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Calamity Jane | DVD | (26/05/2003)
from £4.81 | Saving you £9.18 (65.60%) | RRP
This 1953 musical is very much a vehicle for Doris Day, in the title role, as a wild cowgal who can out-shoot and out-sing any boy on the range. When an actress arrives in Deadwood and uses her feminine charms on Jane's secret love, Wild Bill Hickock (Howard Keel), Jane tries to mend her tomboy ways. Not exactly up to the feminist code of honour, this is still energetic and Day is very perky. Of course, one could almost detect a homosexual undercurrent with the cross-dressing Jane, but this was Hollywood in the 1950s, so we best not. Calamity Jane won an Oscar for Best Song--"Secret Love", by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster. --Rochelle O'Gorman
High School Musical | DVD | (04/12/2006)
from £4.75 | Saving you £9.24 (66.00%) | RRP
Troy (Zac Efron) the popular captain of the basketball team and Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) the brainy and beautiful member of the academic club break all the rules of East High society when they secretly audition for the leads in the school's musical. As they reach for the stars and follow their dreams everyone learns about acceptance teamwork and being yourself. And it's all set to fun tunes and very cool dance moves.
Easter Parade | DVD | (16/05/2005)
from £5.39 | Saving you £8.60 (61.50%) | RRP
If you can't join 'em beat 'em! When his long-time dance partner abandons him for the Ziegfeld Follies Don Hewes decides to show who's who what's what by choosing any girl out of a chorus line and transforming her into a star. So he makes his choice and takes his chances. Of course since Fred Astaire portrays Don and Judy Garland plays the chorine we know we're in for an entertainment sure thing.
Bugsy Malone | Blu Ray | (23/06/2008)
from £6.49 | Saving you £13.50 (67.50%) | RRP
Written and directed by Alan Parker Bugsy Malone is a gangster musical set in New York a world of would-be hoodlums showgirls and dreamers. A world where you never see an adult - kids play the entire film including Scott Biao as Bugsy and Jodie Foster as Tallulah. Bugsy Malone. is totally unique: quite simply there has never ever been a movie like it!
An American In Paris | DVD | (02/06/2003)
from £4.81 | Saving you £9.18 (65.60%) | RRP
The plot of An American in Paris is mostly an excuse for director Vincente Minnelli to pool his own extraordinary talent with those of choreographer-dancer-actor Gene Kelly and the artists behind the screenplay, art direction, cinematography, and score, creating a rapturous musical not quite like anything else in cinema. An American GI (Kelly) stays in Paris after the war to become an artist, and has to choose between the patronage of a rich American woman (Nina Foch) and a French gamine (Leslie Caron) engaged to an older man. The final section of the film comprises a 17-minute dance sequence that took a month to film and is breathtaking. Gershwin songs specially arranged for the film include "'S Wonderful", "I Got Rhythm", and "Love is Here to Stay". --Tom Keogh
The Lady Vanishes | DVD | (18/08/2008)
from £4.69 | Saving you £1.30 (21.70%) | RRP
Intrigue and espionage and the effects on the lives and futures of passengers aboard a Trans-Continental Express emerge when a girl traveller (Margaret Lockwood) returning from a holiday strikes up an acquaintance with a middle-aged English governess who during the journey mysteriously disappears from her compartment. The girl seeking an explanation for the disappearance is accused of hallucinating and is nearly convinced that her new friend does not exist.
