Brigadoon on DVD
A wonderfully charming musical fantasy, Brigadoon is a tale about
the power of love, set in the Scottish highlands and revolves around a magical
village that appears out of the mist every 100 years.
Fortunately, for our story purposes, the village appears out of
the mists just as two American friends on a hunting trip arrive in the
picturesque valley, lost and looking for directions. Had they arrived a day
earlier or a day later wed have no movie, so its good that their
timing was perfect.
And what a lovely village is Brigadoon, nestled amongst the
Scottish peaks and populated by a charismatic gaggle of characters.
Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) is engaged to be married back in New
York City, but he keeps putting it off because deep in his heart hes
looking for something else. And in Brigadoon, that something else (Fiona
Campbell, played by Cyd Charisse) rears her lovely head almost immediately, and
hes never the same again. His buddy, played by Van Johnson, is a cynical
drunk who represents the reality to Brigadoons
fantasy, and it isnt hard to see why Tommy would choose the
fantasy over the reality.
But in order to do that he has to leave everything behind from his
former life and embrace the magic of the little village, disappearing with it
into the mists only to emerge every 100 years. Not surprisingly, hes
reluctant to do that and, in fact, leaves with his friend and goes back to the
Big Apple to resume his life.
Alas, he cant get Brigadoon out of his head; even an
innocent phrase will set his mind off on a memory trip in which he hears Lerner
and Loewe tunes that were sung in Brigadoon while he wasnt even on
screen! This is one seriously in love dude and eventually his feelings for the
lovely Fiona drag him back to the highlands so he can look once more upon the
ground where his love sleeps through her century-long night, forever lost to
And theres where the power of love to change the world comes
in really handy!
Brigadoon was directed by Vincente Minelli and choreographed by
Kelly, from the musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The whole
shebang appears to have been shot indoors, on sound stages, but despite that
most of it take place outside in and around Brigadoon and the production
designers and set builders really did a remarkable job. The film looks
terrific, the performances are wonderful, and the story is charming and utterly
Warner Brothers new DVD features a new 16x9 widescreen TV
compatible digital transfer of the movie using the aspect ratio of 2.55:1.
Overall, its pretty good, though it appears that the film needs more than
a new digital transfer: it needs to be restored. The DVD picture is generally
sharp, though theres definitely grain in evidence, but it also looks a
tad washed out and this affects the usually so vibrant color found in these old
Audio is supposedly remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and perhaps it
is. Theres little or no surround, though, not that it bothered us a whit.
What you do get is the three front channels spreading music and dialogue across
the room in front of you and thats fine. Overall audio quality is good,
but not spectacular, and this isnt surprising for a soundtrack dating
Extras include three outtake musical numbers (Come To Me,
Bend To Me, From This Day On and Sword Dance) as
well as an audio outtake of There But For You Go I. You also get
Brigadoon isnt remembered in the same breath as My Fair
Lady, Oklahoma or the Sound of Music, but that doesnt detract from its
strengths as a lovely story with likeable characters living a dream that, at
one time or another, most of us have undoubtedly had while coping with the
rushes of modern life.
Brigadoon, from Warner Home Entertainment
108 min. anamorphic
widescreen (2.55:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson, Albert Sharpe
Produced by Arthur
Written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, directed by Vincente
Easter parade on DVD
Judy Garland's singing, Fred Astaire's dancing and Irving Berlin's
music shine in this holiday film that has received a new digital transfer from
the folks at Warner Brothers.
Astaire is Don Hewes who, not surprisingly, is a dancer. But his
life is thrown into a tizzy when his longtime dancing partner, Nadine (Ann
Miller), leaves him to go solo. Bound and determined to show the world he
doesnt need her anyway, he announces that he can pick any chorus girl at
random and make her a star kind of like My Fair Lady without the cockneys.
