Astaire & Rogers Collection

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Matt
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#26 Post by Matt » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 pm

gigimonagas wrote:Still no word of the promise set for those of us who already picked vol 1.
Yeah, I'm getting a bad feeling that it's only going to be available through some special exclusive mail-in offer where you have to pay full list price plus shipping and then wait 6-8 weeks for delivery.

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Gigi M.
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#27 Post by Gigi M. » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:59 pm

matt wrote:
gigimonagas wrote:Still no word of the promise set for those of us who already picked vol 1.
Yeah, I'm getting a bad feeling that it's only going to be available through some special exclusive mail-in offer where you have to pay full list price plus shipping and then wait 6-8 weeks for delivery.
Yeah, and will probably (only) be available inside Vol 2.

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Gigi M.
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#28 Post by Gigi M. » Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:21 am

Well Matt, we're are in luck after all.

Amazon.com Exclusive Astaire & Rogers Partial Ultimate Collector's Edition

Thanks Warner!

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Matt
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#29 Post by Matt » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:18 am

gigimonagas wrote:Well Matt, we're are in luck after all.
Whew. That's a load off my mind. But now I wish I hadn't sold my The Barkleys of Broadway (come on, that "Scottish" number sucks)--I'm gonna have an empty case in the box.

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david hare
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#30 Post by david hare » Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:23 pm

Dont fret Matt. Barkleys is a complete turkey, as is Story of Irene and Vern. Dreadful.

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Lino
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#31 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 26, 2006 5:42 pm

I've just read that the Ultimate Collection box has an holographic cover? Is this true?

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Matt
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#32 Post by Matt » Thu Oct 26, 2006 5:44 pm

Lino wrote:I've just read that the Ultimate Collection box has an holographic cover? Is this true?
Well, holographic is a rather fancy word for it. But yeah. It's a pretty nice set. The box is a lot sturdier than Warners' usual boxes, and the 11 thinpaks fit nicely (all black spines) with the two cardstock folders containing the "stills" and pressbook reproductions and such.

I'm sorry my camera sucks, but you get the idea:

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Last edited by Matt on Thu Oct 26, 2006 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lino
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#33 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:09 pm

Thanks, Matt! To show you my appreciation, run don't walk over to the Fox forum -- have I got news for you!

Those look extremely nice! Warner rolled out the red carpet for this dynamic duo in an unprecedented way! Kudos for them (and lucky us).

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Arn777
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#34 Post by Arn777 » Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:37 pm

I know it doesn't really belong here, but it sucks a bit that Amazon is only giving a 13% discount off SRP as opposed to the 25%-30% on vol 1 and 2!

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Lino
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#35 Post by Lino » Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:55 pm

I hope that the success of the partial set option and the extreme admiration this Ultimate Collection is enjoying gives Warner enough boost and confidence to go ahead and do the same on a potential Busby Berkeley Volume 2. I can dream, can't I?

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david hare
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#36 Post by david hare » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:41 am

Erickson's review of the box up at DVDTalk.

While I agree with him about the quality of the transfers, yet again I disagree with almost everything he has to say about the pictures.

That's Showbiz!

For a start Ive always found the last three or four the least involving, namely Shall we Dance (self consciosuly taking on Gershwin and a level of "artiness" that they previously took the stuffing out of.) Also in the first box the color Barkleys of Broadway , in a very ugly print, which is only a footnote (after the fact) to their career.

In the second box I have very little time for Carefree - another excursion into "high" comedy, including psychiatry that isnt' funny at all (but has some nice numbers of course.) And the 1939 Story of Irene and Vern which - much as I want to see it as an affectionate "farwell" to the coupling, simply doesn't have any life to me.

Which leaves Flying Down to Rio: the couple are certainly incidental performers in this one, and RKO is clearly picking up on the Berkeley bandwagon, in it's own mad way. But who can argue with Delores del Rio and Gene Raymond - two exceptionally good looking actors, and the Merian Cooper produced and inspired lunacy of the girls on the biplane wings in extremely scanty undies, with Rio in excellent process (thanks Merian!) in the background. Even as a sidebar the movie is too much fun to resist.

Roberta is indeed a two headed creature - half Romantic trio between Randy, Irene Dunne and Helen Westley, extracted from a 20s play and ramped up by a fantastic Jerome Kern's score, but Dunne is superb (I defy anyone not to get misty when she sings and reprises "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes") and the side banter with Fred and the Indianan Wabashers is great stuff and segues into the BIRTH of Fred and Ginger as a couple. Rogers here playing the first of several "dual identities, as the phony Countess Scharwenka. The Borscht circuit accent gives her a sublime excuse to impro the middle chorus of "Ill be Hard to Handle" as a form of scat. GREAT number, and fantastically detailed as creation unfolding, with the lone staff at the club bursting into applause at the end of the numebr as Astaire and Rogers take a bow, and the camera gives us their persona, and our first privileged gaze at them in a few shots.

Gay Divorcee is simply - well - my favorite, if not their best. Everyone else can argue over Swingtime, Top Hat or whatever but this is the pearl. And without the 20 minute "Continental" sequence I dare say we'ld never have had Powell and Pressburger's composed musical movies, or indeed Minelli and Kelly's American in Paris" ballet.

OUT with the prozac, IN with the tap shoes!

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Lino
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#37 Post by Lino » Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:02 am

davidhare wrote:Erickson's review of the box up at DVDTalk.
And here it is.

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Michael
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#38 Post by Michael » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:52 am

The Complete set is utterly sublime. After receiving the set last week (which made me feel like Christmas had arrived early), I watched most of the set.

I'm also with davidhare about The Gay Divorcee. AMAZING!

I watched Top Hat with my grandmother years ago and it has remained a sentimental favorite since but I think The Gay Divorcee is better - just a little bit. The centerpiece of the film - the Continental - is really something everyone has to experience to believe. So wonderful that I'm surprised that Top Hat made a year later didn't make its centerpiece - the Pinolino - more heavenly than the previous. However not only Ginger has more ravishing gowns in Top Hat, she dances so much smoother. I wouldn't mind having the job as Gay Divorcee's Italian escort. :D

As I was making my way through the set, my curiousity about the actor Edward Everett Horton developed. He is so gay in every film I've seen him in. I'd be surprised if he wasn't gay in real life so I looked him up on IMDB .. not much info about him there. He just reminds me so much of some of my friends - especially the happy-hour old queens.

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Matt
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#39 Post by Matt » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:47 pm

Michael wrote:As I was making my way through the set, my curiousity about the actor Edward Everett Horton developed. He is so gay in every film I've seen him in. I'd be surprised if he wasn't gay in real life so I looked him up on IMDB .. not much info about him there. He just reminds me so much of some of my friends - especially the happy-hour old queens.
Carefree, though it's just an okay film is considerably lightened by Franklin Pangborn's sissified cameo. But I think the zenith of sissydom is reached in Top Hat with the interplay between Horton and Eric Blore (though I haven't yet watched The Gay Divorcee which also features the pair). It's very sad that the three never appeared in a film together. Surely the combined gayness of the trio would have melted the negative.

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Michael
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#40 Post by Michael » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:02 pm

Oh Matt! You will have a ball with The Gay Divorcee. It has loads, loads of sissiness - even more than Top Hat I think. The Lets Knock Knees sequence for example. Horton dancing (!) with cute guys in swimming trunks!

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zedz
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#41 Post by zedz » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:58 pm

I haven't rewatched The Gay Divorcee yet, but it's definitely the pick of Vol 2. As I recall, it's almost the siamese twin of Top Hat, but I thought the jokes in Top Hat were funnier and its ridiculous vision of Venice trumps just about anything. But the Continental definitely outdoes the Piccolino.

The rest of the Vol 2 films are a real mixed bag, with the strongest of the remaining selection being the two in which Astaire and Rogers are most marginal. I've always found Vernon and Irene extremely dull, and Carefree the weakest of the films that followed the standard template. This is the one in which they do that daft and desperate "put your heads together when you're dancing" extravaganza. right? (But I've always loved Shall We Dance, which seems to be similarly disliked - maybe it's the Gershwin)

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#42 Post by david hare » Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:17 pm

For gayness Horton, Eirc Blore and Erik Rhodes are like three sides of a pink triangle.

Horton's the woman hater but a sort of sissified anal straight. There's a great scene in Trouble in Paradise when he turns up at Kay Francis' cocktail party and thinks he recognizes jewel thief Herbert Marshall. playing Kay's "valet"/lover. Marshall manages to put him off the scent by saying they must have met in Constantinople. Horton reacts quizzically and Marshal says "Surely your remember Constantinople!" and then whispers something unspeakable in Horton's ear. And of course there's Alice Brady commenting to Horton and Rhodes at the end of Top Hat, "Don't mind ME boys."

Eric Blore, as the perpetually gay valet has his best line in It's Love I'm After, as valet to Leslie Howard, to whom he says in exasperation one day, "but I love YOU sir!"

And Erik Rhodes is the professional cuckold side of the triangle - favorite line, again from Gay Divorcee, "Your wife is safe with Tonetti, he prefer the spaghetti!".

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Matt
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#43 Post by Matt » Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:17 pm

I like Shall We Dance quite a bit, too, if it's any condolence.

Eric Blore is really the standout in Wyler/Sturges' The Good Fairy. His drunken entrance--"Alone I shall navigate yon precipice!"--is worth the price of admission alone. I'll watch any movie if I know he's going to appear in it, no matter how briefly.

Here's an interesting article on sissies in the classical Hollywood era.
Last edited by Matt on Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#44 Post by david hare » Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:15 pm

Jeez, I love the Gershwin music, just not mad about the movie. The sense of spontaneity is missing.

Zedz I agree Top Hat and Gay Divorcee are two variations of the same theme (mistaken/assumed identities etc.) I love them both but I certainly think Divorcee has a much tighter first hour, with better paced breaks for musical numbers. It was filmed pretty well as it was storyboarded by Sandrich, Astaire and Hal Bourne. In contrast Top Hat was intiially made with an extra 15 plus minutes and then cut, and recut, partly in response to the movie's length but also the EXTREMELY talky and lengthy exposition - over an hour. It suffers - very slightly - as a consequence I think.

I still have a very soft spot for Roberta. It was the first Astaire Rogers picture to turn up on TV after VCRs had just come out (I bought one in 1981) and I remember driving 30 miles in the middle of the night to a friend's house in a gordforsaken outer suburb to record it( we had lousy recpetion at home in the city.) And then drive home half drunk (my friend - he says - was a lush) seeing double and having to hold a hand over one eye trying not to crash. Follies of one's youth!

Can't shut up today. Further re Horton. I've often wondered if - at least in the early Astaire Rogers pics - Horton isn't a kind of a gay "deflector" for Fred himself. While clearly hetero both as persona and man - Fred's character must have seemed farily "refined" to 30s audiences. With perhaps the charming exception of Follow the Fleet, which also loads up the gay gags: the sailors dancing together, and Randy with love interest Harriet Hillyard who says to him "You don't look like the kind of a fellow who wants to give a girl a tumble".!!!!!!! (These movies are just so wonderfully smart and subversive.)

In other movies Horton can become quite ugly. In Caliente's "Lady in Red" number has him drunk in a bar with the sublime Wini Shaw to whom he's positively obnoxious. She goes on to sing the song ("The Lady in Red, what do you say about, the Lady in Red.. My but she's gaudy, but Lordy, what a personality..") But Horton gets his dues when pounced upon by man eating dragon Judy Canova who yodels him into mute terror.

It's also impossible to believe he either mated with Serpentine Charlotte Greenwood, or sired Babe deluxe Sheila Ryan in the Gang's All Here!

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#45 Post by david hare » Wed Nov 01, 2006 8:28 pm

The priceless first dialogue scene between Horton and Blore in Divorcee is one of those things that, seen with the right audience, leaves you with aching ribs from too much tearful laughter.

"What will Sir be having today? Toasted SCONES Sir? Perhpas some CRUMPET, Sir??" etc etc. I was cracking up on the train to work thinking about it this morning, shrieking like a mad man. Thank god for Ipods, at least people think you're listening to something other than yourself.

