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Bronxgirl48

Great Honk, Zaneeta!

45 posts in this topic

I'm watching THE MUSIC MAN on an HBO channel that I normally am not supposed to get.

Holds up really well. LOVE Paul Ford ("You watch your phraseology!")

 

Great American musical -- love Meredith Willson.

 

Do I think it's corny or stale?

 

Not on your tin-type!

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I hope you were watching a widescreen presentation, and not some horribly cropped or pan and scan copy. It deserves to be seen in its entire Technirama image!

 

The Music Man, is perhaps the only perfectly made musical adaptation of a Broadway show. It retains everything about the stage play that made it so great, and opens up the action just enough to take advantage of the medium of film. It also happens to be perfectly cast. It's flawless. It's astonishing that 2 years later, the same studio would turn the masterpiece of musical theater, My Fair Lady, into a plodding, miscast, studio-bound bore.

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John I agree.... The 1962 MUSIC MAN is an amazing piece of filmmaking, theater, music, choreography and acting.

 

I can't think of a better adaptation of a stage musical even though I love many of the filmed Broadway musicals. It's just AMAZING to think that Robert Preston landed the Broadway show (his film career had stalled) and it was his first stage musical. Then when they made the film Preston got the role. That hardly ever happened in stage transfers to film. It's appalling that he didn't get an Oscar nomination.

 

Also Paul Ford and Hermione Gingold are a riot. Meredith Willson's music is among the best ever written for a show.

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I think what keeps The Music Man from being more highly regarded, is that it lacks appeal outside of the United States. It is such an American musical, and while the film did very well here in the US, it basically tanked in other countries. Unlike, West Side Story and The Sound of Music, which had universal appeal. Personally, I cannot comprehend anyone not enjoying it, but I'm American. Regardless of its universal worldwide appeal (or lack thereof), its exclusion from top musical lists, by "critics" or so-called film experts, just indicates their deplorable lack of ability to be original or think for themselves.

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good point, John.....

 

and I never liked the filmed MY FAIR LADY which was marred from the getgo by hiring Audrey Hepburn.....

 

It's also too bad the great Moss Hart declined to direct the film version since the stage version was largely HIS vision of the material. He hammered the show together from the disparate parts and battling egos. Admittedly the music is terrific but I can never get past the bullying and hammy Rex Harrison.

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I originally saw it on the London stage with Alec Clune and Julie Andrews (Rex had already left the show), but it was doing sell-out business. It was astonishing, and in all my year's of theater-going, I've never seen anything that measures-up to it. I was disappointed that Julie was not in the film, but that's not really what's wrong with the movie. It's just so horribly and dully directed, and the decision to not open-up a film musical to an exterior, is just a deadly mistake, imo. Musical numbers are deadly dull. Get Me to the Church on Time, for example, was this enormous, incredibly danced number on stage. In the film, it was just a big, fat nothing. It does nowhere. Audrey is horrendous as Eliza. She continually looks like she's going to just blow away, and she never sounds British. Not before the transformation, and not after. The dubbing is glaring, and I find her painful to watch. Rex is hammy, especially when compared to Clune, but I like him in the role. The hiring or George Cukor and Audrey Hepburn is what's wrong with My Fair Lady. Anyone who thinks that Eliza doesn't need to be able to sing, is an idiot. Jack Warner must have been suffering dementia. The only reason we don't have Cary Grant (which makes no sense at all) and Jimmy Cagney, is because the turned him down.

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Marni Nixon recounts that working with Hepburn was very difficult (Nixon also states that dubbing for Deborah Kerr was a dream)....Hepburn's ego matched that of Harrison and there is zero chemistry between them.... as I remember the film, the only scene that "breathes" is the Ascot scene.

 

Just think what this material could have been with a better director (Cukor was out of his element much as John Huston was in directing ANNIE) and with stars like Cary Grant and Julie Andrews.... still, the film was a huge success.

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The film's success was due largely to the title, which, at the time, the Broadway cast album was the biggest-selling album of all time, and the biggest hit in Broadway history. Everybody knew the name. Still, it wasn't as big a hit as Jack Warner or the industry expected. Everyone predicted it would be the biggest film of all-time. It wasn't even the biggest film of 1964. The was Mary Poppins. I think the casting of Hepburn had a lot to do with that, and was a major miscalculation of the part of Jack Warner.

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The stage success of MY FAIR LADY is almost mythical. The various biographies of Moss Hart talk in length about the mounting of this show, the various people involved, and the resultant success. The stories of Hart battling with Harrison and shaping Andrews into a Broadway star are unforgettable....

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Moss Hart had to decline. He died in 1960 during the tryouts for CAMELOT.

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Hart died in December 1961..... and had already stated he was not interested in directing films.... ANY films

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While I think that Cary Grant could have pulled-off a Henry Higgins, with charm to spare, I'm afraid that his manner of speech would work against the whole speaking properly angle of the piece.

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It was wide-screen.

 

I sort of like the fact that THE MUSIC MAN wasn't well regarded outside the United States. With everything now overly "global", it's sort of nice for us to claim this musical as "our" very own.

 

"I couldn't make myself any clearer if I was a button hook in the well water" wouldn't exactly translate well overseas!!

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I find it very difficult to pick a favorite. I love every single second of it and every single person in it. Onna White's choreography is sublime. For my money, she is the greatest choreographer in Hollywood history. Not only did she choreograph wonderfully appropriate numbers for the films she did, she was incredibly versitile in her abilities. No two numbers look alike. She was just amazingly talented, and like The Music Man itself, she was grossly underrated. Although, the Academy did award her a special Oscar for her gargantuan efforts on the film, Oliver!, she's the opposite of Bob Fosse, who is grossly overrated, and not versitile at all. You watch the entire film with a smile on your face. It's a joy to behold.

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I love everything too. I love Harry Hickox's punchy old-fashioned sayings, "That Hill fellow has been the raspberry seed in my wisdom tooth long enough!"'; Pert Kelton's drawn-out sigh after Preston works his charms on her, Preston spry, springy, energetic, nailing every song; Hermione Gingold ("One grecian urn...") my favorite. Paul Ford, replying to "Isn't it a nice day, Mayor?" with "It is if you wanna go around in your DRAWERS all day; the lovely Shirley Jones; the Buffalo Bills; yes, the choreography, the combo of the acting, songs, dance numbers, heartland sensibilities....

 

Ye gods! A classic.

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I love the Buffalo Bills and how their songs (especially "Lida Rose") meld into the others.... also love the "Marian the LIbrarian" sequence....

 

I could do without Buddy Hackett....

 

ONE GRECIAN URN.... hysterical

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As it turns out, you are correct. I recall reading, though, that Hart had a serious heart attack the previous year during the tumultous run-up to CAMELOT"s Broadway opening, which was on December 3, 1960. My mistake was in thinking that that was the attack that killed him.

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Moss Hart had a long history of heart trouble.... but even before that and even while he was working in Hollywood in the 30s, 40s, 50s, he never wanted to direct a film even though he wrote original screenplays and adapted screenplays as well. Hart (and writing partner George S. Kaufman) also often simply sold their plays to Hollywood and had nothing to do with the film versions.

 

Not sure if Hart ever justified or explained his aversion to film directing and it's interesting to wonder, if he had lived, if he would have finally done film.....

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yes Leslie Howard was splendid as was Wendy Hiller as Eliza....

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did anyone watch the TV version of THE MUSIC MAN with Matthew Broderick? UGH

 

I also remember that Dick Van Dyke was doing the show (on Broadway?) and that the last revival starred Craig Bierko.... anyone see these versions?

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