Again the plot doesn't bare much scrutiny but the music is great and Judy Garland is a standout as Marilyn Miller. The picture quality is reasonable for a public domain title but obviously if a restored master exists (I believe I read there was a good laserdisc) that would be better. At least my version is a full-length print I've seen a few here in the UK which were obviously edited. If Warner are reading despite this title's public domain status I think a special edition is well worth the effort.

    Generally I think the film musical was at its peak from the early 30s to the early 50s before it became just broadway transfers. I've always thought the films written specifically for the screen made the best film musicals and as Barrie said so many are missing on DVD : a fact I moaned about on the Fox Classics thread. Hopefully 2004 will see the situation remedied to some degree but on past form I wouldn't be surprised to see a few titles "rumoured" for next year get postponed again till 2005.

    I'm another person intrigued by the Roan "Dixiana" DVD just because not much early Talkie material in any genre is available. There was a lot of interesting stuff made in the early years of sound : great that The Jazz Singer is in the works but I'd love to see a lot more particularly from Warner who have the rights to titles like The Broadway Melody (1929). I believe there was a laserdisc set on the early years of sound. Most of the early musicals were bad but its a pity that the film musical now seems to begin with 42nd Street apart from The Jazz Singer at least according to Warners.
     

Share This Page