HELLO DOLLY has received a bum rap over the years. Its oversized budget and colossal New York-circa-1890 back lot set is said to have sunk 20th Century Fox. This is far from the truth. Now, almost 35 years later, DOLLY can be seen in proper perspective: it's a well-done, old-fashioned movie musical. Its only sin is that is dresses up a flimsy Broadway musical in the form of a big-time movie musical. Let's face it, HELLO DOLLY's book features situation-comedy type scenes of hiding in closets and mistaken identities. It doesn't have the weight of the Nazis (i.e. SOUND OF MUSIC) or the Americana of OKLAHOMA. It is, nevertheless, frothy fun -- with a great, hummable score! Barbra Streisand is also blamed for accepting the role of Dolly Levi, too. Dolly should be middle-aged; Streisand was 27. Also, Carol Channing was famous for the part (she won a Tony for it) and Streisand is considered to have "stolen" the movie from Channing. (I personally could not fathom watching Carol Channing for 2-1/2 hours.) Streisand was too young. But does it really matter? She's absolutely hilarious in DOLLY, and sings the score wonderfully. It was Streisand's second film, and one of her too few musical films. The DVD features a wonderful featurette from 1969. The featurette contains great behind-the-scenes footage of filming the "Before the Parade Passes By" scene, as well as the "Sunday Clothes" scene. Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd, and Irene Sharaff are all included. Fox has restored HELLO DOLLY and this DVD features the restored print. DOLLY has never looked better! From the multi-colored feathers on the back of her hat in the opening scene, to the canary-yellow "Hello Dolly" dress in the Harmonia Gardens, Streisand looks fabulous and colorful and bold. Throughout the film you will notice various shades of purples pop out. The paint-speckled trees in the "Parade"park scene are an interesting detail! The only scene that misses is the dimly lit "Love is Only Love" song. The colors look faded and the picture quality drops a notch or two. I must also sing the praises of this WIDESCREEN release! I've watched DOLLY for years on a pan-and-scan VHS tape. The movie looks excellent in widescreen - the way it was originally filmed - and it's great to see some of the action in the extremes of the frame. For instance, this is probably the first time I've ever seen what Streisand was doing in the right part of the frame while dueting with Louis Armstrong! So enjoy HELLO DOLLY. Dolly'll never go away again.
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