The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night | DVD | (30/09/2002)
from £4.15 | Saving you £13.84 (76.90%) | RRP
A Hard Day's Night may have been the Beatles' first big-screen experience but, as they had become the biggest band in the world by the time of its production, the Moptops were able to ensure it was a bit different from the band-movie norm. "We'd made it clear that we weren't interested in being stuck in one of those nobody-understands-our-music plots," John Lennon would later recall, "The kind of thing where we'd just pop up a couple of times between the action, all smiles and clean shirts, to sing our latest record." Instead the quartet recruited a young director named Richard Lester--who had previously worked with the Fab Four's beloved Goons--to make a movie that followed them as they enjoyed and endured the phenomenon that was Beatlemania. "The film wrote itself right in front of our eyes," says Lester. "We just took the dirty bits and cut them out." The result is a frenetic hour and a half inside the Beatles' personal space as they engage in all manner of surreal hijinks--more often than not involving Paul's "grandfather" (played by Steptoe and Son's Wilfrid Brambell) while dodging the ever-present horde of screaming fans. Although the result now seems a little dated, there remains an almost heartbreakingly good-natured aura around the foursome's naïve performances, while few could argue about the quality of a soundtrack that includes "Can't Buy Me Love", "And I Love Her" and "A Hard Day's Night" itself, to name but a few. Whether the film would have been quite so successful if Lester had followed McCartney's suggestion and called it "Oh, What a Lovely Wart!" will, sadly, never be known. --Clark Collis
Annie Get Your Gun | DVD | (22/04/2002)
from £4.69 | Saving you £9.30 (66.50%) | RRP
Irving Berlin's classic stage musical Annie Get Your Gun finally reached the big screen in 1950, four years after it had taken Broadway by storm. The irresistible combination of the story of ground-breaking sharpshooter Annie Oakley, fantastic songs like the rousing anthem "There's No Business Like Show Business" and the setting of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, made most people feel it was worth the wait. More than half a century on, the book creaks audibly and the treatment of the "Indians" who make up the bulk of the troupe is inevitably embarrassing. But in glorious Technicolor, this in-your-face spectacular defies you not to get sucked in. Quite simply, the show is a winner. Ethel Merman's performance on Broadway became an immediate show business legend, but she was largely ignored by Hollywood. Here, Betty Hutton's whirlwind Annie is, on its own terms, an explosive and hugely entertaining turn, matched by Howard Keel in his first starring part as Frank Butler. But Judy Garland was the first choice for the role and had already filmed several numbers before MGM fired her for her erratic behaviour. It seems almost cruel to include a couple of her songs as extras; even a 40-watt Garland makes the otherwise incandescent Hutton look merely adequate. They certainly add a frisson to this celebration of all-American entertainment at its boldest and brassiest. On the DVD: Annie Get Your Gun is presented in standard 4:3 format (the original aspect ratio was a similar 1.37:1) and the picture quality is so sharp it blows you out of your seat. Likewise the stereo soundtrack, brilliant for songs which include "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly", "Anything You Can Do" and the sublime "They Say it's Wonderful". Apart from the Garland numbers, the extras include a Hutton outtake and an introduction to the show from a recent Broadway Annie, Susan Lucci. Overall, though, the show's the thing. --Piers Ford
The Great Ziegfeld | DVD | (16/02/2004)
from £7.39 | Saving you £4.01 (28.70%) | RRP
Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture, 1936's The Great Ziegfeld stars William Powell in a biopic "suggested by romances and incidents in the life of America's greatest showman, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr". With admirable accuracy, the film follows Ziegfeld's career from small-time sideshow barker to creator of the famous Ziegfeld Follies, the collection of singing, dancing, and comedy vaudeville acts that launched the careers of such luminaries as Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger and Harriet Hoctor--all of whom play themselves in the film. In the title role Powell offers a believable combination of ambition and hucksterism, and his Thin Man costar Myrna Loy makes a late appearance as his second wife, but it's large-eyed Luise Rainer who has the showier role (and won an Oscar) as Ziegfeld's first big star and first wife. The musical numbers, however, don't hold up quite as well as the plot, and at some three hours the film is overlong. It's fascinating, though, to see the vintage stars performing and the eight-minute spectacle "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" is an eye-popper with an elaborate revolving set supporting a large cast singing and dancing to the Irving Berlin tune while throwing in some Puccini, Strauss, Leoncavallo and Gershwin for good measure. --David Horiuchi
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes | DVD | (22/05/2006)
from £2.49 | Saving you £6.70 (51.60%) | RRP
Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and her friend Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are a pair of showgirls Dorothy the sassy one looking for true love Lorelei the blonde hoping to marry a millionaire with her sights set on Gus Esmond a wealthy nerd stuck under his father's thumb. When Lorelei and Dorothy take a transatlantic cruise to Paris an undercover detective follows to find out if Lorelei is really a gold-digging schemer. Unfortunately the irrepressible Lorelei is a born flirt and
Bugsy Malone | DVD | (17/02/2003)
from £10.38 | Saving you £-1.39 (-15.50%) | RRP
Writer-director Alan Parker's feature debut Bugsy Malone is a pastiche of American movies, a musical gangster comedy set in 1929, featuring prohibition, showgirls and gang warfare, with references to everything from Some Like It Hot to The Godfather. Uniquely, though, all the parts are played by children, including an excellent if underused Jodie Foster as platinum-blonde singer Tallulah, Scott Baio in the title role and a nine-year-old Dexter Fletcher wielding a baseball bat. Cream-firing "spluge guns" side-step any real violence and the movie climaxes cheerfully with the biggest custard pie fight this side of Casino Royale (1967). Unfortunately for a musical, Paul Williams' score--part honky-tonk jazz homage, part 1970s Elton John-style pop--lets the side down with a lack of memorable tunes. Nevertheless, Parker's direction is spot on and the look of the film is superb, a fantasy movie-movie existing in the same parallel reality as The Cotton Club and Chicago. A rare British love letter to classic American cinema, Bugsy Malone remains a true original; in Parker's words "the work of a madman" and one of the strangest yet most stylish children's films ever made. On the DVD: Bugsy Malone's picture is presented non-anamorphically at 1.66:1, with rich colours and plenty of detail. The print is excellent. The audio is stereo only and while full and clear seems to leave a hole in the middle of the soundstage. Extras include an informative commentary by Parker, eight pages of trivia notes by Parker and a very informative 12-page booklet, also by the director. There are three trailers, nine character profiles, two scored galleries, and more imaginatively, a multi-angle option to compare Parker's sketches, their comic-strip realisation by Graham Thomson and the finished opening sequence. Quality over quantity make this a strong collection of extras, though recollections from the stars would have added so much more. --Gary S. Dalkin
The Wizard Of Oz | DVD | (19/06/2006)
from £4.99 | Saving you £7.89 (41.50%) | RRP
Like the Tin Man's heart, the true test of a real classic is how much it is loved by others. The enduring charms of The Wizard of Oz have easily weathered the vicissitudes of changing fashions making the film one of the world's best-loved, most-quoted and frequently imitated movies. It's now as ubiquitous an American pop-cultural icon as McDonald's, making judging the movie purely on its own merits an almost impossible task. Judy Garland's tragic later life, for example, makes her naïve and utterly beguiling Dorothy seem all the more poignant in retrospect. But this at least is clear: much of this movie's success depends on the winning appeal of Garland's "Everygirl" figure, who creates the vital identification and empathy necessary to carry the audience with her into the land of Oz. We always care deeply about Dorothy, her quest for home and the strength of her friendship with her companions. Garland's assured dancing and singing routines with her ideally cast Broadway comedy co-stars Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley are still endlessly delightful, of course, and the songs and score (by Arlen, Harburg and Stothart) are as good as anything in the Hollywood musical canon. It is Garland's deeply felt rendition of "Over the Rainbow" that is both the film's emotional core and the reason why adults as much as children the world over still respond so strongly to this movie. So long as people long for home and the love of their friends and family, the nostalgic appeal of Oz will never fade. On the DVD: another splendid digital restoration from the MGM vaults keeps this wonderful classic as vivid and alive as it was back in 1939, if not more so. The 1.33:1 picture is clear and defined, bursting with the vibrant colours of Oz (you can even see the wires holding up the Lion's tail). Even more remarkably, because the original microphone tapes have been preserved the soundtrack has been remastered in 5.1 stereo, thereby accentuating the lush tones of the MGM orchestra and Garland's famous singing. The disc is also chock full of extras, including outtakes, audio sequences, composer Harold Arlen's backstage movies, extracts from earlier silent Oz films, clips from the Academy Awards and interviews with the stars among many other fascinating nuggets. The new 50-minute documentary hosted by Angela Lansbury, and irritatingly narrated in the present tense, is oddly the weakest part, with too little hard information and too much padding about how everyone loves the movie. The only gripe is Warners' trademark cardboard slipcase, which is awkward and easily damaged. But this is still an essential disc for the young at heart everywhere. --Mark Walker
Mary Poppins - 45th Anniversary Edition | DVD | (02/03/2009)
from £8.77 | Saving you £9.22 (51.30%) | RRP
Mary Poppins is one of Disney's most enchanting fantasies and the motion-picture hit that made 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' a household word! Julie Andrews stars as the loveable nanny who soars out of the skies and into the hearts of everyone she encounters. Toting a carpetbag full of magical adventures Mary and her fun-loving sidekick Bert (Dick Van Dyke) deliver endless joy and surprises to a troubled family.
It's A Wonderful Life | DVD | (09/11/2007)
from £7.33 | Saving you £10.66 (59.30%) | RRP
Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton
Camp Rock | DVD | (01/12/2008)
from £4.29 | Saving you £10.70 (71.40%) | RRP
Get ready to sing and dance like never before with the electrifying Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock! When Mitchie scores a job as a cook at Camp Rock her life takes an unpredictable twist and she learns just how important it is to be true to yourself. Join the platinum-selling Jonas Brothers and the hottest cast of performers at the coolest summer camp anywhere!
Singin' In The Rain - Special Edition | DVD | (25/11/2002)
from £5.49 | Saving you £3.39 (24.20%) | RRP
Singin' in the Rain is probably the most treasured musical in the history of cinema. It is essentially a satire on the dawning age of talking pictures, but that description doesn't begin to describe its importance in the hearts of film lovers, even those who can't otherwise stand musicals. Given its origins--producer Arthur Freed wanted a framework on which to hang a selection of the hits he'd written in the early part of his career with Nacio Herb Brown, many of which had themselves featured in early talkies--it should have been a mongrel of a picture. But somehow, with its combination of endearing performances, the razor-sharp script of Adolph Green and Betty Comden, instinctive direction from Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen and those delightful songs, it is triumphantly greater than the sum of its parts. Kelly's dance sequence, conceived for the title song, is an undiluted joy and remains an iconic cinema moment. But there is so much more to savour: Donald O'Connor's knockout vaudeville, Jean Hagen's hilarious Bronx-voiced leading lady and the honest charm of underrated Debbie Reynolds, crowned by Kelly's choreography for the Broadway Melody suite. No collection is complete without this. On the DVD: Singin' in the Rain--Special Edition, vibrant in 1.33:1 fullscreen format with a crystalline mono soundtrack, is the crown jewel in the embarrassment of riches on this 50th anniversary two-disc DVD. The extras just keep coming: "Musicals, Great Musicals" (a documentary about Arthur Freed's legendary production unit at MGM), a shorter documentary about the film itself (much of which is duplicated by the audio commentary, led by Debbie Reynolds), outtakes and audio scoring sessions and extracts from films in which many of the songs originated. There's also a hidden feature in which Baz Lurhmann offers his own testimony to the film's enduring appeal, but it's a tad redundant given the primary sources on offer. --Piers Ford
Singin' In The Rain | DVD | (24/01/2000)
from £7.39 | Saving you £9.02 (47.50%) | RRP
Decades before the Hollywood film industry became famous for megabudget disaster and science fiction spectaculars, the studios of Southern California (and particularly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) were renowned for a uniquely American (and nearly extinct) kind of picture known as The Musical. Indeed, when Sight & Sound conducts its international critics poll in the second year of every decade, this 1952 MGM picture is the American musical that consistently ranks among the 10 best movies ever made. It's not only a great song-and-dance piece starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and a sprightly Debbie Reynolds; it's also an affectionately funny insider spoof about the film industry's uneasy transition from silent pictures to "talkies". Kelly plays debonair star Don Lockwood, whose leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) has a screechy voice hilariously ill-suited to the new technology (and her glamorous screen image). Among the musical highlights: O'Connor's knockout "Make 'Em Laugh"; the big "Broadway Melody" production number; and, best of all, that charming little title ditty in which Kelly makes movie magic on a drenched set with nothing but a few puddles, a lamppost, and an umbrella. --Jim Emerson
The Wizard Of Oz | DVD | (07/11/2005)
from £4.90 | Saving you £2.72 (27.20%) | RRP
""We're Not In Kansas Anymore."" We click our heels in anticipation. There's no place like home and no movie like this one. From generation to generation The Wizard Of Oz brings us together - kids grown-ups families friends. The dazzling land of Oz a dream-come--true world of enchanted forests dancing scarecrows and singing lions wraps us in its magic with one great song-filled adventure after another. Based on L. Frank Baum's treasured book series
The Thin Man | DVD | (28/06/2013)
from £6.99 | Saving you £11.00 (61.10%) | RRP
Nick and Nora Charles cordially invite you to bring your own alibi to The Thin Man the jaunty whodunit that made William Powell and Myrna Loy the champagne elite of sleuthing. Bantering in the boudoir enjoying walks with beloved dog Asta or matching each other highball for highball and clue for clue they combined screwball romance with mystery. The resulting triumph nabbed four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and spawned five sequels. Credit W.S. ""Woody"" Van Dyke for recognizing that Powell and Loy were ideal together and for getting the studio's okay by promising to shoot this splendid adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel in three weeks. He took 12 days. They didn't call him ""One-Take Woody"" for nothing!
White Christmas | DVD | (03/12/2001)
from £3.99 | Saving you £4.81 (30.10%) | RRP
This semi-remake of Holiday Inn (the first movie in which Irving Berlin's perennial, Oscar-winning holiday anthem was featured) doesn't have much of a story, but what it does have is choice: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, an all-Irving Berlin song score, classy direction by Hollywood vet Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood), VistaVision (the very first feature ever shot in that widescreen format), and ultrafestive Technicolor! Crosby and Kaye are song-and-dance men who hook up, romantically and professionally, with a "sister" act (Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to put on a Big Show to benefit the struggling ski-resort lodge run by the beloved old retired general (Dean Jagger) of their WWII Army outfit. Crosby is cool, Clooney is warm, Kaye is goofy, and Vera-Ellen is leggy. Songs include: "Sisters" (Crosby and Kaye do their own drag version, too), "Snow", "We'll Follow the Old Man", "Mandy", "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" and more. Christmas would be unthinkable without White Christmas. --Jim Emerson