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While some will certainly find the film somewhat corny by todayís standards, LI'L ABNER ($15) is a terrific adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, not to mention an all around fun movie. Based upon the popular and long running comic strip by Al Capp, the movie version of the Broadway show maintains a certain level of staginess the works well to create an illusion that one is watching a comic brought to life. Additionally, the filmís casting, costuming and production design go a long way to recreate the look and feel of the comic strip, which was then eye-poppingly realized on film in VistaVision and Technicolor.

The plot of LI'L ABNER follows the exploits of the comic strip, finding citizens of the hillbilly community of Dogpatch USA preparing for the annual Sadie Hawkins Day festivities- a rite in which all the single women of Dogpatch chase down and catch themselves a husband. Among the most hopeful of females is the lovely, but past her prime Daisy Mae (Leslie Parrish), who has been relentlessly chasing Li'l Abner (Peter Palmer) for years. Unfortunately for the folks of Dogpatch, the government arrives in town to announce that their burg has been declared the most unnecessary community in America, and are planning to use Dogpatch as an atomic bomb test site. This leaves the denizens of Dogpatch scrambling to find something necessary about their community, thus preserving their way of life and Sadie Hawkins Day. The delightful cast of LI'L ABNER also features Stubby Kaye, Howard St. John, Julie Newmar, Stella Stevens, Billie Hayes, Joe E. Marks, Bern Hoffman, Al Nesor, as well as uncredited appearances by Donna Douglas, Paul Frees, Valerie Harper, Beth Howland and Jerry Lewis.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made LI'L ABNER available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. LI'L ABNER looks pretty sweet on DVD, having a bright, fairly sharp and reasonably well-defined image. Long and medium shots generally appear to be the crispest, with close-ups seemingly have been photographed with a bit of diffusion, giving them a slightly softer quality. Colors are lush, vibrant and give one a good impression of what an original Technicolor print would have looked like. Colors are pretty stable, but there are a couple occasions, where they seem to be pushing the limits of video playback. Blacks are deep, whites are clean and contrast is just fine. The film elements are very clean for their age, displaying few signs of wear and tear. Additionally, film grain is pretty minimal throughout. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack has the expected limitations in fidelity of a forty five year old film, but is free from distortions and background hiss, and is generally pleasant sounding with modest amplification. Dialogue is clean and completely understandable. No other language tracks are encoded onto the DVD, but English subtitles have been provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. No supplemental content has been included.

LI'L ABNER is a fun musical that fans have been eager to have on DVD for quite some time. Paramountís presentation looks very nice and sounds just fine, which should please all those eager fans.



Li'l Abner (1959)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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