(1974/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Melanie:
Live At The Meltdown Festival 2007
(MVD DVD)/Ray Conniff:
Send In The Clowns/Theme From S.W.A.T.
(1976/Sony/Vocalion Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD Quadrophonic Hybrid
Of Music Live
(2015/Shout! Studios Blu-ray)
B/C+/X/B/B Sound: B-/C+/B+ B B-/B-/C+ Extras: C/C-/C-/B/C
Main Programs: C+/B-/B-/C+/C+
Import Super Audio CD is now only available from our friends at
Vocalion Records and will play on all CD players, while the Mame
Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.
following music releases revisit older times and styles of music and
even visuals, sometimes with mixed results...
start with Gene Saks' Mame
(1974), Lucille Ball's attempt to finally have a hit movie with
herself as the sole lead after decades of trying in Hollywood.
Despite co-star turns that worked out, a hit radio show and three hit
TV shows that ran back-to-back for nearly a quarter-century, the film
was a dud despite the best efforts financially in the production and
promotion by the studio to make it a hit. A musical version of
which Warner made into a huge hit in the 1950s with Rosalind Russell
(reviewed on Warner Archive Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), but that
was not a musical. However, maybe it was just too soon to do this
film with any lead.
despite the facts that a few dozen musicals (some expensive like this
one) were not making their money back (including Star,
or becoming critical hits, the studios still thought maybe they'd
have the next Oliver!
Not counting Rockumentaries, Rock Operas or films with newer music
was another casualty in the long line of attempts. Lucy can be funny
here, but the film (thanks in part to the music numbers all being
pre-recorded, a really bad move) is too long, stiff, not even
seemingly spontaneous and has a bit too slow a pace for a title
character who is excited by life, loves life and does crazy things.
Her crazy is too safe here.
the other hand, not only is the money in the film, you do get a
really good cast including Bea Arthur (years away from Golden
just put on the map by the phenomenal success of her first TV
Robert Preston, Bruce Davidson, Don Porter, Joyce Van Patten, John
McGiver, Ruth McDevitt, Lucille Benson, Leonard Stone, Barbara
Bosson, Ned Wertimer and an uncredited Sandahl Bergman (later an
action star who almost went big) as a dancer help make for a solid
cast, yet that still did not help. It does make this a curio,
especially for fans of those actors and the Bea Arthur appearance
alone (she's one for a while) makes the timing of this release
interesting as her latter TV hit is one all the time.
was mad at the critics for not liking her turn as the 1920s gal who
hob-knobbed with the rich, eccentric and society folk and
choreographer Onna White's work is not bad, but it did not stick with
me any more than the various songs despite Jerry Herman's involvement
with them. Still, it is a piece for Lucy completists and a strange
mixed bag overall. MGM issued the first That's Entertainment the
same year and it got an Oscar Nomination, showing the town loves this
genre and wanted it to come back badly. By the time Grease
hit the big screen four years later and was the biggest musical since
Hollywood abandoned this kind of musical for good.
though to Director of Photography Philip H. Lathrop (Breakfast
the original Pink
(also reviewed on this site on Warner Archive Blu-ray), They
Shoot Horses, Don't They?,
delivered about as good a look to the film as possible, so that
aspect holds up.
include (uncredited on the case) an Original Theatrical Trailer and
vintage Making Of featurette: Lucy
we have Melanie:
Live At The Meltdown Festival 2007
featuring a concert by the counterculture singer/songwriter best
known for Brand
In The Rain,
What They Did To My Song, Ma
and her unique cover to the Rolling Stones' classic Ruby
The Woodstock alumni can still play the songs, tell great stories
and never sold out. This program is also sometimes documentary and
runs a decent, interesting enough 145 minutes.
takes place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (the great Jarvis Cocker of
Pulp invited her to play, showing his good judgment, as usual) and I
was glad to get updated and re-involved with her and her work. I
remember seeing her playing at the old Woodstock site when the
soon-to-be-controversial new Woodstock concert was being held and at
a different location. More interesting than you might think, those
interested should check it out.
trailer is includes which a clip comes from in this release. We'll
cover that concert film's Blu-ray ASAP.
its time for two more albums from the conductor/arranger Ray
Conniff: Send In The Clowns/Theme From S.W.A.T.,
both albums issued in 1976 and contained on the same Hybrid Super
Audio CD disc from the great label Vocalion, issuing both in their
original 4-track Quad soundmasters. There might be some overlap, but
here are the songs covered in his own special way...
from S.W.A.T., Welcome Back, Happy Days, Mary Tyler Moore, M*A*S*H,
Laverne and Shirley and Other TV Themes
Police Story (Goldsmith)
Happy Days (Fox; Gimbel)
The Young and the Restless (DeVorzon; Botkin)
Baretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow) (Grusin; Ames)
Welcome Back (Sebastian) theme from Welcome
Love is All Around (Curtis) theme from The
Mary Tyler Moore Show
[NBC] Mystery Movie Theme (Mancini) Jackie Allen (vocal)
M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) (Mandel; Altman)
Making Our Dreams Come True (Fox; Gimbel) theme from Laverne
in the Clowns
Memories are Made of This (Miller; Dehr; Gilkyson)
Lonely Night (Angel Face) (Sedaka)
Vera's Theme (Conniff) Ray Conniff & Pete Jolly (pianos)
Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover (Simon)
Send in the Clowns (Sondheim) from the musical A
Little Night Music
Moments to Remember (Allen; Stillman)
Do You Know Where You're Going to? (Masser; Goffin) theme from the
Love's Theme (White; Schroeder)
All by Myself (Carmen)
are certainly again not what we would call definitive, but funny
enough, when I did the last Vocalion Quad SA-CD double feature, I had
forgotten I covered a collection of Conniff covers from the later
1960s and on SA-CD, albeit in stereo only: the April
previous double album disc from Vocalion was Laughter
In The Rain/Love
Will Keep Us Together
Quad Hybrid SA-CD:
I was very amused and also surprised they all sounded as good as they
did, but the high fidelity is more impressive than the unusual
arrangements. Some tracks fare better than others, but anyone who
loves music and especially are a fan of any of the songs here will
still want to listen to these albums. I also get a kick out of the
cover art, so I chose it over the other titles for this review, which
you can see above.
notes are the only extras.
