The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection
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Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection (Blu-Ray/12 Disc)
Celebrate the world’s most beloved movie musicals — The Rodgers & Hammerstein Blu-ray Collection contains all 6 films now together on Blu-ray™ for the first time ever! Each timeless film is in dazzling high definition for the ultimate home viewing experience. So every spectacular scene, every enchanting song, and every magical, memorable moment can be yours to cherish forever and share with your family.
8-Disc Set Includes: State Fair (1945), Oklahoma! (Todd-AO and CinemaScope™ Versions), The King and I, Carousel, South Pacific (Theatrical and Extended “Road Show” Versions) and The Sound of Music.
• State Fair
• Oklahoma - Todd-AO
• Oklahoma - Cinemascope
• King and I
• South Pacific Theatrical
• South Pacific Extended roadshow version
• Sound of Music
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"The King and I" has some terrific flashes of proper color, but much of it is too dark (again) with an odd blue tinge that flattens the contrast. When it isn't blue, it is at times a burnished yellow-copper that means well but, because of the brightness level, the king especially sometimes looks like he just stepped out of a mudbath. And look what happens to Irene Sharaf's fabulous costumes when you make the darker aspects darker still. Note how the subtle uniqueness of each of the costumes of the king's wives is wasted into shadow when they gather about Anna to check out her dress. Elsewhere, we see that all the jewelry glistens but we can't quite make out how any of it set into the costume or headgear. The transfer isn't always wrong in this respect. "The March of the Siamese Children" is close to perfect - lots of light with good color balance - which makes me wonder why so many other scenes are dialed down the way they are.
Please don't get me wrong - there is plenty to admire even in the darkness. "Uncle Tom's Cabin," surely the visual high point of the film, sustains some wonderful colors despite the subdued light - and the high-def imagery makes for exquisite movement: the rainstorm during Eliza's escape is stunning.
Also, here, as in all the new movies, the audio comes with considerably improved dynamics and clarity, at times revealing faults with the original mix, as with Yul Brynner's first "Who, who, who?" that just blows us out of the room, it's so disproportionally loud. Elsewhere, as in "Shall We Dance," there is a power and majesty completely in accord with the subject.
This is a flawed set: On the one hand we have the miracle of "Oklahoma! in Todd-A-O," for which, frankly, I had the lowest of expectations, and on the other, an entirely wrong-headed idea of what some of these musicals should look like on a proper home theater presentation. In my opinion, the most recent DVDs of "The King and I" and "State Fair" are considerably better - possibly, more accurate, certainly more pleasing and more consistent - in terms of color, brightness and contrast than the new Blu-rays, where Fox has turned glorious Technicolor into generic video. The Blu-rays all have much improved sound and superior resolution as compared to their DVD counterparts, but only "Oklahoma! in Todd-A-O" hits it out of the park.
It all comes down to the supplements. Studios these days are reticent to spend any money on supplemental features, especially on catalog films. All of the supplements on this set could already be found on previous DVD releases or, in the case of The Sound of Music and South Pacific, on the Blu-ray releases. Don't misunderstand me: these are quality supplements geared toward film lovers. They are also plentiful, with one exception I'll get to farther along in the review. The are sadly all in Standard Definition, however. That wouldn't bother me so much except that some of them, like the Todd-AO shorts or the feature film Liliom (the basis for Carousel), could really benefit from an HD transfer.
Which brings me to the two things that are deal-breakers, as far as I'm concerned. First, the South Pacific discs are exactly the same as the previously-released version. That means that the Roadshow version of the film is still in SD. Very disappointing. Secondly, The Sound of Music is only the first disc from the previously-released Blu-ray set. That means that the most popular film in the set is missing nearly all of the supplements from that set. It's bare-bones except for commentary tracks. For what they are charging, Fox should have included the second disc. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. (Edit: The second disc from the previous State Fair DVD release is also not in this package. That disc included the largely derided 1962 version of the film and a brief Mary Martin performance. Not a huge loss, but it may be an issue for some people.)
At the time of release of this set, it's the only way to get four of the films on Blu-ray in the US. I don't expect that to be the case for long. If you're patient, it's likely that you'll be able to purchase these films on their own for far-less than the cost of purchasing them together in this set. If you absolutely must have them now, at least you can rest easy that the films themselves are in fine shape. The Todd-AO version of Oklahoma is stunning. I'm happy with what I paid. You likely won't be should you have to pay more.
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