Knight at HOME at the Movies
Classic Musicals and More
A quartet of recommendations filled with lush spectacle, drama, music, light and laughter and Audrey and Judy for God's sake!
I don't think Evening, the Michael Cunningham adaptation of the novel by Susan Minot
got a fair shake in theatres last summer. Perhaps because of its amazing cast - Vanessa
Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson (and that's just
the ladies) - expectations were raised a little too high. I had a few quibbles of my own
but that didn't stop me from DEMANDING that readers of my column go see it. In a
summer filled with noisy blockbusters Evening was a cool, starry night of a movie, a respite
from the special effects and I luxuriated in its lush production design (the majority of it is
set in the 1950s in Newport), tasteful scenery chewing from its stunningly beautiful cast
(here and there) and WASP romance. And did I mention Patrick Wilson and Hugh Dancy
as some major male eye candy? With fall on the way, now is the time to grab the movie
(out now from Universal Studios) and check out this bittersweet movie that will be just the
trick for viewers nostalgic for a good, old fashioned love story (there are hints of The Way
We Were toward the end by the by). The disc also includes a nice making of featurette,
some deleted scenes and another featurette on the differences between the book (many)
and the film adaptation. More background comes your way HERE with my interview with
both Cunningham and the film's director.
We continue our journey back to the 1950s with Paramount Home Video's 50th
Anniversary Edition of Funny Face. Can a movie this fresh and stylish really be 50
years old? Hard to believe. Time has only added to the luster of this once in a lifetime
teaming of Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in a musical (with all those marvelous songs)
about a fashion photographer who makes a star out of a bookstore clerk (who fall in love
in the process). Let's not forget the Avedon photographs that influenced much of the
film's look, the spectacular Givenchy fashions and the sublime eccentric Kay Thompson in
her largest screen role as a Diana Vreeland/Vogue-like editor who commands "Think
Pink." The musical contributions of Roger Edens whose arrangements are stunning is also
to be noted. Paramount has given the film a tremendous restoration from the previous
edition (Paris really sizzles in this version) and has added several new featurettes just for
this disc. For fashionistas, movie queens and Audrey-files (and we are legion), this is a
no brainer of a purchase.
I'm still working my way through Warner Home Video's stellar packaging of the Mickey
Rooney & Judy Garland Collection - a 5-disc collection that includes the four
Mickey-Judy "let's put on a show" spectaculars (Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, Strike Up
the Band, and Girl Crazy). There's a LOT more to this set and I'll return with further
thoughts when I've had a chance to absorb it all. Let's just say that WHV has done a
spectacular job on packaging this one and that the price (under $35) is a bargain. GO
GET IT YOU CLASSICS FANS!
For musical nostalgia fans, you'll appreciates Movie Songs Live, out now from Shout!
Factory. This is a live concert of performers and best loved songs from the movies
(emphasis on 50s and 60s) that originally aired on PBS. Not nearly as comprehensive as
the multi-disc box set of music (which I recommended HERE), this is nevertheless an
enjoyable disc with everyone from darling Debbie Reynolds (singing "Tammy" of course)
to the Fifth Dimension and the Cowsills (the remaining members of each with new recruits)
both singing their hit songs from Hair. Aside from Reynolds, I was happiest with Lulu's
performance of "To Sir With Love," who belts out her big hit 40 years after the song (and
the movie topped the charts. The disc also has some nice bonus features. This one also
makes a great gift for mom and dad.