(1988) was his first big 35mm full color film, following his 1986
indie breakthrough She's
Gotta Have It,
a mostly outright comedy. We get comedy here, but the film tries to
juggle several elements, then bring them together by the end of the
film. The results are mixed, but interesting.
as a look at pledging and college living at an all-African American
campus, it also wants to be a musical at times with early sequences
taking place in a stylized, almost Hollywood fantasy world (always
with amazing results), then the music becomes part of the actual
narrative at the party towards the end. As well, the film debates
racism, ugly splits between African Americans based on education
(college versus no college, lite versus dark skin color, et al) and
the best moments were very brave and rarely seen when Lee made this
film. They are still too rare now, but this helped continue the then
Black New Wave that was too short lived for its own good, yet paved
the way for films just getting made now.
cast is also amazing, with Laurence Fishburne, Tisha Campbell,
Giancarlo Esposito, Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy, Samuel L. Jackson,
Joie Lee and Ossie Davis heading a cast that only gets better with
age. The ending tries to make the big statement and means well and
is on the money, but it was not enough, which is why Lee's next film
had to be Do
The Right Thing.
The semi-agit-prop approach is something he'd try again in Clockers,
but I like him when he is more direct. Nice he's covering all bases.
should be added that these early films were made when Reagan and then
George H.W. Bush were president, so the sense of isolation in the
face of retro-racism was more stark at the time. That makes this
film a valuable time capsule as well.
include ALL-NEW: 2018 Q&A with Spike Lee and select cast and crew
members, with some special guests, feature-length Audio Commentary
with Spike Lee, feature-length Cast Commentary with Tisha
Campbell-Martin, Rusty Cundieff, Bill Nunn, Darryl Bell and Kadeem
Hardison, Three Featurettes:
of a Nation'
Alone Tonight' from the Rays
One' from Phyllis Hyman
'Da Butt by EU
we have another remake of sorts, Cory Giedroyc's Sound
Of Music Live
(2015), which dares to be a remake of the famous feature film and
stage blockbuster originally with Julie Andrews. I should state in
advance that it is not my favorite Andrews film or musical in
general, but I expected that the makers of this new version would try
something different. To my shock, though it is interesting to see
them try to craw what was a 70mm epic production onto three
soundstages (!), they do not try to do anything new with the
material. In addition, they are trying too much to imitate the
arrangements and vocals of the 1965 film.
Tointon & Julian Ovenden lead the new cast of unknowns who you
can tell are trying to give it their best shot to make this work, but
it was not very energetic and reminded me of the Lucille Ball Mame
(see above) in that it lacked energy and I just did not buy it, even
though they seem to be singing live to their credit. That still is
not enough to bring the work alive, though again, I am not a fan to
nothing much here is alive to me (no pun intended on the opening
song) and fans of the songs might like it more. Thus, its for fans
only at best, but it did not stay with me and reminded me that most
of these live musical TV events have not been very memorable, no
matter the talent.
include a feature length audio commentary track by co-stars Kara
Tointon & Julian Ovenden and a Behind The Scenes featurette. You
can read more about the hit 1965 film on Blu-ray at this link...
they all have some flaws, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition
image on Mame,
the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Daze
and the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on
are about even in playback with Mame
originally being a 35mm dye-transfer,
three-strip Technicolor releases (one of the last musicals ever to
have that privilege) shows it here with costumes and production
design anticipating that. Some film flaws are here, but the scope
frame is well-filled. Daze
switches from flat color for realism, the most heightened color for
its musical sequences and in-between for other situations, handled
with ease by Director of Photography Ernest Dickerson, soon a
filmmaker in his own right. Sound is a standard HD shoot from the
live presentation that is fine and consistent, if not very exciting.
leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Melanie
looking decent, but the age of the videotaping has some flaws that
include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape
scratching, slight cross color, faded color and tape damage. In
addition, the older 16mm footage present is not the worst telecine
transfer, but too bad they could not retransfer that material in HD.
for sound, the Conniff
Super Audio CD shines as the best sonic presentation here with its
4.0 Quad DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 4.0 tracks from the original
Quad soundmaster, 2.0 Stereo DSD and regular PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo.
As was the case with the previous 4.0 Quad Conniff
SACD we covered, the 4.0 sounds better than it has a right to with
great detail, depth, range and makes the wild covers all the more
fun. The 2.0 DSD is still pretty good, but both show the PCM 2.0 as
a bit aged or lacking, but nice to have it there for cross
was a Dolby analog theatrical release recorded with a limited budget,
but it is the only Blu-ray here to have multi-channel sound by way of
a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is as good as this
film will ever sound. Mame
is here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono despite being a Stereo
recording issued theatrically in magnetic and optical sound, the
stereo master (or back-up copy) have apparently been misplaced.
is here only in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless that is
a real head-scratcher in that it should have been 5.1 and the
recording is not that great to boot. Oh well.
again, just holding her own with a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix
that has its moments, but also has older mono audio and can have
flaws in location recording (non-musical) situations. Still, not
can order the Ray
Conniff S.W.A.T./Send In The Clowns
Vocalion Super Audio CD at...
to order the Mame
Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great
web-exclusive releases at: