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Everything posted by Whipsnade

  1. Not a bad idea. Other variations on the theme (since you brought up Sherlock Holmes) would be a history of detective movies. Think of all the movie series detectives that could be discussed: Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, Philo Vance, Hildegarde Withers, Bulldog Drummond, Nick Charles (The Thin Man), and Mr. Moto, just to name a few. Then there could be the single entry detectives in movies such as, "The Mad Miss Manton," "The Maltese Falcon," "Footsteps in the Dark," and "The Big Sleep." Later efforts could include the "Miss Marple" series with Margaret Rutherford. And parodies abound: Red Sk
  2. Music was an essential component of all the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Several of them were mini-musicals in parody form. Charlie's Girl mentioned one, the send-up of Wagnerian opera, "What's Opera, Doc." Another Operatic send-up, "The Rabbit of Seville," poked fun at the Italian Opera of Rossini, "The Barber of Seville." So much of my early education in classical music and opera came from these cartoons, that when I hear the music (almost fifty years later) I still think of Bugs and the gang.
  3. And Julie Newmar was one of the brides in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." She later played "Cat Woman" in the "Batman" television series.
  4. It appears that the use of "air" in Astaire was intentional. Fred's mother, Johanna Austerlitz, was concerned about finding a suitable stage name for Fred and Adele. She wanted a name that had "star quality." She was concerned about both the length of the family name and its foreign sound, neither of which would look good on a theater marquee. The process of finding an appropriate name began around 1907, when Fred and Adele (approximate ages 7 and 10) were students at the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts, in New York. Although some have theorized that the name
  5. I never saw this in a theater, but I do have fond memories of this movie on TV within a couple years of its release. Although they thought it was ridiculous, my parents made sure we saw it. Things had changed so much by this time (ca. 1966), that the early Beatles looked pretty tame. I've always felt that the revolutionary nature of their early music has been understandably overstated. They broke out first and get the lions share of the credit, but they did not operate in a vacuum. In general, early Beatles songs were more wholesome and commercial (and therefore, less revolutionary) than a lo
  6. Since this has gone "off topic," I can throw in my two cents and say that I actually enjoyed "Guys and Dolls." I didn't expect to and was surprised that it exceeded my relatively low expectations. I've never been a fan of Brando but thought he was acceptable in this role. Yes, making it through his singing was challenging but survivable. I did think Sinatra was a bit subdued but thought it fit the character. Now I know he was upset about his part. It wasn't a great movie, but it was good. It had the Damon Runyon flavor and some great characters, like Nicely, Nicely. Now, back to t
  7. I've been a long-time fan of Alice Faye, ever since I saw her opposite Tyrone Power, in the 1937 movie "In Old Chicago," almost 45 years ago. Since then, I have sought out her other movies, and listened to her singing and acting on radio. I always felt she was a much more "explosive" bombshell than Betty Grable. Twentieth Century clearly pushed other actresses ahead of Faye (Grable, Darnell, etc.) for reasons that I never understood. In frustration, she walked out on Zanuck & Co. in 1945, and returned to her roots in radio. She got her start in radio as a singer with Rudy Vallee's band an
  8. I think Astaire wins on both counts. His long apprenticeship was served as a partner with his older sister, Adele, and involved dramatic acting, singing, dancing, and light comedy. By the time he made his movie debut, in MGM's "Dancing Lady" (1933), he had been a professional performer for more than 25 years. This training made him a better actor and singer than Kelly. As to their dancing, I incline more towards the light and graceful Astaire style to the more powerful and athletic Kelly style. Astaire seemed to float on air with an effortless grace, while Kelly's grace forced its way through
  9. Thanks for the correction. My reference to Porter was a mistake in my draft that I intended to correct but didn't. I was looking for a second recognizable name for stylistic reasons and meant to change it to Jerome Kern, who did the score for the 1922 flop, "The Bunch and Judy Show."
  10. Just finished a great book on Fred Astaire's early life and his pre-movie career as a dance partner with his older sister, Adele Astaire. It was written by Kathleen Riley under the title, "The Astaires: Fred and Adele" and was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. While they started out as a small-time child act, they came into their own in the late teens through the twenties and were world famous. Fred's first collaborations with the Gershwins and Cole Porter occurred in this era and were written for this pairing. They had several long running shows on Broadway and the London stage. A
  11. Almost all of my television viewing before 1983 was on black and white TVs. In spite of this, I still remember these programs as if they were in color. I never felt like I was missing out on something if I saw a color program in black and white. Because of this, I don't understand the appeal of colorizing black and white film.
  12. 1) I would speculate that the use of starting credits was something of a holdover from stage productions, where programs allowed the audience to acquaint themselves with the cast before the program began. While beginning credits were more common in the Golden Age, end credits were occasionally used. And Universal used both frequently in the 1930's. The cast listing at the beginning was followed by a repeat listing at the end, under the heading "A Good Cast is Worth Repeating." With "Frankenstein" (1931), the beginning credit listed a question mark for the role of the Monster, while the end cr
  13. Good to know I wasn't alone in my early and obsessive pursuit of classic movies. Hello, fellow traveler! You know what a challenge it was to be a film buff back in the pre-cable, pre-VCR Stone Age. Kids today have no idea how much work we had to do to get our movies. Most of my viewing was on a 12 inch screen and all of it was in black and white (with no remote). We lived too close to the foothills, so we could not get KABC Channel 7 on our rooftop antenna. Half a block to the south , my friend could get it. It was all about positioning Indeed, our LA Channel 11 (KTTV) had similar prog
  14. I have to agree that Oscar makes a great second fiddle (or banana). He is an amazing talent in his own right, but his piano talent doesn't compete directly with the singing and/or dancing of the lead. And he adds greatly to the humor in the film. Donald O'Conner and Danny Kaye filled these kinds of roles many times, but did so in ways that tended to compete with the lead - think of O'Conner dancing with Kelly in the Moses Supposes clip from "Singin' in the Rain" (1952). Another good pair of foils were Victor Moore and Helen Broderick playing second fiddle to Fred Astaire and Ginge
  15. In the early and mid 1970s (before VCRs), I watched all those Paramount classics on Channel 5. As a young film buff, it was my primary resource for viewing films. I saw so many great classics for the first time on the overnight programming called "Movies until Dawn." W C Fields, Bob Hope, The Marx Brothers, and so many others. Channel 5 also had weeknight 8PM movies, and often had theme weeks, like a Road Movie week or Abbott & Costello week. Good Times! Other great movie sources in LA in the seventies were "The Million Dollar Movie" on KHJ Channel 9, and "The Late Show" and "The Late, La
  16. Put me down for Donald O'Conner, Danny Kaye, and Gene Nelson. For the ladies, Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller. My dad always liked Donald O"Conner, even when he wasn't talking to a mule. He was probably the first dancer I was aware of, and Danny Kaye was probably the second. Gene Nelson intrigued me when I saw him in several Warner Brothers musicals with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae, and of course, in "Oklahoma!." And the virtuousity of both Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller blew me away in the movies I saw them in - Powell in so few and Miller in so many.
  17. An example of a traditional story that was given a musical treatment was "The Three Musketeers." A musical version (emphasizing song) was produced in 1939, with Don Ameche, Binnie Barnes, and the Ritz Brothers. Another musical version (emphasizing dance) was made in 1948, with Gene Kelly, Van Heflin, Lana Turner, June Allyson, and Angela Lansbury.
  18. Thanks; I stand corrected. In my zeal to make a point, I let speculation exceed documentation and spoke beyond what I knew with certainty. It was all in an attempt to make the point that the Walt Disney Company that was controlled by Walt and Roy was very different from the corporate entity that bears the name today. Because of the difference, it would not be "strange" for the company of today to make a different decision than the company of old. I concede that it's not much of a point and my attempt to illustrate that point was factually incorrect.
  19. The absence of Danny Kaye movies in the line up was a disappointment. He had such an impact on radio and movies in the forties and fifties, and on television in the sixties. "The Court Jester" is my favorite, but so many of the others are close seconds. Though we viewed none of his movies, Kaye was not completely ignored in this course. We did have "The Ugly Duckling" clip from "Hans Christian Andersen" (1952).
  20. Of the two, I've always preferred the 1936 version of "Showboat." It is a movie with some great pairings and some great singers. Charles Winninger and Helen Westley make a great Captain Andy and Parthy; his frenetic optimism and her dour pessimism makes for an interesting contrast. Irene Dunne and Allen Jones are compelling as Magnolia and Gaylord, both in good times and bad - and both have great singing voices. And Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel are the perfect choice for Joe and Queenie. Their dueling duet version of "I Still Suits Me" contrasts the two with humor and affection. It is my f
  21. Not so strange when you remember that the Disney that didn't let Mickey do the film was Walt Disney; the Disney that joined with MGM later was The Walt Disney Company. Disney, the man, would never allow his characters to be controlled by another studio. He had, after all, lost Mickey's predecessor (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit) because he did not have legal ownership of the character. He never made that mistake again. He also demanded absolute artistic control and complete ownership of all his work. Besides, this "revolutionary" idea of mixing animation and live-action was not new; it had already b
  22. I think my favorite story about Louis Armstrong is from his early years as a recording artist in the 1920's. Like many artists under recording contracts to specific labels in that era, he frequently cheated on his contract by recording for other labels under an assumed name. When the executives at his label, OKeh, confronted him with recorded evidence of his "infidelity," he responded: "I don't know who did that, but he will never do it again." From his earliest days as a cornetist with King Oliver to his later trumpet and vocal with the "Allstar" bands, like the one we saw in "Hig
  23. My first exposure to Stubby Kaye was in "Cat Ballou" (1965), where he and Nat King Cole sang the narration. A great movie that, I suppose, could be considered a musical, even though Kaye and Cole are the only ones singing. At the very least, it's a movie where music drives the action. I enjoyed seeing him as Nicely, Nicely in "Guys and Dolls" (1955).
  24. I have run into this on several of my DVD's that are advertised as "restored director's cuts." They replace "lost footage" (scenes that were edited out by the studios post-production) with stills, grainy footage, or black screen & audio. I have become used to it, but it was startling at first. Two conflicting thoughts on this: it is historically interesting to see what the director wanted, but it is not the historical film that the public saw and reacted to. Artistically, it shows what was intended, but it lessens the value of the film as a cultural document and can distort the view of the
  25. Though they are not necessarily obscure, some unusual voices that surprised me were: Franchot Tone singing "Mother MacGregor" (The Lives of a Bengal Lancer), in 1935. Clark Gable singing "Puttin' on the Ritz" (Idiot's Delight) in 1939. And Basil Rathbone singing "I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside" (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), also in 1939. Though she was a singer, I was surprised the first time I heard Harriet Hilliard sing (Follow the Fleet, 1936). She sang with, and later married the leader of the Ozzie Nelson Band. as a kid, I knew them from "The Ozzie and Harriet Show" on TV but w
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