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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Backstage > Comedy > Folk Music > Politics > Music Industry > Biography > Documentary > Satire > M > Coney Island (1943/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/50 Years with Peter, Paul & Mary (2014/MVD Visual DVD)/It's Always Fair Weather (1955/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story (20

Coney Island (1943/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/50 Years with Peter, Paul & Mary (2014/MVD Visual DVD)/It's Always Fair Weather (1955/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story (2009/MVD Visual DVD)

Picture: C/C/B-/C Sound: C/C+/B-/C+ Extras: D/C-/C+/C Main Programs: C+/B-/B/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The It's Always Fair Weather Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered while supplies last from the link below, while Coney Island is a limited pressing that can be ordered on our right-hand sidebar.

Here's a set of new music releases that will offer an interesting, historical throwback for all...

Walter Lang's Coney Island (1943) is a mixed musical from the Fox journeyman director who would go on to direct several in the genre, but this one is notable for featuring Betty Grable as its star, the WWII pin-up gal and big box office Fox sex symbol who was on a roll at this point of her career. The reason it is getting the limited run Fox Cinema Archive DVD release is because this is a mixed backstage musical and has more than a few, very dated 'blackface' moments that are just outright racism no matter how you read it.

Outside of that, you've got George Montgomery and Cesar romero as dueling male leads and Phil Silvers as comic relief, so this tale of our singing heroine going from a rough bar entertainer to a classy singer (slightly sexist or not) still has enough moments that make it a curio worth seeing, even (and especially) skipping the racism. At the time, this would have been considered an A-level release.

There are no extras.

50 Years with Peter, Paul & Mary (2014) is a decent-if-short 78 minutes about the career of the sometimes politically-charged folk trio whose commercial success exceeded and survived beyond the Folk Movement of the 1960s. We get new and archival interviews, but the real surprise here is how much live recordings on-camera of the trio performing that is included here, usually uncut. However, this shows how good they were on stage and makes this seem longer in a good way than it actually is.

We also get biographical moments and how they stayed on track well into the 1980s when some politically would have liked them to disappear. They never sold out, have much to say and I only wish this one were longer.

Four bonus music performances are the only extras. Our only previous coverage of the trio is in the same review, featuring a Super Audio CD/CD edition of their earliest recordings paired with a nice import DVD of a 1967 concert they delivered in Sydney, Australia that shows them in great early form...


Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen co-directed It's Always Fair Weather (1955), a big musical production that is a genre classic today, but was a dud at the time, ended the friendship of the co-directors and was the end of the line for the glorious Arthur Freed Unit at MGM that was behind some of the most spectacular musicals ever made. Intended originally as a stage sequel to On The Town (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Kelly snagged it for a feature film debut (Donen would do just that a few years later with Funny Face) and at first, hoped he could get the original cast together again. Eventually, a new cast was set, but the story was a little more cynical, WWII's darkness had set in more so since the earlier film and a different kind of film resulted.

The best friends decide to keep a reunion promise a decade later and that's were the film begins. Despite multiple storylines and multiple behind-the-camera conflicts, this turned out to later be one of the key widescreen musicals and Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd (the legendary choreographer, whose one great scene was cut, but is in the supplements here) are effective enough as the new trio and Cyd Charisse, Dolores Gray (mocking phony TV hostesses for decade to come and hitting the nail on the head in the process) and uncredited turns by Herb Vigran, Madge Blake (later Aunt Harriet on TV's Batman) and voice work by June Foray (among others) makes for an energetic cast.

There are also a few classic musical numbers with dancing on skates (I Like Myself), with garbage can lids (March, March) and much more set to songs like Stillman's Gym, Baby You Knock Me Out, Time For Parting and Thanks A Lot But No Thanks shows this one definitely had the music and dancing chops. Unfortunately, cut numbers and the infighting caused this to stop short from being a classic of the genre. Still, it is almost a hidden gem and its arrival on Blu-ray is a very, very good thing.

Extras include two black & white MGM Parade TV segments on the film with Kelly and Charisse respectively, classic MGM cartoons Deputy Droopy and Good Will To Men, audio-only outtake of the song I Thought They'd Never Leave, It's Always Fair Weather: Going Out On a High Note featurette, the Original Theatrical Trailer and three more deleted songs with their original footage: The Binge, Jack and the Space Giants and Love Is Nothing But A Racket.

Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story (2009) is a 40th Anniversary program celebrating the man who helped make Fleetwood Mac possible, a good two-hours with original members of the band, Green and many others who were there and a few name fans interviewed as we see Green's rise as a performer, how groundbreaking he was, how the Mac formed, how he left (reminding me too much of Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd) in that drug use and mental illness collided to ruin a fine man and amazing music talent.

The program has dated a bit (wish we had a new update featurette) and for as long as it is, I also wish it were longer. His loss to music is larger than you might think and it I great he survived. This also gives us an interesting view of the industry, which is a plus.

Forty minutes of bonus interview footage with the principals is the extra, opening with Green showing off his impressive, even amazing guitar collection. For more on Green, start with this Super Audio CD/CD edition of a tribute covers album to him with the same name as this documentary...


And there's also this DVD of a later Green concert to see...


The 1.33 X 1 image on Island (shot on 35mm film and issued in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor; this copy does not always look like that), mostly color image on Mary and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on World are all watchable, but all have softness and other flaws that hold each one back. Island includes print damage and flawed print moments with its softness, while the latter two documentaries have archive footage with analog videotape flaws, digititis, video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL & NTSC cross color, faded color and tape damage. So they all land up tying for second place and could all use a bit of upgrading.

That leaves the 1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Weather the best looking of the four, and not just because it is on Blu-ray, but the material can show the age of the materials used, especially in parts. After flirting with dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor and AnscoColor, MGM was settling for Kodak's Eastman Color process and save some really bad transitional footage in a few spots.

Director of Photography Robert J. Bronner (Silk Stockings, Jailhouse Rock, The Mating Game, Honeymoon Hotel, Seven Faces Of Dr. Lao) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, remaining one of the greatest uses of earlier, wider CinemaScope and very memorable at that. Thanks to Blu-ray, you can see the the experience intended despite those noted flaws, the color is about as good as it can get and this is the best I have ever seen the film.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Weather is a well mixed and presented upgrade of the 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects off of the better 35mm release prints at the time. Though you can hear some flaws and some sound stems aged better than others, this is finally the original sound at its best and probably the best we'll ever hear.

All three DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with simple stereo at best on Mary and World that includes archival monophonic sound, plus 2.0 all-Mono on Island, which is too old and sounds a generation down or two, so it is the sonic dud here. Sad for a musical, while Mary and World sound better if not with rough spots, tying for second place.

To order the It's Always Fair Weather Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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