Previously released on laserdisc in 1995, Warner Bros.' new DVD contains a really sharp transfer of the gorgeous Technicolor production, with amazing reds and blues that glow onscreen – something director George Sidney notes in his informative & detailed commentary track.
Sidney is one of Hollywood's lesser-known Golden Age directors, responsible for many high-profile musicals, including “Kiss me Kate,” and “Viva Las Vegas” – two films that also share stunning visuals and vibrant colour schemes on their respective DVDs.
Added to this DVD release are 3 deleted musical numbers, rescued from the vault, so to speak, with “My Intuition;” plus a longer version of “March of the Doagies” (with Reprise) that was included in the 1994 musical compilation, “That's Entertainment III.” Both numbers are in surprisingly good shape, with decent sound.
The disc also contains 27 musical selections – partial, complete and alternate takes – in the disc's “Singsong Express” library. Lastly, there's a stereo mix of “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” number, which, like the extended stereo version of “If I Only Had a Brain” sequence on “The Wizard of Oz” DVD, was created using different microphone stems that MGM routinely used during the 1930s and 1940s to refine their mono soundtracks.
The major highlight of this release, however, remains Sidney's commentary. While addressing the standard production aspects, the director offers more personal views on a wide range of subjects; when dipping into more contemporary issues – the nascent DVD format, for example – things become a bit more colourful.
“The rape of the Hollywood musical has been MTV,” he says at one stage, although later years would show the music video format was largely responsible for reinvigorating the genre. Perhaps it's the tonal shifts and stylistic indulgences of filmmakers from a more commercially kinetic background that bristles Sidney, but overall his views make for an informal, yet historically relevant lecture on one of Hollywood's most enduring genres.
This title is available separately or as part of the Judy Garland Signature Collection that includes: “For Me And My Gal,” “The Harvey Girls,” “In The Good Old Summertime,” “Love Finds Andy Hardy,” “A Star Is Born,” “The Wizard Of Oz” and “Ziegfeld Girl.”
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan