A CHORUS LINE
Review by Chastity Campbell
Stars: Michael Douglas
Director: Richard Attenborough
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround
Video: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: April 15, 2003
“My real name is Sidney
Kenneth Beckinstein. My Jewish name is Rochmelev Ben Yockave Mire Beckinstein.
And my professional name is Gregory Gardener!”
A Chorus Line received high praise for its high
kicking impressionism during it’s record run on Broadway, but does it measure
up on DVD?
This movie watches like a modern day documentary following
a group of dancers as they vie for a spot in the hottest director in town’s
Michael Douglas plays the hard-nosed and sometimes
unlikable Zach. Zach is out to put
a show together that will be bolder and glitzier than anything Broadway has to
offer. Something with an actual
heart and soul, but first, he has to pick four women and four men from the group
of 16 that danced their way through the preliminary round while singing one of
the shows first songs, “I Hope I Get It!”
Once the 16 finalists step to the line, it’s not their
quick feet, and stylish moves that Zach is interested in, it’s who they are
inside. He starts off the
process by asking each dancer some personal questions like, “Mike, what made
you want to be a dancer?” This
kicks off one of the funnier numbers in the show, “I Can Do That.”
The story of how Mike had to follow his sister to her dancing lessons and
kept thinking hey, I can do that!
“I Can Do That,” is just one of the awesome numbers
this show has to offer. “Dance:10,
Looks 3”, more commonly known as the “tits and ass”, song is hilarious.
However, you can’t see a musical without a few sad songs because they
say so much about a person. Take
“At The Ballet” sang by Sheila, Maggie, and Bebe.
Its haunting melody and beautiful lyrics help bring the sometimes flighty
nature of the characters sharply back into focus by showing their softer side.
If there is “One” singular sensation during this movie
it was the music and lyrics written by Marvin Hamlisch. His ability to weave a story within a story through music is
breathtaking. I can only
imagine what feelings and emotions his songs evoked during the original first
run of this show on Broadway. Not
to be outdone by Mr. Hamlisch is the choreographer, Jeffrey Hornaday. He shows no fear as he combines ballet and what was
then modern 8’s dance moves to demonstrate the diversity of these dancers.
He truly molded the choreography of this movie into a brilliant and
amazing thing to watch.
People may complain that some songs from the original
Broadway production were taken out or replaced with more modernized versions of
the ones people had come to know and love. That’s what movie magic is all about though…appreciating
things for what they are, and then making them your own. Director Richard Attenborough demonstrates this by
integrating old and new and having it flow smoothly.
For anyone like myself who never had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway
version, you won’t realize you’re missing a thing.
Now we come to the subplot of the movie.
I was okay with things up and until this point, and then I was
like…huh? Cassie is the
long lost love of Zach the director. She
was an amazing dancer that left New York’s bright lights for the Hollywood
hills. She didn’t make it and
after the 16 finalists are chosen she arrives in-house to audition and shake
things up a bit. Zach is none too happy to see her because it evokes memories
from the past that he had thought long forgotten. Maybe that’s why he’s so crabby…she left town and
even stiffed him on the electric bill!
Cassie pushes her luck, and Zach pushes her away, as the 16
finalists push each other to the breaking point. Who will make the cut, and who will be left singing in
the rain? Pick up A Chorus Line
(no, not a chorus girl, I said A Chorus Line, sheesh) on DVD today to
This 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer did not present
a very pretty digital picture. The
images were a bit fuzzy at times, and there was a lot of dirt visible.
From the way things look it didn’t appear that much, if any cleaning
was done with this print. There were quite a few creases in the film that
were visibly enhanced by it’s transfer to DVD.
Transferring 80s movies to DVD is always a game of hit and
miss, and I have to say this one missed!
On the flip side of this record is the audio, and I hate to
say it but the sound of music wasn’t very impressive on this DVD.
The Dolby Digital Surround was a mix of ups and downs.
It was obvious in the beginning of the disc that the balance and mix
between filmed and looped dialogue was a problem.
The difference in the acoustics between the two was very audible and
There was no white noise or hum present which made for a
somewhat enjoyable audio experience but not enough to give this DVD the rave
reviews I wanted to.
The menus were interactive with the option of English,
French, and Spanish subtitles.
A featurette on the songwriting genius Marvin Hamlisch goes
into the mind of the man who gave us “One” the singular sensation that
rocked Broadway. Get inside info on
how he was chosen to write the music that won’t stop dancing around your head
once you’ve heard it. Also,
find out what inspiration led to him to writing those Oscar nominated songs!
The original theatrical trailer for A Chorus Line
soft shoes its way into the fray and thus brings to a close the features section
of this DVD.