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

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm & Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2022): 1939 with… Balalaika (1939)

It’s December now, and with the holidays upon us, it’s time to look at a movie that fits within the season! So, for today, we’re looking at the 1939 musical Balalaika starring Nelson Eddy and Ilona Massey!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Arbor Day (1936)

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

(Length: 17 minutes, 39 seconds)

It’s Arbor Day, and the school is putting on a pageant featuring all the kids, which is something that Spanky (George McFarland) wants to avoid. He is caught by the truant officer, along with a pair of midgets from a nearby circus mistaken as kids. This one was, at best, average. My big complaint is how much of the short was taken up by the Arbor Day pageant, with mostly forgettable music (aside from Alfalfa memorably “singing” the poem “Trees”) and dancing. Spanky attempting to play hooky was funny (but not long enough). I was also amused by the antics of the two midgets as they tried to escape their manager, and then later when they tried to perform in the pageant (which they had been dragged to). Plain and simple, this one wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t leave me with a desire to see it again, either.

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1914. The Russian Cossack Guards have just come back from maneuvers, and want to stop at the Cafe Balalaika for wine, music and women. Cafe singer Lydia Pavlovna Marakova (Ilona Massey) quickly catches their eye, and she is ordered to come have a drink with them. Unbeknownst to any of the Cossacks, Lydia and her family are a part of a group of revolutionaries, so, in spite of being blackmailed to go to them by the cafe owner, she finds a way to get out of there in a hurry. She doesn’t meet one of the leaders of the Cossacks, Prince Peter Karagin (Nelson Eddy), but he sees her as she leaves and is impressed. He quickly finds out that she has a thing for students, so he goes undercover as a student named “Peter Illyich Teranda” in order to catch her eye. Due to his singing ability, he is accepted by Lydia’s musician father and brother (although they don’t trust him enough to tell him of their revolutionary activities). When Peter learns of Lydia’s desire to sing in the opera, he gets her an audition with the opera’s director, Ivan Danchenoff (Frank Morgan). Danchenoff is impressed with her ability, and, pressed by Peter, gives her a spot in the opera. Things are starting to look up for them, but Lydia’s brother starts speaking out in a public square. In all that mess, the Cossack guards (including Peter) arrive to break up the gathering (trampling Lydia’s brother in the process). Lydia and Peter see each other in all that mess, and she refuses to see him again. On one of his attempts to see her, he announces that he will be resigning from the Cossacks, which gives her mixed feelings. On the one hand, she’s glad to hear it, but on the other hand, some of her associates had made plans to assassinate Peter and his father, General Karagin (C. Aubrey Smith), at the opening of the opera. Without telling him the real reason why, Lydia convinces Peter to stay away from the opening (and get his father to not come, either). However, Peter’s father does indeed go to the opera, as does Peter, who comes to deliver a message to his father. Before the assassins can do anything, the general announces to everyone in the opera that Germany had declared war on Russia. His announcement leads Lydia’s father to reconsider their plan, but his associate still manages to get a shot off before they are caught (but he only wounds the general). Once the Cossacks learn that Lydia’s father was one of the attempted assassins, she is quickly arrested. Before he goes off to war, Peter manages to get Lydia freed, but she has a hard time of it. In between the war keeping them apart and the brewing revolution, will Peter and Lydia ever get back together, or will they be separated by distance and ideology?

Balalaika was based on a 1936 London stage musical of the same name by Eric Maschwitz, with music by George Posford and Bernard Grun. MGM bought the rights, but it took them nearly two years before production actually started on the film. The studio had hoped to have Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy star in the film together, but the two stars had been demanding solo films. So, Nelson Eddy got Balalaika, with the song “At The Balalaika” being the only one retained from the show, while music director Herbert Stothart adapted other music for the film. With Jeanette MacDonald out of the picture, the role of the leading lady was offered to Miliza Korjus, but she believed it to be a joke (thinking that Jeanette would be teamed with Nelson again) and turned it down. So, the role was given to Ilona Massey (who had worked with Nelson, albeit in a supporting role, in Rosalie two years earlier, and would work with him again for 1947’s Northwest Outpost, his final film).

I first saw this movie just about a decade ago, and I’ve seen it numerous times since (otherwise translated, I like this movie). Nelson Eddy was the reason I first tried the movie, and remains one of the reasons that I like this film as well as I do. As usual, he’s in fine voice and has a few relatively fun tunes in the way of “At the Balalaika” and “Ride, Cossack, Ride.” But the songs that really stick out in my mind (and make the movie memorable) are him singing “The Song of the Volga Boatmen” (“El Ukhnem”), and singing the German version of “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht”). The latter song is done during a scene that takes place on the battlefield during the Russian Christmas (this is why I like to watch the movie at this time of the year), with it reminding me strongly of the famous Christmas Truce Of 1914 (even though this scene takes place three years later), as the Austrians (who had already celebrated their Christmas) start singing “Silent Night” to celebrate the Russian Christmas, with Nelson Eddy joining in.

Nelson Eddy is hardly the only reason I like this film. Ilona Massey is very good as his leading lady, with a beautiful voice. I think they have fairly good chemistry (admittedly, it’s hard not to compare her against Jeanette MacDonald, whose chemistry with Nelson was on a whole different level, but she’s not terrible, either). Frank Morgan is good here, too (if a little underutilized) as an opera impresario who is at first put upon by members of the Russian nobility in terms of who he has to cast in the opera, and then again at the end of the film (SPOILER) when he works as a doorman in Paris (END SPOILER). Overall, it’s Charlie Ruggles as Peter’s (Nelson Eddy) Cossack servant who manages to create a strong (and humorous) impression throughout the entire film, while winning our affections. This is not a perfect film by any means, with only a handful of memorable musical moments and (as I mentioned) some cast members being underutilized, plus it’s hard to feel much sympathy for either the Russian nobility (at least, not until the last few scenes of the movie) or the revolutionaries. Still, it’s one I like to watch (especially around Christmastime to hear Nelson singing the German version of “Silent Night”), so I would certainly recommend giving it a chance!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938) – Nelson Eddy – The Chocolate Soldier (1941)

Ilona Massey – International Lady (1941)

Bringing Up Baby (1938) – Charles Ruggles – It Happened On Fifth Avenue (1947)

Naughty Marietta (1935) – Frank Morgan – The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Ninotchka (1939) – George Tobias – Music In My Heart (1940)

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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!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2022) on… Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Like Doris Day with our look at Lullaby Of Broadway (1951) earlier this month, we’ve been a little overdue for another James Cagney film. And what better way to come back to him than with one of his more famous gangster films, Angels With Dirty Faces (1938), also starring Pat O’Brien!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Teacher’s Beau (1935)

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

(Length: 19 minutes, 3 seconds)

The Gang’s teacher, Miss Jones (Arletta Duncan) announces that she will get married, and that they will have a new teacher for their next year, Mrs. Wilson. Not wanting a new teacher, the Gang try to find ways to break up the engagement. This was yet another hilarious short. Most of the fun stems from the ways that Spanky (George McFarland) tries to interfere, only for his plans to backfire. In particular, him and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) trying to dress up as a “rival” (who doesn’t fool the fiancé for one minute) really left a strong impression on me. To a large degree, this one feels fairly similar to the earlier talkie School’s Out (1930), but it still feels fresh enough (and funny enough) that I would gladly watch it again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Out Where The Stars Begin (1938)

(Available as an extra on the Angels With Dirty Faces Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 15 seconds)

A Broadway dancer (Evelyn Thawl) has come out to Hollywood to get into the movies. With the help of a makeup man (Jeffrey Lynn) and the director’s assistant (Charley Foy), she becomes the movie’s prima ballerina. This was a fun little musical short. The music itself is fun (although not exactly memorable), with a dance sequence that takes up the majority of the short. Mostly, it’s entertaining seeing some of the various stars and movie sets of big 1938 films in 3-strip Technicolor. I know I enjoyed it enough to see it here and there!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Porky And Daffy (1938)

(Available as an extra on the Angels With Dirty Faces Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 32 seconds)

Daffy Duck is a boxer being managed by Porky Pig. When Porky sees an ad offering money to somebody who can beat the champion rooster, Porky immediately gets Daffy in the ring! This rather fun short was from the era when Daffy was still relatively new, and very, very zany. In this short, most of the humor is derived from the wacky ways that Daffy tries to fight with the rooster. That’s not a problem for me, as I always enjoyed Daffy, regardless of how screwy he could be (and here, he IS screwy), so I don’t mind coming back around to this one as well!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Two young kids, William “Rocky” Sullivan and Jerry Connolly, try to steal some fountain pens from a train car, but Rocky is caught when they try to evade the police. Jerry wants to come forward to help Rocky out, but Rocky insists that Jerry should clam up. Fast forward nearly fifteen years, and Rocky has been through reform school and spent several years behind bars. Upon being released from prison, Rocky (James Cagney) returns to his old neighborhood, where his friend Jerry (Pat O’Brien) is now a priest and trying to keep the local kids out of trouble. At Jerry’s insistence, Rocky finds a place to stay in a boarding house, where he runs into another old friend, Laury Martin (Ann Sheridan), whom he takes an interest in. Rocky’s next order of business is to see his lawyer, Jim Frazier (Humphrey Bogart) (who had insisted that Rocky take the fall for a robbery the two of them were involved with while promising Rocky that he would get his share of the money when he got out of prison). Jim, now working for gangster Mac Keefer (George Bancroft), doesn’t have the money readily available, and offers to get it together within the week. After leaving Frazier’s office, Rocky runs into some local boys, who pick his pockets. However, he follows them to their hideout (which also used to be HIS hideout when he was younger), where they learn just who he is. He quickly gains their confidence, and helps Jerry to get the kids to behave (although Jerry wonders whether Rocky will end up being a bad influence for the kids). On his way home, some thugs sent by Frazier attempt to kill Rocky, but he turns the tables on them. Afterwards, Rocky kidnaps Frazier and, in the process, also gets his hands on some information that Mac and Frazier were using to blackmail the city officials. With Frazier in his hands, Rocky demands a ransom from Mac of nearly $100,000. After giving him the money, Mac then tries to have Rocky arrested, but finds out from a newly freed Frazier that Rocky has the blackmail information. As a result, they drop the charges, essentially making Rocky another partner. Rocky tries to give some of the money to Jerry to help build a gym, but Jerry wants nothing to do with the tainted money. In fact, he warns Rocky that he’s going to go after all the gangsters in town, including Rocky himself. Jerry’s efforts start to gain traction, leaving Mac and Frazier trying to figure out how to get rid of both him and Rocky. Rocky manages to put an end to their plan (and to them as well), but is caught by the police. Will Rocky continue to be a hero to the end for the boys (as a gangster), or will Jerry be able to show them that Rocky’s way is wrong?

In the mid-1930s, James Cagney had a big contract dispute with Warner Brothers when he sued them for pushing him to do more films in a year than he was willing to do. While the court case went on, he made some movies for Grand National Pictures. Writer and director Rowland Brown came up with the story for Angels With Dirty Faces and, after pitching it at some of the various studios, was able to sell it to Grand National Pictures, who wanted Cagney to do it. However, Cagney had tried to avoid becoming typecast in tough guy roles and took on Something To Sing About for the smaller studio (with the film underperforming at the box office). With the lawsuit getting resolved and Cagney coming back to work for Warners, he brought the story with him (which the studio decided to buy). For the role of Rocky Sullivan, James Cagney (who had grown up on the Lower East Side of New York) was inspired by a drug-addicted pimp he had known (who particularly inspired some of Rocky’s mannerisms and the phrase “Whaddya hear? Whaddya say?”) as well as his childhood friend Peter “Bootah” Hessling (who was convicted of murder and executed in the 1920s). It all worked out well for Cagney, as the picture itself was a big hit, and his performance resulted in his first Oscar nomination.

It’s taken me a long time to finally get around to seeing Angels With Dirty Faces. I’ve known of the film for a long time (especially having grown up with the first two Home Alone films and their title spoofs of the “movies” Angels With Filthy Souls and Angels With Even Filthier Souls that Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister watched), and the combined star power of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart made the film an attractive one. However, apart from a clip used in the TCM Scene It? DVD game, I’ve never had the chance to see the movie until this last year. Quite simply stated, it lived up to (and beyond!) my expectations. James Cagney alone carries the movie as a tough gangster who still has a soft spot for his old friend Jerry Connolly (played by Cagney’s offscreen friend Pat O’Brien) and the church. From start to finish, I was mesmerized by him! The ending for his character is ambiguous, and, although it was likely demanded by the Hays Office as part of the Production Code in force at the time, it still feels genuine to me. And, although it’s still early in his career, Humphrey Bogart also leaves a strong impression as a lawyer who thinks he can outwit Cagney’s Rocky (yet is caught every time). The movie kept me on the edge of my seat frequently, especially when the thugs came after Rocky and again when the police were hunting him down. This film is considered a major classic, and I definitely think it deserves that status! I personally might go so far as to call it my favorite gangster film, so I have no hesitation in giving it some of my highest recommendations! Seriously, go see it as soon as possible!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative. It’s a typical Warner Archive release. In short, beautiful picture quality with the level of detail being shown off perfectly, and all the dust, dirt and debris has been removed. It’s a perfect release for a (in my opinion) perfect movie, and it’s highly recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Footlight Parade (1933)James CagneyEach Dawn I Die (1939)

Stand-In (1937)Humphrey BogartThe Maltese Falcon (1941)

Ann Sheridan – Dodge City (1939)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2022) on… Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)

It’s been a while since I’ve watched (and reviewed) any of Doris Day’s films, so I’m back today for her 1951 musical Lullaby Of Broadway, also starring Gene Nelson!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Anniversary Trouble (1935)

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

(Length: 19 minutes, 22 seconds)

Spanky (George McFarland) has been elected the treasurer of the Gang’s club (“Ancient and Honery Order of Wood Chucks Club, Inc.”) and the Gang have decided to trust him with the money. However, it’s also his parents’ wedding anniversary, and the envelope containing the Gang’s money has gotten mixed up with his father’s gift to his mother. This one was absolutely hilarious from start to finish! Much of the humor is derived from Spanky being called to go see his father at the office (since his parents thought he stole their envelope) while the Gang waits for their money (since they disbanded the club and want their money back). One of Spanky’s methods in trying to get away is questionable for modern audiences, since he tried to don blackface to disguise himself as Buckwheat in an attempt to get away. Still, the short was an entertaining twenty minutes that I wouldn’t mind seeing again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

American entertainer Melinda Howard (Doris Day) has been in Europe for a number of years, but she’s earned enough that she decided to come home to New York City to surprise her mother, Jessica Howard (Gladys George), whom she believes to be the toast of Broadway. When she arrives at her mother’s mansion, Melinda meets the butler, Lefty Mack (Billy De Wolfe), who is also a friend of her mother’s. A surprised Lefty lies, telling her that her mother is on tour with a show, and is renting the place to brewer Adolph Hubbell (S. Z. Sakall) and his wife, Anna (Florence Bates). The truth is that Jessica has fallen on hard times as a result of her alcoholism, and the mansion is owned by the Hubbells. Lefty gives Melinda a place to stay in the servants’ quarters, and lets Mr. Hubbell know what’s going on. Since Mr. Hubbell is throwing a party that many Broadway performers have been invited to, Lefty hopes to get Jessica there to briefly see Melinda. At the party, Broadway producer George Ferndel (Hanley Stafford) tries to convince Mr. Hubbell to invest in his show. Mr. Hubbell refuses to do so because his wife is insisting that he not do so, and because Ferndel won’t let him do anything more than pay for the show. Meanwhile, one of Ferndel’s stars, Tom Farnham (Gene Nelson) (whom Melinda had unknowingly met on the boat to America) tries to spend time with Melinda (who was more open to him at the party than she had been on the ship). Melinda is disappointed when her mother doesn’t show at the party (because she had been hospitalized for drinking too much, although Melinda was told that she had to stay with her “show”), and vows to stay until she gets a chance to see her mother. With the food bills at the Hubbell household rising while Melinda stays, Lefty makes a suggestion that Mr. Hubbell should take her out to a restaurant, where she would be noticed by Ferndel (and also prove that Mr. Hubbell was not too old-fashioned to be involved in show business). As a result, she now has a part in the new show, with the opportunity to spend more time with Tom. Trouble arises when Mr. Hubbell spends too much time with Melinda and everybody else misconstrues their relationship. Things come to a head right before the show opens, when Mrs. Hubbell finds out about Melinda spending so much time with Mr. Hubbell, and she decides to divorce her husband. With everything falling apart, will Melinda be able to see her mother and perform in the show, or will she pack up and go back to Europe?

While actress Doris Day had originally planned to come to Hollywood as a dancer, a car crash ended that dream (resulting in her focusing on her singing instead). However, as she started to become a big star at Warner Brothers, she worked with dancer Gene Nelson and his wife Miriam to get back into dancing shape for her first starring role in Tea For Two (1950). With that film proving to be successful, she was paired up again with Gene Nelson for Lullaby Of Broadway. Gene’s promotion to leading man was mostly the result of him winning the 1950 Golden Globe for Best New Star (in Tea For Two) (that, and his Tea For Two co-star Gordon MacRae was proving to be an uncooperative contract player at Warners). Once again, Doris worked with Gene and his wife on the routines for Lullaby, including dancing on the staircase for the title number, which made her nervous. Onscreen, that nervousness didn’t show, and the film proved to be yet another hit for Doris Day and Warner Brothers.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch Lullaby Of Broadway a couple times this year (hadn’t seen it prior to the recent Blu-ray release), and it’s one that I will gladly admit to enjoying! Most of the fun is seeing a lot of the cast of the previous year’s Tea For Two together again (minus Gordon MacRae, as I mentioned before). The film is full of memorable tunes (culled from the catalog of music owned by Warner Brothers at the time), including the title tune, “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me,” “Just One Of Those Things,” “I Love The Way You Say Goodnight,” and several others. Doris Day is in fine voice for all of her songs, and she proves once again that she can dance, whether alone or with Gene Nelson! Honestly, the only complaint I have on her dancing is the slow motion section that ends “I Love The Way You Say Goodnight” (I think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are great enough as a team to pull it off slow motion dancing in Carefree, but Doris isn’t as good technically, so it shows off her faults a bit more). As for her co-star Gene Nelson, I like him, but I’m not sure he fares as well as a leading man for two reasons: 1) he is fairly obviously dubbed on his singing voice (by Hal Derwin) and 2) compared to his earlier roles in The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950) and Tea For Two (1950), his dancing here seems “tamer,” lacking some of the acrobatic stuff and lifts he did before (which, in this case, makes him more like your average dancer as opposed to being a standout like he was in those earlier two movies). Apart from those two complaints, I’m good with him. S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall is fun as always, and Billy De Wolfe is funny in what feels like a rare role (for him) as a decent guy, especially when he does the comic routine to the song “You’re Dependable” with Anne Triola as the maid (and his girlfriend) Gloria Davis. I’m not quite as fond of this film as the earlier Tea For Two, but it’s still an entertaining musical with some fun music and dancing! As I said, I’ve already had fun watching it a few times in the time that I’ve had it on disc, and I certainly would recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. I haven’t been able to find anything specific about what was used for the transfer on the Blu-ray, but it’s still a typical Warner Archive release of a 3-strip Technicolor film. In short, the color looks great, and the picture has been cleaned up of all dust and dirt. However, this is a rare instance where I do have a complaint about the transfer, and that’s with some of the audio. The main problem is that the tap sounds for some of the dances (particularly Gene Nelson’s dance number “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart”) don’t quite sound right, as if that part of the audio wasn’t done right (similar to what I’ve heard was the problem on the initial pressing of Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ 2022 Blu-ray release of Blue Skies before that was corrected with a subsequent pressing). Since I only first saw this film through the Blu-ray, I have no idea whether that was something new or whether it’s always been that way. If it is a new problem for the Blu-ray, I wouldn’t say that it’s anything major (and, as far as I know, there has been no movement towards Warner Archive fixing it, which doesn’t surprise me after all the issues that they’ve had behind the scenes throughout the pandemic), so I still think that this release is worth it.

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Tea For Two (1950)Doris DayOn Moonlight Bay (1951)

Tea For Two (1950) – Gene Nelson

Tea For Two (1950) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear: Screen Team & “Musical Screen Teams (September 2022)” featuring… Give A Girl A Break (1953)

We’re back for my second and final entry for my Musical Screen Teams blogathon! This time, we’ve got another film from 1953, Give A Girl A Break, starring Marge and Gower Champion, along with Debbie Reynolds!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mama’s Little Pirate (1935)

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

(Length: 18 minutes, 6 seconds)

Upon listening to his father read about the discovery of pirate treasure in a cave, Spanky (George McFarland) decides to lead the gang on a treasure hunt in a cave. However, his mother is opposed to the idea and orders him not to go. This was yet another entertaining entry in the series. Most of the fun is in watching Spanky try to be smart about how they are exploring the cave, only to have things go completely wrong (with his friend Scotty there to tell him off ahead of time). The over-exaggerated giant (as played by R. E. “Tex” Madsen) adds to the fun when he encounters the kids. I know I enjoyed this one, and look forward to seeing it again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Rehearsals for the show Give A Girl A Break have begun under director and choreographer Ted Sturgis (Gower Champion), but they’ve hit a snag. Their big star, Janet Hallson (Donna Martell), is angry with Ted for not fawning over her after she performed a number, and demands an apology. His half-hearted apology doesn’t convince her, and she decides to walk out on the show. Without a star, producer Felix Jordan (Larry Keating) suggests they go to Ted’s former dance partner, Madelyn Corlane (Marge Champion), but Ted dislikes the idea, since he is still mad at her for walking out on him. Instead, he suggests putting an ad in the paper, in an attempt to give somebody new a chance to make good. The next day, a great many young hopefuls show up, hoping to get the newly vacant part. Among that group are Suzy Doolittle (Debbie Reynolds), whom Ted’s assistant and gofer Bob Dowdy (Bob Fosse) quickly takes a shine to, and Joanna Moss (Helen Wood), who catches the eye of the show’s composer, Leo Belney (Kurt Kasznar) (since he had seen her dance before at a recital). Both of them are told to come back the next day to audition for the part. When Ted comes up to Felix’s office, he finds Madelyn there, who is also told to come back the next day to audition. That evening, Suzy rehearses at her mother’s insistence instead of going on a date with Bob (although he is understanding, and walks her home from the dance studio). Joanna goes back to her apartment to share the news with her husband, Burton Bradshaw (Richard Anderson), who also has his own news about a potential job that may take him elsewhere. Madelyn tells her boyfriend, Anson Pritchett (William Ching), about the audition, but he convinces her to withdraw. When Ted learns about Madelyn pulling out, he goes to see her and help her get past her fears. The next day, all three women audition, and Felix finds himself unsure as to which one to pick. With the other three men all equally adamant that their girl should get the role, who will win out in the end?

Give A Girl A Break ended up being far different from its initial conception. Originally, the film was to potentially star the likes of Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Ann Miller. However, much was changing in Hollywood at that time, as musicals were falling out of favor with audiences while television’s popularity continued to rise. As a result, the cast consisted of husband-and-wife dance team Marge and Gower Champion, Debbie Reynolds, and newcomer Bob Fosse. While there was still some big talent behind-the-scenes that had contributed to the film (such as composer Burton Lane and lyricist Ira Gerswhin, director Stanley Donen and screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett), they weren’t enough to save the film. The movie lost money at the box office, effectively ending whatever chance the Champions had of becoming big stars (and didn’t do Bob Fosse any good as a movie star, either).

I first saw the film most of a decade ago. At the time, I was coming off of discovering the dance team of Marge and Gower Champion via Lovely To Look At (1952) (to be fair, I had previously seen them in the 1951 Show Boat, but their appearance there didn’t have anywhere near the impact that Lovely To Look At did in my estimation). In Give A Girl A Break, they have two dance routines together, set to the songs “Challenge Dance” and “It Happens Every Time.” In general, their “Challenge Dance” seems to be what they are known for here, as it feels like the better promoted dance of the two. Personally, I don’t care for it that much, and prefer “It Happens Every Time.” Admittedly, the lyrics to “It Happens Every Time” are quite forgettable (not helped by the fact that Gower’s singing voice was VERY obviously dubbed for this song, in spite of him actually singing for an earlier song in the film). The music, however, is quite memorable, and sticks with me long after I finish watching the film. Their dance is equally enjoyable, with them swinging around on a set full of poles. The whole song makes me think of their dance to the instrumental version of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from Lovely To Look At. I wouldn’t put “It Happens Every Time” on the same level as that one, but it certainly left an imprint on me.

As for the rest of the movie, I think it’s a lot of fun. Realistically, I think that Bob Fosse is what really makes this film. He has three songs and dances, “Nothing Is Impossible” with Gower Champion and Kurt Kasznar, and “In Our United State,” which is used for two different partnered routines with Debbie Reynolds (one a romantic duet in the park, and the other a dream dance sometimes referred to as the “Balloon Dance,” with them dancing “backwards and forwards”). Those three dances are some of the most fun and entertaining in the film, and easily make the movie worthwhile (alongside the previously mentioned “It Happens Every Time”). There are a few other tunes, but, apart from the “Puppet Master Dance” with Helen Wood and Kurt Kasznar, they don’t really stand out that much (and quite frankly, Helen Wood is fairly good as a dancer but very much underutilized compared to the other two leading ladies). It’s not an absolutely great film, as I think the Champions can’t really carry it in the acting department (they’re decent, just not great). Thankfully, Bob Fosse, despite being billed fifth, does a much better job (and is given nearly as much screentime as the Champions). While it certainly would have been fun to have seen what the film would have been like with its original conception, I do think that what we got is entertaining enough. I know I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing it a number of times over the last decade. So, as I have no hesitation about sticking it on when I feel like it, I would definitely have no qualms about giving it some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Lovely To Look At (1952) – Marge Champion

Lovely To Look At (1952) – Gower Champion

Singin’ In The Rain (1952) – Debbie Reynolds – Susan Slept Here (1954)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Bob Fosse – My Sister Eileen (1955)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #2

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m back to focusing on titles released on the Blu-ray format in 2022. Since it is focused on Blu-ray releases not related to any specific star or screen team (which means the rate of releases is much faster), I will not be updating this one (except to add links to full reviews if and when they are reviewed later on). So, let’s dig into the movies For Me And My Gal (1942), The Clock (1945), Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) and Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)!

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 For Me And My Gal (1942) previously, I have added one of my “Coming Up Shorts!” comments to that review.

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Round-Up (1934)

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

(Length: 18 minutes, 46 seconds)

The Gang all decide to go camping at the nearby Cherry Creek. However, when night falls, the kids all start to reconsider the idea. I’ve been enjoying some of the previous shorts from the Our Gang series, but this one was REALLY entertaining! Plain and simple, the highlights of this short all have to do with Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett), especially as they continually prove to be smarter than the older kids (who didn’t want them tagging along). They definitely brought the humor here, and made it one that I definitely want to return to frequently!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Honky-Donkey (1934)

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

(Length: 16 minutes, 42 seconds)

Little rich boy Wally (Wally Albright) wants to play with some poor kids, and hangs out with the Gang. When they’re chased off the vacant lot that they’re playing on, Wally decides to bring them (and their pet donkey) to his home. This was yet another entertaining short! Most of the fun centers around the donkey, who chases after anybody when they sneeze, but sits when they hear a bell. Of course, Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) add to the fun, trying to help stop the donkey with an alarm clock while otherwise commenting on everything going on. It may be something of a one-joke short the way they use the donkey, but they keep it fresh enough that I certainly would willingly sit through this one again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mike Fright (1934)

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

(Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)

The “International Silver String Submarine Band” (that’s the Gang) auditions as part of an amateur radio talent contest against a bunch of other talented kids. Plain and simple, this one was VERY FUNNY!! Much of the humor was in the kids loudly carrying around all their instruments and all the mechanical trouble they caused with the microphone. Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) still seem to be the funniest two of the bunch, and get a lot of one-liners that kept me in stitches. I would say that this is one of the best shorts from the fourth volume of Our Gang talkies, and I would readily recommend it!

