Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
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Cinderella comes to life in this 50th Anniversary Edition of the most beloved fairy tale of all time. A sparkling fantasy of music, magic and romance, Rodgers & Hammersteins Cinderella captivates from overture to finale with a delightful score and stunning flittering performances from an all-star cast. Academy Award nominee Lesley Ann Warren is charming as the raggedy waif turned belle of the ball with Broadway star Stuart Damon as the Prince. Also starring Academy Award nominee Walter Pidgeon, Academy Award Winners Ginger Rogers and Celeste Holm as the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella will waltz into the hearts of the entire family and live happily ever after as one of the most irresistible musicals ever made.
Featuring a new high quality digital transfer from the original master. Digitally restored from the original source material.
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I was five when Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella came out and - ever since - I have had a crush on Lesley Ann Warren. In this version of the timeless classic, Lesley is radiant. No actress before or since has so embodied the innocence and magic of a role - and she captured my heart because of it.
Production-wise, don't look for Disney standards. This is not a multi-million dollar production with CGI, special effects, and animation. It looks like an old 1960s-era Hallmark Hall of Fame production with cheap sets and garish costumes. It's, essentially, little more than a filmed stage production. You can almost see the wires and joists holding up the backdrops.
But, O the Magic!
That's where this version of Cinderella succeeds. It is the epitome of childhood magic, of dreams come true. In those respects, it is priceless.
Helping to weave that spell is a cast that's quite respectable for a made-for-TV movie. In addition to Lesley, this movie features Stuart Damon as the prince, Celeste Holm as the fairy godmother, Ginger Rogers as the queen, and Walter Pidgeon as the king...and songs that haven't left my head in half a century. The Rodgers & Hammerstein score is so much fun!
To watch this version of Cinderella today (as I am this evening), requires imagination, and a desire to be see the world through a child's eyes. I can attest to both.
I am 54 years old. But I am five again when I watch this version of Cinderella.
I couldn't ask for more from a movie than that.
This is a treasure.
After the hype from Shout!, I was expecting something much better than the first DVD release. Shout! failed.
Yes, the picture quality is improved: It is a sharper picture with more vibrant colors. However, the vertical lines on the left side of the screen and the rounded corners suggest that the same kinescope was used. You can do only so much with a master that is bad from the get-go.
The audio track is still very weak and tinny sounding. It's still awful.
Worse yet: only one very brief (under 10 minutes) "retrospect" as a bonus. THAT is the best Shout! could do on a major 50th anniversary. There is nothing additional included. Boo!
I'm giving the show 5 stars because it's an American treasure. Shout!, on the other hand, gets 1 star for its sorry special release.
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA first aired on CBS over 50 years ago. That's hard to believe. But a new DVD 50th anniversary edition has comes out this week and will bring back many fond memories for those who remember it. I remember it because in all honesty it was the first glimpse I had of Lesley Anne Warren who became my 6 year old crush. But that's not the reason this new DVD is worth picking up.
Certainly you all know the story of Cinderella already. The young girl who was treated poorly by her step-mother and step-sisters, forced to do the cleaning and cooking while they thought only of themselves. Who was given the chance by her fairy godmother to go to the ball, dance and romance the prince and later found to be the woman he was looking for when only her foot would fit the glass slipper he took across the country to find his one true love. Okay maybe I should have said spoiler alert but honestly if you don't know this story already something is wrong.
There had been various versions of the story produced, most famously the animated version done by the Disney Studios. In looking into this version I found that it had been done already for television back in 1957 with Julie Andrews starring. At the time shows were broadcast live so there is no copy of that version. That prompted CBS to remake the program in 1964, starring the then unknown Lesley Ann Warren in the lead role. This is the version just released on DVD.
Looking back it's amazing when you realize that at the time Broadway musicals were fairly common to be seen in television versions. While this was written specifically for television and not taken from Broadway, it still has that live performance feel to it as well as the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein music and lyrics. Today most kids have no idea who these two were but at the time they had the biggest set of Broadway hits ever found. For those of us who grew up with them we still remember their music and my guess would be you've hummed one tune or another by them in the past year if you're over 40.
The fantastic combination of what these two gentlemen brought together and were able to convey to videotape here is what makes this musical special. There is no overabundant amount of detail in everything from scenery to props to costumes. Everything seems so simple. There is no major league dramatic or political statement being made here. It's just a plain old love story with music to match. And yet it works on every level. It features fantastic music that you'll find yourself singing long after the DVD stops playing. While watching it I was amazed that after all these years I still remembered some of the lyrics to these songs, songs I hadn't heard in decades.
Today's kids face a jaded life filled with instant gratification in the forms of movies and music via things like downloads and Netflix. They have no concept of waiting to see a special or movie that only showed once a year or maybe one time only on TV. This show played yearly up until 1974. Now that it's on DVD it means those of us who enjoyed it can watch it every year we want if not more often. I know my plans are to have my great niece and nephew sit and watch it with me. That's the beauty of these classics being made available this way. It also gives me the chance to let them know about how we used to wait.
Major kudos goes to Shout Factory for releasing this version complete with a short retrospective from the past remaining casts filmed several years back. The quality of the DVD is fantastic and is sure to provide countless hours of entertainment for all who buy a copy. Once again they've outdone themselves with a release that might have been forgotten otherwise. Instead we now have the chance to enjoy it once more. With any luck a new generation will be exposed to it's beauty and consider looking into the other classics from Rodgers and Hammerstein. One can only hope.