Terry Kath Experience
More Than Ever: The Story Of Chicago
(both 2016/FilmRise Blu-ray*)/Honeymooners:
A Christmas Carol
(2021/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Dinner
(1958/Art Carney/Liberation Hall/*both MVD)/Ivanhoe
(1952/**both MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)
B/C+/B & C+/B/C/B Sound: B/C+/B & C+/C+/C/C+ Extras:
D/C+/C/B/D/C Main Programs: B/B-/C+/B-/B-/B-
Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their
Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
next group of releases feature music, comedy and maybe some drama...
start with a documentary double feature. Chicago:
Terry Kath Experience
More Than Ever: The Story Of Chicago
(both 2016) finally tell the story of one of the greatest and most
successful bands in music history. We reviewed the Story
on DVD a few years ago at this link:
to us is another great work directed by Michelle Kath Sinclair,
daughter of the late, great Terry Kath, who helped put Chicago
permanently on the map. Her documentary (a shorter, but still very
rich 80 minutes) is primarily about her father and finding out more
about him, yet we also get more on the band's history, a period
piece, a look at the music industry at the time, a rare look at the
counterculture and just how talented Kath was. The rest of the band
members can more than hold their own, but we see how significant his
work really was.
can watch the two in either order, but there is little overlap and I
was glad to finally catch up to the Kath
Honeymooners Specials: A Christmas Carol
(1977) is one of the latter original color version of the all-time
classic TV comedy with Jackie Gleason still more than capable of
delivering the legendary Ralph Kramden. Rejoined by Jayne Meadows
and as always with Art Carney, this one has Ralph's boss at the bus
company (a fun turn by Gale Gordon) getting talked into directing a
play that would fund
meals for stray cats in NYC because the boss' wife wants it that way.
Ralph somehow forgets he and Alice are supposed to go on a weeks
vacation in that time and disaster is imminent. A musical show as
well, it has several great gags and lines worth going out of your way
for and it is even better than I remembered. I wonder if the cat
jokes are supposed to capitalize on Carney's great film Harry
(1974) where Harry takes his cat Tonto on a road trip? Either way,
this is a fun installment and the DVD gas extras too.
(2021) is another one of this year's musical adaptations of a stage
musical and like In
too much of the stage version gets lost in its big screen transition.
A drama with musical moments about the loner title character (Ben
Platt, repeating his role from the stage well enough) and starts with
him sort of trying to stay that way, but unsure. When someone he
only knew so well self-destructs and commits suicide, an unsent
letter to Evan becomes a big deal.
suggests a relationship that was not there, but Evan decides to
make-up-a-big story to appease the late teen's parents, et al, and
test what it is like to be part of a a melodramatic situation. Well,
this version has many ups and downs, even with a good supporting cast
include Julianne Moore, Danny Pino and Amy Adams among the cast,
cannot distinguish itself or really work as it should.
dim look of the film does not help, but the overuse of internet
images is obnoxious and wears very thin very quickly, an idea that
has ruined hundreds of films and undermines this one, especially in
its most serious points. Sad. The musical has to be totally
reinvented with each single feature film and most fail to do this, so
they fail and disappoint. That also kills many opportunities to do
much more, making this blander than it should be. Now you can see
for yourself, but the stage original still sounds better too.
(1933) is the still-impressive pre-code Hollywood hit, based on the
hit stage play (George S. Kaufman and Edna Farber wrote the stage
play, then the screenplay is adapted by Francis Marion and Herman J.
Mankiewicz) about how the rich live and do not always get along or
find happiness. This becomes wackier when a couple who is not as
rich (Jean Harlow and Wallace Berry) find themselves invited into
high society and an upcoming dinner party. Add Billie Burke, John
Barrymore, Jean Hersholt, Edmond Lowe, Madge Evans and others and you
get a crazy mix of class division collapse and all kinds of anxiety.
funny as it is classy, Harlow is shown off to great effect with some
great lines, zingers and costume changes that remain some of the most
legendary in all of cinema history, while everyone is in top form and
their chemistry just ups the lunacy and madness in what is a
precursor to the Screwball Comedy. Of course, this influenced all
kinds of comedies to follow and is one of the sound cinema's earliest
triumphs in the genre. Nice to see such an amazing restoration
bringing the film back to its fancy, expensive, lush, platinum glory.
A must see for all serious film fans, this is the way to see it
outside of a mint 35mm print.
(1958) was made eight years after the James Stewart feature film, but
instead is a live TV version (backed by DuPont as a sponsor) with Art
Carney as an excellent second choice for the man who is the only one
who can see the title character, an invisible rabbit. But is the
rabbit actually there?
charming and surprising than expected, this David Susskind-produced
version has as good a supporting cast including Elizabeth Montgomery
(Bewitched,) Charlotte Rae (Hot L Baltimore, Differn't
Strokes, The Facts Of Life) and Fred Gwynne (The
Munsters, Car 54, Where Are You? with Rae) is surprisingly
effective and holds up well, though I was never the biggest fan of
the story overall.
say this is a curio is an understatement, but that it delivers more
than you'd expect in its 90 minutes running time (though the DuPont
ads are longer than you might expect,) it is worth a good look and a
very welcome release.
we have Richard Thorpe's Ivanhoe
(1952) with Robert Taylor as the singing, serenading rider and knight
who lands up in all kinds of jousting events and wants to free the
imprisoned King Richard (Norman Woolland,) though some of the jousts
take place off of horses. Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine show up
as dual lover interests and there's more humor than you might usually
get in such a period piece, but it works here well enough.
on the Sir Walter Scott novel, George Saunders, Guy Rolfe, Sebastian
Cabot and even an uncredited Robert Brown help make up a solid
supporting cast backed by amazing sets and costume design, it is
among the last of an era of Classical Hollywood filmmaking and works
more often than not. It also inspired plenty of spoofs (from various
Warner cartoons to Art Carney's villain in the Adam West Batman
series) and satires, the laughs will be as much intended as
unintended. Glad Warner restored it.
for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition
image on both Chicago documentaries look good and the Story
transfer is far better than the old DVD we reviewed a few years ago.
In both cases, the new HD footage shot looks good, while all the
archival film and analog video footage is also impressive (as much as
can be for the low def items) and rare 8mm film is even looking good.
Add the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio)
5.1 lossless mixes on both and you can really hear the interviews
clearly and the music gets the respect it deserves. This belongs on
the same shelf as the Quadio
Blu-ray box, a few Blu-ray concerts, mint vinyl, DVD-Audios of the
second and fifth albums (out of print, but great sonically), plus
several Mobile Fidelity SACDs of the band's albums issued so far.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Evan is not a
bad HD shoot, but it has been toned down a little too dark for its
own good, which is more annoying on the
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image DVD. The lossless Dolby Atmos
11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) on the Blu-ray is
more impressive than the image on either disc, kicking in when it
needs to, while the dialogue-based moments are recorded just fine.
The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is passable, but on the weak
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Dinner is a great restoration rarely showing the
age of the film materials used, instead showing the glossy,
glamorous-looking monochrome work MGM delivered on their best films.
The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0
Mono lossless mix is as good as it can sound, but can only hide its
age so much. Still, it is impressive for being so older.
1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition color image transfer can on
can also sometimes show the age of the materials used, but this is
far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and
delivers the kind of color you would expect from a 35mm,
three-strip Technicolor version of the film. Lensed by the legendary
Freddie Young, B.S.C. (Lawrence
Only Live Twice,)
some shots rise above my letter grade and I bet a 4K version would
yield even more amazing results, but this is remarkable enough and
will impress. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on
the film is also as good as it will ever sound, but it still shows
its age often and sadly, this is just before stereo arrived for
select feature films.
1.33 X 1 on the Harvey
DVD is a little soft being from a kinescope of the live show, but
looks pretty good and has some good shots, but the source could use a
little more work, while the color 1.33 X 1 image on Honeymooners
is as rich and nice as the DVDs of the older color shows we reviewed
years ago. Both have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound, with Harvey
being a little aged and weak, while Honeymooners
sounds better and you get a slight echo because the shows were
recorded in a 3,000 seat auditorium.
sadly have no extras, but Honeymooners
has a nice interview statuette with Jane Kean called Trixie's
and a 1973 Women's
skit episode of the show that holds up well and is as timely as ever.
Copy, plus (per the press release:) Songs
To Be Seen: Journey
behind the scenes to get an exclusive look at each song featured in
DEAR EVAN HANSEN and what they mean to the cast and crew.
Through a Window
Will Be Found
A Little Closer
Through the Lens: The Making of Dear Evan Hansen: This making of
showcases the filmmakers and new cast members that have come
together within the Dear Evan Hansen family to bring such an
incredible story from stage to screen. From Costume Designer
Sekinah Brown's pieces to Jamaica Craft's choreography, Director
Stephen Chbosky's insight and Beth Mickle's production design - we
see a holistic representation of the filmmaker's production process.
In Our Eyes: For so many, this production was their first
working environment after many months, in a time where we all felt
the need for connection. Witness the exploding artistry that came
to life on set as both cast and crew began to find themselves again
through collaborative creativity.
the Blu-ray only Sincerely, Ben Platt: Ben Platt
reflects on finding his voice through a character that very much
mirrored his own teenage experience, how that role brought him
international acclaim and what bringing his run as the character Evan
Hansen to an end ultimately feels like.
adds the comedy short Come To Dinner, an Original Theatrical
Trailer and excellent featurette documentary on star Jean Harlow
(beautifully hosted by Sharon Stone) titled Harlow: The Blonde
Original Theatrical Trailer and the charming Academy Award-winning
Tom & Jerry Technicolor cartoon short The
order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, Dinner
to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive