THE MUSIC MAN  [Blu-ray] [US Release] One Of The Best Musicals Of All Time! America’s Happiest Musicals!
This joyful film of the 1,375-performance Broadway smash hit, remains an irresistible sky burst of American musical hero Robert Preston, who recreates his Tony® Award winning Broadway triumph, as con artist Harold Hill. Arriving in River City, IOWA, to form a boys band, much to the disapproval and later delight of the town librarian Marion Paroo [Academy Award® winner Shirley Jones]. Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford and 7-year old Ron Howard co-star. With Meredith Wilson’s beloved score and featuring the unforgettable “Seventy-Six Trombones” and “Till There Was You” among other marvellous melodies and is orchestrated to brilliant OSCAR® winning effect by Ray Heindorf.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Academy Awards®: Wine: Best Musical Score adaptation or treatment for Ray Heindorf. Nominated: Best Picture for Morton DaCosta. Nominated: Best Costume (color) for Dorothy Jeakins. Nominated: Best Art Direction (color) for Paul Groesse and George James Hopkins. Nominated: Best Film Editing for William H. Ziegler. Nominated: Best Sound for George Groves. Jack L. Warner, who was notorious for wanting to film stage musicals with stars other than the ones who played the roles onstage, wanted Frank Sinatra for the role of Professor Harold Hill, but Meredith Willson insisted upon Robert Preston. Cary Grant was also "begged" by Warner Bros. to play Professor Harold Hill but he declined, saying "nobody could do that role as well as Bob Preston."
Cast: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Pert Kelton, The Buffalo Bills, Timmy Everett, Susan Luckey, Ron Howard, Harry Hickox, Charles Lane, Mary Wickes, Sara Seegar, Adnia Rice, Peggy Mondo, Jesslyn Fax, Monique Vermont, Fred Aldrich (uncredited), Charles Alvin Bell (uncredited), Jeannine Burnier (uncredited), Shirley Claire (uncredited), Natalie Core (uncredited), Ronnie Dapo (uncredited), Roy Dean (uncredited), Eileen Diamond (uncredited), William Fawcett (uncredited), Ralph Hart (uncredited), Percy Helton (uncredited), Patty Lee Hilka (uncredited), Rance Howard (uncredited), Bruce Hoy (uncredited), Delos Jewkes (uncredited), Elaine Joyce (uncredited), Charles Karel (uncredited), Ray Kellogg (uncredited), Colin Kenny (uncredited), Ann Loos (uncredited), Therese Lyon (uncredited), Robert Lyons (uncredited), Penelope Martin (uncredited), Natalie Masters (uncredited), Bert May (uncredited), Arthur Mills (uncredited), Milton Parsons (uncredited), Barbara Pepper (uncredited), Charles Percheskly (uncredited), Gary Potter (uncredited), Larry Steven Randel (uncredited), Vern Reed (uncredited), Al Shea (uncredited), Max Showalter (uncredited), Bill Spangenberg (uncredited), David Swain (uncredited), Larri Thomas (uncredited), Wayne Ward (uncredited), Hank Worden (uncredited) Peggy Wynne (uncredited)
Director: Morton DaCosta
Producers: Joel Freeman and Morton DaCosta
Screenplay: Franklin Lacey (written in collaboration), Marion Hargrove (screenplay) and Meredith Willson (based on "The Music Man")
Composer: Meredith Willson and Ray Heindorf (uncredited)
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 [Technirama]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
Running Time: 151 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Nobody thought Meredith Willson could turn out a hit musical back in 1949 when he started working on a story inspired by his IOWA childhood and the time he spent playing piccolo for John Philip Sousa. He'd never written a musical before, just incidental numbers for Broadway, film and radio, and also did the background score for Charles Chaplin's ‘The Great Dictator’ . The original producers dropped him as work dragged on over eight years. But his mentor, songwriter Frank Loesser, stuck by him and ended up producing ‘The Music Man,’ one of Broadway's biggest hits of the 1950s.
