2022: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2022. The year started off normally enough (although I did try to pull back from doing entries in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series every week like I’ve done in the past, as that had felt like I was doing too much). I renamed my February 1 posts (which have generally been on films starring Clark Gable) as The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration, due to my shared birthday with him. However, that was as far as I got, as I never finished my logo for that series before events at home delayed a number of things I was trying to do (as I hinted at in my Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog post), and left me with no choice but to take the month of April off (apart from my Easter Sunday post). In May, I was able to resume my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man and Star/Genre Of The Month series on Sundays (albeit with biweekly posts as opposed to weekly like I had been doing since I started blogging), and I started doing roundups on multiple films (instead of individuals) for my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series.

Regrettably, those changes haven’t quite been enough, as I referenced more recently in my Changes Ahead Again post. I am still trying to continue into 2023, but, like I had thought when I wrote that post, I have to pull back even further by ending the Star/Genre Of The Month series that I’ve been doing since 2021, and just do one regular Thoughts From The Music(al) Man post per month (although there might be a few exceptions here and there). I will be trying to continue my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series as roundups, but with a few new changes. I’m going to finish out the series on 2022 releases the same way that I’ve been doing so far (which at most means one or two new posts along with some updates to the 4K UHD Roundup and Bob Hope And Dorothy Lamour Roundup, since they’re the only two posts with more releases that I haven’t seen yet). Once I start in on the 2023 releases (which is likely to be in May), I will be doing one post per month in the series (regardless of format, star, etc.). The plan will be to do either a regular review if I only saw one new release the month before, or do roundups for two or more titles (still debating whether or not I will impose a maximum of four films per post every month with the possible exceptions of November and March, although multi-film box sets *might* get their own posts). The big change is that this series will no longer be posted on Wednesdays, but Sundays. My plan is to do my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man posts on the first or second Sundays of the month (although there may occasionally be exceptions) and What’s Old Is A New Release Again Roundups two weeks after that, with the exceptions for the roundups in November (where it will be the last Sunday before Thanksgiving) and March (the last Sunday of the month). Outside of special posts (mostly the “Year In Review” and “Top 10 Disc Releases” plus whatever might be centered on special days), all other posts will also be on Sundays from now on. Hopefully, doing things this way will allow me to keep going for a bit longer.

But, enough about the changes to the blog. What we were all here for was the movies, and, even though I had to pull back on how many films I reviewed per month, I still got in a number of good movies for the year. Like in 2021, I spent most of the year focusing on various movie stars every month (albeit not in blogathon form after the first few months), featuring actors and actresses (and screen teams) like Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (January), Deanna Durbin (February), Bing Crosby (March), Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (May), Frank Sinatra (June), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (July), Audrey Hepburn (August) and W. C. Fields (November), with one detour in September focusing on musical screen teams. There really wasn’t much of a focus on anything besides that, since everything that happened forced me to pull back almost entirely in April, and, outside of this month’s two Christmas films and finishing up the Thin Man film series earlier this year, I didn’t really go in for anything specific (just watching a few of the movies I was given for Christmas 2021 and my birthday). I had a handful of big discoveries this year, particularly The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962), a bunch of new-to-me W. C. Fields films and the new West Side Story (2021). Almost everything else was movies I had seen before (or films that I didn’t have *quite* as high an opinion of). But, I still enjoyed watching more movies with familiar stars and genres, so there was that!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2022, culled from the list of 2022 reviews, plus 2021 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2022 releases reviewed before December 31, 2022 (also a few films released on disc in prior years, but obviously they’re included in the 2022 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, 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 and support this site!

  1. Top Hat (1935) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Top Hat (1935)
    • The top spot for 2022 belongs to the one and only Top Hat! Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers play a couple who meet in London, England, but quickly go to Venice, Italy when she mistakes him for the husband of her good friend. The plot may not be the film’s strength, but we’re not here for that, as we want to see Fred and Ginger dance! And dance they do, to a score of some of (in my opinion) Irving Berlin’s best music, including “Cheek To Cheek” and the title tune. Add in a memorable supporting cast, including Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, and we’ve got a winner that’s always fun to see!
  1. Funny Face (1957) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Funny Face (1957)
    • In this musical, Fred Astaire portrays photographer Dick Avery, who convinces Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), an assistant in a Greenwich Village shop, to go to Paris, France as a model for Quality Magazine. It’s a lot of fun, with the beautiful music of George and Ira Gerswhin (and a few newer tunes), plus the dancing of Fred and Audrey in their only film together. With all of that, it’s a film that can’t miss, and is highly recommended!
  1. Monte Carlo (1930) (Criterion Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Monte Carlo (1930)
    • In Monte Carlo (1930), Jeanette MacDonald plays a broke countess who goes to Monte Carlo to avoid a marriage to a wealthy duke that she doesn’t love. In the process, she falls for her hairdresser (who is actually a count in disguise). As usual, Jeanette is in fine voice, especially for her signature tune “Beyond The Blue Horizon” (which was introduced here).  There are a few other very fun tunes and various bits of comedy to help fill out this wonderful pre-Code, making it well worth seeing!
  1. Can’t Help Singing (1944) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Can’t Help Singing (1944)
    • In her only Technicolor film, Deanna Durbin stars as a senator’s daughter who goes west to marry the soldier she thinks she loves, but finds real love on the way with a card sharp. It’s a fun film, with Deanna singing a number of memorable tunes, including the title song and “Californ-I-Ay.” It might be a little too similar to the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night (1934), but it’s still entertaining, and worth being recommended!
  1. Kiss Me Kate (1953) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Kiss Me Kate (1953)
    • In this classic musical, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel star as a divorced couple who co-star (and fight both on- and off-stage) in a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew.  It’s an overall fun film, with the benefits of beautiful and/or entertaining music by Cole Porter, plus some fantastic dancing by the likes of Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and others!  It’s a well-regarded film musical for a reason, and I can’t recommend it enough!
  1. West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) 4K UHD Roundup
    • With regard to this film, the needle may be stuck in a crack, but I can’t help repeating myself. I did not care for the original 1961 film and had no intention of seeing this one. But I decided to give it a shot anyway when it showed up on Disney+, and I was floored by just how much fun this film was! I thought the cast did really well, the songs were fun and memorable (and made me want to get up and dance to them), and the cinematography was beautiful! Plain and simple, this one was a pleasant surprise (and I can’t help but feel like it should have done better, not only financially, but at the Oscars as well), and highly recommended!
  1. Charade (1963) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Charade (1963)
    • In this film, Audrey Hepburn stars as Regina Lampert, who has returned home from a vacation in the Swiss Alps, only to find her husband dead and several men trying to shake her down for some money he had stashed somewhere. I’ve said before that I’m no fan of director Alfred Hitchcock (or the types of films he was known for), but this film, Stanley Donen’s homage to Hitchcock, is a thrill from start to finish! I love seeing Audrey and Cary Grant working together, as she makes us cheer for her, while he manages to stay just mysterious enough that we don’t know whether he is a good guy or a bad one. I know the ending, and yet I still feel the suspense every time I see this film. So this is an easy recommendation because of the leads and the story!
  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm tells the tale of the Grimm brothers Jacob (Karl Boehm) and Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his workaholic brother insists on doing their job of writing a duke’s family history.  This was very much a new film to me, and it was fantastic from start to finish!  The three fairy tale sections were the best part of the movie (especially with their more musical moments), but the film really shines with all of its scenery, filmed in its original Cinerama glory.  The recent Blu-ray release of this long-forgotten (and long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore) movie made me a fan, and I heartily recommend it to others!
  1. Murder By Death (1976) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Murder By Death (1976)
    • In Murder By Death (1976), a group of famous detectives and their associates are invited to dinner and a murder. After the murder is committed, the race is on to prove who is the best detective! I’ve seen this spoof numerous times over the years, and it’s one that continues to make me laugh from start to finish, with memorable lines and ridiculous situations. It’s not the most politically correct film (as I mentioned in the original review), but it’s enough fun to recommend it with great enthusiasm!
  1. The Ten Commandments (1956) (Paramount Pictures, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: The Ten Commandments (1956)
    • It’s The Ten Commandments (1956).  It’s director Cecil B. DeMille at his very best, bringing all the spectacle and drama of the classic biblical tale to life on the big screen.  With Charlton Heston in the lead role as Moses and a host of many famous names in support, this film is certainly one of the greats of classic cinema.  It may run a bit long for some, but it more than makes up for it in entertainment value in my mind.  I would easily classify it as one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year!

Honorable mentions: You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray), The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2022, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2023! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Previous Years

2021

2020

2019

2018

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) 4K UHD Roundup

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released on the 4K UHD format in 2022. Due to the slower pace of releases on the format (which is even slower when you account for the number of films that actually appeal to me), 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 that I wanted that were released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of the films that have been released on 4K UHD, starting with Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and West Side Story (2021)!

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 had already used a short from a different set on my original review of Singin’ In The Rain (1952), I will not be adding another one on that post or this one.

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

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Kid From Borneo (1933)

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

(Length: 18 minutes, 47 seconds)

Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba), Dickie (Dickie Moore) and Spanky’s (George McFarland) mother has received a letter from her brother stating that he is in town with a carnival and wants to meet the kids. The kids go to the carnival, but they mistake the “Wild Man From Borneo” (their uncle’s “sideshow attraction”) as their uncle. This one is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s pretty good. The short’s main problem is the characterization of the “Wild Man From Borneo” (who is a black man), but the short also makes sure to tell us that he is really not a threat (but the kids themselves certainly don’t know that). One of the short’s more amusing moments is when Spanky is cornered, and feeds this bottomless pit of a man everything in the icebox. It’s not a great short, but it certainly provided a few good laughs throughout.

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
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: It’s a wonderful Christmas classic (obviously, it covers more than one holiday, but everybody remembers this film for its introduction of the song “White Christmas,” and for good reason)! Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for the first time onscreen, with the resulting fun of “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing” as the two of them try (and fail) to one-up each other in romance! Besides the two aforementioned songs, we also have some other fun Irving Berlin tunes including “Easter Parade” and “Be Careful, It’s My Heart.” The only real complaint about the film is the blackface number set to the song “Abraham.” The story may not be that great, but, apart from the blackface issues, this is a well-regarded film for good reason, and certainly recommended! If you need to read more on the film, check out my original 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.

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

  • Plot Synopses: Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of the biggest silent film stars in Hollywood. However, an encounter with one of his fans (Kathy Selden, as played by Debbie Reynolds) has left Don questioning whether he really can act. And now he really needs to prove that he can, as sound has come to the movies! He’s got the support of Kathy and his old friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), but Lina proves to be a problem since she speaks with a heavy accent (not to mention the fact that she can’t sing or dance). Will Don and Lina’s new sound film prove to be a hit with audiences, or a flop?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes
  • Extras (on the 4K disc): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Musical Numbers
  • Extras (on the included 2012 Blu-ray): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Singin’ In The Rain: Raining on a New Generation, Jukebox, Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Home Video
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: The classic music of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Gene Kelly’s iconic dance in the rain to the title tune. Donald O’Connor’s pratfall-filled dance to “Make ‘Em Laugh.” All the comedy and the romance a film could need. What more needs to be said? (If more does need to be said, please read my original full review here).
    • On The Transfer: I had always thought that the earlier Blu-ray (from 2012) looked pretty good, but the new UHD blows it out of the water! The resolution is certainly much improved, allowing us to see better detail in the image (and all this from a film whose original camera negative was mostly destroyed, save for one reel, in the infamous 1978 Eastman House fire, and which has relied mostly on dupe negatives ever since). The colors are much improved by the HDR, toned down from the slightly yellowish image on the Blu-ray and DVD (and, according to the experts on the subject that I’ve read, the UHD is closer to being what it is supposed to look like). Of course, if you’re looking to “future-proof” this film, then do know that the Blu-ray included with the UHD is still the 2012 release, and not a remastered Blu-ray with a new transfer (which admittedly does allow you to see just how different the UHD is from the older Blu-ray). I’ll certainly recommend the 4K UHD quite heartily as the best way to enjoy this wonderful classic!

