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Ted Haxton

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  1. Brooks remake of his play & film The Producers has to be classified as a musical or at least as a musical/comedy. How can anyone ignore all the musical numbers in this film? This version is far better than the original film and it’s primarily due to the outstanding music, the songs and great choreography in the big dance numbers. Original film seems almost subdued compared to the remake. I applaud Brooks for realizing he needed to redo the ‘play’ for Broadway and for the subsequent film he made. Has to be among the funniest musicals of all time!
  2. I took a look at another screwball comedy, His Girl Friday, before watching Top Hat, just for comparison purposes. I’ve watched tons of musicals but not Top Hat, at least by my recollection. I was surprised that it was described as a screwball comedy/musical and, after viewing it, I’d agree it definitely qualifies. These comedies all seem to embrace the male vs female scenario. Top Hat seemed to have the requisite humorous banter between the stars and it was funny. Rogers slapping Astaire after ‘learning’ incorrectly that he’s her friend’s husband/Astaire responding when asked what kind of plane to take to Italy by stating, ‘with wings!’/and many, many others. A little amazing that film makers were able to combine the two seemingly disparate genres (musicals & screwball comedies) so effectively. And I agree that the presentation going from action to songs was smoothly done, predating what comes later in the big 50s musicals by Rogers & Hammerstein and others like Cabaret. Top Hat had amazingly spectacular sets. Evidently, they spared no expense to bring this very successful yet quirky film to theaters. Berlin’s songs were great, the dancing & singing superb, and it’s topped off by the brilliant comedy elements. Very entertaining indeed.
  3. Also on #3, the actors selected to do dual parts were already accomplished entertainers, song & dance men, who could handle the roles. The aunt & uncle were only character actors. Doubtful either had any skills that the others possessed.
  4. For #3, the aunt & uncle not having roles in color section would likely be a judgement call by director or whoever decided to do the double character roles in first place. Couldn’t really use the aunt that way; otherwise, her ‘Auntie Em!’ Comment later on when locked up in witch’s castle wouldn’t have impact it does.
  5. Ding-dong, Witch Is Dead Song had to be there. TCM never edits films shown. Comes early on, after house lands on witch and they declare her dead.
  6. Wizard of Oz listed by everyone as a classic, so finding fault with it is kinda difficult! The idea of switching from B&W to color is arguably the key to this film. The story featuring a youngster just about makes viewers classify it as a coming-of-age story and there’s plenty of iconic, symbolism attached to the characters. Classifying film overall seems difficult, more so than most ‘musicals.’ I’d call it a combination of music/comedy/drama (& horror? Scares plenty of youngsters). One can apply Jungian symbolism throughout the film to gain further insight into characters. I found a book where a Jungian psychologist applied his system to Tarot cards that’s very helpful in sorting things out. There’s a Joker, the Everyman hero (Dorothy). A Magician (the Wizard). High Priestess (good Witch). I’m not going to include all the info from book (Jung and Tarot, An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols), but I’ve used info from this source before to help decipher complex characters/situations for a number of books I’ve read or studied in college many moons ago. The other main tool I use is the Theory of the Ten Worlds (Nichiren Buddhism), which is a very informative means for sorting out characters, too. Everyone tends toward staying in one of these ten life conditions (although life is much more complicated than that and there is the potential to change moment by moment-it would take up way too much room here to explain-I’ve been a Buddhist for 45 years and I’m still learning). So we can end up learning, not only about the material being studied, but also about ourselves, as well. Just throwing this out there in case anyone’s interested.
  7. Born to Dance — with songs & music by Cole Porter, anyone could sing this material and be successful. Was Stewart a great singer? No, not by a long shot, but his overall performance in this movie seemed to be more than adequate in fitting the character he plays. Eleanor Powell is the big star, the main reason the film was made, and the rest of the cast is there supporting her performance. She’s a great dancer, Porter’s songs and music are used effectively to support the story, and everything moves toward an enthusiastic ending spotlighting Powell. I was a little surprised that Porter’s songs, known I believe primarily for uniting complex lyrics with wonderful music, were used sans-lyrics in a number of places very effectively. I didn’t notice who specifically scored the film, but he deserves plenty of credit for the film’s success.
  8. First, The Great Ziegfeld is one of my favorite musicals, with an impressive cast, marvelous sets, wonderful music & songs, and an effective story. Questions posed seem to assume a knowledge of Ziegfeld’s life. Film musicals tended to gloss over actual biographical data and go with scripts that advanced the story without becoming overly critical of the characters like Flo. Unsure if the newspapers of the time did much the same thing, but with all the attention on people like Weinstein, also a producer who worked with women and whose behavior was covered up by media and others, I’d probably assume that a similar stance was used about Flo’s activities (not suggesting that he was anything close to the unsavory individual as Harvey). That plus this is a musical, a traditional form of entertainment that was generally light hearted and fun as opposed to a drama which might and probably would take a more critical look at actual facts. One would, I think, expect Flo Ziegfeld to be affected by being surrounded with so many beautiful women. Hopefully, he was more respectful to these females than those whose mistreatment of women has been dominating the news lately. Can money, and power, and greed affect men in this society? The answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’! I’ve been a Nichiren Buddhist (SGI-USA) for 45 years and our particular philosophy includes our closely examining our lives and behavior based on a theory called The Ten Worlds, which lists 10 life conditions from Hell to Buddhahood that all humans experience on a moment by moment basis. The Three Poisons are grouped with Hell (Hunger, Animality, & Anger) that are at the lower end of life and have the prime characteristic of being self-centered, not caring for anyone but oneself. And in a male dominated society which has always been driven by dominating the competition and winning at all costs, being consumed by the Three Poisons leads to dire consequences for both the victims and the supposed victor. Ted Haxton
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