Hello, Dolly! Blu-ray Review
In 1964, Jerry Herman’s musical “Hello, Dolly!” took Broadway by storm, winning 10 Tony Awards, including the top award as Best Musical. One of the musicals it beat that year was “Funny Girl,” starring a young 22 year old named Barbra Streisand. In 1968 FUNNY GIRL was made into a film and Streisand won the Oscar that year for Best Actress (in a bit of Oscar history Streisand actually tied with Katherine Hepburn). For her next film Streisand stepped into the role of Dolly Levi and teamed up with Walter Matthau for the film version of HELLO, DOLLY!
It’s the turn of the 20th Century in New York City. If you need anything in NYC the person to see is Dolly Levi (Streisand). Currently she is on her way to Yonkers to assist Mr. Horace Vandergelder, a well known and unmarried “half-millionaire.” Dolly’s official reason for her visit is to assist Horace in getting his niece out of town before she elopes. Unofficially the widow Levi is looking for husband number two. Learning that Horace is already preparing to propose to another woman, Irene Molloy (Marianne McAndrew), Dolly convinces Cornelius Hackl (Michael Crawford) and Barnaby Tucker (Danny Lockin), two young men that work for Horace, to journey to New York and have a night out on the town. She can even give them the name of a woman to look up, one Irene Molloy.
Directed by the great Gene Kelly, HELLO, DOLLY! is very hit or miss as a film. Though at one time the most popular show in Broadway history (it’s 10 Tony Awards was a record that stood for almost four decades until THE PRODUCERS won 12), HELLO, DOLLY! is not Herman’s best work. Later shows, like “Mame” and “La Cage aux Folles” have much more memorable tunes. I would venture that those of you reading this would be hard pressed to recall a song from the show other then the title tune (in my opinion the only other memorable tune is “Before the Parade Passes By”). Where it hits is the way director Kelly has opened the show, taking a more personal bit of theatre and expanding it into a full-fledged production. Kelly cast the show with a plethora of musical talent, both current and future, among them future Tony award winners Michael Crawford and Tommy Tune, as well as, if my eyes aren’t deceiving me, a lot of the supporting cast from THE MUSIC MAN. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both Crawford and Tune on stage so to see them so early in their career is a treat. In what would be his last film, Lockin is quite endearing. Sadly he was murdered after he moved to Hawaii to open a dance studio. And of course, you can never go wrong when you have Barbra Streisand singing on screen.
Unfortunately Streisand is also part of the misses. At age 26 she’s just too young to be playing Dolly, a part originated by Carol Channing, who was 41 at the time. Other actresses who also played Dolly include Phyllis Diller, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Ginger Rogers and Pearl Bailey. Also miscast is Matthau, who wears his hang-dog expression pretty much the entire film. He’s also tone-deaf. There are many well known stories of Streisand and Matthau fighting constantly on set, with one quarrel ending with Matthau telling Babs that she “had no more talent than a butterfly’s fart.” And while I’m a huge fan of both Crawford (I saw him in “The Phantom of the Opera” three times) and Tune, they also seem out of place here. Crawford’s English accent is almost out of place for the time and place as is Tune’s native Texas twang. Also, Tommy Tune, who has won 9 Tony Awards during his career, is 6’ 7” tall. He towers over the rest of the cast to the point of distraction, especially during the dance numbers. The man is all legs!
That all being said, fans of the film WALL-E will remember that HELLO, DOLLY! was the little robots favorite movie. And who can argue with that?
Video: The film has been beautifully transferred and is presented in the original 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The colors seemingly jump from the screen and the picture fills the screen from end to end.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is very clear. The musical numbers are well mixed.
Directing Dolly: Gene Kelly Remembered (10:39): A very informative interview with Patricia Ward Kelly, a film historian and Gene Kelly’s widow. Among the revelations is that Streisand was always questioning Kelly as to what he was doing and why, apparently preparing for her directing debut with “Yentl” 15 years later.
1969 Featurette (6:53): When I was a young boy in the 60s this was something that would play in theatres before a film or on television after the Sunday night movie. The film gives a behind the scenes look at the filming of the “Before the Parade Passes By” number that closes the first act of the film.
Theatrical Trailer and Spanish Theatrical Trailer