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Kultur presents
June Moon (1974)

Eileen: I'll sue her for alienation!
Fred: You can't. She was born right here in New York State.

- Susan Sarandon, Tom Fitzsimmons

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: June 14, 2002

Stars: Susan Sarandon, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Cassidy, Tom Fitzsimmons
Other Stars: Barbara Dana, Estelle Parsons, Lee Meredith, Stephen Sondheim, Kevin McCarthy, Austin Pendleton
Director: Burt Shevelove & Kirk Browning

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:25m:33s
Release Date: April 16, 2002
UPC: 032031261396
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-C-C- D

DVD Review

In a bygone era, before everyone wanted to write the Great American Novel or was busy working on their screenplay, the great aspiration was to write a popular song—the dream destination was not Hollywood, but Tin Pan Alley, where you could find oodles of aspiring George Gershwins and Irving Berlins. That world, when popular music was distributed not via phonograph but by sheet music, is the setting of this comedy, by George S. Kaufman and Ring Lardner, mounted in this 1974 production for television. It's got a certain amount of charm, and while it may not rise to the level of some of the writers' other works, it's a fond look back from these earliest years of the 21st century to the earliest years of the 20th. If you've seen or read any of Kaufman's collaborations with Moss Hart, plays like You Can't Take It With You or The Man Who Came to Dinner, June Moon suffers in comparison, but it's still a genial enough way to spend ninety minutes or so.

Since she went on to greater glory, Susan Sarandon gets top billing on this DVD, but her part is really just a supporting one. Our hero is Fred, played by Tom Fitzsimmons, on the train from Schenectady to Manhattan, to try his hand at the songwriting game. En route he meets Edna (Barbara Dana), a dental technician; they're both conveniently single, and with their twin gee whiz demeanors, seem made for one another.

But beware the evils of show biz. Fred falls in with Paul Sears, a songwriter who has seen better days; he thinks that perhaps some fresh blood might be the very thing, and he eagerly takes on Fred as his new lyricist. Paul's unhappy wife Lucille (Estelle Parsons) has an equally unhappy sister, Eileen (Sarandon), and Eileen puts Fred in the crosshairs—this fresh young fellow may be just the right dope to make her sugar daddy jealous.

There aren't tremendously elaborate twists and turns, as Fred and Paul go on to write a song called June Moon, and the thrust of the drama is whether Fred will end up with that tart Eileen, or will make amends with his true love, Edna. Some of the topical references will be completely opaque to contemporary audiences—that is, unless you're hankering for some good Sophie Tucker jokes—but lots of the dialogue holds up well. It's especially charming that Fred, the aspiring lyricist, is full of malaproprisms: "When Mr. Hart is hearing a new number, he can't have nobody around. He's got to consecrate." Even better is the back and forth between the gold-digging sisters, Lucille and Eileen: "Did he ever say anything? About getting married?" "Not in so many words." "What did he say it in, then?"

The acting is probably the best thing about this production, and first and foremost is Jack Cassidy as Sears—he seems to be channeling the spirit of Jackie Gleason, at turns hilarious and enraged. Austin Pendleton plays probably the worst songwriter in screen history, peddling his horrid tunes with tremendous energy—one of them, Hello, Tokyo, rhymes the song title with the lyric: "This call will have me broke-io." Even better is celebrated musical theater composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who plays a piano man named Maxie—Sondheim is a surprisingly good and natural actor, and even though he's just noodling around, it's a delight that much of his performance takes place in front of a piano. In this tale about Tin Pan Alley songwriters, it's nice to have someone who could be rightly regarded as the heir to that tradition on hand. This three-act play has been whittled down considerably for television, so the pace is a zippy one; especially fun are the bridges between the acts, featuring popular tunes of the time, like Star Dust and Ain't She Sweet. Also, the credit sequence is especially good, with the names of all in the cast and on the production staff set to music.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The video quality is poor and hasn't been served well by years of neglect; lots of scratches interfere with image. Also, the picture must have been poorly framed to begin with, because there are many, many shots in which you can see the boom microphones dropping into the screen.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: You'll find more hiss on this soundtrack than you will in a snake pit. The dialogue on the mono track is all generally comprehensible, though.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Highlights from the Broadway Theater Archive catalog
Extras Review: The disc opens with highlights from other titles in the series, each with a clip running approximately twenty seconds. That's it for extras.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

June Moon may not leave you with a song in your heart, but it will probably put a couple of smiles on your face. It's a silly, throwaway bit of fun.

 


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