Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Discover You're In New York

I have procured a copy of Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here; it'll be released on February 20, both individually and as part of an Alice Faye collection.

From a preliminary viewing, I think this DVD is pretty much what I'd hoped for; having only seen beaten-up TV versions, I'm no expert on how the film should look, but the transfer seems to be true to the gloriously garish Fox Technicolor and the work of one of Fox's best cinematographers, Edward Cronjager. (Cronjager's uncle, brother and son were also cinematographers -- his son shot the Hill Street Blues TV series. They were kind of the photographic answer to Alfred Newman's musical family, which was also Fox-affiliated.) The extras are about as good as I could have expected: a commentary; a featurette on Berkeley; radio excerpts with Faye (who gave up movie musicals after this film) and her husband Phil Harris; a deleted scene. Also somebody dug up a promotional film Alice Faye made for Pfizer, including clips from her past movies, which is billed here as her "last film."

In fact, now that Warner Brothers' treatment of its back catalogue isn't as good as it once was -- their classic-film releases have fewer and fewer special features and the transfers aren't always what they could be -- I think Fox may be ahead of them when it comes to handling classic film. The one thing holding them back is that they need to get around to the hidden gems in their catalogue (Cluny Brown, let's say, or Bachelor Flat, or many other movies they didn't release on VHS). But they're improving, which is more than I can say for most studios when it comes to old movies.

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