Monday, June 27, 2016

Film Chest's The Golden Age Of Musicals Arrives On July 19 As A 17-Strong Musical Film Collection

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Chest will get your toes a’tappin and loosen up those vocal chords on July 19 with 17 music-themed films — on five discs — being released as The Golden Age of Musicals.  

So what’s in this stellar collection … in chronological order we find tunes and dance numbers galore:

Something to Sing About (1937), James Cagney stars as a New York City-based band leader who gets offered a Hollywood contract, but doesn’t find a place to his liking.   Evelyn Daw co-stars in this rare non-Warner Bros. film (one of two he did for the short-lived Grand National Pictures) where Cagney gets to sing and dance (a non-gangster role) … included are “Bridal Chorus” (a dance routine with Cagney and Daw), “Any Old Love” (song by Cagney) and Daw sings while Cagney dances in “Out of the Blue” and “Loving You.”

The Duke is Tops (1938) is a black musical starring Duke Davis and Lena Horne from Million Dollar Productions (specialized in casting black talent during the pre-war period) as sweethearts who go their separate ways (doom and gloom), but it all ends on a happy note.   Lena Horne is showcased in two numbers — “I Know You Remember” and “Don't Let Our Love Song Turn Into a Blues” — plus there are performances by a half-dozen black groups rarely seen by white audiences during this period.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeySecond Chorus (1940) teams Fred Astaire with Paulette Goddard, with Astaire as a life-long    College or the girl of his dreams … it’s a tough decision!   Over a dozen song and dance numbers are included here.
college student who is forced to give up the aimless lifestyle when he falls in love with Goddard … and she, horror of horrors, heads off to New York City!

Pot O'Gold (1941) stars Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard in a fun-filled Irish-themed musical-romantic-comedy (based on a popular radio show of the time) that features Stewart belting out “When Johnny Toots His Horn” and Goddard teaming with Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights for renditions of “Pete the Piper” and “Broadway Caballero.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
All American Co-ed (1941), starring singer Frances Langford as a college girl who gets caught up in a rival college prank delivered by Johnny Downs and still manages to get in — between the romance and comedy hijinks — such songs as “Out of the Silence,” and “Up at the Crack of Dawn” and teams with Downs for “I'm a Chap with a Chip on My Shoulder” and “The Poor Farmers Daughter.”

Private Buckaroo (1942), the Andrew Sisters and Harry James and His Orchestra shine with such delights as “Private Buckaroo,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “Three Little Sisters,” plus Donald O’Connor and Peggy Ryan deliver dancing routines.   And be on the lookout for Three Stooge alumni Shemp Howard and East Side Kid star Huntz Hall in this all-star musical comedy.

Stage Door Canteen (1943), this all-star musical review from World War II has a loose plot about a soldier named Dakota (played by William Terry), who visits a “club” for service men — that is populated by celebrities (dozens of familiar faces do cameos) — and falls in love (Cheryl Walker).   There are something like 18 musical numbers performed during Dakota’s visit … included are “A Rookie and His Rhythm” (performed by the Kay Kyser Band), “She's a Bombshell from Brooklyn” (performed by Lina Roman, with backing from The Xavier Cugat Orchestra) and Ethel Waters delivers “Quick Sands” (with backing by the Count Basie Orchestra).

This is the Army (1943) is a filmed version of Irving Berlin’s extremely successful Broadway Play — Berlin provides something like 19 tunes for this all star musical comedy starring George Murphy, Rosemary DeCamp, Ronald Reagan and Joan Leslie.   Included in the review are Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America,” George Murphy singing and dancing with “We're on Our Way to France” and “My Sweetie,” Frances Langford chimes in with “What Does He Look Like” and even Irving Berlin gets in the act with “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” (he is joined by George Murphy, George Tobias and Charles Butterworth).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyCareer Girl (1944), songstress Frances Langford returns, this time as a young woman trying to break into show business … she sings four songs during the course of this swiftly-paced film: “A Dream Came True,” “Blue in Love Again,” “Some Day” and “That's How the Rumba Began.”

People are Funny (1946) features Jack Haley and Ozzie Nelson as radio rivals (the film’s title is based on the Art Linkletter radio show of the same name), Helen Walker is Nelson’s love interest and Rudy Vallee is the clueless sponsor that Haley and Nelson are after.   Blended in with the hyper comedy elements are “time outs” for musical numbers, including Frances Langford’s singing “I'm in the Mood for Love” and The Vagabonds teaming for a trio of numbers.

Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) is the big all-star musical of the Christmas-season of 1946 which was laced together as a biopic for the career of Jerome Kern, but was really a showcase for the talents of June Allyson (“Till the Clouds Roll By” and “Leave it to Jane” with Ray McDonald), Judy Garland (“Look for the Silver Lining,” “Who?” and “Sunny”), Dinah Shore (“The Last Time I Saw Paris”), Lena Horne (“Why was I Born?”), Frank Sinatra (“Ol' Man River”) and more.  

