Blu-ray Review “Babes in Toyland (1961)”

Actors: Ray Bolger, Ed Wynn, Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ann Jilliann
Directors: Jack Donohue
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Run Time: 106 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

“Babes in Toyland (1961)” is timed perfectly for the Holiday season. This is the first time that this film has been released on Blu-ray. The 1080p transfer looks sharp on this release. Disney has delivered the good for for a film that over 50 years old, it doesn’t show it’s age. The production scale is so memorable and really doesn’t skimp on quality. A little trivia about the film is that this was Disney’s first live-action musical fantasy…and who doesn’t love a nice Disney musical, especially a holiday themed one! This was also produced by Walt Disney himself. This is a perfect film to get in the mood for the holidays!

Official Synopsis: Tom the Piper’s Son is about to marry Mary Quite Contrary. On the eve of their wedding, evil miser Barnaby hires two henchmen to drown Tom and steal Mary’s sheep, cared for by Little Bo Peep, thus depriving Mary and the children she lives with of their livelihood, forcing her to marry Barnaby. The sheep arestolen, but Gonzorgo and Roderigo, Barnaby’s henchmen, double-cross him by selling Tom to a band of gypsies instead, leaving Tom with the opportunity to escape and make his way with Mary, Bo-Peep, and other Mother Goose characters to Toyland.

Like I mentioned the video transfer is sharp for “Babes in Toyland”, which is also presented with an original aspect ratio of 1:33:1. The new digital restoration really delivers the goods and does not disappoint. The audio track is not as impressive though as the video transfer with its Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono surround track. I would have liked to see a little more effort in the audio department here. Also to add insult to injury there are no special features included as well, which really makes this release feel more like a port then an upgrade. This is still worth the low-price for this Blu-ray though, especially for hardcore Disney fans.

DVD Review “Ray Charles: Live in France 1961”

Directed by: Jean-Christophe Averty
Starring: Ray Charles
Distributed by: Eagle Vision Entertainment
Running Time: 111 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This DVD consists of concert footage from the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival that has been lost for the last 50 years. These newly discovery concerts add up to about an hour and 45 minutes of footage. Just to be able to watch this is considered a treat. The footage was transferred and restored from its original 16mm and really looks great for what it is. I love Ray Charles and his music is just genius. This early concert with him is a great insight into his music prior to being a legendary star.

The concerts from the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival are split over two days July 18th and July 22nd, 1961. Some of the tracks included are “Let the Good Times Roll”, “Georgia on My Mind”, “Sticks and Stones” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”. Since it is two different concerts over two days there are some duplicate songs from each day. There are also some bonus tracks includes on this disc from July 19th and July 21st, 1961, including “The Story”, “Yes Indeed”, “I Believe My Soul”, “What’d I Say”, “Wonder”. Also notable included on this disc is Nat King Cole track “With You On My Mind”, which is a song that Ray never recorded.

It is amazing getting to watch Ray Charles perform especially on the old black and white 16mm transferred film. His band is also really great to listen to especially the Raeletts. These concerts in France are the first time that Ray Charles has performed in Europe. The DVD case and inserts are very impressive as well. Lately these days little goes into the sleeve-art and pamphlet. The pamphlet is an informational and colorful 15 pages.  This is definitely worth the purchase and I recommend it for sure.