The absolutely beautiful transfer of The Mikado is well worth the purchase price of the movie, even without the number of additional features that Criterion has bundled alongside it. The Mikado is the 1939 D’Oyly Carte Opera version of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, which linked together masterful performers like John Reed, Phillip Potter, Valerie Masterson, and Christene Palmer. Schertzinger’s direction of The Mikado links together softly-spoken (or sung) musical theatre with the newly-formed glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
Make sure to pick up a copy of the DVD (or Blu-Ray) of Criterion’s refurbished version of The Mikado. The additional features are what will have viewers continually coming back for more; present is a booklet that goes into extreme detail with an essay by Geoffrey O’Brien, who is an expert in all things Gilbert and Sullivan. The silent film that is present here, capturing an earlier (1926) version of The Mikado along with the inclusion of 1939 radio broadcasts of productions of The Hot Mikado and The Swing Mikado showcase exactly how performances of the same material can differ so greatly. Finally, there is an extremely rare deleted scene present in Criterion’s version of The Mikado that captures Ko-Ko’s “I’ve Got A Little List”.
The remastered version of The Mikado is simply stunning, and should be seen as a must buy for anyone that likes Gilbert and Sullivan productions or general musical theatre from the twentieth century. It is so easy to find a number of fly by night type of companies release older footage onto DVD, but Criterion’s care taken in restoring the original luster of the D’Oyly Carte Opera should act as a blueprint for any company looking to do the source material right.
The Mikado (DVD) / 2011 Criterion / 91 Minutes / http://www.criterion.com