am 7. August 2015
HELLO, DOLLY!  [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray + DVD] [French Import] Well, Hello . . . Dolly!
One of Barbra Streisand's most beloved performances is that of the indomitable Dolly Levi in this hugely popular musical that received a Best Picture Academy Award Oscar® Nomination in 1969. It's turn-of-the-century Yonkers, New York, where an ambitious young widow with a penchant for matchmaking [Barbra Streisand] has an idea for the perfect match - especially for a tight-fisted, local merchant Horace Vandergelder [Walter Matthau] and herself Dolly Levi [Barbra Streisand]. As Dolly Levi tries to win his heart, we're treated to one of the most musically entertaining, hilariously underhanded plots in film history and are among the world's most cherished films.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Academy Awards®: Win: Best Art Direction and Set Decoration for John DeCuir and Jack Martin Smith. Win: Art Direction for Herman A. Blumenthal. Win: Set Decoration for Walter M. Scott, George James Hopkins, and Raphael Bretton. Win: Best Music and Score of a Musical Picture for Lennie Hayton and Lionel Newman. Win: Best Sound for Jack Solomon and Murray Spivack. Nominated: Best Picture for Ernest Lehman. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Harry Stradling Sr. (posthumous nomination). Nominated: Best Costume Design for Irene Sharaff. Nominated: Best Film Editing for William H. Reynolds. 23rd British Academy Film Awards: Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Barbra Streisand. Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role for Walter Matthau. Nominated: Best Art Direction for John Decuir. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Harry Stradling. 27th Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy. Nominated: Best Director for Gene Kelly. Nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Barbra Streisand. Nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Marianne McAndrew. Nominated: New Star of the Year Actress for Marianne McAndrew. 1970 Directors Guild of America Awards: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Gene Kelly.
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Marianne McAndrew, Danny Lockin, E.J. Peaker, Joyce Ames, Tommy Tune, Judy Knaiz, David Hurst, Fritz Feld, Richard Collier, J. Pat O'Malley, Louis Armstrong, David Ahdar (uncredited), Will Ahern (uncredited), Melanie Alexander (uncredited), Ben Archibek (uncredited), Roger Arroyo (uncredited), Robert Bakanic (uncredited), George Barrows (uncredited), William 'Billy' Benedict (uncredited), George Boyce (uncredited), Bettina Brenna (uncredited), Budd Bryan (uncredited), James Chandler (uncredited), Ron Cisneros (uncredited), Allegra Clegg (uncredited), Robert Cole (uncredited), John Command (uncredited), Scatman Crothers (uncredited), Fred Curt (uncredited), Billy Curtis (uncredited), Frank Delfino (uncredited), Sam Edwards (uncredited), Jeannie Epper (uncredited), Margo Epper (uncredited), Stephanie Epper (uncredited), Jennifer Gan (uncredited), Sonja Haney (uncredited), Chester Hayes (uncredited), Ines Hellendall (uncredited), Jimmy Hibbard (uncredited), Gloria Hill (uncredited), Shep Houghton (uncredited), Cass Jaeger (uncredited), Howard Jeffrey (uncredited), Harvey Karels (uncredited), Hubie Kerns (uncredited), Ed Kerrigan (uncredited), Randy Lane (uncredited), Ted Mapes (uncredited), Robert Neal Marshall (uncredited), James McEachin (uncredited), Gary Menteer (uncredited), Marsha Metrinko (uncredited), Richard Monahan (uncredited), Harry Monty (uncredited), Ralph Roberts (uncredited), Tucker Smith (uncredited), Kay Tapscott (uncredited), Jim Taylor (uncredited), Bob Thompson Jr. (uncredited), Lisa Todd (uncredited), Jerry Trent (uncredited) and USC Trojan Marching Band (uncredited)
Director: Gene Kelly
Producers: Ernest Lehman and Roger Edens
Screenplay: Ernest Lehman and Johann Nestroy
Art Direction: Herman A. Blumenthal and Jack Martin Smith
Composer: Jerry Herman
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr.
Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Deluxe]
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 [65mm Todd-AO]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: 4.0 Dolby Digital 4.0, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and German: 2.0 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and German
Running Time: 148 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' was based on Thornton Wilder's 1954 stage play The Matchmaker which had been previously filmed under that title by Paramount with Shirley Booth, Shirley MacLaine and Anthony Perkins in 1958. It had won Ten Tony Awards as a musical under the title `Hello, Dolly!' in 1964 and was still running on Broadway. 20th Century Fox had announced its purchase of the rights to film the musical on March 9, 1965 with David Merrick, the producer of the stage musical, to receive $2 million dollars and 25 percent of the film gross. Paramount Studios also received a substantial but undisclosed amount because it still owned the rights to The Matchmaker.
The budget for ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' had begun at $10 million and by 1968 had swollen to $25 million and $2 million alone was spent on the recreation of Fifth Avenue on the Fox lot. Barbra Streisand's gold beaded gown, which weighed 40 pounds, cost $8,000 and the Harmonia Gardens set cost $375,000 to build. It was the most expensive film musical to that time. Pre-production began in September 1967 with filming beginning April 15, 1968 on Stage 16 on the Fox lot and ran through August with location shooting including the Knotts' Berry Farm (now a major amusement park) in Buena Park, California; Waterfront Park and The Golden Eagle Inn in Garrison, New York; Cold Spring and Poughkeepsie, New York, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. During filming in Garrison on June 5th, news reached the set that Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, which created a further distraction for the company along with the temperatures that hovered near 100 degrees.
‘HELLO, DOLLY!' was released on December 16, 1968 with a premiere at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway with at least one thousand fans jamming the streets screaming for Barbra Streisand. The film was released in both 35mm and 70mm wide screen and earned an Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing. It won for Best Art Direction and Best Sound. Hello, Dolly! could not hope to make a profit despite being a well-produced and prestigious musical entertainment. Susan Sackett attributed the film's failure to the fact that "the movie going audience was comprised of mostly under-30s, and young people just weren't impressed with lavish musical. Also many felt that Barbra Streisand at the age of 27 [sic], was miscast as the matronly Dolly Levi. Costs seemed to escalate out of control and 20th Century Fox took a gamble, and sadly lost."
One of the biggest problems during production seems to have been the hostility that developed between Walter Matthau and Barbra Streisand. Walter Matthau is said to have been frustrated with Barbra Streisand's demand for retakes and what he saw as an inflated ego. He refused to be in the same room as Barbra Streisand unless they were filming and was quoted as saying, "I have more talent in my smallest part of my body, than she does in her entire body." The dislike was mutual, especially with Barbra Streisand presenting Walter Matthau with a bar of soap for his "obscene language." Walter Matthau's dislike spread to co-star Michael Crawford with whom he would attend horse races on his days off. During one race Michael Crawford bet on a horse called "Hello Dolly". Compulsive gambler Walter Matthau refused to bet on the horse because he hated Barbra Streisand so much. When the horse won, Walter Matthau wouldn't speak to Michael Crawford for the remainder of filming. Likewise, director Gene Kelly and Barbra Streisand did not see eye to eye on most things, or were not, in the words of Ernest Lehman, "meant to communicate on this Earth." Barbra Streisand herself was unhappy in the role, which she really didn't want and which Carol Channing desperately wanted to appear in the film. She often phoned Gene Kelly and Ernest Lehman in the middle of the night with her insecurities. All in all, it was not a happy shoot. Ernest Lehman later told writer Clive Hirschhorn, "the intrigues, the bitterness, the backbiting, the deceits, the misery, the gloom was most unpleasant. It's quite amazing what people go through to make something entertaining for others."
1969 was hardly a banner year for film musicals. But it yielded a magnificent show stopper in ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' with an all time, lively and luscious entertainment. ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' pedigree is impeccable; Gene Kelly to direct, Gower Champion staging the musical numbers, and, Michael Kidd to choreograph. Better still, 20th Century Fox assigned master builder John DeCuir to design the sets. His magnificent recreations of turn of the century New York are a sumptuous feast for the eyes, lovingly lensed by cinematographer Harry Stradling. And then, of course, there is the virtue of Jerry Hermann's score; one outstanding number layered after the next and all of them belted to perfection by the biggest star in Hollywood then Barbra Streisand.
Ernest Lehman's screenplay stays relatively faithful to the stage show. Dolly Levi [Barbra Streisand] is a matchmaker extraordinaire who has set her sights on Yonker's affluent, though stuffy hay and feed tycoon, Horace Vandergelder [Walter Matthau]. It is Horace's wish that Dolly take his niece, Ermengarde [Joyce Ames] to New York City to get her away from a penniless artist, Ambrose Kemper[Tommy Tune] with whom she is desperately in love. Dolly willingly agrees. After all, visiting New York will put her in even closer proximity to Horace, who is on his way to propose to milliner, Irene Malloy [Marianne McAndrews].
From start to finish, ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' is a deftly executed, charming farce. Barbra Streisand, who was heavily criticized at the time as being much too young for the lead, manages a minor coup; transforming what on stage had largely been an overbearing caricature of "the glamorous/amorous widow" into a genuinely poignant portrait of a woman searching for true love. In retrospect, Barbra Streisand's performance is a curious amalgam of stereotypical Yiddish meddling and a winning, if slightly devilish and lampoons of Mae West, and it worked.
Walter Matthau is perfect as the malevolently cruel tightwad whose bark is much worse than his bite. Despite his backstage bickering with Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau manages to muster a fair amount of believable sincerity and affection for our heroine on screen. The rest of the cast are really window dressing for what is essentially a one woman show. Nevertheless, everyone is up to snuff and the results are a sheer joy to behold. But the show belongs to Barbra Streisand who sings the hell out of her songs from gusto-filled aplomb during "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and "Before the Parade Passes By," to poetic romanticism for the ballad "Love is Only Love."
The musical numbers are all brilliantly handled, as is to be expected, the most gargantuan undeniably being "Before the Parade Passes By." Barbra Streisand warbles an intimate version of the song just after she has thwarted Horace's proposal to Irene. The film's title song is another outstanding moment for Barbra Streisand; gilded in her gold sequined frock and descending the blood-red carpeted stairs into the Harmonia Gardens while serenaded by a gavotte of red-coated waiters and Louis Armstrong in his last screen appearance and including him in the film is therefore a charming homage to that success.
When the final reel had been edited Gene Kelly could be proud of the last musical he would ever direct. ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' is a supreme and very elegant entertainment. At just 148 minutes, it extols all of the virtues of the Hollywood musical to absolute perfection while managing to keep the vices that plagued so many like-minded entertainments of the decade at bay. Hello, Dolly! is a cleverly "opened up" cinematic experience. It moves like gangbusters with a lilt and a grace that ought to have resurrected the big budget musical to prominence once again. Sadly, in retrospect, ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' proved to be the final nail in the film musical's coffin, it's disappointing box office ensuring fewer Broadway transplants would follow it. Time, however, does strange things to films and ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' has since proven itself more than just a grand show. It is truly one for the ages. It sings and dances its way into our hearts as few musicals have before or since and it remains a definitive last chapter in a history of that golden age unlikely to be surpassed.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 1080p encoded image of ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' is, in a word, totally awesome and gorgeous at the same time. The glowing 70mm road show Color by Deluxe stock, looks spectacular. There are a few minor instances where we experience a slight shimmer and flicker and particularly during the opening and closing credits, but otherwise, 20th Century Fox has done an award-winning job of resurrecting ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' in hi-definition. The colour is totally radiant. For the first time we can see minute detail in fabrics, hair and even skin. The image is razor sharp without appearing to have been digitally enhanced. Age related and digital artefacts are a non-issue. It definitely has the "wow" factor 100%.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has rectified the sins of the inferior DVDs 5.1 audio that tended on occasion to be strident yet thin. Dialogue to music transitions sound much more natural herein and the score really gives the sound channels a real workout. Good stuff. Bottom line: ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' is near perfect musical entertainment. The Blu-ray is a must have and a definitely must see experience. It's so nice to have Dolly back where she belongs! Critics were divided about this film at the time of its premiere, in deciding to either being a Dolly-philes or Dolly-phobes. If the purpose of musical shows is to entertain, then Hello, Dolly! most certainly fills that bill and more. Thankfully, we not only get nearly all of the original numbers but two extras just for Streisand. And, in the end, it is Barbra Streisand's performance, in only her second film that carries the day and more than justifies the purchase of this reissue, given deluxe Blu-ray treatment by 20th Century Fox. We also get the young Michael Crawford who later gained fame in The Phantom of the Opera. This film will be a treat for the whole family and a great way to introduce young people to the magic of Broadway and the Classic Hollywood Musical in the comfort of their own homes.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Directing Dolly: Gene Kelly Remembered  [1080p] [10:39] Gene Kelly's widow Patricia speaks on Gene Kelly's recollections to her about making the movie using behind-the-scenes imagery from the below-mentioned documentary to illustrate her points. Also appearing in the documentary is Michael Crawford (archive footage) and Gene Kelly (archive footage).
Special Feature: 1969 Documentary  [1080p] [6:53] This includes some rare behind-the-scenes shots of the film during production and focusing specifically on "Before the Parade Passes By" and also with brief clips from "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and "Dancing."
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [4:14] This is the Original American Cinema Trailer for ‘HELLO, DOLLY!'
Finally, what makes this particular ‘HELLO, DOLLY!' really something special, is getting this awesome Blu-ray Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook from Amazon in France and was well worth the wait and at EUR 19,98 [at the time of purchase] is an even bigger advantage over the other Blu-ray releases and what makes it that extra special is the sumptuous glorious photographs included in this French Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook. But a word of warning, all the printed words are in French and I cannot see why they could not have added the same number of pages in English, as they know people outside France will want to purchase this Blu-ray discs and a very silly oversight on their part. But despite this very bad omission, I am so proud and honoured to have this in my Blu-ray Collection, as it is one of my all-time favourite musicals and having Barbra Streisand as the main star, is a massive tour-de-force and I could never see Dolly Levi being acted by any other singing Actress and Artist, which again is a great honour to add this to my even more expanding Barbra Streisand Blu-ray Collection, as Barbra Streisand can do no wrong for me. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom