DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Brigadoon

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Mar 28, 2005.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Brigadoon






    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1954
    Rated: G
    Film Length: 108 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Single disc/Keepcase





    The Feature:
    Warner Brothers recently released a compilation of musicals entitled, “The Classic Musicals Collection - Broadway To Hollywood” which contains a number of musical classics including: Easter Parade (1948) and The Band Wagon (1953) - both as Two Disc Special Editions, as well as single disc versions of Bells Are Ringing (1960), Finian's Rainbow (1968) and the feature film, the musical fantasy, Brigadoon (1954). The boxed set lists for $59.92, while the Special Editions and single disc versions are $26.99 and $19.97 respectively.

    In the middle of the Scottish Highlands two weary hunters lose their way. Tommy (played by Gene Kelly) and his cynical and wisecracking friend Jeff (played by Van Johnson) are on a sabbatical from the hustle and bustle of big city life, however, country folk, they're not. The men soon become lost in the misty fog of the Highlands and they eventually stumble upon the small town of Brigadoon. Very quickly, they realize that things are somehow different in this place, from the attire and attitude of the locals to the way they're received by them. This is not your average small town but is an extraordinary 18th century town that appears for only one day, once every hundred years.

    The pair of outsiders are shunned by the townspeople but are soon befriended by a local who invites them to join the town's celebration of his upcoming wedding. Jeff’s keen on mocking the town and its occupants, while Tommy falls for the breathtaking Fiona (played by Cyd Charisse), even though he is engaged to Jane back in New York City. However, the only way he can have her is to give up everything he knows. Can Tommy give up everything for one woman?

    [​IMG]


    Brigadoon was adapted from Lerner and Loewe’s hit Broadway musical, which received far less acclaim than the stage show. The film was yet another collaboration of the MGM musical geniuses, Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli who were responsible for several of the studios finest musicals. Regardless of your feelings for the film, it easily gets overshadowed among the many highly successful Minnelli musicals like An American in Paris or Gigi. The dance numbers were choreographed by Gene Kelly and featured Charisse and Kelly.

    While the actual reason seems to be disputed, apparently, producer Arthur Freed didn’t think Scotland looked quite Scottish enough, so the film was shot entirely on sets at the MGM studios. Another spin on the story states that studio head Louis B. Mayer would not approve the extra expenditures (which is probably more accurate). Although the film may not have met the expectations of many glorious MGM musical movie fans, it does have an endearing charm thanks to the remarkable skill of the talent that joined forces to make it. The setting provides a pleasant daydream-like atmosphere, and while the story is pure fantasy, it also has some thoughtful aspects to it. It's the stuff with which folklore and films are filled, manifested in places like Valhalla, Shangri-la and Xanadu.

    It would appear that there were two sources of unanimous contention. The first would be the casting of Van Johnson who many felt was out of place in the film. The second, was the decision prohibiting the shoot to go on location in Scotland. The end result is a not-so-real looking painted backdrop which many feel was at least partly responsible for the film’s lack of success.

    The Feature: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    The film is presented in its original CinemaScope aspect ratio of 2.55:1 which is widescreen enhanced, unlike the previous version which was presented in 2.35:1.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the previous version for comparison however, given WB's recent track record with new and upgraded transfers/remasters, one would assume (based on the proper OAR alone) that the upgrade is a worthwhile investment. In this case, the overall look of the film is very nice indeed.

    Black levels were nice and deep and whites were crisp in comparison. Colors were also quite nice and lush. The levels of hue and saturation appeared to be appropriate. Skin tones always appeared to be accurate looking and the level of contrast and shadow detail appeared to be fine.

    Image detail looked nice and sufficiently sharp and the film sported a small amount of fine film grain, which in turn, provided a pleasing looking film-like image.

    The image was mostly solid. Shimmer or jitter appeared only infrequently, however a fair amount of color shifting is present towards the end of the film. There was evidence of dirt and dust but overall, this was never a major distraction.

    Video: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    The soundtrack is a DD 5.1 and according to the box, is a brand new remaster. For the most part, this is a very nice track that should allow very little room for complaints.

    As has been typical with many of the classic WB releases, the track is whisper clean with virtually no noise or other distracting imperfections. Not only is the track clean, but the overall tonality still sounds natural.

