TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: American Musicals (The Band Wagon / Meet Me in St. Louis / Singin' in the Rain / Easter Parade)
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EASTER PARADE Strolling along 5th Avenue or bumming around as A Couple of Swells, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire lead a parade of music (17 Irving Berlin tunes and an Academy Award-winning adaptation score) and gotta-dance fun in this neverending delight co-starring Ann Miller and Peter Lawford. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS She's in love with the boy next door. And movie fans are forever in love with her Judy Garland in a nostalgia and humor-filled tale of life with the Smith family in 1903 St. Louis. Songs include The Boy Next Door, The Trolley Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. SINGIN IN THE RAIN Considered by many to be the greatest movie musical ever! Silent movies are giving way to the advent of sound and a Hollywood matinee idol (Gene Kelly) is caught in that bumpy transition, as well as his buddy (Donald O'Connor), prospective sweetheart (Debbie Reynolds) and vocally-challenged co-star (Jean Hagen). THE BAND WAGON Fred Astaire dazzles in a train station (By Myself), a penny arcade (A Shine on Your Shoes), a back-lot Central Park (Dancing in the Dark) and a smoky café (Girl Hunt), the latter two with incomparable Cyd Charisse. Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan and Oscar Levant co-star, and as the movies hallmark song goes, That's Entertainment!
Turner Classic Movies' Greatest Classic Films Collection: American Musicals collects four movies on two double-sided discs, with top picture quality and the bonus features that appeared on disc 1 when all of the films were released on two-disc sets. Here the subject is classic musicals from the glory days of MGM, starting with the greatest of them all, Singin' in the Rain (1952), with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor turning out classic routines set in the early days of Hollywood. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) was one of Judy Garland's milestone pictures, in which she was directed by her future husband, Vincente Minnelli, and sings the great "Trolley Song," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and "The Boy Next Door." Shift forward a few years to a pair of Fred Astaire movies, Easter Parade (1948), in which he plays a veteran dancer trying to train Garland to replace Ann Miller as his vaudeville partner, and The Band Wagon (1953), MGM's affectionate spoof of its own musical stable, directed by Minnelli and costarring Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Jack Buchanan and Nanette Fabray. Songs from the last two pictures include "A Couple of Swells," "Better Luck Next Time," "By Myself," "A Shine on Your Shoes," "Triplets," and "That's Entertainment." The two-sided discs lack most of the bonus features from the individual two-disc sets, but do include the content that was on the movie disc, including trailers and a commentary track for each movie. --David Horiuchi
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"MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS" falls into a very unique favorite. This 1944 classic, directed by Vincente Minnelli features Judy Garland in top billing as Esther Smith a member of a typical American Midwest family in 1904. All of them eagerly await the opening of the World Exposition in 1904. It is wonderful entertainment in which Judy sings "The Boy Next Door", The Trolley Song", and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". A wonderful supporting cast that include Mary Astor, Leon Ames, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main and last but not least, the adorable Margaret O'Brien playing Judy's youngest baby sister. Each scene is like a Currier and Ives image which nostalgically recaptures those "good old days" times.
"SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" has often been considered the best musical that ever came out of Hollywood. Produced in 1952, it starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. Its featured songs are not original, as many were composed as far back as the 1920's, just as the Hollywood film industry was adapting to the "talkies". Adding to its high texture of entertainment is the appearance of Jean Hagen as the vain "Lena Lamont" who bullies the studio head to stick to his contract with her. There are a multitude of songs, too numerous to mention, except that the movie's trade mark is Gene Kelly getting wet while "Singin' In The Rain".
"EASTER PARADE", released in 1949 and is well adorned with the music of Irving Berlin. It starred Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. A supporting cast that included Ann Miller and Peter Lawford, helped to make this musical an all time endearment. There's a myriad of Berlin's nostalgic songs to enjoy, but I think the one that I personally like was "We're a Couple of Swells" sung by Astaire and Garland during a vaudeville sketch.
"THE BANDWAGON" was released in 1953. It starred Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse along with Oscar Levant. The long list of songs was originally composed by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz. Some of the songs were originally written for a 1931 Broadway musical of the same name. One of the songs that stands out in my memory of this film, was a song which perfectly describes the movie, which is "That's Entertainment".
I don't mean to slight "Meet Me in St Louis" but that is not a dancing movie. It's more a singing movie with the incomparable Judy Garland.. It is just as enjoyable as the Gene and Fred movies. Great storyline. Marvelous songs. Superb acting.
The quality of the production in each movie is beyond reproach, with attention to detail evident at every turn. Beautiful lighting, top notch sound, and oh that gorgeous Technicolor image.... just stunning in every scene. And the DVD transfers live up to those high values, giving us every bit of detail, color, and sound to be had. A+ all the way around.
In fact, it's obvious that the versions included in this set are simply the number 1 disc from the Special Editions of each movie. When I hit "Stop" on the remote control, a screen appears that says "Disc 1". So, the only things you aren't getting here are the special features included on Disc 2 of each of those Special Editions.
I love old movies, and and now, thanks to this collection, I've gotten hooked on these old musicals as well.
My highest recommendation for the high quality transfers of these wonderful old movies, and the tremendous value in this fabulous set from TCM!
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The case was shattered in the padded envelope it was shipped.