Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 6th, 2003
Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson are playing the leads in a musical version of The Tamingof the Shrew, and they share a fair bit in common with their characters. We move back and forthbetween the performance of the musical-within-the-musical and the backstage antics. Will oursquabbling couple get back together? And what role will the two loquacious mobsters play?Though not in the same league as Singin’ in the Rain, Kiss Me Kate is still a prime example ofits genre, with tune… and wit to spare, and one of its numbers features the first instance of BobFosse choreography to hit the screen.
The sound has been remastered to 5.1 surround. The result isn’t bad, but in some ways ismono-plus. The music is the only thing that gets the surround treatment. If there were any FXthat emerged from the rear speakers, I missed them. Still, the music and the songs are the film’sreason for being, and they come through well. If we don’t have surround FX, neither do we havethe problem of surround voices, which would be more distracting. The volume level is ratherlow, however, and needs a lot of boosting before the sound has the energy it deserves.
Kiss Me Kate was originally made in 3-D, though by the time the film came out, the fad haspassed and most people saw it flat. This is the version on the disc, though a 3-D re-release hashappened in the past, and I can’t help but wish that option were available here. There arenumerous shots which make sense only if you know the film was 3-D (people keep throwingthings at the camera, and these shots are not particularly motivated dramatically). That beingsaid, the version we have here does look fine, with gorgeous Technicolor, no print damage, andonly very minor grain. There is a little bit of edge enhancement visible, and the layer transition isbadly timed.
Though not without interest, the extras are a bit on the light side, given this is a pretty majormusical. The main extra is a ten-minute featurette narrated by Ann Miller: “Cole Porter inHollywood: Too Darn Hot.” All the anecdotes and background provided here are fascinating, andI would have liked to know more. Instead, the behind-the-scenes notes cover much the sameterritory. The longer featurette is a twenty-minute vintage short called “Might Manhattan, NewYork’s Wonder City” and this is a neat tour of Manhattan in that era, but has nothing much to dowith the movie. The other extras are the theatrical trailer and music-only track option. Themenu’s main page is scored.
Thin on the extras, and with sound that could be more powerful, this is still an engagingmusical, whose colours provide something of a visual feast (to say nothing of the dancing).
Special Features List
- “Cole Porter in Hollywood” Featurette
- “Mighty Manhattan” Documentary Short
- Cast List
- Theatrical Trailer
- Music Only Track
- Behind-the-Scenes Notes