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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Musical > Backstage > France > Documentary > Punk Rock > Australia > Comedy > Broadway Hostess (1935/First National*)/The French Way (1945/MVD/VCI/Sprocket Vault Blu-ray)/GoBetweens: Right Here (2017/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/The Hot Heiress (1931/First National*)/Ma

Broadway Hostess (1935/First National*)/The French Way (1945/MVD/VCI/Sprocket Vault Blu-ray)/GoBetweens: Right Here (2017/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/The Hot Heiress (1931/First National*)/Manhattan Parade (1931/*all Warner Archive DVDs)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The GoBetweens Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL DVD format, while Broadway Hostess, Hot Heiress and Manhattan Parade can only play are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



Here's our next music titles, mostly dramatic feature films, for you to know about.



Frank McDonald's Broadway Hostess (1935) has Wini Shaw in the familiar tale of a singer who becomes successful because a gangster type named Lucky (Lyle Talbot here) backs her, resulting in success as a lounge singer of torch songs of the day, but another guy (Phil Regan) falls for her while she is still happy with her shady manager. However, he's actually interested in another woman (Genevieve Tobin) while Lucky's nitwits go for the fortune of another women.


Needless to say this gets complicated and there is enough music to include it here, but it may not be enough for many to consider it a true Backstage Musical, especially with all the melodrama and backstabbing. However, it is not a bad film (Miss Shaw was already a stage star) and it is worth a look.


An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.



Jacques de Baroncelli's The French Way (1945) has Josephine Baker singing, again in a backstage capacity, but is it a musical? Especially since despite being in more progressive France after leaving the U.S. and racism behind, she still plays a maid here? Yes, her fortunes increase as she owns a nightclub, which is why we get music, but the question remains.


For what we get of this film that has been lost and was shot in 1940 (WWII and the Nazi Occupation delayed it and it as almost destroyed forever), it does show how talented Baker was and what we missed when she left. This VCI/Sprocket Vault Blu-ray edition is restored as much as possible, running 74 minutes-long. Take away the music and Baker and it is pedestrian, but with what we get, it is worth a look, despite its limits.


There are sadly no extras.



Kriv Stenders' The GoBetweens: Right Here (2017) is a solid, smart, detailed documentary of the rise and slow fall of one of Australia's most important music groups, a Punk Rock Band that went through several changes, never had a major charted hit anywhere, still built a serious fan following and are now recognized as the groundbreaking group they are. The story starts in the late 1960s, really picks up when they have it together by the mid-1970s, then start to have all kinds of issues with various record labels and personal (and personnel) issues keep sabotaging them.


It gives us a look inside their lives (the interviews are extensive, like the vintage footage), the chronologically-told tale is easy to follow without being shallow or flat, the members get personal and it also gives us a look inside the Australian Music Industry we don't see or hear enough of. The band landed up helping to shape and create the identity such music from that country has today.


This one runs a rich 95 minutes-long and is here from Umbrella Entertainment out of Australia in a Region Free PAL-format (the U.S. has NTSC, so check your player) import DVD that plays well and is worth getting. I had only heard a few of the band's songs, and usually in parts. Their time for discovery/rediscovery is LONG overdue and some of these songs are remarkable.


40 minutes of interviews are the only extras, but too bad they could not fit a collection of all their music videos that show up in the film.



Clarence Badger's The Hot Heiress (1931) is a charming film that has moments where the people break out in music, but for its short 79 minutes, you may feel it is not enough. However, I liked the songs and leads Ben Lyon (a poor riveter building skyscrapers in New York City) and

Ona Munson (a loving rich gal) who fall for each other until class separation gets in the way. They have great chemistry and why they did not go on to become bigger stars or were not paired together in something bigger is sad. However, they are very good here and a great reason to catch up with this little gem.


I also liked, the sets, set-ups, supporting cast and humor. It has a nice, smooth energy to it that has it moving along nicely and better than most full, early musicals of its time. A young Walter Pidgeon also shows up, so serious film fans will want to see this one.


There are very sadly no extras.



Finally we have Lloyd Bacon's Manhattan Parade (1931) is the veteran director;s backstage drama that also has some music, but it is enough to be a full musical, especially with the melodrama and more backstabbing in this tale of dark goings on in the Great White Way of the time? Winnie Lightner is the manager of a costume company when corrupt men and condescending men (her husband (Walter Miller) has her go back and take care of her kid!!!) show up to ruin her life, though he is up to no good.


A bit cliche-ridden, the cast (including Charles Butterworth, Dickie Moore and the team of Smith & Dale) help keep things moving along, but the result is an uneven film that has dated a bit, though some parts are more racy as the Hollywood Production Code had not kicked in yet. That makes it a curio for serious film fans and other interested in it, which is why it is good to have it in print.


There are sadly no extras.



The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on French can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, or clips used and


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Broadway is better than the same on Hot and Manhattan, which can definitely show the age of the materials used, looking rough at times and could look better. Otherwise, all are watchable and well shot. All three also offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that is down a few generations, so be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on GoBetweens offers some older film and analog videotape footage (with the usual flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL & NTSC cross color, faded color and tape damage), but that all looks good otherwise and the new HD-shot footage matches in just fine, though some of the graphics added later in text form are not as clear as they could be. Sound is here in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, but I liked the 5.1 better.



To order the GoBetweens Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/


...and to order the Broadway Hostess, Hot Heiress and Manhattan Parade Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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