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Posts posted by TheMadKiwi

  1. It's on DVD, and I would think a Blu-ray release through Disney Movie Club should be happening soon since it aired on TCM last month with a gorgeous new transfer. Usually Disney uses TCM's Treasures from the Disney Vault monthly lineup as a means of debuting a restorations before it hits Blu-ray. Most of the films they've shown have gotten one (though I'm still impatiently waiting on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

    As for underrated musicals, the first that comes to mind is another Sherman Brothers one: The Slipper and the Rose. It's a lavish, witty version of Cinderella that's tonally and presentationally akin to My Fair Lady and 1776. Most live-action Cinderella films either go full-blown fantastical (like all three Rodgers and Hammerstein TV films), or go so realistic that all fantasy is swept away (The Glass SlipperEver After). The Slipper and the Rose manages to be realistic while still holding on to the fairy tale elements that make the story iconic. It's a funny and beautiful film that a lot of people don't know exists. I'm happy TCM acquired it a year or two ago so that now more people can experience it. 

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  2. She means that Fanny Brice the person wasn't really like Fanny Brice the character, but Fanny the character was a believable persona thanks to Streisand's performance. Sometimes with biopics, you have performers who are so obsessed with getting their portrayals accurate that they become stilted, self-conscious, and feel like an imitation. Streisand was loose enough that she cared more about making a fully rounded character than a perfect clone of the real Fanny. 

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  3. 1. If Streisand had performed the number the way she did on Broadway, it would lack the vulnerability the film version has. In the film, you get the sense that she's singing this more to herself than to Nick. In fact, when she's done with the song, she opens her eyes and almost startlingly looks at him as if she forgot he was there, immediately becoming embarrassed. Adding her signature belting to this would've also made it less special since she belts at the end of "I'm The Greatest Star," "Don't Rain on My Parade," and "My Man." That structure makes sense because those are her opening, middle, and closing numbers. "People" would've thrown that balance off, and its quietness is less about making a show and more about revealing something from deep inside her. 

    2/3. The song eases through two emotions. It starts off light, casual, and a little fun as Fanny notes how ironic it is for them to be in the positions they're in and what others must think of them. During this, she idly interacts with her surroundings, and Nick is amused as he follows her. Henry Street as presented here is isolated, but safe. The quaint quality of it highlights what Fanny says earlier about everyone looking out for each other, but the fact that she and Nick are alone highlights the point of the song. The camera keeps him on on the left of the frame and her on the right. This is an interesting choice because, naturally, people tend to read a frame from left to right. Putting Nick on the left keeps him in the audience's eye even though Fanny is the focus. 

    As the song delves deeper into Fanny's psyche, however, she stops on the stairs, elevated above Nick. The two are now further apart than they ever have been up to this point. While the camera focuses on Fanny for the majority of the number, Nick still lingers on in the back left, still reminding us of his presence, and Fanny momentarily remembers, too, as she glances at him during the lyric "One very special person." His reactions to her sudden opening up of herself help ground the sequence. Fanny is in a zone all of her own, but Nick is clearly falling for her in a way far deeper than the initial curiosity and interest he had when he asked her out.

    Fanny is lit in a way where she's glowing, giving her a sort of ethereal look as she's singing about the human condition and highlighting how she's on a sort of separate plane. She wrings her hands together seemingly because she's self-conscious and probably also partly because she's analyzing herself properly for the first time thanks to Nick. It's a magical sequence with a sort of delicate nuance about it, making it one of my all-time favorite moments captured on film. 

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  4. I totally get why TCM only devoted Tuesdays and Thursdays to Mad About Musicals. They pride themselves on different programming blocks, and while there are enough musicals out there for them to have been shown every day in June, not everyone is as gaga for them as we are. The fans of Noir Alley, TCM underground, and Leslie Howard (the star of the month) would get really peeved if we stepped on their blocks. 

    I have a heck of a lot of musicals on Blu-ray, but I, too, have been DVRing the ones I don't own that have aired when I'm either at work or asleep. I've been watching TCM live Tuesday and Thursday nights, and the other days of the week, I've been watching a mix of Blu-rays and DVRs that correlate to the week's decade. Because we're cramming both the 60s and 70s this week, what I'm doing is focusing mainly on the 60s in general and only on the 70s films the course is highlighting. Then, for my own enjoyment, I'm going to continue the 70s on my own next week along with the scant few 80s ones. I'll probably keep going after that just because I've made it that far, so why not?

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  5. Just a head's up in today's lecture notes: it mentions Thoroughly Modern Millie being a Broadway musical adaptation like many other 1960s film musicals. It was actually an original film musical. The Broadway show didn't come until 2002. 

    As much as I enjoy the film, I much prefer the stage version. The plot is more streamlined with a more cause-and-effect narrative. The film has all kinds of random detours that contribute nothing, like the Jewish wedding for characters we don't even know. The show's new songs are fantastic while still keeping the two best ones from the film: the title song and "Jimmy." 

    That said, I'm still dying to own the film on Blu-ray and don't know what's the hold up with Universal. It can use a new restoration as the DVD's master is a little rough.

    I also have to admit that in the same lecture, I find it funny how the 2000s are labeled under "Broadway Slowed Down its Flow to Hollywood." Yeah, it can't compare to the 30s-60s, but I'd say it's comparable to the 70s and certainly more steady than the 80s and 90s. Broadway-to-film adaptations the notes missed for that decade are Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, The Producers, OnceHairspray, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Nine. The 2010s have given us Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Annie, and The Last Five Years. As for upcoming musicals, The Grinch and Mulan won't be musicals, and In the Heights isn't coming till 2020. 

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  6. Bernadette Peters isn't a bad Mama Rose, but I felt she was miscast because she wasn't bold and brassy enough. She very much downplayed the part when this is a role that demands the scenery to be chewed. It's funny because the real Rose was a very small, petite woman like Peters, but most actresses cast as her tend to be big and stocky. Not that small actresses can't be loud and brash, of course, but I guess visually, larger ones make more of an impression on stage. 

    My favorite Rose is Bette Midler, but if we're just talking stage ones, my favorite is Angela Lansbury. Stephen Sondheim has gone on record as saying she's the only actress he's seen who's performed "Rose's Turn" the way he intended - like a woman having a nervous breakdown. Patti LuPone and Imelda Staunton have since done it that way, too, and both are brilliant, but there's something about Lansbury's portrayal that feels like the perfect mix of charming, scary, bold, and vulnerable. Here's some 16mm footage of her in the 1974 Broadway revival:


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  7. I really like this number, but the film version of Gypsy makes it pointless because the whole point of this number is to set up that Louise needs to find a defining trait to make her act unique. In the Broadway version, her gimmick isn't just that she never gets naked; it's also that she's a comic. Instead of feeding bum lines off comedians like she initially did, she becomes the one who provides the laughs. The film version completely omits that, which kind of leaves you wondering how she got so big. 

    I think the 1962 version of Gypsy's a great film despite niggling things like that (and despite the rough singing from everyone involved, not just the intentionally bad strippers). However, I much prefer the 1993 TV version with Bette Midler. Yeah, the direction in that one's stagey, but the performances are great, especially Midler's, and the singing is strong across the board. Here's Midler's version of "Rose's Turn" from that version:





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  8. Alice in Wonderland may be my favorite Disney film (as if my avatar didn't already tip everyone off), but I admit that its role as a musical is very incidental. Most of the songs are 30 seconds long and randomly pop in and out of the dialogue purely for entertainment rather than any storytelling purpose.

    My favorite animated musical is actually The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's the most sophisticated score and songbook the studio's ever done. Every number has so many layers to it and contributes a great deal to both the plot and character development/psyche. "Out There" is my favorite number from it (watch both these videos back to back. This uploader chopped the song in two probably to avoid Disney copyright):

    Along with powerful, thrilling score (that finale...whoa), the cinematography is breathtaking. 360 degree shots, lens flare and light diffusion, long, extended takes, epic pullaways - this film is just so meticulously and beautifully crafted, and it's insane to think that everything here is created from scratch. It's not like live-action where the camera will happen to catch certain things. Every element was placed there with a purpose. 

    Hunchback has been expanded to a really great stage musical (a musical which, unfortunately, will never make it to Broadway because the union won't cover the massive number of chorus members needed for the score). I hope that since Disney is very gung-go about remaking most of their animated catalogue in live-action that they'll eventually revisit Hunchback. It's begging for its expanded stage version to be made into an epic film. 

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  9. The King and I

    Mary Poppins

    The Sound of Music

    Bedknobs and Broomsticks

    Jesus Christ Superstar

    The Slipper and the Rose


    I get why the first four weren't included because Fox owns King and I and Sound of Music (and therefore only air them on their network), and Disney only lends TCM their films on "Treasures from the Disney Vault" days, but I'm surprised Jesus Christ Superstar and The Slipper and the Rose weren't included for the 70s. Probably if the 60s and 70s were each given their own weeks instead of sharing one, they'd probably show up since TCM has aired them before. 

  10. I agree with you. Even if I prefer Meet Me in St. Louis big time over For Me and My Gal and Presenting Lilly Mars, I do think those were the first to showcase her as a young lady rather than a teen. I think St. Louis' contribution to her career is presenting her in Technicolor for the first time since The Wizard of Oz, giving her some of the most iconic songs in her songbook, and making her a solo leading lady rather than a co-lead like with Gene Kelly and Van Heflin (Tom Drake in St. Louis isn't nearly as important to the film as her prior leading men were). 

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  11. I really enjoy both but prefer Philadelphia Story. It's funny because most of the time, I prefer a musical version of something over its non-musical original (Pygmalion vs. My Fair Lady, 8 1/2 vs. Nine, Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Hairspray). The songs in High Society are delightful, and it's beautiful to look at. But while that cast all play off each other well, the cast in Philadelphia Story has a certain magnetic chemistry to them. I also find the direction snappier in the original which serves the witty material better. Both films are a treat to watch, though. I'm happy we got Philadelphia Story on Blu-ray at last through Criterion. I keep impatiently tapping my feet waiting for High Society from (presumably) Warner Archive. The master used on TCM looks great, so I don't see this needing any extensive restoration work the way Seven Brides for Seven Brothers did. 

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  12. The Wizard of Oz:

    Tin Man: "Why don't you try counting sheep?"

    Lion: "That's doesn't do any good; I'm afraid of them!"


    Easter Parade:

    Don: "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"

    (I realize this line was used first in For Me and My Gal, but while in there it was a cute aside, here it carries weight and potency.)


    On the Town:

    Lucy: Did you see "The Lost Weekend?"

    Gabey: Yes, I think I'm living through it. 


    Singin' in the Rain:

    Cosmo: "Talking pictures? That means I'm out of a job! At last, I can start suffering and write my symphony."

    R.F.: "You're not out of a job. We're putting you in as head of our new music department."

    Cosmo: "Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last, I can stop suffering and write that symphony!"


    A Star is Born:

    Norman: I just want to take another look at you.


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  13. I own most of the films in the lineup, particularly the 50s and 60s. So what I'm doing is watching the two films that air on TCM Tuesdays and Thursdays when I'm home from work (from 7 p.m. to midnight), and I watch films from my own collection Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays that correlate to the week's decade and theme. Since Judy Garland's birthday was this week, I'm focusing on her. I save Easter Parade for (of course) Easter and Meet Me in St. Louis for Christmas every year, so I'm not including those. My lineup is:


    Presenting Lilly Mars

    For Me and My Gal

    The Harvey Girls

    The Pirate

    In the Good Old Summertime

    Words and Music


    For the 50s, I'm planning to watch:

    Summer Stock

    An American in Paris

    Singin' in the Rain

    The Band Wagon

    Kiss Me Kate

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    A Star is Born

    High Society

    The King and I



    Bells Are Ringing

    West Side Story 

    The Music Man


    My Fair Lady 

    The Sound of Music 

    Funny Girl

    Fiddler on the Roof

    Bedknobs and Broomsticks

    Jesus Christ Superstar




    The Slipper and the Rose


    I probably won't get to all of these, but that's the longterm goal. 





  14. This thread is absolutely up my alley as Judy Garland is my favorite actress and singer of all time. I've actually been listening to various compilation albums of hers this week in celebration of her birthday.

    1. Of course it's cliché, but The Wizard of Oz was my first. My impression of Judy as Dorothy was that she was a warm, inviting personality that I felt concern for even when I was 3. She made me believe everything she portrayed on the screen, and yes, I found her pretty, to boot.

    2. Well, I've been watching Easter Parade and For Me and My Gal for years, so I'll put myself in a place of when I first saw them. In the case of Easter Parade, I really was taken aback by just how funny she could be. I think Easter Parade was the third Judy film I ever saw (Meet Me in St. Louis was the second), and while she had moments of comedy in Oz and St. Louis, Easter Parade really let her shine in terms of how she could portray comedic timing. She's not just supporting someone else who's being funny like Mickey Rooney in the four "Let's put on a show" films, but showing off what she can do as a lead and the focus of a scene.

    For Me and My Gal is an interesting one because it's a film I like but never put as one of my favorites. Because of that, my viewings of it have been kind of disconnected. It wasn't until this module that I really paid attention to her acting in this. This film shows an interesting transition for her where she's treated as a young leading lady. She's not a little girl surrounding by co-leads and supporting characters that threaten to overshadow her, but she's not the electric and magnetic powerhouse diva that demands your attention later on. She gets to show off a subtle mix of different elements, partially carrying the baggage she acquired from her early films while laying the groundwork for her later ones.

    3. A Star is Born is of course so easy. "The Man That Got Away" in particular captures everything about Judy as a performer, but I'm going to point to "Born in a Trunk" as another prime example. While I admit this sequence feels tacked on in the grand scheme of the film's storyline, the entire 15-ish minutes is so entertaining and so encapsulates Judy that I don't care. Throughout this sequence, she's literally narrating her film-within-a-film's character's backstory, and through a series of musical vignettes, we get to see her range. She gets to be sweet ("I'll Get By"), funny ("You Took Advantage of Me"), wry ("Black Bottom"), elegant ("Melancholy Baby"), and powerful ("Swanee" and the finale of "Born in a Trunk"). Judy Garland was a singer and actress who felt every emotion deeply and extremely, and she let the audience in on this in a raw and real way. Nothing about her is on auto-pilot or half-hearted. "Born in a Trunk" makes for an amazing self-contained piece to show someone who wants to know what's so special about Judy Garland.

  15. Down with Love. For those who haven't seen it, it's a sort of spiritual remake of Pillow Talk starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor - a bright, bubbly sex comedy that takes place in a highly stylized 1960s world. The whole thing feels so much like a musical that they even had Zellweger and McGregor perform a Marc Shaiman number over the end credits (Shaiman also provided the film's score which is very lush and animated).

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  16. 9 minutes ago, Jim K said:

    There are lyrics for the Lion's "If I Only Had the Nerve".  Michael Feinstein sings them on his MGM album.  I think they went something like this:

    That's perfect, Jim! That's exactly what I was looking for! I dug a little and found that those added lyrics were done by Tim Rice for the Broadway version. It seems like he and Andrew Lloyd Webber had the same concern I did. They got rid of "If I Were King of the Forest" and used some of its ideas to expand "If I Only Had the Nerve." 

  17. Yeah, another little Oz boo-boo I noticed in one of the modules is that it says Margaret Hamilton was burned filming the melting scene. She was actually burned during her exit from Munchkinland. There was a trap door she would stand on, and the smoke and flames would billow out from under it as she descended. The take used in the movie wasn't meant to be the final one because it was flubbed - you actually see her start to descend before the smoke and flames come up. Considering she didn't want to go anywhere near any other stunts, they were stuck with that one take. Her fear of doing anything else actually saved her from another accident when her stunt double's broom exploded during the "Surrender Dorothy" shot. 

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  18. As an overall sequence (and film, too), 42nd Street is better. That said, I find Powell's dancing more elegant and effortless than Keeler's (though I love Keeler, too). When I watch Keeler dance, I always get the sense that she's trying really hard. Of course, all the best dancers do, but her efforts seem noticeable to me in the sense that she seems to be trying not to screw up. Her movements are very careful and calculated, so they're a little more stiff. Powell's dancing looks effortless. She seems more at ease with her choreography and therefore looks more flowy and graceful. Both were clearly great, though.

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  19. Favorite scene: The poppy field scene. I know that's a little strange to mention in a musical since it's not a number (except for "Optimistic Voices" at the end of it), but I love everything about this scene. The poppy field set is gorgeous and massive. When the gang runs across the field in excitement at seeing the Emerald City, it's one of the few times in the film where there's this sense of unbridled joy. Don't get me wrong: Oz is definitely a joyous film, but Ben Mankiewicz had a point in the outro for the film when he said he thought of it as a drama for children. The characters are often in peril (which they are literally 15 seconds later) or are anxious, even if done for comedic effect. Here, they're just so excited that their journey's paid off.

    Once we get to the actual perilous aspect of the sequence, the film manages that tricky balance of being suspenseful while still hilarious ("There's no use screaming at a time like this! No one will here you - HEEEELLLLP!"). Once the conflict is resolved, we're back to that sense of joy with the quartet marching to Emerald City in one of many iconic shots in the film.

    Least favorite: I feel guilty saying this, but "If I Were King of the Forest" would be it for me. The reason I feel guilty is because the Lion is my character, and the scene is admittedly a good showcase for Bert Lahr's talents. But it comes way too late in the film and, musically, is the least melodious. The Lion should've had a longer version of "If I Only Had the Nerve" instead that could've covered the exact same ground (what his reign would be like as King), only this time with a catchier tune and a more logical placement (his intro in the forest). That said, I still like the sequence, and that says a lot about this film - my least favorite thing about it is still something enjoyable to me. 

  20. The Wizard of Oz, easily. I believe it was my first live-action film, and even if it wasn't, it was the first to make an impact on me. Musicals and fantasies are my two favorite genres, so I gravitate towards things that blend the two. The Wizard of Oz is the perfect example of that. It's a film that's simple enough that you can easily digest it, popping it in at any given moment without it wearing you out. At the same time, it's a film that has so much going for it that you can spend endless time analyzing and dissecting it. There are countless films I adore and rewatch often, but if I'm not careful, I become complacent with them, and my mind will start to wander during viewings. Somehow, Oz never grows stale or ordinary. Every time I watch it, I'm 3 years old again. 

  21. I understand why so many Fox musicals were excluded since they prefer to save everything for their own network, but I'm shocked neither Jesus Christ Superstar nor The Slipper and the Rose were included, films TCM has shown in the past. It would've been fascinating to compare and contrast how Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell (the latter of which is included in the lineup) approach the Gospel narrative. Also, The Slipper and the Rose (like 1776) is a 70s musical that feels more at home with the elaborate presentations of the 60s and as such, feels like the ending of an era. 


  22. Film: Hair (1979). Oy vey. This film just gets under my skin. Everything about it screams trashy to me. Keep in mind I've never cared much for the hippie movement of the 60s/70s (in the 60s, I always preferred the retro futurism aspect of pop culture, and in the 70s, I prefer flashy disco swank). Even with that in mind, I can appreciate something hippie influenced (Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my all-time favorite films). But the characters in Hair are so infuriating, doing things that are supposed to be "charming" when all they're doing is wrecking other people's lives, and that comes to bite them in the you-know-where by the film's end. Visually, it's ugly; the choreography feels haphazardly improvised, and the songs are annoying save for perhaps two. As I understand it, the film is so radically different from the Broadway version that the original creators disowned it, but considering I don't like the music, either, I doubt I'll like the show much better. The fact that NBC chose this to be their next live musical is really disappointing to me, especially since I absolutely adored their productions of The Wiz and Jesus Christ Superstar. 


    Song: To spice up this post, I'll post something not from Hair - "Boo bop bop bop bop (I Love You, Too)" from Pete's Dragon. Crikey. Pete's Dragon in general is a big, hammy ball of corn, but I still rather enjoy it in a vaudeville sort of way. But that song between Pete and Elliot has got to be the worst thing ever written and performed for a Disney film. It's cloying and tuneless. I'm an avid Disney fan and am used to running into people who find a lot of the studio's offerings too saccharine and trite for their liking. When I see that "musical" sequence in Pete's Dragon, I wonder if this is the way they view every film from the company. It's simply embarrassing and cringe-inducing. 



  23. I think the reason I love musicals so much is the same reason I love film in general: I want to escape. I love films that can transport me somewhere for a few hours. The more outlandish they are, the better. Don't get me wrong; I love dramas, too, but there's a time and a place for those, and I have to be in a particular mood for them. If a film is fantastical, I more easily lose myself in it. Musicals by their very nature require you to buy into this concocted fantasy that people burst into song to express their feelings, and somehow everyone around knows the lyrics and choreography. They're as far removed from reality as you can get, and I love them for it. It's why I'm also such a diehard Disney fan - the company thrives on music and fantasy.

    What's especially fascinating to me about musicals is, even though we all consider it a genre, I think it's almost more of a medium than anything. Think about it. Within the musical genre, you have dramas (West Side Story, Les Miserables), comedies (Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Kiss Me Kate), romances (An American in Paris, South Pacific, The Slipper and the Rose), horrors (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), fantasies (The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Into the Woods), noirs (Chicago, Cabaret, Pennies from Heaven), a Western (Paint Your Wagon), even biopics (The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Evita). Everything that can be made into a film can also be musicalized for better or worse, and so many musicals are different. To me, adding song to something makes it more fascinating and entertaining to me. It's why I prefer My Fair Lady over Pygmalion and (unpopular opinion time) prefer the musical remakes of Hairspray and The Producers over the originals. Somehow, putting any story through the prism of song and dance shines a (spot?)light on it and makes it more accessible to me. 

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