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Annie: 30th Anniversary – Sing-Along Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 27, 2012 by  



“Annie” is a family film filled with memorable music, wonderful dance choreography with a talented ensemble cast.  But also featuring  a heartwarming rags-to-riches story that families can easily appreciate and enjoy.

Images courtesy of © 1981 Rastar Films, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Annie: 30th Anniversary – Sing-Along Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1981

DURATION: 127 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian LCRS Discrete Surround, French, German, Spanish, Stereo, Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Directed by John Huston

Screenplay by Carol Sobieski

Based on the book of the stage play by Thomas Meehan

Executive Produced by Joe Layton

Produced by Ray Stark

Associate Producer: Carol Sobieski

Music by Charles Strouse

Ciematography by Richard Moore

Edited by Michael A. Stevenson

Casting by Howard Feuer, Jeremy Ritzer

Production Design by Dale Hennesy

Set Decoration by Marvin March

Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge

Starring:

Albert Finney as Daddy Oliver Warbucks

Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan

Ann Reinking as Grace Farrell

Tim Curry as Rooster Hannigan

Bernadette Peters as Lily St. Regis

Aileen Quinn as Annie

Geoffrey Holder as Punjab

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of ANNIE’s hit debut on Broadway, we present the classic movie version of the beloved musical, now digitally remastered and featuring the original theatrical trailer. ANNIE is the story of a plucky, red-haired girl who dreams of life outside her dreary orphanage. One day, Annie (Aileen Quinn) is chosen to stay for one week with the famous billionaire “Daddy” Warbucks (Albert Finney). One week turns into many and the only person standing in the way of Annie’s fun is Miss Hannigan, the gin-soaked ruler of the orphanage (played to hilarious perfection by Carol Burnett). Will Miss Hannigan’s zany attempts to kidnap the irrepressible Annie succeed? Enjoy all the unforgettable songs, including “It’s A Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.”

It began with an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley and led to a 1924 comic strip by Harold Gray, “Little Orphan Annie” was a series that may have focused on a young orphan girl, but the storyline was geared for adults as it was political.

But by 1930, when the storyline was made into a radio show and in 1977 when it was made into a Broadway musical, suffice to say, Annie became part of America’s pop culture and known for songs such as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life”.

So, with the Broadway production of “Annie” coming to a close, in 1982, Columbia Pictures released “Annie” based on the Broadway musical.  Directed by actor/filmmaker John Huston (“The Maltese Falcon”, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, “The African Queen”), the film would star an ensemble cast which included Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Geoffrey Holder, Edward Herrman and the film debut of Aileen Quinn.

The film is set in New York City during the Great Depression and begins at an orphanage where a Annie (portrayed by Aileen Quinn) is a person that many look up to and defends other girls from bullies.  Her parents left her there, promising they would return but they haven’t.

Life in the orphanage is not so fun as it is ran by Miss Agatha Hannigan (portrayed by Carol Burnett), a mean, alcoholic who is more interested in flirting with men than caring for the children’s needs.  In fact, she makes them clean the orphanage most of the time.

One day, thanks to the assistance of laundryman Mr. Bundles, the children sneak Annie out of the orphanage into Mr. Bundles laundry truck.  And with her chance at freedom, she befriends a dog named Sandy but is later caught by a police officer who returns her back to the orphanage.   Upset that Annie escaped, Miss Hannigan is penalized.  But when Hannigan finds that Annie has also snuck a dog inside the orphanage, she vows to send Sandy to the sausage factory.

Meanwhile, Grace Farrell (portrayed by Ann Reinking), the secretary of the billionaire Daddy Oliver Warbucks (portrayed by Albert Finney), arrives to the orphanage.  In a project to promote a positive appearance for Warbucks, she needs to borrow an orphan for one week. As Grace sees Annie hiding in the closet, she follows Annie’s hand signals and tells Miss Hannigan that she is interested in taking Annie for the week.  Miss Hannigan objects because of the trouble Annie has given her, but Grace is insistent that she wants Annie.

And bringing Annie, Grace also agrees to take Sandy as well.  So, Annie and Sandy are taken to the home of the Warbucks and immediately, the staff take her into the home with kindness.  Annie is not so sure what she will be doing and at first, she thinks that she is brought to clean the mansion.  But Grace tells her that she is there to have fun and be there for Mr. Warbucks.

