Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

As has long been established here, I very much prefer physical media when it comes to how I like to watch movies. So, to that end, we’re here to look at what I personally consider to be the best releases of 2022! As I remind everyone yearly, I do NOT receive screeners of any kind (nor, quite frankly, would I want to, as I prefer to support the movies I like in the hopes of more of them being made available), so I can only work with what I have seen.  I am making this list from all the 2022 releases I have seen as of 11/24/2022. I am, at this point, strictly working from movies that have been released through October 2022 (plus one released VERY early in the month of November) due to constraints of time and budget (plus the fact that, as I said, I don’t receive screeners and therefore can’t comment on anything released in the latter part of November or anything from December). So, this list is what it is (but, I will give a shout-out to some of the others afterwards).  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to use my affiliate links to go to Amazon and buy them!

  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) tells the tale of Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) and his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his brother works on the family history of a local duke. This may not be the best film on the list, and it may not be the absolute best restoration (due to some VERY minor damage that is visible here and there), but it was the biggest surprise of the year! It’s a very enjoyable film, long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore due to water damage and being a Cinerama film (meaning it had three times the amount of film to restore that a regular movie of a similar length would have). Now, it looks MUCH better than it has in a long time, and a bunch of new special features were produced for this release. I thought this would be the release of the year when I first saw it, and now, more than half a year later, I still believe it!
  1. Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (Warner Home Video, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: 4K UHD Roundup, Original Review
    • In this classic musical, Gene Kelly stars as silent film star Don Lockwood, who is facing the rise of the talking picture, as he also begins a romance with one of his fans, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). It’s hard to go wrong with this film, in between all the fun music by producer Arthur Freed and his partner Nacio Herb Brown, Gene Kelly’s iconic dance to the title tune and Donald O’Connor doing “Make ‘Em Laugh,” along with many other memorable moments. The new 4K UHD really shines, giving us the best transfer we’ve gotten yet for this film, with less of the yellowish image present from the Blu-ray, and more natural colors! Easily one of the year’s best releases!
  1. Blue Skies (1946) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup, Bing Crosby Roundup, Original Review
    • In this film, dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) has fallen for Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but she’s taken a shine to nightclub owner Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). In this second film pairing Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, they once again have the music of Irving Berlin to help tell the story. Memorable moments include Fred Astaire dancing with himself via special effects to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and the two men dancing to “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men.” With a new 2K master that easily improves on previous releases on home video, this Blu-ray comes highly recommended!
  1. Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup, Original Review
    • In this Busby Berkeley musical, a trio of chorus girls take part in a hit new musical when one member’s boyfriend helps pay for it. Trouble arises when his meddlesome older brother tries to break up their relationship, but he and his lawyer instead fall for the other two girls from the trio. This is a fun pre-Code musical, with Ginger Rogers singing the classic “We’re In The Money” (part of it in pig Latin, no less!), as well as songs like the neon-lit “Shadow Waltz” and the Depression-era “Remember My Forgotten Man.” The new Blu-ray works from a scan of the best preservation elements, and as a result, the film looks fantastic! A wonderful movie with a great transfer to boot (and therefore highly recommended)!
  1. (tie) For Me And My Gal (1942) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #2, Original Review
    • In For Me And My Gal (1942), a pair of vaudevillians team up, hoping to become big enough stars that they can perform at the famous Palace Theater in New York City. However, the war (World War I) throws a monkey wrench in their plans when one of them is drafted. There’s a lot of fun to be had here in the first film that teamed up Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut!), from the wonderful period music to the fun dance routines. Now, Warner Archive has done a 4K scan of their best preservation elements for the film, and it looks better than ever! This Blu-ray is certainly the best way to see this film, and comes highly recommended!
  1. (tie) The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #2
    • In The Clock (1945), Robert Walker stars as Corporal Joe Allen, who meets Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) while on a two-day leave in New York City. This is a fun little drama, which focuses on the growing romance between two characters who meet during wartime. Judy and Robert both carry the film quite well, and give us characters that are easy to invest in as we see their various adventures together. For the Blu-ray, Warner Archive gave us a 4K scan of the best preservation elements, which means that this film looks fantastic, with great detail and nothing to mar the image. Easily a great way to enjoy this wonderful movie!
  1. West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: 4K UHD Roundup
    • In this remake of the classic musical, the Jets and the Sharks duke it out for control of the streets of New York. Former Jets leader Tony (Ansel Elgort) falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, which further complicates things. I will readily admit that I did not care for the original 1961 film (and had no plans to see this one), but the new film won me over! The music and dancing are entertaining (and make me want to get up and dance!), and I can’t help but want to see the film again and again! With a beautiful transfer on the 4K UHD, I certainly can think of no better way to see this wonderful film (outside of on the big screen, that is)!
  1. The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • In this version of the classic Alexandre Dumas tale, Gene Kelly stars as the young swordsman D’Artagnan, as he and three other musketeers face off against the French prime minister Richelieu (Vincent Price). Obviously, this film hits a number of the same beats as many other filmed versions of the tale, but Gene Kelly alone makes this swashbuckler film fun! His swordfights (including one whose footage was later borrowed for Singin’ In The Rain) are quite entertaining and humorous! Warner Archive has done their usual stellar work with this three-strip Technicolor film, making the Blu-ray a great way to enjoy this movie!
  1. Edge Of Darkness (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • It’s World War II, and the Norwegian village of Trollness has suffered indignity after indignity under the conquering Nazis. Under the leadership of Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), they wait for the opportune moment to strike back against their German occupiers. It’s definitely a film that was meant to help drum up patriotic fervor in the fight against the Nazis, but it’s still a well-made film that builds up the tension to the fight between the Norwegian people and the Nazis (a battle which was done well in and of itself)! Yet another great release from Warner Archive, with the transfer (taken from the best preservation elements) looking crisp and clear and devoid of all dirt and debris! A great release of a very good war film!
  1. You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: W. C. Fields Roundup
    • Circus owner Larson E. Whipsnade (W. C. Fields) is trying to stay ahead of his creditors, but winds up in enough trouble that his daughter considers a loveless marriage to her wealthy boyfriend to help get her father out of debt. This is a rather fun movie overall, with some of its best bits coming from the running feud between W. C. Fields and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (with the exception of Charlie wearing blackface to cover up a black eye)! The new 2K master looks pretty good, as far as I’m concerned (with VERY minor instances of dirt and debris that don’t really take away from the enjoyment of this movie), making this release well worth it!