As it turns out, hes lucky enough to pick Hannah Brown (Judy
Garland), who proves to be a lot more than just a young girl who once left
Kansas by unconventional means. The rest, as they say, is movie history.
This is a delightful film and youd never know about its
apparent birthing problems. Weve read that Astaire actually came out of
retirement to take this role after Gene Kelly was injured, and that Garland was
quite ill during production. Any behind the scenes scrambling doesn't show, and
you dont miss Kelly, which is quite a statement!
And how can one complain about another score by the great Irving
Berlin. Not all the songs here were new for this film, but weve heard
Berlin songs recycled through movies before (White Christmas comes immediately to mind, if
only for its title song) and it never bothered us.
And the movie seems tailor made to showcase the talents of its
stars. We get to see Astaires legendary dancing in such numbers as "Drum
Crazy" and "Steppin' Out with My Baby" and Garlands famous vocals in such
songs as "Better Luck Next Time."
And things get even better when they perform together, especially
in "We're a Couple of Swells."
In the end, Easter Parade is a marvelous movie musical experience
that has earned its Easter holiday standard status as much as
Its a Wonderful Life earned its
Christmas holiday classic status.
Easter Parade is one of those classics that its wonderful to
have in your collection as a Hollywood treasure you can pass on to your kids.
The new DVD features a new, digital transfer from restored
picture and audio elements and the full frame (not 16x9 TV compatible) color
picture looks, for the most part, great. We love the look of old
Hollywood Technicolor and on this transfer it comes through bright and
clean and crisp.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and sounds pretty good, if a tad
Then there are the extras. This single disc set (a two disc set is
also available, but we didn't receive it) includes a running commentary
performed by Fred Astaire's daughter Ava Astaire and John Fricke, Judy
Garlands biographer. You also get a new making-of
documentary: "Easter Parade: Beyond the Avenue" and an American Masters
documentary profile: "Judy Garland: By Myself."
Also on tap are an outtake musical number Mr. Monotony
and the audio-only bonus of a radio production. Theres also a radio promo
and a gallery of Judy Garland trailers.
Easter Parade, from Warner Home Entertainment
103 min. full
frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Astaire, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Peter Lawford
Produced by Arthur
Written by Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett,
directed by Charles Walters
The Band Wagon on DVD
Another great Vincent Minelli musical originally from MGM and now
brought to us by Warners is The Band Wagon.
Fred Astaire teams up with Cyd Charisse in the musical that
brought us the now-famous number Thats Entertainment!
Astaire plays fading film star Tony Hunter who decides to take
another kick at the can by going back to his Broadway roots. His
playwright/songwriter friends (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant) get him hooked
up with director Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan).
The Band Wagon does a fantastic job of blending great music,
dancers, actors and laughs, offering us a perfectly-cast troupe in a wonderful
movie musical. And the musical numbers are frequent and wonderfully
Songs include "By Myself," "Shine on My Shoes," "I Guess I'll Have
to Change My Plans" many, many more. The songs are courtesy of Howard Dietz and
Arthur Schwartz and the screenplay was by the classic team of Betty Comden and
If you love movie musicals and havent seen The Band Wagon,
you really owe it to yourself to plop your butt down in your home theater and
revel in the magic of this magnificent classic.
The DVD features a new digital transfer from newly restored
elements. Its very good, though the color is just a tad washed out.
Its presented in its original full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible)
Audio is remastered into 5.1 and though, as usual, you dont
get a lot of surround you do get a fairly nice soundstage across the front
Extras include a commentary by director Vincente Minellis
daughter Liza accompanied by Michael Feinstein, a vintage documentary "The Men
Who Made the Movies: Vincente Minnelli," the outtake musical number Two
Faced Woman, plus some dailies.
Theres also a musical short Jack Buchanan with the
Glee Quartet and a gallery of Fred Astaire movies.
The Band Wagon, from Warner Home Entertainment
112 min. full
frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchana
by Arthur Freed
Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, directed by
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