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The corniest musical ever...?


TopBilled
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My grandfather used to call things like this cornball.


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Is WITH A SONG IN MY HEART the corniest musical ever? I tend to think so. It's entertaining, I will give it that much, but some of the schmaltzy musical numbers are just outrageously over the top. Having them sing 'Home on the Range' just before the plane crashes was about the silliest thing I have ever seen in a movie of this type. I guess I will have to read one of the three biographies about Jane Froman to see if they really did sing where the deer and the antelope roam moments before the wing caught on a wave and they overturned. Though I strongly suspect they did not.


 


And unlike others who may need their hearing checked, I did not feel Susan Hayward matched Froman's singing at all. There is a number where she is entertaining troops near the end of the movie. In the middle of the tune, she stops and tells a soldier she's never heard of Texas. In that moment, it's very obvious that Hayward's speaking voice is jarringly different from Froman's singing voice.


 


A real musical star should have been used for this picture. Or else Hayward should have performed all the music herself (though I suspect it wouldn't have been too great). Even Froman, with a speech impediment, might have dubbed all of Hayward's lines. That would have brought more realism to the story anyway.


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  • 1 year later...

In general I don't watch a lot of musicals except for a few favourites, cos I prefer to watch musicals live... but that's just me... I'd have to say the corniest musical was that one that came out a few years ago, where they were all singing Abba songs--starred Meryl Streep, Amanda Siegfried, Colin Firth and others. I felt so embarrassed, especially seeing Colin Firth sing an Abba song with Pierce Brosnan. Firth looked so stiff and uncomfortable--, I wanted to giggle cos he seemed so miscast--the acting/singing numbers seemed over-the-top and I guess the musical didn't require knowing how to sing. The movie was just so...my apologies to fans of this movie--Mama Mia!--but I actually felt my spirit float out of my body, looking down at myself watching this movie, thinking "WHAT?? Switch it back to Mad Men!!!" Thirty minutes was all I can take if not less. Thank goodness it didn't kill my like for ABBA.

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In general I don't watch a lot of musicals except for a few favourites, cos I prefer to watch musicals live... but that's just me... I'd have to say the corniest musical was that one that came out a few years ago, where they were all singing Abba songs--starred Meryl Streep, Amanda Siegfried, Colin Firth and others. I felt so embarrassed, especially seeing Colin Firth sing an Abba song with Pierce Brosnan. Firth looked so stiff and uncomfortable--, I wanted to giggle cos he seemed so miscast--the acting/singing numbers seemed over-the-top and I guess the musical didn't require knowing how to sing. The movie was just so...my apologies to fans of this movie--Mama Mia!--but I actually felt my spirit float out of my body, looking down at myself watching this movie, thinking "WHAT?? Switch it back to Mad Men!!!" Thirty minutes was all I can take if not less. Thank goodness it didn't kill my like for ABBA.

Yes, and MAMMA MIA! was the second-highest grossing picture of the year. So there's no accounting for taste, apparently.

 

The singing was quite amateurish. I much prefer the original, which was not a musical and did not contain any ABBA songs. It starred Gina Lollobrigida and Shelley Winters and was called BUONA SERA MRS. CAMPBELL. The setting was Italy, not Greece.

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Hi Top-Billed:

 

Although it has its' schmaltzy moments, and I can see why Bosley Crowther stated in his NEW YORK TIMES review that sometimes Hayward looks as if she's "miming for posterity," I enjoy WITH A SONG IN MY HEART and wouldn't consider it the corniest musical ever made.

 

First of all, I don't consider it a "musical" in the strict sense of that term. It's a biography of a vocalist, but, other than the big production number of the title song and the performance of "The Right Kind," "Jane Froman" is pretty much the only vocalist/musical performer in the film.

 

For a non-singer, especially considering the amount of singing she had to do, I thought Hayward did pretty well overall with the miming to Froman's vocals. As for the story, I think it has some moments of genuine grit. For instance, the film makes no bones about the fact that Froman's first marriage to the David Wayne character was one of convenience and gratitude on her part because he'd done so much for her professionally. She undoubtedly liked him and appreciated all the help he'd given her career, but the film doesn't hide the fact that she wasn't romantically attracted to him, nor that she loved him. As other commentators on the film have noted, it is perhaps the first film biography of a musical performer to do this.

 

And though it doesn't show the two characters slinging insults at each other, the film also doesn't ignore the disintegration of the marriage. After the two of them argue over Froman's performance of "The Right Side," and how they might handle her increasing success over his, the narration makes clear that this was not the first argument they'd had and that both parties were responsible for their problems. ("Both Jane and I had said things that neither of us could ever forget.")

 

And Froman's story was "true", and tragic, since she never recovered the full use of her legs. In fact, the film actually doesn't fully cover the extent of her injuries, which included an arm which still had shards of glass rising up through the skin years after the accident. Froman's pluck and determination to overcome these terrible injuries/setbacks made her a much beloved public figure at the time, and since she was already a very popular, well-known vocalist, with an undeniably unique voice and style, I don't think the public would have stood for a vocal double, however talented.

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Hi markus--

 

Obviously you are a fan of WITH A SONG IN MY HEART, and that's great. But I still find it awfully corny. And even worse than it's thickly ladled schmaltz, it comes across as an exercise in vanity to me. I still can't believe Hayward actually thought she could pull it off-- and that the studio and countless Hayward admirers told her she had succeeded. 

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