Showing posts with label 1943. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1943. Show all posts

29 September 2014

Blu-ray Review - The Gang's All Here (1943, Masters Of Cinema)

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Genre:
Comedy, Musical
Distributor:
Eureka! Entertainment
BD Release Date:
29th September 2014 (UK)
Director:
Busby Berkeley
Cast:
James Ellison, Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, Phil Baker,
buy:The Gang's All Here (1943) [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray]

Busby Berkeley is one of the names most associated with the classic Hollywood musical. It’s not hard to see why with his first Technicolor film The Gang’s All Here. It also happens to be up there as one of the most surreal films to ever come out of the golden age of Hollywood.

The film’s “plot” is the barest of the bare: a young soldier Andy Mason (James Ellison) falls in love with a New York nightclub singer but he has a long-standing engagement to a childhood sweetheart. This all provides a jumping off point for the quite nauseating (but in a good way) film of melodrama, campy dialogue and the musical numbers that are quite mind blowing.

The film’s cinematography and choreography is what the film is all about; the opening musical number perfectly sets the template for what is to come, and fans of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil will recognize the opening song. The first musical number that starts the spiral of surrealism is the much-celebrated “The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat” which of course features the iconic Carman Miranda. It literally ends with a stunning bit of art direction which makes her fruit hat look it’s going on forever.

The film’s climax, however, remains one of the most surreal pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen, never mind of Golden Age Hollywood. It becomes almost psychedelic which is perhaps unsurprising considering its revival in the 60s and 70s when it gained cult status. It remains a classic musical that even non-fans of the genre will be entertained and swept up in its magic.

Eureka as usual has done a very nice package with a commentary: a 20 minutes documentary on the film, and it’s finished off with a deleted scene and the theatrical trailer. The new HD transfer also gives the film’s visual sparkle that makes the imagery pop out of the screen. It also includes a 56 booklet with writings by director David Cairns and Karina Longworth.

★★★★

Ian Schultz