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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Awards/Nominations
  • 2 Outtakes - 'You'll Never Get Away From Me', 'Together Wherever We Go'


Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 143 mins . G . PAL


In all of entertainment, there are few characters stranger than the stage mum. Obsessed with pushing their little darlings into the heady world of show biz (personally I think you would be better off teaching your kid to break chunks of ice with its forehead), the stage mum, in its most extreme form, will stop at nothing to see their baby’s name (especially their surname) up in lights. In fact, if ever Disney needed inspiration for another brash, colourful and relentless villain, they probably need look no further than behind the coat tails of some of their own cache of child actors. The fact that they are also strangely fascinating (and in this case, very entertaining) is beside the point, the stage mums in their dogged pursuit of a showbiz career for their offspring (it's all about the kids, remember) may just end up steering their kid into stranger waters than they ever really intended. Case in point – Gypsy Rose Lee.

Made in 1962 and based on the memoirs of the title character, Gypsy explores the rise from humble beginnings of one of the world’s most famous celebrity striptease artists. As Mamma Rose (Rosalind Russell) drags her children June and Louise (Ann Jillian and Natalie Wood, respectively) across the United States in pursuit of her dream, she encounters a candy salesman and jaded, former showbiz presenter, Herbie Sommers (Karl Malden). Before long, Herbie assumes the role of agent, manager, driver and provider for the travelling Vaudeville review. With Baby June (aka Dainty June after she has grown) the main focus of Rose’s machinations, Louise assumes the role of the more dowdy, practical sister. When fate steps in and Louise is forced to take centre stage at a (gasp!) House of Burlesque, from a modest wallflower a… er… stripper is born.

Though too fanciful for a legitimate bio-pic, Gypsy works better as a piece of peachy-keen nostalgia and to that end is, for the most part, delightful. Rosalind Russell is absolutely hilarious in the role that bagged her a Golden Globe as the larger-then-life Mamma Rose and gets to devour the best lines and scenes that the film has to offer. Fortunately for Natalie Wood, her role as the non-talented sister required little in the way of physical or vocal acrobatics and is as charming as a sackful of puppies in her role as the ever-sweet Louise. Usually (and I doubt that I am alone here), I find some of a musical’s biggest egg roll moments come at the actual point where the characters break into song. Happily, that is not the case in Gypsy where the songs by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim are so well crafted and so legitimately funny that it is actually a treat to see them performed.

If you yearn for the days when things were just a little more gosh darn swell (believe me, striptease has never looked so wholesome – where else could you find a film about a stripper with a ‘G’ rating?), you could do a lot worse than to sit down with the family on a rainy afternoon and watch Gypsy for a classic look at how Hollywood used to treat their musicals.

Who knows? You might even see a potential career for one of your own kids…


Given that most of us are accustomed to seeing these types of films as a midday movie on the free-to-air networks, the first thing that will hit you when viewing Gypsy is the quality of the picture. Given the full letterbox, wide screen treatment for its DVD release, even if you are seeing this film for the umpteenth time, you are guaranteed to see more than you have ever seen before. Given that the set design mimics the design of the Vaudeville world the characters inhabit, nothing but the cleanest transfer could have done it full justice. Although definition sometimes appears a little bit hazy in the crowd scenes, colours are as bright and sharp as any transfer you will find this side of an animated feature. Presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and with a full 16x9 enhancement, Gypsy looks as good as it ever has for this release.


The sound quality on Gypsy is exceptional. If we must watch musicals, which at times we must, then the blow is likely to be softened if the music is up to scratch. Given that the songs and score are worthwhile, it is nice to be able to hear them as was intended. With a soundtrack fully remastered into Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Gypsy on DVD gets the full treatment. If I am to pick any fault it is with the problem of synch. Though only noticeable through a couple of the musical numbers, it is occasionally out of whack - but not many people will even notice it, while even fewer will care. As with the picture quality, it is unlikely that Gypsy has ever sounded better.


At a time when every other big budget release seems to come with an entire second disc of bonus features that you can’t really be bothered watching anyway, a film with a couple of quality extras instead of a bagful of ordinary ones is a welcome change. In this case it is the deleted scenes.

Outtakes – Comprising two deleted scenes that were recently discovered on 16mm film, these two songs were transferred to video and restored into what we see before us. Both the duet version of You’ll Never Get Away From Me (3:41) and Together Wherever We Go (2:43) are a must for fans of the film and, at times, it is difficult to fathom why they were cut in the first place. Perhaps the producers thought that audiences would find the sight of Karl Malden singing and dancing on the big screen just a little too disturbing?

Cast and Crew – A single, static sheet with an incomplete list of those involved in the film’s production.

Awards – This should probably read, ‘Award’ as there is just the one. A well-deserved Golden Globe for 'Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical' for Rosalind Russell.

Theatrical Trailer – Another nice, brief burst of nostalgia.


The lure of a film like Gypsy is that you know before it even begins that you are in for a cute, shucky darn old time and that if it doesn’t taste too much of sugar then you might just enjoy it. Luckily, and probably more for the fact that it was made in the '60s and not too much earlier, Gypsy doesn’t play the sweetness and light angle as much as it could and the sentiment is kept to a level that should allow you to keep your lunch down. The fact that it comes with a moral for young viewers is just another bonus.

No matter how devoid of talent you are, as long as you are beautiful, you can always get your gear off and be a star anyway.

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      And I quote...
    "A fine musical for mums and strippers alike…"
    - Peter O'Connor
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-725
    • TV:
          Sony WEGA 80cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DA50ES
    • Speakers:
          Accusound ASC160
    • Centre Speaker:
          Accusound ASC160
    • Surrounds:
          Accusound ASC160
    • Subwoofer:
          Accusound SW150
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