The five spectacular DVDs contained in this boxed set speak volumes about vision and integrity, fearless instinct, and a passion for discovery. If you think you remember these specials from watching them when they first ai... more »red, you'll be astonished how time has only enhanced their vitality. The five DVDs are: My Name is Barbra, Color Me Barbra, and Belle of 14th Street, Barbra Streisand: Happening in Central Park, and Barbra Streisand...And Other Musical Instruments.« less
"I received a preview copy of the discs this weekend for my Streisand fan site barbra-archives [dot] com. Streisand fans, I believe, will be completely happy with this 5-DVD set of Barbra's first television specials.
The packaging of the set is first-rate. After taking the top off the box, you will find a 5-panel DigiPak that unfolds and holds the 5 DVDs. The packaging is gorgeous down to the details: when you remove a DVD from the DigiPak, a Streisand "timeline" is revealed behind it. For instance, if you remove the "Central Park" disc, behind it is a black circle listing some events that happened in Barbra's career in 1968.
There are rare photos sprinkled throught the box set: on the DigiPak itself, and also in the handsome, detailed booklet that comes with the set. The booklet, in hues of burgundy and black, is art deco in design. Streisand herself is credited with "Art Direction" on the set. The liner notes by Jay Landers and Richard Jay-Alexander are thorough and revealing. Fans will pick up some new details from their notes -- for instance, that's Streisand's old friend Cis Corman in a cameo during BELLE OF 14th STREET!
As for the specials themselves, obvious care has been taken premiering them on DVD for the first time. Every disc has a creative menu design. My favorite is the MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS menu, with a music stand serving as the song selection menu. Viewers can choose from three audio options on all the specials: The original mono mix; a 2-channel stereo mix; or a 5.1 mix. The video quality is the best, for sure. Note that some of these specials are close to 40 years old. The restorers have spent time cleaning up the specials. Some of the videotape editing glitches that were viewable on the original 1987 VHS releases are gone (especially in COLOR ME BARBRA). Also, Rhino Home Video has included Streisand's original 1987 introductions to MY NAME, COLOR ME, and CENTRAL PARK. In the introductions, Streisand shares brief memories of creating the specials.
MY NAME IS BARBRA has a very special treat for Streisand fans: An alternate performance of "Lover Come Back to Me" has been inserted in the Act Three concert segment. It is quite a surprise to see! The original VHS release featured a version in which Barbra and the orchestra seemed to be competing in tempo. Streisand looked visibly frustrated at the end of the song. On the Rhino DVD release, that version has been replaced with another (a dress rehearsal? a different take?) in which Streisand is in full control of the song, playful, and fabulous. Accordingly, her introduction to the FUNNY GIRL medley that follows has some different wording, then the rest of the show is as it has always been.
CENTRAL PARK, unfortunately, does not include any of the unaired footage (it was a 2-hour concert). However, the sound mix on this DVD is wonderful. And it has an animated DVD menu with shooting stars.
It is fantastic to finally have BELLE OF 14TH STREET on DVD. Many of us Streisand fans have watched horrible bootleg dubs of this show for years. BELLE was never rebroadcast, and has never been commercially available on home video. So, to see it restored in this box set is very welcome. The show has a bad reputation of being Streisand's first television failure. That's an unfair assessment. BELLE is charming, has a wry sense of humor (I love "The Mongers", the Shakespeare couple who perform an 11-minute version of "The Tempest". Barbra has a BIG WIG and a hilarious Southern accent. ) Plus, BELLE has some great period songs sung as only Streisand can. "Everybody Loves My Baby" is superlative!
Finally, BARBRA STREISAND & OTHER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS is the other special never commercially available before this set was released. Taped in 1973, MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS has above par production values: Streisand looks fabulous in it with her long hair and empire-waisted gowns. Beautiful lighting and videography are on display throughout the entire special. There's some funky stuff on this show, including the whole middle section where Barbra performs amidst computers. The Ray Charles guest spot is pure talent congealed! His performance of "Look What They've Done to My Song" is classic, with Streisand watching a genius at work. Barbra wraps the show up with "The Sweetest Sounds" and looks absolutely gorgeous while singing it.
The Variety Show went out of style years ago. But even when Streisand was creating her first television specials, she dared to do them differently and succeeded. By watching these specials, which span the years of 1965-1973, you'll see how Barbra's unique talent spread itself over the television airwaves, just as she conquered the recording and film industries. She is a truly talented lady, and "Happy Days Are Here Again" with the STREISAND TELEVISION SPECIALS from Rhino Home Video."
Wow! Just in time for the 2005 Holiday season, the perfect g
K. Corn | Indianapolis,, IN United States | 11/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who didn't get a chance to see her early performances, ones in which she showed her tradmark combination of bravado and style, along with a glorious voice, this is a very special treat.
I'm old enough to remember seeing the televised Central Park performance and knew immediately that she was something special, with a certain delivery that was hers alone. There were other specials since then and, of course, she went on to act in movies and on Broadway.
But these first specials stand apart from the rest,showcasing a young Streisand who appears, at times, to be nearly as amazed as her fans at her performances, which truly seem to pour directly from her soul, unedited, unrevised.
She is friendly, accessable and just awkward enough to be totally irresistable. None of the famous "diva" reputation seems to be showing here. She appears to be enjoying every moment in front of her fans and she hasn't become used to celebrity yet. The novelty of it all shows on that beautiful face, a face which is truly testimony to how so many imperfect parts can add up to one glorious whole.
