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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Backstage > Comedy > WWII > Living In A Big Way (1947) + The Sky’s The Limit (1943/Warner Archive DVDs)

Living In A Big Way (1947) + The Sky’s The Limit (1943/Warner Archive DVDs)


Picture: C/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-/D     Films: C/C+



Two lesser-known and lesser seen musicals from the WWII period with two of the biggest stars in the history of the genre, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, are now being issued as web-exclusive DVD(-R)s from the ever expanding Warner Archive collection.



Gregory La Cava’s Living In A Big Way (1947) is a not-so-consistent comedy about a couple (Kelly and Marie McDonald) who have found love when he needs to serve in the war.  When he returns, she has changed and is not so sure they should have become suddenly married.  This was La Cava’s last film, has less music and dance than usual and was a film I was never too impressed with, one that only has a few moments to enjoy.  Part of the problem is simply that WWII took its toll on MGM, Hollywood and the musical.  Another is that we have seen more than a little bit of this before.  Kelly is top rate as usual, but this is mostly for completists.  A trailer is the only extra and Phyllis Thaxter is among the supporting cast.


Made during WWII, Edward H. Griffith’s The Sky’s The Limit (1943) has Astaire paired nicely with Joan Leslie as a flyer for the war who is trying to get as many days free as possible to get to know stage performer Leslie better, making this almost a stage musical.  However, it is mostly a wartime comedy with some great moments by Astaire as RKO tried him out in a new pairing with Leslie that works nicely.  The film is a time capsule for the most part and has a brisker, smoother pace than Living.  Astaire is definitely in his element here.  Robert Benchley and Robert Ryan also star and there are no extras.


The 1.33 X 1 black and white image in both cases come from what look like older transfers, but Living is softer than I was expecting and one of the few weak Archive offerings of the many I have seen to date.  Limit might have some softness issues, but the age of the print has not hurt it too much.  The lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on each is better, though they both show the limited fidelity of the time and the compression of the digital format is holding back some of the fidelity.

You can order each film as follows:


Living In A Big Way



The Sky’s The Limit




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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