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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Concert > Folk > Pop > Spiritual > Biography > Concert > Variety Show > Backstage Musical > Melodram > Dolly: The Ultimate Collection (1967 - 2019/Dolly Parton*)/The Opposite Sex (1956/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Soul Of The Midnight Special (1973 - 1976/*both Time Life DVD Sets)

Dolly: The Ultimate Collection (1967 - 2019/Dolly Parton*)/The Opposite Sex (1956/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Soul Of The Midnight Special (1973 - 1976/*both Time Life DVD Sets)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Opposite Sex Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

Next up are more music releases, two sets with plenty of classics and a hilarious musical version of a classic melodrama...

One of the great things about music are performers who put on a great show, wear wild clothes and really know how to make a mark and be unforgettable. Sometimes, some critics say that said performers (Elton John was one) get accused of being more style than substance, but this changes when their music stands the test of time. One of the most successful singer/songwriters, female and otherwise, up there with Carole King, Joni Mitchell and many more, Dolly Parton is a giant in the music business and as far back as her solo hit Dumb Blonde, knew she would be criticized and underestimated.

Decades later, with 100+ charting songs, chart records worldwide, tons of records sold and still selling and one of the most amazing music catalogs around, Parton is a subtle force of nature worthy of Tina Turner, with songs that have become classics, penning some with profound honesty and insight and continues to have one of the largest fan bases in music history. A new 19-DVD box set daring to call itself Dolly: The Ultimate Collection (1967 - 2019) has a ton of programming, often remarkable, picked by the lady herself over her long career.

Though she did not make an official Music Video until 1983's amusing clip for Potential New Boyfriend, she had made plenty of appearances on TV, et al, and continues to show up all the time in new programs that she carefully works out with her fans in mind, whom she has never sold out.

Though it does not include every film and video clip of her ever made (such a box would be too heavy and expensive) and does not have any of her feature films or all of her Music Videos, this box is loaded with great footage, classic moments and some that have only been available among fans on old videotapes they may have made back in the day.

Now all from the best available tape, digital and film sources, the box shows how popular and beloved she has been, along with the talent true fans knew she had all along and it is often amazing to watch. What we get in the high quality box (annotating the press release) includes...

  • 22 star-studded episodes of Dolly's variety shows from the '70s & '80s (one season each) with guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Kenny Rogers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Burt Reynolds, Miss Piggy, Merle Haggard, Smokey Robinson & The Temptations, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and more!

  • 7 episodes of The Porter Wagoner Show, from 1967 - 1974 (about 15 minutes each) featuring historic Dolly Parton performances including Jolene, I Will Always Love You, Coat of Many Colors, Mule Skinner Blues, and her very first appearance where she sang Dumb Blonde.

  • A special Christmas disc featuring A Down Home Country Christmas with Mac Davis and Burl Ives, and Bob Hope's Jolly Christmas Show

  • Dolly's spectacular Live and Well concert from 2002

  • Dolly's unforgettable Live from London concert from 2009 plus bonus features

  • Rare TV appearances of Dolly throughout her career from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Crook & Chase

  • The entire Song by Song: Dolly Parton series, highlighting Dolly's most iconic songs and how they came to be

  • Bonus features include Dolly's University of Tennessee Commencement Address and Imagination Library Dedication Ceremony at The Library of Congress

  • Classic duets with Dolly & Porter Wagoner taped live at the Grand Ole Opry

  • Unforgettable Dolly Parton performances from the CMA Awards in the '70s

  • New bonus features created just for this collection featuring Dolly Parton reminiscing about memorable moments from throughout her career

  • Exclusive, complete, and never before seen interviews with Brandi Carlile, Miley Cyrus, Vince Gill, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Kenny Rogers, Marty Stuart, Lily Tomlin, and Carrie Underwood make up the extras here.

