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Barbra Streisand - The Television Specials
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Color Me Barbra followed on March 30, 1966 and is, naturally, filmed in color. The first sequence was shot at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with Streisand wandering among the masterworks and antiquities, even singing "Where or When" dressed as Nefertiti. Next she's among a circus of animals, singing "Try to remember" to the elephant or poking fun at herself by telling the anteater "We have so much in common." Again, the final act is her just singing at a mike, with "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" and "It Had to Be You." Making its home-video debut, The Belle of 14th Street (October 11, 1967) is something of an oddity. It's styled like a vaudeville show, with period costumes (including the audience) and old-time numbers. Jason Robards (singing and dancing!), John Bubbles, and others guest-star. Streisand plays a modest stripper for "Alice Blue Gown," plays an operatic diva for "Liebestraum," then does double duty as a boy (pre-Yentl) in the audience invited to sing a duet of "Mother Macree" with the on-stage Streisand. The last segment is Streisand singing (accompanied on stage by David Shire before he wrote shows on Broadway with Richard Maltby) such songs as "My Melancholy Baby," "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," and a medley that includes "My Buddy" and "How About Me?"
The highlight of the collection, A Happening in Central Park (September 15, 1968) is refreshingly free of gimmicks and concepts. It's just Streisand with an orchestra in front of a live New York audience. "The Nearness of You," "Cry Me a River," "I Can See It," "Second Hand Rose" (the audience enjoys singing along)," "People," and "Happy Days Are Here Again." Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments (November 2, 1973) returns to the concept-show format. Streisand takes her place among the symphony orchestra members sporting her own instrument: her voice. One medley groups a number of favorite songs but in "international" settings, such as "People" accompanied by sitar and "Don't Rain on My Parade" by bagpipe band, and Streisand changes costumes to match. Ray Charles is on hand for four songs in the second set, then Streisand returns to the orchestra to sing such songs as "On a Clear Day" and "The Sweetest Sounds."
Picture quality is good, and sound is presented in original mono, 2.0 stereo, and 5.1 surround. The only bonus features are three introductions Streisand filmed for the 1987 home-video releases, but the set is beautifully packaged with a detailed booklet of liner notes, photos, and song lists. The five 50+-minute programs are ungenerously spread over five discs, however. --David Horiuchi
- Programs: My Name Is Barbra (1965), Color Me Barbra (1966), The Belle of 14th Street (1967), A Happening in Central Park (1967), Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments (1973)
- Includes Barbra Streisand's original 1987 video introductions for My Name Is Barbra, Color Me Barbra, and A Happening in Central Park
Top Customer Reviews
The packaging of the set is first-rate. After taking the top off the box, you will find a 5-panel DigiPak that unfolds and holds the 5 DVDs. The packaging is gorgeous down to the details: when you remove a DVD from the DigiPak, a Streisand "timeline" is revealed behind it. For instance, if you remove the "Central Park" disc, behind it is a black circle listing some events that happened in Barbra's career in 1968.
There are rare photos sprinkled throught the box set: on the DigiPak itself, and also in the handsome, detailed booklet that comes with the set. The booklet, in hues of burgundy and black, is art deco in design. Streisand herself is credited with "Art Direction" on the set. The liner notes by Jay Landers and Richard Jay-Alexander are thorough and revealing. Fans will pick up some new details from their notes -- for instance, that's Streisand's old friend Cis Corman in a cameo during BELLE OF 14th STREET!
As for the specials themselves, obvious care has been taken premiering them on DVD for the first time. Every disc has a creative menu design. My favorite is the MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS menu, with a music stand serving as the song selection menu. Viewers can choose from three audio options on all the specials: The original mono mix; a 2-channel stereo mix; or a 5.1 mix. The video quality is the best, for sure. Note that some of these specials are close to 40 years old. The restorers have spent time cleaning up the specials.Read more ›
I'm old enough to remember seeing the televised Central Park performance and knew immediately that she was something special, with a certain delivery that was hers alone. There were other specials since then and, of course, she went on to act in movies and on Broadway.
But these first specials stand apart from the rest,showcasing a young Streisand who appears, at times, to be nearly as amazed as her fans at her performances, which truly seem to pour directly from her soul, unedited, unrevised.
She is friendly, accessable and just awkward enough to be totally irresistable. None of the famous "diva" reputation seems to be showing here. She appears to be enjoying every moment in front of her fans and she hasn't become used to celebrity yet. The novelty of it all shows on that beautiful face, a face which is truly testimony to how so many imperfect parts can add up to one glorious whole.
The specials themsevles would be reason enough to buy this set but there are some added features which make it even more attractive, including rare photos, detailed liner notes and little known trivia. From My Name is Barbra to a Concert in Central Park to the rarely seen Belle of 14th Street, this is a must for Barbra's many fans!
How about a double CD of a great early concert by the younger Streisand? And how about the full-on DVD of the entire show. You know they shot it all. You know the footage is in the vaults. Come on Barbra, come on Marty...release it already. Give your fans a real treat!
Now, for the record, I do own some Barbra Streisand CD's, and consider myself a fan, but I do not consider myself a fanatic. But I did want to take some time to let you know you won't be disappointed in the quality of the material in these shows! I've enjoyed watching Color Me Barbra and My Name Is Barbra time and again and whether you've seen them before or not, they are remarkable. I can't wait to re-visit "...and Other Musical Instruments" and see for the first time the other footage on this set.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love Barbra. I remember most of these specials from their original screenings. I was 11 when I first fell in love with Barbra, watching "My Name is Barbra" on my... Read morePublished 1 month ago by SammyJ
a must have for any streisand lover, I remember watching this shows and was at the central park concert. that was a show!Published 5 months ago by old time gal
For Streisand fans this is a real treat. These specials have been unavailable for way too long, so to have them all in one box set is wonderful. Read morePublished 18 months ago by addison de witt
I'm a Barbra Streisand tribute artist / impersonator ([...]). These specials aired when I was a very small kid (actually, an infant for "My Name is Barbra") so I never got to seem... Read morePublished on March 27, 2014 by JoniVL
All 5 DVDs are very enjoyable. Whether you're a fan or not, this DVD set is worth having. Watching the young Barbra perform all those songs, everything dead will come to life... Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Piboon Jangsawang
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