Anchors Aweigh (1945) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Hanna & Barbera On The Making Of The "Worry Song"
Trailer-On The Town, Take Me Out To The Ballgame
|Year Of Production||1945|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,4||Directed By||George Sidney|
Warner Home Video
George E. Stoll
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Smoking||Yes, Jose Iturbi smokes a pipe.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Anchors Aweigh has a curious place in the pantheon of Hollywood Musicals. It stars two of the great musical talents of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, and was a big-budget Technicolor production at a time when many films were still being made in black and white. It was a popular and critical success, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. In spite of this pedigree, the film is chiefly remembered today, if at all, mainly for one amazing production number where Gene Kelly dances with Jerry (the cartoon mouse of Tom and Jerry fame) in a fantasy sequence that begins around the 75:00 mark. As the professor used to say, "Why is this so?".
I think that part of the reason is that the film itself is pleasant enough, with nice songs, and some excellent dance routines, but the majority of the songs just don't make an impression. Yes, Frank and Gene perform nicely enough, and there is a bouncy rendition of If You Knew Susie, but it is an exception. There are no show stoppers like Singin' In The Rain or White Christmas on offer here. Coupled with the rather lengthy running time of around 140 minutes, and we are left with a somewhat rambling, though pleasantly diverting, experience.
The plot itself is rather thin, as is often the case in this sort of film. Joe (Gene Kelly) and Clarence (Frank Sinatra) are two sailors on leave in Los Angeles who want nothing more than to meet up with some members of the opposite sex and have a good time. Joe is a bit of a lady's man - he has the nickname of the 'sea wolf'. Clarence, who has, umm, 'limited experience', decides to tag along with Joe in the hope of improving his luck with the "dames". He has a rather lame reason for claiming that Joe owes him a favour, to which Joe replies "If I find a dame for you, and get you started, will you call it quits?". Joe has a good reason for losing Clarence as soon as possible - he is trying to get to a hot date with his girlfriend Lola.
As the sailors arrive in town we cut to another scene where a young boy is wandering along a street at night in his pyjamas and dressing gown, carrying a bag. The police pick him up and we find out that he has run away from home to join the navy. Joe and Clarence soon find themselves involved and take the youngster (Donald) home to his Aunt Susie (Kathryn Grayson). It turns out that Donald is an orphan, but his father was a sailor and he wants to be one too. Clarence falls for Susan, who is an extra in the movies and a part-time singer, and Joe finds himself trying to bring the two together and also look after Donald. On top of all this, our two heroes somehow manage to convince Susan that they have arranged for her to audition with musical sensation Jose Iturbi, and then Joe has to try and arrange it; will he ever get the time to meet up with Lola for his hot date?
While I am a bit of a fan of the Hollywood Musical I had somehow managed to miss this one up to now. I enjoyed watching it for the first time, and my family audience also liked it (a bit more than I did). Gene Kelly is in tremendous form, and received a deserved Oscar nomination for best actor for this role. Frank Sinatra is in fine voice and plays the innocent Clarence to perfection. The two were such a hit together that they went on to make the better known On The Town (which did have a show-stopping song, New York, New York) - it also features sailors on shore leave (why mess with a winning formula?). As for Kathryn Grayson, well, she is just stunningly radiant and makes for an ideal foil to the two male stars. We also have some nice classical music thrown in to the mix by Iturbi, including a thrilling excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1. Overall, the film will please most viewers, and possibly deserves a better legacy, but it just misses out on being one of the classics as the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
The video transfer is something of a mixed bag, with a crisp, lush picture at times, and poorly-focussed fuzz at others. The picture is NTSC, not PAL, and this may account for some of the problems with the transfer discussed below.
The aspect ratio of the presentation is 1.33:1 full-frame, not 16x9 enhanced. This is suitably close to the Academy ratio of 1.37:1 at which it was filmed.
The transfer is generally sharp, though there are moments of very soft focus (see 77:10 as one example) which do not appear to be for artistic reasons. Shadow detail is generally good in night scenes (as at 54:12), and there is little low level noise to be seen on the dark backgrounds in those scenes.
The colour in the film is where the transfer shows the most variance. Originally filmed in Technicolor, the picture at times shows up the best of that process. Colours are lush and vibrant at times (just look at those plates in the background at 60:45) and flesh tones are generally accurate (see 8:47). Unfortunately, there are also frequent instances of colour bleed (see 72:41) and rapid colour variation (67:13). I am sorry for throwing so many time codes at you, but this picture at times looks like a new release, and at others is showing its age, a strange mixture.
In the damage department the transfer is again a mixed bag. Apart from a dark 'splotch' around 106:50, and a vertical black line at 120:13 there is no significant individual damage worthy of mention. Having said that there are frequent minor artefacts, usually green or red patches of colour where the original 3-layer film appears to be damaged in one layer. There is also some telecine wobble during the opening credits. Overall the result is acceptable for a film that is close to its 60th birthday.
The subtitles are reasonably accurate, while missing an occasional word or phrase. As one example of missing words, "Yes, but duty is duty" becomes "duty is duty".
No layer change was noticed.
For a musical, the audio transfer is unfortunately rather poor, though I imagine the original source was not the best to begin with.
There are two audio tracks on the DVD, English and French, both Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks encoded at a transfer rate of 192 Kb/s. Both tracks are recorded at very low volume, so you will really have to crank up the volume dial to listen at a suitable level. I listened to the English track and sections of the French - the dub on the latter is rather poor. Foreign language dubs are dodgy at the best of times, and in musicals they are even worse, with the difference between the spoken word and the English songs particularly jarring.
The dialogue is clear at all times, and audio sync is good, except for some ordinary lip-sync during the songs (I'm not too sure about the audio sync for the animated characters).
As I mentioned earlier, most of the music in the film is pleasant rather than memorable. The background music is limited, given the large number of songs and dance routines in the film.
There is nothing in the way of surround presence or activity to be found here. The 1.0 sound is thin and flat and firmly centred towards the middle of the screen. Switching to other sound modes on the amplifier produced no improvement. The music is also flat, though it provides some minor improvement over the rest of the sound. The subwoofer is not used, except for some very minor bass during musical numbers.
|Surround Channel Use|
A small selection of Extras on the disc, of limited interest, but better than nothing.
The menu is static with audio, and you can choose to go to Scene Selections (a whopping 38 to choose from!), Special Features, Select Languages or Play the Movie.
This has to be one of the poorest extras on offer on any DVD, and hardly deserves the name. It consists of one text page summarising some of the cast & crew credits. Wow!
A short excerpt from a documentary where animation directors Hanna & Barbera outline the genesis of the scene where Gene Kelly dances with cartoon mouse Jerry. It seems they were after Mickey Mouse originally, but Walt Disney didn't want him to appear in an MGM production. This runs for 2:12 and is interesting enough, but a bit lonely on this DVD.
After the success of Anchors Aweigh, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra were reunited in two further films; On The Town and Take Me Out To The Ballgame (what a title). On offer here are the trailers for all three of their collaborations. Each exhibits some damage but together they are reasonable examples of the trailers of the time, and better produced than many of that vintage.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this DVD is identical to the Region 1 (even down to the NTSC picture), so I suppose the Region 4 is marginally preferred as it will be easier to purchase here.
Anchors Aweigh is a reasonably pleasant example of the Hollywood Musical from its heyday. It features two major stars in their prime, with some excellent dance routines from Gene Kelly the highlight. The picture is acceptable, and very good at times, but the sound and extras packages disappoint. On balance it is probably a worthwhile purchase for fans of the genre, but might not impress the unconverted. The younger members of my family are rapidly developing a taste for older films, and they loved this one.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K350, using Component output|
|Display||SONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Kenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|