Special Honorable Mention:

  • The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6 and The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection Centennial Edition
    • For the most part, my list tends towards movie releases, as those are the vast majority of what I buy. However, as you may have seen, I also enjoy looking into various theatrical short collections. In 2020, ClassicFlix announced (via crowdfunding campaign) their desire to restore the Hal Roach-owned Little Rascals shorts. While their campaign fell short, they went through with their plans anyway. They now have all six volumes of the Little Rascals talkie shorts available on Blu-ray, uncut and fully restored. In doing so, they’ve released the entire run of the Hal Roach-produced talkie shorts, with all six volumes recently re-released in the Complete Collection Centennial Edition. This set contains all the previously released shorts (now condensed onto five discs instead of six), plus a bonus disc (also available separately for those who bought the individual volumes) that includes several alternate language versions of a few shorts plus three silent shorts that they’ve restored (which will also be available when ClassicFlix starts releasing the silents on Blu-ray and/or DVD at some point next year). I’ve so far had the opportunity to see the shorts from the first five volumes (all of which have looked fantastic!), and I’m currently looking forward to seeing the sixth volume (plus the silents when they get that far)! Easily recommended as some of this year’s best releases, whether you go with the remaining individual volumes or the complete set!

Honorable Mentions: You’re Telling Me! (1934) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray), Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) (ClassicFlix, Blu-ray)

I have to admit, compared to the last few years, 2022 has felt like a bit of a slow and slightly disappointing year where physical media has been concerned. Most of that disappointment is arguably centered around the decreased output from Warner Archive. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to WHAT they have released, I’d still say that they won the year in my opinion. They’ve released some Blu-ray upgrades for a few old favorites, while releasing a few new-to-me titles that I’ve enjoyed (especially, as you can tell from my list, The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm), all of which has certainly made me happy. But I also understand WHY their output has slowed, with almost their entire staff getting laid off in early 2021, including their head George Feltenstein (who was, thankfully, rehired back at Warner Brothers later in the year, thus enabling the Warner Archive program to survive beyond 2021). With a smaller staff to work with, that resulted in there being only 2-3 titles a month from them (compared to about 4-7 a month the last year or two), with there being nothing from them at all for two months. From what George Feltenstein has been saying on some of his various podcast appearances, though, it sounds like things *should* pick up from them in 2023 (with word that the classic 1950 musical Three Little Words is currently being worked on!), especially as the whole studio celebrates the 100th anniversary of Warner Brothers!

In general, I would say that ClassicFlix is right up there with Warner Archive (even if they themselves have only had a handful of releases). Their releases of the Little Rascals shorts have continued to be amongst the highlights of the year as I get to see them for the first time (and looking pretty darn good at that!), and I look forward to their releases of the silents from that series as well! As for feature films, they’ve really only had Black Magic (1949) (which was one of their rare lesser transfers, although to be fair that’s not really their fault, as they could only do so much with the available film elements), Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) (a restoration that was actually performed by the 3-D Film Archive, and, although the film itself is not one of my favorite Abbott and Costello films, it still looks so much better than what I’ve seen previously) and I, The Jury (1953) (I haven’t seen this one yet, but, as their first 3D Blu-ray/ 4K UHD release, which has been reviewed well by others whose opinions I respect, I look forward to seeing it).

With regard to the rest of the boutique labels, the year has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has had some good releases this year, with the long-awaited release of Blue Skies (1946), plus some stuff featuring the likes of W. C. Fields, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour from their licensing deals with Universal Studios. They’ve also had some big licensing deals with some of the other major Hollywood studios (including their first with Sony, and Paramount licensing out to them again for the first time in a number of years), although so far they haven’t lived up to the hype (at least, not when it comes to the stuff that I actually want). Universal themselves didn’t impress me as much with their Blu-ray output, as the only real wave of catalog films included three new-to-blu Bing Crosby films (yay!), along with some reissues of titles previously licensed out to Kino Lorber that had only been included in three-film box sets. Criterion has really disappointed me, as they have seemingly decided I’m not their target audience, as their release of Arsenic And Old Lace was really the only title that solidly appealed to me all year (to be fair to them, their price point isn’t as budget-friendly, so I’m not too bothered by that, but it’s still disappointing after being able to count on a good handful of appealing releases every year for a while).

As some may have seen, I finally dipped into 4K tech so as to be able to enjoy some of the various UHDs that actually interest me. So far, I can’t say as I’ve seen much of this year’s releases, mostly because there was one catalog title (of interest to me) for most of the year, plus one modern film (which really, REALLY appealed to me, thus why I brought it up in the first place). Much to my annoyance, the various studios/boutique labels FINALLY got around to releasing some stuff over the last few months of the year (when my budget starts going towards Christmas gifts for others instead of more movies for myself). As I mentioned, ClassicFlix’s I, The Jury (1953) 4K UHD/ 3-D Blu-ray has been receiving rave reviews so far, so I definitely want to plug that one (especially since it is a limited edition). Sony has released their third Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, which includes titles such as It Happened One Night (1934), From Here To Eternity (1953) and four other films (plus extras), with this release also receiving good reviews. Universal Studios have also released their second Universal Classic Monsters Icons Of Horror Collection (with Phantom Of The Opera‘s transfer getting well reviewed), plus Holiday Inn (1942) (which you’ve seen by now I don’t think came out as well). Paramount Pictures have had a few releases as well, some well-reviewed (the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii, although some have complained about the re-done opening credits with a different font than before), and others not so much. Warner Brothers has recently brought their classic Casablanca (1942) to the format, with that being reviewed pretty well.

That’s all I have to say on 2022’s new releases on disc. There’ve been some great releases this year, and a few not-so great. But, things are looking up from what I’m hearing already about 2023, so hopefully it will be a good year for physical media enthusiasts and film fans!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Bing Crosby

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring Bing Crosby, whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Short of something having been released that has escaped my notice (which is always possible), this post should essentially be completed now (outside of adding links if and when I do full reviews for any of these films). So, let’s dig into some of Bing’s films that have seen a new release in 2022. That list includes Here Is My Heart (1934), Holiday Inn (1942), Blue Skies (1946), Welcome Stranger (1947) and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Notes: Due to the fact that I had already added some comments on different shorts to my original reviews of Holiday Inn, Blue Skies and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, I will not be adding any more to those posts or this one (except for two shorts to accompany the films not yet reviewed).

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Lucky Corner (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 21 seconds)

Scotty (Scotty Beckett) and his grandfather are selling lemonade, but a bully and his father (who have a store of their own) force them to move their stand when some potential customers go to them for lemonade. So, with Scotty and his grandfather now situated in a different spot where almost nobody goes, it’s up to the Gang to help them drum up some business! This one was an all-round entertaining entry in the series. I thought that the kids’ “parade” was fun to see, as were some of the performances as they got the crowd together. Of course, the rivalry between the bully and the kids added to the fun (especially when the bully’s attempts to steal away their customers backfired on him). This one was very enjoyable, and worth giving a chance (I certainly know that I want to keep coming back to it)!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Second Childhood (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 11 seconds)

A cranky old lady (Zeffie Tilbury) is miserable on her birthday (and making her servants miserable) until a toy airplane comes flying in and breaks her vase. Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang volunteer to do some work around the yard for her when they can’t pay for the vase, and in the process, help her start to enjoy life again! This was yet another fun short. Zeffie Tilbury was fun as the grouchy old lady (even with her brief moments of happiness when she caused trouble for her servants), and her performance as she regains her joy for life helped make this short work! The scene with Spanky and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) joining her in a rendition of “Oh, Susanna” was fun, especially with her learning to use Spanky’s slingshot after it accidentally hit her. Overall, this one was a lot of fun, even though it did use some obvious rear-screen projection when Zeffie Tilbury was on roller skates (but, at the same time, I can’t blame the filmmakers, since the actress was legally blind at the time she made this short, not that you can tell from her performance). Certainly one that I would gladly come back to again and again!

Here Is My Heart (1934)

  • Plot Synopses: Singer J. Paul Jones (Bing Crosby) has achieved some success, and is looking to fulfill many dreams that he couldn’t do when he was poor. One of those ambitions is to buy the two original pistols that belonged to Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, and present them to the Naval Academy. He’s got one already, but the other currently belongs to the Russian Princess Alexandra (Kitty Carlisle), who refuses to sell to him. In his attempts to buy the pistol, he is mistaken for her waiter, and makes use of the opportunity to spend some time with her and her associates. Will he achieve his dream and get the pistol, or will he find himself with a greater goal (love)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: The new Blu-ray appears to be making use of an HD scan. For the most part, it looks quite good. The opening credits look a bit rough, and there are some scratches present throughout (although nothing so terrible as to take away from the movie itself). It looks good enough for me, and is likely to be the best this movie will look for the near future.

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Format: 4K UHD
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Blue Skies (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: Dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) likes chorus girl Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but he makes the mistake of taking her to a nightclub owned by his friend, Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). Mary falls instantly for Johnny, and he for her, much to Jed’s regret. However, Mary takes a slight issue with Johnny not being too responsible, as he has a bad habit of constantly buying and selling his nightclubs. That’s not enough to stop them from getting married, but Johnny’s refusal to change his ways really comes between them after they have a child, and they divorce. With Jed’s love for Mary growing over time, will she give him a chance, or will things go sour between them, too?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by film critic and author Simon Abrams, Trailers for Road To Morocco (1942), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

Welcome Stranger (1947)

  • Plot Synopses: Dr. Joseph McRory (Barry Fitzgerald) has served the town of Fallbridge, Maine faithfully for nearly thirty-five years, and is looking forward to a well-deserved vacation. However, his temporary replacement being sent by the medical board is the younger Dr. Jim Pearson (Bing Crosby), whom Dr. McRory takes an instant dislike to, and encourages him to leave (advice that the younger doctor ignores). Dr. McRory’s opinions are shared by many of the townspeople, including schoolteacher Trudy Mason (Joan Caulfield) (whom Dr. Pearson takes an immediate liking to). Things start to change when, upon trying to leave for his vacation, Dr. McRory suffers from appendicitis, with no choice but to have Dr. Pearson operate on him (an operation that goes successfully). However, Trudy’s boyfriend, Roy Chesley (Robert Shayne), REALLY doesn’t like Dr. Pearson, and tries to use his influence to take away Dr. McRory’s position at a new hospital in the process of being built. Can Dr. Pearson help Dr. McRory regain the town’s favor, or will they both leave town with their tails tucked between their legs?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: This Blu-ray appears to be using an HD scan which looks pretty good for the most part. Most of the dust, dirt and other debris has been cleaned up. The opening credits are just a little shaky (but that’s the only part of the movie that has that problem), and there are a few (very) light scratches still present throughout the movie (but nothing that takes away from the movie itself). Overall, likely the best this movie will look, and it’s certainly the recommended way to see it!

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)

  • Plot Synopses: In the early twentieth century, blacksmith Hank Martin (Bing Crosby) tries to return a horse to his owner during a storm, but gets knocked out when he runs into a tree. When he awakens, Hank finds himself in the past, in the kingdom of Camelot under King Arthur (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). At first, Hank is mistaken for a monster, but quickly becomes popular with the people when he uses some basic tricks to make himself look like a powerful sorcerer. He falls for King Arthur’s niece, the Lady Alisande “Sandy” la Carteloise (Rhonda Fleming), but has to contend with her betrothed, Sir Lancelot (Henry Wilcoxon). Having also earned the ire of the wizard Merlin (Murvyn Vye), Hank finds himself in a lot of trouble. Will he be able to return to his own time, or gain the affections of Sandy if he stays?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: This Blu-ray seems to be working with an HD scan that looks pretty good. Most (if not just about all) of the dust, dirt, and other artifacts have been cleaned up. For the most part, the color looks pretty good, similar to the recent Blu-ray release of Blue Skies (1946) from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. There are some minor sections where the color doesn’t look quite as vivid as it seems like it should, but it’s an overall good release of a wonderful film (and certainly as good as it is likely to get anytime soon).