For Me And My Gal (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: In the small town of Clifton Junction, Iowa, in 1916, two different vaudevillian acts meet at the same theatre. Dancer Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly) makes an offer to Jo Hayden (Judy Garland) (who is part of a troupe led by Jimmy Metcalfe, played by George Murphy) to work together as a song-and-dance team. She accepts, but their rise to fame is slow (much slower than Harry wanted). The two fall for each other, but they make the mutual decision to wait for marriage until they can make it to the top, the Palace Theater in New York City. When they are finally signed to appear there, Harry gets his draft notice. Will they be able to play the Palace (and be a married couple), or will the war put an end to their plans?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Commentary by historian John Fricke; MGM shorts La Fiesta De Santa Barbara (1935) and Every Sunday (1936); Outtake Musical numbers: Three Cheers For The Yanks and For Me And My Gal Deleted Finale; Screen Guild Players For Me And My Gal with Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and Dick Powell; Leo Is On The Air Radio Promo and Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10 (previously 9/10)
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: I’ve seen this one many times, and always enjoy coming back to it! Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut) prove that they have great chemistry in their first outing together. The film helps show the journey that some vaudevillians had to go through on their quest to get to the Palace Theater in New York City, helped by some authentic music of the era. The dances may not be on the level that Gene Kelly was later known for, but they’re still entertaining. I had a high enough opinion of the film to recommend it on DVD (see original review here), and it’s even more fun on Blu-ray!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. Quite simply stated, it’s a typical (great looking) Warner Archive release. The detail is much improved over the previously available DVD, and the picture has been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. Otherwise translated, the Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection is the way to go when seeing this movie now!

The Clock (1945)

  • Plot Synopses: Corporal Joe Allen (Robert Walker) is on leave for two days and has just arrived in New York City via train. He knows nobody there, until he accidentally trips Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland), breaking her heel. He helps her get it repaired, and they spend some time together. Alice has to leave, but they agree to meet later for a date. As they spend more time together having various adventures, they start growing closer. With Joe’s leave quickly coming to an end, will they go their separate ways, or will they find a way to stay together?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Extras: Pete Smith Specialty Short: Hollywood Scout (1945), Classic Tex Avery Cartoon: The Screwy Truant (1945), Audio-only Lux Radio Theater Adaptation with John Hodiak and Judy Garland and Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was my first time seeing this Judy Garland film, and it’s one that I enjoyed! The film mainly focuses on the relationship between Judy’s Alice Mayberry and Robert Walker’s Corporal Joe Allen, and their chemistry together proves to be good enough to carry the film! We see them go from being complete strangers to falling in love as they have a whole bunch of adventures together over a period of two days. Some of those episodes are fun, some are romantic, and some are heartbreaking. This movie has it all (even if it is a non-musical role for Judy), which makes it well worth seeing!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. It’s from Warner Archive, so you know it looks great! The picture has been cleaned up of scratches, dust and debris, and really shows off the detail. Highly recommended!

Adventures Of Don Juan (1948)

  • Plot Synopses: When he is caught one too many times by irate husbands/potential suitors, Don Juan de Maraña (Errol Flynn) is deported back to Spain. There, it is hoped that he will reform himself in the service of Queen Margaret (Vivica Lindfors), who is trying to avert a war between Spain and England. Trouble has arisen in Spain due to the Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas), who has been trying to control the Spanish King Philip III (Romney Brent) and lead the countries into war. Much to the duke’s annoyance, Don Juan continues to get in his way. Eventually, it is discovered that the duke has kidnapped the Spanish ambassador and is trying to torture him to find out where the ambassador has hidden some money that he is holding for the queen. This forces the duke out of the shadows as he attempts to more openly usurp control. Can Don Juan stop him, or will the duke successfully take over the country?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes
  • Extras: Commentary by Director Vincent Sherman and Historian Rudy Behlmer; Warner Night At The Movies: Newsreel, Joe McDoakes Short So You Want To Be On The Radio (1948), Warner Bros. Short Calgary Stampede (1948), Warner Bros. Cartoon Hare Splitter (1948); Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was a new Errol Flynn film for me, and I very much enjoyed it! I can’t deny, the film does remind me strongly of the far superior The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) via a score that feels similar, and various plot points (not to mention some brief footage borrowed from that film and 1939’s The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex). Errol Flynn is definitely showing his age here (especially since it was his first swashbuckler in nearly a decade), but he acquits himself very well in a very tailor-made role for him. The swordfights are still thrilling to see, especially the inevitable duel between Flynn’s Don Juan and Robert Douglas’ Duke de Lorca. It’s not Errol Flynn at his absolute best, but it’s still a very entertaining swashbuckler made better by his presence (and therefore recommended)!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the nitrate Technicolor negatives. It’s from Warner Archive, and it’s a 3-strip Technicolor film. That pretty much says it all, as the transfer really brings out the color, and it’s been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. So, if you like this film, the Blu-ray is indeed the way to go!

Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)

  • Plot Synopses: Jack (Lou Costello) has been tasked with babysitting an obnoxious little boy (David Stollery) and attempts to read him the story of Jack And The Beanstalk (although the kid ends up reading to him). As Jack imagines the story, he places himself in the role of the titular Jack, who sells his family cow to local butcher Mr. Dinklepuss (Bud Abbott) in exchange for some “magic beans.” When planted, the beans turn into a very tall beanstalk that reaches to the skies. Jack and Mr. Dinklepuss climb the beanstalk to go rescue the prince (James Alexander) and princess (Shaye Cogan) along with other objects of value that have been stolen by the giant (Buddy Baer). Will they succeed in their mission, or will the giant win out?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Extras: Newly Recorded Introduction By Lou’s Youngest Daughter, Chris Costello; Commentary by Abbott and Costello expert Ron Palumbo, with recollections from Jack And The Beanstalk co-star David Stollery; newly discovered footage of Abbott and Costello performing “Who’s on First” on December 2, 1940; Imperfect Spectrum: A Brief History of Cinecolor by Jack Theakston; Climbing The Scales: The Music Of Jack And The Beanstalk by Ray Fiola; Beanstalk Ballyhoo by Ron Palumbo; Cutting Down the Beanstalk by Ron Palumbo; Abbott And Costello Meet the Creature – Live TV Appearance from February, 1954; Rudy Vallee radio sketch (February, 1945) with photo gallery by Shane Fleming; Restoration Demo; Behind The Scenes photo gallery by Chip Ordway with 1952 children’s recording; Publicity Materials photo gallery by Chip Ordway; Abbott And Costello Trailer Rarities = 18 original “Coming Attraction” previews including Jack And The Beanstalk; Fireman Save My Child trailer and commentaries by 3-D expert Mike Ballew or Ron Palumbo; ClassicFlix Trailers for A Night In Casablanca (1946), Abbott And Costello TV Show: Mustard, The Little Rascals Vol. 4, Merrily We Live (1938), Zenobia (1939)
  • Label: ClassicFlix
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: I’ve seen Jack And The Beanstalk a number of times over the years, and, even though I consider it one of the lesser Abbott and Costello films, I still like to see it every now and then. My biggest problems with the film are with its less than memorable music (although the songs “I Fear Nothing” and the title song are at least decent), the less-than-polished dancing and the less-than-stellar performances of James Alexander and Shaye Cogan as the film’s central romance. Bud and Lou really don’t do any of their comedy routines here and instead try more to appeal to kids (and they do well enough that they still manage to be funny in the process). Of course, doing the film in a manner that evokes thoughts of the far superior The Wizard Of Oz (1939) with the opening and closing in sepia-tone while the rest of the film is in (SuperCine)color doesn’t exactly do it any favors either. Still, it’s fun for what it is, an Abbott and Costello movie in color (the only other one is the same year’s Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd) and it’s worth giving a chance (especially now that it’s been restored)!
    • On The Transfer: This transfer comes from a 4K scan from 35mm SuperCinecolor elements. The 3-D Film Archive has painstakingly restored this film to get it looking as close to how it should, making the color look much better than it has in a long time, and allowing us to enjoy the opening and closing in its original sepia-tone. The vast majority of scratches, dust and other debris have been cleaned up here. It should be noted here that, for the color section of the film, it is a bit grainier than some might expect. This is due to the original film elements having disappeared when the film was sold off back in 1959 (long before it became public domain), and the best available elements are several generations away from that (meaning they are much grainier). As a result, we have the choice of a grainier picture that shows off the detail, or a picture with the grain removed (and the detail removed with it). I believe they made the right choice, making this the best release this film has seen in a long time (if you want the extras, don’t wait too long to get it, as it is a limited edition that will go out of print soon, although a barebones release may happen later on, depending on how this one sells)!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on these four films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (4.)

  1. (tie) For Me And My Gal (1942)
  1. (tie) The Clock (1945)
  1. Adventures Of Don Juan (1948)
  1. Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)

When you get down to it, this is a group of films in which I really have no hesitation in recommending each release, especially in terms of the transfer. I think that Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) has the weakest one, if only because the best available elements are several generations away from the original camera negative, which made it much grainier than some might like. I think the film itself is the weakest, but the release more than makes up for it with nearly two and a half hours of extras (making it the best release of this bunch from that perspective). Do keep in mind that, like I said before, it’s a limited edition which is likely to sell out soon, and if it comes back in print after that, it is very likely that it will only be a barebones release (so if you want those extras, get this one now). The other three releases really are on equal ground as far as their transfers go, as they all look exceptionally great. I think that, as a film, Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) is weaker than either of the two Judy Garland films, but it’s still an entertaining outing for Errol Flynn. And as for For Me And My Gal (1942) and The Clock (1945)? It really is a tie in my opinion, as both are absolutely wonderful films worth seeing. And that, my friends, is what I think of this group of new releases on Blu-ray!

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.

Film Legends Of Yesteryear: Screen Team & “Star Of The Month (June 2022)” Featuring Frank Sinatra in… Some Came Running (1958)

For my second and final post on Frank Sinatra (my June 2022 Star Of The Month), I’m going with his other 1958 film. That, of course, would be Some Came Running, which also stars Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Woody Woodpecker Polka (1951)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker wants to get in to the barn dance for the free food, but Wally Walrus, the ticket taker, won’t let him in without paying. So, Woody decides to dress up as a lady to get in free! This one was interesting, but, at the same time, very similar to the earlier Chew-Chew Baby, with Woody dressing up as a girl to get some easy food. The main difference here is the song “The Woody Woodpecker Polka,” sung by the Starlighters during the opening credits and through part of the short itself. There are a few laughs to be had, but, at the same time, I’ve certainly seen better from Woody before this.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Recently discharged from the army, former writer David Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) finds himself on a bus to his hometown of Parkman, Indiana after a night of drinking. He discovers that he has been accompanied by Ginnie Moorehead (Shirley MacLaine), whom he had invited along in his drunken state. Still confused by everything, he gives her money to go back to Chicago and then goes off to check into a hotel. Even though he hasn’t been in Parkman for sixteen years, word gets around town that he is back, with his older brother, Frank Hirsh (Arthur Kennedy), being one of the last to find out. Frank goes to see David and tries to invite him to dinner with his family. Initially resistant to the idea, David finally agrees to join them later. In the meantime, he goes to Smitty’s Bar and Grill, where he meets gambler Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), who invites David to join him and some buddies in the back room later that evening for a game of poker. When David joins Frank at his home, they discover that Frank’s wife, Agnes (Leora Dana), has invited Professor Robert Haven French (Larry Gates) and his daughter, Gwen (Martha Hyer) to join them for dinner. David is smitten with Gwen, but she is only interested in critiquing his writing and spurns his advances. After David and Gwen part, he joins Bama for that game of poker. He finds that Ginnie has stayed in town, but has been followed there by her abusive ex, Raymond Lanchak (Steven Peck), who picks a fight with David (and loses, especially when the police get involved). The next day, Frank gets on David’s case about the fight and what it means for Frank’s reputation in town, while also admitting to paying for David’s bail. David later goes to the home of the Frenches, where he shares his unfinished story with Gwen. She likes it, and recommends that he submit it for publication. He tries to flirt with her again, but she turns him down. After several further failed attempts at romancing her, David decides to go on the road with Bama to various other cities for gambling purposes, along with Ginnie and Bama’s girlfriend. At a bar in Terre Haute, David discovers his niece, Dawn (Betty Lou Keim), who is out on a drunken binge in order to get back at her father (whom she had secretly caught making out with his secretary). David helps her get a bus ticket to go back home, advising her to avoid making any major life changes until he gets back. Throughout the trip, David unsuccessfully attempts to call Gwen, until she hears good news from the publisher about his story, and finally starts to soften up towards him. However, that is short-lived, when Ginnie comes to visit her secretly, and reveals that she had been on the trip with Dave and Bama (which causes Gwen to decide not to see David any more). Meanwhile, Bama had gotten into trouble on the trip when a sore loser gambler picked a fight with him. Although the resulting injury wasn’t serious, Bama learns from a doctor that his lifestyle needs to change because he has diabetes, which leaves David worried about his friend. With Gwen refusing to see him or go out with him, David starts to consider Ginnie, who has been there for him all along, and reluctantly decides to marry her. With this decision increasing the divide between him and Bama, not to mention all the other troubles with David’s family, will everything end in tragedy, or will they be able to come together?

