Blu-ray News and Reviews | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $16.99 Last Price: $22.49 Buy now! 3rd Party 13.42 In Stock
Release Date: August 29th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1962

Gay Purr-ee - Warner Archive Collection

Overview -

Judy Garland brings every ounce of her immense vocal talent to this delightful, tuneful, and artistic cartoon feature about a fussy feline who forgoes her drab provincial existence for the bright lights and joie de vivre of Gay Paree. Gay Purr-ee also boasts a sparkling score by the duo who wrote "Over the Rainbow" and a top-notch cast that includes Robert Goulet, Red Buttons, and Hermione Gingold. Warner Archive's scrumptious eye-candy transfer struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negatives, excellent audio, and fine array of supplements make this a truly magical disc. Highly Recommended.

Magnificent. That's the voice of Judy Garland. Magnifique. That's Gay Purr-ee, a charming animated musical featuring the great Garland in one of her final roles. She's the singing and speaking voice of Mewsette, a French country cat who runs off to Paris during the Gay '90s. From the UPA studios who brought us Mr. Magoo comes "Gay Purr-ee," a stylish and sophisticated animated musical about a group of cats in Paris, France. Robert Goulet voices the object of Mewsette's affection Jaune Tom, with comedic support from Red Buttons as Robespierre. The clever script was devised by animation master Chuck Jones and his wife, Dorothy. The terrific score is by Harold Arlen and E.Y, Harburg, reuniting Garland with the gents who created the songs for "The Wizard of Oz". Gay Purr-ee is grand entertainment for audiences of all ages.

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
New 1080p HD master from 4K scan of Original Camera Negative
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Length:
85
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS HD-MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Special Features:
Original Theatrical Trailer
Release Date:
August 29th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Judy Garland's career reached its apex in 1961. Following an enormously successful concert tour that produced the million-selling, Grammy Award-winning double album Judy at Carnegie Hall and a searing, Oscar-nominated performance in the epic drama Judgment at Nuremberg, the 39-year-old Garland sat atop the entertainment universe. Offers poured in, and in between television specials, nightclub appearances, and recording sessions, the dynamic star managed to find time to lend her legendary voice to an animated cat named Mewsette in the feature-length musical cartoon Gay Purr-ee.

Cooked up by long-time Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones (who violated his Warner Bros contract to work on the film for rival animation studio UPA) and his wife Dorothy, Gay Purr-ee is far more subtle and sophisticated than most of the period's animated fare. Plenty of typical cartoon hijinks spice up the tale, but the film largely forgoes violence and slapstick in favor of a chic sense of style that appeals more to adults than kids. Though contemporary audiences largely ignored Gay Purr-ee, like fine French wine it has aged well and exhibits a certain je ne sais quoi that strings us along despite its thin plot.

Aside from Garland's participation, Gay Purr-ee is perhaps most notable for reuniting the star with her Wizard of Oz composer and lyricist, Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. The duo who wrote what would become Garland's personal anthem and signature song, the Oscar-winning "Over the Rainbow," supply several catchy and clever tunes that may not end up on a child's Spotify playlist, but suit Garland to a T. From the bouncy "Roses Red, Violets Blue" and yearnful "Take My Hand, Paree" to the uplifting "Little Drops of Rain" and ultra-dramatic,  show-stopping "Paris Is a Lonely Town," the score exploits every facet of Garland's peerless vocal talent and greatly enhances the movie.

The story's premise also bears a striking resemblance to The Wizard of Oz. Much like discontented Kansas farm girl Dorothy Gale, the feline Mewsette longs to escape the stifling boredom and provincial attitudes of rural 1890s France. Instead of Oz, she goes to Paris (a much better choice in my opinion!), but her naïveté makes her easy prey for the sly, dastardly Meowrice (Paul Frees), who secretly intends to ship her off to a mail-order husband in America for a hefty fee after she gets dolled up, adopts a more coquettish personality, and becomes a cultured cat at the frou-frou salon of Mme. Rubens-Chatte (Hermione Gingold).

Jaune Tom (Robert Goulet), the uncouth tomcat Mewsette forsook in favor of Gay Paree's Gay Nineties glamor, and his wisecracking sidekick Robespierre (Red Buttons) try to track down Mewsette, but Meowrice thwarts their efforts at every turn. As Mewsette opens her eyes to Meowrice's treachery, the bloom of Paris begins to fade and she realizes there's no place like home, but without any ruby slippers to take her there, she must wait for Jaune Tom to rescue her.

Director Abe Levitow brings his decades of animation expertise to Gay Purr-ee, fashioning colorful visuals that help mask the threadbare plot. One of the most arresting sequences is an art history tutorial toward the end of the film that inserts Mewsette into paintings reflecting the distinctive styles of various masters of the Impressionist period. Such artists as Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Caillebotte, Degas, Cézanne, and Picasso are represented, but the most effective bit celebrates the Pointillism popularized by Georges Seurat.

Garland plays Mewsette with plenty of coy charm and just a hint of haughtiness. She adopts a high-pitched, kittenish vocal timbre during the dialogue scenes, but when it comes time to sing it's all full-throated, raise-the-rafters Judy...and we wouldn't want anything less. A Disney princess Garland is not and hearing her soar to spectacular heights during the passionate "Paris Is a Lonely Town" is sublime.

Goulet, fresh from his star-making turn as Lancelot in the original Broadway production of Camelot, makes his film debut here. It's a shame he only gets to sing with Garland in the finale (for a real treat, check out their duets on Garland's 1963 TV special Judy and Her Guests on YouTube), but he creates good chemistry with the sassy Buttons, especially during their drunken rendition of an ode to champagne called "Bubbles." Gingold brings dry humor to her fat cat role, Frees (who we all remember as Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town) seems to relish every snarl as Meowrice, and Looney Tunes legend Mel Blanc lends his substantial voice talents to a few minor roles. 

Gay Purr-ee certainly isn't a traditional animated feature and that's exactly why it merits attention. Its flimsy plot may not be original or particularly captivating, but the artistry on display, superior Arlen-Harburg score, and that force of nature named Judy Garland help the film rise above its faults. Though Gay Purr-ee may not have as much oo-la-la as its title might suggest, there's enough joie de vivre to make it well worth a spin.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Gay Purr-ee arrives on Blu-ray packaged in a standard case. Video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 and audio is DTYS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono. Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu without music immediately pops up; no previews or promos precede it.

Video Review

Ranking:

Animated films always look great on Blu-ray, but my-oh-my does Gay Purr-ee look scrumptious! A brand new HD master struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative yields a jaw-dropping 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer that assaults the senses (in a good way!) with some of the most brilliant color I've seen in the home theater environment. Bold primaries and creamy pastels combine with inky blacks and crisp whites to produce a lush, vibrant, dimensional picture that keeps the eye engaged from the first frame to the last. Unlike the 2003 DVD, the source material is antiseptically clean. All the nicks, marks, and tiny blotches that plagued that disc have vanished and the grain is gone, too, so the purity of the hues isn't disrupted by noisy texture.

Excellent clarity heightens the impact of shots that recreate the styles of some of the greatest painters of the late 19th century, allowing us to drink in all the details of Impressionism, Pointillism, and the distinguishing brush strokes of Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and others. I appreciate Gay Purr-ee for many reasons, but even if I weren't a fan of Garland and the Arlen-Harburg score, I would watch this disc over and over just to immerse myself in the spectacular visuals. C'est magnifique!

Audio Review

Ranking:

Musicals demand top-notch sound and the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track delivers just that. Beautifully balanced and boasting excellent fidelity, the audio complements the spectacular video and fills the room with ease. A wide dynamic scale embraces the highs and lows of Garland's soaring vocals and Mort Lindsey's orchestrations without a hint of distortion and all the dialogue and song lyrics are well-prioritized and easy to comprehend. Sonic accents like train noise, thunder, and church bells are distinct, atmospherics like crowing roosters, chirping birds and crickets, and squeaky mice nicely shade the action, and no age-related hiss, pops, or crackle intrude. If you're a Garland fan, you'll be thrilled with this clean, crystal-clear track that shows off the singer's peerless voice to terrific advantage.

Special Features

Ranking:

The Gay Purr-ee DVD only contained the film's original trailer, so it's a bona fide treat to get such a bounty of supplements on this Blu-ray release.

  • Vintage Cartoon: Louvre Come Back to Me (HD, 7 minutes) - The scintillating Pepe Le Pew stars in this charming 1942 Looney Tunes cartoon that finds the odorous skunk prowling the famous Paris museum in search of a mate who can't stand the smell of him.

  • Vintage Cartoon: French Rarebit (HD, 7 minutes) - Bugs Bunny travels to Paris in this 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon that pits the wascally wabbit against two French chefs who salivate over the prospect of cooking his goose.

  • Vintage Cartoon: For Scent-imental Reasons (HD, 7 minutes) - In this 1948 Pepe Le Pew cartoon, the skunk invades a Paris perfume shop and tangles with a cat tasked with chasing him out.

  • Songwriter Demo Recordings (13 minutes) - Composer Harold Arlen (with a brief assist from lyricist E.Y. Harburg) sings five Gay Purr-ee songs in this rare audio extra. Fans of the film will notice some different lyrics in "Roses Red, Violets Blue" and everyone will appreciate Arlen's robust voice and spirited piano accompaniment.

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 4 minutes) - The film's lengthy original preview completes the disc supplements.

Final Thoughts

Gay Purr-ee may not rival Disney's best animated features, but this sophisticated, tuneful, and fun-filled full-length cartoon is an unqualified delight. The voices of Garland, Goulet, Buttons, Frees, and Gingold infuse plenty of joie de vivre into this lively animated romp, but it's Warner Archive's eye-popping transfer struck from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and robust audio that showcases Garland's powerhouse pipes that juice up this electric Blu-ray presentation. A nice array of supplements also distinguishes this wonderful release that will delight the whole family. Highly Recommended.