West Side Story (2021)

  • Plot Synopses: In the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Jets are fighting for control of their territory with the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. The Jets’ former leader, Tony (Ansel Elgort), is trying to stay out of it, but he finds himself drawn in when he falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (David Alvarez). This really angers Bernardo, pushing the Jets and the Sharks into a big all-out fight, with control of their territory at stake. Neither Maria nor Tony nor the police want this to happen. But, with all the hatred going around, can they stop the rumble before any blood is shed?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 36 minutes
  • Extras (only on the included Blu-ray): The Stories of West Side Story, The Songs
  • Label: 20th Century Studios/Disney
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Plain and simple, I did not expect to like this version since I essentially hated the 1961 film. Boy, did that opinion prove to be wrong! The cast did right by their roles. The music and dancing proved to be very entertaining and memorable! Even the cinematography left an imprint on me! I would go so far as to argue that this may be the best film musical I’ve seen made within my own lifetime (if not the best movie made within my own lifetime, it’s so enjoyable)!
    • On The Transfer: I thought the accompanying Blu-ray for this film looked pretty good, but the 4K UHD blows it out of the water! The detail is exquisite and the color pops, especially for the extremely colorful “America” song and dance! The transfer really shows off the excellent cinematography here! A highly recommended release!

My Overall Impressions

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. Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
  2. West Side Story (2021)
  3. Holiday Inn (1942)

Plain and simple, I think that Singin’ In The Rain is the better film of these three. It’s been a beloved classic for a long time (for good reason!), so it’s an easy choice. I do think that, as far as the 4K UHD releases go, West Side Story looks better, but I would also say that that has to do with modern filming technology which allows it to have much better detail combined with the fact that the original camera negative for Singin’ In The Rain no longer survives (but, as I said, that film still looks great on the 4K UHD, too). That being said, West Side Story is an easy recommendation for me as well. I enjoyed the film a lot (far more than I can say about the earlier 1961 film, for which I had the completely opposite reaction). I’ll give Singin’ In The Rain the edge here, but I can’t deny that both are wonderful films, and certainly deserve to be seen in the best possible format! Holiday Inn is another story. As to the movie itself? I would highly recommend it (maybe not as much as the other two films here, but it’s still a well regarded classic). However, as this is concerning the new 4K UHD release, Holiday Inn is easily the weakest of the bunch, with a poor transfer that leaves me recommending that you NOT look at the 4K, and instead go with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

*Singin’ In The Rain (1952) = ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**West Side Story (2021) = ranked #7 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

***West Side Story (2021) = ranked #6 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

“Star Of The Month (March 2022)” Featuring Bing Crosby in… The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949)

And now we have one final film featuring Bing Crosby as our Star Of The Month! In this instance, he does some voice work alongside Basil Rathbone in the 1949 Disney animated film The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad! However, due to the nature of the film, I will take a similar approach to last year’s Invitation To The Dance (1956) review, and throw in a table of contents to help find the different sections quicker!

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Reckless Driver (1946)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)

While driving on the highway, Woody sees a billboard reminding him to renew his driver’s license. Going to the department of motor vehicles, he tries to renew it with officer Wally Walrus. This one was quite entertaining, as Woody dealt with Wally’s attempts to flunk him on the test. The various gags did their job, providing me with a few good laughs throughout. Woody and Wally still make for good enemies here, which makes it easier to keep coming around for more!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs turned out to be such a hit for Walt Disney, he was approached about doing an animated movie based on the 1908 Kenneth Grahame book The Wind In The Willows. Walt was initially reluctant, but he ended up buying the film rights in 1938. A few years later (in 1941), his animators started working on the film. However, the movie suffered some delays in between his animators striking, and the project being shelved because he thought the quality wasn’t good enough. After the second World War ended, he went back to the idea, but decided to shorten the story and make it part of a package film. At first, the plan was to combine it with The Legend Of Happy Valley and The Gremlins (an original story by Roald Dahl), but The Gremlins ended up not happening, and The Legend Of Happy Valley ended up being paired with the story Bongo for the 1947 film Fun And Fancy Free. Meanwhile, work had begun on The Legend Of Sleep Hollow in 1946, and a decision was made to pair that up with The Wind In The Willows, with Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby brought in to narrate the two stories due to their audience appeal. The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad turned out to be a hit, and was Disney’s last package film until the much later The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh (1977). When aired on television in the 1950s, the two segments were separated (with The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow having a fourteen minute prologue on the life of author Washington Irving added to it), which was the only way to see the segments until the advent of home video (although the Washington Irving prologue has yet to be made available on home video).