With James Jones’ debut novel From Here To Eternity proving to be a best-seller with his readers and an equally big hit when adapted to the big screen, he of course wanted to keep writing. For his follow-up, he wrote Some Came Running, which was published in 1957. After seeing the success that Columbia Pictures had with the earlier film, MGM bought the film rights to Some Came Running close to a year before it was even published. When it was published (at a length of 1266 pages), it wasn’t received as well by the critics, but MGM stuck to their guns. Producer Sol C. Siegel at first pondered Glenn Ford for the starring role, but decided to go with Frank Sinatra instead (since the earlier film had been such a big hit for him in particular). Frank, in turn, brought in Dean Martin to play Bama, and suggested Shirley MacLaine for the role of Ginnie. Vincente Minelli was brought in to direct the film, and it took a lot of work to get the overly long story condensed into a shorter, more cinematic form. A lot of filming took place in Madison, Indiana at first, before returning to the soundstages to finish up the film. Upon release, it was received well critically (with several Oscar nominations, particularly Shirley MacLaine for Best Actress), and audiences took to it as well (although not enough to offset the high costs of filming it).

Honestly, it was mostly a coincidence that I ended up going with both of Frank’s 1958 movies for this month (owing as much to the idea that they were the only two films of his that I have on physical media and hadn’t reviewed yet). This was my first time seeing Some Came Running, and I have to admit that I liked it! It’s only their first film together, but Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin both work together quite well! It’s definitely more dramatic than any of their later pairings that I’ve seen, but they both show that they can handle it quite easily! Now, it really should be said that very few characters in this film are that likable, and this applies especially for the men. Frank’s David is very aggressive towards Martha Hyer’s Gwen in that he constantly ignores her rejections and her pleas to let her be. Dean’s Bama is definitely very sexist, and neither of them treats Shirley MacLaine’s Ginnie very kindly for most of the film. Honestly, Gwen and Ginnie are the only two characters for whom I really feel any sympathy. Still, I think everybody did quite well here with their performances. I will admit that I prefer some of the later, more comedic pairings for Frank and Dean, but this film is still good enough that I would recommend it highly!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Some Came Running (1958)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection utilizing a transfer from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Put simply, it’s a typical Warner Archive Blu-ray, with good color, great detail and an image cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris. In short, the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 2 hours, 16 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Kings Go Forth (1958)Frank SinatraNever So Few (1959)

Road To Bali (1952) – Dean Martin – Ocean’s 11 (1960)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1

Welcome to my new way of doing my “Whats Old Is A New Release Again” series! As I mentioned in my post Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog earlier this year, life has forced some changes upon how I have to do my blog (at least, if I am to continue). As such, I will now be doing quick blurbs on each of the new releases that I try. Of course, the posts will differ, depending on what I am covering. With regard to new releases on Blu-ray, I will do posts on four films, which will not change (outside of adding in links to full reviews when they get written later). On the other hand, I will have posts on 4K UHD releases and some of my featured Stars/Screen Teams, which will be posted when I have at least two films to talk about (and those posts will be updated if more films get released throughout the year). Now, this post is my first focusing on some of the movies released on Blu-ray in 2022 (and therefore will not be updated). So, let’s dig into the movies Edge Of Darkness (1943), The Three Musketeers (1948), Black Magic (1949) and The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)!

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!

Table Of Contents

Note: Initially, this post will have my comments on four different shorts, but when I eventually get around to writing individual reviews for any of these films I am looking at here, I will remove my thoughts on the shorts from this post and add them to the new post.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Birthday Blues (1932)

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

(Length: 19 minutes, 31 seconds)

Dickie’s (Dickie Moore) father forgets to give his wife a present for her birthday, so Dickie decides to earn some money to give her a dress. He decides to bake a cake full of prizes, with some help from Spanky (George McFarland) and Stymie (Matthew Beard), and charge the rest of the gang for it. This one was quite a bit of fun (with a little bit of heart thrown in)! Much of the humor stems from the way they bake the cake, taking some instructions quite literally, as well as some of the “prizes” that get thrown in when the two kids baking it aren’t looking! A very enjoyable twenty minutes, and one well worth seeing again and again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Lad An’ A Lamp (1932)

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

(Length: 17 minutes, 17 seconds)

After hearing the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, the Gang all try to find a lamp with a genie. When circumstances lead them to believe that they found it, they try to figure out what to wish for. This one was a very entertaining short! Watching the kids try to find the lamp was fun, but so was seeing all the various situations that make it appear as if the lamp was genuine! Of course, we don’t see too many “wishes” come true, but Spanky (George McFarland) wishing for Stymie’s (Matthew Beard) little brother to turn into a monkey results in some of the short’s funniest moments! All in all, a lot of fun to be found with this one, and I certainly look forward to seeing it repeatedly!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Fish Hooky (1933)

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

(Length: 18 minutes, 31 seconds)

Some of the gang decide to play hooky from school when Joe (Joe Cobb) and Farina (Allen Hoskins) invite them to go fishing. However, their teacher, Miss Kornman (Mary Kornman) has decided to close the school and take the students out to the beach for the day. This one was quite an entertaining entry in the series! It was fun seeing Joe and Farina again (however briefly), and the short also brings back earlier members Mary Kornman as the teacher and Mickey Daniels as the new truant officer. Most of the humor is derived from Mary and Mickey conniving to get the kids to regret their decision to play hooky (with Mickey constantly laughing to himself as he pretends to chase them in order to send them to reform school). A lot of good, clean fun, and certainly one I look forward to revisiting in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Forgotten Babies (1933)

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

(Length: 16 minutes, 58 seconds)

It’s Saturday, and the Gang wants to go swimming, but they’re all stuck taking care of their younger siblings. So, they decide to stick Spanky (George McFarland) with babysitting duties while they all go have fun. This one was fairly entertaining, getting to see Spanky take care of all the little kids. His version of the Tarzan story was one of the more memorable moments, as were the antics of the babies as they all quickly got away from him (and way out of hand). This short may not have been one of the more memorable entries in the series, but it was still fun.

Edge Of Darkness (1943)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s World War II, and the German army has taken over Norwegian territory. In the small village of Trollness, the Norwegian people resent the Nazi menace under the command of Captain Koenig (Helmut Dantine). The Norwegians look to Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn) for leadership, but they can’t revolt without any guns. According to Major Ruck (Henry Brandon), an undercover British agent, they can expect arms to come soon. But, with another nearby Norwegian village having failed to rebel against the Germans, can the people of Trollness manage to successfully get rid of the Nazis in their midst without being betrayed by one of their own?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 59 minutes
  • Extras: WB Short Gun To Gun (1944), WB Cartoon: To Duck… Or Not To Duck (1943), Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and proved to be a very entertaining war drama. While it held back some on the horrors of war (due, as much as anything, to the Production Code in place at the time), it still managed to portray what people went through under the Nazis in such a way as to help garner sympathy for the Norwegian people and hatred for the Nazis. Being made during the second World War, it definitely feels intended to help drum up patriotic support for the Allies, especially with the narration during the film’s ending. The action scenes worked quite well for the film’s big battle, and easily held my attention. Again, a very well-made film that I would highly recommend!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best available preservation elements, and it looks wonderful! The picture is crisp and clear, allowing detail to show through, with all dust and debris cleaned up.

The Three Musketeers (1948)

  • Plot Synopses: A young lad from Gascony named D’Artagnan (Gene Kelly) has come to Paris, France, in the hope of becoming one of the king’s musketeers. After a rocky start, he quickly befriends Athos (Van Heflin), Porthos (Gig Young) and Aramis (Robert Coote), three of the best swordsmen in the musketeers. However, they have all run afoul of the king’s prime minister, Richelieu (Vincent Price). With the aid of the Countess de Winter (Lana Turner), Richelieu aims to increase his power in France by starting a war with England. Can the musketeers stop their plans, or will the country have more trouble under Richelieu’s leadership?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes
  • Extras: Fitzpatrick Traveltalks Short Looking At London (1946), Tex Avery Cartoon What Price Fleadom (1948), MGM Radio Promo, Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This is the only one of this batch that I’ve seen previously, and it still holds up for me as a wonderful film! Gene Kelly is the main appeal here as D’Artagnan, in what he considered one of his favorite non-musical roles. His athleticism and dance ability help him out as he proves adept with a sword in one of his rare swashbuckling appearances. While most of the story is familiar to those who’ve seen various adaptations of the material, this version at least attempts to make use of more of the original novel’s story. It’s my favorite Three Musketeers film, and easily recommended!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. As a result, the film looks much better than it has in a while, with the color popping much better and improved detail in the image. All dirt and other debris has been cleaned up.

Black Magic (1949)

  • Plot Synopses: As a child, young Joseph Balsamo witnesses the wrongful death of his parents at the hand of Viscount de Montaigne (Stephen Bekassy) (and barely escapes with his own life). As an adult, he reinvents himself as Cagliostro (Orson Welles), working as part of a traveling medicine show, until he meets Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (Charles Goldner), who recognizes that Cagliostro has the power to help people with his ability to hypnotize them with his eyes. With this newfound knowledge, Cagliostro sets out to get his revenge on the Viscount. Opportunity presents itself when the Viscount (who doesn’t recognize him) needs his help in part of a conspiracy to discredit Marie Antionette (Nancy Guild) with a peasant named Lorenza who looks exactly like her. Will Cagliostro get his revenge and successfully gain power, or can he be stopped by Lorenza’s lover, Captain Gilbert de Rezel (Frank Latimore)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Extras: ClassicFlix Trailers for A Night In Casablanca (1946), The Little Rascals, Volume 3, Stand-In (1937), T-Men (1947) and Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
  • Label: ClassicFlix
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and I will admit that I found it enjoyable! I’m still coming around to Orson Welles as an actor, but he is certainly one of the film’s main strengths, giving a solid performance as a more villainous character. Some of the other aspects don’t work as well, like the love triangle between him, Nancy Guild’s Lorenza and Frank Latimore’s Captain de Rezel; or the story itself after the original conspiracy is derailed upon the death of the king. Still, the film has some nice touches, especially in the way it portrays Cagliostro’s methods of controlling people hypnotically (even if you do question many of the characters not realizing how to stop him from doing so until the very end). It’s certainly a far from perfect film, but I found it entertaining and would certainly suggest giving it a shot!
    • On The Transfer: For the most part, this film looks quite well. The image has been mostly cleaned up of dirt and debris (although a few scratches appear here and there). It’s an overall pleasing image, even with a few moments where the image has some issues with emulsion consistency. It’s not absolutely perfect, but it’s still as good as one can hope for, given what film elements still survive.

The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)

  • Plot Synopses: The Grimm brothers have been commissioned to write the family history of a local Duke (Oscar Homolka). Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) is very dedicated to his work, but his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) is prone to goofing off. Wilhelm is obsessed with fairy tales and wants to write them down for everyone, but nobody else believes that his idea will have any lasting value. His antics increasingly get the two brothers in trouble with the Duke, until he accidentally loses their manuscript in the process of seeking out more fairy tales. Will this mistake be the end of the brothers, or can they come back together?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • Extras: the movie in both letterboxed and Smilebox aspect ratios (over two discs), Brothers Grimm Announcement Trailer, Brothers Grimm Theatrical Letterbox Trailer, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Russ Tamblyn, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Yvette Mimieux, Epic Art for the Brothers Grimm, The Wonderful Career Of George Pal, Rescuing A Fantasy Classic, Rothenberg, Germany Location Commemorative Plaque, A Salute To William R. Forman, Brothers Grimm Slideshow
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was a new movie for me, and one I very much enjoyed! While your mileage may vary with regards to the main story about the brothers (I personally liked it), the main consensus from what I’ve read is that the movie is at its best during the three fairy tale sections, a point with which I heartily agree! It has a few fun musical moments (with music by Bob Merrill) scattered through the fairy tale segments, plus the main theme is a bit of an earworm itself! There are some scenes that really show off the fact that it was made for Cinerama, such as a ride through the forest in a horse-drawn coach, and Russ Tamblyn doing some tumbling through that same forest (all of which would either be shortened or cut completely for a regular film). It might be a little childish for some during the fairy tale sections, but it’s an overall entertaining movie if you can get past that!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 6K composite scan of the original Cinerama 3-panel camera negatives. Quite simply stated, this movie looks FANTASTIC! All three panels have been put together seamlessly, with no join lines visible, thus giving us a nice, clear image. There are moments where some damage briefly peeks through, but nowhere near enough to mar an otherwise immaculate image (and I highly recommend the Smilebox version as the best way to watch the movie unless you’ve got a curved screen a la Cinerama)!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on these four films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (4.)

  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)
  2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
  3. Edge Of Darkness (1943)
  4. Black Magic (1949)

As you can tell from that list, I regard Black Magic as the weakest of the bunch (both in terms of the film itself and the transfer quality). Now, don’t get me wrong. The movie itself is still entertaining, and the transfer is quite good (after all, ClassicFlix is trying to work with films from smaller entities that haven’t always been able to take care of their holdings as well as the big studios can, and ClassicFlix’s budget is certainly nothing near what the big studios can handle, especially since they’ve had to devote more of their resources of late to their ongoing Our Gang/The Little Rascals project after their crowdfunding attempt failed). It’s just that the other three films are better overall. I think that The Three Musketeers and Edge Of Darkness are the best films of the lot, and their transfers look quite stellar. But, even though I have a slightly lower opinion of The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm as a movie, I would still call that Blu-ray release the best of the bunch (and an early contender for best release of the year). After all, they took a film that, due to the combination of it being a Cinerama film (and therefore, there is three times the film they have to go through and restore, compared to a normal film of the same length) and some water damage that the elements sustained quite some time ago, was long considered too expensive a proposition (compared to its supposed popularity) to be released on DVD, never mind Blu-ray. And yet, now it’s here on Blu-ray, sporting an absolutely fantastic transfer, along with some newly produced extras (a rarity for Warner Archive Collection releases) and a booklet partly replicating a souvenir program originally sold during the film’s original theatrical roadshow engagements. Plain and simple, I can easily recommend all four of these releases, but I think that The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is a special release that is very much deserving of being in anybody’s collection now!

*The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**The Three Musketeers (1948) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

***Edge Of Darkness (1943) = ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

****The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022