HTF REVIEW: "Ed Sullivan Show presents The Beatles" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 21, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The four complete historic Ed Sullivan
    Shows featuring The Beatles

    Studio: Sofa Entertainment
    Year: 2003
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 240 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: None


    February 7th, 1964. A plane arrives at JFK Airport
    in New York carrying an extremely popular rock
    group from England. Upon arrival, The Beatles are
    bombarded by thousands of swooning teenage girls
    and their entrance in the U.S. was said to be
    "Britain's revenge for the Boston Tea Party".


    Two days later, Sunday February 9, millions of
    Americans waited in front of small black and white
    television sets in anticipation of seeing this new
    phenomenon from Britain. The group was about to
    appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, taped in the CBS
    studios in New York City. The audience for that
    show was estimated to be over 70 million people.

    The show was well rehearsed and went off without a
    hitch. Ed Sullivan made a pact that night with
    his young Beatles-fan based audience that night
    asking them to refrain from screaming between song
    numbers. After all, this was a television show, not
    a rock concert.


    The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for
    three consecutive Sundays during February of 1964,
    including a LIVE show from Miami Beach at the ballroom
    of the Deauville Hotel. A fourth appearance on
    the Ed Sullivan show came in September 1965 while
    the group was preparing for their famous concert at
    Shea Stadium.

    Finally, fans have the opportunity to own all 4 of
    these historic Ed Sullivan Show appearances on the
    greatest video format ever to exist.

    The Four Complete Historic Ed Sullivan Shows
    Featuring The Beatles
    is a brand-new 2-disc
    set that features all four complete Ed
    Sullivan Show broadcasts that feature the Fab Four.
    In addition to featuring The Beatles, there are
    performances from other artists including: The
    Original Cast from “Oliver!”, Cab Calloway, Cilla
    Black, Frank Gorshin, Soupy Sales, Gordon & Sheila
    MacRae and many more.


    The DVDs arrive in a sturdy 3-pane 3-pane gatefold
    cardboard enclosure with 2 DVDs sitting in plastic
    hub housing above photos of screaming audience fans.
    Complete chapter lists appear on the inside and
    outside gatefold flaps -- but be aware that there
    are some problems with the chapter listings. More
    on that next...


    There are a total of 2 one-hour shows placed on
    each DVD. Menus give you access to individual
    chapter stops that are conveniently placed so you
    can quickly access a favorite performance on any
    given show. Commercials generally are located at
    the end of a particular chapter.

    Be aware there is a goof up on the list of chapters
    for the February 16, 1964 show. The numbers
    you see listed on the box's chapter list do not
    correctly correspond to the chapter numbers on the
    DVD. Everything is off by one number. This is
    obviously a goof that was not noticed before the
    disc and/or packaging went into production.


    All the shows are presented in their entirety,
    complete with the original commercials that played
    that evening from sponsors like Pillsbury,
    Aeroshave, Anacin, Griffin shoe polish, Lipton Tea

    and that god-awful Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza
    out of the box my Mom used to make me as a kid.

    I must say, I really enjoyed this 2-disc DVD set,
    and not just for the fact that I love The Beatles
    so much. This set has quite a bit of historical
    value for the fact that The Ed Sullivan Show
    is an undisputed American institution. It became
    the definitive and longest running variety series
    in television history (1948-71), and these two
    discs showcase some of the diverse talent that
    was never equaled by other variety and talk show.
    Watching these shows brings back fond memories
    of my childhood and Sunday night TV.

    How is the transfer?

    These shows look no better or worse than what I
    had expected. I am guessing these shows have
    been transferred directly from the original tapes
    as quality is a little uneven based on the source
    material. Picture is occasionaly marred by
    dropouts, tape creases and picture jitter that
    mostly occur at the beginning of each show. Images
    are generally not very sharp, and contrast levels
    are often too high. Much of the February 16,
    show broadcast from Miami suffers from
    black corner borders that make the picture look like
    an old scrapbook photo. Still, considering the fact
    the show was recorded on tape some 40 years ago,
    the image quality has held up very well and probably
    looks very close to what viewers actually saw on
    their tiny little B&W sets back in the day.


    The audio presentation on these DVDs make for
    interesting discussion. Though the shows have been
    remixed for 5.1 Home Theater presentation, the
    results are not what you would expect. The center
    channel becomes a "catch-all" to the entire audio
    presentation. While dialogue is placed in the
    center channel where it belongs, so is everything
    else. In fact, the center channel becomes more
    prominent than the front left and right channels.
    The rears do provide the sounds of a screaming
    audience, but the levels are so low that you never
    quite feel like you are in the middle of the action.
    It would almost seem silly that anyone could take
    those original mono recordings and turn them into
    anything that remotely sounds like high-fidelity
    5.1 sound.

    Fortunately, the original mono mix is included,
    and I highly suggest listening to it over anything
    else. It seems that some restoration was done to
    this mono presentation as audio sounds very clean,
    slightly shrill, but with no detectable hiss. None
    of the sound has been enhanced so don't expect any
    high-fidelity audio from any of The Beatles

    Final Thoughts


    This is a DVD that every Beatles fan should have
    in their collection. Problem is, you won't be able
    to walk into the stores and buy it. It is available
    through mail-order only at

    The pricetag is $40 for the 2-DVD set, but by the
    time you tack on shipping and handling expect to
    pay about $50.

    Release Date: Now

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Danny_N

    Danny_N Second Unit

    Jan 2, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Nice review [​IMG] This is indeed a must-have for Beatles fans. I've had it for two weeks now and almost every day I've played a few Beatles clips (can't bring myself to watch the full shows). I especially like the 65 show with a sarcastic John in top form. 2003 is turning into a super Beatles year [​IMG]. This DVD set; the Anthology in April; Let It Be later in the year and to top it of, I just got tickets for Paul McCartney's show in Holland on the 25th of April [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Damn, I'm getting old I remembered those shows when they originally ran on Channel 2 back in the days of my youth.

  4. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
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    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
  5. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

    May 21, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Didn't the Beatles also play "Hey, Jude'' on the Sullivan show sometime around 1968? I have a vague recollection of them playing the song, their appearance that of "hippies,'' if my childhood impressions still hold true. Am I dreaming this?
  6. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

    Oct 25, 2000
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    Peoria, AZ
    Real Name:
    Randy Margolis
    Got it ordered...I was 14 during the Feb '64 shows, and was wondering what all the fuss was about. Here in middle America, we were a little behind the times...

    Looking forward to these. Thanks for the review.

  7. Marvin

    Marvin Screenwriter

    Apr 9, 1999
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    Real Name:
  8. jeff peterson

    jeff peterson Supporting Actor

    Nov 29, 1998
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    I'm positive I saw them do "Don't Let Me Down" on the Sullivan show. I remember because we were at friend's of my parents that Sunday night and they had a COLOR TV so I got to see the Beats in glorious living COLOR.
  9. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    I'd love to see more stuff like this shown as they were originally broadcast, with the commercials left in. While TV today is a disgrace with the onscreen logos and never-ending commercial breaks, the older stuff is a lot of fun to look at now. I have the Beatles First US Visit laserdisc which has most of the performances from these shows but I'll be ordering this set too. One thing I've always liked about material shot on video is that it doesn't look as "old" as film does.
    Also highly recommended for classic TV is the final Howdy Doody show from Image Entertainment. It presents the final show from 1960 on COLOR videotape just about exactly as it was first broadcast. The quality is good enough to pass for a live broadcast, without the added on-screen crap of course. Another fun one is Nancy Sinatra's "Movin With Nancy" special which includes RC Cola commercials made for the show.
  10. Darren D

    Darren D Stunt Coordinator

    May 23, 2001
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    Didn't the Beatles also play "Hey, Jude'' on the Sullivan show sometime around 1968? I have a vague recollection of them playing the song, their appearance that of "hippies,'' if my childhood impressions still hold true. Am I dreaming this?

    I think this was broadcast on the Smothers Brothers show, which used to follow Ed Sullivan.


