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Musical Miscasting

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Just watching Oklahoma and reading about what people have said was a miscasting of Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie. That got me thinking about other actors who may have been miscast in musicals. Who would you folks pick as particularly miscast as either singers or based on the characters they were cast as?

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Just watching Oklahoma and reading about what people have said was a miscasting of Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie. That got me thinking about other actors who may have been miscast in musicals. Who would you folks pick as particularly miscast as either singers or based on the characters they were cast as?

 

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.   

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Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.   

 

I can't watch this film without feeling sorry for Julie Andrews. Audrey Hepburn was way out of her league, and it's painfully obvious. She should have known better. 

 

Cary Grant was offered the male lead, but at least he was smart enough to decline and tell the producers to stick with Rex Harrison. Audrey should have taken a similar approach, and stepped aside gracefully for Julie. Though Julie may not have been a household name yet, Audrey wasn't a household name either when she made ROMAN HOLIDAY. She was given her big chance, and she should have helped Julie Andrews get hers.

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While Rosalind Russell did her best, she couldn't top Ethel Merman's Broadway performance in GYPSY. For that matter, Bette Midler was far more dynamic in the made-for TV version.

 

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My personal pick is Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. His performance is one I cannot ignore as many, including myself, considered him to be out of his element in a musical of such a pedigree.

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My personal pick is Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. His performance is one I cannot ignore as many, including myself, considered him to be out of his element in a musical of such a pedigree.

 

Yes he was terrible in that, which is odd since he started his career as a pop singer.

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While Rosalind Russell did her best, she couldn't top Ethel Merman's Broadway performance in GYPSY. For that matter, Bette Midler was far more dynamic in the made-for TV version.

 

With musical castings like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady instead of Julie Andrews or Rosalind Russell in Gypsy instead of Ethel Merman--

 

It's more than just something that's unfair to the artists and their personal careers--

 

It's a destruction of the Legacy of the original artwork as it was intended to be presented, so that it will not be presented that way for posterity.

 

 

Rosalind Russell was selected for gypsy because she bought the property.

 

Audrey Hepburn was selected for My fair lady because she was a big movie star and Jack Warner was making a big investment; he wanted some security at the box office.

 

So we can just leave it with Jack Warner here - - the part of Eliza Doolittle calls for a singer of operatic range.

 

What I'm trying to say here is that if a person is called upon to be in a musical that is primarily a dancing role and they can dance but they can't sing, well it's primarily a dancing role, isn't it?

 

But when a musical is called upon for casting of an operatic singer or a professional singer who has an operatic range-- it's as if you hired Helen Hayes or Ruth Chatterton or Bette Davis to act the lead role in Maytime because they're top box office, but you have to hire Jeanette MacDonald to dub the singing. That's totally ridiculous.

 

What made this so much more difficult to take was that Julie Andrews became the most famous Broadway star of the late fifties and early sixties. The Broadway and the London original cast recordings of My fair lady are best sellers. And it's very rare that no matter how great the Broadway musical is that a London recording is also released and becomes a bestseller.(However, That may have happened with Oliver and and severalother musicals that started in the West End.)

 

Plus Julie Andrews was all over television, on specials, talk shows and variety programs. She was very well known to the American public. She was not an unknown entity. Her appearance in My fair lady, I believe, would have had the same impact if not more so as Barbra Streisand's first appearance in the movies in Funny Girl. Walt Disney's promotion of her as the star of Mary Poppins certainly proved that point.

 

The only Justice that I could see in the whole mess - - was that When the Smoke cleared and it was Oscar night: Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews were both holding well- earned Oscars for best actor and best actress each, as they happily embraced for all the front pages of the world. In all Jack Warner's My Fair Lady won 9 Oscar's.

 

It's a great movie despite the tragedy of the miscasting of Audrey Hepburn - -.

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Rosalind Russell was selected for gypsy because she bought the property.

 

 

And this also happened in the 70s when Lucille Ball bought MAME. I am not against actresses buying properties, but wouldn't it have made more sense for Ball to hire Angela Lansbury and ensure a better return on her investment?

 

Several years ago I bought some old TV movies Lucy did after MAME underperformed at the box office. The guy I bought them from threw in a bonus disc that contained an appearance she did on Phil Donahue's talk show, promoting MAME when it was opening in theaters across the country.

 

I found it very revealing how during her chat with Phil, they showed an extended clip and it was a scene where Robert Preston is singing to her. It's all him performing and she doesn't sing one note in the clip. They very smartly used a clip where her raspy, butchered vocals were not prominently on display. So it was obvious Ball and Warner Brothers (who distributed the film) knew Lucy couldn't sing; that Phil Donahue's studio audience would have laughed and booed, and nobody would have gone to see the movie. 

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Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon. They were both perfect in Westerns, but I would associate them with musicals. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, but I think they did their own singing, and not very well.

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Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon. They were both perfect in Westerns, but I would associate them with musicals. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, but I think they did their own singing, and not very well.

 

If I'm not mistaken, Clint had a top 10 country hit in the 80s.  

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What about Streisand in "Hello, Dolly"!  That should never have happened.

The thing about DOLLY!, is that once Streisand was hired, they set about making the film a noisy, bombastic, bigger than big screen musical.  It succeeds as that.  Gone is charm, chemistry or anything resembling subtlety.  Still, I find it true motion picture event viewing, in 70MM Todd-AO.  Even penny spent is seen on the screen, and the choreography is magnificent.

 

I find all 4 film adaptations of Lerner & Loewe musicals, BRIGADOON, MY FAIR LADY, CAMELOT and PAINT YOUR WAGON, not only miscast, but misdirected.  They're all horribly directed, with PAINT YOUR WAGON, at least, benefiting from not being completely studio-bound, and looking like a motion picture.

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Since this thread has been dusted off again, I will admit a dirty secret. I always kinda liked Vanessa Redgrave wiggling around in the grass to the tune of "Lusty Month of May" in Camelot. Of course, she doesn't belong in that movie, but I always felt she looked delightfully less "faithful" to Richard Harris than Julie Andrews did to Richard Burton.

 

Off topic: I also found Richard Harris' rendition of "MacArthur Park" (not from Camelot, of course) quite amusing too. However, it took me a while to realize that song had no point... or, rather, the whole point was to give DJs more time to smoke reefers between flipping 45s on AM radio. It was the longest single available until the Beatles unleashed "Hey Jude" that same summer. Since the Beatles drove listeners less crazy than Richard Harris, the DJs enjoyed lengthier reefer breaks straight through the Nixon election (who, of course, got elected because too many reefer breaks were taking place all year long).

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Except, at this point in the story, she is supposed to be completely faithful to Arthur.  She doesn't even meet Lance until after the number.  The entire thing comes off like some horrible hippie love-in.

 

One of the big differences between the movie, and the show I saw on Broadway, way back when, is that the film lacked the humor the show had.  Even though line were, basically, the same, the delivery was just so dreary, by comparison.  Especially what comprised the bulk of Act One. The laughs came fast and furious, on stage.  It was a true musical comedy, in that sense.There's barely even anything to make you smile in the film.  Granted, I haven't laid eyes on it, since it was in theaters, but I so hated it, that I never wanted to see it, again.

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Well... it was the last production that Jack Warner was personally supervising and you could tell he was eager to retire.

 

What I find with many of staggering sixties elephants is that the parts are better than the whole. Nobody would consider Dr. Doolittle or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang classics, but they all had jaw-dropping moments that just demanded a second viewing. I can help it. I start sobbing when Rex Harrison sings to Sophie the seal.

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My personal pick is Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. His performance is one I cannot ignore as many, including myself, considered him to be out of his element in a musical of such a pedigree.

He was horrible

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Well... it was the last production that Jack Warner was personally supervising and you could tell he was eager to retire.

 

What I find with many of staggering sixties elephants is that the parts are better than the whole. Nobody would consider Dr. Doolittle or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang classics, but they all had jaw-dropping moments that just demanded a second viewing. I can help it. I start sobbing when Rex Harrison sings to Sophie the seal.

Jaw-dropping indeed- they spent so much money on these films but failed to see basic problems

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And this also happened in the 70s when Lucille Ball bought MAME. I am not against actresses buying properties, but wouldn't it have made more sense for Ball to hire Angela Lansbury and ensure a better return on her investment?

 

Several years ago I bought some old TV movies Lucy did after MAME underperformed at the box office. The guy I bought them from threw in a bonus disc that contained an appearance she did on Phil Donahue's talk show, promoting MAME when it was opening in theaters across the country.

 

I found it very revealing how during her chat with Phil, they showed an extended clip and it was a scene where Robert Preston is singing to her. It's all him performing and she doesn't sing one note in the clip. They very smartly used a clip where her raspy, butchered vocals were not prominently on display. So it was obvious Ball and Warner Brothers (who distributed the film) knew Lucy couldn't sing; that Phil Donahue's studio audience would have laughed and booed, and nobody would have gone to see the movie. 

The best thing about "Mame" are the jazzy opening credits- what I don't understand is why wasn't Lucy dubbed?  I know the movie was a vanity production but sanity should have prevailed

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A lot of these films were using actors not usually associated with musicals to attract an audience of course in musicals you do need to sing or dance so what is the point? 

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Well... it was the last production that Jack Warner was personally supervising and you could tell he was eager to retire.

 

What I find with many of staggering sixties elephants is that the parts are better than the whole. Nobody would consider Dr. Doolittle or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang classics, but they all had jaw-dropping moments that just demanded a second viewing. I can help it. I start sobbing when Rex Harrison sings to Sophie the seal.

Technically, the last he personally supervised was 1776, for Columbia.  The odd thing about CAMELOT, is that Jack Warner was committed to doing the film with the original cast;or, as much of the original cast he could get.  Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet were all offered the film.  When Burton declined, and Julie Andrews declined because she wasn't interested, without him, Warner tried to sway her with all sorts of promises (the highest salary in history, director approval, percentage of the box-office, etc.), she still declined, famously stating, "I'll play a supporting role to Richard Burton, but never to Richard Harris."  She and Harris were not fans of each other, during their time on HAWAII.  Logan did not want her, but had she signed on, she probably would have replaced him, anyway.  Redgrave said, when asked by a reporter how she felt about securing a role from the Number 1 box-office star, Julie Andrews, "I've no doubt she would be playing this role,if she wanted it."  So, as much as Warner was lambasted over his MY FAIR LADY casting, he couldn't redeem himself with CAMELOT.  He would do this, mostly, with 1776.

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