In the annals of musical theatre, a handful of roles have become so closely identified with the actors who originated them, it's almost impossible to imagine any other performer in the part. Yul Brynner as the stubborn Siamese ruler in 'The King and I' is one; Rex Harrison as insufferable elocution expert Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady' is another. There's also Mary Martin as the cherubic 'Peter Pan,' and of course Robert Preston as that unflappable con artist Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Willson's sprightly salute to small town America, 'The Music Man.' Mention the song "76 Trombones" and no one except the energetic Robert Preston marching and strutting down the street, waving a baton and leading a legion of loyal followers springs to mind. Though contemporary viewers may only remember him as Julie Andrews' drag queen mentor in 'Victor Victoria' and it was 'The Music Man' that cemented Robert Preston's reputation and gave him the role of a lifetime.
Riding on the coattails of a series of Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptations, 'The Music Man' helped usher in the era of the colossal Hollywood musical; films so big and brassy, they provided audiences with the kind of large-scale entertainment television variety shows couldn't. 'West Side Story,' 'Gypsy,' 'My Fair Lady,' and 'The Sound of Music' would also wow wide-eyed viewers during this period, but 'The Music Man' possesses the kind of homespun charm that appeals to a vast range of ages and backgrounds. Meredith Willson's musical is family entertainment with a capital F, and with an array of infectious and rhythmically inventive melodies and almost all of which are classics Morton DaCosta's 151-minute extravaganza survives some sluggish dramatic stretches to emerge as one of Hollywood's most faithful and beloved stage-to-screen adaptations.
This homage to Meredith Willson's formative years in IOWA, 'The Music Man' depicts how traditional American values, love, and devotion can tame even the most cynical and hardened human specimens. Harold Hill is a first-rate swindler, traveling the country in the hope of defrauding unsuspecting, upstanding townspeople out of their hard-earned money by promising to organise and train an all-boys band that will put River City's recalcitrant youth on a straight-and-narrow path and unify a splintering community. To achieve such middle-American nirvana, the residents simply need to pay for instruments and uniforms, and Harold will do the rest…which in this case means absconding with the proceeds before anyone's the wiser. Yet, succumbing to the fresh-faced allure of the suspicious Marion Paroo [Shirley Jones], the local librarian who falls for Harold against her better judgment, isn't part of the scheme.
And of course for me, the songs save the day, and luckily there are enough of them and almost all are gems to both maintain my interest and fuel my sincere admiration for the talent and verve on display and of course must surely include Robert Preston spitting out the brilliant tongue-twisting, rapid-fire "Trouble," which defines composer Meredith Willson's innovative lyrical patter and a style that continues in such other recognisable tunes as "Pick a Little, Talk a Little" and "Gary, Indiana" and reprised by an adorable, lisping, seven-year-old Ron and billed here as Ron [Ronny] Howard, who very nearly steals the show), as well as the opening number, "Rock Island," which could be classified as "early rap." Though Meredith Willson is a master at rousing choral numbers like "The Wells Fargo Wagon," he's no slouch in the romantic ballad department either, with "Goodnight, My Someone" and "Till There Was You" beautifully showcasing Jones' lilting soprano.
Morton DaCosta, who also directed the Broadway version, takes full command of the camera, filling the Technirama lens, which is a CinemaScope subistute, with plenty of pageantry and atmosphere. While the film often flaunts a distinct backlot, soundstage feel, the artificiality complements the theatrical nature of the piece, as do some of Morton DaCosta's shot compositions and lighting effects. In all, 'The Music Man' received Six Academy Award Nominations, including one for Best Picture, but losing to 'Lawrence of Arabia,' and earned its sole OSCAR® for Best Adapted Scoring.
Though Robert Preston was ignored by the Academy, the film without question belongs to him. His indefatigable portrayal infuses this classic musical with such spirit and dynamism; it's easy to see why the residents of River City were so enamoured of Harold Hill. And you will be, too. 'The Music Man' may be far from my favourite musical, but because of Robert Preston I won't hesitate to visit it again. He is truly the leader of the band.
With Robert Preston in place Warner Bros. decided to keep on several other cast members, including the barbershop quartet The Buffalo Bills; Pert Kelton, the one-time movie vamp who was now playing the heroine's mother; and Paul Ford, who had taken over the mayor's role from David Burns. Among new additions were Shirley Jones as leading lady and in place of Broadway legend Barbara Cook, and as her younger brother, the young Ron Howard, who would one day become one of Hollywood's top directors.
