Network in the UK are releasing some interesting classic British films onto Blu ray, no more so than this sometimes odd drama featuring music legend Ray Charles Making his only major film appearance, Ballad In Blue.
During a performance for blind children, global star Ray Charles befriends David, a young boy who has recently lost his sight, and tries to help him come to terms with his condition. Then, during a world tour, Charles finds himself in Paris, where a surgeon is pioneering a radical procedure that could restore David’s sight; he sets out not only to convince David’s over-protective mother to allow her son to undergo the surgery, but also to reconcile her with her boyfriend, a struggling composer who seeks solace in alcohol.
It is an odd mix of English melodrama and some great musical numbers performed by Ray Charles, especially at the start of the film when he sings Hit The Road Jack to a school full of blind children. Sadly the soap opera elements of the film bog it down slightly but it is fascinating seeing the streets of London in the early 60’s just before Beatlemania. The supporting cast are adequate, you wont find any awards for the performances here and thankfully racism does not really raise its head apart from one scene where a reporter asks a White songwriter what its like touring with an all negro band.
The music is what makes the film watchable but you do wish there was more of it. It reminded me of those old Black and White films you used to watch on a Sunday afternoon and the abrupt ending doesn’t help matters at all.
This release has been remastered to a good standard. It is crisp and clean with no dirt or debris spotted. The audio is lossless mono, and as expected it is a bit flat and distorted at times but the musical numbers bring it alive. Sadly no extras apart from an image gallery which is disappointing. Fans of Ray Charles will love the opportunity to see this rare 60’s movie, others may wish to rent it first.
FILM: 5.5 PICTURE: 8 AUDIO: 6 EXTRAS: 1