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Bloomer Girl

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Oct 30, 2012)
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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Cook, Keith Andes
  • Writers: Harold Arlen, E.Y Harburg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Classical, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Video Artists Int'l
  • DVD Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009IDGMUW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,952 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 28, 2012
This is the latest in the recent series of musicals that were adapted for television in the 1950s being released by VAI Video. The productions are "condensed" versions - which include the "hits" - squeezing a two-hour show into 60-70 minutes PLUS commercials. Musically, this is my favorite so far.

If you found this review by searching Amazon you probably know something about the musical so I won't go into too much detail about it but will concentrate on the DVD release. Briefly, the 1944 musical takes place in a "hoop skirt factory" on the eve of the Civil War. It's about women's rights, slavery and racism - topics that composers Harold Arlen and "Yip" Harburg turn into wonderful songs. The big hit here is "The Eagle and Me" sung beautifully by Rawn Spearman. Spearman gets to sing again, along with two fellow African Americans (including actor Brock Peters - here listed as "Broc" in the credits) for "I Got A Song", a song new to me but beautifully performed. Barbara Cook and Keith Anders are the romantic leads and in great voice. Another reason that this broadcast is important is that the dances choreographed by Agnes De Mille for the Broadway production are re-staged for television by De Mille utilizing some of the principal dances from the Broadway production 15 years earlier.

This is a BLACK& WHITE kinescope of the show that aired on "Producers Showcase" in 1956. Because a kinescope is a film of a TV image it is never as sharp as a direct film. In this case the image is clean (no dust marks or scratches) but the contrast is not as high as you might hope for. I do not have an HD TV so can't tell what it'll look like on that. (My TV is 33-year-old 27 inch Sony). But the sound is great!
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Placing this video in context is a little like trying to reconstruct a vanished
civilization from artefacts. It brings us back to a time when Broadway musicals
were central in American life. Everyone knew about them, went to them, played the
records...and saw them revived almost every week on television. The showings were
cut way down from the original Broadway running time, but they featured the kind of
performers who were working prominently on Broadway in this era--Barbara Cook was
about to go into Plain and Fancy and then The Music Man, and Keith Andes was in
between replacing Alfred Drake in Kiss Me, Kate and playing opposite Lucille Ball
in Wildcat. And Agnes de Mille was recreating two of her Bloomer Girl dances, the
one following "It Was Good Enough For Grandma" and the famous Civil War Ballet.
So this tape brings us back to a longlost time. The cutdown script is not so
great, but what's left of the score is wonderful, and everyone plays with authentic
style. The CD might be a better bet because the songs are so good. And there are
quite a lot of them, too--the original 78 set was one of the longest of the 1940s.
But most customers will probably want a full-scale performance, albeit cut way
back from the original.
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Harold Arlen's score is a knockout with one great song after another. And the young Barbara Cook is a joy (she thinks she looks awful in this--hairdo issues--I think she looks almost as delicious as she sounds). The book creaks (North South civil war stuff), and the whole affair wobbles between operetta and musical comedy, but oh that wonderful score and oh Barbara Cook.
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The television version of "Bloomer Girl", recorded in the Fifties, manages to capture the feel of a Broadway show, although its sets are a bit more realistic. The use of a camera, of course, gives the show a cinematic touch. However, in those days, viewers who loved the shows, welcomed, I'm sure, the wide accessibility television provided to the script, music, lyrics, and the talents that form the delightful core of the stage production. The tv version of the show substitutes the young Barbara Cook for the original Celeste Holmes, but Miss Cook's voice is a special pleasure. It's a joy to realize that her sweet, clear soprano is still around. Some might even remember other members of this version from other shows: Brock Peters from "Lost in the Stars", and Carmen Matthews from "Porgy and Bess". Arlen's music and Harburg's lyrics still shine, and Agnes DeMille's choreography is classic in the American musical theater.
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Like the "new" Oz touring the country, when the cast started singing the Arlen/Harburg score there was magic for the ears. This was one of the first Broadway shows I saw, Fritz the doorman at the Shubert Theatre would baby sit for me while my father was upstairs across the street with J.J. He would later walk me in to see "Can-Can", "Pipe Dream" and many other shows while he was at that theatre. What a thrill it was to work at the theatre, alas, only for 2 weeks with a Gore Vidal show, "An Evening With Richard Nixon". I was also put into the second balcony of the St. James, there was a door from J.J.'s office, later Merricks, into the theatre, where I got to see "Oklahoma" many times. If you sense I'm trying to evade this "Bloomer Girl", well, you're right. While it has many wonderful moments going for it, like the Civil War Ballet(why hasn't there ever been an "Agnes DeMille Broadway"? Talk about reshaping the Broadway musical), there is something major missing. And, though I love Miss Cook, what's missing is Celeste Holm. Listen to the CD of Celeste "Even the rabbits inhabit their habitants". So while this production has a lot going for it and it's nice to have a record of a show that will probably never be seen in a revival, I have to think of what I saw on stage at the Shubert back in the 40's
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