The Wind In The Willows

As narrated by Basil Rathbone, we are told the story of one J. Thaddeus Toad (Eric Blore), who resides in Toad Hall near London, England. Toad Hall is a source of pride for many in the community, but trouble is at the door. Toad, famous for obsessively following the latest fads (or “manias”), is facing bankruptcy due to his escapades. His friend, Angus MacBadger (Campbell Grant), has taken over as his bookkeeper, but he has come to the conclusion that Toad must stop with these manias. So, Angus recruits some mutual friends, Ratty (Claude Allister) and Mole (Colin Campbell), to stop Toad’s latest mania: roaming around the countryside in a gypsy cart led by his horse friend, Cyril Proudbottom (J. Pat O’Malley). Ratty and Mole try to stop him, but he develops a new interest: motor cars! They try to lock Toad up in his room, but he escapes, and is soon arrested for “stealing a motor car.” At the trial, Toad says that he had gone to a tavern, where he bought a motor car from some weasels. Since he hadn’t any money, he traded them the deed to Toad Hall. When Toad asks the bartender, Mr. Winkie (Ollie Wallace), to give his testimony, Mr. Winkie instead declares that Toad had tried to sell HIM a stolen motor car! This results in the court throwing the book at Toad and sentencing him to twenty years in the Tower Of London. On Christmas Eve, Cyril comes to visit (disguised as Toad’s “grandmother”) and gives him an outfit to escape. Toad makes his way to Ratty’s home, where they all find out from Angus that the weasels (led by Mr. Winkie, no less!) have moved into Toad Hall. His friends now know the truth, but can they get the deed back and prove Toad’s innocence to the law?

Due to the two segments being separated for the early part of my life, I’m not sure if I ever saw the The Wind In The Willows as a kid (and if I did, it was maybe one time). That being said, I KNOW I saw the song “Merrily On Our Way (To Nowhere In Particular)” many, MANY times (mainly due to the song being included as part of a Disney Sing-A-Long VHS that I wore out from frequent viewings as a little kid). I finally got around to seeing the entire film in 2020 (the first time I had seen much of ANYTHING from the movie, including the sing-a-long in nearly two decades), and I can tell you this: that song STILL sticks with me, even after all this time! Even ignoring that, I also find the whole segment to be a lot of fun. Of course, one thing that makes watching this as an adult enjoyable is the voice acting. As a kid, you could have told me the narrator was Basil Rathbone, or that Mr. Toad was Eric Blore, and that would have meant nothing to me. Now, as a fan of classic cinema, those two names mean a lot more to me, which makes it just that much more appealing! Of course, it’s also easy to tell that some of the footage was “recycled” later on for part of the Disney film The Jungle Book, but it’s still fun to see how it was done the first time. Overall, The Wind In The Willows is an entertaining segment that I’ve come to enjoy seeing every now and then!

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

As narrated (and sung) by Bing Crosby, we are told the tale of traveling schoolteacher Ichabod Crane. He has just come to the New England town of Sleepy Hollow, where he becomes the new teacher. He maintains a firm hand in the classroom (except, of course, with students who have mothers that are good cooks). His ways are odd, which causes him to become a victim of the pranks of the most popular man in town, Brom Bones (although Ichabod just shrugs him off). The two quickly become rivals for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, one of the most beautiful women in town (and daughter of Baltus van Tassel, the richest farmer in the area). Ichabod manages to outwit Brom Bones at every opportunity (helped by Katrina stoking the rivalry, since she doesn’t want to make things easy for Brom Bones, who always seems to get what he wants). On Halloween night, when Baltus Van Tassel throws a party, Brom Bones notices how superstitious Ichabod is, and tells the story of the Headless Horseman, who haunts an area nearby every Halloween as he looks for a new head (and of course, the area he haunts would have to be right along the way Ichabod has to travel to get home). So now, Ichabod has to face this long, scary ride back in the dark. Will he get back alright, or will he run into the Headless Horseman?

Ah. The Legend Of Sleep Hollow. The reason for this package film being included as part of this month’s Star Of The Month blogathon. Unlike the Wind In The Willows segment, I saw this one many a time as a kid (but stopped watching it long before I got into classic live-action films). As a kid, I always found this one entertaining (but, again, the fact that Bing Crosby narrated it meant zilch to me at that time). As an adult (and a classic film fan), not only is it more fun that Bing Crosby is narrating, I can now see the different ways that they incorporated elements of Bing Crosby and his persona into the segment, whether it be his manner of speech in his narration, the style of crooning (when Ichabod is leading the three women as part of their choral society), or Ichabod’s ears. Of course, having always thought of the character Brom Bones as being similar to the character Gaston from the later Disney film Beauty And The Beast, it feels weird to hear Bing’s voice coming out of that character as well, but certainly not enough to throw me. All three songs in this segment (“Ichabod,” “Katrina” and “The Headless Horseman”) are quite fun, but it’s definitely “The Headless Horseman” that is the most memorable! But the final section, with Ichabod going through the woods at night (and facing off against the Headless Horseman) is very effective in being scary, as the narration almost disappears, leaving us to endure Ichabod’s imagination slowly running wild (and who can blame him?) up until he realizes that (and then, of course, the Horseman shows up). It’s as scary as anything I can think of from a Disney cartoon, and yet, in spite of the fact that I just do not care for horror/scary stuff (as I’ve indicated in the past), I actually like to watch it! I can’t deny that this one is definitely a different Disney story, since it can be quite ambiguous, not only in the story’s ending, but in whether the story actually has a “hero” for us to cheer for (since Ichabod is interested in Katrina’s father’s wealth as much as he is her). As a kid, this one was fun for me, and as an adult, it’s even better!

My Overall Impression

While I left this film (or rather, I should say the segment The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow) behind for a long time, it was one that I had a lot of fun coming around to when I saw the whole thing in 2020. I’ve had the good pleasure to revisit it a few times since, and it’s been a fun Disney film! In some respects, it’s one that works well for two different holidays, what with part of The Wind In The Willows taking place around Christmastime (even if it barely touches on that in the story), and then The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow‘s most famous part being on Halloween night. With the now familiar-to-me voice talent behind-the-scenes, and the very enjoyable tales onscreen, it’s one that I very much enjoy, and have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Disney.

