Musicals: 4-Film Collection review (US Import)

Fans of the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood musicals will want to snap up this US bargain

The title of this Blu-ray boxset may be lacking in inspiration, but the same certainly can't be said of the quartet of films it contains…

Previously available as a standalone release, Singin' in the Rain (1952) is both one of the best musicals ever made and one of the funniest examinations of the movie industry. You can find our original review of the Blu-ray, here.

The Band Wagon (1953) stars Fred Astaire as an aging musical star who gets the chance to restart his career in a bright and cheery Broadway musical. Trouble rears its head when he clashes with his prima ballerina (Cyd Charisse) co-star and has to put up with a pretentious director (Jack Buchanan) who wants to transform the production into a modern re-telling of Faust.

Loosely based on the real-life acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane (1953) is the weakest of the four films in the set. That said, it still delivers some great musical numbers and has plenty of fun with its plot about a rootin' tootin' frontierswoman (Doris Day) who heads to 'Chicag-y' to find an actress to perform in her town's saloon, and the complications in her love life that follow.

Finally, Kiss Me Kate (1953) stars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson as a divorced couple working on a musical production of The Taming of the Shrew. As well as it's fantastic array of Cole Porter songs, the film is notable for having been shot in 3D.

Picture: As the set re-uses the gorgeous pre-existing Blu-ray release of Singin' in the Rain, fans should know what to expect from that hi-def platter. The great news is that Warner Bros. has treated the other films in the set to a similar level of restoration. This has resulted in a series of truly wonderful-looking 1080p encodes, each bursting with bright colours and immaculate detailing.

The real showstopper, though, is the 3D version of Kiss Me Kate. The MVC 1.78:1 1080p encode manages to somehow look sharper than the 'flat' version, and is one of the more immersive examples of the form you'll ever find. Indeed, the cast of the stage production featured in the film spend so much time throwing water, confetti and anything else they can get their hands on at the camera (check out Chapter 4 for a prime example) that you've got to presume that the first few rows of the audiences must have gone home in a right state.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: All of the films bar Calamity Jane feature DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes that do a good job of opening up the musical numbers without sounding forced or artificial. Meanwhile, Calamity Jane sticks to a nicely restored DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono presentation.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: In addition to commentaries for Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon, the set's four BD platters also offer a solid array of interviews, retrospective documentaries and archival goodies – including newsreel footage and classic cartoons.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Brilliant Blu-ray boxset with great AV quality at a bargain price. Import it now! 

Musicals: 4-Film Collection, Warner Bros., All-region BD (US Import), £20 Approx