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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1950s made-for-television musical gem gets DVD release. Bravo to VAI!
Over the last year VAI Home Video has been releasing some wonderful DVDs of television "spectaculars" from the 1950s ,many from the series "Max Liebman Presents". Most have been TV adaptations of Broadway musicals or operettas, such as "The Chocolate Soldier", "Bloomer Girl" and "Kiss Me Kate". All have been wonderful gems now made available for a whole new generation...
Published 17 months ago by Steven I. Ramm

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly of historical interest
My guess is that if one is an major Alfred Drake fan one might find this program exciting considering how little of Alfred Drake's performances were recorded. However, I found the plot weak, the lyrics perfunctory and the choreography insipid. Remember that this was genuine "live" TV -- as close to theater as TV ever became. The quality of the images are excellent,...
Published 13 months ago by David Smith


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1950s made-for-television musical gem gets DVD release. Bravo to VAI!, February 10, 2013
This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Over the last year VAI Home Video has been releasing some wonderful DVDs of television "spectaculars" from the 1950s ,many from the series "Max Liebman Presents". Most have been TV adaptations of Broadway musicals or operettas, such as "The Chocolate Soldier", "Bloomer Girl" and "Kiss Me Kate". All have been wonderful gems now made available for a whole new generation. The problem - if there is one - with these "adaptations, is that the story had to be truncated to fit into the 80-minutes wallowed on TV. This recent DVD release does not have to deal with that issue and may be why it is one of my favorites in the bunch. "Marco Polo" was not a Broadway show. It was created for television with music based on the musical theses of Rimsky-Korsakov (just as "Kismet" used the music themes of Borodin). And like Kismet, "Marco Polo" stars Alfred Drake, Doretta Morrow, and featured dancer Beatrice Kraft.

This show was presented LIVE on television on April 14, 1956 and sponsored by Oldsmobile. Two weeks prior to this one-night telecast, the cast recorded a cast album - that is advertised for purchase at the end of the show. Many of these Lp records are still around but to see the TV show is a true pleasure. The Print is clean of any scratches and the image is one of the sharpest I've enjoyed in the VAI series. The script co-written by Neil Simon - is witty and Morrow comes across as a sensual beauty. There are even specialty acts like jugglers and acrobats to keep you entertained when the talented Drake is not exercising his vocal chords or dueling to keep himself alive.

With the commercials excerpted the running time is 80 minutes but VAI has provided the three Oldsmobile commercials (lasting 7 minutes) as a separate bonue. The DVD insert contains an informative essay as well as the details of the 26 chapters (a nice touch so that you can go direct to a favorite song.)

I anxiously await each new Max Liebman Presents DVD from VAI and am looking forward to what is still in the vaults.

This is a MUST-HAVE for all music theater collectors or those who remember "The Golden Age of Live Television".

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But, remember, I'm not your average bear, February 19, 2013
By 
S. Berner (Cocoa, Fl USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
In television's early days, it was very urban/New York oriented (that was where the sets were!).

So it was not surprising that many of the "biggest" shows were NOT Movie oriented, but Broadway Show oriented.

For several years Max Liebman produced "Your Show of Shows" which, despite legend, was much more than just "Sid Caesar"! (Look it up. It was a full scale Broadway Review... Every week... written by half a dozen guys (of both sexes) with names like Reiner, Brooks, Simon, Diamond, etc.)

When that show ended, Liebman filled the slot with "Tab Shows" (abridged versions of Broadway & other musicals) like "Lady in the Dark", "The Yeoman of the Guards", "Desert Song", etc. and "original" musicals that played like EXACTLY what they were; Very good rip-offs of current/past Broadway hits.

"Satin & Spurs" was "Annie Get Your Gun" and "The Adventures of Marco Polo" (to give it's full title) was "Kismet".

Sure "Kismet" was "Arabian Nights" and this was China, but it had the same stars, and, where "Kismet' adapted music by Alexander Borodin, composer Clay Warnick here adapted Rimsky-Korsakov... quite nicely, actually.

The "book" has Polo traveling.... as he was wont to do.

That's the "plot"

But it has Alfred Drake, arguably the best musical performer EVER on Broadway.

And it has Doretta Morrow, who had the purest voice you'll ever hear outside of Barbara Cook

And it's got a great score

What on earth MORE do you want?!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very old B&W TV, but...., March 22, 2013
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Alfred Drake in his prime was Broadway's most versatile leading man: major musicals, plays, reviews and Shakespeare. This production, filmed live, is frequently cumbersome and dated. Drake, however, is sublime. An excellent performance by one of the great actors of his time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TV'S KISMET, February 4, 2014
By 
John Actman (North Truro, Ma United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
I saw this live back in the 50's, yes, the 1950's. In glorious black & white after I had seen "Kismet", with Drake & Morrow at the Ziegfield Theatre, the real one not the movie theatre. I went on to see that show many more times as I fell in love with it and the stars. This was an opportunity to do a Kismet type show for the "masses", and they didn't disappoint. Drake was doing Hajj and Morrow was a combination of Marsinah and Lalume . Bea Kraft even did dances that "resembled" Jack Cole's brilliant work for "Kismet" Shone on a Saturday night in winter, it brought the Arabian Nights to LIVE TV. Thank you for whoever was behind this release.
Who knew then that about 8 or 9 years later I would stage manage a summer stock tour of "Kismet" for Lee Guber's theatre's in the round with Howard Keel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great., May 22, 2013
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Quit different from the other productions that are based on Broadway plays, but Alfred Drake is wonderful. Recommended to you. Doug
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly of historical interest, June 22, 2013
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
My guess is that if one is an major Alfred Drake fan one might find this program exciting considering how little of Alfred Drake's performances were recorded. However, I found the plot weak, the lyrics perfunctory and the choreography insipid. Remember that this was genuine "live" TV -- as close to theater as TV ever became. The quality of the images are excellent, particularly when the source is considered. The sound track is clear. My conclusion is that my wife and I watched the entire program, but it is unlikely we will ever watch it again. In contrast, a TV performance from the same period is Mary Martin's Peter Pan -- vibrant, exciting and one we watch at least once a year.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, July 10, 2014
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Disappointing if you were hoping for "Kismet"! The video is less B&W than grey and white. Sound is adequate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Treasure, June 21, 2014
By 
Matthew Ogden (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Once again my hat is off to the folks at VAI for making available yet another of the fabulous 1950's television spectaculars. This time it is an original made for television based upon the exploits of Marco Polo. Utilizing the talents of Alfred Drake and Doretta Morrow (who had starred together on Broadway in "Kismet" three years earlier, this is a surprisingly entertaining and ambitious production. Originally broadcast over NBC in "compatible color" unfortunately only a B&W kinescope survives. Even so, this record of the production serves to remind us how ambitious television networks were in their early years, and how they made sincere efforts to bring Broadway-style entertainment into the average American home. Would that this were still true!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marco Polo, a great showcase for Alfred Drake, January 25, 2013
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This review is from: Marco Polo (DVD)
Alfred Drake, what a great performer. I'm so glad this rare performance has been preserved for posterity. Not a bad print considering its age and the fact it is a kinescope. In any condition, this is a great find.
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Marco Polo
Marco Polo by Drake (DVD - 2012)
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