My Overall Impressions

Like all of my previous “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” posts focusing on the stars or screen teams that I picked for my “Star/Screen Team Of The Month” in 2022, I have gone without comments on the individual films as I reflect on my Star (from way back in March), Bing Crosby. Here Is My Heart (1934) is the oddball of this bunch, as it’s a film from fairly early in Bing’s career (and as such, his singing style and voice are quite different from the later films). He really only has three songs in this film, with the tune “June In January” being the most memorable. He has some comedic moments, especially when he poses as an alternate “incompetent” waiter, and when he is drunk interacting with Roland Young’s Prince Nicholas near the end of the film. For the rest, we move into the 1940s, when his career had taken a different direction. Holiday Inn finds us early in the decade, when his star was on the rise after finding success through the Road series with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Holiday Inn follows a similar formula, with Bing and Fred Astaire competing for the affections of two different ladies. Of course, the biggest highlight for Bing is his introduction of the classic Irving Berlin song “White Christmas,” which became a major hit for both Bing and Irving. He also croons a few other big tunes, including “Easter Parade,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” (which was actually the initial hit song from the movie) and “Happy Holiday”, plus we have him singing (and “dancing” if you can call it that) with Fred Astaire to “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing.” Moving ahead a few years, Blue Skies follows up his Oscar win for Going My Way (1944) and his nomination for The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945). As such, his role in Blue Skies is more dramatic, even though his character still competes with Fred Astaire’s Jed Potter for the affections of Joan Caulfield’s Mary O’Hara. Bing’s main highlights are him singing the title tune and the Oscar nominated “You Keep Coming Back Like A Song,” as well as dancing with Fred Astaire to “A Couple Of Song and Dance Men.” Welcome Stranger (1947) reunites Bing with his Going My Way co-star Barry Fitzgerald in what almost feels like a remake of Going My Way (except this time with the two of them as doctors instead of Catholic priests). The music is decent (personally, I prefer the song “Country Style”), but the main fun is in watching the developing friendship between Bing’s Dr. Jim Pearson and Barry Fitzgerald’s Dr. Joseph McRory as they go from bickering to working together. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949) was made during the same time period, when Bing’s popularity at the box office gave him enough clout to choose his directors and castmates. The movie has some comedic moments, including Bing’s character “modernizing” the music and dancing at a ball, and the jousting tournament. On the musical side, Bing’s romantic duet with Rhonda Fleming to “Once And For Always” and him singing along with William Bendix and Sir Cedric Hardwicke to “Busy Doing Nothing” are the film’s big highlights.

Well, now that I’ve commented on these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (5.):

  1. (tie) Blue Skies (1946)
  1. (tie) A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)
  1. Welcome Stranger (1947)
  1. Here Is My Heart (1934)
  1. Holiday Inn (1942)

I’ll admit, this is a slightly harder group to pick one film that I would solidly recommend. I’m not trashing any of the movies, as I think they are all good, and worth giving a chance. Transfer-wise, I think that Blue Skies (1946) and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949) are pretty similar, and look the best. Here Is My Heart (1934) and Welcome Stranger (1947) look pretty good, although they have some minor issues that pull them down. Holiday Inn (1942)’s transfer is the weakest of the bunch (in spite of the fact that it is a 4K UHD and not a Blu-ray like the others). In a normal situation, my top pick would be easy: Blue Skies. I think the film looks just a hair better with this new release, it’s got some extras and I prefer the film itself overall. However, we’re discussing Bing Crosby here, and the things I like about that film are Fred Astaire, the Irving Berlin music and some of Fred’s dances. It’s not otherwise remembered as much for Bing’s presence. If it had a better transfer, I would be recommending the other Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire/Irving Berlin collaboration, Holiday Inn, since it features Bing introducing that classic song “White Christmas” (which became Bing’s best-selling song, and one of the biggest selling of all time), along with a few other fun tunes. But, again. the weak transfer leaves me not wanting to recommend the 4K UHD at all. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court is also very much Bing’s film, and he is what makes it fun (even if I don’t think the film itself is quite as good as Blue Skies). Thus, I would put Blue Skies and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court at a tie for the top recommendations if we are talking strictly about Bing’s films. Welcome Stranger (1947) mainly suffers from its similarity to the far better (in my opinion) Going My Way (1944), although it’s certainly still an entertaining film in its own right. Here Is My Heart (1934) is still a little too early in Bing’s career, without the music or story coming off quite as memorably. Still, I have enjoyed all of these films off and on for years, and the four Blu-ray releases are all worth it to me, and certainly worth a recommendation (again, ignore the 4K UHD for Holiday Inn)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring either Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers (or both), whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Due to the slower pace of releases, I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of Fred and Ginger’s films that have seen a new release in 2022. So far, that list includes Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Note: Due to the fact that I’ve reviewed both Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946) previously, I have added my “Coming Up Shorts!” comments to those reviews.

Update: On 11/16/2022, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD release of Holiday Inn (1942), which completes this post for the year. Due to there being a previously written review for that film, the “Coming Up Shorts!” comments were added to that review.

Table Of Contents

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s the Great Depression, and while producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) has a great idea for a show, he doesn’t have the cash to put it on. However, Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), the composer boyfriend of one of Barney’s potential cast members, decides to offer Barney the money to put it on (in exchange for his girlfriend being given the lead). The show’s a hit, but when it comes out that Brad (who is part of a wealthy society family) intends to marry his girlfriend, Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler), Brad’s older brother, J. Lawrence Bradford (Warren William), threatens to have him cut off financially. Mistaking Polly’s roommate Carol (Joan Blondell) for Polly, Lawrence tries to buy her off, but Carol and her friend Trixie Lorraine (Aline MacMahon) decide to get back at him. Will Lawrence be able to break up his brother’s relationship, or will he find himself in love?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • Extras: FDR’s New Deal… Broadway Bound, Warner Brothers cartoons We’re In The Money (1933), Pettin’ In The Park (1934), I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (1933), Warner Brothers Shorts Ramblin’ Round Radio Row #2 (1932), The 42nd Street Special (1933), Seasoned Greetings (1933), Theatrical Trailer
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best preservation elements, and it looks fantastic!  It’s an understatement to say that it shows off all the details of the sets and costumes, especially for the various musical numbers!  The image has been cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris.  As usual, this Warner Archive release really shines as an example of a great restoration.  The Blu-ray is highly recommended as the best way to see this movie, and goes quite well with their earlier Blu-rays for 42nd Street (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933)!

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Format: 4K UHD
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Blue Skies (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: Dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) likes chorus girl Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but he makes the mistake of taking her to a nightclub owned by his friend, Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). Mary falls instantly for Johnny, and he for her, much to Jed’s regret. However, Mary takes a slight issue with Johnny not being too responsible, as he has a bad habit of constantly buying and selling his nightclubs. That’s not enough to stop them from getting married, but Johnny’s refusal to change his ways really comes between them after they have a child, and they divorce. With Jed’s love for Mary growing over time, will she give him a chance, or will things go sour between them, too?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by film critic and author Simon Abrams, Trailers for Road To Morocco (1942), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

