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Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection Musicals

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Wednesday Feb 20, 2013
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It just doesn’t get gayer than this: Warner Bros. is extending its "Best of Warner Bros." series with a 20-disc collection of... you guessed it... movie musicals. This compendium - including "The Jazz Singer" ( 1927), "Broadway Melody of 1929," "42nd Street" (1933), "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936), "The Wizard Of Oz" (1939), "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), "An American in Paris" ( 1951), "Show Boat" (1951), "Singin’ In The Rain" (1952), "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954), "A Star Is Born" (1954), "The Music Man" (1962), "Viva Las Vegas" (1964), "Camelot" (1967), "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" (1971), "Cabaret" (1972), "That’s Entertainment" (1974), "Victor, Victoria" (1983), "Little Shop Of Horrors" (1986) and "Hairspray" (1988) - represents a solid work week of high kicks and overwrought ballads that will test (or tickle) even the most ardent show queen bottom.

We do find it a bit strange that this collection hasn’t made it to Blu-ray (we’re fans of the format), but hi-def digital remastering being the beast that it is, not all of these gems have been released in Blu-ray. It does beg the question of whether this series will ultimately be released in another box set that makes one regret the $70 price tag... but that shouldn’t deter you. Frankly, any collection that offers you Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Victor Fleming, Liza Minnelli, John Waters and Debbie Reynolds at once stirs the homoloins - it’s enough to make one wonder how a cocktail party with the aforementioned illuminati would play out. Would one serve finger sandwiches? Would the entire liquor department at BJs be sufficient to last the night?

I re-watched a few of these flicks in review mode - many of them I’ve committed to heart, of course. I cannot emphasize enough the shticky joy of "Broadway Melody," wherein Anita Page and Bessie Love fall for the same guy on their way to rule the White Way - it actually won Best Picture! And don’t confuse the 1954 version of "A Star is Born" with the comparatively atrocious 1976 version with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson warbling their way through lackluster rock songs (and adding those two to the cocktail party would result in drama, darlings). No, we’re talking the highly stylistic outing of Judy Garland (post-suicide attempt) and James Mason (who, word has it, was the only guy who would take the role) that was hacked at the box office by Warner Bros, then restored to its original (nearly three hour) running time. It’s an absolute masterpiece.

I could go on; clearly, the joys of "Wizard," "Singin’," "Wonka" and "Hairspray" need no explanations even to the younger set; and a few titles ("Camelot" anyone?) left me snoozing the first time around. But herein are treasures worth revisiting, people. Snap it up. Grab a gimlet. Put your feet up. Invite the neighbors over (is that still a drug reference?) And put on your red glitter shoes (I know you have them, they’re in that box with the rest of the drag stuff you bought for that one night in Key West in 1992). Enjoy.

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Included Titles:

The Jazz Singer
Broadway Melody of 1929
42nd Street
The Great Ziegfeld
Wizard of Oz
Yankee Doodle Dandy
An American In Paris
Show Boat
Singin In The Rain
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
A Star Is Born
The Music Man
Viva Las Vegas
Camelot
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Cabaret
That’s Entertainment
Victor, Victoria
Little Shop of Horrors
Hairspray

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David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his husband and daughter in Dedham MA.

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