It’s a musical. It’s called 1776. What do you think it could be about? That’s right: the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence, with all the major figures of the time (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson) singing up a storm. The production is extremely handsome. I do think, however, that you the events have to be part of your history for the film to really get your juices flowing.
As part of the restoration process, the original mon… soundtrack has been transformed into 5.1 surround. This process is fraught with peril (see the Fox War Classics), but the result here is pretty good. The music sounds great, the sound effects have some rear presence, and there is a surprising amount of left-right separation. There is noticeable rear hiss, but none of that strange dialogue surround effect that happens so often with the mono-to-stereo conversion. So all in all, a careful, effective job. You will have to live with the hiss, however: the original mono track is not included.
The picture looks good, and the restoration is seamless, with no way of telling where the restored footage meets that of the original release. The contrasts in the night scenes could be stronger, but the colours overall look very good, and the print is in excellent condition.
The disc comes with a very fine commentary by director Peter Hunt and screenwriter Peter Stone. Their discussion is, of course, very retrospective, and deals with the restoration in some detail, as well as providing all kinds of background on the cast. Also on offer are five screen tests, liner notes, and trailers for 1776 (the teaser), Oliver!, The Taming of the Shrew, and Pal Joey. The menu is basic.
If you’re into lavish musicals, here’s a good example of that ilk, and this is also as it was originally meant to be seen.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Screen Tests
- Production Notes