09 May 2007

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond)

I liked the songs from the 1970s musical 'Joseph', which I saw live once or twice when schools performed it. But had never thought that a TV or movie version would really be worth seeing - after all, it's just a group of people on stage. Right?

No. Not in this version, anyway. My son bought it, having seen it somewhere else, and insisted that we watch it. Expecting to be bored, even though Donny Osmond was one of the heartthrobs of my youth, I was absolutely riveted. The musical has been done as a surreal stage production, involving a school with its Headmistress - played brilliantly by Maria Friedman - singing the narration of the story.

Donny Osmond is wonderful as Joseph, the rather obnoxious favourite son of Jacob in the Bible, who ends up in prison, rising quickly to great heights in Ancient Egypt.

Despite having seen it a couple of years ago, I was happy to watch it again last night with relatives who thought it sounded interesting - and who also enjoyed it very much. There are some excellent routines; it's a very clever idea that works extremely well.

This is one of the few musicals I could watch repeatedly.

(Note: I did then watch and review' Joseph' again, four years later)

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

05 May 2007

The Court Jester (starring Danny Kaye)

I can remember seeing and enjoying the classic film 'The Court Jester' on television when I was a teenager. I had always enjoyed records featuring Danny Kaye's songs, and thought this film - with the famous 'Chalice from the Palace' scenes being most memorable - very amusing.

So I was delighted when I learned that it had finally been released (and digitally remastered to improve the quality) on DVD. It went on my wishlist, and I received it for my birthday.

Although it's not really my husband's kind of film, we had relatives staying who wanted to see it, also remembering it fondly from previous years. So we saw it last night.

The story features Danny Kaye as a naive young man, employed to be a court jester - despite not actually being very good at jestering - as part of a complex plot to undermine the evil ruler who has usurped the true king. The real king is a baby, in the jester's care..

The plot is remarkably complicated, and I'm not sure I ever fully untangled it in my mind, either as a teenager or an adult. But it didn't really matter. Danny Kaye is brilliant in his timing, and the story moves rapidly, from situation to situation.

The confusion with the chalice, not forgetting the 'vessel with the pestle' and of course the 'flagon with the dragon' - I never did quite remember which one held the 'brew that is true' was a great deal more complex than I had remembered, but amusing nonetheless. My other favourite recalled scene, when the process for knighting the jester is speeded up more and more rapidly, went by so fast that I almost missed it - wasn't quite as amusing as I had expected.

Other than Danny Kaye, the acting is a bit wooden in places, and the plot so ridiculous that it wouldn't really work for today's tastes. But I enjoyed it anyway, and hope to see it again in a few years.

Recommended if you like 1950s style silliness with a few songs thrown in.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews