Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (Warner Bros. 1951) Warner Home Video

Uncharacteristically shot in B&W (since most musicals of its vintage had long since made the transition into blazing Technicolor), Michael Curtiz’s I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951) is an often compelling and tender musical bio about the resilient marriage between composer/musician Gus Kahn (Danny Thomas) know as the ‘Corn-Belt Bard,’ and Grace LeBoy (Doris Day) – the woman who simply adored him.

A film of immeasurable strengths apart from Day’s obvious contributions to the venerable songs she belts out with spunk and heart – and with definite chemistry emanating between its two costars, I'll See You In My Dreams is a cornucopia of great American standards from Tin-Pan Alley, Vaudeville and the early sound era. Sensitively directed by Curtiz from Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose’s poignantly scripted scenarios, the film also marks Danny Thomas’ movie debut.

Briefly touching upon the darker aspects of Kahn’s life (his multiple affairs and addiction to alcohol) the film is basically an old-fashioned love story. Grace works for a music publishing firm that caters to young song writers. Gus strolls in one afternoon to pitch his wares and a little woo on the side.

In no time at all, the struggling Chicago song writer is penning odes and pop tunes that the whole town is singing, with Grace by his side as his collaborator. Grace's constancy in their partnership eventually leads to marriage but occasionally illustrates a rather unflattering portrait of the possessive clingy woman, yet always with a grounded center that can bring calm from the chaos of their sometimes turbulent relationship.

In supporting roles are Frank Lovejoy as the superb drunk, Walter Donaldson, and Patrice Wymore as sultry Ziegfeld star, Gloria Knight – oozing sexuality from every pore as she warbles ‘Love Me or Leave Me’ the song that would, ironically, serve as the title and canvas for one of Day’s greatest musical hits several years later.

Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits a very nice B&W transfer. The grayscale has been balanced with deep solid blacks and very clean whites. Contrast levels are nicely realized. Blacks are deep and solid. Whites, generally clean. A fair amount of film grain is noticeable in several scenes and there are tempered age related artifacts sprinkled throughout the transfer. Still, the quality will surely NOT disappoint.

The audio is Mono but adequately represented. One wishes that Warner had had the foresight to remaster at least the songs in 5.1 Dolby Digital from the original directionalized audio stems used to create the mono mix. Short subjects are the only extra feature.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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