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WORST MUSICALS EVER

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Dancing Lady is a clumsy effort. I think that's why it fascinates me. Joan Crawford's luridly beautiful close-ups belied the fact that she could neither sing nor dance. The haunting melody Everything I have is Yours was intended for her, but she couldn't sing it. So they rewrote the scene to have Art Jarret sing it. Miss Crawford was to hum a two-bar break, so that in publicity that could still say, "sung by Joan Crawford." Dancing Monolith would have been a more appropriate title, as Miss Crawford's ruffled dressed only accentuated her wide, squat frame and awkward moves.

 

This was a Selznick movie; he and art director Merrill Pye were both influenced by 42nd Street, a [Lloyd Bacon/]Busby Berkeley hit which impressed them but thought it lacking in glamour. So Mr. Pye created Moderne sets that were both simple yet lavish. It's a gorgeous example of black and white. The production numbers were to mimic the Berkeley style, but the compositions are off. The sets are gorgeous, but poorly framed. It's a mess. I can't take my eyes off of it.

 

And you're right, Mr. BSG: Absolute Beginners is a flawed work. But that long tracking shot that opens the movie was brilliant. I understand it's the longest single-take tracking shot on film. I'd like to watch that clip over and over... Director Julien Temple has a great eye; I'm sorry he didn't continue to make more movies (and sorry that I sat through Earth Girls are Easy)...

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Thanks for mentioning her musicals - I've yet to see them.

 

Perhaps you bit off more than you could eschew... ;)

 

Have I got some movies for you...

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I disagree Jack - I think the controversial Ms Crawford was a good dancer - that's how she got her start, 900 yrs ago.[/b][/i][/i][/i][/b][/b]

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She got her start dancing the Charleston; she was a flapper. Have you seen Dancing Lady? To see her dance with Fred Astaire is to presume her choreographer was St. Vitus. At least she knew what her feet looked like (she couldn't take her eyes off of them)...

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Yes, Gable and Franchot Tone - that was the one with the song you like, "Everything I Have is Yours", right?

 

OK, you've convinced me, she was a hoofer and not a dancer. Thank you Master.

 

~Grass Hoppa

 

...and I'm missing Love in the Afternoon (not my own unfortunately, but Billy Wilder's) lol

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Okay, The Awful Truth is not a musical. In fact, Irene Dunne's wacky performance as Cary Grant's loose sister, singing 'My Dreams Are Gone With The Wind' is a sublime comedic gem. But Dunne's other efforts in the musical forte aren't much to snuff at - including Showboat.

 

But 'bad' Eddy/MacDonald?!? Maybe Bittersweet and I Married An Angel are weak - but they're not terrible.

 

I'll agree marginally with everyone's assessment of Dancing Lady - the editing of the numbers is obtusely tragic - I'm still trying to gleen the thought process required to get us from ancient French court a la Nelson Eddy to scantily clad babes in saran wrap dresses and that marvelously tacky carousel of beauties that closes out "The Rhythm of the Day." One or two ideas would not have been bad - but throwing everything but the kitchen sink in makes everything seem like an expensive glossy 'pick n' save'.

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if 'Dancing Lady' is the one I'm thinking of, ruffled skirt, and short hair, Crawford looked like a marionette with loose strings, whose head might roll off. If you think of Jimmy Cagney's dancing style, it, too is loose, but his hands and arms are always in control, Crawford loked somewhat like a person falling off a building with arms flapping like a bad, bird imitation.

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While awaiting drdolittle's response about Show Boat I'll tell y'all that I just finished watching Betty Grable and June Haver in the splashy Technicolor musical The Dolly Sisters. This movie features a great look: beautiful costumes, a fantastic color palette, terrific set designs, and one of the most horrifying production numbers I've ever seen. "The Darktown Strutter's Ball" is on a level of bad taste to rival the notorious "Goin to Heaven on a Mule" from Wonder Bar. The number of chorus girls in blackface must have put a crimp in the studio's stock of Max Factor's Egyptian No. 2. Though the scene takes place at the Folies Bergere, the number pays "homage" to New York's Harlem district, with the chorus dressed as allegories to gambling (dice and playing cards) and watermelons. By the time Misses Grable and Haver pop up dressed as (please pardon the expression) "pickaninnies" in bloomers, blackface, and ribboned hair; my jaw had dropped to the floor. I understand for years this scene was cut from television broadcasts. This is the biggest production number in the entire movie with gargantuan effects and lavish values; it's appalling how much money and misguided creativity must have gone into this appalling scene. I listened to the audio commentary for this scene, and [commentarist] Drew Casper doesn't seem to notice that anything is out of the ordinary. It's like the "elephant in the room" that no one speaks about.

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Wow, Jack, sounds worse than Mickey and Judy in blackface in "Babes on Broadway". I think they called the scene "Blackout on Old Broadway" or something of that order. First time I saw the film, I thought it wasn't too bad until the end, then bam, they hit me with that. My stomach was just turning throughout the number. I just never understood how anyone could enjoy watching (or performing) blackface.

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The blackface number that I can't get over is in "Holiday Inn." When it is Lincoln's birthday, Bing Crosby and the female lead get into blackface and sing a song about Abraham Lincoln. It is surreal. Maybe this is where Mel Brooks got the idea for "Springtime for Hitler."

 

I couldn't take "Holiday Inn" seriously after that, and I am always amazed when people assert that it is a better film than "White Christmas."

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I haven't seen "Holiday Inn" since I was a kid, and can't remember any of it. Now I'll have to watch it next time just to refresh my memory, or what's left of it.

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Hey Jack!

Wouldn't you like to see ! South Pacific

Sound Of Music

the King And I

Okalahoma They are good ones

I never liked Show Boat! Never cared for the music in that movie to much!

 

Chris

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Heck dr., I like the music in all of 'em.

 

"Fish gotta swim; birds gotta fly; I gotta love one man 'til I die, So I can't help lovin' that man of mine. Now, tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow, ..."

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"I like the 1936 Showboat a lot. It amazed me that the guy from "A Night at the Opera" could act."

 

That's Allan Jones, father to 1960's lounge singer Jack Jones. Glad to hear he did a good job in Show Boat. I've never had the opportunity to see this version and look forward to it; especially since I'm an Irene Dunne fan. Would also like to see High Wide and Handsome again -- another Irene Dunne epic musical.

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Holiday Inn is infinitely superior to White Christmas for several reasons - first, because it doesn't try to be anything but a little homespun bit of Irving Berlin Americana. The blackface routine is regrettable but par for the course of what Hollywood was putting out during this vintage. You'll recall that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland do blackface twice: first in Babes in Arms and then, far more successfully in Babes on Broadway. I don't think you can fault societal sensibilities of this vintage as racism per say, since the idea of a 'minstrel show' was a hold over from the days of Vaudeville and even earlier. At best then, one could argue that the idea of 'blackface' was a tradition that ought never been considered seriously in the first place. Berlin's lyrics at least try to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's emancipation of the slave rather than play the situation as sheer camp - something Betty Grable and June Haver did during 'The Dark Town Strutter's Ball' sequence in The Dolly Sisters.

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"Lost Horizon" is pretty terrible in a wonderfully bad way. I have it on laserdisc where there is even MORE of it to love . Liv Ullmann who is usually wonderful-one of my favorites, in fact, looks like a deer-or doe , rather, caught in the headlights.

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Well, in my opinion, WHITE CHRISTMAS is a better film than HOLIDAY INN. I do enjoy HOLIDAY INN, though. The storyline in WHITE CHRISTMAS is more fleshed-out.

 

Sandy K

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i also agree that "hello dolly" 1969 is horrible. but what i don't understand is how this film is sooo bad when GENE KELLY is the director! "dolly" is such a bloated, slow film, where is kelly's inventiveness? nowhere to be seen.

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