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Customer reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars
2.4 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 7 December 2011
Unfortunately, I ordered this DVD believing that at last the DVD of the film was available. At first sight it had the same cast as the delightful film. The quality of the recording was poor at best, it sounded tinny and was very dark. I returned it immediately - thank you for the refund - and will order the DVD of the actual film if ever it becomes available. I would mention I know of other people who would like this film.
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on 25 June 2017
Very poor quality recording, to the point of being unwatchable. Not a good buy. I have returned it to Amazon and await a refund.
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on 17 September 2014
Disgusting quality, an obvious poor standard copy, picture is dark and blurry, sound is awful, even the front cover is a rubbish photo copy. Complained to Amazon!!
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VINE VOICEon 5 June 2012
And sing very well, Patricia Routledge does in the role of Ruth, the Piratical-Maid-of-All-Work.

This 1980 production, performed with enthusiasm, is actually very difficult to rate, because it varies between delightful and just plain awful. I think the easiest way to explain it is with Amazon's star method, beginning with five ***** & working my way down to one *.

***** Kevin Kline, as the Pirate King, commands the stage, and even though his voice is not always in top form (The fault may be the sound recording, which is just plain awful.), he is very funny. He moves lithely, as a Pirate King should, and his comic timing is perfect.
***** "With Catlike Tread/Come friends and plough the sea!" is a knockout! One wants to join the audience in stand-up applause.
***** Major General Stanley's patter song, "I am the very model of a modern major general" is splendid (although I didn't care for his rather nasal "Orphan boy" rendition).

**** Patricia Routledge portrays a believable 47-year old ex-nursery maid, who, hard of hearing, has apprenticed young Frederick, not to a pilot, but to a pirate (because of the vocal limitations of Frederick, the wonderful duet, in which Frederick berates her for deceiving him as to her beauty, fell flat. When performed to perfection, it emerges as a Sullivan spoof on Azucena and Manrico in Verdi's "Il Trovatore".

*** 1/2: Linda Rondstadt portrays an engaging Mabel, when she is singing with her light soprano 'head' voice, and resists the temptation to belt it out (as in "Go ye heroes, go to glory" in act two); her Donizetti-like staccato with the flute in "Poor Wandering One" is really quite pleasant; and she also looks as if she has stepped out of a sentimental Victorian painting.

** The screeching female chorus is appalling.
** Frederic looks and acts the part of a twenty-one year old (little boy of five), but much of the time his voice emerges as little more than a breathy croon.

* The policemen are extremely unfunny. The roles have to be played straight to be comical (The whole point of 'tarantara' is that they are supposed to be stoney-faced Constable Plods who put on a brave front. Instead, they persistently mince around the stage like demented imitations of of Charlie Chaplin).
* The ghastly 'orchestra' (Flute, bass guitar, trumpet, xylophone?); Sir Arthur Sullivan must be spinning in his grave.
* The singers' diction (Major-General excepted) is often incomprehensible, so that Gilbert's scintillating words are lost (He's spinning too!).

The biggest problem with this DVD is the mono-sound. It is difficult to tell whether the vocal imperfections are the faults of the singers or of the 1980 recording.

I have a feeling that this production must have been a barrel of fun when it was performed live. Unfortunately, this DVD, which has no subtitles or even a menu, gives us only a few suggestions of the enjoyment.
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on 26 March 2014
As stated in previous reviews the quality of recording fails to achieve "mobile phone in cinema" standards. It is unwatchable and listenable only if you are nostalgic for cassette tape range and hiss.
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on 12 November 2011
If you think, as I did, that this is the film version of Pirates with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt which was produced many years ago, beware! This is a stage version filmed whilst playing to a live audience and is very poor quality. Patricia Routledge gives a rousing performance but it's not the same as the original.
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on 4 May 2013
I enjoyed the production and the music was good but the picture quality was poor as it was filmed in a theatre and wasn't the original production of the movie which had all these singers in but was much clearer. I would very much like to purchase the film version as I had it on video which I had to discard because of mildew. Thank you
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on 19 December 2013
In line with the other 1-star reviews herein, the packaging is unprofessional and shockingly cheap, the DVD has no subtitles and the audio is dreadful. The video quality is as though copied from VHS. Again, I was also tricked by the presentation of the advertisement into thinking this was the DVD of the film. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. This was to be a Christmas treat for my family and has been a shocking let-down by Amazon.
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on 6 December 2011
This review is from: Gilbert & Sullivan - the Pirates of Penzance [DVD] [1983] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)

This joyous experience is the original Delacorte Theater production of 1980, in which Kevin Kline and company exploded onto the stage - and into theatrical history.

Forget the absence of Angela Lansbury - Patricia Routledge is far better. Forget the claim of its being the Broadway version - it isn't. Forget the criticism of its technical quality. No, it does not have the Technicolor brilliance of the film version. Remastered by Kultur from the only remaining and very poor quality video recording, it is certainly not up to today's standards, but NOT as bad as some suggest. And for sheer talent, energy, originality and delight, it is unbeatable,(although possibly not at this price!) a theatrical firework display, and one in which we can also enjoy the audience's delight at the pyrotechnics offered.

Joseph Papp set out to rescue this G&S from the weight of a century of English tradition and to bring back the freshness and fun of the original. Perhaps - and I speak as a Brit - only an American boot up the backside of this English whimsy could have succeeded. And succeed it does, brilliantly, hilariously, exquisitely.

A young Mr Kline, delectable in purple breeches, black top boots and slashed-to-the-waist white shirt, is a Pirate King to die for, (yes, okay, I'm in love!) - dominating the stage with both voice and presence, whilst Linda Ronstadt makes a demurely charming, and musically acrobatic Mabel. If not really up to the vocal demands of the role, Rex Smith is still an attractive, likeable, Frederic, with a nice gift for comedy. Patricia Routledge is superb, from the comical maid-of-all-work in the first scene of Act 1, to the lovesick older woman in the beautifully sung contralto "My love, without reflecting, oh do not be rejecting". Her transformation to She-Pirate in Act 2 is a comic masterpiece, in which she more than holds her own, vocally and physically, with two male leads some twenty years her junior.

For this is very much an ensemble production. The late Tony Azito's Sergeant leads an hysterically funny Chorus of cowardly Police, whilst George Rose's highly educated Major-General who can't tell a "Mauser rifle from a javelin" is one of the great English stage eccentrics. One intriguing piece of theatrical history; in this recording Samuel, the Pirate King's Lieutenant, is sung by Stephen Hanan's understudy, G Edgar Moose. As Mr Hanan's voice was dubbed on the 1983 film, although acted by the forgettable David Hatton, a comparison can be made, and Mr Moose (I am sorry if that sounds like a Woody Allen sketch!) is far better. He acts well with Mr Kline, and their voices blend beautifully - the sobbing tragi-comic duet in "An Orphan Boy" is exquisite, if you can stop laughing long enough to listen.

The Choruses of Pirates and Police are both superb, producing big set pieces to bring the house down. The fortissimo "With cat-like tread" is so funny Rex Smith "corpses" at the end, whilst Pirates and Police take it in turns to dance and sing to the unwitting General's "Sighing softly to the river". Tony Azito bounds around the stage like animated india-rubber, whilst Kevin Kline moves from Cossack-style dance to balletic in a heartbeat.

For even ensemble performances have stars, and Kevin Kline simply reinvented Gilbert's Pirate King. Charmingly dim, elegantly clumsy, acrobatically accident-prone, he leaps, he slips, he falls, he trips; he repeatedly stabs himself with his sword, and is repeatedly surprised. With an English upper crust accent to fool Professor Higgins, he and George Rose even make the out-dated "orphan-often" gag work, and the various expressions of bewilderment on Mr Kline's face during this are alone worth the price of the DVD. His Pirate King is constantly baffled, yet invincibly optimistic. When he finds the orchestra between him and the doomed General, he impatiently shakes off Frederic's caution, to attempt a stride even his lanky 6'2" frame is never going to manage.

Special mention must be made of the Chapel Scene in Act 2. In a series of brilliantly played ensembles and recitatives, including subtly modified dialogue, the King and Ruth doom Frederic to a life of piracy until his 21st birthday - on 29 February 1940! But the King's smug triumph turns to (literally) head-banging fury - illustrating Alan Pakula's description of Kline as "one of the great clowns of the 20th Century" - at Frederic's revelation that the elderly General is "No Orphan". For almost fifteen minutes Ms Routledge, Mr Kline and Mr Smith hold us spellbound, in a perfect gem of musical theatre.

The finale sounds one false note, by pairing Kline with Routledge who, whilst superb, was still old enough to be his mother. A decision obviously driven by star status than artistic interpretation, it wastes the fun of the "abduction" scene in Act 1, and both actors seem uncomfortable with it. Kline's sexiest of Pirate Kings really demands a girlfriend, and, in this instance, the film made one of its few better dramatic decisions. Yet we forget even this misjudgement, as these absurd, lovable, heart-winning characters waltz off the stage and the spectators surge to their feet in roaring appreciation.

If you love glorious music, superb performances and an originality that survives the years; if you love the immediacy and vibrancy of live theatre, where the audience becomes another player; if you can forgive its technical quality for the sake of its artistic virtuosity and historic significance, then you will love this.

Be kind to it. Watch it in the evening, with the curtains drawn and the lights low; adjust the settings on your television; the recording is old, we are lucky to have it, but treat it gently and you will be richly rewarded. Without a time machine to take us back to that summer evening of 1980 in Central Park, (I wish!) this offers us the privilege of enjoying a unique, ground-breaking, and literally brilliant, theatrical event.
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on 1 January 2014
I put this DVD on my wish list this Christmas thinking it was the one I had seen a few years ago. The stars were the same, except Patricia Routledge in place of Angela Lansbury. The problem was that it is filmed in a theatre and has the appearance of something someone has filmed on their mobile phone. The quality is appalling both visual and audio. I would NOT recommend this recording to anyone and would suggest that it should be withdrawn from the market.

Don't touch it with a 10 foot barge pole
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