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One singular sensation... "One singular sensation..." (Toronto, Canada)
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Complete Decca Recordings/
Complete Decca Recordings/
Price: CDN$ 28.66
15 used & new from CDN$ 14.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes time doesn't matter, Feb. 28 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I expected this CD to be a little, if not a lot, dated. I had no recollection of Mark Murphy from the past, but most of the songs were either favourites or ones that I didn't have a copy of but had enjoyed from other singers on the radio - does anyone still listen to a radio? In any case, what a delicious surprise. I suppose he is a jazz singer, but that would be more accurate in an earlier time when songs were done without too much switching of notes and adding personal touches. Now that is commonplace, so that Murphy sounds pretty much up to date.
Time has caused one problem that Decca could have solved with just a little effort - not the quality of the sound - but having the least attractive two songs come first. First impressions are hard to get over, but by the time you finish the CD, they are forgotten except that you learn to skip them from then on or find something demanding to do so that they slide by without much attention being paid to them. Otherwise, Murphy's voice stands up well. The songs, almost all of them, still work well.
That leaves me with just one question: whatever happened to Mark Murphy? Two Lps, both on this CD, and that was that?
Worth buying - definitely yes.

The Essential George Gershwin
The Essential George Gershwin
Price: CDN$ 18.94
34 used & new from CDN$ 12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes it is nice to revisit the past and discover something new, Feb. 22 2015
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At first glance I wasn't even tempted to buy this CD. I had most of the songs, all but two, in fact, and generally on original cast recordings. But then I realized that these were not at all going to be the same, in most cases, but popular versions, the old fashioned singles of eons ago. So I took a little bit of a chance, and purchased it.
It was a good move.
There are about six bands that I would have cast aside as too mundane, too uninspiring in their presentation, but with most of them, it was comfortable to hear Gershwin done outside the confines of a theatre stage or concert hall. The movie cuts were suddenly not that special either as they were far too familiar and needed their jewel-box settings.
It was the other songs, some by singers I had never heard of, some song versions that had never been released at all before now.
In a major way, this set compliments all the other Gershwin CDs I have, very nicely.
I'm now wondering what other treasures are sitting hidden away in the storage vaults of the various recording companies. As an example, Johnny Mathis recorded one set of Broadway songs, and it sold well. Yet the other set he recorded was never released...until about two years ago. Makes me wonder what recordings of Peggy Lee, Lena Horne("You Got Class"?), Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and even Frank Sinatra are on shelves or boxes fading away.

100 Best Songs from Musicals
100 Best Songs from Musicals
Price: CDN$ 27.11
31 used & new from CDN$ 10.28

1.0 out of 5 stars Okay? Who chose this grab-bag?, Feb. 22 2015
If you don't collect Broadway original cast recordings, there may be a value here, BUT it is not the "Best Songs" in many cases, but the most commonly recorded. What happens to a great song like "I'll but You a Star", or "Closer Than Pages in a Book", just because the shows weren't magnificently successful, they're excluded, but there better than most of the numbers here. And it was never a hit, but how could "Time Heels Everything" not be one of the "best 100 songs"? One could go on and on, especially since more than a few of the songs selected here are by no means the 'best' within the shows in which they were introduced. Sorry, but I don't feel that "I'm Almost Like Being in Love" with too many poor choices.

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No. 2
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No. 2
Price: CDN$ 13.48
32 used & new from CDN$ 3.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone has to love Rachmaninov! And this is superb, Feb. 16 2015
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Racmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 is simply breathtakingly beautiful. At least six popular songs have been pulled from the score which proves that this is not just for lovers of classical music, but of all music.

Here the performance, soloist and orchestra, is top notch.

I already have one version, have had it for years, and felt it was time to hear what someone else could do with it - one can't fail but be good. This is well beyond good.

Noel and Cole by Sara Jean Ford, Elizabeth Stanley, Barbara Walsh, Philip Chaffin, Euan Morton, M (2013) Audio CD
Noel and Cole by Sara Jean Ford, Elizabeth Stanley, Barbara Walsh, Philip Chaffin, Euan Morton, M (2013) Audio CD
Offered by JnP Store Canada
Price: CDN$ 35.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Philip Chaffin - Who Could Ask for Anything More?, Feb. 16 2015
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There is no better tenor out there than Philip Chaffin. No one even comes close to singing the beautiful Broadway standards than he does. He inhabits the songs, makes them his own, never distorts their beauty in any way, but enriches them beyond description. I wish he would release a CD every two or three months. The rest of the cast is good, but were unknown to me until I heard this CD. I shall watch out for two of the ladies in CDs of this type in the future.
Porter comes off a little better than Coward, simply because his melodies are lovelier, almost all the time, and lyrics are more sensuous than clever, usually.
But this is a CD that will get a great deal of play in our household and our daughter has already placed an order for it after her first hearing it - and she and I usually do not share the same musical taste.
So do buy it if you love beautiful voices singing gorgeous songs. It's a stunner!!!!

Cleopatra: 50th Anniversary Edition (Bilingual)
Cleopatra: 50th Anniversary Edition (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Elizabeth Taylor
Price: CDN$ 6.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars A very guilty pleasure. How could it be so bad?, Feb. 13 2015
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If "CleoTaylor" had not been so cheap, I wouldn't have bought it. But cheap it was, and despite the millions spent on it, cheap it will always be. It is the best example of how NOT to film a spectacle. Only Rex Harrison makes a true attempt to act, and with his death at midpoint, the movie descends into a public embarrassment for all involved. Liz Taylor had great beauty, but she walks and overacts her way through the movie, stripping the character of any dignity or grace. She is a shrew with emotional outbursts that are truly ugly. Burton must really have been drunk as he staggers through the part, the worst performance of his career, and with Taylor he gave some true stinkers. Reliable actors such as Roddy McDowell are so badly miscast that they do not understand their roles and butcher them one after the other. The spectacles are laughable. Taylor's entrance into Rome is so historically wrong and utterly over the top that it provokes snickers, not awe. The sea battle is too tame, too emotionless, and badly plotted. Almost any child in a bathtub could have done as well with his or her toy boats.
The colour is sumptuous, the costumes nonsense, the sets absurd, the direction a disaster at every point. Face it, beautiful as she was, Liz Taylor only acted well in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" thanks to MGM playing with the script to make it suit her and make a fool out of Paul Newman. The oscar she eventually won was one of Oscars biggest mistakes for she downright awful paired with Eddie Fisher. It is probably her miscasting as Cleopatra, that doomed the film to becoming one of the dumbest films, worst made films, of all time. All the other errors seem to have come from that. Poor Rex Harrison, he didn't deserve this atrocity.

Separate Tables (Bilingual)
Separate Tables (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 6.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest films from the 1950's., Feb. 13 2015
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This review is from: Separate Tables (Bilingual) (DVD)
Filmed in black and white, the action restricted to a few rooms on the main floor of a holiday-by-the-sea retirement home for damaged souls, "Separate Tables" due to the brilliant performances within it, is one of the best 1950s' movies made. It does not have spectacle. It does not lecture, preach, or attempt to drag pointless humour into its sadly splendid plot. It presents us with a group of mismatched souls looking to salvage what they can of themselves, and each, in his or her own way, making a miraculous leap forward. Top billed, Deborah Kerr seems, at first, to have the smallest part, but as the intertwined stories unfolds, it is the genius of this actress that holds us most. Contrast this performance with everything else she has done and you will realize how wrong the Oscars were that year. But they recognized David Niven with the award for Best Actor, which he richly deserved. Lancaster almost plays against type, and proves himself a very skilled performer. Then there is Wendy Hiller, Best Supporting Actress, subtly weaving magic out of a part that could have been wallpaper against the other performers. Second billed, Rita Hayworth is cast in a part designed for Vivian Leigh. With alzheimers on Hayworth's horizon and people attributing it to alcohol abuse, Lancaster took a bold move in casting her in the role she so well inhabits. At first it would appear that his gamble did not pay off, but as the plot unfolds, we see this woman wrap herself into the most difficult part she has ever played, allowing mask after mask to drop until the essential human being alone is seen and understood. Don't except the typical happy ending, but there are no tragedies, and life goes on, better for them all than it has been.The young couple, so in love, are a contrast to the five mentioned above, but in their story one can see the sadness that they have ahead of them in another mismatched pairing. And Rod Taylor shows how strong an actor he will be when given future chances.
Incidentally, there is a lovely title song, sung by Vic Damone, who is given no credit. Too bad it never became a standard as this was the last gasp of popular songs coming from Broadway and Hollywood and this equals "An Affair to Remember"'s lovely title song.

Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 5 (U.K. Edition) [Blu-ray]
Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 5 (U.K. Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Elizabeth McGovern
Price: CDN$ 39.99
24 used & new from CDN$ 32.51

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The glow is gone, Feb. 13 2015
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To begin with, I love "Downtown Abbey"...enough that I will not watch it on television, but wait until each season is available and then binge watch the entire season over two or three days. For the first four seasons I have loved every moment except for death by car. But there is something dreadfully hollow about this season. There are only four little whisps of plot going throughout it: who will Lady Mary choose, who cares?, will Daisy learn to read? (who could care less?), will estate land be used in part for houses or a memorial, (Thank goodness the cook can add some spice to this thread), and will Bates or his wife go to jail for a crime that we've known for too long that neither of them committed. (who cares as we've been down this road before.) Oh, and what about good old Tom? Well, that's almost resolved, but has enough glue to hold onto him for a bit more if they come to their senses. And another thread not worth its time is Romance for Granny. (Sorry, but Maggie Smith does not cause the heart to palpitate as it did eons ago.)

The house is still wonderful, the village quaint, what little we see of it, the costumes getting duller than dull, except for Lady Mary's fashionable splurge. The main characters come closer to a grade B soap opera than the struggles of the rich to move into the future.
And for the sake of not giving anything away - if there is anything - there's also Marigold. Again, not worth watching for this syrupy mess.

If you loved the first four seasons, consider buying this one, only because it will convince you that one of the most wonderful British programs has run out of steam and unless a miracle happens and the writers who appear to have been on holiday when this was written, find, by some miracle, their way back to recreating the characters we came to care so much for.

In the Still of the Night
In the Still of the Night
Price: CDN$ 22.51
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Next time, a piano, a bass, and a bit of brass., Jan. 19 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Dvorsky has a pleasant voice, but it has limitations that this CD magnifies rather than helps to conceal. First, despite his success, get him a good vocal coach, not a singing teacher. and get rid of the occasional very wrong enunciations. Then fire whomever did most of the arrangements on this CD. Dvorsky is not Sinatra, but the arranger must have thought that he, the arranger, was Nelson Riddle. As a result, instead of giving Dvorsky the best settings to show off his voice, he is overwhelmed too often so that he becomes bland in comparison with the musicians. The man's voice is better suited to gentler works, but with the accompaniment he gets, he becomes almost incidental to the CD. It is a pity as two or three of the songs here show how lovely his voice is, while the rest bury him. Compare the first track to the third and you will see what I mean.
Pity. It could have been so much better. Dvorsky is capable of that.

How Green Was My Valley
How Green Was My Valley
DVD ~ Walter Pidgeon
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 15.38
27 used & new from CDN$ 5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly dated, but not outclassed., Jan. 19 2015
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This review is from: How Green Was My Valley (DVD)
"How Green Was my Valley" was a great read. The movie that John Ford made from it surpassed the book in many ways, and slipped up once or twice. But John Ford was simply not capable of making an 'average' film, let alone a bad one. The casting is perfect. On paper Pidgeon and O'Hara may have seemed to be a mismatch, but they work because of the relationship of the characters. To support them Ford has selected few of his group of supporting actors, and selected a cast of superb actors who become the characters they play.

The plot may contain a few cliches by today's standards, but I doubt they were cliches in the 1940's. The miracle is that we can connect with so many of them in 2015, their joys, sorrows, disappointments, and coping with life in less than ideal circumstances.

The photography is still magnificently perfect. The sound is better than when I first saw the film in a revival theatre when the picture was perfect but the sound dated. Technically, there are few elements, other than colour, different from the best of today's films. The best advantage is that everyone here gives totally of themselves, knowing they are making a film for the ages.

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