Finian's Rainbow [1968]

Broadway to Hollywood: The Classic Musicals Collection is a five-film set of fondly remembered, mostly MGM musicals: Easter Parade (1948), The Band Wagon (1953), Bells Are Ringing (1960), Finian's Rainbow (Warner, 1968), and Brigadoon (1954). Four of the films are making their DVD debut, all are available separately (for a higher price), and the two best films, Easter Parade and The Band Wagon, come in two-disc special editions complete with commentary tracks, new and vintage documentaries, and musical outtakes. Both of those films star Fred Astaire following his return from premature retirement. Easter Parade is a Pygmalion-like tale of a Vaudeville veteran (Astaire) who attempts to develop an act with a small-timer (Judy Garland) after his partner (Ann Miller) leaves him. Favorite songs include the title tune, "Steppin' Out with My Baby," and "We're a Couple of Swells." The Band Wagon was a sort of career retrospective for Astaire, as he plays an aging film star trying to resurrect his career by returning to the Broadway stage. Costars include Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan, Oscar Levant, and Nanette Fabray, and favorite numbers include "Dancing in the Dark," "By Myself," "Triplets," and "A Shine on Your Shoes." Bells Are Ringing is a charmingly dated Vincente Minnelli film starring Judy Holliday, in a reprise of her Tony-winning Broadway role as an employee at an answering service who finds herself falling for a client (Dean Martin). Favorite songs include "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over." Finian's Rainbow is a bloated oddity directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola and starring Astaire as a leprechaun and '60s pop icon Petula Clark as his daughter. It does have some great songs, however, including "How Are Things in Glocca Mora," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," and "Old Devil Moon." Brigadoon has been out on DVD twice before, but appears now in its best version yet, remastered, anamorphically enhanced, and with musical outtakes. It stars Gene Kelly and Van Johnson as Americans who stumble across a Scottish village that only appears on Earth one day every 100 years, which is a problem when Kelly falls in love with one of its residents (Cyd Charisse). Favorite songs include "Almost Like Being in Love," "The Heather on the Hill," and "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean." While none of the films in the Broadway to Hollywood collection are absolutely top-tier MGM (and Astaire, Garland, and Kelly all made better films in their careers), all have their charms and are welcome additions to the DVD catalog. Trivia note: The title of the set isn't 100% correct. Easter Parade did not originate as a Broadway musical, but Tommy Tune made an unsuccessful attempt to adapt the movie into a Broadway show in the late 1990s. --David Horiuchi

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