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Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection. And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included. This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release! “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Trouble with Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976)

DURATION: Saboteur (1 hr., 49 min.), Shadow of a Doubt (1 hr, 48 min.), Rope (1 hr, 21 min.), Rear Window (1 hr., 52 min.), The Trouble with Harry (1 hr., 39 min.), The Man Who Knew Too Much (2 hrs.), Vertigo (2 hrs., 8 min.), North by Northwest (2 hrs., 16 min.), Psycho (1 hr., 49 min.), The Birds (1 hr., 59 min.), Marnie (2 hrs., 10 min.), Torn Curtain (2 hrs., 8 min.), Topaz (2 hrs., 23 min.), Frenzy (1 hr., 56 min.), Family Plot (2 hrs.) + 7 TV Episodes from “Afred Hitchcock Presents” and 3 TV Episodes from “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017


Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and many more. Starring Hollywood favorites such as James Stewart, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery and Kim Novak, this definitive collection showcases a true cinematic master at his best. Featuring over 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.


 

For the cinema fans who are fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Universal has released “Alfred Hitchock: The Ultimate Collection” which comes with 15 movies and 10 TV episodes plus over 15 hours of bonus features and a booklet.

Included in the “Alfred Hitchcok: The Ultimate Collection” are the following films:

  1. Saboteur – A 1942 film noir spy thriller.  The film revolves around Barry Kane (portrayed by Robert Cummings) who works at Stewart Aircraft Works in Glendale, California.  When he and his friend Mason (portrayed by Virgil Summers) bump into a man named Fry (portrayed by Norman Lloyd), not long afterward, a fire is started and when the men go to stop the fire, Mason is burned to death.  When investigators interview Barry, he tells him that the fire took place after they bumped into a man named Fry, but there are no records of Fry ever working for the company.  And now Barry is accused of sabotaging his worksite and killing his friend.  Barry becomes a fugitive and is helped by a blind man (portrayed by Vaughan Glaser), and when his niece, Patricia “Pat” Martin (portrayed by Priscilla Lane) visits, Barry tries to please his innocence to Pat.  But she is more intent of reporting him to the police.  What happens when he kidnaps Pat?  Will Barry find a way to prove his innocence?
  2. Shadow of a Doubt – A 1943 psychological thriller film noir.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around Charlie Newton (portrayed by Teresa Wright) who is excited when her Uncle Charlie (portrayed by Joseph Cotten) is coming to visit.  When two men come to do a national survey, they want to feature the family but Charlie gets upset when a photographer takes his picture and demands for them to give the film to him.   The men reveal to Charlie that they are detectives and suspect that Charlie is the “Merry Widow Murderer”.  Will Charlie help her uncle or will she keep tabs on him for the detectives?
  3. Rope -A 1948 psychological crime thriller film noir based on the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton inspired by the real-life murder of Bobby Franks in 1924.  One of Hitchcock’s first Technicolor films.  The film revolves around two intellects, Brandon Shaw (portrayed by John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (portrayed by Farley Granger) who strangled their former classmate from Harvard University, David Kentley (portrayed by Dick Hogan).  The two committed the crime as an intellectual exercise and wanted to prove themselves by committing the “perfect murder” inspired by their prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (portrayed by James Stewart) who talked with them about the intellectual concepts of Nietzsche’s Ubermermensch and De Quincey’s art of murder as a means to show one’s superiority over others.
  4. Rear Window – A 1954 American Technicolor mystery thriller based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”.  Considered as one of the greatest movies ever made, the film received four academy award nominations and was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (portrayed by James Stewart) being confined in a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment after breaking a leg while trying to photograph a racetrack accident.  While keeping his windows open to stay cool, he observes various people across the street. One night during a thunderstorm, he hears a woman scream and then the sound of glass breaking.  He sees the woman no longer there and a man with a large knife and handsaw.  Jeff is convinced that the man, Lars Thorwald (portrayed by Raymond Burr) may have killed his bedridden wife.
  5. The Trouble with Harry – A 1955 black comedy.  In the small town of Highwater, Vermont, the body of Harry Worp (portrayed by Philip Truex) is found.  The problem is who the person is, who was responsible for the death and what to do with the body.  No one is upset that Harry is dead.  No one really cares.  And each hope that the body will not bring the attention of the authorities to come to Highwater.
  6. The Man Who Knew Too Much – A 1956 suspense thriller film noir and a remake of Hitchcock’s own 1934 film of the same name.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day.  The film revolves around an American family, Dr. Benjamin “Ben” McKenna (portrayed by James Stewart), his wife Jo (portrayed by Doris Day) and their son Hank (portrayed by Christopher Olsen) vacationing in Morocco.  One day, they see a man being chased by the police.  The man who was stabbed in the back approaches Ben and before he dies, tells Bernard that a foreign statesman will be assassinated in London soon and gives him the name “Ambrose Chappelle”.  But when Hank is kidnapped and Ben receives a call that his son won’t be harmed if the McKenna’s say nothing about the warning message Bernard received.  Will the McKenna’s get their son back?
  7. Vertigo – A 1958 film noir psychological thriller based on the 1954 novel “D’entre les morts” (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac.  The film focuses on former police detective John “Scottie” Ferguson.  Scottie is forced into early retirement because an incident in the line of duty which caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement).  His friend and ex-fiance Midge Wood (portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes) tells him that perhaps a severe emotional shock may cure him.  One day, Scottie is hired by an acquaintance, Gavin Elster (portrayed by Tom Helmore), as a private investigator to follow his wife, Madeleine (portrayed by Kim Novak) who is behaving strangely.
  8. North by Northwest – A 1959 thriller film considered as one of the “Greatest Films of All Time”.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around two thugs looking for George Kaplan and a waiter calling out for him, meanwhile at the same time, advertising exec Roger Thornhill (portrayed by Cary Grant) is summoning a waiter.  Immediately, Roger is mistaken as George Kaplan and is kidnapped.  He is brought to the estate of Lester Townsend and interrogated by a spy, Phillip Vandamm (portrayed by James Mason).  Roger tries to explain that he is not George Kaplan but they do not believe him.  And now Roger’s life is at risk.
  9. Psycho – A 1960 psychological horror film based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch. Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  The film revolves around a real estate secretary named Marion Crane (portrayed by Janet Leigh) who talks with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (portrayed by John Gavin) how they can’t afford to get married due to his debts.  After lunch, her boss asks her to deposit a $40,000 cash deposit for her company at the bank.  Instead of depositing the money, she steals the money and gives it to Sam to pay off his debt.  But while leaving town, she sees her boss and she becomes paranoid.  While driving, she decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, which Norman Bates (portrayed by Anthony Perkins) and his mother operates.
  10. The Birds – A 1963 horror-thrilller film based on the 1952 story by Daphne du Maurier.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  Melanie Daniels (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) is a young socialite known for her racy behavior and her pranks.  While going to Bodega Bey to visit Mitch Brenner (portrayed by Rod Taylor) and her family, they all noticed that something unusual is happening to the birds and they are attacking people.
  11. Marnie – A 1964 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the 1961 novel by Winston Graham. The film revolves around Margaret “Marnie” Edgar (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) who steals $10,000 from her employer’s safe and flees.  She changes her appearance and identity and heads to Virginia and Baltimore.  Meanwhile, Mark Rutland (portrayed by Sean Connery), hires Marnie for his company.  But what happened when she tries to pull of the same heist on her new boss?
  12. Torn Curtain – A 1966 political thriller about a US physicist and rocket scientist named Michael Armstrong (portrayed by Paul Newman) who is traveling to Copenhagen with his assistant and fiance, Sarah Sherman (portrayed by Julie Andrews).  As he receives a radiogram to pick up a book, he sees a message which prompts him to go to Stockholm.  She follows him but instead of Stockholm, they are flying to East Berlin and he is welcome to the East German government.  Has Armstrong defected?
  13. Topaz – A 1969 spy thriller based on the 1967 Cold War novel by Leon Uris. The film follows a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in the Cold War politics which lead up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and eventually the breakup of an international Soviet spy ring in France.
  14. Frenzy – A 1972 British thriller film based on the novel “Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” by Arthur La Bern.  In London, a serial killer is raping women and strangling them with neck ties.  Who is responsible?
  15. Family Plot – A 1976 Technicolor dark comedy/thriller and the final film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the novel “The Rainbird Pattern” by Victor Canning.  The film is about two couples, a fake psychic and her cab driving boyfriend and another that are professional thieves and kidnappers.

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock Presents” features the following episodes:

  1. Revenge
  2. Mr. Blanchard’s Secret
  3. Lamb to the Slaughter
  4. Poison
  5. Arthur
  6. Mrs. Bixby and the Colonels Coat
  7. Bang! You’re Dead

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” features the following episodes:

  1. I Saw the Whole Thing
  2. Three Wives Too Many
  3. Death Scene

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Saboteur” comes with the following special features:

  • Saboteur: A Closer Look
  • Storyboards: The Statue of Liberty Sequence
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Sketches
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Shadow of a Doubt” comes with the following special features:

  • Beyond a Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film
  • Production Drawings by Art Director Robert Boyle
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rope” comes with the following special features:

  • Rope Unleashed
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rear Window” comes with the following special features:

  • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary
  • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes
  • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master
  • Breaking Barriers: The Sounds of Hitchcock
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Masters of Cinema
  • Feature Commentary with John Fawell (Author of “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”)
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart

“The Trouble with Harry” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Harry Isn’t Over
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of the Man Who Knew Too Much
  • Production Photographs
  • Trailers

“Vertigo” comes with the following special features:

  • Obsessed with Vertigo – New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece
  • Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborations
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Foreign Censorship Ending
  • The Vertigo Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Director William Friedkin
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Restoration Theatrical Trailer

“North by Northwest” comes with the following special features:

  • Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest
  • North by Northwest: One for the Ages
  • The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style
  • Feature Commentary by Screenwriter Ernest Lehman
  • Stills Gallery
  • Trailer Gallery

“Psycho” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Psycho
  • Psycho Sound
  • In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerps
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
  • The Shower Scene With and Without Music
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass
  • The Psycho Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho)
  • Lobby Cards
  • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer

“The Birds” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scene
  • The Original Ending
  • The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie
  • All About the Birds
  • Storyboard Sequences
  • Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Universal International Newsreels
  • Production Photographs
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Marnie” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Marnie
  • The Marnie Archives
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Torn Curtain” comes with the following special features:

  • Torn Curtain Rising
  • Scenes Scored by Bernard Hermann
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Topaz” comes with the following special features:

  • Alternate Endings
  • Topaz: An Appreciation by Film Historian and Critic Leonard Maltin
  • Storyboards: The Mendozas
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Frenzy” comes with the following special features:

  • The Story of Frenzy
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Family Plot” comes with the following special features:

  • Plotting Family Plot
  • Storyboards: The Chase Scene
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock” comes with “Alfred Hitchcock: A Look Back”

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” comes with “Fast Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock”

EXTRAS:

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” comes with a 60-page booklet and slipcase.


For any true cinema fan, owning Alfred Hitchock films comes with the territory of a being a true cineaste.

Alfred Hitchcock films are must-own films (unless you are the type who have foresaken physical media and have gone the digital route) and should earn a spot in your cinema collection.

For this review, I’ve already reviewed many Hitchcock films, so I’m going to approach this set of why you should own “The Ultimate Collection” and whether or not it’s worth upgrading from “The Masterpiece Collection”.

When it comes to Alfred Hitchcock films, to enjoy Alfred Hitchock films,  one must know that Hitchock has worked for numerous companies in his long career.  And that there are several releases that are no doubt key collections to own.

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Collection” (MGM but on Blu-ray), “Classic Hitchcock” (Hitchcock’s British films + 1 American film from the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray), “Alfred Hitchcock: The Signature Collection” (Warner Bros. on DVD) and “Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection” (MGM on DVD)  are no doubt the best collections featuring his films from 1927-1941. His first two films “The Pleasure Garden (1925) and “The Mountain Eagle (1926) may not be easy to find but the majority of Hitchcock films can be found in various collections.

But for his major cinema works from 1942-1976, the Universal Studios release of “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” was no doubt the collection to own back in 2005.  Back then, the set featured a 14-movie collection on DVD. But in 2012, a 15-movie collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD and in 2013, Universal releasing a UK version “Alfred Hitcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” with film reel type casing for the Blu-ray’s and poster art cards.

One wouldn’t think that Universal would release another Alfred Hitchcock set so soon, and if anything, one would probably think that a 4K version release would be on the horizon in the near future.  But here we are, five years later since the release of “The Masterpiece – Limited Edition Set” and Universal has now upped the ante by releasing the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” on Blu-ray and DVD featuring the 15 films from the previous set but now including 10 TV episodes from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (NOTE: All TV episodes are on DVD, not on Blu-ray).

And simply, “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is the definitive Hitchcock Blu-ray set to own!

While Alfred Hitchcock has had a wonderful list of films in his oeuvre, his Universal films are no doubt the more memorable films.  Films such as “Psycho”, “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” are films that people tend to hold Hitchcock to the highest regard.  But films such as “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Topaz”, “Marnie” are entertaining and showcase that wonderful Hitchcock style of filmmaking.

There are no cinema duds in this set.  Sure, some people may find Hitchcock venturing into black comedy for “The Trouble with Harry” may be too different from his other films for their tastes but that is the beauty of Hitchcock films. He took on different types of films and gave it his own personal style.  From his earliest work to “Family Plot” (his final film), we see Hitchcock evolve as a filmmaker and even with his work for Universal, we see Hitchcock show why he is the Master of Suspense.  His style of filmmaking evolving from “Saboteur” to a film such as “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “Psycho” and to even his final film, “Family Plot”.

Hitchcock was a filmmaker who took on various types of films and to this day, these classic films featured in the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” are still revered, still talked about many decades later and will continue on as topics of discussion among cineaste generations from now.  That is how long-lasting, how effective and how well-respected his cinema work is.

As for the Blu-ray release, as for picture quality, all films are presented in 1080p High Definition.  The first three films are presented in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio, while the majority of the films are in widescreen 1:85:1.  The TV episodes are in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio.  The films that received the new restoration look fantastic.  Actually, all films look fantastic on Blu-ray compared to the 2005 Masterpiece DVD set.  So, picture quality-wise, you can’t go wrong!  While some may question Universal for not upscaling the TV series to Blu-ray, the fact that you get 10 additional episodes, over 15 hours of bonus features and the booklet is quite amazing.

As for the lossless audio, one should remember that the majority of all Hitchcock films were recorded in monaural and the films are presented in English DTS-HD Master 2.0.  With the exception of “Saboteur”, the other soundtracks for the films include a French DTS Surround 2.0 Mono soundtrack, the only films that have other language selections are Vertigo (which has an Espanol DTS Surround 2.0 soundtrack) and “North by Northwest” which feature a Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese 1.0 soundtrack.

As for subtitles, all films come with an English SDH  and Spanish subtitles.  Only “Saboteur”, “Rear Window”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho”, “The Birds” and “Topaz” come with an French subtitles.

Now, everything I mentioned is positive.  What about the negatives?  Really, there aren’t any.  But if I had to nitpick, I wish that Hitchock’s 1955 film “To Catch a Thief”, which was included in the 2013 UK Blu-ray set “Hitchcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” but was never included in both the US release of “The Master Collection” or this 2017 “The Ultimate Collection”.  I would imagine because it’s a Paramount Pictures film and what was allowed in UK, was not possible for the US release. It’s also important to note that “To Catch a Thief” from “The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” had no special features whatsoever and unlike the other discs on that set, “To Catch a Thief” had no label.  So, quality-wise, on that set, the UK received an inferior Blu-ray version of that film.  So, it wouldn’t have matched with this set, as every film disc in “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” has special features.

A big question that some may ask is if one should upgrade their “Masterpiece Collection” for “The Ultimate Collection”.  My answer is if you own the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” DVD sets, then no.  But if you don’t, ask yourself if the additional ten hours of non-film entertainment is worth it for you.

The booklet is the same.  The digibook style sleeves are the same with the addition of the additional pages to hold the TV series but other than that, if you own the Masterpiece Collection, there is no additional special features as they are the same Blu-ray discs.  “The Ultimate Collection” just includes the additional 10 TV episodes.

Overall, this set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection.  And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included.  This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release!

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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With improved picture quality and fantastic lossless audio, the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins” is a fantastic release for those who loved the film and those wanting to introduce the film to a new generation.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1964

DURATION: 139 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Original English Theatrical Mix. Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

COMPANY: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

Release Date: December 10, 2013

Directed by Robert Stevenson

Screenplay by Bill Walsh, Don Dagradi

Based on the Mary Poppins Books by P.L. Travers

Co-Producer: Bill Walsh

Music and Lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman

Music Supervised and Conducted by Irwin Kostal

Starring:

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke as Bert/Mr. Dawes, Sr.

David Tomlinson as Mr. Banks

Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks

Hermione Baddeley as Ellen

Karen Dotrice as Jane Banks

Matthew Garber as Michael Banks

Elsa Lanchester as Katie Nanna

Arthur Treacher as the Constable

Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert

Released from the Disney Vault in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, this beloved classic shines like never before on Blu-ray with an all-new digital restoration. Winner of five Academy Awards(R), including Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Visual Effects, Mary Poppins is a movie experience your family will enjoy over and over again.

“Practically Perfect In Every Way” Mary Poppins flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.” Share the music, share the magic, share the joy of Mary Poppins with a whole new generation for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.The movie received 13 Academy Award(R) nominations and won 5 Oscars(R) for Best Actress, Best Song, Best Music Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Special Visual Effects. It also received a special scientific award for the creation and application of Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography, which helped make the combination of live action and animated actors in the film possible.

A fantastic and magical family film, “Mary Poppins” continues to be a Disney classic that would win five Academy Awards and would be remembered for being a film that combined Disney’s cartoon animation and real characters, the film debut of Julie Andrews but most of all, the spectacular chemistry and musical dance numbers featuring songs that continue to be classics.

Having been released with many special features especially for it’s 45th anniversary, for the very first time, “Mary Poppins” will be released on Blu-ray to celebrate the film’s 50th Anniversary with a release of “Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Disney featuring the film a Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy combo featuring an all-new digital restoration, 7.1 lossless sound and all new special features.

So, for those who are not familiar with the Disney musical classic “Mary Poppins”, “Mary Poppins” debuted back in 1964 and is about the Banks family.

Mr. Banks (portrayed by David Tomlinson) is a person who holds himself to the highest degree.  He works at Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the City of London, lives in an exquisite home and lives with his wife Mrs. Banks (portrayed by Glynis Johns) who is involved in the women’s suffrage movement and have two children Jane and Michael.

Mr. Banks has to constantly hire a Nannie and the problem is that his children tend to frighten their nannies away with their practical jokes.  If anything, they cause a little mischief for attention because they simply feel that their father does not care for them.  Although, Mrs. Banks has a clue, Mr. Banks is more focused on his job and making sure the children learn from the best and are well-disciplined.

While searching for a new nannie, the children make their own prerequisites that they show their father.  But not liking what they want, he rips their letter and throws it in the fireplace.  The pieces of the letter eventually go up the chimney and next thing you know, the day of the interviews with the nannies, Mary Poppins (portrayed by Julie Andrews) shows up to the Banks home ready to assume her position as the new nannie.

Mary Poppins instantly bonds with the children and takes them to another world with her friend Bert (portrayed by Dick Van Dyke) to entertain the children and eventually, trying to find ways to get the Banks family to bond and for the parents to care more for their children.

“Mary Poppins” is a family-friendly and wonderful film that continues to be timeless no matter how old you are when viewing it.  From the musical performances to the music and overall planning for this film, it still continues to impress me today.  And what best than to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “Mary Poppins” but to watch and listen to the film in HD for the very first time with Disney’s Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition”.

VIDEO:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Presented in 1:66:1, “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray features a new digital restoration and for the most part, compared to the 40th and 45th anniversary DVD releases, this Technicolor film improves in the animated scenes with much clarity and sharpness and vibrant colors.  While the film does show its age, I’m glad that Disney did leave the grain structure intact.  While not pristine, in terms of clarity and sharpness, this is the best version I have seen of the film to date.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and the original English theatrical mix.  For a film that utilizes music, I wasn’t sure how the 7.1 lossless soundtrack would be utilized.  But the surround channels gives more depth to the music although I didn’t notice much use of the rear surround channels, but how the surround channels were utilized for the music, was well-done and gives more musical immersion which is a plus.  And for those who are purists, the good news for this release is that Disney includes the original English theatrical mix Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” features the following special features:

  • Becoming Mr. Sherman – (14:01) A featurette about the upcoming film “Saving Mr. Banks” feature P.L. Travers visiting Disney studios and cast member Jason Schwarzman (who plays Richard Sherman in the film) sits with the real Richard Sherman.
  • Mary-Oke – (7:58) Sing along to the music from “Mary Poppins” with lyrics featured on screen.
  • Mary Poppins from Page to Stage – (48:06) First a beloved children’s book, then a classic movie and now a smash hit Broadway musical! Fans can follow the story of Mary Poppins from page to stage as the creative team and cast discuss the creation of the musical production and preparations for the upcoming North American tour.
  • Step in Time—(7:08) The Broadway cast of Mary Poppins performs the never-before-filmed number “Step in Time” from the show.
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins – (50:46) The definitive behind-the-scenes.  This featurette takes a look at how this unique and beloved film came into being.  Featuring interviews with the cast and learning so much about the film.  A great featurette.
  • The Gala World Premiere—(17:45) Footage from the Red Carpet.  This was aired on television as a one hour special but the footage had been lost.  Several minutes (not the complete version) of the archived film of this premiere was found in two countries, a black and white version and color and it was pieced together to create the 17+ minutes of footage from the red carpet premiere.
  • The Gala World Premiere Party – (6:23) Featuring recently rediscovered 16 mm of the red carpet premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Audio is from a radio broadcast.
  • Movie Magic – (7:05) A look at the special effect techniques used to bring the magical world of Mary Poppins to life.  For 1964, to combine both animation and live action film together and create this magical world was a technical marvel.  So, this featurette was also great to watch!
  • Deconstruction of a Scene: Jolly Holiday – (13:03) Featuring the “Jolly in Holiday” scene and a comparison of what it looked like in actual filming and after via post-production.
  • Deconstruction of a Scene: Step in Time – (4:52) Featuring the “Step in Time” scene and a comparison of what it looked like in actual filming and after via post-production.
  • Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test – (1:07) How Dick Van Dyke was made to look like the very old bank owner with make up and all.
  • Publicity – From the original 1964 trailers, TV spots, Julie Andrews theater premiere greeting and the re-issue trailers from 1966, 1973 and much more.
  • Magical Musical Reunion – (17:19) Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and songwriter Richard Sherman reminisce about making Mary Poppins and the music that makes it so special.  A fantastic featurette especially to see them sing once more.  Fantastic!
  • Deleted Song – “Chimpanzoo” – (1:38) A reconstruction of a song that did not appear in the movie using original storyboard and concept art, accompanied by a new rendition of the song performed by co-composer Richard Sherman.
  • Disney Song Selection – Sing to various songs featured in the film with lyrics shown on screen (optional)
  • Mary Poppins Still Art Galleries – A lot of art was created for this film.  So, these are the still art galleries.
  • Bonus Short: The Cat That Looked at a King—(9:52) Live action and animation bring a chapter of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins Opens the Door to life! Julie Andrews takes viewers into a magical animated world created in the style of the whimsical chalk drawings in Mary Poppins.  This segment is about 10 minutes long.
  • Audio Commentary—Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Richard Sherman recall the making of Mary Poppins.  Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke did a commentary one one day, Karen Dotrice (plays the daughter in the film) and film and songwriter, Richard Sherman did a commentary on the following day.  Both commentaries are spliced together and done quite well.  What I found so fantastic is that Julie Andrews has not watched the complete film since the premiere back in 1964, so this was her first time watching it completely since then.  And to hear these talents just commenting on different parts of the film and what they remember of doing those scenes was just nostalgic and informative.  What a great commentary!

EXTRAS:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus a code for a Digital copy.  Also, a slipcover is included.

“Mary Poppins” is definitely a true classic.  The film was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and eventually winning five academy awards for Best Actress, Film Editing, Music Score, Music Song for “Chim-Chim-Cheree” and Special Visual Effects”.

It’s hard to believe that in 1964, there were two major musicals being created “Mary Poppins” and “My Fair Lady”, “My Fair Lady” which eventually went to Audrey Hepburn and “Mary Poppins” going to the unknown actress Julie Andrews.   It was probably a blessing that Julie Andrews wasn’t cast for “My Fair Lady” since “Mary Poppins” really jumpstarted Andrews career and eventually winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Of course, actor Dick van Dyke was popular with his television series “The Dick Van Dyke Show” but these two talents and their musical performance were well done.  I was quite impressed by how both would nail their dances and have them in sync and Julie Andrews would comment how the most difficult part of the film was syncing their mouths to the song and making sure their foot would match for that moment.

This film back in 1964 introduced a family film with state of the art technology at that time. Real life actors working together with animated humans and animals, the actors flying around and most importantly, the music that came from this film.  Classics such as “A Spoonful of Sugar”, the award winning song “Chim-Chim-Cheree”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)”, to name a few.  But what I discovered by watching the special feature was how important it was for Walt Disney.

“Mary Poppins” by P.L. Travers was created back in 1934 and for 20 years, Walt Disney would try unsuccessfully to get the rights for the film.  But he eventually managed to and while on one hand, really making sure the cast and the staff were well taken care of, it was quite surprising to know how much P.L. Travers actually detested the film (she wanted the animation to be eliminated).    So, there are interesting tidbits including audio that appears on the special features of Travers showing her discontent as an adviser to the film.  So, you get to learn more about this through a featurette on the DVD.  But it shows you how much Walt Disney really wanted “Mary Poppins” and how he tried so hard to get the rights to it.  But you really learned how much love went into the creation of this film and how much Walt Disney wanted this film to be loved.

Just interesting details of how special he wanted this film, from giving people a chance such as signing Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (the Sherman Brothers) to a contract to write and compose music for “Mary Poppins” (and future Disney films), casting an unknown Julie Andrews which Walt Disney loved her performance in “Camelot”.  Disney wanted her to be Mary Poppins and despite her being pregnant at the time, he waited for her until after she gave birth to become part of the film.   Another tidbit was while meeting with Julie,  Walt Disney met her husband at the time, Tony Walton (a costume and set designer) and eventually giving him a chance to work on “Mary Poppins” (who also eventually inspired the Sherman Brothers for the music of “Winnie the Pooh”).

And my favorite tidbit, of Walt Disney casting well-known actress from the early 1900′s Jane Darwell in the “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)” in what would be her final role, which was his way of giving her a special thank you to her for her accomplishments in film.  These are just among the few interesting tidbits from behind-the-scenes that one will learn through the various featurettes included on the Blu-ray release.

As for the Blu-ray release, prior to this release, there has been five previously released versions of “Mary Poppins” on DVD.    When Disney released the 40th Anniversary “Mary Poppins” on DVD back in 2004, it was hard to imagine how Disney could top that with the 45th Anniversary edition.  Surprisingly, Disney managed to pull of another spectacular release with the 45th Anniversary edition with even more special features than the original.

First, let me say that in my original review, I was quite complimentary of the 45th anniversary edition because it included the “Mary Poppins: From Page to stage” which includes a fantastic documentary on the making of the Tony Award winning musical produced with Cameron Mackintosh.  Despite P.L. Travers really disliking the Walt Disney film, “Mary Poppins” was eventually given a musical treatment after P.L. Travers gave Cameron Mackintosh the OK but of course with certain guidelines in her will and testament before her death.  The good news is that this featurette is included on the Blu-ray release.

The primary guideline was that a musical could be created with the understanding that only English born writers and no one from the original film production could be involved with the creative process of the musical.  The musical was a great hit in the UK but when it came to doing the musical in the US, this is where things definitely gets interesting and Disney manages to create a lengthy featurette on the process of creating the musical in the US, also a featured performance of a “Step in Time”.

That 45th Anniversary DVD gave people an opportunity for people to download the MP3 and also a chance for people to see Bob Crowley’s designs for the musical, this 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release does not.  While the MP3 (featuring the Broadway cast of Mary Poppins singing “Step in Time,” featuring Ashley Brown as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert) is not a major loss as it was special for the 45th Anniversary DVD release, I was surprised that featurettes such as “A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman”, “Video Intro by Scenic & Costume Designer, Bob Crowley” and “Bob Crowley’s Design Galleries” were not included.

But for the loss of those featurettes, you do gain other featurettes such as the “Beginning Mr. Sherman” featurette to tie into the film “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Mary-Oke”, two deconstruction dance scenes and the “Gala World Premiere Party”.

But when it comes down to it, while the 45th Anniversary DVD release was fantastic, the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release is no doubt for those who want to watch the film in HD. Improved picture quality, crystal clear audio, which sounds fantastic on Blu-ray!

“Mary Poppins” is a film that is close to my heart.  For one, it’s a film that I grew up with as a child and I still have many memories watching the film at the local Fox Theater with my mother and brother and literally growing up with this film later on with each video release.  And having reviewed the film five years ago, for it’s 45th Anniversary, here we are again with a 50th Anniversary review but this time, watching and listening to the film in High Definition.

While 45th Anniversary DVD owners should be fine with that wonderful release and may not need to upgrade (especially if they don’t own a Blu-ray player or the hardware to take advantage of 7.1 sound), for those who do, this 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release is for those who simply love “Mary Poppins” and want to watch and listen to it in HD and hearing my room immersed with the music was a great experience and another new experience that I have had watching this film again.  It’s definitely the definitive version of the movie at this current time!

With improved picture quality and fantastic lossless audio, the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins” is a fantastic release for those who loved the film and those wanting to introduce the film to a new generation.  Highly recommended!

The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Fun and delightful! “The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition” features both “The Princess Diary” and “The Princess Diary 2: Royal Engagement” in one Blu-ray release.  While nothing new in special features content is included to this 10th anniversary edition, fans of these two films will enjoy the upgraded visuals and soundtrack in HD.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: The Princess Diaries (2001)/The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement (2004)

DURATION: The Princess Diaries (115 Minutes)/The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement (113 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French & Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: G (General Audiences)

Release Date: May 15, 2012

The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition

Directed by Garry Marshall

Based on the Novel by Meg Cabot

Screenplay by Gina Wendkos

Produced by Debra Martin Chase, Whitney Houston, Mario Iscovich

Co-Produced by Ellen H. Schwartz

Music by John Debney

Cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub

Edited by Bruce Green

Casting by Gail Goldberg, Donna Morong, Marcia Ross

Production Design by Mayne Berke

Art Direction by Caty Maxey

Set Decoration by Casey Hallenbeck

Costume Design by Gary Jones

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Directed by Garry Marshall

Story by Gina Wendkos, Shonda Rhimes

Screenplay by Shonda Rimes

Produced by Debra Martin Chase, Whitney Houston, Mario Iscovich,

Co-Produced by David Scharf

Executive Produced by Ellen H. Schwartz

Associate Producer: Tom Hines

Music by John Debney

Cinematography by Charles Minsky

Edited by Bruce Green

Casting by Marcia Ross

Production Design by Albert Brenner

Art Direction by Adrian Gorton, Jack G. Taylor, Jr.

Set Decoration by Peg Cummings, Casey Hallenbeck

Costume Design by Gary Jones

Starring:

Steve Martin as George Banks

Diane Keaton as Nina Banks

Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Annie Banks

Kieran Culkin as Matty Banks

George Newbern as Bryan MacKenzie

Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer

BD Wong as Howard Weinstein

Peter Michael Goetz as John MacKenzie

Kate McGregor-Stewart as Joanna MacKenzie

April Ortiz as Olivia

Eugene Levy as Mr. Habib

To commemorate the 10th anniversary (2001 – 2011) of a cherished family classic, Disney proudly presents a special movie collection featuring two modern-day fairy tales, THE PRINCESS DIARIES and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT, for the first time ever on Blu-ray! Starring Academy Award(R) winner Julie Andrews (Best Actress, MARY POPPINS, 1964) and Academy Award-nominated Anne Hathaway (Best Actress, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, 2008), these two heartwarming and hilarious movies will touch your heart. As the future queen of Genovia, Princess Mia has everything a girl could want – except the enchanting romance she’s always dreamed of. Comic complications rule the day in these delightfully engaging stories about finding out who you really are and discovering what it takes to make your dreams come true! Relive all the magic and excitement of these two beloved favorites on this 3-disc combo pack, which includes a DVD of each film. Share the laughter and the love for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.

In 2000, the first volume of Meg Cabot’s epistolary novel series, “The Princess Diaries”, was released.  A year later, “The Princess Diaries” was released as a film and achieving commercial success as it grossed over $165 million in the box office.

The film was produced by singer Whitney Houston and directed by Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”, “Beaches”, “Runaway Bride”) and the success of the first film would ensure a sequel in 2004 titled “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”, the sequel would feature a screenplay by Shonda Rhimes (best known for creating and producing “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice” and “Scandal”).

The two films would star Julie Andrews (“The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins”, “10”), Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Get Smart”) and Hector Elizondo (“Pretty Woman”, “Runaway Bride”, “Chicago Hope”).  “The Princess Diaries” would be the first feature film debut of Anne Hathaway.

And now, both films will be released in a 10th Anniversary Blu-ray+DVD combo pack, courtesy of Disney in May 2012.

“The Princess Diaries” is set in San Francisco and revolves around 15-year-old Mia Thermopolis (as portrayed by Anne Hathaway), a shy and timid teenager who lives with her mother Helen Thermopolis (as portrayed by Caroline Goodall).

Mia is not popular in school, her hair is big and curly, her eyebrows are thick and if anything, she tries to keep her self “invisible”, while hanging out with her best friend and activist, Lilly Moscovitz (as portrayed by Heather Matarazzo).   While Lilly hates anything “popular”, Mia can’t seem to get her mind off the popular guy in school, Josh Bryant (portrayed by Erik von Detten), who is dating the most popular girl at school, cheerleader Lana Thomas (portrayed by Mandy Moore).

Quite often, Mia tries to imagine how it would be to kiss Josh but unfortunately, because she is not popular and is not as stylish as other teenagers on campus, she is often bullied by Lana and her friends.

One day, her mother tells her that her grandmother from Europe, Clarisse Renaldi (as portrayed by Julie Andrews) wants to meet with her over a cup of tea.  Mia is surprised because she never was in contact with her grandmother and since her parents divorce, she was also not close to her father who recently passed away.

When she meets with her grandmother Clarisse, she is shocked about how wealthy she is but even more shocked when her grandmother tells her that she is a princess for the small European kingdom of Genovia.  Clarisse explains that she is Queen of Genovia by marriage, but because her father was the prince and is deceased, Mia is to be the next sole heir of the Genovia throne and the kingdom’s princess.

But Mia takes the news badly because she is not a leader and she wants to be “invisible”.  But her grandmother tells her that if Mia refuses the throne, Genovia will be without a ruler.  And that the upcoming Genovian State Dinner is coming up and she must make a decision to accept or abdicate her position for the throne at the annual Genovian Independence Day Ball.

Mia is confused with all that is going on, upset that her grandmother has brought this shocking news but also shocked at her mother for not telling her these new revelations of being a princess.

But as both Mia, her mother and grandmother meet, Mia consents to helping out her grandmother and also training in order to be ready for the State Dinner which includes learning how to walk, eat but also receiving a full makeover.  But she must keep her identity a secret until the Ball.  And to help watch over her, Queen Rinaldi has her head of security, Joseph (portrayed by Hector Elizondo) as her bodyguard.

In the meantime, because she is often in training, her frequent absence and her new look is beginning to take its toll on her friendship with Lilly but when news is leaked to the press that Mia is the princess of Genovia, Mia’s life will never be the same.

In the sequel, “The Princess Diaries 2”, the film takes place five years later and Mia, who is now the crowned princess of Genovia, has recently graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Rinaldi is planning to abdicate from the throne on Mia’s 21st birthday, and by that day, she is to meet eligible bachelors who can be a potential husband at the upcoming Ball.

At the Ball, she meets Nicholas (as portrayed by Chris Pine) and in the process, while with him, her tiara has fallen off and is caught by a Parliament member named Viscount Mabrey (as portrayed by John Rhys-Davies), who wants Lord Devereaux to be the heir to the throne.

At a session at Parliaent, Viscount Mabrey announces the Genovian law that Mia can not take the crown and become Queen if she is not married.  And reveals another heir to the throne, his nephew, Lord Devereaux.  And also revealing that Mia must marry within the next 30 days if she is to assume her duties as the new Queen.

Because of this law, Clarisse invites Lord Devereaux at their palace and when Mia finds out who Lord Devereaux truly is, it’s Nicholas, the guy she met at the Ball.  And thinks that he is after the crown.

Confused about her guy problems, fortunately, her best friend Lilly Moscovitz comes to visit her in Genovia and Lilly helps Mia find a new husband and Mia ends up choosing Andrew Jacoby (portrayed by Callum Blue), Duke of Kenilworth and the two become engaged.

Now Mia must go through the process of training to become a Queen for the upcoming ceremony.  But Nicholas, despite his intention of working with Viscount Mabrey in order to gain control of the crown, he finds himself falling in love with Mia and is conflicted by sabotaging the crown or wanting to be with her.

VIDEO:

“The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”  are presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). The video quality on both films is much better than the original DVD release and while the first film does show its age during the title credits and stock footage of San Francisco, the actual film is looks very good on Blu-ray with the additional clarity and more emphasis on colors.  Especially detail on closeups of the characters faces.  Skin tones natural on both films, black levels are good and there are no video issues that I spotted during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”  is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  While both films are dialogue-driven, there is also quite a bit of music featured in the films and also scenes that utilize the ambiance of various moments.  Such as the first film which features Mia in a rainstorm or the sounds of crowds, but for teh most part, both films are front and center-channel driven as expected.  Not exactly immersive but for both films, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”  is quite interesting when it comes to special features as Disney has elected to not include the special features on the Blu-ray release (only the “Royal Bloopers”), while most of the special features can be found on the accompanying two DVD’s.

The Princess Diaries

  • Royal Bloopers – (4:20) Outtakes from “The Princess Diaries” (featured on Blu-ray and DVD).
  • A New Princess – (24:19) A featurette hosted by Anne Hathaway with interviews with director Garry Marshall and the cast of “The Princess Diaries”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an informative audio commentary by director Garry Marshall.
  • Audio Commentary – A second audio commentary featuring Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring an introduction by director Garry Marshall and eight deleted scenes.
  • Livin’ Like a Princess – (3:27) Featuring animation on a princess’ life.
  • Music Video – “Miracles Happen” – (4:18) Featuring “Miracles Happy” by Myra
  • Music Video – “Supergirl” – (3:54) Featuring “Supergirl” by Krystal Harris

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

  • Royal Bloopers – (3:56) Outtakes from “The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement” (featured on Blu-ray and DVD).
  • Deleted Scenes – (4:21) Featuring an introduction by director Garry Marshall and eight deleted scenes.
  • Games & Activities: Find Your Inner Princess – A game/quiz for those to find their “inner princess”.
  • Making a Return Engagement – (15:37) Director Garry Marshall and cast talk about working on this second film.
  • The PD2 Makeover – (11:07)  Featuring Anna Curtis, Anne Hathaway’s stand-in for the film.
  • Music Video – (4:02) Featuring “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Julie Andrews and director Garry Marshall.

EXTRAS:

“The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray comes with a separate DVD for each film.

“The Princess Diaries” and its sequel “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” are two-lighthearted, fun and delightful films that would appeal to young ladies but also with director Garry Marshall, the film also appeals to people of all ages, especially with the older crowd as the film also pays a little homage to his 1991 film “Pretty Woman”.

First, lets discuss the storyline.  While the first film is much more enjoyable than the sequel, part of the enjoyment of the first film was seeing new and older faces.  When “The Princess Diaries” first came out, I actually saw star potential within actress Anne Hathaway and as Lindsay Lohan at the time, was the up-and-coming star in films such as “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday” and would later incorporate this bad girl image, Anne Hathaway is an actress who came out of nowhere but yet had this pure image in which she fit into the heels of Princess Mia quite perfectly.

While Hathaway was a teen actress known for her role on “Get Real” (which she starred alongside Jesse Eisenberg back in 1999-2002), there was no doubt that this role propelled her career and would blossom into roles in “Nicholas Nickleby”, “Ella Enchanted”, at the time, she captivated audience with her quirkiness and felt that she fit the role perfectly as Mia.

And part of my enjoyment of seeing this film was watching Julie Andrews, who was still as charming onscreen since her classic films of “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music”, and also carried the grace that she is known for, as grandmother to Mia in both films.

Going back to the Garry Marshall reference to “Pretty Woman”, Marshall brings back his “Pretty Woman” actors such as Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller, but also brings back Allan Kent to repeat the same line “It Happens All the Time” in “The Princess Diaries” as he did in “Pretty Woman”.  In fact, the song “Sempre libera degg’io” from “La Traviata” featured in “Pretty Woman” is used once again in “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”.  So, there are “Pretty Woman” references in this film, which I found quite interesting.

So, for the first film alone, I enjoyed the “unpopular girl finds out that she is a princess” storyline, but the sequel seemed a bit out of the place as the goal was now “princess to become queen and must find a husband”.  While the storyline did work, I suppose that the rush into seeing the character of Mia needing to find a husband in order to become queen, just wasn’t exciting enough.  And as much as I enjoy Shonda Rhimes as a writer, this is one film that tried to capitalize on the success of the first film and to tell you the truth, I didn’t think it was needed.  Especially since the sequel has nothing to do with Meg Cabot’s original novels (as the novels began to focus on Mia’s teenage life and life in college).

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray definitely is a worthy upgrade for fans who own it on DVD.  The video and audio quality is much better but for those who already own the DVD’s, its important to note that Disney didn’t even bother put the special features (except the gag reel) on the Blu-ray release, they are on the accompanying DVD’s.  So, unless you have never seen the films or enjoy the films and want in HD, if you own the older DVD releases, there is nothing new, in terms of special features, added in the Blu-ray release of “The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition”.

Overall, I still feel that “The Princess Diaries” is a fun and delightful film, the second was OK…for the value of both films on Blu-ray, it still makes this release worth owning (if you don’t own the previous two DVD’s).

For parents looking for a fun family film for their daughters (both films are “Rated G”) or may you be fans Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews or simply love Garry Marshall films, for the upgraded visuals and audio in HD, “The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition” is worth owning and upgrading to Blu!

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Robert and Richard Sherman are one of America’s greatest songwriting duo’s of all time.  From countless hits for “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” to creating the “It’s a Small World” song at Disneyland and Disney World to the recognizable “Winnie-the-Pooh” theme song, the Sherman Brothers receive the greatest tribute courtesy of their sons who directed the film.  But this fascinating documentary also shows us a side of the brothers that many people never knew.  If you are a Sherman Brothers fan, “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

DVD TITLE: The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story

DOCUMENTARY RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: 102 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, English SDH and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Mild Thematic Elements, Smoking Images and Brief Language)

RELEASE DATE: November 30, 2010

Directed by Gregory V. Sherman and Jeff Sherman

Executive Producer: Stephen Buchsbaum, Morgan Sackett

Producer: David Permut, Gregory V. Sherman, Jeff Sherman, Ben Stiller

Co-Producer: Jeff Kurtti, Patrick O’Grady

Music by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman

Cinematography by Terence Chu, Sam Montague, Richard Numeroff

Edited by Martin Apelbaum, Rich Evirs

Starring:

Julie Andrews

Jim Dale

Roy Edward Disney

Micky Dolenz

Karen Dotrice

Sam Goldwyn Jr.

Bruce Gordon

Sheldon Harnick

James Jensen

Jeff Kurtti

John Landis

Angela Lansbury

John Lasseter

Gavin Lee

Wendy Liebman

William Link

Kenny Loggins

Cameron Mackintosh

Leonard Maltin

Alan Menken

Hayley Mills

Chris Montan

Randy Newman

Robert Osborne

Debbie Reynolds

Ron Sadoff

Thomas Schumacher

Stephen Schwartz

Richard M. Sherman

Robert B. Sherman

Tracy Sherman

Ben Stiller

Jon Turteltaub

Dick Van Dyke

Tony Walton

Lesley Ann Warren

Johnny Whitaker

John Williams

Maury Yeston

During The Sherman Brothers’ 13-year career at Disney (1960-1973), they received four Oscar® nominations for more than 200 songs written for 27 films and two dozen television productions. Their most beloved scores include Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the entire Winnie the Pooh series. With such unforgettable tunes as “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins, “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, and the most translated song ever written, “It’s a Small World (After All)” from the popular Disneyland attraction, to name just a few, brothers Bob Sherman and Dick Sherman celebrated family entertainment and happy endings for generations of movie goers, but their personal life together was anything but harmonious. The film gives an enticing glimpse into how Walt Disney used the language of music to bring the brothers together, creating a cinematic legacy like no other.

The Sherman Brothers… the American songwriting duo consisting of Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, both known for their musical song scores for films such as “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “The Jungle Book” and “The Aristocrats”.  Creating music for many hit films from 1961 starting with “The Parent Trap” up to “The Tigger Movie” in 2000, the duo are probably known to many who have went to a Disneyland or Disneyworld and heard their song “It’s a Small World” and for children, they will also be known for the creation of the “Winnie the Pooh” theme.  The duo has created many classic songs but behind-the-scenes, not everything was as happy as they seemed.

In the documentary “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” directed by Jeffrey C. Sherman and Gregory V. Sherman, their songs created a documentary to celebrate the career of Robert and Richard but also to uncover something nagging them for all these years.  How come the two musical brothers drifted away and why did both brothers and their families have never met for many decades after crafting so many wonderful hits?

For Richard Sherman’s son Gregory and Robert Sherman’s son Jeffrey, the two met each other in 2002 for the anniversary for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and both were sitting in opposite sides.  The children knew that their was animosity between the two brothers, none of them knew why but through this documentary, the two relatives can learn about the Sherman brothers, their history and uncover the problems that has existed between the two that the public were not aware of.

The film begins with showcasing the the history of the Sherman brothers but starting with their father Al Sherman, an American Tin Pan Alley songwriter  and eventually making music for silent film stars during the 1920’s and also appearing in silent films as an actor.  In 1921, Al Sherman would marry silent film actress Rosa Dancis and together they would have two boys, Robert and Richard Sherman.

On the outside and to the media, the two put on a facade that they were very close but the truth was…they weren’t.  As the documentary progresses, we get to see how both brothers had a different interpretation of their relationship.  Robert felt that the two were never that close, while Richard said he adored his older brother and were close.   The fact was the two were different individuals that lived different lives and nothing in common but music.  They were very different, their wives were very different and the fact is, the two didn’t like spending time with each other despite being brothers.

But it’s their passion of music, thanks to their father Al, who help guide them, helped them craft their music and eventually won the heart of Walt Disney.  As the two would become the only songwriters on contract with Walt Disney and were treated quite well and was supported by Disney.

The documentary would explore the fantastic career of the Sherman Brothers from working at Walt Disney, to their final days with Walt and working at Disney to working on “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” but also would touch upon how the relationship between both men would eventually grow distant as priorities in life changed which would eventually split them apart.

“The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” gives us the true story of the Sherman Brothers that no one would probably have never imagined was happening behind-the-scenes during their involvement in the entertainment industry but also a documentary that celebrates Robert and Richard Sherman’s musical career.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” is presented in widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 television.  It’s important to note that footage from the documentary varies as there are footage from various decades that the Sherman Brothers have worked for Disney but also photographic images to recent interviews conducted by the son’s with their father to talk about their past.  But overall, the quality varies but by no means is it bad as it is expected for documentaries with many archived footage from the past to vary in colors and overall quality.

As for audio, audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital.  Dialogue is quick and understandable.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” comes with the following special feature:

  • Why They’re “The Boys” – (2:37) Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and other family and friends discuss how the Sherman brothers were known as “The Boys”.
  • Disney Studios in the ’60s – (3:34) The Sherman Bros. talk about how Disney studios was back in the ’60s.  Leonard Maltin and others talk about what the Sherman Bros. done for Disney during those years.
  • Casting Mary Poppins – (3:40) Richard Sherman talks about the casting of Julie Andrews and Julie Andrews talks about her audition.  Also, featuring Dick Van Dyke remembering the casting for Julie Andrews.
  • The Process – (4:19) Robert and Richard Sherman talks about the process of coming up with music for a song.    Composer Allan Menken, Tommy Schumaker and others also talks about the process and others talk about how special the Sherman Brothers songs are.
  • Theme Parks – (9:04) Richard Sherman talks about writing for a theme park song and remembering when they first wrote for the enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland and how they created “It’s a Small World” song and more.
  • Roy Williams – (3:23) The Sherman Bros. remembers Roy Williams who was an illustrator at Disney and showing the various cartoon sketches that he would create and give to the brothers.
  • Bob’s Art – (2:17) Robert Sherman talks about his paintings and how he had been painting even before he was a songwriter.
  • Celebration – (3:54) Many well-known historians, songwriters and those in the entertainment business talk about the achievements made by the Sherman Brothers and why they should be celebrated.
  • Sherman Brothers’ Jukebox – Archived interviews featuring the Sherman Bros. talking about how they came up with the songs: “Tall Paul” (:46), “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (3:10), “Feed the Birds” (2:48), “Gold Can Buy Anything (But Love)” (:41), “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (1:35), “Jolly Holiday” (1:51), (sound test) “Oh, Gee, Georgie!” (performed by Eddie Cantor – 1924) (1:22), “Up, Down and Touch the Ground” (1:23), “A Spoonful of Sugar” (performed on guitar by Laurence Juber) (3:00), “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (3:34), “Ugly Bug Ball” (:47) and “Der Wienerschnitzel Commercial” (:31).

