Each of the following packs contains four classic musical movies- and all of them are under $20 at Barnes and Noble (which, I’ve discovered, is also a great place to find OBC recordings of shows). That’s less than $5 per film; you really can’t beat that. Below, I will show you the sets and give you my opinion on them to help you make the best purchase choices.
HOWARD KEEL COLLECTION: This is probably my favorite of all the boxed sets. I never realized how many romantic lead roles Howard Keel played until I found this set for $9.99 at Target (it’s a bit pricier at Barnes and Noble). So I just HAD to buy it. Most of the appeal of this one will come from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, widely considered one of the greatest movie musicals ever made, but you’ll also get a double dose of Kathryn Grayson. Although this version of Show Boat doesn’t follow the stage play very closely, she and Keel still sound great in it. All in all, I really recommend this pack.
ASTAIRE AND ROGERS COLLECTION: This is a really fun set, particularly because I LOVE Top Hat. It features the timeless music of Irving Berlin and enough screwball plot twists to keep you laughing from start to finish. Of the four, the only one I’d never heard of was Swing Time- and I think it’s safe to assume that like the others, it will have plenty of mind-blowing dance numbers. This is Fred Astaire, after all. I should note that this pack is the most expensive of the four I’m showing you, so if you’re the frugal kind, this might not be your perfect match.
GENE KELLY COLLECTION: Four words- An American in Paris. That film alone is reason to buy this- because George and Ira Gershwin- but let’s take a look at the other movies in here. Singin’ in the Rain is noticeably absent, but this set does have On the Town and Brigadoon- the former is more of a dance story and the latter is more about the singing. I don’t know anything about Anchors Aweigh, I’m sorry to admit. Whether or not you buy this pack will largely depend on how you feel about Gene Kelly. He was one of the greatest song-and-dance men who ever lived, certainly, but he was also known for being a difficult person on the set.
JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY COLLECTION: This set saddens me a little bit because it limits the films to ones with Garland and Rooney together- and I would have loved to see Meet Me in St. Louis or Easter Parade in the pack. Oh well, c’est la vie. There is still some really good stuff here. My favorites are Girl Crazy (Gershwin again!) and Strike Up the Band, while Babes in Arms tends to remind me of why Richard Rodgers was better with Hammerstein than Hart. Also, I should warn that Babes on Broadway contains a minstrel show scene, so if you are offended by that, you might want to skip this collection.