The World of Nat King Cole (2004)

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Released 6-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Menu Animation & Audio
Additional Footage-Quizás, Quizás, Quizás
Featurette-Extended Interviews
Gallery-Photo-Nat And Friends
Trailer-China Gate, St. Louis Blues
Radio Spots-Rheingold Radio Jingle
Gallery-Nat Behind The Camera (Montage)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-40 Ways To Describe Nat King Cole
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 89:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ian A. Hunt
Studio
Distributor

EMI Music
Starring Nat King Cole
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
French
German
Italian
Portuguese
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "He was cool before it was cool to be cool" - Isaac Hayes

    15 February 2005 marked the 40th anniversary of the death of the legendary Nat 'King' Cole. To commemorate his lasting legacy this DVD has been released. A companion CD has also been released containing 28 of the crooner's remastered songs. I've got a special place in my music collection for the works of this great talent. My wife and I danced our bridal waltz to his instantly recognisable Unforgettable and it has essentially become 'our song' ever since.

    Unlike the CD of the same name, The World Of Nat King Cole is not a concert or performance DVD. It is a true documentary that looks at the life and times of this marvellous performer through the words of close friends and relatives. It starts right back when he was born in 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama and follows him as he grew up in Chicago. In 1937, after touring with a black musical revue, he began playing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles. There he formed the King Cole Trio, with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince (the former is featured here in interviews). Cole emphasized the piano as a solo, rather than a rhythm, instrument in his jazz arrangements.

    Eventually breaking away from the trio, Cole earned commercial success with songs such as Nature Boy, Mona Lisa, When I Fall In Love, Too Young, and of course his signature song Unforgettable. Nat King Cole toured internationally, gaining a legion of fans, and even appeared in motion pictures (though his acting left much to be desired). Cole was also the first major black performer to host his own television show, suitably titled The Nat King Cole Show on NBC in 1956. It only lasted one season. There is scattered footage of him performing on that show in this documentary.
 
    The documentary also features scores of interviews with people who were close to Cole either through family or professional relationships. The likes of his wife Maria, daughter Natalie and brother Freddy feature prominently. Others in the industry around the time such as Eartha Kitt and BB King are also featured. There are also many interviews with people who have been influenced by the man and his music. The likes of Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jnr and even Australian film director Baz Luhrmann offer their thoughts.

    From a DVD viewpoint, special mention must be made of the start up and menu system. Unlike so many other discs which take upwards of several minutes to navigate past advertisements, forced copyright messages and other boring splash screens, this DVD fires up to the main menu and the "play documentary" option in less then seven seconds. The menus are classy and simple, dispensing with all that unnecessary time wasting animation. More like this please.

    A quality package that will surely provide some information about one of the finest voices ever to set foot inside a recording studio. A little more in the way of performances would have been nice, but I guess the idea is to buy the companion CD as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Being a relatively new documentary the video quality is rather good. This is a widescreen presentation in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is also16x9 enhanced.

    This is a finely detailed and a generally sharp transfer that benefits greatly from the 16x9 enhancement. There are no issues with shadow detail in any of the darker scenes (these are few and far between) and grain is virtually non-existent. There is also no low level noise. There is plenty of black and white footage from the 40s, 50s and 60s and as would be expected some of this is of pretty poor quality, with scratches and artefacts galore, but other than that this is a clean, modern transfer.

    The colour palette on offer is rich and deep, with solid blacks and some nice saturated reds and blues. There are no problems with the colour rendition.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present. There is some minor shimmer but other than a couple of other minor instances on some of the instruments during the live performances that are barely noticeable, this is almost a blemish-free transfer.

    There are several subtitles available. The English variety are excellent.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change at 51:32.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    For what is essentially a documentary there is a surprising choice of soundtracks available. In addition to Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks both encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s, there is also a half bitrate dts 5.1 soundtrack. While most of the audio is dialogue only there are of course a few live performances from Nat King Cole that make full use of all channels. This is hardly what I'd call demonstration material and much of the live material is on the low fidelity side, but it is clean and clear and does justice to the man's music. Both the 5.1 soundtracks are very similar, exhibiting enough separation across all channels, with decent fidelity in the newer material. They are equally powerful with no audible problems other than those attributed to the source material.

    Dialogue and vocals are prominent in the overall sound mix, with the newer interview material the clearest. There are no audio sync problems.

    Surprisingly there is consistent surround use. Almost all of the songs and even some background music fill the rear channels during almost the entire documentary.

    The subwoofer is barely called upon.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Menu Animation & Audio

Additional Footage - Quizás, Quizás, Quizás

    Performed by Omara Portuondo, Ibrahhim Ferrier and Roberto Fonseca, this Spanish speaking song was a favourite of Nat Cole's even though his accent was often laughed at. Runs for 4:00.

Featurette - Extended Interviews

    Six categories of additional interview material, you can chose from The Man (2:27), His Style (0:45), The Voice (2:33), Stories (3:53), Memories (5:03) and His Legacy (3:40). Eartha Kitt, Tony Bennet, Maria Cole, Natalie Cole, Harry Belafonte, BB King and many others add more thoughts than were seen in the main documentary.

Gallery-Photo

    Titled Nat and Friends, this is a 0:58 second collection of black and white photos showing Nat with a variety of famous people. The likes of US President John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II and the original Rat Pack all were among Nat King Cole's acquaintances.

Trailer - China Gate

    Running for 2:16, this is a trailer for the incredibly corny 1957 war film China Gate starring Gene Barry, Angie Dickinson and Nat King Cole as Goldie the fighting legionnaire. Apparently as an actor Cole made a mighty fine singer.

Trailer - St Louis Blues

    Running for 1:56, this1958 film seemed much more suited to Nat's talents since he gets to sing quite a bit.

Radio Spots - Rheingold Radio Jingle

    Running for 2:00 this is a series of  radio jingles that Nat Cole performed to promote Rheingold Beer.

Gallery - Nat Behind The Camera

    6:10 of footage from a series of home movies that Nat Cole shot while on various trips abroad and at home.

Theatrical Trailer

    A lengthy (3:45) trailer for the documentary.

Featurette - 40 Ways To Describe Nat King Cole

    Compiled from sound grabs taken from interviews throughout the documentary, this 1:58 featurette merely shows that many people thought different things when it came to describing the impact of Nat King Cole and his music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Both the Region 1 and the UK Region 2 discs have also been recently released and are identical to the Region 4 version.

Summary

    The World Of Nat King Cole is a comprehensive and very well packaged DVD documentary detailing the life of one of the world's greatest ever singers. Actual performances from the man are a little thin, which is probably the biggest disappointment, but for a detailed and well-researched look at such an influential singer's life this comes highly recommended.

    The video and audio quality are excellent.

    The extras are numerous and the actual presentation of the DVD is first class.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, May 16, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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