The Alice Faye Collection (That Night in Rio / Lillian Russell / On the Avenue / The Gang's All Here)
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The four-disc Alice Faye Collection gives a cross-section of Faye's Fox career: one film as the up-and-comer (On the Avenue), two splashy mega-musicals (The Gang's All Here and That Night in Rio), and one expensive, serious musical biopic (Lillian Russell). In all, she smolders rather than burns, and rarely goes long without a song.
The 1937 On the Avenue is an Irving Berlin spectacle with a silly streak: Broadway boy Dick Powell locks horns with the richest girl in America (Madeleine Carroll), with Faye on the sidelines as Powell's regular-gal pal. You can see why audiences loved her, and the movie itself is a snappy, sarcastic little gem, featuring some antic routines by the Ritz Brothers and a kooky collection of Berlin tunes (including "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"). Lillian Russell, a 1940 bio of the famous Gay 90s singer, was intended as Faye's crack at a dramatic role. The movie's whitewash of Russell's real story (which, as a 20-minute documentary makes clear, made Russell the Madonna of her era) limits Faye's chances. Henry Fonda plays a long-faithful suitor, with Don Ameche and Edward Arnold (reprising his title role from the film Diamond Jim Brady) also in her orbit. That Night in Rio casts Faye opposite frequent co-star Ameche again; he plays a double role, as a suave Baron and a brash nightclub impersonator. The story is nonsense, but Carmen Miranda is around to do the chica-boom, and Alice looks drop-dead sexy.
And then there's The Gang's All Here, one of Hollywood's most legendary excursions into surrealism. Don't pay attention to the plot--just check out director Busby Berkeley's lunatic staging of the dance numbers. "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat," a showpiece for Carmen Miranda (it's the one with the giant bananas in a chorus line) looks like something dreamed up by Salvador Dali after an acid trip. Benny Goodman's swing band is also around.
Some care has gone into the DVD extras: a two-part bio of Alice Faye, featuring her daughters (and giving the story of how Faye walked away from film in 1945); a charming film she made for the Pfizer drug company, extolling the virtues of keeping fit; and a 20-minute intro to Berkeley's style. The print transfers are more problematic. Avenue looks fine, and Rio looks like other Fox color films of the era. Lillian Russell is preceded by a disclaimer warning of the limitations of original source materials, and indeed the print here is marred by serious tears in the middle of the screen during a few sequences. Gang's All Here will disappoint Technicolor fans; the colors don't "pop" as they should, and the film looks dimmer and vaguer than its onetime splendor. Here's hoping a cleaner, fuller version will emerge. --Robert Horton
- "Alice Faye - A Life On Screen" and "Alice Faye - A Life Off Screen" featurettes
- Film Historian Commentary on On the Avenue and The Gang's All Here
- Deleted Scenes from On the Avenue, That Night in Rio, and The Gang's All Here
- "A Woman Like No Other: The Real Lillian Russell" featurette
- "Busby Berkeley: A Journey With a Star" featurette
- Alice Faye's Last Film: "We Still Are!"
- Excerpts from "The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show"
- Restoration Comparisons
- Theatrical Trailers
- Still Galleries
Top Customer Reviews
Faye was an excellent singer with a natural but untrained contralto voice and an instinct for interpretation which made her the most popular female "pop" singer in films of her era. She was the female equal of Bing Crosby. Composers clambered to have her introduce their songs and she launched far more standards than any of her contemporaries. She also developed into a competent actress with a trade mark modesty, vulnerability and warmth which captured the hearts of all, particularly men.
This collection contains 4 films all of which were Box Office smashes. The first two are in black and white and the last two in the garish technicolour for which Fox musicals became famous. All of the films benefit from Fox's trademark sound and photography, possibly the best in Hollywood. More detailed descriptions of each film can be viewed under the individual titles but by way of summary:
- "On the Avenue", released in 1937, has Faye supporting Dick Powell and Madelaine Carroll in a funny film whereby Powell's play lampoons the richest girl in the world, played by Carroll. Faye plays Powell's sidekick and carries her share of the excellent Irving Berlin songs, including the rollicking "Let's go Slumming" and the superb lament "This Years Kisses".Read more ›
I whish I could ask for a refund. You know now what to expect...
But something has gone horribly wrong with "The Alice Faye Collection," a four-disc set of Fox musicals including one of the studio's crown jewels: "The Gang's All Here," Busby Berkeley's psychedelic Technicolor extravaganza of 1943. The original Technicolor separation negatives were destroyed in the 1980s at a time when Fox was trying to purge its library of nitrate film elements, and the movie was transferred to an Eastman Color internegative on safety stock. The Eastman material has since faded, producing dark, heavy tones. Fox's engineers have apparently made an attempt to brighten the colors digitally, only to have the pigments look flat and pale.
The results, as in the celebrated giant bananas number starring the unforgettable Carmen Miranda, are disappointing and even grotesque; those big bananas are a washed-out tan color rather than the original, eye-popping yellow.
The other films in the set - Irving Cummings's Technicolor "That Night in Rio" (1941); Mr. Cummings's black-and-white biopic "Lillian Russell" (1940); and Roy Del Ruth's adaptation of Irving Berlin's "On the Avenue" - look somewhat better, though "Avenue" shows serious print damage throughout.
But "The Gang's All Here" represents another great film lost, this time right under our noses. We, and the studio libraries, ought to know better by now.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While Alice Faye is wonderful in what few scenes she has, only the Lillian Russell story allows her to shine. Read morePublished 19 months ago by mike ellis
Having come upon this set in the manner of one watching Turner Classic Movies, having no idea of who Alice Faye was, but hoping for some light entertainment, I can say I was not... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Gord Wilson
4 great Alice Faye movies with her beautiful voice and personality. I'm also a big fan of Don Ameche movie fan.Published on February 1, 2014 by Charles M. Cottle
The movies were extremely fun and an excelent family entertainment. "The gang is all here" is a three-star propduction but Alice Faye's performance made up for it. Read morePublished on May 23, 2013 by Hugo da Costa
This is a very nice collection of Alice Faye movies. I am a fan of the 30's and 40's films especially the musicals. The Alice Faye collection is terrific.Published on September 6, 2012 by Maurice Horowitz
Golden-haired songstress Alice Faye was "Queen of Fox" for nearly a decade, yet her prodigious film output has been limited on DVD to a few films, mostly with Tyrone Power; "The... Read morePublished on August 18, 2008 by Benjamin J Burgraff
After watching the Goldigger movies with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler and great set & numbers done by Bugsby Berkley and enjoying Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald movies that are... Read morePublished on April 18, 2008 by Andre Villemaire
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