The specials themsevles would be reason enough to buy this set but there are some added features which make it even more attractive, including rare photos, detailed liner notes and little known trivia. From My Name is Barbra to a Concert in Central Park to the rarely seen Belle of 14th Street, this is a must for Barbra's many fans!"
These are great...but will they include everything
California Greg | USA | 10/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's quite exciting to have all of Barbra's early TV work out on DVD. The shows will be great. I'm wondering, though, if anyone ever thought about release THE ENTIRE Happening in Central Park. The show ran 2-1/2 hours for those lucky enough to be in Central Park that night. Yet the album had what, 40 minutes of material and the hour long TV special included probably about 50 minutes. Where's the rest of the footage and the rest of the songs?
How about a double CD of a great early concert by the younger Streisand? And how about the full-on DVD of the entire show. You know they shot it all. You know the footage is in the vaults. Come on Barbra, come on Marty...release it already. Give your fans a real treat!"
See a Performer Grow to Superstar
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 04/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Each special is on its own disc. There is also a booklet that describes each special in detail. On the disc holders is a cronology of events in Streisand's life.
Disc One: My Name is Barbra - Her 1965 special. This was filmed after her success on Broadway with Funny Girl. It was filmed in black & white. It has a 2.5 minute intro made in 1987 for the video release. The running time for the special is 52.5 minutes. The first act is Barbra singing on a soundstage with her orchestra interspersed onstage with her. She does a child in a fantasy backyard. The second act is principally shot at Bergdorf Goodman's with Barbra singing poverty songs like Second Hand Rose as a contrast. The third act is a straight out concert filmed in front of an audience. She won her first Emmy for this and the show won Best Variety Special and three additional awards. Barbra shows her charisma in this special.
Disc Two: Color Me Barbra - This was her 1966 special. She had just completed her Broadway run of Funny Girl and preparing to take it to London. This was one of the first color TV productions. It has a 2 minute intro made in 1987 for the video release. The running time for the special is 51 minutes. Like her first it has three acts. The first was shot with Barbra wander the halls of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and occasionally performing as a painting. The second act is a circus setting with her singing to live circus animals. And the third act is like the first special, Barbra singing to an audience. Barbra again showed her talent but at times she was a bit pretentious. This was rebroadcast on CBS in the late 80's as a promotion for the video release. This special was nominated for five Emmys but did not win.
Disc Three: The Belle of 14th Street - This was her 1967 special. She was just about to film Funny Girl. There is no introduction for this one as this is probably the first time it has been shown since its original airing. The running time for the special is 52 minutes. This was a turn of the century Vaudeville Revue with guest stars including Jason Robards. This is a homage to Vaudeville but what usually happens with these types of shows, it shows why Vaudeville died! The only truly successful Vaudeville revue to work was Ann Miller - Mickey Rooney in Sugar Babies. The special is different from her previous two until the third act which is Barbra singing solo music from the period. This works best. Also appearing in the special is John Bubbles who created Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess and Lee Adams who you might recognize from Funny Girl.
Disc Four: A Happening at Central Park - This was her 1968 special. This was a filmed before the release of Funny Girl. CBS used it to launch the season. This has a three minute intro made in 1987 for the video release. This is actually the best introduction and is very funny. The show opens with a great aerial shot of NYC which ends in Central Park.
Disc Five: Barbra Streisand...and Other Musical Instruments - This was her final special for CBS and was broadcast in 1973 to launch their November sweeps. Barbra went back to a staged show and basically a solo show. Her only guest was Ray Charles. She opens the show with the Sesame Street song Sing using an international orchestra. Streisand shows that the Gershwin "I Got Rhythm" has at least one more interpretation and then interprets classic American songs in various international styles. Next she tackles electronic music. Remember this was 1972 before the age of synthesizers. Then her soul period with Ray. This is followed by a brief classical ditty but turns into a popular music period. But she ends the evening with a musical tribute to the sounds of machines (this only somewhat works but you have to give her, director Dwight Hemion and writers Ken and Mitzie Welch high marks for trying.) Throughout the show she performs most of her requisite songs including People, On a Clear Day and Second Hand Rose. This is Streisand's most accomplished special. This is mostly due to her maturation and Dwight Hemion's brilliant direction. And of course the great writer Larry Gelbart and the specialty writing team of Ken and Mitzie Welch who will write most of Carol Burnett's classic sketches in years to come.
These five specials span almost a decade. We see Barbra grow from a recording star to Broadway star to movie star to superstar over the course of theses specials.
The only complaint that I have is the \packaging. These specials are 50 minutes each. Therefore, they could have been put on two discs, saving a lot of wasted space. But then this is Streisand we are talking about! "
Renee | BROOKLYN, NY USA | 12/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection, especially My Name Is Barbra and Color Me Barbra, is just extraordinary to see (and hear) again. I've loved Babs since I first saw her in the film Funny Girl. But one thing that struck me: Barbra was so extraordinarily edgy in these specials, so willing to take chances in the pursuit of the new. So, at what point in her career did she start playing it safe? And why isn't she recording more stuff that she's never recorded before? She's done just about every version she can do of People and Don't Rain on My Parade and The Way We Were. Of course we'll never get tired of her doing those songs. But there's so much more she can do in terms of putting her stamp on the American Songbook. She still has the voice. And God knows, if Rod Stewart can strike gold four times over, vocally slaughtering American standards, Barbra can bring them to their knees showing 'em all how it's really done!"