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I'm still waiting for MGM's Show Boat on Blu-ray. I don't think the people at WB Archive realize what a popular musical this was in 1951. It was the biggest money-maker for the studio that year, and it won the Photoplay Gold Medal Award for Most Popular Movie of 1951. Granted it doesn't have Judy Garland (although she was set to play Julie La Verne before MGM fired her) but it's a terrific Technicolor valentine that deserves its place in the sun.
George Feltenstein recently said on their podcast that they have the nitrate three strip technicolor negatives for Show Boat, and would be working on the restoration somewhere down the line. Who knows when though
 

Harold Chasen

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I'm still waiting for MGM's Show Boat on Blu-ray. I don't think the people at WB Archive realize what a popular musical this was in 1951.

George Feltenstein and the others at Warner Archive are VERY aware that Show Boat (and other oft-requested titles like Around the World In Eighty Days or High Society) were very popular when new and are much desired as Blu-Rays now. Whenever the subject of one of these titles comes up, the answer is always the same - the title in question needs work, so that it looks up to their standards for Blu-Ray releases. For years, that was the answer for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and some thought it was a dodge. But when they were able to find good source material for that title, they did indeed release it on Blu-Ray.

I don't know what the specific hold-up is for Show Boat. For many years, it was promised as part of a set with the 1929 and 1936 versions, to update the laserdisc box set from years ago. Now the 1936 version is on Blu-Ray from Criterion. But again, the problem is not lack of awareness on Warner Archive's part.
 

Astairefan

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Well, quite frankly, a film's popularity is sometimes a strike AGAINST it coming out. The more popular the film, the more likely the film elements are in rough shape. And previous popularity isn't exactly an indication that it is popular enough now. How many films are there that were at one time quite popular, but have now sunk into obscurity? I mean, High Society keeps getting dragged up, sometimes because of its stars, but Bing Crosby has REALLY sunk in popularity in recent years (no doubt for his offscreen issues). According to Kino's Insider, they don't think that Bing Crosby would be a big seller for them, which is why we haven't gotten any of his solo starring films (as opposed to the Road films with Bob Hope) from them through either their deals with Universal (so far) or Paramount. Does that mean that High Society wouldn't sell? Not necessarily. All I'm saying is that previous popularity is not a surefire guarantee that it will be worth it for the studios to upgrade (especially if an expensive restoration is called for). All we can do is support their releases of a similar nature (whether it be actors/actresses, film genres, directors, etc.) with as many full price purchases near release date as we can. If we can do that, some of this stuff will make its way out sooner or later.
 

Will Krupp

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Well, quite frankly, a film's popularity is sometimes a strike AGAINST it coming out. The more popular the film, the more likely the film elements are in rough shape.
One of the unintended benefits of three strip Technicolor negatives is that they were only used to strike new matrices as needed. As a result of this, Technicolor negatives didn't go through the same hell that black and white negatives used to make release prints did.
 
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filmnoirguy

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Well, quite frankly, a film's popularity is sometimes a strike AGAINST it coming out. The more popular the film, the more likely the film elements are in rough shape. And previous popularity isn't exactly an indication that it is popular enough now. How many films are there that were at one time quite popular, but have now sunk into obscurity? I mean, High Society keeps getting dragged up, sometimes because of its stars, but Bing Crosby has REALLY sunk in popularity in recent years (no doubt for his offscreen issues). According to Kino's Insider, they don't think that Bing Crosby would be a big seller for them, which is why we haven't gotten any of his solo starring films (as opposed to the Road films with Bob Hope) from them through either their deals with Universal (so far) or Paramount. Does that mean that High Society wouldn't sell? Not necessarily. All I'm saying is that previous popularity is not a surefire guarantee that it will be worth it for the studios to upgrade (especially if an expensive restoration is called for). All we can do is support their releases of a similar nature (whether it be actors/actresses, film genres, directors, etc.) with as many full price purchases near release date as we can. If we can do that, some of this stuff will make its way out sooner or later.
Very true. The Pirate bombed at the box office in 1948. But apparently because it stars Garland and Kelly, it's considered worthy of a Blu-ray today. Granted Kelly's dances are exhilarating and Cole Porter's "Be a Clown" is a cute routine, but after seeing the movie once, I won't be watching it again.
 

Thomas T

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Very true. The Pirate bombed at the box office in 1948. But apparently because it stars Garland and Kelly, it's considered worthy of a Blu-ray today. Granted Kelly's dances are exhilarating and Cole Porter's "Be a Clown" is a cute routine, but after seeing the movie once, I won't be watching it again.
A film's success or lack of it at the box office has nothing to do with its quality as cinema. There are a myriad of films that tanked at the box office that are considered classics today from It's A Wonderful Life to Touch Of Evil to Blade Runner. The Pirate was a bit ahead of its audience in wit and sophistication to an audience expecting another Harvey Girls. Today, it plays as a stylish and witty satire on pirate fantasies. Similarly, films that were beloved and huge hits in their day doesn't mean they play well to 21st Century audiences. 1940s audiences lapped up Going My Way but today, it plays like sentimental twaddle that only a nostalgist looking through rose colored glasses can stomach.
 

lark144

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"The Pirate" is the high point of creativity in the MGM musical, in terms of art direction, choreography, cinematography and of course, Vincente Minnelli's direction, which is at its most ecstatic and poetic. Also Gene Kelly; not only the way he dances, but the way his moments are orchestrated among the sets and the other performers in a way that opens up a space that seems infinite, that pulls you in. People are moving every which way, as is the camera. It's not about the plot or even the characters, but what happens when those dancers move among all that color, and the camera moves along with them. There's a purity of movement, expression and image which no other film by Minnelli has. Yes, some may have better stories, songs, narratives; the plot and the mise en scene might fit better, but "The Pirate" when it comes to cinema, is sublimity incarnate. When the film came out, both Minnelli & Kelly thought it was their best work; they couldn't understand why it wasn't successful. It really isn't a pirate picture so much as a film about myth and love and creativity and the human soul. I have a feeling this Blu-Ray is going to be beyond sensational. For anyone who cares about the Hollywood musical and especially the Freed Unit, this is a must own.
 
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Ronald Epstein

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Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link. As an Amazon Associate HTF earns from qualifying purchases

 

warnerbro

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One of my favorites. Definitely Garland and Kelly are at their zenith here. And the Nicolas Bros.! They are spectacular as usual. Beautiful music, great dancing, Garland is hilarious and sings "You Can Do No Wrong," one of her best performances. Hopefully this will look better than the DVD which seemed a little muddy.
 
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roxy1927

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I'm so grateful for this I won't mention the two MGM musicals I want even more. Neither of which has been mentioned. However the real disappointment with The Pirate is (though I love the film) the Porter score. Except for Be a Clown it's his worst though the Robert Alton stagings are terrific. Even the mediocre High Society has a better one. How can anyone defend Nina or Mack the Black? And I adore Cole Porter.

Crosby is a terrific light comedian in his Road pictures(Whoever designed Galaxy's Edge saw The Road to Morocco too many times) but his type of singing except at Christmas has aged so badly he's like Jolson. Very few people want to hear him anymore. Of course his complete and total destruction of his first family hasn't helped but people still enjoy Crawford films.
 

Matt Hough

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It's definitely second-tier Cole Porter, and I imagine going by calendar dates that his next project after this was Kiss Me Kate on stage which is absolutely crammed with standards. So, inspiration can be a funny and enigmatic thing.
 

AnthonyClarke

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'Kiss Me Kate' is top-rank Cole Porter of course, and, I believe, so is 'High Society'.
I'm not a Bing Crosby fan (much preferred the sublime Al Bowlly) but I don't mind him at all in High Society. And his "Little One' is very special. And anything featuring Grace Kelly just has to be on Blu ray!
 

Will Krupp

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How can anyone defend Nina or Mack the Black?
Well I'll do it!! Even second tier Cole Porter is better than most top tier anyone else. I think "Nina" is the most musically interesting piece in the whole movie, not least of which because who else but Cole Porter is going to rhyme "Nina" with "Neurasthenia?" (much like "Bianca" and "Sanka" from the Broadway score of KMK) As for "Mack the Black" it's silly but harmless. Just be thankful they cut the original version, "arranged" within an inch of its life by Kay Thompson (it's like a manic nightmare)

'And his "Little One' is very special.
DOOOO tell!! :oops:

TzCK.gif
 
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moviepas

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I believe it is meant to be The Small One that Bing recorded for Decca. I played a Wise Man in grade school(Grade 5) at Christmas 1955. I still live a mile or so from that school and recently met a nun who was best Pals with my teacher in that class.

Showboat is just about my most favorite stage musical as is much that appeared in the 1927-30 period, the period of my late parents birth. Thus With a Song in My Heart is one of my most loved songs.

I have the Laserbox set and the Showboat(1951) discs have a lot of audio on the extra track from tests etc. A Gene Kelly set also had lots of audio that does not seem to have happened anywhere else since.

George F promised an 80 Anniversary set on DVD but.....

According to the Laserdisc set, the original Technicolor material of Reel One of Showboat was destroyed in a fire at George Eastman House along with a number of other MGM nitrates negs stores there. They stated that they had to resort to an acetate source for that reel with the rest being from the nitrate reels.

Universal used many non-Showboat musical items on the 1929 original version. The material had sound on disc and over the years many discs were misplaced or lost, maybe when MGM bought the rights got the 1951 version. Since the Laserdisc box set, more discs have been found but possibly not all.

I discovered that an Emily Fitzroy toured Australia early last century(she plays Parthenia Ann Hawks in this version). I have not been able to ascertain if they were one and the same.

I have a 3-CD set from UK that has as much music from the various film and stage versions as possible recorded by conductor John McGlinn(he died in 2009 at 55) at EMI Abbey Road/London. This is 221mins long. It is missing some instrumental ballet music and the song, I Want To Spoon With You. I believe this song was originally added to the London Cast original stage show.
 

TJPC

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The McGlinn set is the one to get. I first bought it on LP, and it was one of my first CD double dips. I must have 10 other Show Boat cds (Barbara Cook, Cleo Lane, the last Broadway version, 1951 Soundtrack, etc.), but his is the version I return to over and over. Be aware however that in a desire to be authentic, McGlinn has his chorus sing "N words All Work on The Mississippi" as the original 1927 lyrics state. This apparently caused an entire chorus of black performers to leave the recording studio and be replaced by a white one.
 

david hare

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Will, I might have to hand in my gay card if I reveal this but the Porter score had for aa long time been the obstacle to my unqualified admiration for Pirate. I tried an experiement last year and played back the DVD but turned off the screen and just listened to the soundtrack. I was won over again. What I used to think was a somewhat tired score came back to life. I’m afraid the woefully ugly image quality of the old disc has been putting me Off.
 

JoelA

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Well I'll do it!! Even second tier Cole Porter is better than most top tier anyone else. I think "Nina" is the most musically interesting piece in the whole movie, not least of which because who else but Cole Porter is going to rhyme "Nina" with "Neurasthenia?" (much like "Bianca" and "Sanka" from the Broadway score of KMK) As for "Mack the Black" it's silly but harmless. Just be thankful they cut the original version, "arranged" within an inch of its life by Kay Thompson (it's like a manic nightmare)



DOOOO tell!! :oops:

View attachment 80946
First, I'm thrilled The Pirate is being released on Blu-ray in what is sure to be a beautiful presentation based upon WAC's 3-strip Technicolor releases earlier this year.

Secondly, I'm in agreement with Will about the score. Not Porter's best, but still enjoyable and that original Kay Thompson arrangement of Mack the Black is way over the top. "Mack the Black will whack ya..." LOL!

I've read that the original cut of the film was quite different as well. I mentioned this to Gene Kelly's widow Patricia Ward Kelly on her FB fan site and she said she planned to cover that in her forthcoming biography of Gene.
 

roxy1927

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If you notice the biggest flops of the Feed unit were those with the worst scores. There is nothing inherently more sophisticated in the film of The Pirate than in many other MGM musicals of the period. It is visually a feast, it comes from a successful play, Kelly and Garland are at their best and it's got a wonderful bunch of favorites in the supporting cast. Yolanda and the Thief is another one along with It's Always Fair Weather. these are not first rate scores. Though I like the music in Fair Weather a lot Previn never wrote hit tunes.
You might as well say Gigi and My Fair Lady were too sophisticated for popular acceptance. There is though a problem there. The scores are better than ok.
 

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