Plot: What’s it about?
Molly (Debbie Reynolds) has always been able to overcome obstacles in her life, even those which have threatened her life and all she holds dear. As a small child she lives through a massive flood and once she reaches sixteen, she is prepared to enter the world and make a path & name for herself. It won’t be an easy road to be sure, but Molly has overcome the odds before and she is confident she can do so again. Soon enough, she is working as a piano player and as she sings the nights away, she is making plans to wrangle herself a good man. Yes, Molly has decided she wants to become a married woman and no matter what, she’ll find herself the best man she can. And of course, she meets a man named Johnny Brown and even if her wedding ring is a cigar band, the two are in love and get hitched. But no matter how hard they try, social circles have no interest in accepting them as equals and the Browns keep on living their lives. They even end up in Europe, hobnob with some upper crust folks, and get into all sorts of adventures. But when Molly takes a ride on the Titanic, can even she manage to overcome the odds on this one?
This is a musical and such, fans of musicals will be most interested, but there is some stuff to like for others also. You can tell this is a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical, but that doesn’t mean it falls short on film. The normal film elements seem in order and the movie doesn’t look like a filmed musical play, but you can tell this one came from the stage. The music numbers can be overly loud at times, but in the end these pieces are less grating than most of the musicals from this time period. I am not a fan of musicals from this time and this one doesn’t change that much, but it was a decent way to spend a couple hours. The non musical sequences aren’t as impressive however and perhaps that’s the reason I wasn’t too taken with the film as a whole. The writing seems to frame all the music driven sections, which left me cold in the end. The film is a rental in my opinion, but fans will want this disc, with a cool documentary and a couple other smaller extras. If you like this film or musicals on the whole, then this is one you’ll want to look into.
I read some reviews of this film prior to this review and according to many, this film features the best performances of several actors. Now I haven’t followed all these performers and their careers, but if this was their best work, I am curious as to just how bad their worst work was. I don’t mean to say these turns are that bad, but at best the better performances here are average. I know Debbie Reynolds was nominated for Best Actress for this role, but I am clueless as to just how that happened. Reynolds (How The West Was Won, The Mating Game) gives an admirable effort here, but she simply isn’t suited for this role and that shows in more than a couple sequences. Her voice talents are in the right place, but her persona doesn’t mesh with the character and she can never overcome that issue. I know she has done better work than this, so if you’re in this for her, choose a different movie. The cast of The Unsinkable Molly Brown also includes Harvey Lembeck (The Command, Bikini Beach), Jack Kruschen (Satan’s Cheerleaders), Hermione Baddeley (Mary Poppins, The Aristocats), Ed Begley (12 Angry Men), and Harve Presnell (Patch Adams, Saving Private Ryan).
Video: How does it look?
The Unsinkable Molly Brown is presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer. Warner has given this film a new transfer and it shows. And while this film might be well over thirty-five years old, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from this transfer. I was stunned at how clean the source print was, with minimal wear signs, debris, and grain. The contrast is even at all times, as detail is quite high and black levels appear natural & well balanced. The colors take on a more natural tone, but that doesn’t mean the colors are muted, because that isn’t the case here. The hues look bright with their scope, with no bleeds and flesh tones that seem warm & normal also. I couldn’t spot any real compression flaws either, another excellent transfer for a classic by Warner Bros.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc sports a new DTS HD Master Audio surround sound track, which provides a nice overall audio experience. The main elements here are music, singing, and dialogue and I am pleased to report, all three are present and in fine form. The musical numbers come across very well here, using the surround channels to enhance the total experience. The rest of the audio is based in the front channels, which is good since this film doesn’t call for much non musical surround use. The dialogue and minor sound effects emerge in tip top shape, with no distortion or volume problems in the least. This disc also contains a French 2.0 surround track, as well as English & French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Story of a Dress: A look at the costume design for the film.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
They don’t make ’em like the used to and this is a forgotten treasure from the mid 60’s. Debbie Reynolds is never better and Warner has done a great job with this restoration from their Archive Collection. The supplements are the same as the previously-released DVD and nothing new has been included, but this gem is available on Blu-ray so no complaints here.