The Fabulous Dorseys (1947) stars Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey as themselves in this United Artists theatrical biopic directed by Alfred E. Green (who did The Jolson Story the year before).   This is a delightful trip down “memory lane,” which is more or less an excuse to showcase over a dozen musical numbers, including two sung by Janet Blair — “To Me” and “The Object of My Affection.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Inspector General (1949), Danny Kaye is a traveling performer in a “medicine show” who sings a half-dozen songs, romances Barbara Bates and is mistaken for the Inspector General by corrupt town officials in this Golden Globe-winner for Best Musical Score.   Co-stars include Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, Alan Hale and Elsa Lanchester.

At War with the Army (1950), a post-war comedy vehicle for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis … between comedy bits involving life in boot camp Dean Martin gets to croon with Polly Bergen with “You and Your Beautiful Eyes” and goes solo with “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral.”

Royal Wedding (1951), directed by Stanley Donen and starring Fred Astaire and Jane Powell … who could ask for more!   Included in the dance routines is Astaire’s classic dancing on the walls and ceiling of his hotel room (done with a rotating gimbal) in “You’re All the World to Me” and “Open Your Eyes,” which features Astaire and Powell in a dance routine on board ship during heavy waves (it’s a hoot).
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Road to Bali (1952) finds Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamore in their sixth “Road” movie (which never left California if the truth be known) … a half dozen musical number spark this fun comedy, with Crosby going solo on “To See You” and duets with his sidekick Bob Hope for “Chicago Style,” “Hoot Mon” and “The Whiffenpoof Song.”

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957) is a made-for-television musical special that aired during Thanksgiving on NBC.   Van Johnson stars as the title character, Lori Nelson is the romantic lead and Claude Rains is the Mayor of Hamelin, with Doodles Weaver and Kay Starr joining in.   There are a dozen musical numbers included in the festivities — “How Can I Tell You?,” “Feats of the Piper,” “Fool’s Gold” and “My Heart Will Fly To Heaven” are counted among these.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Mega Star Trek Blu-ray Collection Beams In From Paramount Home Media On Sept. 6

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media announced its first — of many — post-Labor Day releases this past week and it is a doozy!

On Sept. 6 — the first street-date Tuesday after Labor Day — they are unleashing 30-disc mega set on Blu-ray titled Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection.   The packaging is almost too good … why would you want to break the seal (but you must)!

Included are all three seasons of the original Star Trek television series — featuring William Shatner, the late Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and second-season newcomer Walter Koenig — all six films featuring the original cast (from Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991) and the short-lived animated series (1973/1974).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
All of the bonus features included in the individual releases are also to be found in this “KEEPER” collection.  These include the likes of the documentary, Star Trek: The Journey to the Silver Screen, and such featurettes as “The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek,” “Maiden Voyage: Making Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan” and “End of an Era: Charting the Undiscovered Country” (to name just a few).

There’s also a collectible Starfleet pin a six-strong collection of mini-posters (one sheet replicas) for the six films in the series.

Wolfe Selects Sept. 6 For The DVD Debut Of Jenni Olson’s Award-Winng The Royal Road

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Royal Road, Ralph Tribbey
Filmmaker Jenni Olson’s deceptively engaging film, The Royal Road, which has been capturing both the attention of mainstream film critics and the affection of audiences worldwide through screenings as numerous festivals (along with the awards that go with such adoration), will be making its way to DVD on Sept. 6 courtesy of Wolfe.

We say “deceptively,” in that Olson, who didn’t start out as a filmmaker, but who is a co-director of Frameline and a film historian, got the “bug” back in the 1990s by — according to interviews — “framing” shots of interesting and very random things.   A series of short films followed.   

The Royal Road is a collection, so to speak, of her “random” look at California from an outsider’s point-of-view.   Eclectic impressions of the Golden State — very much in the spirit of James Burke’s Connections from the late ‘70s — that ranges from Father Junipero Serra’s chain of missions, Hitchcock’s 1958 film, Vertigo and her own frustrations with unrequited love.   

The Royal Road is random to be sure, but ultimately “deceptively engaging.”
Bonus goodies included four of filmmaker Jenni Olson’s short films — 575 Castro Street, Meep Meep!, Blue Diary and Sometimes plus a newly-prepared video session with Olson.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Royal Road, Ralph Tribbey


MVD Entertainment Group Teams With Network Ireland Television For The July 12 DVD Release Of Kennedys’ Irish Mafia

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Documentary filmmaker David Harvey’s insightful look at the men who surrounded President John F. Kennedy, Kennedys’ Irish Mafia, will be available on DVD on July 12 from Network Ireland Television … MVD Entertainment Group will be directing the domestic sales and distribution effort.

Key advisers to Kennedy, Dave Francis Powers (personal aide to the president), Lawrence O’Brien (future Commissioner of the NBA) and Kenny O’Donnell (White House Appointments Secretary) were known for their intense loyalty and were nicknamed “The Irish Mafia. 

Harvey delves into their special relationship with JFK. 

Of note, all three had accompanied the president to Dallas in November of 1963 and were in the motorcade following Kennedy when he was assassinated.    

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
According to Harvey’s documentary, when it was decided to bring Kennedy’s body back to D.C. on Air Force One, Powers, O’Brien and O’Donnell not only moved the body from Parkland, but they can be seen physically carrying the president’s coffin up the gangway (there was no hoist available) in vintage film footage from that fateful day.

Bonus features include over an hour’s worth of video sessions with with Patrick Kennedy, Sandy Vancour, Helen O’Donnell, Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence O’Brien. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Shout! Factory Joins 4K Ultra HD Product Parade

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, 4K Ultra HD, Ralph Tribbey
While Disney fusses over whether to commit to the newly-launched 4K Ultra HD format, Shout! Factory is quick to follow-up on its June 7 entry — Journey to Space — with two new 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack selections that are tabbed for release on July 12.

The first of these is documentary filmmaker Mike Slee’s spectacular Flight of the Butterflies.   This 2012 IMAX presentation follows the Mexico to Canada migration trek of millions of Monarch butterflies in something of a storytelling mode — the footage captured is nothing short of breathtaking. 

Teamed with it is documentary filmmaker Stephen Low’s Rocky Mountain Express — a magical journey through the Canadian Rocky Mountains for a look back in time at the history of Canada’s transcontinental railroad.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Tabs Aug. 2 For The Release Of DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Key and Peele's Keanu

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Keanu, Ralph Tribbey
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment let it be known this past week that director Peter Atencio’s comedy starring Key and Peele, Keanu, will be making its way to the home entertainment market place on Aug. 2 as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings.

The ARR comes in at 95 days and ticket sales from its pre-Memorial Day theatrical run totaled $20.5 million.

When Keanu is taken hostage, no not THAT Keanu, but Keanu the cat, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) and Rell (Jordan Peele) spring into action and assume the personas of street thugs to convince the “catnappers” that crime doesn’t pay.   Of course things for the boys go south from there as they are mistaken for the ruthless killers know as the “Allentown Boys” (who do a bit of their handy work during the film’s opening sequence).

A deal is worked out, help provide the muscle on a dangerous drug deal and Keanu will be returned.   

If you are a fan of Key and Peele, then all the plot you are going to need is a missing cat and some alternate identities — which the comic duo deliver in spades — to make for 99 minutes of pure fun.   They even got that other Keanu to do the voice of his namesake in a comedy sketch that can easily stand on its own.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Keanu, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus nuggets include a gag reel, deleted scenes and the featurette titled “Keanu: My First Movie.”

In other release news this week from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Aug. 16 marks the DVD debut of the fourth installment in the studio’s “Cinderella” film series.   

Titled A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits, it follows A Cinderella Story (2004, with Hilary Duff), Another Cinderella Story (2008, with Selena Gomez) and Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (2011, with Lucy Hale), with Sofia Carson taking over the updated Cinderella persona.

Bonus goodies for this direct-to-video release include deleted scenes, a gag reel, a trio of featurettes — “Style#n Cinderella,” “Get Your Glam On” and “How to Get Loose” — plus two music videos, “Do You” and “The Cinderella Mash.”

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Says No To 4K Ultra HD For Beauty And The Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment continues to sidestep support for the newly launched 4K Ultra HD format with news this week that the directing team of Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise’s 1991 landmark animated hit, Beauty and the Beast, will be getting a 25th Anniversary Edition promotion on Sept. 20.  

There will be a Blu-ray/DVD Combo disc featuring “four” different viewing options — the original theatrical release, a workprint version, which was screened at the New York Film Festival about five months before the film opened, an “extended” version (featuring the “Human Again” song sequence) and a “sing-a-along” version.   

The press release says squat about a new transfer — either 2K or 4K — so this appears to be the 2010 “Diamond Edition” dusted off for another bite at the apple.

Disney missed the boat with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens as a 4K Ultra HD release, but was understandable to a degree in that the film was moved quickly to market in April (just 109 days from its theatrical launch) and the format had only been launched one month earlier.   They can always revisit a 4K Ultra HD version at some future point.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBut skipping this opportunity is a bit puzzling.

As to bonus goodies, in addition to the four viewing options, there are five newly prepared featurettes — “Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration,” “#1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast,” “Always Belle,” “The Recording Sessions” and “25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Beast” — plus there’s a sneak peek at director Bill Condon’s new live-action version (in theatres Mar. 17 of next year) starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens (perhaps best knows as Matthew Crawley in the Downton Abbey television series) as The Beast.

The next window for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment to enter the 4K Ultra HD market place would be with filmmakers Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War sometime after Labor Day.