You know the feeling. You're sitting there, minding your own business, enjoying the sights and sounds of a classic motion picture. Suddenly, the gears seem to shift: orchestral accompaniment appears out of nowhere as characters begin to step in pace with one another, speaking in lyrical rhymes before breaking out in full-out song and dance routines. "Oh God, they're singing!," you cry out, realizing you have been sucked in once more by a movie musical.
But don't worry, I won't judge ye. In fact, after witnessing all of the toe-tapping antics found in these three titles ‒ all of which are available on Blu-ray now from the Warner Archive Collection and Twilight Time Entertainment ‒ I can only put my best foot forward and sing as loud as possible, just like the good men and women of our first selection here...
Brigadoon (1954, Warner Archive Collection)
Released seven years after the successful Broadway premiere, MGM's lavish motion picture adaptation of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe classic musical opens with Singin' in the Rain icon Gene Kelly and Van Johnson (Battleground, the Dr. Gillespie Movie Collection) lost in Scotland. Stumbling upon a mystical, secluded village which only appears for one day every 100 years, the men begin to wonder who spiked their single-malt with LSD. That is, until Gene meets and falls for the irresistible Cyd Charisse (also seen with Gene in the WAC release of It's Always Fair Weather). Elaine Stewart, Barry Jones, and Hugh Laing co-star in this colorful CinemaScope achievement from Vincente Minnelli, who brought the project to life despite numerous budgetary and time constraints.
While it may be regrettable that the 1966 TV remake with Robert Goulet and Peter Falk isn't included on this Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection, the stellar amount of work put in here more than makes up for that perceived loss. Miraculously mastered from an old interpositive scanned in 2K and meticulously restored for this release, Brigadoon looks just as magical and as timeless as the legendary hamlet itself. The film is presented in a gorgeous, near-flawless 2.55:1 aspect ratio with an engulfing DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack and English (SDH) subtitles. Special features for this WAC release include four deleted scenes (in SD) from previous DVD incarnations, and the original theatrical trailer in glorious 1080p.
Gidget (1959, Twilight Time, Limited Edition of 3,000)
While not be a full-fledged musical, Paul Wendkos' Gidget nevertheless veers off into such waters with several on-screen moments of "the singing".The film which gave immaculate birth to the wave of AIP Beach Party series (as well as its own franchise) during the first half of the '60s, Gidget stars Sandra Dee as quirky little Southern California teenage tomboy Frances. Unlike her man-hungry friends, Frances' interest in the male of the species instead focuses on the fine art of surfing, earning her the nickname of "Gidget" (girl + midget). But the ol' biological clock soon starts-a-tickin' over hunky older beach bum Kahuna (Cliff Robertson) and young surfer dude Moondoggie (James Darren) ‒ who, in turn, also begin to fall for Gidget. (It wasn't creepy back then.)
While Gidget is certainly no stranger to home video, this Twilight Time Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen for the very first time, which is reason enough to ride this one alone. Surfed up in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Sony's HD master of this Columbia Pictures CinemaScope classic is a little on the yellow side, but this is still the best it has ever looked ‒ even if those hilarious rear-projection scenes look all the phonier now! A DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono and English (SDH) subtitles accompany the main feature, and an isolated score in DTS-HD 2.0 is also available. Additional special features for this coming-of-age dramedy include the original theatrical trailer and liner notes by resident Twilight Time historian Julie Kirgo.
Doctor Dolittle (1967, Twilight Time, Limited Edition of 3,000)
Famous for being infamous, loved for being hated, the original Doctor Dolittle is a far-cry from its (decidedly racist) source material (and even further from the 1998 remake with Eddie Murphy). A multi-million-dollar disaster from the producer of the original Planet of the Apes movies, the lengthy family-friendly musical finds the temperamental and troublesome talents of Rex Harrison (spoiler alert: everyone hated him) as an eccentric country physician with the ability to speak to animals in their own languages. Somehow, they stretch all that out to 152 minutes, cramming over a dozen songs in. But at least we get to see a bit of co-stars Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, Geoffrey Holder, and Richard Attenborough.
A flop upon its debut, more than 50 years of recreational drug use have helped give the surrealistic and psychedelic musical from Leslie Bricusse and Fantastic Voyage director Richard Fleischer a cult classic status. But even non-trippers will be hard-pressed to dismiss the gorgeous new 4K scan Fox loaned to Twilight Time for this release. Presented in 2.20:1, the Todd-AO dud featuring such sights as giant plastic sea snails and lunar moths features DTS-HD MA soundtracks in 5.1 and 2.0, English (SDH) subtitles, an isolated score in DTS-HD MA 2.0, a new audio commentary with Leslie Bricusse and Mike Matessino, a Biography episode on Rex Harrison, a Laserdisc-sourced trailer, and Julie Kirgo's liner notes.
Brigadoon is available now from the Warner Archive Collection. Gidget and Doctor Dolittle are Limited Edition releases from Twilight Time, and are reserved to only 3,000 copies apiece while supplies last.
Happy croonin', kids.