But when Daddy Oliver Warbucks arrives, he is not a caring and happy person like Grace, in fact, he is more of grump and angry towards Grace because he wanted a boy and didn’t want a dog involved either.  But Grace tries to remind him that what’s done is done and to give her a week, and a chance.  And Mr. Warbucks decides to allow it, only for one week.

While staying with Warbucks, while sleeping at night, she hears a noise and she and Sandy go to investigate.  While Warbucks and staff are discussing business, a man with a bomb is seen outside about to throw it towards the house.  Sandy sees the intruder and attacks him, holding him until Warbucks two guards take control of him and stop the bomb from being thrown.    Annie finds out that the Bolsheviks are displeased with the American system which Warbucks represents and they are trying to hurt him.  But the incident actually works as a positive for Annie as Warbucks is grateful to Sandy for saving his life.

And eventually Annie begins melt the coldness in Warbucks’ heart to the point that he wants to adopt her.  But as he talks to Annie, Annie tells him that she is looking for her real parents who said they would come back for her.  Wanting to help Annie, he announces on a radio show that he will offer a $50,000 reward to her parents if they come back.

Needless to say, several couples try to say they are Annie’s parents but unbeknown to Annie and Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and her brother and his girlfriend Lily have made a scheme to pretend they are Annie’s parents, so they can collect the reward money.

VIDEO:

“Annie: 30th Anniversary – Sing-Along Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  While the film slightly has that aged ’80s film look, outdoor scenes look vibrant, Annie’s red dress to anything with bold colors tend to really pop.  And you can see the stubble of Albert Finney’s bald head.  But for the most part, this is probably the best that anyone is going to see of “Annie”.  I didn’t notice any artifact problems or severe DNR.  There was a fine layer of grain and for the most part, the film does look on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Annie: 30th Anniversary – Sing-Along Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian LCRS Discrete Surround, French, German, Spanish Stereo.  The film is primarily a musical and features dialogue.  Because it’s an older film, I expected it to be more of a front channel soundtrack and I was right.  The dialogue and music is crystal clear and with songs that feature bass, there is a good dynamic range when it comes to the musical soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Annie: 30th Anniversary – Sing-Along Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Sing-Along  – For those who want to sing-along to the film or a song, an exclusive for the Blu-ray is the sing-along (ala karaoke) for the musical scenes of the film.
  • My Hollywood Adventure with Aileen Quinn – (12:04) Aileen Quinn reminisces of her time filming “Annie” and featuring video clips of behind-the-scenes of the making of the film and the promotion for “Annie”.  Note: This is the same featurette for the 20th Anniversary of”Annie”.
  • Trailer and TV Spots – Featuring the theatrical trailer, the behind the scenes making of the theatrical trailer and three TV spots.

Back in the early ’80s, “Annie” was one of the first films I watched on cable.   At the time, “Annie” was a big part of American culture thanks to the Broadway play and the music.

While “Annie” may not be as well-known for younger audiences of today or even young adults of today, “Annie” was one of those feel-good, rags-to-riches story featuring memorable music and at the time, a commanding performance by wonderful talents such as Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters but also from Albert Finney and Tim Curry.  But the film’s true talents were young Aileen Quinn and the magnificent song and dance performances by Ann Reinking.

The look and the feel of the film felt like New York during the 1920’s and the direction by filmmaker and actor John Huston was rather well-done.

As for the Blu-ray release, for those who want to sing along with the music or learn the lyrics, can easily do so with the exclusive “Sing-Along” feature.  And for those who don’t own the previous “Annie” releases, will surely enjoy watching an older Aileen Quinn discussing her experience of working on the film and the various talents at the time.  As for video and audio quality, there is no doubt that this is the best version of “Annie” to date.  While I wish there was more use of the music for the surround channels, it’s still crystal clear coming from the center and front channels.  While the picture quality didn’t look too aged or feature heavily use of DNR.

But what it comes down to is one’s nostalgic memories of “Annie” or one wanting to watch a family friendly musical on Blu-ray.  I used this film as an actual introduction to musicals for my nine-year-old, but the concept of why characters were continually singing and dancing and not enough conversation made him a bit impatient.  But I suppose growing up and being exposed to live musicals, especially watching “The Carol Burnett Show” as a young child of the ’70s, helped ease me to appreciating “Annie” a bit more.

Overall, Annie” is a family film filled with memorable music, wonderful dance choreography with a talented ensemble cast.  But also featuring  a heartwarming rags-to-riches story that families can easily appreciate and enjoy.

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