AndrewSchone

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  1. AndrewSchone

    Cimarron (1960)

    After showing on July 23rd, the host's (Dave Karger) after film comments were really off base, so much so I wonder if he or whoever wrote his comments has seen the film! It's true that the film was a flop, but NOT as the host said, because the director, Anthony Mann chose to emphasize the male character, Yancy, rather than his wife, Sabra. The film's major flaw is that it's last third focuses mostly on the wife, and entirely in it's last twenty minutes or so. Sabra is mostly an unsympathetic, unlikeable character. She's a wannabe social climber, selfish, and a racist (primarily toward the Native American mother and daughter who are her longtime servents). Yancy is a real hero, highly principaled, brave, likeable, except that he deserts his wife (but the movie still portrays him as it's hero to it's end). Another flaw in the last third of the film is how episodicly and briefly it covers events of twenty years or so. And the ending doesn't ring true, Sabra suddenly and without any motivation, accepts her son's Native American wife. And the swindling, corrupt movers and shakers of the town decide Cimarron was really a great guy that the town should memorialize--again without any motivation being shown to the audience. Years ago, I read that significant portions of the film were left on the cutting room floor, including a larger part for Ann Baxter's character. This jibes with the rushed, episodic nature of the last portion of the movie. And it's unfair to blame Anthony Mann. This was a work for hire, and I am quite sure he had little or no input on how the film was edited. He hated the way the film turned out. So again the host's comments were very off base. Despite it's shortcomings, Cimarron still is worth watching. The Oklahoma land rush sequence is outstanding -- impressive and exciting large scale action, expertly handled by talented stunt people and very well edited. Other strong points include some beautiful outdoor cinematography, the musical score, and a moving, accomplished performance by Aline McMahon (here an old lady, in the early 30's a Warners wise cracking, worldly wise gold digger).
  2. Vera Ellen was perhaps the best female dancer of all time in the movies, in addition to tremendous technique, she was more versitile than Ellinor Powell, Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, etc. Vera could tap with the best of them, plus jazz dance, ballroom, ballet. She was no singer (always dubbed) and barely passable as an actress. But as a dancer !
  3. AndrewSchone

    Showboat

    While I know that the 1936 version is more true to the original stage production and novel, and gives Joe and Queenie more to do (which they do delightfully), I prefer the 1951 version. A lot of this has to do with the beautiful production values of the MGM version: use of elaborate outdoor settings for some of the songs, fluid cinematography. I also prefer its staging of the musical numbers. I find Ava Gardner's performance truly moving, and William Warfield's rendition of Old Man River superb.
  4. AndrewSchone

    Glenn Miller Story

    FYI, though an enjoyable film, The Glen Miller Story is just that, a story. Much, probably most, of it is not true. This was usual operating procedure for studio era bio-pics, including musical ones.
  5. That Disney refuses to make Song of the South available for viewing (unless this has recently changed) makes no sense. It is certainly no more racist than Gone With the Wind, probably less so. And I watched part of a 1930's Shirley Temple movie, in which the depictions of African Americans, especially children was hugely offensive. There are a large number of other films of the era with more demeaning portrails of Black characters than Song of the South (characters played by Stephen Fetchit, Mantan Moreland, Willy Best, etc.). GWTW and the Temple movies are very easily available, so the "blacklisting" of Song of the South is needless.
  6. I believe there was more to her issue with Zanuck and quiting Fox than Zanuck cutting one song. She felt Fallen Angel was being "thrown" toward Linda Darnell, and I suspect there was something more. I haven't read any biographies of Faye, so I'm not well informed. But either in something I read or a documentary I saw many years ago, it was said she strongly refused to ever talk about what went on with Zanuck. I suspect that either he strongly insulted her or tried to do something sexual. Not a fact, but just my hunch. As for Zanuck being "ousted", this is not accurate. He voluntarily stepped down from running the studio in 1956. He came back in 1962 or 3 when the studio was bankrupt and likely to go out of business.
  7. AndrewSchone

    Underrated musical

    Not sure underrated is quite the right word, but "Can't Help Singing" a 1944 Diana Durbin musical was a boxoffice disappointment and is seldom if ever shown on cable. It is or was available in a Diana Durbin DVD box set. Can't Help Singing was a big budget Technicolor film, much of it shot outdoors on locations in Utah (I think that's the state) and the last segment filmed at Old Town in San Diego. That a musical of it's era was shot on location was very rare. Some of the songs feature changing outdoor settings as Durbin sings seamlessly, something very common later on, but innovative at the time. It has a very funny script and an outstanding comic performance by Akim Tamiroff (you can see how he was the model for Boris Badinov in the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV Cartoons). Robert Paige gives a playful, tongue in cheek performance as the leading man. And Durbin was always an excellent light comic actress. In fact, the whole film is played with just the right amount of light humor, the actors winking at the audience. Then there are the songs by Jerome Kern and Yip Harburg, not their best work, but still accomplished.
  8. I read that there was a few seconds in the dance where Charese's genetal area was showing and they cut it for obvious reasons. I believe a saw a still which showed what was cut out, but not sure.
  9. The ideal movie musical dancer had/has not only technical dancing ability and style, but charisma and likeability. I suspect this is partially why superb technical dancers like Tommy Rall (maybe the best of all time?) and Gene Nelson were not bigger stars. Not that they were unlikeable, but nowhere near that of Astaire, Kelly, Danny Kaye, Donald O'Connor, and Dick VanDyke. I beg to differ than Danny Kaye and Dick VanDyke were great or even good dancers. They both had style, plus likeablility galore, but merely adequit technique. If you watch Kaye in White Christmas number "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing", you'll see his socks and shoes and pants are all the same dark grey color. This was to keep you from noticing his feet; his footwork was just passable. Same for other musical stars who could move well, but were not accomplished dancers -- watch their feet, if they are shown onscreen at all. Also pay attention to the difficulty or lack of difficulty of the dance moves they are given to do and the length of time they are dancing without a cut in the film.
  10. AndrewSchone

    Other Musicals

    I've seen Roman Scandals and Kid From Spain, and excerpts from Whoopie and Rio Rita (you can find these excerpts and perhaps excerpts from the other two films on YouTube). For what it's worth, all the films are very dated technically, in humor, and in everything else. Somewhat interesting to watch excerpts the earliest of these to see what Zigfield Follies production numbers were like. Roman Scandals and possible one or two others have musical numbers by Busby Berkeley, and it is mildly interesting to see what he was creating pre-Warner Brothers and very pre-code.
  11. AndrewSchone

    "The Merry Widow" - MGM Remake

    Lamas was a good singer. I read once that MGM originally signed him to be the singing voice of their already established Latin lover, Ricardo Montalban. Then they realized he was leading man material in his own right. He sings in "Dangerous When Wet", which I think is the best Ester Williams musical. It's really him singing in The Merry Widow.
  12. AndrewSchone

    "The Merry Widow" - MGM Remake

  13. AndrewSchone

    "Les Girls"

    You can watch Marjorie Morningstar on YouTube, someone uploaded it. However it's obviously from a homemade VHS copy of a TV showing, poor picture quality and widescreen image cut down to rectangular shape. May have been edited for TV too? It's a modestly enjoyable teen coming of age story, dated, but with some interest in seeing Natalie Wood in an early starring role. Kelly does a credible acting job, but little or no dancing. Ed Winn is excellent in a small dramatic role, genuine, heartfelt, unaffected (unlike his comic persona).
  14. AndrewSchone

    Were the British good at musicals?

    I'd say The Red Shoes is a musical-dance melodrama--definitely not a musical. Songs are a major component, often THE major component of a musical. No songs in The Red Shoes; though it is a true masterpiece, and gorgeous in the Technicolor restoration we have in recent decades. The few pre-1960's British musicals I've watched (acually started to watch, since I could not get into them) paled next to many American musicals. This is partially because their production values were very inferior, they were targeted at a British audience and lack appeal to those not steeped in the authentic British culture, and because the prints/video transfers of the ones I've come across are poor. And let's face it, they didn't have Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Busby Berkeley, etc. etc.
  15. AndrewSchone

    Anarchistic Musicals

    Seldom bothers me that costumes, hair styles, and makeup in period films are not historically accurate. Fiction films set in the past are made for contemporary audiences. Most of the public is more comfortable and more engaged with fantasy versions of the past than they would be with the real thing. In musicals, comedies, adventure films etc. I'd much rather see stylized versions of the past, than a documentary-like recreation. So would are large majority of the audience. True some gritty historical dramas are enhanced by a more realistic look. Besides, a lot of the clothing and women's makeup of past eras look downright ugly to us. For example, the makeup seen in 1920's and early 30's films--crude, very artificial looking, ugly. Or the real clothing worn dusty dirty cowboys one can see in historical photos.

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