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Broadway - The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There

89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Films can be restored, literature can be reprinted-but what of historic Broadway performances? They leave only memories, and many seem destined to be lost. This widely acclaimed, star-studded documentary tells the stories of our theatrical legends, how they came to NY and how they forged the legend of Broadway. This crowd-pleasing DVD adds plenty of extras and clocks in at nearly three hours!

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It's not a comprehensive survey of the American musical theater, but Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There is an invaluable and moving salute to the art form composed of interviews with the people who were there in the 1940s through the 1960s. There are too many to list, but they include John Raitt, Angela Lansbury, Hume Cronyn, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Carol Channing, Jerry Orbach, Robert Goulet, Robert Morse (even he's gotten old!), Jerry Herman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, and Harold Prince. There are also some rare performance clips, such as Ethel Merman in Gypsy, Patricia Morison in Kiss Me Kate, and Angela Lansbury in Mame, as well as more familiar television performances, but very few film versions (for either authenticity or rights reasons). Director Rick McKay's focus, however, is on evocative stills, a few too many shots of the city, and most of all the words from the stars themselves. Fact is, because Broadway shows are a live performance medium, there simply isn't a lot of footage available, which is why it's a treat--no, it's an obligation--that we hear the stories from the people themselves. It's the best way the form will survive. After a bit of a slow start, the interviews cover the culture of Broadway, hanging out at Walgreen's and Sardi's, taking a show on the road, and thoughts about the current generation. (Broadway in this case refers to the location in New York rather than the musical-theater genre, so non-musicals are a major part of the discussion.)

Broadway: The Golden Age had a limited theatrical run in 2004, and there will be inevitable comparisons to Broadway: The American Musical, the six-hour series that played on PBS in the fall of that same year. The PBS series is much longer (especially counting the DVDs' bonus interviews) and unlike The Golden Age, it attempts to be a comprehensive survey of 100 years of American musical theater. The ambition is admirable, but often hard to live up to. The Golden Age offers more rare footage, and a more powerful sense of nostalgia throughout the interviews. On the downside, there's no real structure to the film other than grouping the interviews by random subject, and director McKay relies too much on his own personal experiences as a jumping-off point. But it's a worthwhile, often passionate film that captures a priceless glimpse at a way of life as lived by so many memorable figures whose like will never be seen again. --David Horiuchi


Special Features

  • Broadway and Hollywood Premieres: featuring the cast
  • Extended scene: "Whatever Lola Wants" Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse
  • Deleted scenes: Marian Seldes on Katharine Cornell, June Havoc on "Pal Joey," Passing It On
  • Alternate ending: younger cast in earlier ending of film
  • Sneak preview of Broadway: The Next Generation
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Bonnie Franklin, Tammy Grimes, Uta Hagen, Al Hirschfeld
  • Directors: Rick McKay
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: RCA Victor Broadway
  • DVD Release Date: November 9, 2004
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000649YA2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,340 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Broadway - The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

135 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
BROADWAY THE GOLDEN AGE is a must-see for all serious admirers and fans of theatre. Rick McKay spent several years tracking down and interviewing almost every surviving Broadway star of the Golden Age to share their entertaining, gripping and often very emotional reminisces.

Virtually everybody is included, with highlights being the late great Gwen Verdon (SWEET CHARITY, REDHEAD, CHICAGO, CAN-CAN, DAMN YANKEES), Jerry Orbach (CARNIVAL!, PROMISES PROMISES, CHICAGO) and Uta Hagen (STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE).

The film is peppered with juicy bits of gossip and info, with Shirley MacLaine, John Raitt and Janis Paige all recounting MacLaine's rise to fame following her historic job of understudying Carol Haney in THE PAJAMA GAME. Angela Lansbury fighting tool and nail for the role of MAME and Lainie Kazan being replaced by one of her closest friends, Michele Lee, in SEESAW.

I almost fell out of my chair when rare filmed footage of Ethel Merman in GYPSY and Angela Lansbury in MAME flashed (all-too-briefly) across the screen, and howled with laughter at some of the jokes cracked by Elaine Stritch and Robert Morse.