EXTRAS:

“The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” comes with a slip cover case and comes with a copy of the original song sheet for “Tuppence a Bag”.

These last two years, in many ways, it has been somewhat of a revival for the work by the Sherman Brothers.  With the release of “Mary Poppins” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” on DVD and the recent release of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” on Blu-ray and you recognize their amazing music but also watching these featurettes on the Sherman Brothers and personally, it was one thing to know about their amazing career together as songwriters but it was surprising once I saw the trailer that these brothers didn’t really get along and the happy times between these two was just a facade.

Needless to say, if you have grown up with the music by the Sherman Brothers, curiosity is surely going to kick in and find out, what happened?

I realize that these two were brothers and like all siblings, there are always going to be instances where they don’t get along.  In the case of Robert and Richard Sherman, they were so different from each other that the only thread holding them together was music.  The truth is that Robert Sherman was more conservative, he loved painting and he was a family man.  He wrote songs but it was work to make a living, while Richard Sherman loved the fun and the life around the entertainment industry that he enjoyed himself.

So, “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” was probably an interesting journey for their sons, Robert’s son Jeffrey C. Sherman and Richard’s son Gregory V. Sherman as they worked together on a documentary to learn about their father’s past, their career but ultimately learn why the two drifted apart.

As mentioned, the two had different lives but watching this documentary, you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards Robert because this is a man who kept his emotions inside.  He went to war and saw the worst in the prison camps and never really spoke of it, but many who knew him pretty much knew the war had a toll on him.  But it’s that musical bond that helped lift him out of the darkness.  But at the same time, Robert was a family man and losing his parents in the ’70s and then losing his loving wife, the woman he fell in love with at day one and proposed to her that same day… you can tell that losing his partner in life devastated him.  That music was no longer his passion.  As Walt Disney was the glue that kept the Sherman Brothers together for music projects at the studio, Robert’s wife was instrumental in supporting him and literally keeping the Sherman Brothers together.

As for Richard, he was the younger brother who enjoyed the life of the entertainment industry and embraced it.  But you can also tell he cared for his brother but because they were never social and only discussed work, you can tell that both men adapted to personal life much differently.  Richard who was more upbeat and handled the industry and making music quite well, while Robert was depressed and knowing more and more that he didn’t want to write music anymore especially with his brother.  And with Richard, as the youngest brother, who often disagreed with him, you know he had love for his brother.  It’s just the two had different ways of expressing their emotions and unfortunately, despite being brothers and being together for all those years, they really didn’t know each other all that well nor did they care to know each other.

If anything, as much as I enjoyed the documentary for celebrating the career of the Sherman Brothers, I have to admit that part of me was rooting for these brothers to finally let bygones be bygones and meet up with each other.  The two together have made the greatest and happiest music of American film that is heavily ingrained to American pop culture.  And together, Robert and Richard Sherman will forever be known for their tremendous work.   This is will not be forgotten.  But now that this documentary has given us a chance to peer into the dysfunctional relationship that these two brothers have had, one can only hope that the two can meet on better terms other than events and at least communicate.

But I suppose that these two are just too different and too much time has passed.  Each brother has moved on forward and are doing their own thing that makes them happy.  If anything, I do admire both sons, Jeffrey and Gregory working on this documentary because you can tell the siblings wanted to celebrate their father’s music career, to give them recognition for their work but most of all, hope two tear down this wall that the Sherman Brothers have put between them.  Whether or not that wall will be broken, one can only hope so.

But as for this documentary, “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” is a fascinating and intriguing documentary that really gets into the heart of the Sherman Brothers and giving us a chance to explore a side to them that we never had seen before. The documentary was well-crafted with interviews with family members, co-workers, friends and those who really knew them and can talk about their tremendous career, their employment at Disney or working on a certain film but also discuss tough situations that the brothers had with each other.

But one of the touching moments of the documentary was also to learn about how the brothers meeting with Walt Disney for the last time and their thoughts on his death to also them leaving Disney and working on “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and then many years later, returning once again to work at Disney for “Winnie the Pooh” with Kenny Loggins.  And of course, the two working on “Mary Poppins” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” were further explored as well.  There is a good amount of focus on their musical achievements and fans should be happy to see those interviews.

Overall, “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” is a touching documentary that was put together quite well by Jeff C. Sherman and Gregory V. Sherman.  A wonderful tribute to the Sherman Brothers and a documentary that is definitely recommended!

The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 30, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

I can confidently say this is the definitive edition to own of “The Sound of Music”!  The restoration of this film for the 45th Anniversary is incredible and this Blu-ray release is just loaded with special features.  Twentieth Century Fox has literally raised the bar of what can be accomplished on Blu-ray for a classic film release.  A magnificent, five-star release that is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1965 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1965

DURATION: 174 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p (Widescreen 2:20:1), AVC@22 MBPS, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DTS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: 20th Century Fox

RATED: G (General Audience)

Release Date: November 2, 2010

Directed by Robert Wise

Based on the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

Screenplay by Ernest Lehman

Produced by Robert Wise

Associate Producer:  Saul Chaplin

Music by Irwin Kostal

Cinematography by Ted D. McCord

Edited by William Reynolds

Casting by Lee Wallace

Production Design by  Boris Leven

Set Decoration by Ruby R. Levitt, Walter M. Scott

Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins

Starring:

Julie Andrews as Maria

Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp

Eleanor Parker as The Baronness

Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler

Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess

Charmian Carr as Liesl

Heather Menzies as Louisa

Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich

Duane Chase as Kurt

Angela Cartwright as Brigitta

Debbie Turner as Marta

Kym Karath as Gretl

Anna Lee as Sister Margaretta

Portia Nelson as Sister Berthe

Ben Wright as Herr Zeller

Daniel Truhitte as Rolfe

Norma Varden as Frau Schmidt

Gilchrist Stuart as Franz

Marni Nixon as Sister Sophia

Evadne Baker as Sister Bernice

Doris Lloyd as Baroness Ebberfeld

Starring Oscar winner Julie Andrews in one of her most memorable roles, the film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical follows Maria, a spirited young woman who leaves a convent and becomes a governess to seven unruly children. Her charm and songs soon win the hearts of the children and their father but when Nazi Germany unites with Austria, Maria is forced to attempt a daring escape with her new family.

Simply a magnificent Blu-ray release of “The Sound of Music”, restored and remastered and an abundant amount of special features.  This 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release is the definitive version to own!

“The Sound of Music”, the 1965 20th Century Fox musical which would capture the world with its memorable music and it’s touching storyline and continues to have thrived through various generations and will continue to thrive for many generations hereafter.

The film is an adaptation of a popular Broadway play which is based on the memoir “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” written by Maria von Trapp.  The von Trapp family are known for escaping from the Nazis in Austria after the Anschluss (the annexation and occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938).

The original musical based on the book featured music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II (both Rodgers and Hammerstein were known for their music for “Oklahoma!”, “Carousel”, “State Fair”, “South Pacific”, “The King and I” to name a few) which led to the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.  The Broadway production began in 1959 starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel and would later inspire a film adaptation in 1965 which was loosely based on the Broadway production and memoir.

The film would become an ultimate success as director Robert Wise (known for “West Side Story” and “The Haunting”) would win five Academy Awards for Best Director, William Reynolds for Best Film Editing, Irwin Kostal for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment, Best Picture and Best Sound.

The film would be best known for its wonderful location of Salzburg, Austria (which has inspired an actual “Sound of Music” tour which has been functional for the last 30-years) but most of all, known for its music which include “The Sound of Music”, “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Do-Re-Mi”.

The film which was budgeted at $8.2 million would go on to gross $163 million worldwide.  The film would break the record held by “Gone with the Wind” for box office revenue and would also be a film that would be in circulation in theaters for three straight years.

“The Sound of Music” would also continue to become a hit on video as it was released as a five star DVD release in 2000 to celebrate the film’s 35th Anniversary, released in 2005 to celebrate the film’s 40th Anniversary and now in 2010 on Blu-ray, a limited edition box set and a digital iTunes release to celebrate the film’s 45th Anniversary.

As for the film, “The Sound of Music” is 174 minutes long and is broken down in three arcs (the original intermission is also provided in this Blu-ray release).

The film takes place in Salzburg, Austria and focuses on Maria (played by Julie Andrews, “Mary Poppins”, “10” and “The Princess Diaries” films), a woman who is a nun at a convent who loves to go up the hills which overlooks Salzburg and loves to sing.  But because she loves to sing, she is often late, she is often in trouble at the convent and is thus given a new task to find her way and to see if her life is in monastery.  So, Mother Abbess (played by Peggy Wood), sends Maria to become the Governess of the von Trapp family.

When Maria arrives to the home of Captain George von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer, “The Insider”, “The Last Station”, “Full Disclosure”, “Up”), a man who runs the home with an iron fist and has seven children which include his teenage daughter Liesl (played by Charmian Carr), son Friedrich (played by Nicholas Hammond), daughter Louisa (played by Heather Menzies), son Kurt (played by Duane Chase), daughters Brigitta (played by Angela Cartwright), Marta (played by Debbie Turner) and Gretl (played by Kym Karath).   Maria learns quickly that the family is ran through discipline and that she is another Governess, the previous women have not stayed long enough and were driven away.

Since the death of their mother, his wife, the decorated war veteran of World War I, Captain von Trapp has treated his family like the military.  He summons each child by whistle and each child wears a uniform and immediately, Maria disapproves of the Captain’s militaristic approach. But she learns from the housekeeper that when his wife was alive, the house used to be filled with happiness, laughter and music.  But since her death, he has treated his own family like the military.

But as the kids try to use tricks to scare their new Governess, Maria is not phased and in fact, is more complimentary to the children, which catches them off-guard.  Meanwhile at dinner, eldest teen daughter Liesl sneaks out of the house to visit the messenger boy named Rolfe (played by Daniel Truhitte).  Rolfe is an older teenage boy who fancies Liesl and she fancies him but both know they must be careful because of her strict father.

Meanwhile, her father, the Captain is very true to his country Austria and with word that Nazi Germany may occupy his country makes him feel uneasy.  But for him, fortunately he has another woman in Berlin, the Baroness (played by Eleanor Parker) and while he leaves to visit her, he expects Maria to take care of the children.

The children begin to bond with Maria and because they have been sheltered inside the home, she takes them out for fun and to the hills up in Salzburg where she teaches them music and how to sing with each other and to perform the songs for the arrival of the Baroness.

But unbeknown to Maria and the children, Captain von Trapp plans to return with the Baroness that same day they are returning and when he finds out they were having fun and are not wearing their uniforms, he becomes ballistic and is very angry at Maria.  Maria tries to defend the children and tell him that they want to be closer to him, happy and not treated in that manner but will not have anything of it.  He is upset with her and tells her that she’s fired from her job.

But then he hears music in the house and is shocked to find out that the children are singing and their voices have thawed out the coldness in his heart and he finally sees how much good Maria has brought to the family.

Without spoiling too much of the film, the second arc deals with Maria leaving the von Trapps after being conflicted with her own emotions as she finds herself caring for the Captain but also knowing her responsibilities as a nun.  The third arc deals with the Nazi occupation of Austria and how life for the von Trapp family will never ever be the same again.

VIDEO:

“The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 2:20:1), AVC@22 MBPS.  This is where “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” literally looks amazing.  For those who have owned previous versions of the film on DVD, back in 2005, the film went through restoration using a backup negative of the original 70 mm print.  At the time, the original 70mm 6-Track print was so damaged, there was no way to even use the original negative at that time and most of us who watched the 40th Anniversary Edition felt that the film looked absolutely beautiful compared to it’s earlier 2000 DVD release.

With that being said, technology has changed within the last five years since the release of the 40th Anniversary.  The damaged original 70 mm print that couldn’t be used in the restoration of the film in 2005 can now be used for the film with new hardware and software and is now receiving 8K digital scanning by 20th Century Fox for perfect restoration.

No longer is the film hazy, no longer is the film more on the pinkish side.  “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” is vibrant.  The grass…you can see the various grains of grass, the strands in green, yellow and detail of the mountains over looking Salzburg.  I was amazed!  Another example, Maria splashing the water before she heads to the von Trapps, you can see the water droplets flying in the air, another one is the von Trapp’s uncle and his coat, you can see the wool in his jacket.  There is so much detail in this latest version of “The Sound of Music”, it’s incredible!  I am literally speechless because I own previous versions of this film on video and never before have I seen this much clarity in the film ever!

And I find it quite funny for each review I have done for the film, I mention of how the cinematography of William Reynolds was captured perfectly but watching it on Blu-ray, the cinematography… may it be the shots of Maria on the mountain, Maria with the kids on the mountain, the wedding ceremony, etc., I just feel that the cinematography as seen on the 45th Anniversary Edition via the new restoration really captures the beauty of “The Sound of Music” than ever before.  Absolutely breathtaking!

Once again, the crew who restored this film…I give your crew a standing ovation…what you were able to accomplish with this film on Blu-ray is absolutely fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 5.1 DTS.  Because the film was shot with a 6-track and because they were provided with the audio without the dialogue, for this 2010 edition, they were able to remove all noise but also making sure to utilize a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and as mentioned, I’ve owned several versions of this film and I even own the soundtrack to this film.

The way this music was handled through the surround channels was amazing.  The music and the instruments playing on individual channels was well done.  The first thing that came to my mind during sequences of the sisters singing “Maria” to the wedding sequence, the sounds that were utilized through those channels were amazing.  Also, they were able to isolate the sound of Salzburg up the hills, the sound of wind, the birds… I was in awe with the lossless soundtrack.

I absolutely love the soundtrack for this film and this is the best I have ever heard of it.  If you have a 7.1 setup (center speaker, two fronts, two surrounds, two rear surrounds and your subwoofer), you will definitely be impressed with how alive the music comes as it really sounds beautiful via the soundscape in the home.  Once again, I was in awe when I heard the music and I’m sure many people will be just as impressed by it.

Similar to the video restoration, the audio restoration for this 45th anniversary is fantastic!  And the crew responsible for the audio restoration for this release should be proud because they did an outstanding job!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features from the 35th and 40th Anniversary DVD versions of the film but also newer special features that just literally packs this 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release:

DISC 1:

  • Your Favorite Things: An Interactive Celebration – A new way to watch “The Sound of Music”.  If you select this option for viewing the movie, you have four categories which you can select interaction with the viewer.  One is behind-the-scenes images, the other is viewing with on-screen lyrics, the other is trivia and location quiz.  You can select one or all four.
  • Audio Commentary: Director Robert Wise – The following audio commentary was originally included in the Five Star Collection (2000) for the 35th Anniversary DVD release.  Informative commentary by Wise who gives details on the challenges they had in shooting this film.  It’s important to note that Wise doesn’t do much talking and only does when it is necessary.
  • Audio Commentary: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, choreographer Dee Dee Wood, and the youngest son of Maria von Trapp, Johannes von Trapp – A lively commentary by the five individuals.  Although these are separate commentaries recorded in separate times but Julie Andrews definitely gives us a good idea of the sets and various shooting locations.  Also, hearing from Plummer of how he doesn’t like to work with children but in this case, he got a long with the children quite well.  Charmian Carr who plays the character of Liesl talks about playing the oldest teenage daughter at the age of 21.
  • Music Machine Sing-Along – Sing-along subtitle tracks which can be seen while watching the film or giving the viewer the ability to select various tracks with the sing-along subtitles.

DISC 2:

  • Musical Stages: Creating the Sound of Music – This first special feature is actually an interactive “backlot tour” with plenty of in-depth featurettes on the songs, the stage show, the movie, the film and sound restoration and getting to know the real life von Trapp family.  Included are:
  1. Music in the 21st Century – (8:52) A featurette on the popularity of the film and how the film has influenced pop culture from pop artists such as Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguillera to shows like “The Family Guy” and how many various interpretations of the film have made it onto stage and children’s books.
  2. Restoring a Classic: Bloom & Grow – (5:44) A featurette on the 8K digital restoration of the film.  How during the 2005 45th Anniversary Edition, they were not able to use the original 70 mm negative but in 2010, with new technology they were able to.  Before and after scenes and more.  Awesome featurette!
  3. Edelweiss – (2:28) How the song was created and how Christopher Plummer wanted to sing the song and not be dubbed.  We get to see footage of Plummer singing and the dubbed over version.
  4. I Have Confidence – (8:06) How the lyrics were changed from the original Rodgers & Hammerstein version by Saul Chaplin and constructing it for the film adaptation.
  5. My Favorite Things – (2:47) Why the song was fun and the popularity of the lyrics.
  6. Sixteen Going on Seventeen – (2:20) Because Rodgers & Hammerstein know that their lyrics deal with sex, for this film, they had to carefully craft lyrics with slight undertones.
  7. After the Escape – (8:43) The true story of how the von Trapps escaped Austria and interviews with Maria von Trapp and the grandchildren.
  8. Rodgers & Hammerstein: Partners at it’s Peak – (3:53) The popularity of Rodgers & Hammerstein and how they crafted hit after hit.
  9. Shaping the Story – (4:50) The original screen adaptation of the von Trapp and the differences between stage and the film adaptation.
  10. The von Trapp’s Today – (5:48) – How the von Trapp’s continue with their grandchildren who have a lodge in Vermont.
  11. Climb Ev’ry Mountain – (2:07) The difficult of the lyrics of the song and singing it.
  12. Stage vs. Screen – (3:12) A more thorough featurette on the differences between the stage and film adaptation.
  13. Maria – (3:03) – The making of the song.
  14. The Sound of Music – (2:32) The popularity of the song, how it was Oscar’s idea and what inspired him.
  15. Maria and the Musical – (5:06) The real life Maria von Trapp and how she got involved with the musical and trying to take a hands off approach to the film (since it differed from the real life story).
  16. Cutting Room Floor – (2:50) Three songs from the stage production that were not used on the film.
  17. Something Good – (2:17) Rodgers wrote to more songs for the film.
  18. The Lonely Goatherd – (2:30) How the song was used in the stage production and how it was incorporated into the film.
  19. Do-Re-Mi – (3:31) The popularity of the song and how different it was from the stage production compared to the film version.
  20. So Long, Farewell – (1:11) How the song was used in the film.
  21. A Generous Heart – (3:54) The life of eldest daughter Maria von Trapp who like her mother, went on to do great things with her generous heart in other countries.
  22. Final Dream: Oscar Hammerstein Remembered – (5:51) How “The Sound of Music” was the final show Rodgers & Hammerstein would work together and how he handled his cancer and the short time he had left in the world and how he said goodbye to family and friends and how the song “Edelweiss” was literally Hammerstein’s song saying goodbye.
  23. Stories from Broadway – (4:19) Stories from the Broadway cast.
  24. Restoring a Classic Glorious Sound – (5:31) – Using the 6-Track Master and creating the lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
  • A City of Song – (34:38) This feature adds an interactive map of Salzburg, Austria.  Because so many people have traveled to Salzburg for “The Sound of Music” Tour or to visit the locations shown on the film, this special feature is great as you can select a map and get video to know about the locations, photos and fascinating facts of the area.
  • Vintage Programs – Featuring featurettes and documentaries included in the 35th and 40th Anniversary of “The Sound of Music” (note: Most of the special features are in 480p, standard definition):
  1. The Sound of Music: From Fact to Phenomenon – (1:27:22) A documentary on the real von Trapp story and how the the film received the green light.  Robert Wise talks about casting and cast talk about their involvement in the film and what they wanted for the film.
  2. My Favorite Things: Julie Andrews Remembers – (1:03:18) A documentary featuring Julie Andrews remembering “The Sound of Music”.  From the original pre-production, filming on location, the music and working with the cast and crew.  Also, featuring Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr and those who worked with Julie Andrews as they reminisce about working on “The Sound of Music”.
  3. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer: A Reminisce – (19:24) Both Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber reminisce 40 years later about their involvement in the film and working together.
  4. From Liesl to Gretl – (33:33) A reunion of the seven talents who play the Von Trapp children in the film talking about their experience working on the film, hijinks behind-the-camera and mistakes they made that are on the film.
  5. Salzburg Sights and Sound – (13:04) Narrated by Charmian Carr.  A documentary on her arrival to Salzburg and filming for “The Sound of Music”.
  6. On Location with the Sound of Music – (22:33) Charmian Carr hosts a documentary on Salzburg and visiting the locations where the film was shot.
  7. When You Know the Notes to Sing – A Sing-Along Phenomenon – (12:50) The 40th Anniversary sing-along screening at the Hollywood Bowl for “The Sound of Music”.
  8. Rodgers and Hammerstein: The Sound of American Music, 1985 – (1:23:25) Popular Broadway talent Mary Martin hosts a documentary on Rodgers and Hammerstein, the history and hits of this dynamic duo and their work on “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “Flower Drum Song”, “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music”.
  9. Rodgers and Hammerstein: The Sound of Music, 1996 – (1:36:36) A documentary on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s successful music in film hosted by Shirley Jones and guests Rita Moreno, Nancy Kwann, Charmian Carr and Julie Andrews as they comment on the films they worked on that featured music by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
  10. Audio Interviews: Location Interviews – Featuring audio interviews with Julie Andrews (11:48), Christopher Plummer (5:15) and Peggy Wood (8:34)
  11. Audio Interview: Reissue Interview with Julie Andrews and Robert Wise from 1973 – (7:48)
  12. Audio Interview: A Telegram from Daniel Truhitte – (13:02) Daniel Truhitte reminisce about playing the part of Rolfe.
  13. Audio Interview: Ernest Lehman: Master Storyteller – (34:56) An audio interview with Ernest Lehman.
  • Rare Treasures – Featuring programs from TV shows related to”The Sound of Music”:
  1. Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall: The Pratt Family Singers – (6:41) A parody of the musical shown on the 1962 CBS special starring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett.
  2. The Julie Andrews Hour: Julie Andrews and Maria von Trapp – (16:33) A segment from 1973 featuring Julie Andrews and Maria von Trapp.  Featuring performances by both women and also Julie Andrews interviewing Maria von Trapp.
  3. Screen Tests – (26:13) The 1999 AMC “Hollywood Screen Tests” of The Sound of Music.  Various screen tests featuring auditions for “The Sound of Music” in which talent such as Richard Dreyfuss, Mia Farrow, Leslie Ann Warren, Kurt Russel and more auditioned but Robert Wise talks about what he wanted and that was more family quality and the family becoming believable.
  4. 40th Anniversary DVD Intro by Julie Andrews – (2:10) The original DVD intro by Julie Andrews included in the 2005 40th Anniversary DVD release.
  5. Galleries – Featuring concept art, storyboards and still photos from the film.  Using your remote, you can cycle through images for “What Will My Future Be? (Pre-Production)”, “Facing Adventure (Production) and “A Grand and Glorious Party (Promotion and Publicity)”.
  • Publicity – Featuring various publicity, trailer and TV spots for “The Sound of Music”:
  • Fox Movietone News Academy Awards Footage – (2:45) Featuring Julie Andrews on the red carpet of the 38th Annual Academy Awards and footage of Andrews and the Academy Award winners for the film.
  • Trailers and Teasers – Featuring the following trailers: Teaser Preview (1:28, Dec. 1964), General Release Preview (4:00, 1965), Academy Awards Preview (4:24, April 1966), First Anniversary Preview, :50, May 1966), Release Preview (4:01, Dec. 1972), Release Preview – Alternate Soundtrack (4:01, Dec. 1962), Testimonial Trailer (2:22).
  • TV Spots – (1:23) Featuring the 60-second reissue TV spot (March 1973), 30-second Reissue TV Spot (March 1973).
  • Radio Spots – Featuring the following radio spots: 60 Second Reserve Seat Engagement, 60 Second 1973 Reissue, 30 Second Reserve Seat Engagement, 30 Second 1973 Reissue.

EXTRAS:

“The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” comes with a DVD version of the feature film which is presented in 2:20:1, widescreen. Audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround.  Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish. Also, included is a slip-over cover case.

I literally grew up in a household where “The Sound of Music” played and to tell you the truth, when I was younger, I really couldn’t stand the musical as my mother would sing the songs over and over again.  But as I got older and I began watching more classic films, I found myself watching “The Sound of Music” around 1990 or so and I ended up purchasing the soundtrack for the film on cassette.  When I visited my mother, I ended up playing the cassette and in a very long time, I heard her sing the songs once again.

When I got married, I was amazed that my wife knew the lyrics also by heart and by the birth of our son, to help calm him, she would sing “My Favorite Things”.  Needless to say, the music of “The Sound of Music” has been part of me during my childhood and I have no doubt that with my wife and son, it will continue on to the next generation.

As for the film, I have watched and owned various incarnations of this film on video and I have purchased the five star edition of the movie on DVD in 2000 and I clearly felt that the 40th Anniversary 2005 release was just unprecedented.  I felt that it was the ultimate release and I figured, if it was on Blu-ray, it would be an HD version of the film and the same special features.  But I was wrong.  Twentieth Century Fox has given fans of the film the ultimate release with “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition”.

Not only do we get another restoration of the film using the original 70 mm negative and now presented in 1080p High Definition, we get a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack which sounds incredible!  Just the fact that the film looks and sounds better is significant.  The colors just pop!  It’s hard to describe of how awesome this film looks on Blu-ray compared to previous video releases.  In the past, there was always this dreamy, hazy look to the film.  Though it was colorful, I have always thought that was how the film was shot.  And the opening scene with Julie Andrews on top of the hill spinning around, I always thought that was a beautiful shot… that was until I saw this 45th Anniversary Edition and everything that I have thought about the look of the film has went out the window because this presentation is just amazing!  I felt the old colors always had a greenish/pinkish tinge but now, the colors look accurate.  Blue skies look vibrantly blue and no pinkish haze on the background.  Grass and hills are still green but now we can see the strands of grass quite clearly, more than ever before.

The blues of Julie Andrews and Charmian Carr’s eyes just captures your attention, the detail of Captain von Trapp’s home or the clothing is detail that is much more cleaner and more evident than ever before.  Only one time in the film is where things do look a bit faux is when the Captain, the Baroness and Uncle Max are driving and of course, you see the usual fake background and that scene, you’re not going to get much realism but for the most part, the film looks amazing.

And as mentioned, the sound…I’ve listened to this soundtrack so many times but to hear it in 7.1 and hear of how the instruments were carefully selected for various channels, for those who have a 7.1 setup, you can’t help but be happy of how nice this soundtrack comes in DTS-HD!  Again, awesome!

And just when you think that was it, there are literally hours and hours of special features included in this release of “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition”.  It took me two days or so just to go through everything and watch everything and once again, I thought the 40th Anniversary Edition was significant, but this 45th Anniversary edition just blows it out of the water.  Various documentaries, commentary, various featuretttes, audio interviews and more!  And I can’t even imagine what 20th Century Fox will do for the 50th Anniversary Edition but I do have one request and that would be to record the live sing-along for the film and give people a chance to select it as an optional soundtrack to watch the film and sing-along with those thousands of people (like the 18,000 or so that showed up to the Hollywood Bowl).  That would be awesome!

And I need to go back to the restoration and to say that if Twentieth Century Fox now has the technology in 2010 to take damaged negatives and are able to repair it to the point where they can re-use the film for a master in a Blu-ray release, that literally makes me extremely giddy and happy because that means a lot of those wonderful classic films in their catalog can receive a wonderful Blu-ray release using this technology.  I’m very impressed with this release and I look forward to the potential of what this can mean for classic films on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox.

With that being said, for the very hardcore fans of “The Sound of Music”, for this 45th Anniversary release, you also have the opportunity to get the Limited Collector’s set packaged in a keepsake box and features a 100-page “My Favorite Things” scrapbook, a 45th Anniversary Soundtrack, a reproduction of the original 1965 souvenir program, an exclusive handpainted “My Favorite Things” music box and more.  And for those people who prefer all things digital, on November 2nd will also include a digital release on iTunes of “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” which includes a sing-along version of the movie and 180-minutes of behind-the-scenes material.

Once again, I was shocked when I watched this release because I had no idea how much went into the restoration of the film for this 45th Anniversary edition because they just did one for the 40th Anniversary.  But the fact that they have the technology and that they were given a chance to do give this film a new restoration using the latest technology was impressive.  The addition of all this bonus material for the Blu-ray release is magnificent and the fact that this entire Blu-ray release of “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” just raises the bar of what a studio can accomplish for a classic film.

Overall, this is a fantastic release of “The Sound of Music” and if you are a big fan, whether you get this version or the Limited Edition version, all I can say is that this is the definitive version to own that just stands out from its previous video releases in quality and quantity.  Great music, great story, musical performances, cinematography and just a wonderful family film.  Sure, it may be a bit too saccharine sweet for today’s audience (or too long) but for those who have never watched this film ever, please give it a try.

This is a perfect release in every category and easily deserving of five stars!  “The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition” is highly recommended!

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