by HELEN GEIB
Another movie drops off the “why isn’t that on DVD yet?!” list with today’s long-overdue release of the 1983 film version of The Pirates of Penzance. I just love this movie. Transposed from a successful Broadway staging, it’s a thoroughly delightful rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta. The deliberate, overt theatricality only adds to its charm.
Seeing it in the theater is one of my clearest childhood movie memories. I think I must have seen it on TV once or twice in the intervening years as well, because I can’t believe I would still be able to sing so many choruses without at least one or two repeat viewings. Be that as it may, Kevin Kline cavorting about the deck and in the rigging Douglas Fairbanks-style in the “Pirate King” number, the paradox song, the “modern major general” number, and many other great moments are indelible big-screen movie memories.
It’s also the movie that made Kevin Kline a star, the movie that revived Angela Lansbury’s film career, and the career move that launched Linda Ronstadt out of the rock music arena. The DVD is a barebones release (it wasn’t held up for all these years because they were putting together lots of features, that’s for sure). But, that’s okay. We’re happy just to have the film at last.
New releases this week: Letters to Juliet, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Just Wright