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PAL JOEY ($28) is typical of a 1950's Hollywood musical adapted from the Broadway stage. First you apply enough whitewash to the book to obscure all traces of sexuality, and second you cast actors who can't sing a note into leading roles. Of course, PAL JOEY is a prime example of how Hollywood made that strange formula a total success. PAL JOEY stars Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans, a womanizing nightclub singer who always gets in trouble because of his penchant for dames. After getting thrown out of one town, he lands on his feet is San Francisco where he secures a new gig thanks to the help of an old friend.

Of course, Joey can't change his ways and immediately begins chasing every skirt in the club. The only girl that Joey can't seem to attract is chorus girl Linda English (Kim Novak), whom he considers a genuine challenge. After a good deal of work, Linda eventually begins to soften towards Joey, but the timing couldn't be worse. Just as Linda takes an interest in him, Joey becomes involved with Vera Simpson (Rita Hayworth), a rich widow whom he entices into sponsoring a new nightclub. PAL JOEY is an amusing little musical that features songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, including the standards Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, The Lady is a Tramp, My Funny Valentine and There's A Small Hotel (all beautifully arranged by Nelson Riddle). The cast of PAL JOEY also includes Barbara Nichols, Bobby Sherwood, Hank Henry, Elizabeth Patterson and Isabel Analla.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has done a very nice job with their DVD edition of PAL JOEY. The film is offered in both full screen and wide screen presentations on opposite sides of the disc. There is nothing terribly wrong with the open matte full screen version of PAL JOEY, but I think fans will prefer the 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation. Framed at 1.85:1, PAL JOEY provides better compositional balance in wide screen, looking far more like a film than a video. The transfer is sharp and detailed as any 1957 production could hope to look on DVD. There are no serious flaws in the film element, only the occasional speckle, which really doesn't detract from the presentation. PAL JOEY was originally released in glorious Technicolor, however the element used for the transfer sometimes appears too muted to be an IB print. For the most part, the colors look very nice, but lack that "dripping off the screen" level of saturation that one would find in a vintage IB Technicolor print. Still, the film element offer respectably saturated hues, with the reds, blues and greens looking especially good. Flesh tones usually appear healthy, but there are occasions that they seem a bit pale. There are no serious problems with either chroma noise or bleeding of the more intense colors. As with many older films, there is some variation in the color values from one reel to the next, but it isnít excessive. Additionally, film grain is noticeable in a couple of spots, but itís hardly worth complaining about. Blacks are accurately recreated and the image has good contrast. Digital compression artifacts are well disguised by solid authoring.

PAL JOEY comes with a two-channel Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that sounds wonderful for a film over forty years old. By today's standards, the track isn't what one would call high fidelity, but it is obvious from this DVD that the songs and the music were very well recorded. PAL JOEY will take a goodly amount of amplification and maintain a very pleasing sound. Dialogue is always clean and intelligible, but the music has a definite edge. A Portuguese language soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles.

The interactive menus look nice, but are very basic in the implementation. Through the menus one can access the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD's extras. There are some vintage advertising materials, as well as a cool theatrical trailer and talent files supplementing this DVD release of PAL JOEY. All of the supplemental materials are accessible from the DVD's menus.

PAL JOEY is classic Hollywood entertainment at its best. Fans of Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak are certain to want to add this DVD to their collections.


Pal Joey



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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