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The Mikado [Blu-ray]

Kenny Baker , Martyn Green , Victor Schertzinger    Unrated   Blu-ray
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Product Description

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Changes must be expected when a classic book or stage show becomes a movie. In this 1939 Mikado, efforts were made to respect the original. Stars of the D'Oyly Carte Company were hired for key roles and performed them in their traditional style, with the D'Oyly Carte Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, and a director (Victor Schertzinger) who was also a conductor and knew the music.

An introductory scene was added to clarify the plot, and other small adjustments were made. Several songs were left out or abbreviated, and one song, "The sun, whose rays," was sung twice, by Nanki-Poo and by Yum-Yum, for whom it was written. A popular tenor of the time, Kenny Baker, sang Nanki-Poo with good, light tone, but in his own non-traditional style. These departures from tradition may infuriate hard-core Gilbert and Sullivan fans, but others will hardly notice. The visuals are gorgeous, the sound not up to present standards but clear and accurate. This is not a definitive Mikado, but an interesting one and timeless in style. --Joe McLellan

Product Description

The legendary GILBERT AND SULLIVAN troupe the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company joined forces with Hollywood for this 1939 Technicolor version of the fabled comic opera, the first complete work by the famed duo to be adapted for the screen, directed by musician and Oscar-nominated filmmaker VICTOR SCHERTZINGER (One Night of Love, Road to Singapore). The result is a lavish cinematic retelling of the British political satire set in exotic Japan, with such enduringly popular numbers as “A Wandering Minstrel I” and “Three Little Maids from School Are We,” and featuring performances by American singer Kenny Baker as well as a host of renowned D’Oyly Carte actors, including Martyn Green and Sydney Granville.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • Newly remastered digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition • New video interview with Topsy-Turvy director Mike Leigh on The Mikado and its adaptation for the screen • New video interview with Mikado scholars Josephine Lee and Ralph MacPhail Jr., tracing the 1939 filmed version of the opera back to its 1885 stage debut • Short silent film promoting the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s 1926 stage performance of The Mikado • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien



Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Adaptation! July 21 2003
By D.D.
Format:DVD
This film is a great adaptation of what's been called the most popular musical of all time...if you are able to accept the edits. In bringing the production to an end at least 30 minutes quicker than a typical stage version, they opted to cut Katisha's role down to a mere plot mechanism, which works fine if it must. In the 1960 TV production, overseen by Martyn Green himself, she didn't even show up until the second act, and it worked just fine (though it did help that she got her two big numbers at the end, which sweetly helped to layer Groucho Marx's under-rehearsed but hilarious Ko-Ko). The other cuts are of lesser-known numbers (the packaging says only one song was omitted!), except for the "List" song, and the abrupt and jarring fade to black after Ko-Ko's wonderful entrance sequence indicates that it may have been filmed (as I have seen written) and dropped, either because this was a few years before the official "banjo" lyric substitution, or because of some business involving a Hitler image. As great as it is, that song always seems stuck-in (as it was) and counter to Ko-Ko's personality.
The mouthing of pre-recorded lyrics is exceptionally well-done, and until I read Green's account of lip-synching experiences I wondered if the songs were actually recorded live...he is particularly sharp, especially in the "Criminal Cried" sequence. Some of his business seems over-done, especially in the "encores," and inside-jokes like the stubbed-toe bit seem weird and out-of-place (I think the film would have benefited from editing out both encores). But he is the classic Ko-Ko, and his changing motivations and emotions expertly show why this complex character is one of the great characters of the theatre.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Green & Granville make for pleasant MIKADO June 27 2003
Format:DVD
True love never runs smooth in the classic operas of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. When the son of the Mikado of Japan falls in love with the fair Yum-Yum, he must not only out-wit the man she is to wed (Ko-Ko), but the lovesick Katisha and his own father as well. What follows is a tuneful comedy of errors that has become one of the classics of the musical stage. If nothing else, THE MIKADO has long been regarded as one of the best of the Gilbert & Sullivan creations, with it's sharp satire wedded to the lovely music and Japanese trappings. However, many fans of the Savoy operas have tended to view this 1939 film adapation as somewhat of a mixed bag. While they appreciated the use of stars from the D'Oyle Carte Opera Company, they didn't enjoy seeing the opera trimmed to fit into a 90 minute time frame. Having said that, I will state that this version is a solid enough introduction to the classic show, while preserving the great performances of D'Oyle Carte veterans Sydney Granville and Martyn Green.
Green truly makes the most of his role as the nervous Lord High Executioner, Ko-Ko. His dances of glee in the "Here's A How De Do" number are a great highlight. In contrast, Granville is the epitome of pompous officialdom as Pooh-Bah, the Lord High Everything Else. Kenny Baker's Nanki-Poo doesn't quite have the flair of the others, but he's pleasant enough in the role.
In the title role, John Barclay makes an absolutely gleefully ghoulish Mikado. Some of the costumes are a little strange and the "prologue" which basically sets up the story is charming, if a little strange to those familiar with the opera. If you're a solid G & S fan, you might not appreciate the abridgement, but the performances of Green and Granville are truly classic.....and that alone makes this film worth recommending.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Martyn Green as Ham Jan. 9 2002
Format:DVD
This is not a review as such, but a response to the earlier question regarding Martyn Green as a ham. I was privileged to see him perform as Ko-Ko either at the Schubert Theater in Manhattan or the Philadelphia Academy of Music (I'm too old to remember which!). It was in the late '40s or early '50s, when I was an early teen or pre-teen, and before he lost his leg in an elevator accident. He was so hammy that at one point during one of his many "Here's a How-De-Do" encores he actually shinnied about 30 feet up on a piece of scenery just inside the proscenium! I've seen many Ko-Kos since. He was the best, and I'll always treasure that luminous performance. How did the world ever let itself lose the D'Oyly Carte???
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4.0 out of 5 stars Comparison to Statford Edition Sept. 23 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
It is certain that the biggest problem with this make of the Mikado is that so many good songs were cut. However, I am glad that they cut out "As someday it may happen" I never liked that in the least. I mostly compare this to the Statford 1986 version. Overall, it wasn't as good, but it is worth seeing both. I think that this is definitely the Mikado to watch first because it is shorter and the sets are so excellent the watching is easier. I tried watching the Statford version and was desparately bored, until I became enough of a Mikado lover from watching this version to watch it again.
I thought that Kenney Baker made a fine Nanki-Poo, he was much better than Stratford's Henry Ingram, who overacted even more, if that's possible. Baker's voice was good for the role. The accent wasn't much of an impediment, though getting an English one may have helped.
I liked this Yum-Yum because she was much different than the Stratford one, she was quiet and graceful while the other was bouncy, active and perky.
I like the way that Martyn Green hammed up the role, he is the best Ko-Ko I know and did that very well. The Mikado, however, I thought was very bad because he was nothing compared to Gidon Saks of Stratford, a better Mikado than Saks never did in DVD exist.
My favorite character was certainly Sydney Granville, he really captured and haughtiness and snobbery perfectly. While the Stratford Pooh-Bah makes one laugh more, this Pooh-Bah had the correct personality and was better. I loved his fake stomach.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Lavish production, poor sound, missing songs
For those of you spoiled by TOPSY-TURVY, this will come as disappointed relief or some such thing. There are several missing songs (As someday it may happen, So sir we much regret,... Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by Quarx
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat mixed bag
Overall I enjoyed this. Without knowing quite what to expect, I liked most of the performances very much - they're pretty traditional Doyly Carte stuff - with the exception of... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Decent
After careful consideration I finally ordered this DVD- all the reviews I read either loathed it or adored it, & there wasn't much room for the middle ground. Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Rick Pinyan
4.0 out of 5 stars Micado on DVD
Well, the artistic and authentic value of this film may be argued indeed, but, what makes it worth watching, is the technical data of this transfer: the picture and color quality... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2001 by Mart Sander
3.0 out of 5 stars famous D'Oyly Carte Players on film
This wouldn't be my first choice for a DVD or VHS Mikado, but it IS interesting in its own way. A big technicolor production from 1938, one has the opportunity to see D'Oyly Carte... Read more
Published on May 8 2000 by "mack@n2music.com"
3.0 out of 5 stars famous D'Oyly Carte Players on film
This wouldn't be my first choice for a DVD or VHS Mikado, but IS interesting in its own way. A big technicolor production from 1938, one has the opportunity to see D'Oyly Carte... Read more
Published on May 8 2000 by "mack@n2music.com"
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching, but beware of deficiencies
Satisfying if approached as a film, rather than an opera. The cuts have already been mentioned. For me, the biggest disappointment was in the sound quality of the DVD. Read more
Published on May 6 2000 by rkass
1.0 out of 5 stars An immensely disappointing Mikado
This is a "Mikado" in name only. A Gilbert and Sullivan fan for thirty years, I was disappointed to find such songs as "I've Got a Little List," "To Sit in... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2000 by Brian J. Murphy
4.0 out of 5 stars What would Willie and Artie think?
While it is wonderful for its preservations of Martyn Green's KoKo and Sydney Granville's Pooh Bah, I find that the rearrangement of the scenes for this movie most odd. Read more
Published on Nov. 6 1999 by Robert Ray (r.ray@vca.unimelb.edu.au)
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