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The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella(1976)
In the Kingdom of Euphrania, Prince Edward wants to marry for love, while his parents seek a political union. Elsewhere in the kingdom, beautiful Cinderella mourns the death of her father and is cruelly abused by her stepmother and stepsisters. But then the King announces a ball to help his son choose a bride, and practical Fairy Godmother knocks on Cinderella's door. A musical re-imagining of the classic fairy tale.
For more about The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella and the The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray release, see the The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on November 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Chamberlain, Gemma Craven, Michael Hordern, Margaret Lockwood, Annette Crosbie, Kenneth More
Director: Bryan Forbes
» See full cast & crew
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray Review
He’s a Very Nice Prince | He’s a Prince Who’s in Love | But His Father’s in Politics | He Needs Help from Above
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, November 19, 2013
The 1976 British production The Slipper and the Rose was well-received in its native land but failed to find distribution in the U.S., despite a sold-out run at Radio City Music Hall. It was eventually shown to American audiences in 1981 by NBC in a version that was sixteen minutes shorter, deleting two whole musical numbers—and, of course, the widescreen frame was cropped for the TV screen. Not until a DVD version was released by Image in 2000 did a larger American audience get to see the full-length version of this musical reinvention of the Cinderella story. Depending on who's doing the talking, the idea originated either with director Bryan Forbes (The Stepford Wives) or executive producer David Frost (the film is referenced in Frost/Nixon). Both Frost and Forbes agree, however, that the $5 million in financing came from a Middle Eastern oil magnate who obviously thought it would be fun to bankroll a movie. Frost and Forbes recruited the Sherman Brothers, whose songs had successfully enlivened Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (among others)—and the Shermans promptly turned them down, feeling that Cinderella as a musical had already been sufficiently covered by Rodgers and Hammerstein. But, as they relate in the interview included in the extras, the Shermans gradually came around when they thought of a new approach to the story. They wound up co-writing the script with Forbes. Forbes began shooting in Austria even before he'd cast a single role. He knew he wanted a snowy opening, and he couldn't risk losing the wintry landscape to an early thaw. Casting for the role of Cinderella became something of a publicity event, because Forbes wanted an unknown, and the production saw hundreds of applicants. Eventually they settled on a young stage actress, Gemma Craven (who would later play the long-suffering wife of Bob Hoskins' traveling saleman in the original Pennies from Heaven). For the role of the Prince, who, in the Shermans' transformation of the story, became a character of equal (or even greater) importance, Forbes cast former American TV heart throb Richard Chamberlain, who had to undertake intensive training in singing and dance. Surrounding the central pair with a bevy of talented British character actors, Forbes created a Cinderella unlike anything ever imagined by Disney (or, for that matter, Rodgers and Hammerstein).
In the imaginary 18th Century Kingdom of Euphrania, Prince Edward (Chamberlain) returns from a trip abroad for the purpose of meeting the Princess Selena, whom he was supposed to marry but found unappealing. Accompanied by his attendant, John (Christopher Gable), the Prince laments being required to wed for reasons of state ("Why Can't I Be Two People?"). His dotty father, the King (Michael Hordern), and his very reasonable mother, the Queen (Lally Bowers), implore him to be practical ("What Has Love Got to Do with Being Married?"), but to no avail. Cinderella (Craven) returns from the funeral of her beloved father, only to be banished to the cellar to cook and clean, as the full wickedness of her Stepmother (Margaret Lockwood) and stepsisters, Isobella and Palatine (Rosalind Ayres and Sherrie Hewson), are revealed. Youthful familiarity with death turns out to be a common experience shared by Cinderella and the Prince, as she discovers one day while placing flowers on her father's grave ("Once I Was Loved"). It is there that she catches her first glimpse of the Prince as he visits the family crypt with John, where he recounts the history of his royal ancestors and remarks on the irony of knowing the location of his final "appointment" ("What a Comforting Thing to Know"). At the palace, the King and his ministers desperately seek alliances to fortify Euphrania's defenses, when the Chamberlain (Kenneth More) suggests inviting princesses from all the neighboring kingdoms to a ball, where, with any luck, the Prince will find one of them attractive and make a politically favorable match. The ministers approve ("Protocolligorically Correct"), and the Prince's cousin Montague (Julian Orchard) is thrilled at the prospect ("Bride-Finding Ball"). The local gentry are invited as well, which is how an invitation arrives