A retelling of Cinderella, The Slipper and the Rose was released in 1976, a time when musicals had fallen out of favor at the box office. The British production, directed by Bryan Forbes (The Stepford Wives), produced by broadcaster David Frost, and featuring songs by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman was nominated for two Academy Awards—Best Song, and Best Score—and has built up a cult following in the years since its release.
There have been several adaptations of Cinderella through the years, but unlike most, The Slipper and the Rose focuses as much on the prince as it does Cinderella. Prince Edward (Richard Chamberlain) of Euphrania is a strong willed young man. His country has a long history of keeping the peace by cementing ties with their neighbors. The easiest way to accomplish this is to marry one of the neighboring Princesses, but much to his parents (Michael Hordern, Lally Bowers) chagrin, Edward is determined to marry for love.
Twenty miles away, in much less opulent surroundings, lives Cinderella (Gemma Craven) who has been living as a virtual slave to her Stepmother (Margaret Lockwood) and her two vindictive Stepsisters, since the day her father died. Meanwhile, Edward’s father and the High Chamberlain (Kenneth More) go about planning a ball; inviting all the Princesses from neighboring lands in hopes that one will catch Edward’s fancy. Naturally, Cinderella’s Stepmother and Stepsisters are invited to the event, but she is not. However, Cinderella ends up attending the ball with the help of a Fairy Godmother (Annette Crosbie, The one stipulation, Cinderella must leave the ball before the clock strikes midnight…Anyone familiar with Cinderella knows what happens from there.
The Slipper and the Rose is big, lavish and fun, aided by songs from Robert and Richard Sherman, best known for cranking out the memorable tunes for Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964), Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, It’s A Small World (After All) and others. While the songs here aren’t instantly memorable like some of those found in Mary Poppins, the score is still a solid one, and nearly every song will have you humming along. Richard Chamberlain is his usually charming self as the Prince, and proves he has a better than average voice on several musical numbers. At times, Gemma Craven is overly charming as Cinderella. However, the script by Bryan Forbes and the Sherman Brothers doesn’t give really expand her personality beyond making her charming; Craven isn’t really given much to work with.
The remainder of the cast is filled out by veteran British talent. The performances are solid across the board, important when telling such a well known story. Margret Lockwood (in her final film appearance) is deliciously evil as the Stepmother, and performs her role with real zest. Annette Crosbie clearly had a lot of fun playing the sickeningly sweet Fairy Godmother, but avoids moving into camp. Michael Hordern and Lally Bowers are a fine King and Queen, and the then-88-year-old Edith Evans (in her final role before her death) steals every scene as the Dowager Queen, delivering a witty one-liner.
While not quite a classic, The Slipper and the Rose is a fun take on an age old story. Featuring strong performances, lavish sets, and some fun songs from the Sherman Brothers, this is a movie that deserves to be seen by those that enjoy the tale of Cinderella.
The Slipper and the Rose was shot in anamorphic widescreen by British cinematographer Tony Imi. Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, B2MP has done a wonderful job with this 1080p transfer. The image is sharp, clear, and detailed, with no distortion in evidence. A nice sheath of fine grain gives the proceedings a truly filmic appearance. Blacks are inky. The wide range of colors on display is vivid and bold. The only flaw is a slight occasional flickering, probably a source based issue.
The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track delivers clear and intelligible dialogue. The pre-recorded songs are also clear, and have been well mixed to match the dialogue levels. The orchestral accompaniment remains pleasant throughout, but never becomes so overwhelming as to drowned out dialogue or the limited effects. All speakers are used here, with the rears opening things up to create a fairly enveloping experience.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Commentary with Director Bryan Forbes (recorded in 1999) Forbes, who passed away earlier this year, touches on camera technique, production and costume design. He talks about various cast members and their backgrounds, the locations and discusses his idea for an original take on the Cinderella story.
- A Cinderella Story: The Making of The Slipper and the Rose (HD, 28:46) Though formatted as 1080p (with windowboxing), this documentary is correctly listed on the back cover of the Blu-ray as standard definition. Narrated by executive producer David Frost, this focuses on the search for the actress to play Cinderella and the casting of then-unknown Gemma Craven. Behind-the-scene footage is included of rehearsal and studio recording, as well as set and costume design.
- I Can’t Forget the Melody: The Sherman Brothers on the Making of The Slipper and the Rose (HD, 16:38) Though formatted as 1080p (with windowboxing), this featurette is also correctly listed on the back cover of the Blu-ray as standard definition. For the 2000 DVD release, the Sherman Brothers share their thoughts and recollections on the musical, and the writing process.
- Trailer (HD, 4:12)
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