This release should be a mandatory purchase for anyone who cares about theatre. I was so moved by the end that I was speechless....I'm still speechless. This is more than a documentary, it's a life-changing experience.
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241 of 265 people found the following review helpful By Alan W. Petrucelli on October 18, 2004
Format: DVD
It would be easy, perhaps too easy but all together appropriate, to sing Rick McKay's praises. We could say that "he dreamed a dream of days gone by." Or that he "had a dream/a dream about you baby/It's gonna come true baby." Or "to dream the impossible dream " It's only fitting that McKay's impossible dream came true, a dream that began while he was growing up in the '60s in Beech Grove, Indiana. As a child, he read and wondered about the neon lights of Broadway. He wanted to know about the so-called Golden Age of Broadway, when Carol and Gwen and Chita and Robert and Ethel and John and Angela and Alfred and other luminaries lit up the marquees; about the days and nights when a seat in the balcony cost less than a first-run movie ticket; about the plays and musicals that had people lining up before the Great White Way became such a fabulously famous, and too often colorless, invalid. Some people can be content, playing bingo and paying rent. Not Rick McKay. In 1981, he moved to New York, wishing for a theatrical future and hoping to document the past. Armed with a camera, a potent Rolodex and unbridled perseverance, he set out to find as many Broadway legends as he could to question them about one thing: Was there really a Golden Age of Broadway? And if so, what happened to it? He wrote letters. A few responded. One --- Gwen Verdon --- dropped by his apartment, where McKay interviewed her with his hand-held camera. (It became the final interview Verdon did before her death.) For five years, McKay persevered, interviewing whomever he could wherever he could, going to England to chase down Jeremy Irons, traveling nearly six hours by bus to meet Maureen Stapleton at her New England home --- and to be greeted at the door with "Who the f--- is that?Read more ›
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Kappie on January 3, 2005
Format: DVD
FIRST OF ALL, LET ME SAY THAT I HAD NEVER HEARD OF RICK MCKAY OR THIS FILM UNTIL I HAPPENED TO SEE IT AT A FILM FESTIVAL!

Since then, I have seen it in 5 theaters in 3 cities, and each time the audience laughed, and the audience wept, and the audience did not want to leave the Q and A with the filmmaker...this is because THE FILM IS MAGIC AND MR. MCKAY IS CHARISMATIC!

So NOW you should buy the DVD...you can see the film, and then see it again with Mr. McKay's commentary...from his living room to yours!

I should know, I bought 24 of the DVD's for gifts!

But don't listen to me, listen to what the FILM CRITICS have to say:

New York Film Critics Online - Best Documentary of 2004

The Hollywood Reporter - Best Documentary of 2004

The Washington Times - Top Ten Films of 2004

The Washington Times - Top Ten Documentaries of 2004

Jeffrey Lyons/NBC - Top Ten Films of 2004

Houston Voice - Top Ten Films of 2004 (#1)

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Top Ten Films of 2004 (#2)

Southern Voice - Top Ten Films of 2004 (#1)

IndieWire.com - Top Ten Films of 2004 (#2)

DVD Authority - Top Ten DVDs of 2004 (#3)

Moda Magazine - Top Ten Documentaries of 2004

All of these film critics and all of the audiences cannot be wrong. BUY IT!!!!!!!!!!! You will be SO GLAD YOU DID!!!

Meanwhile, I cannot wait until I can BUY the sequels, BROADWAY THE GOLDEN AGE PART II, and BROADWAY: THE NEXT GENERATION.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By MJ Alexander on October 31, 2004
Format: DVD
Award winning documentary filmmaker Rick McKay, who made the definate profile of Elaine Stritch for PBS's "Egg" series, has created one of the most illuminating, exhilaring and memorable movies of the year. After World War II America's great playwrights were writing their best plays, Ethel Merman was in her prime and talented aspiring actors and actresses flocked to New York to study acting with dreams of making it on Broadway. McKay captures the heady period with brilliantly selected rare archival footage and intimate interviews with over 100 theater legends.

McKay is obviously knowledgable about theater history and show business lore and demonstrates a remarkable rapport with his subjects.

The interviews are charming, revealing and from the heart, and the actors certainly know how to tell a good story. McKay has shaped the documentary into segments which address coming to New York, auditions, the impact on young actors of such unique theater stars as Laurette Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Kim Stanley (with exceptionally rare performance footage of each) the late night hangouts, and a myriad of others which zip by. McKay brings to life a vibrant, magical world that has changed forever.

Unlike the PBS series "Broadway The American Musical" which was a conventional textbook-like TV documentary, "Broadway The Golden Age" captures the flavor of a unique period in American history (and reminds me of Jan Morris's wonderful book "Manhattan '45")in a highly original style. It makes you laugh (especially at Shirley MacLaine's jest at her own expense), applaud (for John Raitt's "Solioquy") and cry (for a lost era and golden age).

What a perfect Christmas present! It's what I'm giving this season.
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