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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Silk Stockings (Blu-ray)
Silk Stockings (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // July 12, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $21.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 5, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Silk Stockings Blu-ray Review

Silk Stockings is a musical-comedy extravaganza from acclaimed filmmaker Rouben Mamoulian (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Mark of Zorro). It is a remake of the classic Greta Garbo film Ninotchka but in musical form. Arthur Freed was the producer of the film (The Band Wagon, Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, Easter Parade, Meet Me in St. Louis). The film is a terrific classic Hollywood musical produced in CinemaScope.

The story revolves around the production of a Hollywood film. A Soviet composer is considering leaving Russia behind for the possibility of working in Hollywood. Three goofy Soviet agents (including the great Peter Lorre in a rare comedic role) are sent to Hollywood to bring the composer back (but fail to do so). So what happens then?

Ninotchka (Cyd Charisse) , an intelligent and determined Russian individual, is sent after the three goofy soviet agents to help bring back the composer and agents. Initially, Ninotchka's turned off by the Hollywood glamour and Western sensibilities but she slowly becomes enchanted by Hollywood. She even begins to fall under the spell of romance with a big Hollywood producer, Steven Canfield (Fred Astaire), who is working on the new movie. Entertainment ensues as the film production goes underway and Silk Stockings becomes a exuberant musical extravaganza with a dosage of hilarity.

The cinematography by Robert J. Bronner (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Jailhouse Rock) is presented in stunning Technicolor. The film is beautiful in every frame. The film is full of rich color and depth. This is an impressive production which has great use of the cinematography. The CinemaScope presentation also gives a tremendous sense of expanded scale. The film is amongst the early CinemaScope productions. Indeed, according to the extras the film was considered hard to produce with its wider canvas as it went beyond the 1.33:1 full frame presentation traditional at the time. No matter: Silk Stockings is a beauty to behold.

There are many terrific aspects of the production design. The art direction by Randall Duell and William A. Horning looks splendid and the scope of the production aids the film's glamorous style. The impressively detailed costumes by designer Helen Rose (High Society, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Till The Clouds Roll By) is a terrific compliment to the production.

Silk Stockings also contains a bevy of glorious songs and music. The film contains songs with lyrics as written by the legendary songwriter Cole Porter (High Society, Something to Shout About, You'll Never Get Rich, Born to Dance). Porter's songs are entertaining throughout. Composer Conrad Salinger (Gigi, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, An American in Paris, Ziegfeld Follies) also contributes a rich musical backdrop which was conducted by famed conductor and composer Andre Previn (The Music Lovers, My Fair Lady).

The dancing in the film is enormously enjoyable. The stars of the film (most notably leads Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire) contribute so much to the quality of the film. Charisse is charming throughout and brings both grace and beauty to her role. Astaire is one of classic Hollywood's finest dancers (a personal favorite of mine in many classic musicals) and he stuns here with an incredible showmanship that never falters in any scene.

Inspired by Ninotchka, the screenplay for Silk Stockings was written by Leonard Gershe (Funny Face) and Leonard Spigelgass (Gypsy). This is a humorous and offbeat musical with a lot of siller sequences and comedic aspects. The story is quite cartoonish and exaggerated but the enthusiasm by the screenwriters is an aspect readily apparent throughout the film. Both the writers help to make Silk Stockings a funny, goofy, and enjoyable ride.

Director Rouben Mamoulian (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Mark of Zorro) also brings the story to life with a fun, energetic whimsy which is brought forth through the wonderful songs, dance sequences, and entertaining performances. Mamoulian and the rest of the production team crafted a fine musical which still holds up as an entertaining experience to this day.  Silk Stockings is definitely a must-see for fans of classic golden-age Hollywood musicals.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Silk Stockings arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The film received a stunning quality 4K restoration which is sure to leave fans of the film pleased with the presentation. It has received an impressive 35mbps encode: a quality encode to go with a superb restoration.  

Silk Stockings was shot in CinemaScope and it certainly manages to be an impressive looking film with beautiful colors. There is inherent softness in the image (so it isn't always perfectly sharp) but this is by no means an issue with the transfer or the restoration: it's simply how the film looks and should not be considered as a major drawback. Warner Archive has created a terrific release for Silk Stockings. It looks absolutely beautiful. The presentation is nearly pristine. This release presents the film without damage, dirt, and other print issues.

Audio:

The film is presented with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound. This is a fantastic surround sound presentation which expands the stereo audio in a way that works rather well. It expands upon the use of the music score and musical numbers. Some smart use of the surrounds are also engaged during the fantastic "Stereophonic Sound" number in the film. Fidelity is strong throughout. Surprisingly, Silk Stockings is one of the best sounding classic Hollywood musicals released on Blu-ray. It's a superb audio presentation.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing).


Extras:

Cole Porter in Hollywood: Satin and Silk (10 min.) is a featurette with host Cyd Charisse about the history and production of Silk Stockings. Charisse discusses the film as well as her starring role as Ninotchka. The piece features interviews with some key members of the production. It's brief, informative, and entertaining.

Paree, Paree (21 min.) is a classic Hollywood short film featuring songs written by Cole Porter (hence its inclusion on this release). It's a charming short but it's also nowhere near as great as Silk Stockings. The songs by Porter are the best thing about it.

Poet and Peasant Overture (9 min.) features an orchestra performing classical music for the "overture" to the film. Instead of it being presented at the beginning of Silk Stockings it is presented here as a bonus feature instead. It's some beautiful sounding music and a decent inclusion for the release.

An option to view Silk Stockings with or without the overture attached to the presentation would have been an appreciated option (but alas, it isn't). The segment is also unrestored and doesn't appear as pristine as Silk Stockings does.

Theatrical Trailer for Silk Stockings

Final Thoughts:

Silk Stockings is an entertaining, triumphant, and glamorous Hollywood musical with great performances by Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire. The songs written by Cole Porter are also outstanding. The film features a beautiful production aesthetic and quality filmmaking.  For classic musical fans, Silk Stockings is a gem of a film that offers up song, dance, and silliness with equal measure. It's an enchanting film well worth seeking out.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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