My Overall Impressions

Since this post is in reference to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, my Screen Team Of The Month for July 2022, then, as you have noticed, I am foregoing my usual quick comments on these movies in favor of some reflection on the films regarding Fred and Ginger (especially since I have otherwise reviewed these two films previously). Neither Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) nor Blue Skies (1946) were substantial roles for Fred or Ginger, since neither of them were at the peak of their careers. Ginger’s star was on the rise after she played the part of Anytime Annie in 42nd Street (1933), which is when she was starting to really get noticed. For Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933), her big moment is the opening number, “We’re In The Money,” which she sings normally first, and then sings again in pig Latin (and this opening number is indeed worth the price of admission). Otherwise, she has a relatively minor part, mainly as one of the girls hoping to get a part in Barney Hopkins’ new show in the first half of the movie, and then she is relegated to two very quick appearances as she tries to get in on the gold digging that two of her friends are doing (before being quickly booted by them both times). On the other hand, Fred’s career was on the outs by the time of Blue Skies (1946). He was feeling burnt out, especially after Yolanda And The Thief (1945) bombed, and announced his retirement, effective after doing Blue Skies (although his retirement was short-lived, as he came back two years later for Easter Parade). With him playing second fiddle to Bing Crosby, he doesn’t really have as much to do, but he does get four musical numbers. They are “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” (partnered with leading lady Joan Caulfield, and this routine is only decent when he is dancing alone), “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men” with Bing Crosby (in a similar comedic vein to “I’ll Capture Your Heart” from Holiday Inn), “Heat Wave” with Olga San Juan and “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” The latter three songs are some of the film’s best moments, with “Puttin’ On The Ritz” being the film’s standout routine, as Fred utilizes special effects to make his cane fly up from the ground into his hand several times before finishing out with a chorus of Fred Astaires (one of the few times we could directly see just how well-rehearsed he was as we see that chorus so very in-sync with each other and the “lead” dancer). Fred’s earlier team-up with Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn (1942) is a different story from these other two films. While he was past both his partnership with Ginger (save for their reunion film The Barkleys Of Broadway from 1949) and his status as box office poison, Fred’s career was still on a bit of a downhill slope (admittedly not as steep as it would be within the next few years). Holiday Inn marked the first time since very early in his film career where Fred wasn’t the highest-billed male star of the movie, with him in some respects playing the film’s “villain” (a bit of a rarity in and of itself). He does get several song-and-dance numbers in the film, including the aforementioned “I’ll Capture Your Heart” with Bing Crosby; “You’re Easy To Dance With” with Virginia Dale; his “drunk dance,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” “I Can’t Tell A Lie” and the Hollywood medley with Marjorie Reynolds; and his solo (with firecrackers!) to “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers.”

Well, now that I’ve commented on both of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (3.):

  1. Blue Skies (1946)
  2. Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)
  3. Holiday Inn (1942)

I admit, my personal preference definitely comes into play here, as I have long preferred Blue Skies over Gold Diggers Of 1933 or Holiday Inn. I very much enjoy listening to the music and Fred’s dancing in Blue Skies (always have preferred Fred’s way of filming dance over Busby Berkeley’s). The story is probably better in Gold Diggers Of 1933, and it has some fun music as well (again, Ginger’s “We’re In The Money” is one of the film’s biggest highlights). Fred has a few good moments in Holiday Inn, but, in spite of the fact that his role was larger in that film than in Blue Skies, I actually prefer him in the later Blue Skies. As to which film has the better transfer, that’s easy: Gold Diggers Of 1933. As I said, Blue Skies looks very good, and is definitely a nice improvement over the DVD. But, the color isn’t quite as good as what I’ve seen from three-strip Technicolor films released by Warner Archive, and Gold Diggers, while a black-and-white film, looks very, VERY good. The 4K UHD for Holiday Inn, however, is a disappointment with a lackluster transfer that really shouldn’t have been released. The Blu-rays for Blue Skies and Gold Diggers Of 1933 are both releases that are easy to recommend (especially since I think they are both good films with pretty good transfers). Holiday Inn is a tougher recommendation, since I not only can’t quite recommend the 4K UHD but also don’t think *quite* as highly of the film itself in comparison, but I certainly would recommend it at least from any of the previously available Blu-rays.

Screen Team VS: Bing & Fred vs. Frank & Gene

In 1941, a chance meeting between director Mark Sandrich and composer Irving Berlin resulted in them planning on a musical inspired by various holidays. It was planned as a vehicle for Bing Crosby, and they also decided that it would be right up Fred Astaire’s alley, too. And so we had those two friends paired together for the classic 1942 Paramount movie Holiday Inn. A few years later, MGM responded with their own song-and-dance team of Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. While I haven’t seen anything that makes them out to be rival teams, considering the individual members were indeed rivals, one can’t help but want to compare them. While I certainly have my preference as to which I enjoy watching more (and so, like on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, the points don’t matter), I still feel like talking about the two teams, mainly sticking to the movies they made together.

Holiday Inn (1942) – My Rating: 8/10

Blue Skies (1946) – My Rating: 10/10

Anchors Aweigh (1945) – My Rating: 5/10

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949) – My Rating: 9/10

On The Town (1949) – My Rating: 8/10

Screen Team Edition: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire

Screen Team Edition: Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

So let’s start with some of the more obvious differences. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire made two movies together, while Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly made three. Between their two films, Bing and Fred have two songs that they work together directly and two more that they are both involved together (just not as much). Frank and Gene can claim about twelve songs that they work together in pretty solidly through their three movies. Irving Berlin provides all the music for Bing and Fred, while Frank and Gene are served by the likes of Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Roger Edens, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein.

To get a little deeper into the elements of that differentiate the two, I would say at least two come to mind: how their friendships are portrayed on screen, and how their offscreen careers may have affected the films. On screen, Bing and Fred were similar to Bing and Bob. They were both romantic rivals, and they had no troubles double-crossing each other when it came to romance in Holiday Inn. While Blue Skies started out with a similar relationship, partway through, Fred’s character started to soften, and care enough for the film’s leading lady that he wasn’t as willing to come between them. Meanwhile, Frank and Gene portrayed their characters as good buddies. Admittedly, Gene mainly tried to help Frank to get him off his back in his own attempts at romance, but he still felt like he was betraying a good friend when he fell for the same girl that Frank first fell for. Admittedly, some of that might be different just purely from occupations, as Bing and Fred portrayed characters in show business, and in two of their three movies, Frank and Gene were sailors who no doubt had gone through a lot together.

I also believe their movie careers affected these movies. When Bing and Fred were teamed up, they had both been in the movies for nearly a decade, and were some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. When Frank and Gene were paired together, neither of them had been in the movies for very long (in fact, I get the impression Anchors Aweigh was Frank’s first starring role). Consequently, that affected the various situations. I get the impression from what I have read that both Bing and Frank weren’t big into rehearsing, while Fred and Gene were both perfectionists who put a lot of work into what they did. With Bing as a more established star, he apparently didn’t feel the need to rehearse as much (and I can only imagine that must have driven Fred nuts), thus his dancing comes off poorly. With Frank not as established, he had to put in more rehearsal time with Gene, and so we see them looking at least decent together (and who knows how much natural talent Frank might have had as a dancer compared to Bing). Of course, age might also come into play, too, and Frank and Gene were both in their late 20s/early thirties when first paired together, while Bing was in his late 30s and Fred already in his forties.

Personally, I can’t help but wish the four had made a movie together (and no, I’m not including the first That’s Entertainment movie that they all co-hosted, since they never actually share the screen at any time). Of course, I do know that they had some team up here and there. Rivals Bing and Frank worked together in High Society, Robin And The 7 Hoods, The Road To Hong Kong (Frank makes a cameo appearance), and several TV specials. Fred and Gene worked together for one song in Ziegfeld Follies and again as co-hosts of That’s Entertainment Part 2. Not to mention Bing and Gene making cameo appearances in the Marilyn Monroe movie Let’s Make Love (although they don’t appear together). I think both teams were truly wonderful to watch, but I will always pick Bing and Fred as the more fun team to watch together.

Holiday Inn

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Blue Skies

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

Anchors Aweigh

My Rating: 5/10

Audience Rating:

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

On The Town

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Winner: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (again, just my opinion)

Top 10 Dance Routines

Well, I seem to have made it to the 100 post mark for this blog, so I felt the need to celebrate! Considering I have always been quite fond of musicals, which originally inspired me to take up dancing, I feel like doing my top 10 dance routines from the movies! Now, I did set up a few limits. Mainly, I tried to limit the number of dance routines featuring any specific dancers to about one solo routine and one partnered routine per person (otherwise, I could easily list quite a few for some dancers with ease)! I should also mention, that it’s not just the dancing itself, but sometimes the music that influences my opinion as well. Again, this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily even my favorite dance routines and/or songs, but those that just mesh well. They will be presented as song, dancer(s), movie.

1. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” Fred Astaire, Blue Skies

Fred Astaire’s big tap solo that was originally intended to be his last, as he went into retirement after this movie (which, thankfully, was short-lived). This routine allowed Fred to show he still had some considerable skill, improved by using special effects, such as his cane flying into his hand from the ground. But most famously, we have Fred dancing with a background chorus that consisted entirely of him (long before the days of CGI), which demonstrates just how well-rehearsed and precise he could be with his movements!

2. “Never Gonna Dance,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time

While Fred Astaire partnered with a number of talented ladies over his career, few are better remembered than Ginger Rogers, who brought her talents as a dramatic actress to the table. It took a lot of thought to pick which one of their routines to add to this list, but I went with “Never Gonna Dance.” This wonderful dance showcases their dramatic abilities, coupled with superb dancing (not to mention beautiful music that also brings back “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Waltz In Swing Time”)!

3. “Singin’ In The Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain

Of course, no list of famous dances would be complete without this classic! You can’t help but smile when thinking of Gene Kelly’s iconic dance, joyful in what could otherwise be depressing weather! So grab an umbrella and start dancing (and singing!) in the rain!

4. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Marge and Gower Champion, Lovely To Look At

For me, this one just HAS to be on the list. The husband-and-wife dance team of Marge and Gower Champion wasn’t renowned for their acting ability, and neither made a huge mark in the movies, but this movie (and most particularly this routine) was one of their best. From their kiss at the beginning of the routine that sends them “up among the stars” to the end of the routine, we are treated to some wonderful dancing, some superb lifts and one of the most beautiful orchestrations of this (or any other song) that I’ve had the chance to enjoy!!

5. “Barn Dance,” group dance, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Ok, so I’m simplifying things by calling it a group dance, but if I listed everybody, you’d spend too much time reading that list! But still, who can pass up the chance to watch the six brothers constantly one-up the men from town as they show off for the ladies! Between the music, the high-flying leaps and flips, this is always fun!

6. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor, Singin’ In The Rain

Yep, Donald O’Connor’s classic comedy dance is here, too! While the music might have borrowed heavily from the Cole Porter tune “Be A Clown,” Donald brought all of his abilities to hear, with pratfalls, and many different comedy bits (and some dancing as well)! Always fun to watch (and good for a laugh)!

7. “Ragamuffin Romeo,” Marion Stadler and Don Rose, King Of Jazz

As I’ve said before, a wonderful example of some old vaudeville style dancing! While neither of the two dancers here have any lasting fame, what they do is still impressive! She’s supposed to be a doll made up of rags, and, with her flexibility, she acts and moves just like it! The lifts are just phenomenal, and I could easily watch this dance time and time again!

8. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ GiveMy Regards To Broadway,” James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

While he was a song-and-dance man himself, James Cagney ended up being typecast as a gangster for a lot of his movies with Warner Brothers. But this movie (and most particularly these two songs paired together) helped change that. Cagney successfully portrayed George M. Cohan, making use of the real Cohan’s style of dance, while still maintaining his own!

9. “Honolulu,” Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen, Honolulu

This is one of those dances I just love to watch! For me, it was this dance that proved to me what I had heard many times, that Eleanor Powell was one of the few women at that time who could out-dance Fred Astaire. The music is fun, as is watching Gracie Allen dancing with Eleanor, but once Eleanor starts with her solo section, that’s when the real fun begins! I love watching her tap dance and jump rope at the same time (personally, I would probably get tangled up in a hurry if I tried)!

10. “Heather On The Hill,” Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon

As wonderful a dancer as she is, of course Cyd Charisse needed to be represented on this list! While there are other dances that she did that I enjoyed more (but can’t include because of my own silly rules), I can’t deny the beauty of this duet with Gene Kelly. With some beautiful music to help, this romantic routine with its lifts and balletic quality is certainly still worthy of inclusion!

Well, that’s my list! I hope everyone enjoyed it (and I’d certainly like to hear what everybody else’s lists would be)! Also, if there’s enough demand/ interest, later on I might just do a “Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn!” But that’s all for now!

2018: Year In Review + Top 11 Movies Watched

Update on 12/23/2019: I hadn’t planned on doing anymore editing of this one, but since I decided to make my 2019 list a Year In Review, I’ve decided to come back and do the same for 2018. In looking back, 2018 saw me deciding, just for the fun of it, to go through and “review” many of the movies I watch for my friends. With their support, I started out with a few then-recent purchases, posting those reviews as notes on my Facebook profile. After starting to see how quickly they were going to pile up, I then created my own FB fan page, where I moved those written reviews over to. On there, starting with my review of Going Hollywood, I started doing the reviews as videos. Then, after a while, I decided to start a blog, and this site was born! Now home to my written reviews, along with exclusive stuff, like my posts on screen teams, comparing films, film series, not to mention some of my lists (including my Top 40 Christmas Movies list), It’s been a work-in-progress as I try to refine how I am doing everything.

On the movie side of things, as I said, I started out doing a few then-recent purchases, before switching to the filmographies of various movie stars. I started out with plans to review movies from George Burns and Gracie Allen, along with Eleanor Powell, but, after previously reviewing King Of Jazz and throwing in a few of his other films, I decided to add in Bing Crosby, too. And while I had planned to take a break from those reviews to focus in on Christmas movies in December (or rather, for the days before Christmas day itself), I decided to break even earlier and focus on a few film noirs for the month of November (or, rather, “Noir-vember”). Of course, I also focused in on comments about screen teams like George Burns & Gracie Allen and Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire, plus comparing My Man Godfrey and Merrily We Live, as well as my thoughts on the two Bob Hope Paleface films and Bing Crosby’s turns as Father O’Malley in Going My Way and The Bells Of St. Mary’s.

Update on 8/26/2019: originally published on 11/22/2018, it was my plan to leave this post alone, and do it every year on Thanksgiving. Since then, I have decided to do my first edit of “Top Disc Releases Of The Year” posts on Thanksgiving, and do my “Top 10 Movies Watched In The Year” posts just after my final review of the year. Since I hadn’t included the remaining movies I reviewed in 2018 after publishing this post, I am including the one movie that would have made the list and, instead of dropping the last movie on the list, make this a one-time “Top 11 Movies Watched In The Year” list.

And here’s my list, for what I think are some of the best movies I watched in the year 2018 (and reviewed).  Admittedly, this list mainly includes titles I have watched and reviewed since I started doing this (otherwise, the list would be quite different).  These are all movies I enjoyed, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Blue Skies (1946) (Universal Studios, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for a second to prove that they are “A Couple of Song and Dance Men,” and Fred proves shows us what it would be like to see him dancing with a chorus of dancers as good as he is (because they are all him!) in this musical, with the wonderful music of Irving Berlin to support them!  Full review here.
  2. Carefree (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The eighth of ten movies to co-star Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this screwball comedy mainly features Ginger Rogers, and shows just how well she can handle comedy!  And of course, what would an Astaire-Rogers movie be without some dancing as well, with music provided by composer Irving Berlin!  Full review here.
  3. Follow the Fleet (1936) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The fifth Astaire-Rogers movie features Fred Astaire in the navy.  He is joined by Randolph Scott, and Ginger Rogers and Harriet Hilliard (Nelson) are their love interests.  Features music from Irving Berlin, including the haunting “Let’s Face The Music and Dance.”  Full review here.
  4. The Sky’s The Limit (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A wartime musical featuring Fred Astaire as a flying ace trying to go incognito to enjoy his ten-day leave.  He meets a photographer played by Joan Leslie, who wants to be do more for the war effort than just fluff pieces on local celebrities.  Features one of Fred’s best tap solos set to the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).”  Full review here.
  5. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic tale of Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) coming to town looking for a bride, and finding Milly (Jane Powell).  Upon meeting his rough-housing six brothers, she helps refine them to help their prospects.  And of course, who can ever forget the barn-raising dance, one of the best dances ever put to film!  Full review here.
  6. A Damsel In Distress (1937) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In his first movie alone since being partnered with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire is joined by comedy (and dance!) team George Burns and Gracie Allen in a musical supported by the music of George and Ira Gerswhin.  Full review here.
  7. White Christmas (1954) (Paramount, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic Christmas musical featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a show business team, both onstage and behind the scenes.  When they, along with their new girlfriends played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, run into their former general, now running a failing inn, they decide to help save his inn.  A wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime, but just as fun the rest of the year, too!  Full review here.
  8. Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The king of rhythm (Fred Astaire) and the queen of tap (Eleanor Powell) team up in this movie about a pair of Broadway hopefuls, one of whom gets a big part due to a case of mistaken identity.  Full review here.
  9. Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) (DVD not currently available but available as digital copy/streaming on Amazon, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Fun movie starring Eleanor Powell as a hopeful dancer wanting to make good on Broadway, supported by several wonderful tunes from the song-writing team of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.  Full review here.
  10. Honolulu (1939) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Robert Young stars in a “Prince and the Pauper”-type role, as two different men with an uncanny resemblance, while Eleanor Powell does the Hawaiian hula her way, with support from George Burns and Gracie Allen!  Full review here.
  11. Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Judy Garland pulls double duty as a mother and daughter from Ireland, does “Singin’ in the Rain” her way and more in this classic based on the George M. Cohan show.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: The Jazz Singer (1927) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray and DVD), Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD), My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD)

Screen Team Edition: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire

And we’re back, again to talk about another screen team: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Now, as far as I know, they were good friends, but I would be hard-pressed to come up with much information about their friendship prior to their first film together, the 1942 classic Holiday Inn, although I get the impression they were friends before they made that movie. Admittedly, they certainly seem to be an odd pairing, particularly behind the scenes, as Fred Astaire seemed to be a bit of a perfectionist, particularly with his dancing, meanwhile, Bing wasn’t as big into rehearsing (didn’t really hurt his acting or singing, but it is VERY obvious when it comes to his dancing ability, or lack thereof). Still, they did make for a good pair through at least two movies, the aforementioned Holiday Inn and the 1946 movie Blue Skies (and in some respects, one could argue this was a three-man team, as both of the movies had music supplied by composer Irving Berlin).

In Holiday Inn, Bing plays Jim Hardy and Fred plays Ted Hanover, two men working together onstage with Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), with whom they are both in love with. Jim decides to leave the act and live on a farm, believing it to be an easier life (and oh, how wrong he was). After a year, he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is “open holidays only.” Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), who wants to break into show business, is sent there to audition, and she gets the job. When the inn opens New Year’s Eve, Ted comes in, drunk, after Lila left him for a millionaire. He ends up dancing with Linda, but then passes out. In the morning, he remembers dancing with a new partner, but can’t remember what she looked like (although he believes he is in love with her). He figures she will be back at the inn, and on Valentine’s Day, is proven right. She wants to be his partner, but doesn’t want to leave the inn. She ends up leaving the inn when Jim tries to prevent her having the choice to go to Hollywood. The question remains: where will she stay? Hollywood or Holiday Inn? (Length: one hour, forty minutes)

In Blue Skies, Fred Astaire plays Jed Potter, a dancer as part of a group that includes Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield). He tries to get her join a new show in New York instead of going on the road with the one they were doing. She refuses, until he takes her out to a nightclub owned by his friend Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby), with whom she immediately falls in love. While he likes her, he doesn’t quite share her interest in marriage, as he has a habit of buying and selling his nightclubs. After a while, they do get married, with him “promising” to stop buying/selling new nightclubs, although it doesn’t stop, even after they have a child. Meanwhile, Jed loves her from afar, although she never fully returns his affection. (Length: one hour, forty-three minutes)

Since I will have (at some point) individual reviews for both of these movies, my purpose here is to talk about them as a team. In some respects, they operate together similar to how Bing worked with Bob Hope, as they both fell in love with the leading lady in both movies, although they don’t rely as strongly on insults. One thing common to both movies is that they have at least one song that emphasizes their singing/dancing strengths. In Holiday Inn, it is “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing,” where, in a performance, they argue whose regular method is more appealing to the ladies: singing or dancing. They also have “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” with Bing singing while Fred dances with leading lady Marjorie Reynolds, and “I Can’t Tell A Lie,” with Fred dancing again with Marjorie Reynolds while Bing “leads the band” (even trying to change music styles to throw off Fred and Marjorie, to humorous effect). In Blue Skies, their main routine together is “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men,” which was a comedy routine, showing how much Bing didn’t like to rehearse, as we see Fred dancing circles around him, while following up with little comedy bits to end the routine.

Sadly, these ended up being the only two movies that Bing and Fred made together (well, unless you want to count them both appearing as hosts, but not onscreen at the same time, in That’s Entertainment). I know that Fred was originally slated to appear in the 1954 White Christmas, but he didn’t do it because he thought he was getting too old for that type of role (and I suspect the fact that his wife was sick and dying from lung cancer didn’t help). However, they did end up doing at least one TV special together (possibly more, I’m not really sure). Still, they are a wonderful team to watch, and I would recommend either of their movies together!

Holiday Inn

My Rating: 8/10

Blue Skies

My Rating: 10/10

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Blue Skies (1946)

Here I am again, to talk about the second Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team-up, the 1946 musical Blue Skies, which also stars Joan Caulfield.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bedtime Worries (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 23 seconds)

Spanky’s (George McFarland) father (Emerson Treacy) has just been promoted to head shipping clerk, and has decided that Spanky must now sleep on his own. However, Spanky has a lot of trouble getting to sleep on his first night alone. I would definitely say that Spanky made this one quite entertaining! His most amusing moments would be when he tried to find out what a shipping cluck — er, I mean, clerk is (especially the attempt to explain it by his mother, played by Gay Seabrook), and all the stuff he interrupts his parents’ sleep for (including a burglar). This short was very enjoyable and memorable, and it’s one that I certainly want to come back to again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) is part of a troupe of dancers that includes Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), and he is trying to get her to join a new show in New York instead of going on the road with the one they were doing. She refuses his offer, until he takes her out to a nightclub owned by his friend Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby), with whom she immediately falls in love. While Johnny likes her, he doesn’t quite share her interest in marriage, as she prefers a bit of stability, while he has a habit of buying new nightclubs (and selling them when he tires of them). After a while, they do get married, with him “promising” to stop buying and selling new nightclubs, although he doesn’t keep his word, even after they have a child. Meanwhile, Jed loves Mary from afar, even though she never fully returns his affection.

The idea for Blue Skies came from composer Irving Berlin, who wanted to do a musical that took place over a period of thirty years, utilizing his music from that time span. Nearly thirty-two Irving Berlin songs ended up being used in the movie, with the vast majority being older tunes and about three new songs were written for the film (with “You Keep Coming Back Like A Song” getting nominated for “Best Song” at the Oscars). Bing Crosby, Paramount’s biggest star at the time, was cast, and the original plan was to have Mark Sandrich direct the film, with actor and dancer Paul Draper as Bing’s co-star. However, Mark Sandrich died of a heart attack early in production (and was replaced by Stuart Heisler), and Paul Draper ended up being fired, amidst complaints about his stutter affecting his speech. Fred Astaire was brought in (for what would be the fifth of six movies that he did with Irving Berlin), and he announced that he would be retiring after this film (a retirement that would be short-lived, as he would end up coming back for Easter Parade less than two years later). While the film was criticized for its plot (or lack thereof), audiences still flocked to see the film, making it one of the year’s biggest hits.

I’ve seen this film many times since I first bought it on DVD back in 2003, and it’s one I love coming back to! For me, Fred Astaire’s dance to the song “Putting on the Ritz” is the big highlight of the movie. Originally written back in the early thirties, the song was given some updated lyrics specifically for this movie. The song was the last segment of the movie that was filmed, and was promoted as being Fred’s “last dance.” Throughout the routine, he did some tricks with his cane, mainly making it fly up into his hand from the floor. The big selling point of the routine, however, is the chorus at the end of the dance. The reason? They are ALL Fred himself! Through this, we get to see just how exacting and well-rehearsed he was in his movements, since for the one section of the dance he did it THREE times (with different choreography)! The closest we’ve come otherwise to seeing something similar is the alternate takes of the song “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” from The Belle OF New York (1952) when they were shown side by side in That’s Entertainment! III (1994).

Another song worth mentioning is the song “Heat Wave,” which Fred Astaire dances to with Olga San Juan. Now, what is worth mentioning here, is that Fred Astaire was something of a composer himself. While the majority of this song is Irving Berlin’s, apparently Fred did contribute some additional music to it. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only instance in Fred’s movies in which any of his music was used! It’s definitely a fun song, and it’s worth seeing just how fast Fred could still move his feet!

I admit, in spite of my fondness for the film, I don’t really think very highly of the (almost non-existent) plot, or the leading lady. Still, I think the overall film is worth it, not just for the two songs I mentioned, but for Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire being paired up again, especially for the song “A Couple of Song and Dance Men” (which is similar in concept to the song “I’ll Capture Your Heart” from their earlier film Holiday Inn, with Bing trying to dance while Fred sings). There are other fun songs too, including the title tune, “I’ve Got My Captain Working For Me Now,” Everybody Step” and “I’ll See You In C-U-B-A” (and Bing even briefly sings “White Christmas” as part of a montage near the end). So if you get a chance to see Blue Skies, please do!

The movie is available on DVD from Universal as either a single release, a double-feature, or as part of the Bing Crosby Silver Screen Collection.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Blue Skies (1946)

On March 22, 2022, Kino Lorber Studio Classics released Blue Skies (1946) on Blu-ray. According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**ranked #1 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Utopia (1946)Bing CrosbyRoad To Rio (1947)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)Fred AstaireEaster Parade (1948)

Billy De Wolfe – Tea For Two (1950)

Holiday Inn (1942) – Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire (screen team)

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