on 30 June 2014
HIT THE DECK  [Blu-ray] [US Import] The Liveliest Musical of the Year! Hallelujah, What a Show!
`Anchors Aweigh,' `On the Town' and `Hit the Deck.' Here with these Hollywood Musicasl has always known what to do with sailors on leave: Give 'em some pretty girls, some great songs and watch the fans line up to enlist!
`Hit the Deck' hits all the right notes as three sailors Tony Martin, Vic Damone and Russ Tamblyn and three cuties Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds and Ann Miller flirt, squabble, run afoul of shore patrol and of course, fall in love to a hit parade of Vincent Youmans' tunes. Highlights include Ann Miller's polishing the floor as "The Lady from the Bayou," Tony Martin's romantic mastery of "More Than You Know" and the stage-filling rouser "Hallelujah." Music, romance, fun and please don't miss the boat!
Cast: Tony Martin, Vic Damone, Russ Tamblyn, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Gene Raymond, Ann Miller, Walter Pidgeon, J. Carrol Naish, Kay Armen, Richard Anderson, Jane Darwell, Alan King, Henry Slate, The Jubilaires, Robert Burton (uncredited), John Close (uncredited), James Conaty (uncredited), John Damler (uncredited), Burnell Dietch (uncredited), Robert Dix (uncredited), Alvin Greenman (uncredited), Dabbs Greer (uncredited), Peter Leeds (uncredited), Hank Mann (uncredited) and Frank Reynolds (uncredited)
Director: Roy Rowland
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Screenplay: Sonya Levien and William Ludwig
Composers: Vincent Youmans (music), Leo Robin, Clifford Grey, Sidney Clare, Irving Caesar, Billy Rose, Edward Eliscu (lyrics), Conrad Salinger (uncredited), George Stoll (uncredited) and Robert Van Eps (uncredited)
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Video Resolution: 1080p [Eastman Color]
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 [CinemaScope]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 112 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Hit the Deck, a 1955 musical extravaganza, probably would have been a bigger hit had it been released just five years earlier. With its previously filmed and often imitated, about a tale of sailors on shore leave who end up putting on a show and falling in love it was very much a thing of Hollywood's past. `Hit the Deck' is also one of a fairly small number of M-G-M musicals which I'd never caught up with over the years. Watching this colourful CinemaScope film via the Warner Archive Collection’s great-looking new Blu-ray was a real treat. But by that time, the film's cast would have moved on to non-musical roles or stage and nightclub work as the traditional Hollywood musical came to an end.
`Hit the Deck' follows in the tradition of M-G-M's `Anchors Aweigh'  and `On The Town' , as three sailors on shore leave look for romance and manages to get into trouble. Chief Mate Bill Clark [Tony Martin] is anxious to see his girlfriend Ginger [Ann Miller], but he's marriage-shy and Ginger's tired of waiting for him to settle down. Danny Smith [Russ Tamblyn], who is secretly the son of an admiral [Walter Pidgeon], gets into trouble defending his sister Susan [Jane Powell] from the advances of lecherous married man Wendell Craig [Gene Raymond], with whom she has an "audition." Danny Smith falls for Carol [Debbie Reynolds], a dancer, and Susan falls for Danny's pal Rico [Vic Damone]. The shore patrol goes looking for the men after they brawl with Craig, with comical results. Naturally, all is neatly wrapped up by the end of the film's 112 minutes.
The plot, loosely inspired by a Broadway musical, really isn't much, but it really doesn't matter. The film's a feast for the eyes and ears. When Jane Powell, Ann Miller and Debbie Reynolds line up to sing "Why Oh Why?" in their gorgeous black, green, and red dresses by the great Helen Rose, well, all I can say is "That's Entertainment!" Debbie Reynolds and Russ Tamblyn are adorable together and have a great acrobatics-filled number in a fun house. Martin croons "More Than You Know," Powell sings "Sometimes I'm Happy," and most of the cast gathers for "Ciribiribin."
Ann Miller has a great steamy number, sans tap shoes! In "The Lady From the Bayou," and the rousing "Hallelujah" finale is absolutely stunning. The ladies all wear variations of gold and blue dresses to deliver the song, which builds to a fantastic sequence where Miller taps with the troops. Hermes Pan was the film's choreographer. The Blu-ray shows off the beautiful widescreen Eastman Color photography of George Folsey to great effect. One of my favourite moments was Martin's "More Than You Know," sung in Ann Miller's apartment decorated in shades of pink, purple and green it is pure eye candy. The always-welcome Walter Pidgeon adds some fun comic moments, as the shore police mistake the admiral for his son, who shares his name. The film was a reunion for Jane Powell and Walter Pidgeon, who had also played father and daughter in `Holiday in Mexico'  nearly a decade before.
Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, who share a 1st of April Birthday, had previously played sisters in `Two Weeks With Love'  and `Athena' . The film also reunited Jane Powell with past co-stars Vic Damone for `Rich, Young and Pretty' and `ATHENA,' and Russ Tamblyn for ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’ . Musical fans will find `Hit the Deck' an upbeat, pleasing confection, and it surely never looked any better, than on its brand new Blu-ray release.
But it was clearly the end-of-the-line for the M-G-M musical. Although Jane Powell had just scored a hit with ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ (1954), ‘Hit the Deck’ marked the end of her M-G-M career. With changing styles and budget cutbacks, the studio didn't have any more roles for her and let her go. Ann Miller and Vic Damone were at the end of their M-G-M tenure as well. Debbie Reynolds held on by developing her other talents. The same year ‘Hit the Deck’ came out Debbie Reynolds scored a comic hit in ‘The Tender Trap’  as the determined virgin who lands womanizing playwright Frank Sinatra. Although Russ Tamblyn would still have some shots at musical stardom, the musical fantasy ‘Tom Thumb’  and the OSCAR® winning ‘West Side Story’  and he, too, had to branch out into other roles, eventually moving into character work on the TV series ‘Twin Peaks’ [TV Series 1990 – 1991] and developing his talents as a poet and visual artist.
Blu-ray Video Quality – This film might be cheese of the highest order, but at least it looks ravishing. Warner Bros. has secured a clean and beautifully saturated print for this disc's aspect ratio 2.55:1 and also for this 1080p encoded image presentation. The Eastman Color photography pops with fantastic detail and the kind of specks and dirt which normally show on film this age are mostly absent. The picture quality tends to get blurred and less saturated when scenes transition into each other; otherwise it's a splendid-looking disc.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Hit the Deck's original stereophonic soundtrack has been mixed in 5.1 Surround, a carryover from the inferior NTSC DVD edition. The musical and non-musical segments have two distinct mixes, which can get jarring. Dialogue sounds a bit flat at times, while the musical numbers are so crystalline and lush it practically feels like being in the recording studio. An English SDH subtitle track is also provided.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Theatrical Trailer  [1080p] [2.55:1] [4:14] full-screen and yellowed with age, is the sole extra on this disc. A musical performance selection menu is provided in lieu of a scene-selection menu. Sadly, the Blu-ray is missing the extra audio outtake and bonus shorts from the NTSC DVD. It also has a song selection feature that is really nothing more than a chapter listing labelled by Song Title.
Finally, the corny mid-level M-G-M musical Hit the Deck doesn't win any prizes for originality, yet the bright cast and eye-popping production numbers make it worthwhile. Warner Archives' spiffy Blu-ray presentation transforms this overstuffed marshmallow-whip pie of a movie into a great purchase for fans of glitzy, Hollywood musicals. I just wish they would release ALL the other M-G-M Hollywood Musicals, especially what I have mentioned above, that are at the moment is only available on the inferior NTSC DVDs, despite this, at least this is the start and hopefully someone out there will make us fans of Hollywood Musicals, that are the staple diet of these beautiful musicals and of course having them released on Blu-ray will make our dreams come true. But despite this, I am still proud to add this to my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom