Liberace-Valentine Special, A (1979)
Main Menu Audio
Notes-Liberace Live: London Philharmonic
Notes-Leapin' Lizards! It's Liberace!
Trailer-My Beautiful Laundrette; What's Up, Tiger Lily?
Trailer-The Secret Policeman's Ball
|Year Of Production||1979|
|Running Time||49:09 (Case: 60)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Tony Charmoli|
|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|
Well, what I can say about Liberace? Most of us probably know of him as a flamboyant singer and pianist - full of glitter and camp - "arriving" onto a Las Vegas stage in an outlandish Rolls Royce and an equally outlandish costume. He was "camp" long before the word meant anything other than pitching a tent and lighting a fire. And the whole world loved him for it. Or at least a decent cross section of middle American housewifes and their husbands.
It is impossible these days to separate the music from the personality, the spectacle, ... the whole "performance." And yet, I was determined to find out just how good a singer, pianist and arranger/improviser he was, underneath the diamonds and the charisma. After all, the man won two Emmy Awards, garnered six gold albums and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's highest paid musician and pianist (averaging US$5m per year for over 35 years). And you don't get there merely on candelabra, charisma, diamonds and dazzle alone.
Wladziu Valentino Liberace was born in Wisconsin in 1919 to a musical family. On the strength of a recommendation from Polish pianist Paderewski, Liberace won a scholarship to study at Wisconsin College of Music and made his debut performing with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 14. However, he soon discovered his true calling: playing a variety of classical bon-bons, movie theme songs, cocktail jazz and popular ballads in nightclubs and in Las Vegas. He also had a variety show on TV in the 1950s called "The Liberace Show" and became a popular matinee TV idol. He also starred in several films (without much success) and authored four successful mainly autobiographical books.
Liberace did not start his career by being outlandish. He started by wearing a modest white tuxedo but his costumes became more and more elaborate until they became his trademark, along with his elaborate stage props.
Liberace suddenly fell ill in 1986 and finally died in February 1987. Rumours of his homosexuality, which were vigorously quashed during his lifetime, surfaced again and an autopsy confirmed he died of AIDS. Although these days it's hard to imagine him NOT being considered gay (since his lifestyle literally defined a stereotype), to many of his fans, particularly the female ones, his sexuality was not important. His devotion to his mother, his charming stage manner, his extravaganzas were all part of a fantasy world full of romance and frilly, expensive, pretty things that many of his fans connected with.
So, what is Liberace's Valentine's Day Special like? Well, let's just say it was pretty much as I suspected it would be. All the Liberace trademarks are there - the over-the-top costumes, the grand arrival by hot air balloon followed by a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce open top entrance, including a glittering piano, candelabra and even fountains.
Liberace plays a quick medley of Chopin and Gershwin pieces as well as favourites such as "My Funny Valentine." He is obviously a very technically competent and fast pianist, though a bit heavy handed. Like his clothes, his playing is showy rather than subtle but his audience obviously love it and are not complaining.
This made for TV special has an "intermission" featurette where we get to see Liberace's collection of pianos and cars at the Liberace Museum (still open for visitors to this day) and (brace yourselves!) experience Liberace tap dancing to a player piano.
Then we get a sneak look into Liberace's lavish mansion (which seems to be stuck in the middle of suburbia) where he lounges around in a very fetching dressing gown in a bedroom opulent enough to fit a Queen as well as a sparkling and glittering dining room with his two special guests Sandy Duncan and Lola Falana.
After that, we are whisked away to his "yacht" (the Queen Mary) for a "party" (a concert held in the ballroom). Both Sandy and Lola get to sing their own numbers, and then Liberace closes the show with a sixteenth beat version of "Boogie Woogie" and a finale ("I'll Be Seeing You").
All in all, if you are a Liberace fan, then I don't think this programme will disappoint you. If you are curious, then it's as good an introduction to the man as any.
|1. Chopin Selections/My Funny Valentne|
2. Gershwin Selections
4. It's Not Where You Start, It's Wh..
|5. You're The One That I Want|
6. Boogie Woogie
7. I'll Be Seeing You
This is a full frame transfer based on a composite interlaced video source dating from the late seventies. As such, it is a good hunting ground for spotting obscure video artefacts seldom found on most transfers.
The transfer itself is typical of old video sources - somewhat soft and lacking in detail as well as undersaturated colours. Black levels are quite poor, and there is lots of low level video noise about.
The top left and right edges of the screen seem to be blurred from 25:58-27:52 - I'm not sure whether this is intentional but is highly distracting. Also, the screen went blank for a few frames around 30:00-30:01.
There are two very noticeable instances of analogue tape tracking error (around 41:48-41:50 and 47:14-47:15) as well as minor analogue tape glitches every now and then.
Some other video artefacts I noticed include the usual aliasing/shimmering but also less often encountered artefacts such as cross colouration, overmodulation (particularly noticeable around the portholes in the Queen Mary around 32:39-32:51, the buttons in the guard of honour uniforms around 32:51-32:56) and colour bleeding (particularly around 37:45-39:58).
This is a single sided single layered disc with no subtitles.
There is only one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s).
The audio track is monaural and strident, but consistent with the age of the video source. Honestly I did not expect much and my expectations were not exceeded.
There is a minor dropout in the sound just before the closing credits around 48:12.
Fortunately I did not notice any audio synchronization issues, and did not have too much difficulty understanding the dialogue.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of extras of the disc, but they are mainly text based information presented as a set of stills.
The menus are full frame and static, but include background audio.
This is a single still provided a blurb for another Liberace video. Unfortunately, due to a DVD authoring error, the menu item leads to the still for "Leapin' Lizards! It's Liberace!"
This is a single still provided a blurb for another Liberace video. Unfortunately, due to a DVD authoring error, the menu item leads to the still for "Liberace Live: London Philharmonic."
This is a set of 13 stills providing a brief biography of Liberace. By the way, the little icon below the "1 of 13" text (that looks like a check mark) is actually a "down arrow." Selecting it will advance to the next page.
This is a set of 9 stills providing a list of Liberace's albums.
This is a set of trailers for other DVDs produced by Umbrella Entertainment. My Beautiful Laundrette is presented in 1.75:1 letterboxed, the others are in 1.33:1. The audio soundtracks are in Dolby Digital 2.0. All the trailers are rather grainy and soft.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This disc has yet to be released in Region 1.
I suspect this Valentine's Day Special disc will primarily appeal to Liberace fans but those of you who are curious about the man may want to peek at this one. The video transfer is consistent with the quality of the video source (i.e.. poor and full of video artefacts). The same goes for the audio transfer. Extras are limited to text information on stills.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|