  • Plus your FREE Bonus DVD with the complete authorized BBC documentary Dolly Parton: Here I Am

  • Each set has a paper pullout explaining the disc's content and we get an Exclusive Collector's Book filled with photos, Dolly in her own words, and loving tributes from her famous friends ala the kind we have already seen in Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson DVD box sets.

Of course, most of the Carson clips/shows have been on those Carson sets we've covered so often, but its great to have them here too in one place. A few that could have been here, like Parton on one of the episodes of the solo Cher show is on The Best Of Cher, also released by Time Life on DVD, which we reviewed on this site as well.

Otherwise, the set lives up to its name and more than a few people will be surprised how entertaining this set is, just in time to make a great gift for the holidays. And to think, Dolly is far from finished making more music!

David Miller's The Opposite Sex (1956) is a lavish backstage musical remake of the 1939 MGM classic The Women and has a great cast to match, including June Allyson, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead, Joan Blondell, Charlotte Greenwood and Joan Collins as a vamp who has an encounter with Allison that is a real howler!

Making things more interesting is the male supporting cast including Jim Backus, Jeff Richards, Leslie Nielsen decades before he was an actual comedy actor, Harry James, Bill Goodwin, Sam Levene, Art Mooney and a fun early turn by Dick Shawn. With a cast like that, this has aged in all kinds of interesting ways and even if you do not know many of these actors (Backus was on the TV hit Gilligan's Island and was the longtime voice of Mr. Magoo, who Nielsen played in a live action version later) because the distinct talent all over the place here delivers all kinds of results and even makes this rewatchable, especially if you want to show it to friends.

Better than the unfortunate 2008 remake, the man-stealing and backstage back-stabbing is amusing too, but I like the film's energy and why this does not have a larger following or even cult following is odd. With this great new restoration of the film, maybe that will finally change.

The only extra is an Original Theatrical Trailer, but you can read more about the original 1939 film at this link in our Blu-ray review of it:


Finally we have another great music set from one of the great music TV shows of all time, which we have covered often before, but this release is genre-specific. The Soul Of The Midnight Special (1973 - 1976) offers some of the greatest music ever made, but live, from some of the most legendary and talented singers, musicians and performers in all of music history from one of the most prolific periods of all time. In most cases, the artists are singing live and doing some of the best work of their careers and in some cases, rare collaborations that are nothing short of cultural events. The artists and their music here includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Al Green - Tired of Being Alone (8/3/73), How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? (8/3/73), I'm Still in Love with You (11/29/74), Let's Stay Together (11/29/74)

  • Al Wilson - Show and Tell (3/1/74)

  • Barry White - You're the First, the Last, My Everything (11/15/74), Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe (12/13/74), Never, Never Gonna Give You Up (12/13/74)

  • Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine (3/22/74), Lean on Me (3/22/74)

  • Billy Preston - Will It Go Round in Circles (1/4/74)

  • Blue Magic - Sideshow (12/13/74)

  • Bobby Womack - Lookin' for a Love (12/13/74)

  • Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode (11/2/73)

  • Curtis Mayfield - Back to the World (6/8/73), Freddie's Dead (Theme from Superfly) (9/21/73), Superfly (1/4/74)

  • Earth, Wind & Fire - Devotion (4/18/75)

  • George Benson - This Masquerade (7/30/76)

  • Gladys Knight & the Pips - Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye) (4/6/73), I Heard It through the Grapevine (4/6/73), Midnight Train to Georgia (10/5/73), Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me (12/20/74)

  • Gladys Knight/B. B. King - The Thrill Is Gone (10/5/73)

  • Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - Bad Luck (5/23/75), The Love I Lost (5/23/75), Let's Get Together Soon (Hope That We Can Be Together Soon) (5/23/75)

  • James Brown - Sex Machine (8/6/76), Get Up Offa That Thing (8/6/76), Cold Sweat/Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (10/8/76),

  • Johnnie Taylor - Who's Making Love (11/2/73)

  • Kool & the Gang - Hollywood Swinging (12/20/74), Jungle Boogie (12/20/74)

  • LaBelle - Lady Marmalade (4/18/75)

  • Love Unlimited Orchestra - Love's Theme (11/15/74)

  • Minnie Ripperton - Lovin' You (7/18/75), Inside My Love (7/18/75)

  • Ohio Players - Fire (4/4/75), Skin Tight (4/4/75)

  • Ohio Players - Love Rollercoaster (12/19/75), Honey (12/19/75)

  • Ray Charles - Georgia on My Mind (3/30/73), What'd I Say (3/30/73)

  • Ray Charles/Aretha Franklin - Takes Two to Tango (3/30/73)

  • Rufus featuring Chaka Khan - Sweet Thing (12/12/75), Once You Get Started (12/12/75)

  • Sly & the Family Stone - Stand! (10/26/73), I Want to Take You Higher (10/26/73), Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), (10/26/73), Dance to the Music (10/26/73)

  • Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling in Love (2/9/73), I'll Be Around (2/9/73), One of a Kind (Love Affair) (6/8/73), Sadie (2/14/75), Then Came You (2/14/75)

  • The Brothers Johnson - I'll Be Good to You (10/8/76)

  • The Chi-Lites - Oh Girl (9/21/73)

  • The Main Ingredient - Just Don't Want to Be Lonely (10/11/74), Everybody Plays The Fool (10/11/74)

  • The Manhattans - Kiss and Say Goodbye (12/3/76)

  • The Miracles - Love Machine (12/3/76)

  • The O'Jays - Back Stabbers (3/23/73), Love Train (3/23/73), Put Your Hands Together (913/74), Sunshine (9/13/74)

  • The Staple Singers - Let's Do It Again (1/16/76), Respect Yourself (1/16/76)

  • The Stylistics - Betcha by Golly, Wow (6/1/73), Break Up to Make Up (6/1/73), I'm Stone in Love with You (6/1/73), You Make Me Feel Brand New (3/1/74)

  • The Sylvers - Boogie Fever (7/30/76)

  • Wilson Pickett - In the Midnight Hour (9/21/73)

My personal favorite moments here include James Brown in prime form, Chaka Khan really belting it out, The Sylvers proving they were seconds only to The Jacksons as the best teen vocal group of the time, the honesty of Bill Withers, The Manhattans taking their classic to a whole new level, that we lost Minnie Ripperton way too soon, that Gladys Knight & The Pips can never be celebrated enough, that Blue Magic was as great as The Stylistics despite not having as many great hits and Ray Charles always had it!

Extras across the five DVDs include paper pullouts explaining the content of each disc while the discs add exclusive interviews with James Brown, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire The O'Jays, Russell Thompkins Jr. of The Stylistics, Bobby Womack, Ted Mills of Blue Magic, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, Gerald Alston, The Manhattans and George Benson. These interviews are priceless and make the set all the more worth getting.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Opposite Sex looks really good for tis age, being shot in CinemaScope with all of its lens limits and the film's MetroColor has held up well. Money is on the screen to go with the glamour (especially allotted to the women in the cast) and so it looks good as a musical. It is more than worthy of the Blu-ray of the 1939 film and when you add the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix (guess the 4-track soundmaster has been misplaced) holds up very well. Another fine restoration job from Warner.

The Dolly and Soul sets have all of its vintage footage in 1.33 X 1 color off of analog NTSC videotape and newer footage (newer interviews on Soul, interviews and newer segments on Dolly) are presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image framing. You might get a little motion blur in the newer widescreen footage here and there, but it looks good, while the older analog videotape (all in color in both cases) has been really well restored, but the disclaimer rightly warns of some flaws and we get a few. These would include some video noise, video banding, telecine flicker from older film clips, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage.

Both have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound for their older programs (usually the 1.33 X 1 episodes) plus 2.0 Stereo for interviews and the newer Dolly segments have the best audio with lossy Dolby Digital Stereo.

To order either of the Warner Archive Blu-ray of The Opposite Sex, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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