Toon Talk: Newsies
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"Making of' Featurettes
Included is not one, but three behind-the-scenes specials on the making of Newsies, each about twenty minutes in length:
The first, Newsies! Newsies! See All About It! was seen in syndication around the time of the film's original release. Hosted by three of the newsies themselves (Max Casella, a.k.a. Racetrack Higgins; Aaron Lohr, Mush; and Arvie Lowe Jr., Boots) at the Disney Studios, it's definitely aimed at the kid market, but does include rehearsal footage for the dance numbers and recording sessions for the songs. Other newsies appearing in interview footage include Christian Bale (Jack Kelly, revealing his British roots), David Moscow (David Jacobs, quite the prankster), Trey Parker (not the South Park dufus, he was Kid Blink), Marty Belafsky (Crutchy, who had to not only learn how to dance, but learn how to dance with a crutch), Shon Greenblatt (nasty Oscar Delancey) and Ivan Dudynsky (wide-eyed Dutchy), as well as 'honorary' newsboy Bill Pullman (reporter Bryan Denton). You also get a peek at Bale's skills with a lariat, not seen in the film itself.
The next, Newsies: The Inside Story, does repeat some of the information from the first, but focuses more on the actual production of the film. Including interviews with the creative team from stunt coordinator Michael Vendrell (whom all the boys wanted to work for as stuntmen) to actor Michael Lerner (who was cast against the original premise for his character, Weasel), this featurette is most notable for the appearance of Alan Menken, in a rare discussion of his work on the songs for Newsies.
Key filmmakers are joined by historians and authors to reveal The Strike! The True Story. Through the use of archival footage, still photographs and newspaper clippings (as well as scenes from the movie), this fascinating documentary details the history of newsboys, from their lowly origins, up through the strike (which not only included New York City, but parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well) and to their eventual extinction through the advent of corner newsstands and home delivery.
Two Theatrical Trailers are included; the first stresses the dramatic aspects of the film, mostly with scenes of Robert Duvall's Joseph Pulitzer. The second begins with a montage of other Disney films, touting Newsies as a musical family entertainment along the lines of such hits as The Little Mermaid and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
A Storyboard-to-Scene Comparison compiles different scenes from the movie, juxtaposed with their related storyboard art. An alternate audio commentary by production designer William Sandell adds little, except to inform you that fun was had by all during the making of the movie. The artwork shown here would have been better showcased in a DVD gallery.
Talkin' Newsies teaches you the definitions of such 1900s slang as "guttersnipe", "axed" and my favorite, "poke up" ... which means to "wake up". A typical 'New Yoik' sounding narrator also reveals the true meaning of the term to "carry the banner".
But the pure interactive highlight of this new release is the Newsies Sing-Along feature. Turn it on, and the lyrics appear on the screen, so you can sing with the newsies and, in my case, finally decipher the lyrics of "Carrying the Banner". With the popularity of such theatrically released "Sing-Along" movies as The Sound of Music and Disney's Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid and even Evita, one hopes for this to be a continuing trend on upcoming DVDs ... is it to late to request this for the Platinum Edition of Beauty & the Beast?