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#46 Post by Tom Peeping » Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:25 am

Finally it arrived this morning! This has been said before but I want to say it again: the art & design of the A&R Complete Film Collection boxset is gorgeous. Best I have ever seen. Thirties perfection. Bravo to the guys at Warner. As for the films, The Gay Divorcee is also my favorite. Cant' get enough of "Let's Knock Knees"...

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#47 Post by Lino » Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:59 pm

DVDTown's lengthy review.

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zedz
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#48 Post by zedz » Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:38 pm

Latest Gay Divorcee update. We watched this the other night and it's even more deliriously entertaining than I remember. The film goes hand in hand with Top Hat at the top of the pair's output (and thus of the 1930s musical). Both films have their strengths and weaknesses, but when you're this close to perfection they just add to the texture.

For the record, my major reservations about The Gay Divorcee are its Ginger-imbalance and a slight reliance on third-party filler (e.g. "Let's K-nock K-nees", the non-Fred & Ginger parts of "The Continental") that was already unnecessary (the last thing we need from Edward Everett Horton is a musical number). Although Ginger may be not quite up to the demands of some of the numbers, at times this works: her slight tentativeness in "Night and Day" is beautifully in character and quite touching (notice her glance at her feet, as if she can't quite believe what she's doing and is afraid of messing it up). And if Ginger is down a bit in this pairing, Fred is way up. Just about every dance he performs is astonishing.

Much as I delight in Top Hat's secondary performances, I think the Erics are at their best here. Eric Rhode's Tonetti is a creation of sheer Dada, also excellent at parties.

And the complete set must be one of the most swellegant DVD packages I own. Thank heavens I could buy that 'partial set' from Amazon, and thank heavens for Thinpacs!

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#49 Post by Lino » Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:05 pm


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Re: Astaire & Rogers Collection: Vol. 2

#50 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:53 am

After catching TCM's Ginger Rogers night last weekend, I finally dipped into this set and ended up watching all ten films over three days. I saw the pictures chronologically and I think I kept devouring one after another so quickly in the hopes that I'd find another film as good as the Gay Divorcee. I never did but I certainly enjoyed the ride and the joy of discovery was spread throughout the ten films... well, nine. The Barkleys of Broadway really was as bad as I'd heard. Worse, probably.

I'm honestly quite surprised that Top Hat, easily the least of the thirties films, is the most popularly beloved-- it was an unfunny retread of the Gay Divorcee with none of the charm. Roberta didn't do too much for me either. Apologies to DHare but the Dunne/Scott storyline was insufferable and only the dueling tap dance routine between Rogers and Astaire brightened the affair. Scott, who has limited range, is used to much better effect in Follow the Fleet, where's he's welcomed into the asshole role. The films begin to blend together at such close range, but though I enjoyed Swing Time, particularly the moments in the snow, the magician sidekick was a chore to deal with and the numbers didn't wow me nearly as much as they've apparently dazzled the experts. Shall We Dance was far superior I thought, and the closest Rogers and Astaire came to recapturing the magic of the Gay Divorcee.

I feel I must defend Carefree as a screwball comedy though-- Rogers trampling through the city like a gremlin, kicking canes out from old men and shattering windows was a hoot, and Bellamy plays a great trick by not stepping back like he always does in these kind of films. Admittedly it's saddled with some horrible songs, but there's something about it that just hit me right. Jumping back, Flying Down to Rio was a passable trifle benefiting from the gonzo finale and Rogers' catchy "Music Makes Me Do the Things I Never Should Do" number, which has yet to leave my head. And I enjoyed the Story of Vernon and Irene Castle more than I'd expected as well-- and you gotta love how once the film ends, this is the menu screen that pops up:

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And getting away from the Astaire films, did anyone else see It Had To Be You last week (or previously)? Christ, I can imagine some of the criticisms it might invite but I thought it was nothing short of genius. The way the picture refuses to half-heartedly explain Wilde's initial appearance on the grounds that something so ridiculous would never be accepted by an audience anyways is so ballsy that the film earned my respect immediately and kept it by being so consistently inventive and compelling for the duration. The print looked real clean too so I imagine there's a DVD coming soon-- I hope!

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