By Laurie Coker
Anyone who knows me knows I love musicals. I travel to New York as often as I can and make an effort to see as many musicals on Broadway as time and money allow. When the new Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Musicals DVD boxed set arrived in my mail, I couldn’t wait to tear open the package. This impressive set features 20 essential musical classics and includes a booklet containing photos and synopsis of each film in the set. The set includes: The Jazz Singer (1927), Broadway Melody of 1929 (1929), 42nd Street (1933), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), 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). It’s an impressive set and the films’ stars equally impressive – Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Elvis Presley, Liza Minnelli, and many, many more.
As part of Warner Brother’s 90th anniversary, this set of classics demonstrates what makes this iconic studio so famous and with the release of this DVD collection audiences are in for a real treat. I love these films and to have them all in one, collector set is, simply put, awesome! In addition to the movies 21 in all, spanning several decades, the set, which comes in Bluray, and in a variety of box set covers, includes a booklet with synopsis and pictures of each film. What’s even better is the fact that this is more of a history of musicals on films from the onset up to 1988 and that in and of itself makes it worth the price.
On the point of history – this is not just a history of musicals, but of the innovations in film, from the use of color to the use of technology. Musicals on film gave audiences the first synced up sound, colorization and talking pictures. This set is indeed a stroll down history lane, complete with a delightful and memorable soundtrack. The only one thing that could have perhaps made the set better would have been the inclusion of films after 1988. I am not familiar enough with the bountiful Warner Brother’s film vault to know what might be missing, if anything, but I do know musicals and these are some of the most delightful and entertaining ones in one set – 21 discs broken down into 3 sections.
On a final note, I need to rave and rant about the stars whose talents and lives play out in these films. My mother, encouraged me enjoy theatre and for that matter, film. She was my best theatre buddy and could sing songs from nearly every musical made before 1980, especially the earlier ones. This set brought a smile to my face – it took me back in time, and made me think of my mother. I only wish I still had her to share it with me now, the way she shared the very same musicals with me. She had me singing in the rain and looking somewhere over the rainbow and now so does this wonderful set. It belongs on the shelf of lovers of movies, musicals and history. I am slamming a straight A in my grade book.