Not really what dreams are made of!
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Black Tights" belongs to an exciting part of my childhood which helped create a great love for ballet, opera and film art. So naturally, a DVD presentation of this rare - and at least for me - almost mythical film was something to look forward to! But unfortunately, this KINO presentation leaves much to be desired. I guess that this film is now a public domain title, which means that a negative or at least a perfect print might not be available anywhere. But the print used for DVD-transfer by KINO is often badly worn, especially at the reel change points appearing about every tenth minute - proof that a 70mm print was the base for the transfer. Considering this, the sound quality is surprisingly bad and the aspect ratio is not correct. (It should measure 2,2:1 if properly made.)Thankfully, the colors have not faded too badly (some reels display quite a gorgeous palette), but contrasts are weak, and scratches and dirt sometimes overwhelm the image to a point where you almost feel like throwing the disc in the nearest garbage can! But...it's still a rare and nostalgic film with lots of camp value and some very charismatic dancing stars, so it stays in the collection, if reluctantly. It will be interesting to see what the upcoming version from VCI will look like. I have no high hopes this time though! There surely must exist a better kept print somewhere in the world! Shame on KINO! They should have included a warning sticker on the package: For die-hard fans and fools only!"
Gallic charm to spare in this balletomane's dream!
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 06/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BLACK TIGHTS is a delightful film which showcases 4 ballets choreographed by Roland Petit and featuring his well-known ballet troupe. His wife Zizi Jeanmaire is the central figure in both "La Croqueuse de Diamants" and "Carmen". Moira Shearer stars in "Cyrano de Bergerac" and Cyd Charisse cavorts in "Deuil en 24 Heures". Maurice Chevalier appears to introduce each segment.
For fans of Zizi Jeanmaire, the movie is a must just for "Carmen" alone. This was the ballet created especially for her by Roland Petit. It launched her international career and she danced the role from London to Broadway. This film perfectly recreates the original production, highlighted by her beguiling footwork in "Seguidille". Petit recreates the role of Don Jose. "La Croqueuse de Diamants" is the story of a young woman who lives in a den of thieves and loves to eat diamonds (as Chevalier says, "charming, but expensive"). Jeanmaire's special charms radiate off the screen.
In "Cyrano de Bergerac", Moira Shearer of THE RED SHOES fame plays Roxanne with Roland Petit in the title role. The story of unrequited love plays out it's tragic course and Shearer emotes beautifully as the conflicted Roxanne. Petit gives arguably one of his greatest performances as Cyrano.
"Deuil en 24 Heures" features Cyd Charisse as a young coquette who flirts with younger men, enraging her more-mature husband who gets killed in a duel. The young woman then decides to kick up her heels at Maxim's.
Each of the 30-minute segments is a complete joy. You have no less than 3 of the most beautiful ballet dancers to appear onscreen, coupled with Roland Petit's innovative and economic choreography. A film that balletomanes won't be able to resist!"
Dancers who should not be forgotten
H. Rink | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 02/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a lifelong fan of Cyd Charisse and consider her the very best female dancer hollywood has ever produced - she never disappoints and her feature is the best of the DVD. Moira Shearer, whom I also like but know less of, is also wonderful in her way, vulnerable and graceful. I found Roland Petit's Cyrano (ballet, not his performance) a bit convoluted - a lot of material to get into a feauterette. Zizi Jeanmarie is the epitome of the French dancer and the ballet itself the epitome of what we foreigners think Paris was back in the early 20th centura."
But Unmentioned Surprise Bonus: Early Experimental Dance Fil
V. Stasov | 04/14/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD would not be very high on my list were it not for the final 10 minute bonus at the end of the program. After the unbearably kitschy Black Tights and Bolshoi '67, we discover an unexpected little gem titled Spring Night, an early experimental dance film.
Spring Night is a lushly erotic miniature ballet in the stylistic lineage of the Ballets Russes. It was made in 1935, only a half dozen years after the death of Serge Diaghilev. It was choreographed by the beautiful and sinuous Russian dancer David Lichine, who danced with and choreographed for Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, one of the splinter companies that formed after the death of Diaghilev.
Spring Night is a Symbolist fusion of stunningly innovative dance, drama, spiritual subtext, cinematographer's art and music, produced by the very long-lived Adolph Zukor, who was one of the pioneers of the film industry. The elegant and hypnotic camera work was done by George Clemens, who went on to do the cinematography for Twilght Zone and other popular television shows.
The dancing is exquisite. Lichine's partner, Texan Nana Gollner is a lovely and inspired match for his exotic beauty, grace and elasticity. Their dancing has a mystical sensuality that is rarely seen. Lichine was a dancer/choreographer for the Ballets Russes, the same company that bore the crown jewel Nijinsky, one of the 20th century's most ingenius, mysterious and innovative dancers. Watching Lichine in the role of the Faun in Spring Night evokes images of Nijinsky as the same character, but in different works. Incredulously, there are no films of Nijinsky dancing, although photographs of him elude to something so beautiful, strange and uniquely groundbreaking that one weeps for more, and for his lost genius, stolen by schizophrenia extreme to such a degree that he had to leave the stage at a quite early age.
If you are at all interested in the Ballets Russes and its contributions to modern art, Spring Night is a gift. Especially if you have seen the outstanding, recently released documentary, Ballets Russes, you may find Spring Night to be especially important and informative. David Lichine's wife was one of the Baby Ballerinas featured in the documentary Ballets Russes, and is interviewed extensively there. There are film clips in BR of the beloved dance team David Lichine and his wife Tania Riabuchinska. She and her husband provided the dance of the Hippos in Disney's Fantasia. Ballets Russes
This short appears on a DVD with Black Tights and Boshoi '67, two lesser offerings that nonetheless have valuable moments, including a surrealistic Bolero danced by dazzling Bolshoi artists on the latter DVD. You'll also have opportunities in Bolshoi '67 to see some of the greats of the Bolshoi during this era, including Maximova, Bessmertnova, Timofeyeva and Mikhail Lavrovsky. Some of the choreography might be unbearable, like "Paganini", where the dancers are running around with violins (or pretend violins) but it's still a treat to view some of these greats in their prime.
Black Tights does have abundant beautiful women with long, gorgeous legs. But the choreography, music and content do not appeal to me, although it may to many others because of their attachment to some of the beauteous stars of the film, like Cyd Charise, Zizi Jean-Maire and Moira Shearer of The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann.
The price of this DVD is worth paying just to experience Spring Night, a sacred artifact from the passing age of the Ballets Russes.
My only fear is that this short is not mentioned on Amazon's description of the program (although it never was, and was consequently quite a delicious surprise). If you are interested in seeing Spring Night, I recommend you contact the seller to see if it's listed on the box."