Film Length: 1 hour, 8 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)Bing CrosbyHere Comes The Groom (1951)

International Lady (1941) – Basil Rathbone – We’re No Angels (1955)

Romance On The High Seas (1948) – Eric Blore

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Melody Time (1948)

After starting to dig into the classic animated Disney movies earlier this year with Make Mine Music (1946), I’m back for a look at another one!  This time, it’s the 1948 package feature Melody Time, featuring the talents of Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger, Dennis Day, the Andrews Sisters, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, Freddie Martin, Ethel Smith and Frances Langford, with Buddy Clark filling in as the Master of Ceremonies for the whole shebang! Of course, we once again have a table of contents to help you navigate the whole thing, if you so choose!

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… Free Eats (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 14 seconds)

A society lady whose husband is running for office throws a special dinner for the poor kids in the area, so the Gang all decide to go. In the process, they help foil a “family” of thieves, with two midgets posing as little babies. This short’s main claim to fame is that it was George McFarland’s series debut as “Spanky,” a role he would play for another decade. Stymie (Matthew Beard) still provides most of the laughs with his quips, as well as him being the only one to realize that the “babies” are midgets (or, as he puts it, “fidgets”). Overall, it’s an entertaining short, and worth seeing again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Casey Bats Again (1954)

(Available as an extra on the Melody Time Blu-ray from Disney)

(Length: 7 minutes, 42 seconds)

A sequel short to the original Casey At The Bat (part of Make Mine Music from 1946), this short takes up where the earlier one left off.  After his fateful loss, Casey is greeted by his wife with the news of an impending pregnancy.  He hopes for a son, but he winds up with nine daughters over several attempts (and a baseball team of his own).  I think it’s a fun (albeit dated) short, since it gives us a little more Casey.  It’s admittedly a far cry from the original, especially with a different narrator (instead of the very fun Jerry Colonna), and it’s rather sexist treatment of the girls (even if it does allow them to play baseball).  There is some humor to be found (in between Casey himself fighting to get into the game after being locked out and him essentially repeating his almost miss from the previous story), but that is the most to be said about this inferior sequel to a classic short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Donald Applecore (1952)

(Available as an extra on the Melody Time Blu-ray from Disney)

(Length: 6 minutes, 44 seconds)

Apple farmer Donald Duck has to contend with Chip ‘n’ Dale when they start taking his crop.  Donald Duck vs. Chip ‘n’ Dale.  For me, that alone says all I need to know, as Chip ‘n’ Dale are among my favorite Disney characters, and them squaring off against Donald Duck is always entertaining.  The basic structure of the plot may be similar to a number of the other Donald vs. the chipmunks cartoons, but the gags are fun here, with the two chipmunks generally getting the upper hand over Donald.  I’ve seen this one many a time, and it’s one I have no problem coming back to again and again for a good laugh!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Lambert, The Sheepish Lion (1952)

(Available as an extra on the Melody Time Blu-ray from Disney)

(Length: 8 minutes, 15 seconds)

The stork has a mix-up in his delivery, and a lion cub named Lambert ends up being adopted by an ewe in a flock of sheep.  The other sheep make fun of him for being so different, but when a wolf comes around, will he be able to help save his mother?  Another fun short, with Sterling Holloway providing the narration (and also voicing the stork).  In some respects, another variation on the “Ugly Duckling” story, which adds some heart as we see Lambert trying to fit in.  It’s hard not to cheer for the big guy when he has to help his mother out and prove himself in the process.  I certainly find this one very entertaining, and like to see it every now and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Following in the footsteps of Make Mine Music, Melody Time was a package film, consisting of several shorter stories (in this case, seven), which were put together to help make a feature film. One of them, “Pecos Bill,” was initially planned to be paired with their version of “The Wind In The Willows” and the story of “Casey Jones.” Of course, “The Wind In The Willows” ended up being paired off with “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” for The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949), “Casey Jones” wasn’t produced, and “Pecos Bill” was paired up with the story of Johnny Appleseed. Melody Time did well enough at the box office, but, like Make Mine Music, it was not reissued to theatres. Instead, some segments were given individual releases, and about five of them were later paired with four segments from Make Mine Music into another feature called Music Land (1955).

Due to the nature of this film, with its shorter sections, I will in some respects be treating them like my normal Coming Up Shorts! comments on theatrical shorts (like I did with Make Mine Music).

Once Upon A Wintertime

In this segment, Frances Langford sings the song “Once Upon A Wintertime” over a story of two couples (one human couple and one rabbit couple) who go out for an afternoon of ice skating.  Things start to go sour when the two males try to show off for their lady friends (only to make them angry instead).   Then the ice cracks, and the men, with the aid of some other animal friends, must save the ladies.  I’ve seen this one many times in my life (through this movie and various Disney Christmas programs that include the short, plus clips used as background for the song “Jingle Bells” on an old Disney Christmas Sing-a-long VHS), and it’s one that I still enjoy seeing! I admit, with age comes experience, and I can see that it’s treatment of the female characters is a bit sexist, with them getting into trouble (which, to be fair, was at least partly caused by one of the males) and fainting. Still, it’s a beautiful song, with equally beautiful animation and an entertaining story that keeps me coming back, even if I have seen it many, many times before!

Bumble Boogie

For this short, Freddy Martin and his orchestra play a swing-jazz variation of the song “Flight Of The Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Onscreen, a bee finds himself dealing with various instruments and piano keys chasing him around. This piece was, like the Blue Bayou segment in Make Mine Music, another short that had been considered for use in Fantasia (1940), but abandoned for that film. While there really isn’t a lot of story to this segment, I will readily admit that it is a fun one! The music itself is entertaining, and the action onscreen as we follow the bee works quite well together! It may not be this film’s best short, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the movie itself!

