Hollywood Musicals: Second Chorus/Mr. Imperium [DVD]

This DVD release combines two rare musical features on one disc. Hollywood Musicals, which includes Second Chorus (starring Fred Astaire) and Mr. Imperium (featuring Lana Turner and Ezio Pinza), has been transferred to disc in the full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono. Both films are in English, and no multiple language options have been included. As a bonus, two short musical features have been included, Boogie Woogie Dream (starring Lena Horne, Teddy Wilson and Albert Ammons) and Black and Tan (with Duke Ellington).
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Overview

Special Features

  • Two bonus shorts:
  • "Boogie-Woogie Dream," Lena Horne, Albert Ammons, Teddy Wilson, and Pete Johnson star in this 13-minute short about a nightclub's jazzy after hours;
  • "Black & Tan," Duke Ellington plays himself in a short story about a musician who's down on his luck and his dancer friend (Fredi Washington) who collapses during a performance on-stage

Synopsis

Second Chorus
Though not the best of the Fred Astaire musicals, Second Chorus is the most easily accessible thanks to its current public-domain status. Astaire and Burgess Meredith play Danny O'Neill and Hank Taylor, friendly-enemy musicians who after spending seven years in a college band aspire to join the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Danny and Hank also spend a lot of time vying over the attentions of their pretty manager Ellen Miller (Paulette Goddard). While Paulette Goddard later became Mrs. Burgess Meredith in real life, guess who wins her hand in this picture? Charles Butterworth steals the show as Mr. Chisholm, a music-loving eccentric who finances Shaw's "swing concerto" concert at Carnegie Hall. Oh, and Fred Astaire dances, too. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Boogie-Woogie Dream
As this short opens, Teddy Wilson and his orchestra are finishing up their last gig of the night at a swank café. As the band and audience leave, a woman in the audience says the band was good, but her date says they weren't what he was looking for. The woman leaves to powder her nose and the café staff comes out. One worker starts playing the piano and another, Lena Horne, polishes glasses while wishing she could wear a new gown and sing the low-down blues in a place like this. Her co-workers (Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson) encourage her, and she pretends they are the star attraction before a large audience. Ammons and Johnson play their twin-piano "Boogie Woogie Blues," then Horne fantasizes she is singing "Unlucky Woman" with Wilson -- and in a beautiful gown, to boot. At the end of the number, the audience member, his date, and the three co-workers seem to awaken from a dream. But whether a dream or not, the man in the audience tells the trio to come to his office for an audition -- the break they've been waiting for! ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Black and Tan
Black and Tan, filmed in February of 1929, was the legendary Duke Ellington's first screen appearance. The short opens with Duke in his apartment, sitting at the piano and going over a new number with trumpeter Arthur Whetsel. As they work, two movers appear outside. They have trouble finding Duke's apartment, but when they do they start to repossess the piano. At that moment, the lithe and beautiful Fredi Washington walks in. She's landed a job dancing in a nightclub, and Duke and his band are to play as well. When she sees that her darling's piano is being taken, she offers the movers $10. They refuse, but when she offers them gin, they agree to leave the piano and pretend that no one was home when they come by. Duke is concerned about Fredi's job, as her doctor has warned her that dancing may be dangerous to her heart, but Fredi dismisses his fears. At the nightclub, a quintet of male dancers performs to two numbers by Duke. As Fredi watched backstage, she seems ill and weak, and everything is swimming in front of her. She gathers herself together and bursts onto the stage with energy and verve, but she cannot complete the number. She is taken home, where a large group of people gathers to sing and play the sickness out of her, but to no avail. Among the songs used in Black and Tan are "The Duke Steps Out," "Black Beauty" and "Black and Tan Fantasy." ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Mr. Imperium
Ezio Pinza stars as the title character, a prince who falls for nightclub singer Fredda Barlo (Lana Turner) when the two meet on vacation in Italy. After more than a decade, they reunite, only now Barlo is a Hollywood superstar and Imperium has ascended to the throne of king. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire - Danny O'Neill
  • Paulette Goddard
    Paulette Goddard - Ellen Miller
  • Charles Butterworth
    Charles Butterworth - Mr. Chisholm
  • Burgess Meredith
    Burgess Meredith - Hank Taylor
  • Image coming soon
    Frank Melton - Stu
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