    The dialogue was always crystal clear and bold. In terms of the soundfield, the 5.1 track merely adds a sense of atmospheric envelopment, but is mainly anchored up front. The music throughout the course of the film sounds surprisingly good - and wide. In terms of surround information, there were a few effects here and there, but for the most part, the track is kept on the (thankfully) subtle side of things. The track is nicely done minus any gimmickry.

    Audio: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    Not a lot of special features to be found here. First up are a series of:
    [*]Outtakes - four to be exact, one of which is an audio outtake. They are:
    - "Come To Me, Bend To Me"
    - "From This Day On"
    - "Sword Dance"
    - "There But For You Go I" (audio outtake)

    These can be accessed individually or selected using a Play-All feature. Total duration: 11:10 minutes while the audio outtake clip runs 4:14 minutes.
    [*]The only other special feature here is the Theatrical Trailer which is in pretty nice shape. Duration: 3:34 minutes.

    Special Features: 2/5
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    One of MGM's highly trumpeted productions of 1954, Brigadoon was riding high on the box-office and critical success of films like An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon, but failed to leave the same kind of mark like many of its predecessors. It may lack the impact that many of the Freed/Minnelli musicals possess but it has a certain quality all its own that makes it enjoyable and fun and entertaining to watch. Either way, Brigadoon is a fantasy film and it must be kept in that context. It’s a film that has a certain universal appeal and at the end of the day, watching Kelly and Charisse dance, no matter what the setting or venue, is a captivating and worthwhile experience.

    I'm afraid I can't help with comparisons to the previous disc, but considering the new release sports a new and accurate transfer which represents the proper ratio aspect ratio, this should be enough to entice fans to at least consider an upgrade – the presentation is very solid. While the special features are on the thin side, those that have been included are of interest. I suspect fans of the gone but not forgotten MGM musicals will want to take advantage of the boxed set pricing.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Release Date: March 15th, 2005
     
  2. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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    Fine review Herb. Is the dialog directional?

    Thanks,
     
  3. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    I am a big Brigadoon fan (of the show) and I like the film, even though it has a lot of problems.
    This is by far the best version of Brigadoon we have ever had. the picture is so colorful and sharp, it points out even more the bad artificiality of the whole thing.
    It seems obvious that Minelli just didn't care about this one. One thing I notice in both this film and bells Are Ringing - the lighting is often quite bad and done with no thought. Everything is lit extrmely bright for no reason.
    brigadoon - example - the scene where Cyd Charisse takes Kelly to the Domini so he can explain the secret of Brigadoon. We go to the house where the domini loves. This is supposed to be outside and the painted backdrop shows far off hills with strong sunlight on the oeft of the hills and deep shadows on the right - i.e. - Brigadoon is in late afternoon and its day is coming to an end.
    Nothing wrong with that but we don't have the same thing happening with the actors - they are all lined up across the scope screen with bright light on them. Where is the sun supposed to be and why is the lighting on them not the same as it is on the painted backdrop?
    In the next scene - the wedding scene (at night) there are torches burning all through the set. ONe wonders why they are needed as the rest of the set is so bright, with no discernible light source falling on anyone from anywhere. Too bad - the lighting could have been so atmospheric here, but it isn't.
    It also upsets me when the laserdisc has extras that the dvd doesn't.
    One of the outtakes - Come to Me, Bend to Me is stereo on the laser, but is from a mono scratch track on the dvd.
    The laser also had THREE HOURS of raw recording sessions !! Not so here. I find this sad.
    Still - the picture and sound have been restored here. I wish Warner/Turner would do a comparison like Fox does on its studio discs and tell us what was done to the trasnfer and what was used for the restoration.
     
  4. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    Poor Brigadoon.
    Hardly a person posted in this thread, which may mean that they arent crazy about this movie...and i never have been either.

    I agree with all that JoeCaps said...the stage version of the show is wonderful, and the score is too,but i find this film very so-so....almost a "contractual obligation" on the part of Minnelli.

    I watched the extras and enjoyed them almost *more* than anything contained in the film itself....thats a sad story to relate, eh?

    This is one of the films that was shot two ways, like
    SEVEN BRIDES, so where is the alternate NON cinemascope version?
    I want to say that i saw it on tv once, as i remember the color being better, and a few different shot setups,
    but perhaps i'm forgetting.
     
  5. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Out of all the MGM musical to be included in a Musical Box Set why would Warner re-master this film? It's not very good and seems to get worse with time. I bought the Box set for the other four films but could have done without this one. Couldn't they have release a film that's not out on DVD instead?
     
  6. Chris Cheese

    Chris Cheese Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, I'll be the one to stick up for it. Brigadoon's OK with me. I'm glad they remastered it, even if it didn't get a two-disc set or many supplements.
     
  7. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Maybe, because the previous DVD's image quality was truly terrible? [​IMG]

    I enjoy the music of Brigadoon, even though the staging leaves something to be desired. In my opinion the remaster was well worth it.

    I also want to see the third CinemaScope AnscoColor musical, The Student Prince, sooner, rather than later. As far as I am concerned, WB shouldn't rest until all the WB and MGM musicals that are currently available on LD have been remastered in HD and released on DVD.

    Ted
     
  8. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Am I the only one who loves this film? I think it's great, and it's fun to watch every couple years.

    Andy
     
  9. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

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    I was surprised that, unlike the DVD release of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the "flat" version shot in 1.85:1 was not also included. Out of the blue, that version was aired last week on TCM - quite a surprise.

    I agree that this film is certainly lacking in the artistic department. While the talent was there, it certainly was not really utilized. Furthermore, the film feels very claustophobic since it was shot in Culver City soundstages rather than on location in Scotland. The pacing also seems to be very tedious.

    These factors probably led to the film's financial flounder.
    Cost: $2,352,625
    Worldwide Rentals: $3,385,000

    In comparison to the superior The Band Wagon:
    Cost: $2,169,120
    Worldwide Rentals: $5,655,505

    And to An American in Paris:
    Cost: $2,723,903
    Worldwide Rentals: $8,005,000
     
  10. Bob_S.

    Bob_S. Supporting Actor

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    Andy, I love this film as well. In fact it's one of my favorite musicals. I was really hoping this was going to get a 2-disc release. Oh well, at least it has a newer transfer.

    Ryan, funny I just watched both Band Wagon and An American in Paris and neither one did much for me. The songs in An American in Paris were pretty forgetful, it's probably my least favorite Gene Kelly film.
     
  11. Vincent Matis

    Vincent Matis Second Unit

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    Is it just my DVD Player, or are there some god-awful compression artifacts at around 3:30 (top right of the picture).

    There are also many (many many) dialogues not translated into French subtitles... Sometimes 4-5 consecutive lines of dialogue are not translated... [​IMG]
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    The "flat" version of Brigadoon was just broadcast on TCM last week. It exists.

    I think some people have been too harsh on Vincente Minnelli. This was not a contractual obligation -- he was genuinely interested and excited to do the material. He wanted to go to Scotland and do it right.

    And then MGM cut the budget and laid off everybody. The picture ended up being done inside a sound stage on a far smaller budget.

    And then he was told it would be in this new process, Cinemascope. Nobody knew how this was going to work, particularly for photographing dance.

    And then he was told it would be done two ways, Cinemascope and flat.

    I think Minnelli wanted it to be good, and was thwarted at every turn.
     
  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Could the lighting issue be partially attributed to the film being an early Cinemascope production? Perhaps they were worried about the extra light requirments of the anamorphic lenses and they overcompensated to be on the safe side. I believe it was both Vincent Minelli and Joseph Ruttenberg's first film shot in Cinemascope. They certainly had total control of the lighting since they did not go on location.

    Regards,
     
  14. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I love this movie and can't wait to get the (finally 16x9) DVD (coming in the mail...)

    [​IMG]
     
  15. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree that it is nice to see this film every couple of years.
     
  16. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I would love to know the true reasons for the sword dance being cut.
    This is a huge highlight of every stage production of this show that i've seen...and the cutting room floor version included on this disc is marvelous.
    It was the reason that the dancer playing Harry Beaton was borrowed from the NYC Ballet (which is referenced in the credits) so why the HECK isnt it in the movie??? Yipes.

    I have always loved the music..Rhino's soundtrack CD of this is fun to hear....but..my favorite CD (which was just released) of this was recorded on Columbia records in 1958 with Shirley Jones, Jack Cassidy and Susan Johnson. Collector's alert: its a great CD, pick it up [​IMG]
     

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