Old musicals: Busby Berkley, Fred Astaire, etc.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve_AA, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. Steve_AA

    Steve_AA Agent

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    I did a search on Amazon for old musicals from the 30's & 40's and only came up with "42nd Street".

    I'm looking for the Busby Berkley extravaganza musicals, Fred Astaire musicals, "Broadway Melody of..." musicals, etc. I have several of these on VHS and am looking to replace them with DVD versions. So far, it doesn't look like many are out there.

    Any rumors of these old films getting the DVD treatment?
     
  2. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    MGM and RKO titles we may have to wait a long time for because they're now controlled by Warner Video and they've been stingy with classic titles.
     
  3. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    It wasn't till you mentioned this that I realised, that amazingly, there are no Fred Astaire DVDs. (You can't count those horrible looking Public Domain copies of "Royal Wedding")

    As Eric has said, Warner's hold the rights and it will be a long time before they start to appear.( unless they change their attitude)

    If you really want excellent quality versions of nearly all Astaire and Berkley titles, I suggest you buy a second hand laserdisc player and scan E-Bay and elsewhere for titles.

    I own Hundreds of Musicals on Laserdisc and treasure them dearly, as most of them will never ever see the light of day on DVD.

    The "Dawn of Sound" LD Box Sets, can never be replaced.
     
  4. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Which is another reason that I'm still active in laser disc. Now, if I could only find that Fred Astaire box set I would be one happy camper.

    The only film on dvd that I can think of offhand featuring Fred Astaire is On the Beach, which is very far from being a musical.
     
  5. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    Another classic 30s musical that can only be found in LD for the best version is "Show Boat" (1936). The Criterion CAV edition of this is magnificent and I can't imagine Warners ever topping it even if they did come up with a release of their own. That would rank at the top of the list for me in terms of Criterion LD titles that I wish would end up back in Criterion's hands for a DVD duplication.
     
  6. Mitchell Kaufman

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    The lack of Astaire films on DVD is a disgrace. And don't even get me started on Judy Garland.

    Incidentally, for anyone who still hasn't gotten the 42nd Street disc, it's one of the most beautiful black & white transfers I've ever seen (to my eyes better even than Citizen Kane, Now, Voyager, or any of the Criterions I've seen).

    An absolute must.

    MK
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It's a disgrace of the pre-Turner days ownership of this excellent library.

    Before Turner bought the MGM/RKO/UATV library, MGM didn't put much into restoring their films.

    WB has stated that many of the RKO films need a good bit of restoration (I'd gladly wait rather than see an awful disc come out this month.) and I know the 1930's films HAVE to get some kind of restoration treatment just because of age.

    I noticed a trend in their 1930's releases...they've all been restored. Little Women, Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, 42nd Street, etc all have the restored look to them.

    If only the other studios realized they need to do a lot of cleanup work on their 1930's films... (Do I need to go into Columbia's Three Stooges DVD's? There's no excuse for a horrible looking DVD now. The technology is there to make images perfect, so why not use it?)
     
  8. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

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    Guess I will be playing "42nd Street" for a while...

    What is Everyone's general feeling about the Musicals that ARE on DVD...like the Rogers & Hammerstein Collection, the old MGM titles on Warner Bros., etc. ?
     
  9. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Mitchell,

    The good news is that Warner's are about to release a Restored special Edition DVD of Judy Garland's " The Harvey Girls".

    Given the great quality of Warner's Classic DVDs, it is sure to be a winner.

    Sadly Astaire's "The Bandwagon" is in need of a restoration, so it might be a while before we see that again.

    Warner's have also stated that all the RKO musical titles are in need of a lot of work before they can be considered for DVD release in the USA.

    A few of the Astaire/Rogers RKO titles have been released on DVD in France.

    They can be purchased from French on line stores, but you will need a multi zone Pal/Secam player and TV.

    Mike,

    The poor quality Fox's Rodgers and Hammerstein DVD Titles are in urgent need of Anamorphic reissues in Region 1.

    We are lucky here in Australia, that at least "The King and I" is Anamorphic.

    There is a rumour here that the the remaining titles, that are not yet available here, will be released soon with Anamorphic Transfers.

    I try to avoid Region's 2 and 4, Musical titles, as I can't stand the horrible unnatural PAL speedup which alters the sound speed and pitch of the soundtrack.

    I think that a region 1 release of "Hello Dolly" is not far off, as region 4 has just announced it for April and normally Region 1 releases come out a little earlier.
     
  10. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

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    Doug,

    "Funny Girl" too, is a great DVD release. Do you have it, and what are your thought ?
     
  11. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Agreed, it's really time these immortal classics were restored and made available on DVD. Restoration and then new highdef masters for DVD and future HD formats is what is needed here...
     
  12. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Mike,

    Yes, I certainly do have it.( Like a lot of other classic movie musical Lovers, I think I have a copy of every Classic and obscure musical feature and short subject ever released on Laser and DVD)

    Columbia have done a very good job with the DVD of "Funny Girl".

    I know that several regular contributors of this forum would be very thankful that it contains the original Overture. Intermission and Exit music.

