Liberace-Leapin' Lizards, It's Liberace (1978)
Main Menu Audio
Notes-Liberace Live: London Philharmonic; Valentine's Day
Trailer-Cinema Paradiso; Keep The River On Your Right
Trailer-My Beautiful Laundrette
|Year Of Production||1978|
|Running Time||49:25 (Case: 58)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Tony Charmoli|
Zsa Zsa Gabor
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I thought I was on to a good thing. A disc featuring a great piano man they said! Ah! you must mean my all time favourite ivory-tinkler Billy Joel? No? Well maybe Elton John then - he's ok too. No? well who else is there? Liberace you say? Didn't he play Aussie Rules for Footscray?
A title featuring the most alliteration since the classic computer game Leisure Suit Larry and The Land of The Lounge Lizards, Leapin' Lizards It's Liberace is not a title I sat down to review with a great deal of enthusiasm. In fact I have been putting it off for several weeks now, but the disc has collected far too much dust on my coffee table to ignore and I also made a New Year's Resolution to do a few more daring things during 2003. This seemed like a good place to start. If you think it's all beer and skittles reviewing discs, then think again. Sometimes you are confronted with a review title that you simply wouldn't go near with the proverbial fifty foot pole. You'd probably laugh at if someone suggested you take a look at it. This is one such title. My fellow reviewers will be sharing a collective chuckle as they see this review posted, since it means that they didn't have to do it!
Anyway, enough about me and my woes. What's this disc all about? Liberace, accomplished and incredibly wealthy pianist/entertainer, complete with piano, obligatory candelabra and outlandish, ostentatious outfits (I can alliterate with the best of them!). Throw in a few guests in the form of Debbie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and some tumbling Taiwanese acrobats and you get a fair idea what you're in for. I won't bore you with any of the usual historical and biographical details about the subject matter. If you're interested in exactly who or what a Liberace is take a look at ChrisT's excellent review of Liberace - A Valentine Special, as she has gone into some detail about his life.
This is a made for television special (the running time of just under fifty minutes and ad break style fades to black give that away), that was made in 1978. It opens with a brief and incredibly camp whirlwind tour of Liberace's mansion. We see him waking, greeting his pets, taking a bath, and dressing in a wardrobe that must be the same size as my house. All the while he is tinkling the ivories of various pianos, ornaments, and other piano style furniture scattered about. Thankfully this is brief. The real show moves on to the Las Vegas Hilton, the venue in the city of glitz that proved a perfect location for Liberace's long running cabaret show. Arriving on-stage in a rather gaudy Rolls-Royce, Liberace, decked out in an equally gaudy outfit, proceeds to banter with the rather large crowd. In between a few jokes he does actually play some pieces, though I was a little surprised at the brevity of the actual piano playing. We get treated to a couple of Strauss Waltzes in the form of a medley, numbers from the musical Annie including a duet with Debbie Reynolds, and a three of Liberace's old-time favourites. There is a special performance from some Chinese acrobats, a puppet, and a piano duet with a Liberace protege called Vince Cardell.
All in all I can't say I appreciated much of this. Liberace fans (there must be plenty out there somewhere) will no doubt find more in the performance than I did.
Made in 1978 for television, I was not expecting much in terms of video quality.
The aspect ratio is the expected 1.33:1 measure, with no 16x9 enhancement.
Not overly sharp when compared to today's digital television material; being made in the late 1970s, it is as good as can be expected. At times quite soft and even blurry objects that probably should have been in focus (the source camera work is obviously at fault here). It exhibits enough detail to get by - just. There are no shadow detail or grain issues. Low level noise is evident throughout, but it is not overly annoying. Colours aren't much over what you'd expect from a 1970s North American television broadcast. Quite variable and muted in terms of palette with virtually no vibrancy at all. There is the odd problem here and there with a little bleeding. When the bright lights hit the sequins and other shiny bits on Liberace's clothes, watch out - it's dazzling.
I noticed no MPEG artefacts. The transfer is also mostly clear of any other imperfections which is pleasing.
There are no subtitles available.
This is a single layer disc only, so no layer change is applicable.
There is only one audio soundtrack on this disc, that being a Dolby Digital 2.0 effort.
Again, in terms of quality, it is pretty much all I expected from the source material. It does its job with little fanfare. There is no stereo separation, suggesting the source material was most likely mono in origins. It's a fairly low-fidelity soundtrack, that does exhibit a few minor irritations including a bit of hiss and mild distortion in the opening house scenes and a bit of interference popping up throughout the whole show. There are no problems with dialogue (if you can put up with Liberace's campy accent). There is some obvious miming occurring when he sings with Debbie Reynolds, but apart from those problems attributed to the source material there are issues with audio sync.
As far as music goes, there are only a couple of numbers performed by the man himself. They are sort-of medleys and include Strauss Waltzes (The Blue Danube and Emperor Waltz), a couple of songs from the musical Annie with Debbie Reynolds, and finally old favourites It's Impossible, Beer Barrel Polka, and I'll Be Seeing You.
There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
Two static screens summarising the other Liberace titles available. These are Liberace Live with the London Philharmonic and Liberace: Valentine's Day. You can check out the review of the latter if you wish.
Thirteen screens of text that go into quite a bit of detail about Liberace's life.
Nine pages of text listing the many and varied albums of Liberace material.
Under the banner of Umbrella Propaganda, there are three trailers for Cinema Paradiso (1:28 minutes), Keep The River On Your Right (2:27 minutes) and My Beautiful Laundrette (1:55 minutes).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The equivalent disc is not available in Region 1.
Certainly not my idea of a good way of spending an hour of my life. Fans will no doubt appreciate the content and the fact that there are at least a few Liberace discs on the market (though having said that - I don't really think that the main DVD buying demographic matches the demographic of Liberace fans).
The video and audio are from a 1970s made-for-television special, and the quality reflects that. Mostly without major fault, it is not all that inspiring, but does the job.
The extras are fairly basic but informative.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|