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Eagle Eye Media presents
When I Fall In Love: The One and Only Nat King Cole (1956)

"He was better than the best."
- Freddy Cole, on his brother Nat

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: October 25, 2004

Stars: Nat King Cole
Other Stars: Oscar Peterson, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Preston, Johnny Mercer, Dennis Haysbert
Director: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:57m:46s
Release Date: October 19, 2004
UPC: 801213903498
Genre: jazz


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB+ D

DVD Review

Come pay some respect to musical royalty, in this celebration of all things Nat King Cole. This hour-long documentary features some of Cole's finest songs and words from those who knew and loved him best; it's not a penetrating look at the man or his work, but he was such an extraordinary talent that any opportunity to hear him sing and play is very welcome.

Dennis Haysbert narrates what's more or less a valentine to Cole; it offers a quick tour through his early life and career, and features interviews with his family: wife Maria, daughters Natalie, Timolin, and Casey, and brother Freddy. They all share nothing but fond memories and reflections on some of Cole's favorite songs and biggest hits, including Mona Lisa and The Christmas Song; there's also a brief discussion of his very entertaining but short-lived show on NBC, which premiered in 1956, but failed to flourish for lack of a principal sponsor. The producer and director of that show, Bob Henry, is candid about what the problem was: no client wanted to be associated with a TV show hosted by an African-American, and this show was the first, making Cole a sort of Jackie Robinson of network television. Cole himself was keenly, even mordantly aware of the problem, of the continuing racism of big business; he reportedly said about the situation: "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark."

But really, the best reason to watch this is for the music, and there are many extended clips of Cole in fine form. He started as a skilled jazz pianist, but as a vocalist, was more mainstream; there are some obvious similarities between his career and that of Bing Crosby, both of whom started in a more progressive manner, but took fewer risks in order to attract a wider audience. The jazz side of Cole is on display as he plays and sings with his trio on Just You, Just Me, and he's got some legendary backing when he sings Sweet Lorraine—Oscar Peterson on piano, Coleman Hawkins on sax. Cole always looks incredibly natty and dashing, his pocket square perfectly pressed, his tie clip in place; he's a good sport, too, welcoming as a guest Sammy Davis Jr., doing a fabulous Nat King Cole impression.Other highlights include Cole having a swinging good time with the Mills Brothers (on Opus One) and Ella Fitzgerald (on Too Close for Comfort); graciously throwing focus to a 10-year-old Billy Preston on Blueberry Hill; and cutting up with Johnny Mercer, as they Save the Bones for Henry Jones. Cole of course sounds as good as he looks, and if you don't have an affection for him and his work before you watch this documentary, you will when it's over.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The archival footage is a varying quality, and much of it is full of scratches; the oldest clip is of Cole, in color, singing Mona Lisa, and it looks badly faded or tinted. The newer footage looks just fine.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
PCMEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track is richer and more atmospheric, but the PCM track will do; but show off Cole's voice to great advantage, even given the limits of the recording equipment at the time.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. photo gallery
Extras Review: The only extra of note is a photo gallery, featuring eight snapshots taken while Cole was performing; chapter stops are pegged to the musical numbers.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

More or less a Cole's greatest hits package punctuated with reminiscences from his family, this is a great opportunity to revisit the man and his music. You'll come away tapping your feet and whistling a tune, I bet, and with a newfound appreciation for one of the great popular singers of the mid-20th century.

 


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