Do the maths! You get 12 discs, and at this price, it's a bargain!
This boxset includes the 2-Disc Special Edition version of every film, unlike other boxsets who simply include either all single disc version or just one special edition. Even State Fair, an early Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and the only one written for screen, has a 2-disc version, which includes a remake from 1962 (with commentary) and a pilot for a TV adaptation that was never made. I haven't watched those special features, but you also get a featurette documentary, commentary, trailers and more! It's not my favourite film of the set- a bit too quaint for me- but for those who like old-fashioned quaint musicals (Meet Me in St Louis and the like), this is for you!
Carousel is a lovely film, bittersweet throughout. It tells the story of the deceased Billy (Gordon McRae), a carousel barker who comes down from heaven to make amends for the wrongs he has done to his wife (Shirley Jones). Some complained that the direction was too heavy-handed and perhaps those who have seen stage versions might agree, but for those who haven't had a chance to see a stage version, this is a good adaptation. McRae is particularly strong. It is a sad film though, so be prepared for tears! This special edition has a trailer, commentary, some featurettes, TV performances from the era singing some numbers (this is included on all the films except The Sound of Music, which was written after the broadcast), and some deleted songs in audio. You can also listen to the isolated score I think.
The King and I is for the most part set in the interior of the King's palace. In the 19th century, Anna (Deborah Kerr), a governess, goes with her small son to work for the many children of the King of Siam (Yul Brynner). Originally Anna and the King experience a culture clash, but slowly they come to an understanding. For me, the songs aren't as strong as Carousel or South Pacific. My favourite songs here are Shall We Dance and Getting To Know You. However, the performances are flawless- Brynner and Kerr are definitive- and you get to see Kerr in some beautiful but ginormous dresses. This special edition has a trailer, some featurettes, commentary, and a TV pilot of a non-singing version (with commentary by one of its stars), plus some deleted songs in audio.
Oklahoma! is one of Rodgers and Hammerstein's first musicals (and the first one to be adapted for screen). This is where we first see the pairing of Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones- here playing Curly, a cowman, and farm girl Laurey, who refuse to admit their feelings for each other. It's also about the transformation from Oklahoma Territory to Oklahoma, the state (the state of Oklahoma has made the title song their national anthem). The stage musical is darker (the 1998 version with Hugh Jackman is more accurate) but this is still an enjoyable version. The songs are catchy- this is a more upbeat musical compared to Carousel, although it does have its degree of danger. Who will Laurey take to the box social- Curly or sinister farmhand Judd? The special features are mainly about the process it was shot in- Todd AO- and you get both the Cinemascope version of the film and the Todd AO version. Personally, I can't tell the difference.
The Sound of Music is so well-known that I need not go into the story. There are plenty of great special features here, and you get a commentary from director Robert Wise, Julie Andrews, and Christopher Plummer (who played Captain Von Trapp)! This is the perfect film for a bank holiday.
South Pacific has probably spawned the most well-known songs. Younger Than Springtime, Bali Hai, There is Nothing Like A Dame, Some Enchanted Evening...all of these have found their way into musical history. South Pacific is set during WW2 on the Pacific Islands. The sailors are missing female company but luckily there's some beautiful girls on Bali Hai. One of them (John Kerr) falls in love with one of the natives (France Nguyan). The other romantic coupling is army nurse Nellie (Mitzi Gaynor) and French plantation owner Emile (Rossano Brazzi), who is many years her senior. The musical is essentially about whether the characters can overcome society's prejudices and the consequences of failure to do so. It's a long musical- you get an Intermission- but for a rarely done musical, it's worth it. The most famous element of this film is probably the colour filters, which look like a bad amateur stage production. The intention of the filmmakers is that it would be just like going to see the stage version. Some complain about the film but I really like it and I've yet to see a better version. The song "Carefully Taught"- a song about how society creates prejudice- was almost cut because it wasn't seen as being right for a musical to tackle such issues. Luckily, it stayed. Instead of cut songs, you get all the songs plus an extra one- My Girl Back Home. This edition has an interesting documentary about the writer of the source material it was based on going to visit the islands where he was stationed and both the theatrical version of the film and the roadshow version (which has an extra fourteen minutes, including the cut chorus of Some Enchanted Evening where Nellie and Emile do the pose on the soundtrack album).
This is just a brilliant collection. All the commentaries have subtitles as well!