Purchase from Amazon.co.uk: Royal Wedding | Second Chorus
Review by P.J. Thum
Received in the mail this morning two DVDs- the Laureate Collection's Royal Wedding and Second Chorus, featuring new digital restorations of both movies, a commentary track with Ava and Ken Barnes (of London Sessions fame), and on the Royal Wedding disc, a sequence showing how the 'Ceiling Dance' was put together.
I looked at both of them briefly and must say to my untrained eye and ear that they both look and sound superb, especially considering the versions of RW and SC that we've been looking at all these years. On SC, particularly, the contrast is excellent and the picture is clear. During 'Dig It', for example, the band members' faces are clear, Hermes Pan's presence is obvious, the chalkboard on the wall can be clearly read to say 'rehearsal at 10.30' and even in the far background garment bags and coats can all be clearly seen hanging. On RW, the colours are brilliant and luminous. "I Left My Hat In Haiti' looks wonderful.
One or two flaws, though. The pictures are both grainy and the soundtracks both have a faint but audible hiss. I think it's probably due to a paucity of source material to work from, but all things considered, it's a job well done- especially in the case of Second Chorus.
The commentaries are a lot of fun to listen to, as both Ava and Barnes reminisce and recollect through the film. They go way off track sometimes- for example, in Second Chorus they kept talking about "The Towering Inferno" through the first scene- but no matter what they say it's still about Fred and a joy to listen to.
The best feature is the sequence detailing the creation of the 'Ceiling Dance'. The picture is placed inside a graphic of a barrel and movie camera, simulating the placement of the actual camera in relation to the 'squirrel cage' that was the set. They then rotate the picture as Fred dances. It's truly eye-opening to watch from the new perspective. Ava remarks how much though had to go into the dance, in terms of how the dance had to constantly look like it was anti-gravity. It's very interesting. Sadly, they only do less than half the dance in this fashion- about 75 seconds worth, enough for Fred to do his little hop over the ceiling lamp and a bit more.
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