Kiss Me Kate (1953) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot
Isolated Musical Score
Featurette-Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City
|Year Of Production||1953|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4||Directed By||George Sidney|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
MGM's first and only 3D musical (yes, seriously), Kiss Me Kate (1953) has been released on DVD.
As I wrote in my review of The Robe, many films in the 1950s were "designed to lure Americans out of their homes and away from this new-fangled invention called television (by some accounts, there were about ten million television sets sold in the US between 1947 and 1950). Before the movie industry recognised television as a powerful companion, they feared it greatly. Thus movies had to offer something more. Colour became important, stereo sound became more important, 'movie stars' became more important, as did gimmicks, such as 3D glasses. Televisions had adopted the same standard as movies (1.33:1), so movies got wider. As a result, we get epic widescreen movies in glorious colour, such as The Robe (aspect ratio of 2.55:1) and Ben-Hur (aspect ratio of 2.76:1)".
As an aside, I find it odd that it took television almost 50 years to 'get wider' as well. Now that I watch widescreen digital television broadcasts, with surround sound, on my widescreen television set, I find it hard to watch my old 'square' box upstairs.
Kiss Me Kate opened as a stage play in 1948, and ran for over 1000 performances before MGM snapped it up. MGM had a roster of stars to call upon, and it teamed Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel together in the leading roles, following their success in the previous year's musical hit, Show Boat. With a plot based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Lilli (Kathryn Grayson), and Fred (Howard Keel), were once married. Their stormy relationship has ended, but sharing the two leading roles in a stage play brings them together again. To make matters worse, Fred's new partner, Lois Lane (Ann Miller), also has a starring role. Soon "art imitates life, as life imitates art". This play within the play technique works quite well, and both stories rely on Shakespeare's comedy techniques of witty word play and mistaken identity.
With music and lyrics by the amazingly talented Cole Porter, the characters often burst into song, and big choreographed routines. The choreography by Hermes Pan is great, and I found the dancing to be the real stand-out feature of the movie. Of note, a young Bob Fosse has a small supporting role in this film, and Pan allowed Fosse to make his film choreography debut with his own dance number. It reveals Fosse as an incredibly gifted choreographer at a very young age. His unmistakable expressive style is evident, and it is no surprise that Fosse went on to become an Oscar winning choreographer and director.
The NTSC transfer is reasonably good considering the age of the source material.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full frame.
The sharpness and shadow detail are acceptable.
The colour appears a tad over-saturated. This is especially evident in the rich reds. The skin tones have a slight orange/brown tint.
MPEG artefacts are not a great problem, but there is some macro-blocking on some of the background sets, such as at 50:15.
Film-to-video artefacts are not a problem, but there is some very slight telecine wobble at times — most obvious during the opening credits.
Small film artefacts appear throughout.
Three sets of subtitles are present on the disc, and the English subtitles are accurate.
This is a RSDL disc, but I did not spot a layer change. I assume that it is between the feature and the extras.
Originally released theatrically in stereo, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains much of its original stereo (and sometimes mono) feel.
There are two audio options: The feature in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s), and an isolated music score, also presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s).
The dialogue quality and audio sync are okay, but it is often obvious when the performers are lip-syncing on-stage.
As I wrote earlier, the music and lyrics are provided by Cole Porter, and his original stage score is pretty intact. Indeed, it even has an extra song that was cut from the original stage play. Of note, the musical direction is by the well-respected André Previn.
The surround presence and activity is extremely limited, except for the big production scenes, in which the score is piped to the rears, such as the band at 11:09.
I wasn't expecting much from the subwoofer, and I never noticed any LFE activity during the movie.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of extras for fans of this movie.
A very simple menu, it is static with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
Listing - Cast & Crew
Featurette - Cole Porter in Hollywood: Too Darn Hot (9:42)
Ann Miller hosts this short featurette, which includes recent interviews with the three principal cast members.
Isolated Musical Score
Isolated music score, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s).
Featurette - Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City (20:18)
A dated doco, shot when the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. This featurette doesn't relate directly to the feature at all.
Behind-the-scenes text-based information.
Theatrical Trailer (3:34)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Kiss Me Kate has been released on DVD in Region 1, and apart from the region coding, our two versions are the same, right down to the FBI copyright warning.
Kiss Me Kate is everything one can expect from a 50s feel-good, MGM musical. As long as you don't expect too much depth in the acting or story, it is enjoyable.
The video quality is good for its age.
The audio quality is also good for its age.
The extras are interesting.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|