Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Harold Arlen - An All-Star Tribute|
Actors: Duke Ellington, Dinah Shore, Gordon MacRae
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
VAI DVD 4371 Duke Ellington, Gordon MacRae, Dinah Shore, Leslie Uggams, Gretchen Wyler and Harold Arlen. 60 min., Color, Region 0
Fine tribute to Harold Arlen even if a bit rushed
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 07/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD gives us the December 5, 1965 installment of The Bell Telephone Hour which honored the great composer Harold Arlen. Despite the fact that Harold Arlen's name never exactly became a household word like Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter, I can assure you that you already know his music. Remember "Over the Rainbow?" "That Old Black Magic?" "Down With Love?" These are just three of hundreds of songs and ballads that Harold Arlen wrote during his decades long career.
The performers make a fine group: Dinah Shore both hosts and sings; and we also get Gordon MacRae, Leslie Uggams, Gretchen Wyler--and Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Awesome!
In 51 minutes this band of entertainers delivers twenty three songs; although to accomplish that remarkable feat some of the songs are extremely truncated, to say the least. Dinah Shore sings just a few bars of "The Man That Got Away;" and "Get Happy" doesn't get much air time, either.
On the other hand, what we do get is excellent material performed by some very competent entertainers. Gretchen Wyler and company perform a great rendition of "Let's Talk A Walk Around The Block" complete with some dancing; and "That Old Black Magic" becomes reinvented by Dinah Shore and a trio of musicians as they perform this classic ballad to a 1960s beat.
In addition, Leslie Uggams performs "A Sleepin' Bee" without a superfluous note; and she acts out the song very well. Dinah Shore does good justice to "Last Night When We Were Young;" and of particular interest is the fine artistry by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra as they perform "Stormy Weather" and "Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea." Dinah Shore then joins Duke and his Orchestra to perform a shortened version of "Blues In The Night."
Leslie Uggams does a fine--but shortened--rendition of "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe;" but the most moving number of all is the finale. Harold Arlen himself joins the performers at the piano as they perform "Over The Rainbow" with panache and sensitivity. Great!
The color is rather good although at times you can tell this was originally filmed using a camera with a circular lens--there are prolonged periods when at the left side of your screen you can see the curvature of the lens. You can also see the microphone at times just barely keeping out of sight and not always making itself invisible.
The DVD liner notes include the films from which each song was taken and the dates as well if possible. George Dansker also contributes an essay about Harold Arlen. The DVD artwork reflects good judgment.
My only complaint is that too many ballads were shortened. It also seemed a little unusual not to have Judy Garland anywhere on the bill because she sang so many of these songs in her MGM movies. Dinah Shore does a great job with the few bars of "The Man That Got Away" that she does sing; but maybe they kept that one short because when Dinah sings that number she knows she isn't Judy Garland and it shows in her performance.
Overall, any fan of Harold Arlen's incomparable music will cherish this DVD for years to come; and I highly recommend this for fans of the performers on this DVD, too. In addition, if you're new to Harold Arlen and you want to find out if you like his music, this DVD would be a great place to begin.