    It was the David Frost show...1968. I found this clip not long ago, and I got goosebumps watching it when all the young audience members went reverently up on the stage with them, singing along with them...great live performance. Lennon was on bass for once, while McCartney on the piano.
  11. Jack Smith

    Jack Smith Agent

    Feb 1, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Nice review. Hopefully they'll release the shows with the Motown acts, especially the original Temptations, and also the shows featuring James Brown & The Famous Flames (the backup singers) and that killa' band. Hit me!!!! Now take me to the bridge and drop me off!
  12. Kajs

    Kajs Second Unit

    Jun 22, 2001
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    Sounds great, but I can't afford it.
  13. Greg O' Connel

    Greg O' Connel Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 10, 2000
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  14. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

    Dec 25, 2001
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    Just to clear up any confusion, the Beatles played Sullivan only four times and all shows are included here.

    I would dare to say watching the entire program is a must. It puts everything in perspective historically. The Beatles have been a major part of my life since it's beginning, being too young to experience as it all happened. I've seens these clips on their own countless times at Beatlefests and Beatle-days at the local Landmark Theatre back when they played a different double feature everyday (until VHS hit).

    Sure, the Beatles were headliners on the first show, but the next week they were just another act, with Mitzi Gaynor taking the spotlight (with massive applause at When The Saints Go Marching In). Other acts puts you back in time, such as watching Frank "Riddler" Gorshin doing impressions of movie stars of the day. Indeed, BECAUSE the entire shows are included make this a must buy set. Just having the Beatle performances issued on a DVD wouldn't have been good enough.

    And, for the record, the KOOL ciggie ads were dropped from the DVD so they're not totally complete.

  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    They were not "just another act" on the Miami show; they headlined, and appeared twice. And the third show, which was actually taped on the afternoon of February 9, before the evening's live broadcast, also headlined The Beatles.

    The band's fourth in-studio appearance was in 1965, during the band's second full-blown tour of the U.S.

    Promo films of the band lip-syncing to records were broadcast on the Sullivan show throughout the years.

    And in a 1970 Sullivan broadcast an entire hour was dedicated to The Beatles, celebrating the band's progress as musicians and songwriters. During that presentation, clips from Let It Be were shown.

    True, the "Hey Jude" performance was for The David Frost Show, and it was shown in the U.S. on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, along with a live, in-studio tape rebroadcast of the band performing "Revolution."

    Clips from Let It Be were also broadcast on the old Glenn Campbell Show on ABC (the band was playing "Get Back").

    Beatle clips were broadcast on several variety shows in the U.S. The "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" proto-videos were shown on the old ABC Saturday-evening variety hour, Hollywood Palace, for example. Even American Bandstand showed promo clips of the band lip-syncing to records.

    And I saw each of the Ed Sullivan broadcasts when they were first broadcast. (I saw the band live in 1966, btw.)
  16. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Wow. I am too young to have seen The Beatles perform on Sullivan. Now is my chance! The Beatles are one of the greatest bands ever, and this DVD sounds very interesting. I might have to pick it up sometime.
  17. Michael St. Clair

    May 3, 1999
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    The discs are pricey. Yes, they are single-layered and probably could have fit on one disc with some careful mastering and authoring. Also, when I bought them, it took the discs 11 days to arrive, certainly slower than most of us are accustomed to with mail order. But I have no real customer service complaints.

    All that said, I'd say the discs are pretty essential to any Beatles fan.

    The second show looks to be sourced from kinescope, not videotape. Hence the distortion, reduced detail, darkened corners, and so on.
  18. Enrique B Chamorro

    Enrique B Chamorro Supporting Actor

    Sep 2, 1999
    Likes Received:
    it will be interesting to see how this set compares
    with the clips that will be part of the Anthology
    for sound and picture quality.
  19. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

    Apr 21, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Sounds good. About how many minutes of Beatles footage is in the set? (Please don't say "all"- I'm looking for a number. [​IMG] )
  20. Douglas_H

    Douglas_H Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 29, 2000
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    you are correct sir!
    The Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields videos were also
    shown on American Bandstand.
    This was America's first view of the "new" Beatles
    look and sound.
    Dick interviewed the audience afterward to get their
    I too am getting old but I still remember watching
    The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
    It's been said before but if you weren't alive to
    witness it you can't fully appreciate what it was like.
    They were so good.
    This is a must have.
    Thanks Ron!

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