What can be better than a collection of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals? Well, placing those musicals on Blu-ray. The quality of the pictures is great and if you owned the previous release like I did, you will be pleased with the more compact packaging. This is a collection of some of the most loved musicals, they have been made into countless movies, stage productions at all levels, and most recently televised stage versions. What keeps people coming back for more? At first I would have said the wholesome nature of the musicals but upon further inspection there are some darker aspects of these musicals adding depth and contrast to the storylines. Perhaps this is why they are so timeless. The endings maybe happyish but there are real life problems within the stories. Couple this with music, dancing, and an ability to step back from real life for a moment and you have a box set full of wonderful fun. The box set includes five films on eight discs: State Fair, Oklahoma!, Carousel, The Kind and I, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.
State Fair (1945)-What can you find at a State Fair in Iowa? Well, love of course. The great thing is this love is not confined to the traditional romantic, although there is a lot of that. The Frake family is about to have the time of their life, even if they come back learning what they never expected. State Fair was the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that was written directly for film, although it was later adapted for the stage. Included on the disc is a short documentary chronically just how State Fair went from a movie, to a musical film, to a stage play.
Oklahoma! (1955)-The first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma! tells the story of a romance between Curly McLain and Laurey Williams along with a great number of memorable characters to accompany this story. This film adaptation is beautiful and putting it on Blu-ray just makes it even better. Oklahoma! is presented in two versions; Todd AO and Cinemascope. I have to say that the Todd AO version is a little hard to watch. The picture has been flattened from its original curved format and it creates a strange sensation when watching. The colors are more vivid than in the Cinemascope version. It should be noted that the Todd AO technology can be thanked for getting Oklahoma! made into a movie, so thanks although I will probably never watch your version all the way through.
Carousel (1956) is the story of romance that goes wrong. Our two lovers may have fallen in love, but in the end they had trouble finding their way in life together. Carousel was adapted from Fritz Lang’s 1934 film, Liliom, and that film is amazingly featured in its entirety as a special feature on the Carousel disc.
The King and I (1956) I will admit this one is my favorite on the box set. An interesting fish-out-of-water story of an English woman who becomes the teacher of the children of the King of Siam. The performances are great, costumes are over the top, and the songs are catchy, what more could you want in a musical? Plus there is the great section where the young women in the King’s service are putting on their own play within the story which is one of the best aspects of the entire picture. It works as a turning point within the storyline and adds another dimension to the musical on a whole.
South Pacific (1958) set, well in the South Pacific, during WWII South Pacific follows a Nurse who falls in love with a man but has trouble accepting his mixed-race children. The subject of racial equality is explored openly in this musical, making it one of those that really made me realize the more intense and realistic sides of the movies. Although, this musical is set during a now historical era, it is still popular and I can’t help but to think that part of that is because there are still some who may have trouble accepting the same things as the characters in the musical, the marriage of people who are from different races and cultures. I must admit that even if this wasn’t an issue, it would still probably be popular. South Pacific is presented in the original theatrical cut and the extended “Road Show” version.
The Sound of Music (1965)set during times leading up to WWII, The Sound of Music sees an aspiring nun becoming a governess to a group of children being brought up my a single father. This household is run in military style although they still can seem to keep a governess. The Sound of Music has some of the most memorable songs, songs of which you can hear outside of the soundtrack or stage productions. It also has that dark side, with the family having to deal with the onset of the Nazis in Austria.
All the movies are full of special features ranging from sing-alongs to commentaries, to documentaries regarding the films as well as the history around the film business at the time. Some of the special features had me very excited and invigorated, as of course I have seen the films before, having these features kept me really wanting to go back for more.