This beautiful package from Eagle Vision/Universal is unique in that new magic is injected into overplayed holiday favorites, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” embracing nuances, as does Frank Sinatra’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Be it the audio playing with big band brass or the wonderful film texture, such a lost art in the digital age, The 1957 Christmas TV special is remarkable in its warmth. This critic was a mere three years old when this aired so if it played on the family TV it didn’t register until viewing this package. Bing Crosby and Frank engaging in The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) has the two icons merging their deep voices into a timeless rendition of the equally timeless classic, with a quiet segue into Bing’s all-time multi-million selling smash “White Christmas,” a solitary figure against the window joined by Frank for a chorus, perfectly framed and looking like it is out of an expensive Hollywood movie. They just don’t make them like this anymore. With music from Nelson Riddle and directed by Frank Sinatra himself, there are no quick cuts every ten seconds as you find today. Just a delightful collection of music that is perpetual every December put together with love and care. Performance, technical expertise and magic. A wonder why this is not a perennial favorite on television and radio, but that’s the times we are in. Pure class.
The DVD then flips to black and white with “Come Fly with Me,” the 1950’s TV show material unearthed for a new audience and narrated by Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Sinatra and Tina Sinatra. Elegant reminisces by the Sinatra children and rare takes of melodies that this generation would know from use in modern films are key to making this release as informative as it is entertaining. “Night and Day” oozes out with exquisite majesty, smoothly and in an attractive fashion missing from the plethora of concerts from modern performers – taped and aired as if off an assembly line in the new millennium. The love and care that was put into the 1950s Nat “King” Cole TV show and Sinatra’s contributions seem to missing today. It was a more laid back time, a slower pace, and the impact of the performances stretch across the decades. Maybe it’s the star quality that is lost today (quote Raquel Welch as Myra Breckinridge,) or that the new crop of popular singers are too busy to look back and see how it was really done.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.