The collection arrived today, October 26th, and just skimming through the DVDs is a thrill. Firstly, the packaging is consistently stunning; goodbye to the easy-to-smash cardboard/plastic packaging when some of these DVDs were released in the 1990s. Oh, and goodbye to those hyper-expensive out-of-print DVDs! Those 50 minute-long DVDs have been replaced by discs that average 2 hours each (The bonus disc is roughly two and a half hours long). The menus are very stylish and the booklet that accompanies the collection is well done. Someone got the message and the collection is well laid out and impeccably presented. The image quality is not Hi-Def, of course, and there's only so much that can be done to spruce up video tape. Still, the colours are vivid.
About that bonus DVD: besides including assorted early televison clips and a terrific PBS documentary with commentary by his children, there's a half hour Christmas special with Sinatra and Bing Crosby. This was filmed on motion picture stock, directed by Sinatra (!), with musical arrangements by Nelson Riddle, and - although filmed in 1957 for television - is in something resembling Technicolour; it has a colour palette of green-red-blue that reminds me of ancient Kodacolor family slides and home movies done on Ektachrome stock. Considering how regular colour television broadcasting was about a decade away, someone was thinking ahead. Well, there's your Sinatra Holiday Special, Clyde, complete with Sinatra and Crosby: hitting the toddies and, briefly, in Dickensian dress. It's Ring-a-Ding-Ding traditional - like a Christmas party on the set of "High Society," and so old fashioned I hope it winds up as a separate DVD, someday.
The other DVDs are great, too. Take your pick as to which YOU want to call his greatest. At $55.99 for 14 hours of footage covering 30 years of his life, this is a brilliant Sinatra release. You have hours of him in those television productions he never completely warmed up to as well as hours and hours of him absolutely live - the way he liked it. The people behind this collection deserve our thanks. Healthy sales would be nice, too.