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Liza With A "Z"

4.7 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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(Apr 04, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In 1972, Liza Minelli and Broadway legend Bob Fosse took the Oscars by storm with Cabaret. That same year, the two paired up once again to create the spectacular musical special Liza With A Z, making television history and carting home four Emmys in the process. Now, Liza and the producers of the Academy Award-winning Chicago bring the glamour and glitter home again on DVD, fully-restored and digitally remastered.

The DVD Holy Grail for Liza Minnelli fans finally surfaces after 30-some years: Liza with a "Z", a splashy TV special from 1972. And wow, is it ever a product of its era. Minnelli and director-choreographer Bob Fosse were at the top of their popularity in 1972, having just made Cabaret, the blockbuster musical for which both won Oscars. Liza with a "Z" places the still-coltish Minnelli on the stage of the Lyceum Theater, in a one-night-only performance covered by Fosse's eight cameras. Songs by Cabaret composers John Kander and Fred Ebb provide a spine for the show, including a breathless rendition of "Ring Them Bells" and the tongue-twisting "Say Liza (Liza with a 'Z')," a goofball number that sounds more like one of Danny Kaye's patter songs than a tune for Liza Minnelli.

Liza treats each song as an emotional Mount Everest, never holding back a thing, and the result is a psychodrama played out in the klieg lights. (The outrageous costumes by Halston don't hold back a thing, either; Studio 54, here we come!) Memories of the all-or-nothing style of her mother, Judy Garland, are already heavy in the air by the time Minnelli reaches "My Mammy," and workouts on "God Bless the Child" and "Son of a Preacher Man" confirm the singer's approach.

As for Fosse's choreography, there are signature moves aplenty--his dancing so frequently suggested a choreographer lusting for actual sex to break out on stage. "Bye Bye Blackbird" gives Minnelli and her backup dancers a chance to stretch out in an echt-Fosse feast of bowler hats and white gloves. The bell-and-booty shaking in "Ring Them Bells" and the loony tuxedo-clad cowpokes in "I Gotcha" hint that Fosse was in the midst of a manic phase. Speaking of which, Minnelli tackling Joe Tex's "I Gotcha" is one of those jaw-dropping mismatches that she salvages only through dint of daft commitment. No quarreling with the Cabaret medley; say want you want about Liza, she owns those songs. Minnelli and Fosse won Emmys for the show. The restoration of the original materials looks about as good as can be expected, with the spirit of a glitzy seventies TV variety special quite intact. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Includes Grammy-winning original Liza with a "Z" soundtrack on separate CD
  • Remarkably candid, fulll-length program commentary by Liza herself
  • Fan Q&A with Liza at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival
  • Liza's performance at the 2005 GLAAD Awards
  • Liza interviews legendary "Cabaret," New York, New York" and "Chicago" composer John Kander
  • The complete "Biography: Liza Minnelli" from A&E Network
  • Biographies of Liza Minnelli and Bob Fosse

Product Details

  • Actors: Liza Minnelli
  • Directors: Bob Fosse
  • Format: Collector's Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Showtime Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2006
  • Run Time: 55 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,131 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Liza With A "Z"" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 1, 2006
Format: DVD
This "Concert for Television" from 1972 has been beautifully restored, in a DVD package that has lots of extras, and will delight all of Liza's fans, as well as those who admire choreographer/director Bob Fosse. Liza's natural sensuality fits into Fosse's unique (and difficult to master) choreography as if she was born to dance it, and she is one of the best interpreters of his work, which is no easy feat. Liza is fantastic in this concert, with her one-of-a-kind talent shining in every number. With 4 (Halston) costume changes, the show has sections of solo "spotlight" songs, and several production numbers where she is joined by some superb backup dancers, who unfortunately have not been given only other complaint is that with the running time of 1 hour, one wants more of this terrific multi award winning show! Those who enjoy this concert will also like the 1992 concert with Charles Aznavour at the Palais des Congres available on DVD.

The songs are:
1: "Yes," from the Kander & Ebb show "70, Girls, 70."
2: "God Bless the Child," a marvelous take on the Billie Holiday classic.
3: "Say Liza," a novelty John Kander number and the show's title song.
4: "It Was a Good Time," a touching song where Liza gets to use her acting talent.
5: "I Gottcha," the first of 3 production numbers, with Liza in a red micro mini.
6: "Son of a Preacher Man."
7: "Ring Them Bells" is very amusing with Liza having to travel to Europe to meet the boy next door.
8: "Bye Bye Blackbird," the standout number for choreography, staging and performance. Liza dazzles in black velvet!
9: "You've Let Yourself Go," Charles Aznavour's mature love song, and few can sing Aznavour like Liza.
10: "My Mammy," wonderful!
11: "Cabaret" medley ("Wilkommen," "Married," "Money," "Maybe this Time," "Cabaret"). What can you say...Liza IS Sally Bowles!
12: Curtain calls and titles.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Not seen since its initial airing in September, 1972, fans of Liza Minnelli have waited patiently for over 30 years to have this show released on DVD. The recording has never gone out of print for good reason -- it was Liza's first landmark live solo performance that was put to vinyl and by 1972, she had honed her talents and worked out her material and it all came together in an extraordinary achievement under the amazing hand of director Bob Fosse. Kander & Ebb, Fosse and Minnelli all had quite a time of it in 1972 with triumphs on film, television and the theatre.

I've only seen clips of the show over the years and look forward to sitting down and seeing it as those lucky enough in the audience did. Shot on film for a unique and different approach to the traditional variety or musical show, it's more like a movie of a concert than a TV special.

Grab this one right away...lest it disappear from the shelves for another 30 years!

UPDATE: I saw the show in Los Angeles on 03/23/06 at a screening with Liza herself, sponsored by the TV Academy, and it's truly amazing. I've had the album for years so I know every song, but to actually see the show as it was intended added a whole new layer and dimension. In the discussion panel afterwards (featuring Minnelli and the producers), they said, and rightly so, after the years of bad headlines and drama played out in the public, putting this out points the press back in the direction of what they should be talking about -- the singular and stunning talent that is Liza.

Run don't walk...and see what real talent is all about. This is it!
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Format: DVD
Rather than review the fantastic material in this wonderful "time capsule," I want to add a few comments about the technical quality of this DVD.

In nearly all of the extras, especially the panel discussion that's worth the price of the DVD itself, you're looking at contemporary digital video.

However, in the restoration of "Liza with a "Z" -- the 1972 program itself -- it must be noted that the video quality isn't up to the quality of the audio.

In fairness, this video restoration was based on raw material that was originally captured on 16 millimeter film. This is the kind of lower grade film stock shown in schools and small auditoriums. And small TV screens.

When you blow up 16-millimeter film stock (rather than standard 35-millimeter), you'll sometimes get, depending upon the size of your display screen -- a fuzzy, off-and-on, "out of focus" appearance.

This is most apparent in close-ups of Liza's face. The colors are brilliant, the sound is wonderful, the production is spectacular -- but this show was not intended for big-screen projection screens now available at electronics stores in the 21st century.

The intermittent fuzziness is more noticeable watching "Liza with a "Z" on a 32-inch TV screen vs. your computer.

One can only imagine the horrific problems that must have emerged during the restoration of this important historical document. That we're able to view anything at all with no degradation in color or sound is a miracle.

So to that end, customers -- be advised that this package is still, in my view, worth every penny.
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