As a Broadway musical, Jerry Herman's tuneful "Hello Dolly" met with unparalleled success. Productions were mounted throughout the world, in a variety of foreign languages; and the role of Dolly Levi attracted legendary divas from the worlds of pop music and the stage. Riding the crest of her popularity in 1969, Barbra Streisand was selected for the role in the film version of the musical. The choice proved controversial, as many critics felt that the 27-year-old star was miscast in the role of a middle-aged matchmaker. Yet Streisand turned in one her best screen performances, exhibiting peerless musicianship, and skillful, comic timing. An equally deft comedian, Walter Matthau excelled as the curmudgeonly Horace Vandergelder. As the star duo apparently loathed each other off-camera, their onscreen rapport is a testimonial to their acting abilities. Among the able supporting cast were two gifted song-and-dance men, Michael Crawford and Tommy Tune.
Dolly's production team consisted of two veterans, Roger Edens, who regularly collaborated with Judy Garland during the golden age of the movie musical, and Ernest Lehman, who had previously written the screenplays to "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music." Another old-hand, Gene Kelly, was chosen to direct, and did a fine job with the mammoth, often arduous, undertaking. hardly a stranger to the musical himself, Michael Kidd provided the virtuoso choreography. Something of a musical swan-song, "Hello Dolly" is a glitzy, occasionally over-the-top musical conceived in the classic mold. Sadly, it was released when interest in the genre had waned. Yet viewers today will find much to enjoy in this lavish offering. The brilliantly colored, Todd-AO, widescreen photography, spectacular period sets, stunning Irene Sharaff costumes---and those dazzling production numbers, provide a visual banquet, one made all the more appetizing in 20th Century Fox's new Blu-ray edition.
The superb "Hello Dolly" Blu-ray presents the film in the precise 2:35 original aspect ratio, and with crystalline, high-definition visuals. Absolute must-sees, the parade and Harmonia Gardens sequences are astounding. It's great to catch a glimpse of Louis Armstrong "going strong." The Oscar-winning sound is keenly captured in the DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack. Extra features include both a recent and vintage production featurette, as well as theatrical trailers.
Though hardly the greatest film musical ever produced, "Hello Dolly" proves highly entertaining fare in its latest incarnation, among the finest Blu-rays of this sort released to date.