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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Art > Music > Counterculture > Record Industry > Opera > Classical > Melodrama > Musical > Bac > The Beatles: Made On Merseyside (2019/Film Movement DVD)/Creating Woodstock (2019/Cinema Libre DVD)/Der Freischutz 4K (2015/Naxos/Unitel/CMajor 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Footlight Parade (1933/Warner Archi

The Beatles: Made On Merseyside (2019/Film Movement DVD)/Creating Woodstock (2019/Cinema Libre DVD)/Der Freischutz 4K (2015/Naxos/Unitel/CMajor 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Footlight Parade (1933/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Peter Allen Collection (2019/Umbrella Import Region Free PAL DVD Set)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Peter Allen Collection Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can only play on all Blu-ray, DVD and 4K players that can handle the PAL DVD format, while the Footlight Parade Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's our new set of music releases for you to know...

We start with two music documentaries that have hardly any original music on the subjects they cover. The Beatles: Made On Merseyside (2019) that attempts to examine the 'origins;' of the and in 87 minutes and they do get some interviews in with people who were there. I even liked some of the older stock footage, but the unexpected oddity is Pete Best interviewed. He was the drummer dropped for Ringo and we have heard many stories of why, including he was too quiet, they needed someone else they got along with or snide comments about his talent.

The revelation here is that his mother kept calling the band's legendary manage Brian Epstein and driving him crazy, asking him to death what he'd do for the band (aka her son) next and when. That meant soon. Thus we learn Best's mom being annoying may have been the final straw in why they dropped him and recruited Ringo Starr. Sad.

There are no extras.

Creating Woodstock (2019) interviews many of the people involved in the beginning and even a musician or two about the legendary event a half-century later and we learn the sponsors wanted to open a recording studio and also landed up with a concert idea whose profits would pay for it. Needless to say it did not work out that way, though the studio was eventually built. That's the only new thing we really get after seeing so much on this subject and it reminded me that the actual concert movie (and its additional 16mm footage for that matter) are overdue for a 4K release.

At 111 minutes, it covers much of what we already knew and not always with the best stock footage, but its worth a look for diehard fans and very curious. We get five additional clips as the only extras including a good interview with Arlo Guthrie and how the posters were made.

Der Freischutz 4K (2015) is a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of what is one of the first 4K classical stage recordings with the great Christian Thielemann conducting this 143 minutes version of Weber's melodramatic opera with the Dresden Staatskapelle in which no less that Satan himself shows up to get anyone to sell their soul. The singing is fine, the sets and lighting appropriate to the subject matter and the show never drags much, but you still need to have some patience to get through this one.

It is the first time we've covered any version of this work and is as high quality an introduction to it as is out there, especially with Thielemann at the helm. Despite minor visual flaws (see below), it is an early 4K program and worth seeing if you can handle the length. An illustrated, multi-lingual booklet on the opera is the only extra and is included in the 4K case.

Lloyd Bacon's Footlight Parade (1933) was an early sound hit for Warner Bros. that people still talk about, the the Backstage Musical has aged oddly and I was never a big fan of Dick Powell, despite his talent. Here, the musical stage is threatened by the huge success of talking pictures, which include musicals, so James Cagney plans to make a live show so good, people will skip movie palaces to see it. An amusing premise, he is joined by Joan Blondell as the smart-alecy best with Ruby Keeler in more than tow.

Busby Berkeley actually directs the musical numbers, so the film goes between its comedy/drama and these more elaborate sequences, but the transitions do not always go smoothly. Still, it is much easier to enjoy in this new restoration form a new HD master and I have never seen it look or sound this good.

Extras include four classic cartoons, two vintage featurettes, an Original Theatrical Trailer and more recent featurette on the film: Footlight Parade: Music For The Decades.

Finally, we have the double DVD set The Peter Allen Collection that repeats The Boy From Oz documentary DVD we reviewed at this link:


Hugh Jackman (Wolverine/Logan from the now dead X-Men films) had a huge run playing Allen on the stage musical of the same name (and might do it again, he includes some numbers in his own one-man show) and Allen is still admired to this day. Umbrella has added a second DVD that is a rich compilation of his TV performances over the years that runs about 2.5 hours (!) and includes some of his appearances with his brother (they started out as a music duo before he went solo in the 1970s) and we saw some of this from their appearances on a Bandstand with Brian Henderson episode from 1967 with Peter's future wife Liza Minnelli:


They divorced when Allen became more public about his sexuality, but the Allen Brothers appeared on the Bandstand show as far back as 1962/1963 and we get about 10 clips of this, then the disc adds Allen solo on several appearances on the great Don Lane Show (reviewed extensively elsewhere on this site) and on the Midday Show with Ray Martin (1990, 1991) before his untimely death from AIDS. This is a great DVD set for fans who have not seen much of him or those who saw the stage musical and might only have some CDs, LPs or seen a few clips online of his work. He also is interviewed in between some songs, so serious fans should get this set. Nice work again from Umbrella.

There are only extras on the first disc already reviewed.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.78 X 1 (no HDR; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the Freischutz 4K disc should be the runaway visual champ here and has some nice shots with fine color, but it also comes up short in spots with motion blur and a lack of detail, which is typical of the three 4K live releases we have covered so far. Yes, this is better than just a plain 1080p Blu-ray, but not overwhelmingly so. The sound is not 12-track, but choices between a very good DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mix and PCM 2.0 Stereo that is not bad, but not as good as the 5.0 mix with its more detailed soundfield.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Parade is a brand new HD master from the best 35mm materials in the vault can can compete with anything on the list, looking good and rarely showing its age. Fans will be impressed.

The 1.33 X 1 image on the two Allen DVDs look pretty good, though the older footage from 1960s TV is definitely not as sharp or clear. Otherwise, it all looks good down to the color footage from 1990s TV video footage before his passing. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Beatles and Woodstock documentaries is rougher throughout with footage (film and video0 often second generation or worse, tying for poorest performance on the list. All three releases suffer the usual visual issues for such programs such as analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL & NTSC cross color, faded color and tape damage. Its just that the Allen footage is first-generation and more professional throughout.

As for sound on the rest of the releases, Parade has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound that better than the DVDs here, though the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 2.0 Mono on the Allen DVDs can come close at times. The Beatles and Woodstock documentaries have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that is barely stereo, has audio issues and location audio flaws where applicable. Mixing sometimes has flaws that makes the music too loud or interviews too soft, so beware.

To order The Peter Allen Collection Umbrella Import APL region free DVD set, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases:


...and to order the Footlight Parade Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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