Mozert: Sing Song, the Musical (Eight-Tract Bl-R review)

Lft. Sir Cedric Noel Vivian Barnstable III, Westchester Girls Rubber Band and Chorus. Jackson Whole Pictures; 2025; 18 and 2880 minutes. Eight-Tract Blur-ray 09.30.44 (24 discs)

What co-composers George Peter Mozert and Lucas Jackson Mozert have done in their classic operetta is not just reinvent the venerable concept of a giant ape attacking a forbidden island in the sky, but they have set it all gloriously to music! The melodies, the harmonies, the lyrics, even the words to the songs are a revelation. The film and its attendant audio are themselves a marvel, of course; that goes without saying. But now, thanks to the Mozert Twins and Jackson Whole Productions, we are able to see it both in its original theatrical-release form and in the filmmakers' own Unrated Special Edition Audio Commentary Director's Cut (UR/SE/AC/DC). The deluxe, twenty-four-disc package surely offers a surplus of riches. And will just as surely make the Mozerts rich.

The story, based on the classic Anglican novel Great Expectorations by Mark Spitz, is almost too familiar to describe, but I'll recap the highlights for the uninitiated. A poor, down-on-his-luck choirboy, Hansel Solow (alternately performed by Harry Ray Hausen and Harry's son, Ford), finds refuge on a tramp steamer steaming to the steamy, uncharted island of Loonitoonie. Or a tramp steamer is tramping to.... I forget, but the steamer doesn't get halfway there before Hansel is accosted by a Wicki named Wacko. Or a Wacko named Wicki, I forget. In any case, Hansel is rescued by the heroine, Princess Pardonme Madear (Jack Hack), Queen of Medullah, and they instantly fall in love, not realizing that they are actually man and wife.

Then they spot the forbidden planet, Mobius, where everyone has to strip and the situation becomes intense. This is OK, though, because most of the crew are in tents, anyway, what with cabin space being at a premium. They land the ship on a nearby mooring and immediately set out to take pictures of the planet's inhabitants, the Mobiusan Moors. But the Moors are none too happy to greet outlanders, especially ones so keen on taking their pictures. These are, after all, pictures that have been in their families for generations.

Next, we hear the sound of distant rumblings (rumble, rumble), and we see the natives getting restless. It's well past their dinnertime, and their stomachs are growling something terrible. But, wait, it's something else as well; it's the ancient chant of voodoo drums along an enormous granite cliff. Cautiously, our intrepid band climb the rock, a sort of rising rock band, lead by Hansel and the Princess, and make their way to the base of the precipice, any moment fearing an overhead attack by the dreaded Sith. Fortunately, they have nothing to worry about from the Sith, having remembered to wear their sith helmets. But what they find there is something far more terrifying than even they could have imagined--a gigantic ape bigger than the Palpatine Hills and the Lower Antilles combined.

The natives call him...Sing Song.

Lt. Sir Cedric Etc., Etc.
From that point on, you all know the story. Captain Quirk (Louis Armstrong) and the crew of the Starship Babble-On attempt to buy the big ape (Zbig Cirkus) for a song, but can't, so they kidnap him and bring him back to Nabooey. Then the Princess learns that Song is her father, Hansel learns that the Princess is his wife, and Luc Peters learns that he's the half-cousin thrice removed of the wrestler Gorgeous George. It all seems so obvious, but it plays out much better than it sounds, thanks to the songs and music.

Who can forget those unforgettably unforgettable Mozert tunes, orchestrated and sung by composer James Newton Max Howard Steiner Zimmer-Williams: "Gorilla My Dreams," "I Only Have Ice Planets for You," "Simian in the Rain," "Climb Every Building," "Ape and Circumstance," "Yes, We've Got No Stinkin' Bananas" ("Bananas?  We haven't got any bananas. We don't need any bananas. I don't have to show you any stinkin' bananas"), "In the Cage Where You Live," "Get Me to the Perch on Time," "Seventy-Six Skull and Bones," and that perennial favorite, "How To Succeed in Monkey Business Without Really Trying."

"Sing Song" is a monstrous achievement.

Video:
The video quality of the theatrical release is excellent, the picture size measuring a screen ratio of approximately 3.437651.34:1, a size closely matching its original 3.437651.43:1 dimensions. Jackson Whole Pictures transferred both the theatrical release and Director's Cut to disc in VHS Super-String Anorexic Blur-Ray UltraVisionSD, at a processing rate of 800K pixels per square centimeter. However, using my own fully calibrated micronometer, I measured an average of between 5-10 psc, a little less than the claimed spec but still ensuring that most of the film's RGB color-matched hues are vividly reflected in the overall picture, so, close enough. A degree of grain washes out several scenes, but there's nothing in them worth seeing, so in all it's a wash.

There is a slight degradation of picture quality in the Directors' Cut. While the theatrical release was filmed in SuperUltra Cinepanormique Kodachrome Technorama VistaScope Todd-AO 70, the Directors' Cut was filmed in Super 8. The difference is, how should I put it...different. Nevertheless, once one gets used to the smaller screen size, .27:1, the black-and-white photography with pea-green overtones, the beclouded image, the montage of moiré effects, and the peripheral snow, everything looks pretty good. There are even several occasions during the forty-eight-hour Directors' Cut that one can almost, if not quite, make out what's happening.

Audio:
The theatrical release version of the film retains its mono soundtrack, while the Directors' Cut gets a brand-new, newly remastered DDT/Atmost 9.2 remix. Understand, however, that the film was originally recorded in monaural, so the remix puts the same track in all nine-point-two channels. Nevertheless, it places the listener in the dead center of the aural action.

Extras:
Disc one of this twenty-four disc set contains the complete theatrical version of the film, its entire eighteen minutes; plus English, French, Spanish, and Stallonese spoken languages; Modestian, Orang, Pongadae, and Danish subtitles; seventeen theatrical, TV, and teaser trailers; and one scene selection, with a full-color, black-and-white chapter insert.

In addition, the first disc contains a co-directors' audio commentary, wherein the two Mozerts boys laugh and talk and converse about their childhoods growing up in the far reaches of the galaxy: New Zealand and Modesto. They provide a good deal of verbal description of their lives before and after becoming famous composers, their upbringing, their religious background, their grades in school, their baptisms and bar mitzvahs, their first dates, their college education, their second dates, their courtships and assorted marriages, their mutual acquaintances, their industry buddies, their multitudinous awards, their hardships making the film, and their fishing trips together. Eighteen minutes never went by so fast.

Discs two through twenty-three contain the Unrated Directors' Cut of Sing Song at 2880 minutes (or 48 hours, depending on your math). This version includes several outtakes and deleted scenes. However, it does not contain a Directors' commentary, the two men having completely exhausted their supply of personal anecdotes, jokes, and reminiscences during their comments on the theatrical version.

Disc twenty-four contains the bulk of the extras. First up, there's a guest lecture by school librarian Merriam C. Cooper that lasts about six hours, in which he demonstrates why school librarians should never be allowed to give lectures. Second, there are spy shots of the Great Ape bathing nude with co-star Naomi Watsername, as well as spy shots of SEE-3PO'D bathing nude with co-star Kristian Haywire. They are both worth looking into. Third up, there is a pair of featurettes: "The Making of Harry Pottery and the Giblet of Ire As Told By His Ceramics Teacher" (PG) and "The Making of George Peters and Luc Jackson As Told By Their Parents" (XXX). Fourth, we have the complete text of "The Last of the Mohicans" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read in its entirety by noted film buff J.D. Salinger (in the buff). Finally, the bonus items are rounded out by a small, circular blotch of unidentifiable material.

Parting Shots:
Alex & Emma is sweet without being romantic, cute without being funny. Even when Reiner has two different stories to work with, one inside the other, he can't do anything with them. Well, nobody stays down forever, and Reiner has a lot of good years ahead of him. From here on, he certainly has nowhere to go but up.

And then Song finds himself trapped in the botanical gardens atop the Empire State Building, surrounded by jet fighters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Air Force. ("How do they get those big horses inside such tiny cockpits?" asks film critic Marilyn Monroe.) To quote from the source, "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. The thing is...if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything." Reaching for the ring, Song toppled from the tower.

"Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was booty killed the beast."

JJP

To hear an excerpt from the movie soundtrack, click here:

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

Contact Information

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa