Reviews and Articles
  • Log in to Add Reviews, Videos, Etc
  • Places to Buy

    Searching for products...

    About This Item

    Unique ID Code: 0000045950
    Added by: DVD Reviewer
    Added on: 12/3/2003 07:28
    View Changes

    Music Man, The (US)

    9 / 10
    1 vote cast
    Rate this item
    Inline Image

    The joyful film of the 1,375-performance Broadway smash
    Certificate: G
    Running Time: 151 mins
    Retail Price: $19.98
    Release Date:

    The Music Man, the joyful film of the 1,375-performance Broadway smash, remains an irresistible skyburst of Americana. Robert Preston recreates his Tony-winning Broadway triumphas con artist Harold Hill, arriving in River City, Iowa, to form a boys band, much to the disapproval and later delight of town librarian Marian Paroo. Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford and 7-year-old Ron Howard co-star. Meredith Wilson`s sassy, brassy score, is orchestrated to Oscar - Winning effect by Ray Heindorf.

    Special Features:
    Intro by Shirley Jones
    Documentary with Exclusive Premiere Footage
    Interviews with Cast and Crew
    Featurette: "Right Here In River City"
    2 Trailers

    Video Tracks:
    Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

    Audio Tracks:
    Dolby Digital 5.1 English

    Subtitle Tracks:
    CC: English

    Directed By:
    Morton DaCosta

    Written By:

    Paul Ford
    Hermione Gingold
    Buddy Hackett
    Shirley Jones
    Robert Preston

    Casting By:
    Hoyt Bowers

    Soundtrack By:
    Meredith Willson

    Director of Photography:
    Robert Burks

    William H. Ziegler

    Costume Designer:
    Dorothy Jeakins

    Joel Freeman
    Morton DaCosta

    Warner Bros

    Your Opinions and Comments

    9 / 10
    The Hollywood musical has fallen on hard times of late. The 1960's saw the end of the big musical, partly because of the change in audience tastes, but also the rising cost of production. Musicals were always expensive films, and as the studio system gave way to independent production the independents could not afford to make such films, even if they wanted to.

    Today's young people have been brought up with MTV and the like; and as such find it difficult to watch a song without a cut every 10 seconds - camera movements designed to make you feel sick and lighting that has to flash on and off - not necessarily matched with the song. There was a time when a "My Fair Lady"; "Cabaret"; "Oliver!"; or even "The Sound of Music" could attract audiences and Oscars but at least the current successes of "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago" have proved that the younger generation also like to see films with singing and dancing.

    "The Music Man" comes from a time before those I've mentioned were made, 1961 was the beginning of the end of the big Hollywood musical. The story is a quintessential slice of Americana - pure Iowa corn: sentimental, nostalgic, gentle, and innocent; and its appearance on DVD is the best thing that could have happened to it.

    Robert Preston was destined to play Professor Harold Hill, con man extraordinaire. (When Warner Brothers bought the screen rights, they wanted a bigger star in the lead role; their first choices were Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant). His characterization of Hill is brash, beguiling, self-assured, fast-talking, and dauntless. He enters River City, Iowa, circa 1912 with the intention of selling a musical instrument and a band uniform to every boy in sight, even though he can't play a note of music himself.
    Somewhat ironically, when Preston was first approached to do "The Music Man" on Broadway, he told the producers he had never sung in a musical before. But like the Professor, Preston forged ahead; after all, as he says in the story, "Singing is just sustained talking." Anyway, before long Hill is involved with the town's librarian, Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones), her little brother Winthrop (Ron Howard - yes the now famous director), the Mayor and his wife (Paul Ford and Hermione Gingold), an old friend (Buddy Hackett), and members of the local school board (that marvellous barbershop quartet, the Buffalo Bills).

    Yet, as appealing as the characters are, it is the songs that carry the show, and here is where "The Music Man" surpasses its more-recent counterparts. Meredith Willson's score has a steady stream of memorable tunes, two-and-a-half hours worth, without a single disappointment. The highlights include "Ya Got Trouble," "Goodnight, My Someone," "Marian the Librarian," "Gary, Indiana," "Being in Love," "Wells Fargo Wagon," "Till There Was You," and the show-stopper "Seventy-Six Trombones." Producer-director Morton DaCosta had little more to do than point his camera at the actors and let them sing, which is pretty much what he does in one, long, joyous romp. At the time critics complained that the direction was too 'theatrical' - today it looks quite modern.

    After years of suffering pan'n'scan cropping on TV and videotape, at last, the film is presented in ratio - about 2.20:1 - enhanced for widescreen televisions. Finally, we can see all four members of the Buffalo Bills harmonizing on screen at once! The only quibble I have is that the intermission has been removed - and if a film had an intermission, then it should be there on the disc.

    The film was made in Technirama® one of the better lens and film systems ( apart from the lenses the film went through the camera sideways, which meant that more of the film had image on it). The picture quality with its various restored elements is excellent, the colours glowing in all scenes. Occasionally, it is true, things seem a little less brilliant than they do at other times, but flesh tones are always natural and delineation is sharp. There are no noticeable instances of edge enhancements and even Hill's chequered suit stands out clearly, and with good solid blacks, particularly in the night scenes it goes to show what can be done when DVD producers try.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track appears to have been taken from the 70mm soundtrack and it is noticeable in the way that, although most speech is in the centre, when someone moves to the edge of the picture their voice follows them; a technique that was used in most big screen productions of the time. Except for the music the surround is used for off stage noises, which is perfectly ok - but not as lively as you would expect today.

    As for the extras - there is a new, thirty-minute documentary titled "Right Here in River City: The Making of 'The Music Man,'" hosted by Shirley Jones. It includes the reminiscences of many of the surviving filmmakers, like Shirley Jones herself, Buddy Hackett, choreographer Oona White, and actress Susan Luckey. Shirley Jones also hosts a brief introduction to the film. There is also some cast and crew filmographies, production notes, and a pair of trailers┬Śone for "The Music Man" itself and one for "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

    "The Music Man" is, indeed, a special film, and this Warner Brothers' Special Edition DVD enhances its appeal even further. I love the film and will recommend it to anyone who loves family entertainment, old fashioned musicals - or both.
    posted by Tony Myhill on 12/3/2003 14:15