    I'm mystified that Columbia did not run a title card during these orchestral interludes, as I'm sure J6P would have no idea of what was going on.

    As a film, I enjoy the first half, much more than the second. I think the movie drags after intermission.

    But the picture and sound quality is very good and much better than the previous Laserdisc release.

    The quality of the new DVD of the sequel "Funny Lady" is supposed to look nice, but is apparently not up to the standard of "Funny Girl"

    The "Funny lady" Laser disc is only average quality, so the Anamorphic DVD should be a big step up in quality.

    Universal have announced the coming DVD releases of several entertaining older Paramount musicals, each featuring Bob Hope.

    "Big Broadcast of 1938" with W C Fields and Martha Raye

    and featuring Hope's signature "Thanks for the memory"

    "College Swing " with Burns and Allen and Betty Grable

    "Star Spangled Rhythm" with an all star cast, including Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Robert Preston and Betty Hutton.

    Also in the same batch are most of the Hope/Crosby Road flicks.( Which all contain several musical numbers)

    It's great to see Universal finally open up the Paramount vaults, let's hope these titles sell well and encourage all Studios to follow suit.
     
  13. Barrie Maxwell

    Barrie Maxwell Stunt Coordinator

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    "Holiday Inn", which features both Bing Crosby and Fred, is available from Universal as part of a double bill DVD that includes "Going My Way". The transfer is quite good.

    Barrie
     
  14. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

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    Thanks for the heads-up !

    Two great all time great musical stories...I love that firecracker routine by Fred in "Holiday Inn"...along with lots of other great songs, especially "White Christmas" !
     
  15. Richard Carnahan

    Richard Carnahan Stunt Coordinator

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    IIRC Warner Bros. is working on a photo chemical restoration of TOP HAT and SWING TIME to be followed by a CITIZEN KANE-style video restoration of these two Fred Astaire classics.

    So *hopefully* we'll see a DVD release before the year is out.
     
  16. Mitchell Kaufman

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    Richard, to say you've made my day is an understatement.[​IMG]



    Incidentally, did you know there's a Fred Astaire mailing list on Yahoo? I had to cancel incoming mail after the first couple of days because there were so many messages!



    The Harvey Girls news is exciting, too. I have a nice LD transfer of this on the Judy Garland MGM Years box set, which has one of my favorite all-time extras: trailers for all the Judy Garland movies (with the exception of A Star is Born, which was Warners, not MGM--now that Warners owns it all, they could include that if they were inclined to port this over to DVD. [I wouldn't hold my breath.] IIRC, it's also missing Pigskin Parade, which was Fox).



    Waiting impatiently for Meet Me in St. Louis,



    MK
     
  17. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Warners was reported to be restoring the RKO Fred Astaire films, once done they should be released. I don't know about "The Bandwagon" Warners also has "Finian's Rainbow" which I'm surprised hasn't been released since it was released twice on laserdisc.

    Musicals seem to hold up better on the small screen, for me at least, and "West Side Story" is still the best looking DVD of a musical released so far.

    "Victor/Victoria" and "1776" are on the way. "Hello Dolly" should be coming too, along with "All That Jazz".

    "A Chorus Line" has just been released in region 2 or 4 with German subtitles, though I've read the transfer could have been better.

    And believe it or not (one has to wonder why) a widescreen version of "Song of Norway" may be released this year.
     
  18. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    Don't get me started on the lack of vintage musicals on DVD! If it wasn't for TCM lately I'd go nuts. Yes, there's a trickle of Astaire/Rogers titles in the works from WB, but given the enormous catalog of classics and lesser known but still worthwhile stuff, it's an absolute shame. MGM/Turner had a glorious heyday ten years ago with lasers, showcasing little seen legends like Eleanor Powell etc., along with the Garland/Rooney musicals. The DAWN OF SOUND LD and SWING LD sets were godsends; alot of the same material is being shown on TCM this month.
    Oh, and by the way, WB, why not take a look at the underrated PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981)with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters? Cut us a little slack!
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

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    Regarding Fred Astaire: Funny Face is on DVD.
    (One could wish for a better image, but it is not
    "horrible.") Too bad the movie itself, while being
    fun, doesn't hold a candle to the other Astaire films.
    There are some cute numbers, but I really want
    ALL the black and white Astaire films,
    especially the ones where he is teamed with
    Edward Everett Horton.
    And, I agree about the earlier version of
    Show Boat, which James Whale of
    Frankenstien fame directed.
    Turner Classic Movies aired it a while ago,
    and I was fortunate enough to record it.
    Really a brilliant film! I can see why
    Whale was the most proud of it of anything
    he'd made (even over The Bride of Frankenstien).
    Mark
     
  20. Brendon

    Brendon Second Unit

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    Steve_AA,

    I realise this isn't the answer to your question, but in all seriousness it is worth investing in a LD player for many of Fred Astaire's films.

    The four that I've ponyed up for on Ebay have been more than worth my while! (Daddy Longlegs, Silk Stockings, The Bandwagon and Easter Parade).

    truth be told, the "extra" on the Easter Parade disc, Judy Garland's rendition of Mr. Monotony, is worth the price of picking up the disc alone IMHO!

    Cheers,

    Bren
     

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