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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Comedy > Backstage > Vaudeville > Opera > > Romance > WWII > Rock > Pop > Punk > New Wave > British > 24 Hour Party People (2002/United Artists/MGM/MVD Blu-ray)

Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943*)/I due Foscari 4K (2016/Naxos/C Major/Unitel 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Mother Wore Tights (1947*)/Pin Up Girl (1944/*all Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Pretenders with Friends (2019 Live Concert/Cleopatra Records Blu-ray w/DVD & CD**)/24 Hour Party People (2002/United Artists/MGM Blu-ray/**both MVD)



4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/X/B/B-/B & C+/B- Sound: C+/B/C+/C+/C+ C+ B-/B- Extras: C+/D/C/B-/C/B- Main Programs: B-/B/C+/B-/B-/B-



PLEASE NOTE: The Hello Frisco Hello, Mother Wore Tights and Pin Up Girl Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.



Here's a wide variety of music releases, including a few musicals, a few concerts and a comedy/drama...



We start with Bruce Humberstone's Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943) has Alice Faye as a rising star in this backstage musical set in the Vaudeville era, done elaborately and became another hit for the singer and actress, including a classic song, 'You'll Never Know'' that continues to be referenced and remade. She plays a new talent on the rise in the face of schemes, jealousy and other business challenges.


The sets and costumes create a very dense atmosphere that makes this authentic enough (some would say suffocating) and that is the point, to make it seem like the period and of a much simpler time. Some might think it can strike one as a little unnatural and phony, but it holds up better than you might think and some of those qualities seem accurate to the time and situations.


John Payne, Jack Oakey, Lynn Bari, June Havoc, Laird Cregar and Ward Bond meld well enough in the supporting cast and this moves along well enough for its 99 minutes running time, but I would also say some of what might have been fresh when this film arrived is now a cliche and has been spoofed often since (including some cartoons), so see it if yo0u are interested and to get a look at Faye to get an idea of how and why she was so popular at the time and is often too forgotten now.



The Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, i due foscari, is part of the Teatro Alla Scala series and is now available to watch at home on 4K Ultra HD disc courtesy of C Major and Unitel labels. If you can't afford a trip halfway across the world to see this show, then this is the perfect substitute as the transfer is crystal clear and very vibrant and sure to show off your 4K TV.


I due Foscari (2016) is an exquisite opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, and is based on a historical play, The Two Foscari by Lord Byron himself. This production stars Placido Domingo, Francesco Meli, Anna Pirozzi, with Chorus and Orchestra all Scala, Michael Mariotti, and stage direction by Alvis Hermanis.


The 2160p HEVC/H.265, (no HDR!) Ultra High Definition image on this 4K UHD is very nice and really brings out the costumes and production designs that went into this production. The widescreen aspect ratio is in 1.78:1 and the sound is clear and rich in two separate Italian soundtracks including LPCM 2.0 Stereo and Italian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, whichever is your choice. The total runtime of the show is around 122 minutes in length. I was pretty impressed by the quality on this disc as opposed to many other operas I have seen in 1080p. The characters really pop out of the screen and the details are certainly on point.


No extras on the disc, just the show.



Walter Lang's Mother Wore Tights (1947) is also a backstage musical set in Vaudeville, but it is a comedy and a bit of a satire of the set-up and storyline, so you can see it even being slightly spoofing and ribbing Hello, Frisco, Hello, but then the Hollywood Musical was peaking at this time and would see a slow decline in the next decade as times changed and the realities of WWII sank in for better and worse. Betty Grable and Dan Dailey are the hit married performers making a name for themselves nationwide and their two children tell the story of their glory years in the most humorous, almost sarcastic ways possible.


This might get repetitive for some, but it is the film and is consistent in the form it delivers, though not as good as Singing In The Rain would be a few years later, but Lang knows what he's doing and stays on track the whole 107 minutes. That may be too long for some and this style, but they all see it through.


Costumes and sets are fine, as are the supporting cast, most people will recognize William Frawley from TV's early megahit I Love Lucy getting to play up a role as a guy who is up to no good. More than just delivering the ornery cliched guy performance on that series, he could really be funny and gets to show more of his range here. The film itself might get repetitive, but that;'s the style and it is worth your time if interested.



Bruce Humberstone's Pin Up Girl (1944) has Grable in a pro-U.S.A. WWII backstage musical where she meets endless men and keeps promising to get engaged to them, but this starts to catch up to her in her USO work as she might actually find true love while finding work as a stage performer that could lead to big money and success. John Harvey becomes the love interest, but this backstage musical is lively, funny and has some amazing talent, including turns by Martha Raye in early peak form as a performer who is the queen before Grable challenges her, Joe E. Brown as the club owner who ticks of Raye by hiring Grable and many more.