at Stepmother's home. The Slipper and the Rose's Fairy Godmother (Annette Crosbie) is one of its more original inventions. Rather than the usual airy creation of of sparkles and pixie dust, she's a practical English eccentric who enters and leaves by the door. Most of her magic is performed in-camera, including the white mice she transforms into coach horses, after they first dance a delicate ballet (with dancers in costumes on a set built several times larger than scale). She outfits Cinderella appropriately and sends her off to the ball with the customary warning about leaving before midnight ("Suddenly It Happens"). Cinderella enters the ball as "Princess Incognita", and Prince Edward is instantly transfixed. They dance ("The Slipper and the Rose Waltz"), then slip into the garden for a heart-to-heart talk ("Secret Kingdom") that consumes both of them so completely that Cinderella forgets the time. As the clock strikes midnight, she runs out of the palace, leaving a single glass slipper on the stairs—and blissful memories for both her and the Prince ("He Danced With Me/She Danced With Me"). From this point onward, The Slipper and the Rose begins to diverge from the classic fairy tale in interesting details, although it ultimately arrives at the same result. There's an entertaining subplot (and a whole song, "Position and Positioning") about attendant John's frustrated love for the lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Queen (Edith Evans), a comical figure who is always several beats behind whatever is happening at court. There's the traditional hunt for the lady whose foot fits the glass slipper, but it's a failure. Cinderella and Prince Edward are reunited by a different path, only to be parted by affairs of state. But Fairy Godmother is not about to see her hard work go to waste, and in the end she has everything in hand to reunite the happy couple.
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Slipper and the Rose was shot in anamorphic widescreen by British cinematographer Tony Imi (Enemy Mine). I have been advised that the film recently underwent a restoration at Pinewood Studios, from which this 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray has been taken. The disc is produced by specialty publisher B2MP and is being released through Inception Media. The Blu-ray image is stunning: clear, sharp and detailed, with no noise or distortion and a fine, natural grain pattern that conveys a truly film-like appearance. The range of colors is remarkable. Costume designer Julie Harris told director Forbes that she "almost" ran out of colors by the end of the production, and the wide range of the palette is fully displayed, especially during the ball sequences, but also in Cinderella's coach, the royal crypt and in unexpected locations like Fairy Godmother's "office". The blacks are deep and solid, as can be seen in a night-time departure by coach late in the film. The only flaw in the presentation is an occasional flickering of the image, which is undoubtedly a source-based limitation, probably caused by shrinkage or stretching of the element. It's a fleeting issue and hardly worth complaining about, given the impressive quality elsewhere. The average bitrate of 26.20 appears to be sufficient to handle the elaborately choreographed dance routines without artifacts, especially given the black bars required by the wider aspect ratio.
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Slipper and the Rose received both mono and four-track stereo releases. The latter is presumably the basis for the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 on the Blu-ray. The track delivers clear and intelligible dialogue and equally clear renditions of the pre-recorded songs, which have been well-mixed to match the dialogue levels and tonal quality. The orchestral accompaniment (with scoring by Angela Morley) is pleasantly musical but not so overwhelming as to distract from the lyrics or the action on screen. The film does not feature complex or gimmicky sound effects, so that the rear speakers are primarily used to open up the soundstage and support the front. A two-channel PCM mix is also included. In addition, there is an alternate DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which I sampled but could not immediately distinguish from the main mix.
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
As far as I can tell, the extras have been ported over from the 2000 Image DVD, which is now out of print. The trailer appears to be a new addition.
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Slipper and the Rose has engaging songs, clever lyrics and amusing performances. Its only drawback is that, by contemporary standards, it may be considered a bit slow. Nevertheless, it is solidly wholesome family entertainment that should appeal to all ages. B2MP has done their typically commendable job in bringing this underseen classic to Blu-ray. Recommended.
The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Slipper and the Rose: The Story Of Cinderella Blu-ray - August 30, 2013
U.S. distributors Inception Media Group are planning to release on Blu-ray director Bryan Forbes' The Slipper and the Rose: The Story Of Cinderella (1976), starring Richard Chamberlain, Gemma Craven, Margaret Lockwood, Michael Hordern, and Kenneth More. The release ...
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