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Sweet Charity


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I saw Sweet Charity for the first time last night.

All I can say is wow! ---- to borrow a line from one of the songs.

 

While it is not a perfect movie, it definitely captivated me from beginning to end, especially the brilliance of Bob Fosse's direction and choreography.

What Fosse and Shirley MacLaine did with "If My Friends Could See Me Now" ----especially the use of Vittorio Vitale's hat---WOW!

 

The scene where Charity goes to the employment agency in the hope of getting a better job broke my heart. The look on her face when the man at the agency said it must be a gag and then she plays along . . .  

 

Still, I'm glad the filmmakers ultimately didn't tack on the false happy ending that at one point was considered (per Michael Feinstein's commentary after the movie).

 

I like that the movie ended "hopefully ever after."

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I was really excited when I heard of the Roadshow Musicals starting this month. However it's really disappointing, especially given that Michael Feinstein is hosting, to see "Sweet Charity" is not the "complete Roadshow version". Feinstein correctly explains what "Roadshow" means, and then introduces the film starting with the Overture being completely cut out at the start. When I saw the list of movies being shown in the series I thought it would be great to see the overtures, intermission, entre`acte and exit music.

I love the movie itself and it still amazes me how great it is that they were able to make such an amazing advancing of dance and choreography. But please, TCM, don't say these are all "Roadshow" pictures and then not show the "Roadshow" version itself. 

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One of my favorite movie musicals. Big, bright, splashy. Shirley MacLaine is terrific as Charity, but then the whole cast is excellent. Love the music! The dance number at the nightclub spotlights Suzanne Charny, the one with that long ponytail thing. I had the soundtrack album when I was a kid.

 

Bob Fosse directed but MacLaine also worked with the original Broadway star Gwen Verdon on the "If They Could See Me Now" number.

 

Peggy Lee had a hit version of "Hey, Big Spender."

 

Film debuts for Chita Rivera and John McMartin, who played Oscar in the Broadway show opposite Gwen Verdon.

 

MacLaine's "I'm a Brass Band" number is one of the longest dance numbers on film.

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I was really excited when I heard of the Roadshow Musicals starting this month. However it's really disappointing, especially given that Michael Feinstein is hosting, to see "Sweet Charity" is not the "complete Roadshow version". Feinstein correctly explains what "Roadshow" means, and then introduces the film starting with the Overture being completely cut out at the start. When I saw the list of movies being shown in the series I thought it would be great to see the overtures, intermission, entre`acte and exit music.

I love the movie itself and it still amazes me how great it is that they were able to make such an amazing advancing of dance and choreography. But please, TCM, don't say these are all "Roadshow" pictures and then not show the "Roadshow" version itself. 

 

It was a bit odd in Sweet Charity when Charity and Oscar are trapped in the elevator with "to be contnued" on the screen and then the next frame has them back in the elevator with words on the screen about the passage of time without the intermission music between. 

 

The version of Funny Girl aired on TCM before Sweet Charity did have the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte and Exit Music.

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I saw this for the first time too.

 

I'm a Shirley MacLaine fan and loved that she practically carried this film solo. I was kind of surprised how small her singing voice was, but I liked it a LOT, as she just sounded like a normal person. Her dancing was impeccable and her perfectly proportioned body was a joy to watch.

 

I loved the songs, loved the numbers-they were all dramatically lit and set and felt like stage productions on steroids. Every number was a big number and the dancing was electric! Fosse may not have been a nice person, but what he did for dance was revolutionary. The costumes were fantastic too, definitely highlighting the dancing. 

(this is the first movie my puppy was rapt with TV dancing)

 

I also really liked how the scenes captured the transitional 60's to 70's in costumes for different dance numbers-there were jazz beatniks, early 60's beehives, spit curls and black eyes (makeup) and in the Sammy Davis number (wow) more hippie flower children types of the early 70's. All those "looks" were simultaneous in real life too.

 

In the "I'm A Brass Band" number, there were several real NYC locations used. One was a very busy intersection-empty- except for teeny MacLaine dancing through it! It looked as if it was filmed on a Sunday at 5am to block off traffic. That could NEVER be done today!

 

The story was well written, although I was really sad at the end. Definitely better than a "happy" ending, though.  I am very impressed SWEET CHARITY is a story about a "dance hall hostess" complete with saucy lyrics "rhythm in the bedroom/rhythm in the streets" and it was rated G.

 

That's G folks.

 

It just goes to show Hollywood; films with adult themes can be made for ALL age groups to enjoy.

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In the original Italian film, Charity is a streetwalker. In the MacLaine film, "dance hall hostess" implies streetwalker.

 

When Sweet Charity came out in 1969, it was billed as the first musical of the '70s. It was a huge flop.

 

 

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I'm a Shirley MacLaine fan and loved that she practically carried this film solo. I was kind of surprised how small her singing voice was, but I liked it a LOT, as she just sounded like a normal person. Her dancing was impeccable and her perfectly proportioned body was a joy to watch.

I love Shirley as well, but I definitely agree about the voice being "small", particularly in the context of a number like "I'm a Brass Band". Shirley was one of the few "triple threat" actresses in Hollywood at the time and was absolutely the right choice for the role, but it seems as though the problem with triple threat performers is that usually they're not as strong in one of the categories as they are in the other two. Shirley was a huge name as an actress and had proven dancing skills, but a somewhat lesser singing voice. Hearing a slight voice overamplified in order to compete with the orchestra is always a little disconcerting. Part of the problem may be that it was always a dancer's role, which required singing as well. Interestingly, PBS in my area is showing an Ed Sullivan Broadway fundraising special with Gwen Verdon doing the "I'm a Brass Band" number and the problem was the same. She more than held her own in the dancing, but her voice was all but overpowered once the number kicked into gear. Anyway, I also agree with your ultimate assessment that the naturalness of Shirley's voice carried the day.

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I saw this for the first time too.

 

I'm a Shirley MacLaine fan and loved that she practically carried this film solo. I was kind of surprised how small her singing voice was, but I liked it a LOT, as she just sounded like a normal person. Her dancing was impeccable and her perfectly proportioned body was a joy to watch.

 

I loved the songs, loved the numbers-they were all dramatically lit and set and felt like stage productions on steroids. Every number was a big number and the dancing was electric! Fosse may not have been a nice person, but what he did for dance was revolutionary. The costumes were fantastic too, definitely highlighting the dancing. 

(this is the first movie my puppy was rapt with TV dancing)

 

 

Your puppy obviously has great taste. :)

 

Yes, Bob Fosse's choreography was truly game changing: his use of dance and singing to express emotional subtext as well as his incorporation of lights and costumes.

 

Cabaret is, in  my opinion, a perfect movie ---- which is an opinion shared by Vincente Minnelli (father of Liza).

Supposedly Fosse was not happy with the "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" number that was sung by the German youth in the beer garden because he wanted all the songs to be sung inside the cabaret, but I think the song works wonderful in the movie. So glad he did not cut it.

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Bob Fosse's choreography was truly game changing: his use of dance and singing to express emotional subtext as well as his incorporation of lights and costumes.

 

 

A section of Paulina Street in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, where Bob Fosse grew up, is designated as "Bob Fosse Way."

 

[Anyone from the Chicago area will know the correct pronunciation of Paulina Street.]

 

Bob-Fosse-Way.jpg

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A section of Paulina Street in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, where Bob Fosse grew up, is designated as "Bob Fosse Way."

 

Do you have to walk it snapping your fingers while keeping your tush tucked?

 

Screen%20shot%202013-06-05%20at%204.25.5

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A section of Paulina Street in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, where Bob Fosse grew up, is designated as "Bob Fosse Way."

 

Do you have to walk it snapping your fingers while keeping your tush tucked?

 

Screen%20shot%202013-06-05%20at%204.25.5

 

While it is suggested that Bob Fosse Way be navigated in this manner, it is not required. 

 

Those who do not comply, however, are met with scornful wagging jazz fingers.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 6 months later...

When I first heard of this I was so horrified by the concept that I was morbidly drawn to watch some of it. A terrible mistake! No Fellini fan should ever have to experience this! I was left wondering why Fellini ever let it happen, but he probably was not asked. Things like this are not made by fans or admirers, they are made by artistic terrorists and saboteurs.

 

I remember being somewhat amused by the scene where she meets Oscar in the elavator. At least it had nothing whatsoever to do with the original.

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God Bless both my parents- because whatever shortcomings they had- they were not the type of parents to shield the young and impressionable eyes of a child to much.

 

I went with them to NYC when I was maybe seven or eight, back in 1984(5?) and we went to see both A CHORUS LINE (which I honestly wasn't into) and SWEET CHARITY- which was starring (at the time) Debbie Allen (I think it was a big deal to have a black actress starring on Broadway at the time.)

 

All I remember is that I ********** LOVED IT!!!!!!! And I have known the lyrics to HEY, BIG SPENDER! by heart ever since. What ANIMAL CRACKERS IN MY SOUP is to some, HEY, BIG SPENDER! is to me.

 

Anyhoo, VHS comes along and a few years later I rent SWEET CHARITY with Maclaine and I just recall being profoundly let down in the same way that I was by CAMELOT. I have only seen pieces since and would def re-watch, but I have to say: THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT LATE SIXTIES MUSICALS THAT DID NOT WORK. I'm not entirely sure just what it was- maybe people were trying to hard to be modern and convention-breaking within such a traditional medium, maybe it's miscasting, maybe it's the mood of the time- but there is a je ne seis' qua (sp?) of failure about every one of them- MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, HELLO DOLLY!, MAME- I don't like any of them.

 

ps- Sammy Davis Jr. was pretty phenomenal tho. He needs to be rediscovered.

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God Bless both my parents- because whatever shortcomings they had- they were not the type of parents to shield the young and impressionable eyes of a child to much.

 

I went with them to NYC when I was maybe seven or eight, back in 1984(5?) and we went to see both A CHORUS LINE (which I honestly wasn't into) and SWEET CHARITY- which was starring (at the time) Debbie Allen (I think it was a big deal to have a black actress starring on Broadway at the time.)

 

All I remember is that I ********** LOVED IT!!!!!!! And I have known the lyrics to HEY, BIG SPENDER! by heart ever since. What ANIMAL CRACKERS IN MY SOUP is to some, HEY, BIG SPENDER! is to me.

 

Anyhoo, VHS comes along and a few years later I rent SWEET CHARITY with Maclaine and I just recall being profoundly let down in the same way that I was by CAMELOT. I have only seen pieces since and would def re-watch, but I have to say: THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT LATE SIXTIES MUSICALS THAT DID NOT WORK. I'm not entirely sure just what it was- maybe people were trying to hard to be modern and convention-breaking within such a traditional medium, maybe it's miscasting, maybe it's the mood of the time- but there is a je ne seis' qua (sp?) of failure about every one of them- MAN OF LA MANCHA, CAMELOT, HELLO DOLLY!, MAME- I don't like any of them.

 

ps- Sammy Davis Jr. was pretty phenomenal tho. He needs to be rediscovered.

The public apparently agreed with you. Was any late '60s musical film a box office hit, or, even, not a flop?

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The public apparently agreed with you. Was any late '60s musical film a box office hit, or, even, not a flop?

 

HELLO DOLLY made a lot of money, but I think it cost so much it barely broke even- if even- and maybe not until re-release and rentals and broadcast etc...ditto with CAMELOT. Other than that, i can't think of a musical that finished in the top five at the box office until A STAR IS BORN* in 1976, and even that was something of a fluke.

 

*the "musical" status for A STAR IS BORN is

also debateable**

 

**on all sorts of fronts.

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Though I am more of a fan of Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria" with Guiletta Masina than Shirley in "Sweet Charity" I totally enjoy the concept of one film riffing off another film totally, no matter what the incarnation.

 

For example, I get a total kick out of the fact that "Last House on the Left", that gory horror flick is based ostensibly on Ingmar Bergman's very gentile and classy, "The Virgin Spring".

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here is Sammy's big number from SWEET CHARITY, I have to be honest with you- almost everything in this scene besides Sammy is not right- the set, the lighting, the costumes (why is Maclaine dressed like a substitute teacher?), but nothing so much as the languid camera movements and editing, and- frankly uninspired staging of the whole thing.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj9xsSuczes

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