This easily has the best amount of energy of the three releases and Grable was the big pin up gal of the time, so the film is obvious there, but not always throughout. There are some nice surprises for a script that has its share of formula, then it ends with a stunning final musical number that says it all and when you think about it, breaks from the rest of the film.


Raye and Brown are two of the great comic talents of all time, here in their only film together, nearly steal many of the scenes they have. Raye was a big supporter of the troops unconditionally (including during Vietnam, which got her partly blacklisted until a giant TV comeback) and Brown is more than her equal here (also having big TV success later), but Grable is the star and knows what makes her funny and sexy, playing both to perfection. She also looks great no matter what.


Of course, it is WWII propaganda, but it exceeds that at times and is one of the most important such releases from the time. It is a special, unique, one-of-a-kind film that has a special place in cinema history and if you see it, you'll get it and appreciate it for that reason.



The Pretenders with Friends is a recent 2019 live concert that only lasts 67 minutes, but manages to be loaded with great live work and one of the best guest artist rosters in a long time: King Of Leon, Incubus, Iggy Pop and Shirley Manson of Garbage. It all works and The band itself is in top form and Hynde delivers classics like Back On The Chain Gang and Brass In Pocket, but her work with the other guests is as impressive and she is so good with Manson, why have they not recorded a duet?


Iggy Pop is himself and his energy and attitude are undimmed, having great chemistry with Hynde and I only wish this had gone on longer. Much longer. Fans should pick up this set ASAP.



Finally we have Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People (2002) which has a very loyal following and is considered one of the great British indie music films, yet still never seems to get discovered by a wide audience in the U.S. like so many great music acts from their and Europe too numerous to mention. This is a comic look at how Grenada TV network personality Tony Wilson saw the rise of Punk, then managed to somehow land some of the most important and key artists in what became the New Wave movement in clubs in ailing industrial town Manchester resulting in the now-key Factory Records label, the advent of raves and much, much more.


Winterbottom is an underrated filmmaker who is easy to underestimate and has never gotten his due, but his off-beat style and unique, often original approach has served him well enough, yet he has not had the success he's deserved in the U.S. either, so he is in the same situation as his subject matter. Coogan, who never quits being good here, unfortunately does too much of his own schtick to totally become Wilson, but he has some good moments here, though some of thi8s might be a bit much for some and you get humor where some might not think it belongs.


Nonetheless, it holds up as a mostly authentic record of what happened at the time (tho0ugh the feature film Control about the band Joy Division is a must-see as much as this film is, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and after many years of not seeing much of this film, was glad to finally catch up and see the film more than met most of its hype. Cheers to the supporting cast and the many moments that work.



With the 4K title's tech features addressed above, here are the rest of the playback comments. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all three Fox/Twilight Time musical releases can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of each film as originally issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints. With that said, color impresses often throughout, each disc has a few demo shots and you will be impressed. My only complaint is that Pin Up Girl has more issues and flaws than expected, but still has fine moments just the same.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image for the Pretenders concert looks pretty impressive throughout and has nice color and stability, so it is enjoyable enough and the only other HD shoot here. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image DVD is much weaker, but passable.


That leaves the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on 24 Hour Party People, which uses more analog PAL video of the time than you might expect, carrying with it some analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color and tape damage. That extends back to vintage video used and new video imitating vintage video. It seems little of this was actually shot on film, but that's the look, while the sound is in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is as good as just abo9ut anything on the list, even if it has audio flaws (some intended) and was not a big budget production.


The three Fox musicals are here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes that really show the age of the films, so they sound about as good as they ever will with only Frisco offering an isolated music score track, very unusual for Twilight Time, but those other tracks must be missing or lost.


I expected lossless sound for the Pretenders concert, but both the Blu-ray and DVD sadly offer only lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and the CD has the usual PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo, but none of them have the impact a new, modern, recently recorded release should have, so all three versions are compromised. Are they holding the lossless sound hostage for a 4K release?


Extras on all three Twilight Time Blu-rays include nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and more essays by Mike Finnegan, and the Pretenders has an illustrated booklet with very little information at all, but we get interview clips on the video versions. Frisco adds that isolated music score, an Original Theatrical Trailer, featurette Hello Again: The Remaking Of Alice Faye and two radio versions of the film. Tights only adds one radio version of the film, while Pin Up Girl adds the deleted musical number This Is It, an Original Theatrical Trailer and a solid feature length audio commentary track by Richard Schickel.


24 Hour Party People adds its trailer in HD, 11 Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, two featurettes (Manchester: The Movie and About Tony Wilson) and two audio commentary tracks: one by Wilson, the other by Steve Coogan and Producer Andrew Eaton.



To order the Hello Frisco Hello, Mother Wore Tights and Pin Up Girl limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (4K)

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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