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Everything posted by BartG

  1. This subject reoccurs often. Lena Horne would have been totally wrong for Julie. Julie has to believably passed for white in the deep south of the 1880s. Ms. Horne would never have met the test. It is supposed to be a shock to the audience when she is revealed to be of mixed background. Ava Gardner was perfect casting -- like several actresses of similar closeted background like Merle Oberon, the gorgeous Ava has to play down her ethnicity to be in Hollywood.
  2. A couple of observations about today's discussion about the film of Funny Girl: How did William Wyler deal with Barbra's diva demands -- he turned off his hearing aids and let her rant. Then did what he wanted. Yes, this was Wyler first musical, but he actually had begun The Sound of Music before disagreements with the producers led to his existing the project. On the Gypsy segment, they very much neglected composer Jule Styne. This time nary a mention of lyricist Bob Merrill. Without Bob, "People" would just be a pretty melody. Barbra Streisand did not win a Tony for Funny
  3. Dear Mama Zeus: I did not mean that you, or anyone else, who doesn't respond to Ethel Merman is awful or ignorant. We all respond to some performers and not others. What I was referring to was someone involved in the original production referring to her as "a trained dog" and the constant refrains about her not being an actress. She took the role of Rose very seriously and was thrilled to be playing a character for once who was not essentially her. She was also thrilled to have a fine actor (Jack Klugman) playing opposite her who could help her grow. If I did offend you, I'm very so
  4. Can we please, please, please stop this "Mama Rose" nonsense. No where in the musical (play or movie) is the character referred to as "Mama Rose". She is "Mama", "Rose", and "Madame Rose" but never ever "Mama Rose". Can we also please stop the bashing of Ethel Merman and Jule Styne. Laurents did NOT decide to center the musical on Gypsy. Merman was signed first so the musical had to be about her character since she was the biggest musical star on Broadway -- only Mary Martin came close. Merman gave a titanic performance as Rose -- strong, sexy, vulnerable and nasty. And Jule Styne provide
  5. It is a stretch, but it is also said that the grooms' mother's clothes are in the attic, so we can assume some of the clothes have been made over for the bridges.
  6. While I understand your objections to the story, I'd urge you to look at it from a different angle. Yes, Adam is a sexist pig, but the plot line is really about his learning how to value women -- both his wife and their daughter -- and the happy ending is only possible when he changes. Milly chooses to be a wife instead of a working woman (very 50s) but she it is her decision and she only makes it when she finds the right man -- she has turned down many others. She is very strong, both physically and in character; she tames her brothers-in-law and helps them grow up. As to the other "bridges",
  7. At the beginning of the number from Silk Stockings, as the fabulous Janis Paige is leaning on the piano, there is a blond male photographer standing there. We glimpse him a few more times during the number. It that Troy Donohue? It certainly looks like him.
  8. The Freed Unit was a bit obsessed with the Churchills. Note the gag in the clip included today from American in Paris with the lookalike actor and Kelly's double take.
  9. I find it amusing that every line of dialogue they quoted as being reflective of the 50s comes straight out of Philip Barry's play of the late 30s. And the play is all about class and class consciousness. Barry was one of the great playwrights of the upper class in pre-War America (being a genteel-poor relative of a rich family in real life). His characters in Philadelphia Story, Holiday and Biography (filmed as Biography of a Bachelor Girl) are rich and complex, and while I enjoy High Society the screenplay adds no depth to them. The film was basically conceived to cash in on Grace Kelly
  10. In her nightclub act in the '80s, she would joke that husband Tony Martin could always tell who she had been dancing with that day, because when she danced with Astaire her knees would be sore from plieing all day to be shorter than him and when she danced with Kelly she'd be black and blue from the way he threw her around in dance.
  11. There is a huge difference between Jane and Annie. In Annie, in order to win her man, an archetypical chauvinist "pig", she throws the final shooting contest and humiliates herself publicly to get her man (who knows what she's done and loves her for it). Jane becomes true to herself, discards her romantic fantasy of Danny and acknowledges that her best friend is also the man she loves. Bill respects Jane, and only gives her a tough time when she is being untruthful, not when she's being strong. Singing "Secret Love", Jane has discovered her true self, a woman capable of doing men's work. Its a
  12. I went back to listen to that also. Lerner was married 7 times. None of them were Frederick Loewe's daughter. A very strange comment, but not the only mistake I've heard from her. The Broadway production of On the Town happened during, not before, WWII, and the stage musical is in mood and action completely dominated by that fact -- something the film version completely abandons. The comment in today's film clip says that Astaire is the only experienced dancer in the number, a few strange statement since Nanette Fabray had starred on Broadway in musicals, often working with renown ch
  13. Adore her and Betty Grable. I find it very strange that neither of them have been acknowledge during the class when they were two of the biggest stars during the War years. I know TCM has limited access to their films, but certainly their impact, along with fellow Fox star Carmen Miranda, could have been acknowledged.
  14. To be fair, Esther could sing (she wasn't dubbed in her films) and does quite a lot later in her career, even introducing the standard Baby It's Cold Outside. She also does some dancing, partnering both Ricardo Montalban and Gene Kelly among other.
  15. I was quite surprised that in the discussion of the film, with an emphasis on backstage folks, that the producer wasn't mentioned. Jack Cummings, for the most part, produced the MGM movies that neither the more important Arthur Freed or Joe Pasternack didn't want to and were considered kind of minor As. Actually, this film reflects the Pasternack style where any performer might show up to do a number that has nothing to do with the story where the Freed Unit concentrated more on tighter storylines where the songs were related to the story. Cummings did both. Also, Skelton wasn't considered qui
  16. Those at the time who knew more about Cohan than his songs were aware that the man was a highly vocal critic of FDR and far from the humble man Cagney portrays. In fact, he had a constant running battle with Rodgers and Hart who wrote the show I'd Rather Be Right over the fact he would improvise lyrics highly critical of the President. It is highly doubtful that Cohan would have welcomed, or been extended, an invitation to the White House. Therefore, it was very clear that this was going to be a patriotic fantasy rather than having much basis in fact (unusual for the musical biographies of the
  17. Actually, there are recordings of Eleanor Powell's voice from her appearances on Broadway, and they show a decent belt voice, but not particularly a romantic one. The same is true of Vera-Ellen who was mostly dubbed in films after doing singing roles on Broadway (her numbers in the revival of A Connecticut Yankee are available). Some men who were dubbed in musical films despite singing on stage: Jermey Brett, Christopher Plummer and most bizarre Harry Belafonte in Carmen Jones.
  18. Even more important is Mamoulian use of music and editing in Love Me Tonight, a brilliant musical comedy. Highly unusual for the time is that all but one of the songs are utilized as in most of the stage musicals of the time and not just performance pieces. In "Isn't It Romantic", the song travels through space and time to unite the two lovers before they have ever met, telling us they are meant for each other. In The Jazz Singer, all the songs are songs, and pretty non-essential to the plot.
  19. There is a great deal about the battle of the sexes and what can be suggested under the Production Code. He can be an experienced lady's man who has wooed many women with his "line". What's interesting is that when that line doesn't work, he openly admits it is indeed a line, which seems to intrigue her more than his straightforward romancing. In the second scene, he is given a choice between the "bad" girl, who he clearly knows very well, and the "good" girl who he is discovering dimensions in. And he makes his choice of the good girl, thus making this a moral story. It's also interestin
  20. First of all, I would urge you to not take anything in The Jolson Story as factual (a delightful movie but mostly a fantasy -- if they told the truth about Jolson no one would have wanted to see the movie). Ruby Keeler was not a great singer (she was always trying to get the writers to give more of the singing to Dick Powell) and a clunky dancer. But at that moment in time, at the depths of the Depression, the audience adored her because she was plucky and strong and still very sweet and innocent (unlike naughty co-stars Ginger and Joan who had clearly been around). Girls could aspire to
  21. I find it interesting that the Austrian born actress is playing a Polish born performer who is identified in the film as French. I suspect the producers at the time thought this made her seem more romantic (and perhaps naughtier). (By the way, can anyone fix the typo that misspells the enchanting Ms. Rainer's first name?) There is certainly a romantic and lighter than air atmosphere that adds to the fairy tale aspect of the story. It's also interesting that there is still an emphasis on silent closeups of the two producers rather than a reliance on dialogue and that the song is almost sec
  22. I imagine the reason for the lack of Rodgers and Hammerstein films is that they are owned by Fox who may not be willing to rent them to TCM. It is noticeable there is only one Betty Grable vehicle, one minor Alice Faye film and no Betty Hutton Paramount films.
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