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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Musical > Children > WWII > Large Frame Format > Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968/MGM Blu-ray) + The Sound Of Music (1965/Fox Blu-ray)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968/MGM Blu-ray) + The Sound Of Music (1965/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B     Extras: B+/B-     Films: B-



Two of the most commercially and critically successful movie musicals in the 1960s, Ian Fleming wrote the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book, while Rogers & Hammerstein created The Sound Of Music.  It is no surprise then that they are two of the first classic musicals to make it to Blu-ray.  We have previously covered the deluxe DVD versions at the following links, which will give you basic information on both films for those unfamiliar to them:


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang



The Sound Of Music




The DVDs were not bad, presented at their proper aspect ratios and the above DVDs are included with the Blu-rays here, though MGM wisely dropped the obnoxious pan & scan flipside of the Chitty DVD.  Both films are now presented in 1080p 2.20 X 1 AVC digital High Definition transfers (Chitty @ 20 MBPS, Sound @ 22 MBPS) and they are the best looking transfers you will ever see outside of a better 35mm or 70mm film print, with only a few reservations.  Chitty was shot in Super Panavision 70, while Sound was Todd AO 70, two great formats with differences in lenses.  Otherwise, they have a great look to them, but both also have some soft edges here and there that show the age of the original sources.


Also, both were originally issued in 35mm three-strip Technicolor reduction prints and I have seen such footage and stills at their best.  The original 70mm versions have amazing depth and detail as you would expect from large frame formats such as these, including their own great color as color has a whole new realism and range in large frame motion picture cinematography.  Color is good on both and better than their DVD counterparts, but not always great or breathtaking.  It seems to lack some range, though color was a problem on the Chitty DVD seeming duller than it should and that has found its way to here in some ways.  Then there are some great shots on each, showing the depth, detail and color at its best.  Sound was more of a location shoot and some of the mountain shots will surprise you, while the famous flying car (it is the title character) from Chitty (when not featured in obvious matte work) looks really brand new al the way.  Oddest of all, the race sequences look not unlike those in John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix (1966, reviewed elsewhere on this site on DVD and the now-defunct HD-DVD format, due soon on Blu-ray) also shot in Super Panavision 70.


But Prix looks better, as did the Fox Blu-ray for the 1958 South Pacific when we looked at that one and it is another Rogers & Hammerstein hit musical film.  It may seem like nit picking as it were, but these transfers fall just a little bit short, but this will only bother some fans.  Everyone else should be impressed and even amazed for the most part and I could not imagine them looking much better than they do here.


In a first for older 6-track magnetic stereo films, both Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 upgrades over their previous DVD and other home video releases, offering all-new sound for these Blu-ray releases.  This is the first time this has been done with films that used the old Todd AO 70mm sound configuration, which places five of the six tracks behind the screen allowing traveling dialogue and traveling sound effects.  In both cases, they are impressive upgrades, recreating the sensation that audiences must have felt seeing the films in big 70mm movie houses, with soundfields that do not sound lacking, choppy or inaccurate.


Being musicals, there were more tracks to work with than there might have been otherwise, but the lossless nature of the DTS-MA format shows more obviously how the dialogue was often looped (recorded over again in post production) and how the music (as was the case in musicals into the 1980s) has better recording and playback quality than the dialogue, with sound effects left somewhere in between.  Purists might reject these options (Chitty has Dolby Digital 4.0 option on both format versions, along with a 5.1 Dolby mix the new DTS narrowly outdoes), but I have to admit that the differences in quality have a smoothness in between them I was not expecting any more than that the 7.1 would actually work.  The result is that both films sound better than anyone making them at the time could have ever imagined and fans will be stunned.  Audiophiles who might have wanted 200 gram vinyl or Super Audio CDs of the soundtracks will be shocked at how rich the sound is here.


I guess we should expect this from more 6-track stereo 70mm films from the period to the Dolby era since this worked so well, but it might not be for every film.  I still recommend all the studios try it out for their upcoming Blu-rays of such material.



That leaves the extras that include the same as their DVD counterparts, but Chitty has new interactive games on its Blu-ray and Sound has new Blu-ray features including BD Live interactive features with a new addition (Laura Benanti on The Sound of Music), plus an all-new Your Favorite Things interactive way to get into the film, Musical Stages: Creating The Sound Of Music featurette (in multiple parts), A City Of Song virtual map of Salzburg, Austria and the filming locations and Rare Treasures in multiple parts.  It is a nice upgrade all the Rogers & Hammerstein films should get on Blu-ray.


The deluxe, collectible Sound Of Music Blu-ray gift set includes a CD soundtrack, program reproduction, Salzburg cards, music box (!!!) and new book co-written by Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall.  Like the Warner Blu-ray gift boxes of Gone With The Wind and Wizard Of Oz, this would be the preferred version for serious fans.  Chitty does not get this kind of set, but if it ever does, a special diecast version of the car would be nice.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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