Finally, in another rare move for Hollywood, the film retained almost all of the show's songs. The only change was in Marian Paroo's romantic ballad, with Meredith Wilson writing a new song, "Being in Love," to replace the original "My White Knight." The reason given at the time was that the new song was more in Shirley Jones's range. According to show-biz legend, however, "My White Knight" had actually been written by Frank Loesser and it's very similar to a number cut from his opera “The Most Happy Fella,” who refused to sell the rights to Warner Bros.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'The Music Man' sports a vibrant, well-balanced transfer that adds plenty of visual vim and verve to this energetic musical. A natural grain structure lends the image a film-like texture, but never diminishes the crystal clarity that distinguishes the majority of this first-class effort. Though the opening train sequence looks a bit rough and noisy, due to heavy rear projection processing on the original print, the rest of the movie settles into a fine groove, with only a few errant white specks dotting the beautifully restored source material. Blues and especially reds pop with lush saturation, and the overall palette exudes a slight faint warmth that subtly highlights the period atmosphere. Flesh tones are pleasing, and blacks are always inky, making Morton DaCosta's signature iris-in-iris-out effect and a modified blackout used for emphasis at the end of some scenes, especially striking. Close-ups flaunt plenty of marvellous detail, and background elements are easy to discern. No banding or edge enhancement could be detected either. The folks at Warner Bros. take great care in bringing their classics to Blu-ray, and 'The Music Man' is another fine example of their meticulous attention to detail and commitment to honouring the films of Hollywood's past.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Ever since Warner Bros. belatedly embraced the audio on its high-definition releases, the studio has supported the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD surround sound platform. Well, 'The Music Man' is one of the first Warner Blu-ray disc to break that trend, and its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track punches up the vintage sound of this musical classic quite nicely, presumably helped by the original 4-track magnetic presentations.. Any age-related defects have been erased, and the resulting clear, crisp sound brings Meredith Wilson's popular score to brilliant life. Jones' vocals possess a marvellous purity of tone, and even when she scales and sustains those high notes, there's no hint of distortion. Of course, the bigger the number, the wider the scope of the sound, and "76 Trombones" fill the room so completely; you can almost count every instrument. The song also pumps out some palpable bass, adding welcome weight to the music. As one would guess for a 1962 film, most of the sonic action is anchored up front, but good stereo separation lends an expansive feel to the audio, and some faint bleeds into the surrounds during exterior sequences provide a bit of ambience. Dialogue is often spoken quickly, but it's always easy to understand, even during the tongue-twisting "Trouble" number. The mix is well balanced, too, so there's no need to fumble with volume levels when the principals burst into song. Though the audio can't quite eclipse the video, it's a solid effort and complements this classic well.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Introduction by Shirley Jones [480i] [2:00] The female star of 'The Music Man' talks about her attraction to the part of Marian Paroo and generally lauds the production in this brief lead-in to the film.
Special Feature: Right Here in River City: The Making of Meredith Willson's ‘The Music Man’  [480i] [30:00] Shirley Jones is back to host this made-for-video documentary treats song and dance fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Music Man, the classic 1962 film adaptation of the stage musical about a con man who's plan to fool a sleepy Iowa town with stories of marching bands doesn't go quite as he intended. Features interviews with some of the cast and crew of the film, including choreographer Onna White, who share their experiences from working on the project, as well as discuss the special efforts that went into bringing it all together. The special feature also examines director Morton DaCosta's signature camera techniques, the recording sessions, choreography, rehearsals, the stop-action title sequence and quite innovative for its time, and the film's gala IOWA Premiere. We also learn the studio originally pushed to have Frank Sinatra play professor Harold Hill, and find out how Jones hid her pregnancy during shooting. Fans of film classics will certainly enjoy this well-produced piece. Other contributors to this special feature is Susan Luckey and Buddy Hackett. Directed by Scott Benson. Screenplay by Tom Edwards. Produced by Scott Benson. Cinematography by John Simmons.
Theatrical Trailer [480i] [1:00] Here is a brief re-release of the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘The Music Man’ and is more of a tease than a full-fledged preview.
Finally, with its wonderful melodic winning score and sprightly performances, 'The Music Man' remains one of the most popular Broadway musical adaptations, and this Blu-ray rendering from Warner grandly showcases it. High-quality video and audio transfers bring this nostalgic period piece to life and enhance the effervescence of Robert Preston's iconic portrayal. This is one the whole family can enjoy, and though it's not a personal favourite of mine, its myriad charms are undeniable. The Blu-ray is a beauty to look at and listen to, and it's the perfect family film for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom