By Steve Daly
Updated April 25, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory

type
  • Movie
genre

With DVD now a mature format, studios are bundling titles willy-nilly, coherence optional. This set epitomizes the trend, but at least its list price — $60 for five titles that bought separately would add up to $100 — constitutes a bargain.

The two keepers are Summer Stock and It’s Always Fair Weather, both showcases for Gene Kelly’s endearingly egomaniacal persona and bracingly athletic choreography. Summer Stock reunites Kelly with a chunky, on-her-way-out-at-MGM Judy Garland, in whom he inspires sensational dance chops. Fair Weather is a sour, cynical study of three WWII vets who reunite only to discover that they can’t stand one another. It flopped with audiences when released, but it’s full of bits to savor, like a dynamite boxing number with dancers who actually look like boxers, hoofing with superleggy Cyd Charisse.

The rest is value-pack stuff. You get Three Little Words, a pleasant but phony musical biopic of songwriters Bert Kalmar (Fred Astaire) and Harry Ruby (Red Skelton); Ziegfeld Follies, a too-much-of-everything tribute to the stage showman, with some fine moments built around Fanny Brice and Lena Horne; and Till the Clouds Roll By, another full-of-hooey biopic about Jerome Kern (Robert Walker). There are fair-to-fine outtakes, cartoons, and making-of featurettes tossed onto every disc, but the overall effect is of workaday TCM cable-channel filler. Summer Stock: B Fair Weather: B+ The rest: B- The set: C+

Episode Recaps

Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • UNRATED
Advertisement

Comments