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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Romance > Comedy > Dance > Documentary > Punk Rock > Concert > Pop > Soul > R&B > Disco > It Happened At The World's Fair (1963/MGM**)/Soul Of The Midnight Special (1973 - 1980/two-volume Time Life DVD Set)/Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949/MGM**)/The Ziegfeld Follies (1946/MGM/**all Warne

An American In Paris (2018/Liberator*)/Don't Go Gentle: A Film About The Idles (2021*)/Englebert Humperdinck: Totally Amazing (2005 with CD/Cleopatra*)/42nd Street (2019/Liberator/*all live/MVD Blu-rays)/It Happened At The World's Fair (1963/MGM**)/Soul Of The Midnight Special (1973 - 1980/two-volume Time Life DVD Set)/Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949/MGM**)/The Ziegfeld Follies (1946/MGM/**all Warner Archive Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The It Happened At The World's Fair, Take Me Out To The Ballgame and The Ziegfeld Follies Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from the link below.

Now for a wide variety of musical and music programming...

We start with a live London stage production of the classic Gene Kelly MGM musical An American In Paris (2018) with Robert Fairchild stepping in as the GI Kelly played in his Technicolor version, falling for a dancer (Leanna Cope) in a respectable and capable restaging of the film. Unfortunately, they have taken off a bit more than they can handle and this lacks the magic and finesse of the film. Still, you could doo worse (see below) and fans should check it out.

There are no extras.

Mark Archer's Punk Rock documentary Don't Go Gentle: A Film About The Idles (2021) only runs 75 minutes, but packs as much in about the band and the Punk scene at the time as it can. Though you have seen some of this if you have seen other Punk Rock releases on video, but this is more on the British scene and we have seen less of that than the U.S., so that is a plus for this program(me).

It covers the rise and fall of the band thoroughly, but also manages to be a portrait of both the scene and record industry at the time, independent and otherwise. I liked this enough to recommend to fans of such music, but as much as some parts were even very enjoyable, it just did not stick with me. Maybe it needed to be longer.

Extras include ten bonus clips adding to the story told on the main feature.

Englebert Humperdinck: Totally Amazing (2005) is an old concert of the surprisingly popular vocalist singing standard, MOD and adult contemporary tunes from a now 16-year-old concert where he displays some good singing (not always up to what I expected, but not bad) and a slid audience singing the likes of S'Wonderful, A Man Without Love, After The Loving, Too Young, You Make My Pants Want To Get Up And Dance, Release Me (and Let Me Love Again), My Way and more. It is not a long concert, but a good summation of his work in the latter part of his career (his first big hit was back in 1967) and his showmanship.

For non-fans, it will be a surprise he was a success at all, but yes, hew had very healthy charting, his own TV show at one time and album sales that were not bad in the U.S. and often stronger overseas. Even Benny Hill spoofed him as Inglenook Hampendick!

A decent crash course on the man past any samples on the net, it is worth a look for those interested.

Extras include the Compact Disc version, Bonus Track Columns of Gray and an on-camera interview with Humperdinck where he has some great stories to tell and is sharper than some might think.

Next is a more recent live action stage version of the musical classic 42nd Street (2019) that I had mixed feelings about. It is an uneven version of the massive 1933 hit Warner Bros. feature film and here's our coverage of that version, restored on Blu-ray by Warner Archive at this link for the story and plot, et all...


Running 133 minutes, this version has mixed energy, performances that do not always gel and I felt some of the directing after the opening was a little off and the show goes very slowly downhill from there. You could do worse and the Theatre Royal Drury Line, London production does not go cheap here, but it just did not work for me (the singing numbers are the best) with An American In Paris faring better. The result is for diehard fans only.

There are no extras.

Norman Taurog's It Happened At The World's Fair (1963) is yet another restored 'Elvis Musical' where Elvis Presley sings songs during a film, where it needs them, we remember them or it produces a hit record or not. Made just before Viva Las Vegas (1964, reviewed elsewhere on this site) includes Elvis romancing a pre-Batgirl Yvonne Craig, Joan O'Brien and a pre-2001: A Space Odyssey Gary Lockwood as his best friend. The other star it the title locale (love the older technology demos and prototype car) at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

I won't give away what little plot is here (though a young Kurt Russell shows up and is not the only child almost stealing the show at times) but the film has a decent enough pace and energy to be one of the better mid-Elvis Musical releases. Nice to see it restored!

Extras sadly only include an Original Theatrical Trailer.

We have covered the first 5-DVD volume set of The Soul Of The Midnight Special, but now have the second volume and all 10 DVDs (1973 - 1980) to enjoy, now available for all to see. You can read more about the first half of the set at this link:


The addition gems we get this time are from Chic (Good Times, My Forbidden Lover, Le Freak, Everybody Dance), Gladys Knight & the Pips (I've Got to Use My Imagination), Aretha Franklin (Something He Can Feel), Ray, Goodman & Brown (Special Lady, My Prayer), Diana Ross (Love Hangover), Brick (Dazz), The Commodores (Just to Be Close to You, Brick House, Three Times A Lady) Donna Summer (I Feel Love, Last Dance), The Pointer Sisters (Fire), Billy Preston (Nothing From Nothing), Peaches & Herb (Shake Your Groove Thing, Reunited), Evelyn 'Champagne' King (Shame) and many others.

Putting this second set over though is a September, 1974 Marvin Gaye concert, shot live on tape and running just over an hour. One of the greatest singers, writers and performers of all time, we get classics like the Theme from Trouble Man, Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler), Come Get This, Keep Gettin' It On, Distant Lover, Let's Get It On, Jan, What's Going On and a medley of other classic hits of his. More relevant and more priceless than ever, it is another all too rare record of one of the greatest music geniuses of all time and the best possible way to round out this remarkable set.

Extras repeat those of the first set and the second set adds interviews with Thelma Houston, Loy Rawls, Earl Young of The Trammps, Teddy Pendergrass, Robert 'Kool' Bell of Kool and the Gang, an extended, remarkable piece with Quincy Jones and Producer Burt Sugarman. A nicely illustrated booklet on both volumes is also included between the two DVD cases.

Busby Berkeley's Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949) has Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly as Vaudeville performers who take summers off to play on a baseball team. Working better than expected (and that I remembered) shows the duo definitely had chemistry (pun intended) off the bat!

They also have to find time for women (Esther Williams and Betty Garrett play the love interests with wit and personality) and Edward Arnold supplies some smarmy wit of his won in a film that deserves some sort of rediscovery and new appreciation for working as well as it does. It has also aged well and the script is by Kelly and Stanley Donen, so this is one worth going out of your way for. What a pleasant surprise!

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, Technicolor MGM cartoon The Mouse and The Mermaid with Tom & Jerry and two deleted musical numbers: ''Baby Doll'' and ''Boys and Girls like You and Me''.

Finally, we have The Ziegfeld Follies (1946) with multiple musical number vignettes by various director and writers, with some great classic performances, two of the standouts of which are by Lena Horne and Judy Garland. The idea was to recreate what the stage version of the shows 'the Great Ziegfeld' produced live years before and the results are mostly pretty impressive. Fred Astaire shows up in no less than four segments, Esther Williams takes a swim, Fanny Brice, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, William Frawley, Cyd Charisse, William Powell, Keenan Wynn, Virginia O'Brien and Gene Kelly also turn up.

Vincente Minelli is listed as the main director, which is fine, but a huge amount of money and segments that did not make it (whether they were finished on film or not) came and went until they came up with the film here, which runs a just-right 117 minutes. More of it works than not and it is definitely recommended.

Extras include audio outtakes and rarities, an Original Theatrical Trailer, vintage Crime Does Not Pay live-action short The Luckiest Guy In The World, Ziegfeld Follies: An Embarrassment of Riches featurette and two animated cartoon shorts: The Hick Chick and Solid Serenade.

Now for playback performance. The odd thing is that the older the production, the better it tends to look in the case of these productions. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Ball Game and Follies can sometimes show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and have been thoroughly restored by Warner Bros. to their original 35mm, dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor glory, looking amazing. Then you have Ball Game an even biggest surprise just being all the more stunning and another jaw-dropping gem with jaw-dropping moment after demo moment for your regular HDTV or new 4K set. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on World's Fair is actually in MetroColor (originating on Eastman Kodak 35mm color negative) and was shot with real anamorphic Panavision lenses. It too can sometimes in spots can show the age of the materials used, but this too is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and will stun Elvis fans who have had a great run of luck lately with all of his hit films getting such top notch restoration treatment.

All three films offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes, but Follies is also offered in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless sound because MGM recorded multiple tracks by default to get the best analog mono sound at the time in the business. Thus the tracks are often there to create authentic stereo it is a great plus.

The remaining four Blu-rays offer 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers with Paris and 42nd Street slightly older HD shoots with some motion blur and detail limits, but decent color, Humperdinck an upscale of a low-def show that is a very mixed bag and Gentle (as expected for anything on Punk Rock music) a wild mix of rough old analog video, degraded video, barely surviving film where applicable and new digital interview footage.

Paris and 42nd Street offer two soundtracks in PCM 2.0 Stereo and slightly better DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but neither have stunning soundfields, yet the music sounds decent. Gentle ironically offers the same audio options, but it is more uneven. Humperdinck is the oddest of all, with Cleopatra not getting the message that lossy music codecs are NOT what music and blu-ray fans want, so instead of lossless sound bringing out the best in the music, we get a tired, weak, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that does the singer and his band no favors. Making matters worse, the PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on the CD sounds much better and as good as any disc on the list here. What a missed opportunity... again!

That leaves the 1.33 X 1 analog, NTSC color footage on all 10 Soul DVDs looks as good as can be expected for a production its age and shockingly sports some good color the Humperdinck and the live Blu-ray musicals lack! The second set is as solid as the first set and all the Midnight Special DVDs we've seen over the years and reviewed on this site. Analog videotape flaws can including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage at times, but they are minimal. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound on all the episodes are fine for their age, but you'll always wish for stereo at least, but the plus here is that most of the music acts recorded their songs live, so its worth the extra effort to tolerate the age of the sound. Wish this were in a lossless form.

To order It Happened At The World's Fair, Take Me Out To The Ballgame and/or The Ziegfeld Follies Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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