Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 24th, 2007
In Belle Époque Paris, the can-can is all the rage but also illegal, and Shirley MacLaine’s nightclub is cracked down on by uptight judge Louis Jourdan. MacLaine is defended by libertine lawyer Frank Sinatra. Jourdan falls for MacLaine, who is waiting perhaps in vain for Sinatra to marry her. Maurice Chevalier shows up to chuckle indulgently.
The vision of Paris may be no more convincing than MacLaine and Sinatra playing characters named “Simone” and “François,” but this is a musical, so who cares? The sets are bright, the songs are catchy, and the dance numbers energetic. But the storyline itself is stultifying. Maybe Krushchev was right about this thing after all.
Getting a 5.0 mix of a 1960 soundtrack is a nice treat, and the results are eminently pleasing. The sound is quite immersive (again, especially for the age of the film), and there are no problems with inappropriate wraparound dialogue or the like. The tones are warm, and the score sounds excellent. Fans of the songs will be most pleased.
The film begins with a warning that the best surviving elements were used to make it. Translation: don’t expect miracles. Still and all, for the most part, what’s on display is very nice indeed, with gorgeous colours, contrasts and blacks, and no visible grain or edge enhancement. The image is nicely sharp, too. Nothing to be ashamed of in this transfer at all. The aspect ratio is 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Disc 1 has an isolated score, but no commentary. All the other extras are on Disc 2. There’s a 20-minute making-of featurette (“A Leg Up”) and two profiles, roughly half that length, on Cole Porter (“The Classic Cole Porter”) and Abe Burrows (“Book by Burrows: The Man Who Wrote Can-Can”). There is also the expected restoration comparison, theatrical trailer, and set of galleries (souvenir program, interactive pressbook, advertising, “Inside Can-Can,” backstage stills, and production art). Also packaged in the case are liner notes and lobby cards.
This one is strictly for Porter fans as it is likely to be something of a slog for anyone else.