The Legend Of Johnny Appleseed

In this segment, we get the Disneyfied version of the life of John Chapman, better known in legend as Johnny Appleseed. Dennis Day provides the voices for Johnny, his guardian angel, and the old settler telling the story. Around the time that this movie was made, several of the studios were considering film projects about John Chapman (and Groucho Marx was considering a Broadway musical about him), but this segment ended up being the only one of those projects to be produced. Personally, I like this short the best of the seven in this movie. It’s a fun tale, with its memorable moments of humor (particularly when Johnny first deals with some of the forest animals, including a skunk). It’s the music that sticks with me, though, particularly the song “The Lord Is Good To Me.” Obviously, with a song like that, you can easily guess that this one does contain some more religious content, but that works quite well for me (and is, again, part of its appeal). This short alone has brought me back to the movie many, many times over the years!

Little Toot

In this segment (based on the 1939 story by Hardie Gramatky), the Andrews Sisters narrate/sing the story of a tugboat named Little Toot. This little tugboat continually got into trouble, until he was exiled from the city. In the midst of a storm at sea, only he can save a ship in distress. This one has always been a fun short, with a very entertaining story. The Andrews Sisters (in what would be the last movie to involve their whole group) tell the story well, and help add to the fun. I’ve seen this one many times, and it is always fun to come back to!

Trees

This segment features a rendition of the 1913 Joyce Kilmer Poem “Trees.” Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians perform the music (by Oscar Rasbach) and recite the poem. There is no plot to this one, just the scenery in a forest through different weather and seasons. As a result, I would describe this one as the weakest segment in the film. It is by no means terrible, though, as the animation and scenery are absolutely beautiful to see, making it a nice little diversion to sit through.

Blame It On The Samba

Donald Duck and José Carioca are feeling a little blue, until the Aracuan Bird helps perk them up with the rhythms of samba music! This one is very entertaining, with the song (“Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho” by Ernesto Nazareth) played onscreen by organist Ethel Smith, with the Dinning Sisters singing the lyrics. It’s fun to enjoy more of Donald and José, but I really enjoy getting another appearance by the Aracuan bird. His antics are crazy (as he first cheers the other two up and then starts picking on them), which is the source of much of the humor for this section. I know I enjoy watching it every time I see this movie! The only disappointment is that this is one of only three appearances in classic Disney for the Aracuan Bird (preceded by the 1944 movie The Three Caballeros and the 1947 Donald Duck short Clown Of The Jungle), and of the three, it’s the only one that he doesn’t really do his little “song” (which is mainly what I remember the character for). Still, that’s not enough to keep me from coming back to this one!

Pecos Bill

Luana Patten and Bobby Driscoll are out camping in the desert with Roy Rogers and the Sons Of The Pioneers, when the two kids are scared by some coyotes howling. To allay their fears, Roy and the others tell them the story of the legendary Pecos Bill, his horse Widowmaker and Slue Foot Sue. This segment is another one that I have always found entertaining, from the music to the characters and the outlandish story! Granted, it’s also the most dated, what with its stereotypes of the Native Americans and some of the sexism inherent in the story (and some of the young kids’ comments). But, it’s entertaining, and quite ridiculous, which makes it worthwhile to enjoy this one!

My Overall Impression

This is one of those Disney movies that I’ve seen a number of times over the years, going all the way back to the era of VHS (although I went through a long period of not seeing it between the times I saw it on VHS and the recent Blu-ray). As a result, I’ll readily admit that I have a soft spot for this movie. Apart from the Once Upon A Wintertime segment, I mainly know all of the segments through this movie, so it’s a lot easier for me to have higher opinions of this film overall (compared to Make Mine Music). My opinions of the various sections may differ, but I do enjoy them all, particularly The Legend Of Johnny Appleseed for the reasons I mentioned already. Trees is the weak spot, but the fact that I can still enjoy it is one of the reasons why this film is always such a treat for me to see. I think I may have a higher opinion of a few of the individual shorts in Make Mine Music, but when it comes to the overall film, Melody Time is the better one in my book, and one I would definitely recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Disney. The Blu-ray release is available exclusively through the Disney Movie Club (or, for those who can’t become members, it can also be found through other sellers on eBay and other sites). Like their Blu-ray release of Make Mine Music, I think this one looks pretty good (although, to be fair, I have seen complaints against both of these suffering from similar transfer issues to most of Disney’s animated classics, such as DNR and the like, so take that how you will). However, unlike Make Mine Music, this film is completely UNCUT, which should make it more appealing for fans. It also has, as indicated above, three classic Disney shorts included as extras. The only other complaint I’ve seen lodged against this release is the audio, but I’m not sure of the exact problem (since I don’t exactly have the most advanced home theater equipment). As far as I’m concerned, I can understand everything clearly (even without the included subtitles), so this is a release I would still recommend for those who like this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 16 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Roy Rogers – Son Of Paleface (1952)

Road To Rio (1947) – The Andrews Sisters

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Frances Langford

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Make Mine Music (1946)

Well, we’re back to start off the new year with a few reviews of some of last year’s new physical media releases. And I’m going to start by branching out into an animated Disney film, something I haven’t done before (mostly because I think everybody has some knowledge of the animated Disney classics and I don’t have much else to say on the subject). I definitely wanted to do today’s film, though, since it features the vocal talents of Nelson Eddy, half of my Screen Team Of The Month! That, of course, makes it the 1946 package film Make Mine Music, which also features the talents of Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Jerry Colonna, Andy Russell, Sterling Holloway, Tania Riabouchinskaya and David Lichine, the Pied Pipers, the King’s Men and the Ken Darby Chorus. Of course, due to the nature of the film, I’ll throw in a Table of Contents to help get to the various sections quicker, if you so choose!

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… Readin’ And Writin’ (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 21 minutes, 2 seconds)

Brisbane (Kendell McComas) doesn’t want to go to school, so he tries to get himself expelled. This one didn’t have a huge amount of plot to it, but it certainly was fun, with all the antics that Brisbane tried in order to get himself expelled. Admittedly, it’s not too original, sharing some similarities to earlier entries in the series with the kids’ answers and Miss Crabtree’s (June Marlowe) double-takes, plus the attempts to play pranks on her (that end up backfiring). Still, original or not, it’s a lot of fun (even if it is, from everything I’ve read, June Marlowe’s last appearance as Miss Crabtree)!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Band Concert (1935)

(Available as an extra on the Make Mine Music Blu-ray from Disney Studios)

(Length: 9 minutes,18 seconds)

Mickey and his friends are trying to hold a band concert in the park, but have to deal with the interruptions of ice cream vendor Donald Duck and a tornado. Essentially the first Mickey Mouse short done in Technicolor, this also helped Donald Duck on his way to becoming a star at Disney. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this one, but I can’t deny that it’s still a good one! Watching Donald as he tries to start playing “Turkey In The Straw” on his flute (and, in the process, dragging the rest of the band away from the William Tell Overture, which is what they were supposed to be playing) is a lot of fun! Of course, the relationship between him and Mickey is a bit more antagonistic, but that provides a lot of the humor here (as does the tornado which wreaks havoc on everything, but can’t stop the band from playing the song even as they get swept away). It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Farmyard Symphony (1938)

(Available as an extra on the Make Mine Music Blu-ray from Disney Studios)

(Length: 8 minutes, 13 seconds)

On the farm, all the animals wake up and start the day when the rooster crows. This Silly Symphony cartoon really has no plot, just an emphasis on music. Honestly, this is one of the few Disney cartoons I’m not overly familiar with. I’ve seen it a handful of times, but I recognize the footage that was reused in the later 1951 Chip ‘n’ Dale short Chicken In The Rough. I much prefer that later short with its humor (and particularly Chip ‘n’ Dale), but this one is fairly entertaining.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Music Land (1935)

(Available as an extra on the Make Mine Music Blu-ray from Disney Studios)

(Length: 9 minutes, 36 seconds)

A war breaks out between the Isle Of Jazz and the Land Of Symphony when a princess violin (from the Land Of Symphony) falls for a saxophone prince (from the Isle Of Jazz). This is a fun cartoon, one that I’ve seen many times over the years. The music certainly helps set the tone here, with the more classical music for one group, and the jazzy music for the other. The methods of “war,” with the rulers essentially leading orchestras that shoot the music at each other is quite memorable. Again, I have a soft spot for this cartoon, and I know I always enjoy seeing it again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Initially, Walt Disney started out with plans for a follow-up to Fantasia, which would have included some of the music that ended up in Make Mine Music. His plans were put on hold due to World War II, as well as much of his staff being drafted into the army/enlisted to help with training and propaganda films. As a result, he found himself with various ideas and stories that were either too long for theatrical shorts, or too short to be full-length features. So he decided to put these various ideas together into a package film of different segments with varying lengths. The movie itself was fairly well-received by audiences, although its initial theatrical run would be its only time in theaters. Some of the different segments were later reissued as individual shorts instead of getting a wide theatrical reissue for the whole film.

Due to the nature of this film, with its shorter sections, I will in some respects be treating them like my normal Coming Up Shorts! comments on theatrical shorts.

The Martins And The Coys

The King’s Men narrate this tale of a pair of feuding hillbilly families, the Martins and the Coys. The feud starts with a member of the Coy family stealing some eggs (and the Martins retaliating), and quickly almost all members of both families are killed off. Only one member of each family remains (Henry Coy and Grace Martin), and they fall in love with each other, much to the consternation of their deceased relatives watching from the clouds above. This one was new to me, and I will admit that I found the music to be fun, as was the story. Maybe not the absolute best part of this movie, but entertaining enough. This one admittedly has fallen prey to being censored by Disney, as they have removed it completely from the movie on home video in recent years. Most of what I read says it is about the gun violence (which is somewhat ridiculous, in my opinion, as I would say that the short’s ending with its domestic violence would seem more objectionable). Still, that does make it harder to see.

Blue Bayou

In this segment, the Ken Darby Chorus sings the song “Blue Bayou” as we watch a pair of egrets in the Everglades. Nothing really happens here, outside of watching one egret walking through (with the water rippling outward where it walks), so this one might be tougher to enjoy for those who prefer an actual plot or something happening. Apparently, this section was originally created to be part of Fantasia (or any of its originally planned future versions), with the Claude Debussy song “Claire de Lune” recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski’s direction. The animation stayed for Make Mine Music, but the recording of “Blue Bayou” was substituted in by the time of the film’s release. Not the most remarkable segment, but the animation is still beautiful to watch.

All The Cats Join In

In this segment, Benny Goodman and his orchestra provide the music for the song “All The Cats Join In.” The story has a group of teens that decide to get together at a malt shop and dance to the music from the jukebox. This one was quite entertaining, especially with some of the various characters, vehicles and places being “drawn” as the story continues to happen (with the kids driving off in their jalopy before the “artist” is even done drawing the car). The song is fun, and this is one of the better segments. Like The Martins And The Coys, it has run afoul of being censored by Disney (although in this case, it’s mainly some mild female nudity that’s been edited out, as opposed to the whole segment).

Without You

This segment features Andy Russell singing a tune as we see nature through a window during and after a rainstorm. Like the earlier Blue Bayou short, this one really doesn’t have any action going on. The animation is interesting, especially as we see nature through the rain falling down the window. That’s honestly the only redeemable part of it, as the song itself is rather forgettable (but mercifully short).

Casey At The Bat

This segment tells the story of “Casey At The Bat” from the poem by Ernest Thayer. Jerry Colonna narrates, as we see the people of Mudville cheer on their baseball star, Casey, hoping he will bring their team victory. I’ve seen this segment separated as a short on TV many times over the years, and it’s one I’ve always found fun (even more so after I saw Jerry Colonna in a few live action movies, like his appearances alongside Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in a few of the Road movies). The story (even if completely true to the original poem) is entertaining and humorous, and as much a warning about being too cocky as anything. One I certainly love to see again and again (and therefore, one of this film’s better segments)!

Two Silhouettes

For this segment, Dinah Shore sings the song “Two Silhouettes.” Onscreen, we have a ballet dance from David Lichine and Tania Riabouchinskaya, who are animated via rotoscoping. It’s fascinating to watch this dance, even if it feels a little too simple compared to what other screen dancers could do with live action. But, I suspect, that is the problem, since the animators would have had to trace over everything, and so, to a degree, the simpler, the better for them. The title song is decent, and the combination of dancing and animation works pretty well. At least this one was more substantial than some of the earlier shorts in the film like Blue Bayou and Without You.

Peter And The Wolf

Sterling Holloway narrates this story of a little boy named Peter who goes out to hunt a wolf with some of his animal friends. I’ve seen this segment many a time (as its own separate short), and it’s always a lot of fun! The way they use the different musical instruments as part of the score to denote the various characters makes this one quite entertaining! Of course, Sterling Holloway’s narration is quite fun, too, especially as he tries to interact with the characters (not that they seem to hear him, anyways). Like I said, this segment is one I know I enjoy, and love to come back to every now and then!

After You’ve Gone

This segment features Benny Goodman and the Goodman Quartet playing the music. Onscreen, we see various musical instruments (led, in particular, by a clarinet) as they go through a musical environment. This is another one without much of a plot, and that’s a bit of a strike against it. The animation is fun to watch, especially when we have a pair of hands (which then turn into a pair of legs) play on piano keys. The music itself is fun, which adds to this segment’s charm. It’s still not a great one, but it’s entertaining enough for a few minutes.

Johnnie Fedora And Alice Bluebonnet

The Andrews Sisters sing a tale about two different hats. Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet are a pair of hats in a department store window who have fallen in love (until Alice is sold to a customer). When Johnnie has been purchased, he tries to find Alice, but keeps managing to miss her. I’ve seen this segment before via some of the various programs containing Disney shorts over the years. Until this viewing, I don’t think it sank in that it was the Andrews Sisters narrating, and their presence makes this fun short even better. It’s an entertaining little love story, with good animation and a lot of heart behind it. I know I still like it after all these years!

The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met

Ah, the moment I’ve been waiting for (and, as it’s the reason I’m including this movie as part of my Screen Team Of The Month blogathon for January 2022, it will take at least two paragraphs to talk about it). A whale is heard singing opera out in the ocean, making the headlines of newspapers and causing a lot of debate over whether it is really possible for a whale to sing. Opera impresario Tetti Tatti thinks that the whale has swallowed an opera singer, and sets out with a schooner and a harpooner to “rescue the opera singer.” The whale, Willie, actually can sing, and tries to audition for Tetti Tatti when he hears that the impresario is seeking him out. The schooner’s harpooners find themselves enjoying Willie’s singing, as he dreams of what it would be like for him to sing at the Met.

This is another segment that I’ve seen many a time since I was a kid (although it was the individual short, which had been retitled Willie The Operatic Whale, which I saw on a VHS). Even though it didn’t exactly have a happy ending, I will admit that I liked it as a child, and, seeing it again as an adult, I have even more respect for it! As a kid, I couldn’t have told you who Nelson Eddy was, and I certainly wouldn’t have known that all the whale’s singing was done by him. Now I know, which is what makes this short even better for me! I find it very impressive how they were able to use technology (some of which Nelson Eddy had been fiddling around with on his own) to allow him to sing in different voices, from bass through soprano. I’ll admit, seeing Willie the Whale as Mephistopheles was somewhat scary as a little kid (albeit not in a traumatic way, thankfully), and still is a little scary, even as an adult. Still, it’s an entertaining short that I’m glad to be able to see again!

My Overall Impression

This is probably one of the few animated Disney classics that I hadn’t really seen in its entirety until recently. Mostly, I had seen a few of the shorts through the likes of VHS and TV programs, but never in this form. For me, it’s easy to say that the shorts I was previously acquainted with are the ones that stick with me, especially Casey At The Bat, Peter And The Wolf, Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet, and The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met. In particular, Willie The Whale is the one that I have the fondest memories of (to the extent that, even after many years of not seeing it, the music still easily gets stuck in my head, even after one viewing), and helps raise my opinion of the overall film completely on its own. Amongst those that I hadn’t seen before in their entirety, All The Cats Join In was the most memorable, with its fun little story and music. It’s a very inconsistent film in terms of its quality (hard not to be when it is comprised solely of various shorts not all done by the same people), but I still think it is worth seeing and enjoying!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Disney. The Blu-ray release is available exclusively through the Disney Movie Club (or, for those who can’t become members, it can also be found through other sellers on eBay and other sites). The pros about the Blu-ray: the transfer looks quite good, in my opinion, and, as indicated above, it has three classic shorts included as extras (a new thing for Disney Movie Club exclusives). The con: it’s the edited version of the film, missing the Martins And The Coys segment and the edited out moments from All The Cats Join In. This is particularly frustrating, as being a Disney Movie Club exclusive makes it that much harder to purchase, and is therefore going to appeal mainly to collectors (who would mostly prefer to have the entire, UNCUT film). As a result, the version of the movie included runs about one hour, eight minutes in length. It’s got the main parts that I like and enjoy, but I can’t deny that I would scoop up the full version if the release were fixed (and I hope it does somewhere down the line).

(Full) Film Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collection

Phantom Of The Opera (1943)Nelson Eddy

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Dinah Shore

Hold That Ghost (1941) – The Andrews Sisters – Road To Rio (1947)

Road To Utopia (1946) – Jerry Colonna – Road To Rio (1947)

Remember The Night (1940) – Sterling Holloway

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