Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Anchors Aweigh; On The Town
Deleted Scenes-Baby Doll; Boys and Girls like You and Me
|Year Of Production||1949|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,4||Directed By||Busby Berkeley|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra team up for the second time, four years after Anchors Aweigh, in this Busby Berkeley musical about two baseball players who have a Vaudeville act that keeps them busy in the off-season. Eddie O'Brien (Kelly) is the confident ladies' man, while Dennis Ryan (Sinatra) is the skinny, shy kid that seems more interested in baseball than anything else.
The film starts with the pair finishing off their Vaudeville season and heading back to Florida for pre-season training with their "World" champion baseball team, the Wolves. A new owner has just bought the team, and everyone is dreading his arrival and the changes that may occur as a result. The new owner, K.C Higgins (Esther Williams), turns out to be a "she", much to everyone's surprise, and Eddie gets himself into some hot water before he realises this potential conquest is in fact his new boss.
When the evening curfew is strictly administered by Kathryn (the "K" in K.C), Eddie, being the man-about-town that he is, is desperate to work out a way to make her more lenient. His plan is to get Dennis to woo her, so that they can all go out together in the evenings instead of being cooped up inside, but of course things don't go to plan. A little bit of a love triangle ensues, which later becomes a square when a spunky little supporter, Shirley (Betty Garrett), falls for Dennis.
As the cast sing and dance their way through the film, there's also the sinister presence of Joe Lorgan (Edward Arnold) who has bet a large amount of money against the Wolves winning the season, and attempts to sabotage the team by distracting Eddie (who's become one of the keys to the team's success).
It's not exactly an intricate plot, and you always know how it's going to end, in much the same way as most musicals of the time. However the real reasons you watch films like this are for the spectacle, the song and dance, the witty dialogue, the escapism to a different world than the one we live in, and maybe a bit of old-fashioned romance. To this end, Take Me Out to the Ball Game is somewhat successful, although certainly not on such a large scale as films like Singin' in the Rain and Anchors Aweigh. It's got your usual collection of Busby Berkeley production style songs, but besides the title song none of them are really that memorable.
Also, at the risk of offending his multitude of followers, I've never been a huge fan of Sinatra and you get the feeling that in shared dance routines he really holds Kelly back, due to his lack of athleticism. When Kelly does have a solo dance routine, there's no doubt that it's good, but it lacks that something which makes so many of his others great.
All-in-all though, this is a light-hearted musical which has Gene Kelly displaying his own infectious brand of humour, Frank Sinatra crooning away, and pretty girls to sing and dance with. You can't really go too far wrong with that combination, if this is a genre you enjoy.
This disc contains another one of the Region 4 NTSC transfers that seem to be getting more and more common these days. I'm not a fan of studios doing this when our Region is one that uses the PAL standard (I'd love to see them release some PAL-only DVDs in Region 1 and see what sort of uproar they get!), but that aside this isn't too bad a transfer.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and hence is not 16x9 enhanced. This is almost the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio of the theatrical release.
The picture isn't as sharp as the excellent transfer for Singin' in the Rain, which showed up every scar on Gene Kelly's face in minute detail, but it is pretty sharp and is still impressive for such an old film. There are some shots at around the 56:37 mark that are somewhat out of focus, but these seem to be a problem with the source rather than the transfer. Shadow detail was good, and I didn't notice any low-level noise.
Colour is suitably saturated and vivid, maintaining that unreal look that the "Technicolor" films from this era have. Colour really is the highlight of this transfer, and I think this is as close as you can get to how the movie would have appeared to its theatrical audience all those years ago. I didn't notice any bleeding or chroma noise.
Besides the lower resolution of the NTSC format, this transfer is also dogged by some aliasing and moire which becomes quite evident due to all the striped and chequered suits that are worn throughout the film. Right from the 2:58 mark we get some red striped suits that are quite painful to watch for any lengthy period, and there are plenty more to come (7:51 and 57:38 to name just two instances). There are also film artefacts, which are to be expected from such an old movie, but I did feel they maybe could have done a more thorough job cleaning the source, since other transfers from this era have proven that it's possible. There are too many examples of minor artefacts to list (they begin right at the opening credits), but I didn't see any horrible major ones, which is something to be pleased about.
There are 2 subtitle streams on this DVD; English and French. I sampled the English stream and found it to be accurate to the spoken word.
This is not an RSDL disc, and hence there is no layer change.
We're given the original mono soundtrack on this DVD, which will make the purists happy. A stereo remix might have been nice, but this track does the job.
There is only one track on this DVD; Dolby Digital 1.0 encoded at a bitrate of 192 kbps.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, with no audio sync problems.
It goes without saying that music of course is an essential aspect of a musical, and although the numbers in this film aren't exactly memorable, they are presented to us clearly and sharply, without the pops and crackles you might get from such an old track. The one big Berkeley signature number, Strictly USA, booms out with good range for a mono track.
There is no surround activity, which is to be expected from a 1.0 track.
There is also no subwoofer activity, which is also to be expected.
|Surround Channel Use|
Menus are static with music from the film looping in the background. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced.
There are two deleted scenes included on the DVD, both of which are deleted musical numbers;
These are the only extras of any substance, and will be of real interest to fans of musicals. Not only do they include the scenes, but there are also some pages of text beforehand explaining why they were cut, and when they were used in other musicals further down the track. The video and audio quality isn't as bad as I expected either, although they're not as good as the film itself.
There are three trailers presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. These are for the three Kelly/Sinatra musicals of the time:
A list of the cast and crew, with biographies for Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The two versions are identical, right down to the NTSC transfer.
Take Me Out To The Ball Game is a somewhat enjoyable film in the vein of all such musicals of the time. The infectiously cheery Gene Kelly is well supported, and although certainly not a classic this will no doubt be enjoyed by fans of the genre.
The video is pretty good if you can get past the fact that we're given an NTSC transfer.
The audio is adequate, and an accurate reproduction of what it would have sounded like in its day.
Extras are limited to some trailers, and a couple of deleted scenes that will be of some interest to fans.
|DVD||Omni 3600, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS797- THX Select|
|Speakers||Accusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer|