Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Singin' In The Rain

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

Released: April 11, 1952
Directed: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds

This is perhaps one of the greatest musicals of the 20th century and for some reason I've been putting it off. Well no longer.
In a nutshell, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is about the transition between silent films and talkies.The whole picture involves famous actors Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). At the after party for their latest film "The Royal Rascal," R.F. Simpson (Millard Mitchell), the head of Monumental Pictures, shows everyone a talking picture. A few dismiss it, others are marveled by it, but no one is particularly worried. Meanwhile, Don falls for pretty Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) who criticizes his acting abilities and fights off his advances. THE JAZZ SINGER turns out to be a big hit and everyone jumps on the 'Talkie' bandwagon. Even our famous couple Lockwood and Lamont. Only Lamont has the voice of a banshee and the acting ability of a dead fish. Perhaps with the help of his best pal Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), Don can make their next picture "The Dueling Cavalier" a talking (and musical) success.
I'm pretty sure everyone has seen this film. If you haven't, what are you doing reading about it? Go and watch it! Our actors are at the prime of their careers. Following SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, O'Connor will go on to do several other fantastic A-List movies opposite so many great actors such as Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe. Debbie Reynolds, surprisingly enough, had never danced before she came onto this film. This film was followed by many more musicals such as I LOVE MELVIN, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, and other goofy comedies such as TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR or DIVORCE, AMERICAN STYLE. Gene Kelly will go on to more or less dominate 1950's musicals which is very fantastic. Cyd Charrise is Kelly's partner in the Broadway ballet which will open a door for her into musicals. She's really great. The title song is just wonderful and Kelly is rumoured to have had a fever of 103 when that scene was shot. Make Em' Laugh, O'Connor's solo number, is very funny. As is Moses Supposes with Kelly and O'Connor. Darn it, just go buy the soundtrack. Jean Hagen was nominated for best supporting actress and Donald O'Connor won a Golden Globe. This is just a fantastic film with wonderful acting, singing, and dancing. Go watch it. Do it. Now.

Finally, I can stop suffering and write that symphony,
LW

Sunday, August 28, 2011

And I'll Take A Pair Of Silk Stockings

SILK STOCKINGS

Released: July 18, 1957
Directed: Rouben Mamoulian
Starring: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Janis Paige

SILK STOCKINGS is a musical remake of the 1939 film NINOTCHKA. Peter Illyich Boroff is a composer who is being sent back to Russia, but he doesn't want to go back. Steve Canfield (Astaire) doesn't want him to go either as Steve wants Peter to compose the music for the next picture he's producing. The Soviet Union sends Brankov (Peter Lorre), Markovitch (George Tobias), and Bibinski (Jules Munshin) to bring Peter back. The three are corrupted by Steve and  when they too refuse to return to their old life Nina ‘Ninotchka’ Yoschenko (Charisse) is sent to bring them back. Any attempts at fun seem to end with the arrival of our workaholic Ninotchka, but Paris starts to get to her.
This is a fairly good remake of NINOTCHKA although I wouldn't have put Cyd Charisse in the title role, mainly because she has a poor Russian accent. I'm nitpicky about those things, but she's still very good at her part. Jules Munshin was in this picture which delighted me so because you don't see him in many films. Peter Lorre is very funny and Janis Paige is does a good job as the ditzy movie star. She was like a dumbed down version of Esther Williams. The songs are rather delightful and Charisse has what many call the striptease dance. A pretty entertaining film.

Oh, you mad romantic Russians!
LW

Thursday, August 25, 2011

He That Troubleth His Own House Shall Inherit The Wind

INHERIT THE WIND

Released: July 21, 1960
Directed: Stanley Kramer
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, Gene Kelly

Based off of the play with the same name, INHERIT THE WIND is a fictionalized account of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial of 1925. The playwrights wrote it in response to McCarthyism and the affect it had on intellectual freedom.
Bertram T. Cates (Dick York in his last feature film) has been arrested for teaching the theory of evolution. He writes to the Baltimore Herald who sends E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) to cover the case. The Baltimore Herald also sends Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) to defend Cates; Matthew Harrison Brady (Frederic March) is the prosecuting attorney. Brady has the support of the entire town due to his religious views while the entire town hates Drummond.
I really love this film. Great story, acting, and fantasmic cinematography. It really just blows me away. INHERIT THE WIND really gets the feel and energy of the McCarthy trials and the injustice done to hundreds of people. Although the initial fight is fought over creationism vs Darwinism, Drummond is fighting for the right to think, which I think is just marvelous. Kelly is fantastic as the cynical news reporter. For those who think he can't act, just watch this film. He's so amazing. Spencer Tracy and Frederic March play off of each other so well. They know their characters inside out and they are no longer Tracy and March, but Drummond and Brady. If Dick York looks familiar it's because he later went on to play Darin on BEWITCHED. He's the first Darin, although the second Darin is also played by a man by the name of Dick. A fantastic film with a wonderful story. It really gets you thinking and even if we drop the theme of McCarthyism, it relates quite well to the politics of today. If you get the chance, read the play. It's just as brilliant.

I'm admired for my detestability,
LW

By The Way, You Belong To Me

YOU BELONG TO ME

Released: October 22, 1941
Directed: Wesley Ruggels
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda

Peter Kirk (Fonda), in his attempts to impress Helen Hunt (Stanwyck) while skiing, he falls and becomes injured. Helen turns out to be a doctor and Peter is insistent that she treat his ailment. After pretending to have a relapse, Peter asks Helen to marry him which she cautiously accepts. The two are married but Helen won't give up her practice which leads to a very jealous Peter.
This is the last pairing of Fonda and Stanwyck, the first being in 1938 in THE MAD MISS MANTON. YOU BELONG TO ME was released the same year as THE LADY EVE and so it is not much compared to that wonderful comedy. But YOU BELONG TO ME is funny in its own right. This is definitely a gender role switch. I couldn't help laughing at Fonda as the house husband and Stanwyck the working wife. For 1941, that's something quite ahead of its time. This isn't a serious movie. In fact I watched it while packing. It doesn't necessitate your full attention. But I'm sure it's just as enjoyable with a big bowl of popcorn on a Saturday night. Fonda really carries all of the humour in this film as the jealous husband. And that grimace!

What you said sounds right...but it must be wrong,
LW

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Love Melvin And I Don't Care Who Knows

I LOVE MELVIN

Released: March 20, 1953
Directed: Don Weis
Starring: Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds

Never heard of this film either? I don't particularly blame you. I blame the movie distributors of America. Anywho....
I LOVE MELVIN stars Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds fresh off of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (well...Donald managed to squeeze in another Francis film...)
Judy LeRoy (Debbie Reynolds) is a chorus girl who dreams of becoming a star. Melvin Hoover (Donald O'Connor) is the photographer's assistant on LOOK Magazine but he dreams of becoming a photographer in his own right. The two bump into each other but pay each other no mind. They meet some time later when Melvin watches her as a football on Broadway. He's perfectly smitten. He convinces her that he's a photographer for LOOK and asks to take her picture. The two fall in love (of course) but there's Harry Flack, who Judy's Pop wants her to marry. In order to stop the engagement Melvin promises to get her picture on the cover. Oh Boy!
Donald O'Connor didn't have many opportunities to star in an A-movie and when he did, he put in his all. Not that he didn't do the same for the B's, but there's just a different type of energy. Maybe I've seen the Francis movies far too many times. It's a shame that most of his movies aren't available on DVD or even VHS, but luckily I LOVE MELVIN is available from the Warner Archive collection.
Debbie and Donald are just adorable together and it's nice to imagine what would have happened if Kathy Selden left Don Lockwood for Cosmo Brown. It didn't happen, so it's nice we have I LOVE MELVIN. Donald is charming and Debbie is quite stunning. Donald dances/taps on roller skates, has a dance similar to 'Make 'Em Laugh', as well as carrying most of the humour. The costumes are wonderful and there's a dance number involving three Fred Astaire's and Gene Kelly's. If you like it so much you can get the screensaver from TCM. Yes, it is my background. Jim Backus from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND is the photographer who also adds humour.

Propose! To your father?
LW

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm Quite Aware It Happens Every Spring

IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING

Released: June 10, 1949
Directed: Lloyd Bacon
Starring: Ray Milland, Jean Peters, Paul Douglas

Ray Milland is Vernon Simpson, a chemistry professor who, every spring, gets distracted and unfocused due to his love for baseball. He's been working on an experiment that will give him enough money to marry the Dean's daughter (Jean Peters). But as his experiment is nearly finished, a baseball crashes through the window, breaking it. But the fluid that is created by the subsequent crash repels all wood, giving Vernon a marvelous idea. He packs his bag and heads to the St. Louis stadium to try out as their newest pitcher by the name of Kelly.
Ray Milland is perfect as Vernon/Kelly. Jean Peters is a vision and Paul Douglas is great as the street smart, smooth talking catcher. Milland is just a great nerd. What makes this movie great is that he doesn't know how to pitch but somehow, he manages to strike out every time, thanks to his "hair tonic." This was actually a pretty popular film at the time and so I'm quite surprised that it hasn't been released on DVD. I was lucky to find a VHS copy at another library. I'd say mine, but it wasn't. If you manage to find a copy, watch it. It's awfully funny and very enjoyable.

I hadn't thought of that,
LW

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Have You Heard About The Miracle of Morgan's Creek?

THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK

Released: January 19, 1944
Directed: Preston Sturges
Starring: Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn

And we once more to the works of Preston Sturges. Perhaps I'm just trying to prove how disappointed I was in CHRISTMAS, but I've always loved THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK. Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton are just so funny and play their parts endearingly.
Betty Hutton is Trudy Kockenlocker, the prettiest girl in town who's just been asked by the "boys" to attend their send off party. She agrees, but Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) wants to take her to the pictures. Well Trudy's dad (William Demarest), the town constable, won't let her go, so she calls Norval and tricks him into taking her out. Norval sits through three movies alone while Trudy goes out and has a too good of a time. In all the excitement, Trudy got married, but to whom she can't remember. To make matters worse our dearest Trudy is pregnant. If only she can find someone to marry her... Hey, Norval....
THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK was made, really, to challenge the Hays Code. It doesn't break any of the codes, but any human being with half a brain could see right through the movie and all of it's innuendos. Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton are just great together. Bracken is so cute and funny, and Betty is so pretty. Diana Lynn is fantastic as Betty's younger, sarcastic sister. This is probably one of Sturges' funniest pictures with a wonderful message.

Oh, Norval, this is so sudden!
LW

Friday, August 19, 2011

That's How You Play The Mating Game

THE MATING GAME

Released: April 29, 1959
Directed: George Marshall
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Tony Randall

Despite what other may say about this film or the careers of both Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall, THE MATING GAME is one enjoyable romp through the haystack.
Tony Randall is Lorenzo Charleston, an IRS agent who's task it is to figure out how much back tax 'Pa' Larkin (Paul Douglas) owes the government. Pa and Ma Larkin welcome Lorenzo in with open arms, unaware of what he wants. All they know is that they want him for their oldest daughter, Mariette (Debbie Reynolds).
There is some pretty great chemistry between our stuffed shirt Randall and the free spirited Reynolds. Reynolds was always given tomboyish roles or farm girls, something I don't think suits her too well, but she always makes due. This isn't the best movie in the world but it's awfully funny and keeps you up and interested. There are many funny scenes including a very drunk Tony Randall. Paul Douglas gives a great performance as Pa Larkin. I was relieved to find out this wasn't a musical. Debbie sings the title song, but only over the titles, thank goodness.

While you appraise me, I'll appraise your property,
LW

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beau Geste Gallant Gesture

BEAU GESTE

Released: September 15, 1939
Directed: William A. Wellman
Starring: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston

BEAU GESTE is a remake of the 1926 silent film based off the book both by the same. The movie follows the exploits of the Geste brothers Beau (Cooper), Digby (Preston), and John (Milland) following (and preceding) the theft of the 'Blue Water' gem.
The Geste brothers were orphaned as children and were adopted by their Aunt Patricia, who also has a ward by the name of Isobel (Susan Hayward), as well as a horrible cousin who is forced upon the children as companion. The children grew up together with Beau being the leader, Digby, his second, and John as the younger, yet eager brother. After one of the five mentioned young adults steals the Blue Water, Beau and Digby, run out and join the French Legion. John, feeling abandoned and unable to believe his brothers took the jewel, join after them. And thus adventure begins!
This is a really fantastic movie. I haven't seen the original film, but I'm sure it was equally good, though not as superior as this classic. An adventure/war film needs sound to make it seem real and besides, all three protagonists have such wonderful voices that it'd be a sin not to hear them. The chemistry between the brothers is fantastic. The movie doesn't dwell too far from the novel which I'm glad about. Each of our brothers went on to be great actors and have wonderful careers. I still can't believe The Music Man is in this flick! Anyway, It's really fantastic and very heartwarming. And a plus is that Donald O'Connor plays a young Beau.

He puts us both to shame, doesn't he, Beau?
LW

Our Lovely Cover Girl

COVER GIRL

Released: March 30, 1944
Directed: Charles Vidor
Starring: Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Lee Bowman

Rita Hayworth is Rusty Parker, a dancer at Danny McGuire's (Gene Kelly) Night Club. After hearing about a contest for being the new 'cover girl,' Rusty gets the idea that it could further her career. Unbeknownst to Danny and the other girls at the club, Rusty gets the part, mainly because she bares an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother who John Coudair, the magazine editor, was madly in love with. Rusty becomes the 'It' girl of the moment much to the chagrin of Danny who feels he can't offer her the things she needs to be happy much to the happiness of Coudair and Wheaton (Bowman).
Truth be told I swallowed my pride and watched this film just so I could see Gene Kelly in another film. I really don't like Rita Hayworth. Well if you don't like Rita Hayworth and really love Gene Kelly, than this movie falls flat. There wasn't enough Kelly to satisfy me and too much Hayworth for me to glare at. This movie is just an excuse to see Hayworth in color. She sings, dances, and does all the usual Hayworth things. Kelly has one glorious (or should I say two?) dance solo in the street but that's about half way through the film. But if you're not me and like Rita Hayworth than you get everything except the kitchen sink. Phil Silvers is here as a sort of funny sidekick, but I've always found Phil Silvers annoying. There are a few flashback scenes set in the gay 90's involving our little player. Lots of songs. Not much dancing. I'm sure others like it that way; I'm not one of them.

Why don't you be a good boy and scram?
LW

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh Marty Dearest

MARTY

Released: April 11, 1955
Directed: Delbert Mann
Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti

MARTY is probably the most heartwarming movie I've ever seen. It is really a beautiful film. Ernest Borgnine is simply wonderful as lonely and loveless Marty. Betsy Blair is sweet as his love interest. The supporting cast is superb. It's no surprise that MARTY was nominated in eight categories, winning four, including Best Picture.
MARTY follows two days in the title character's life. Marty (Borgnine) is a 34 year old Italian butcher who is constantly pressured and harangued by his neighbors and mother to get married. After all, all of his kid brothers and sister are married. But Marty is resigned to see things just the way they are: he's fat and ugly and he just don't got what women want. After his mother tells him to go out to the Stardust Ballroom, Marty goes with his pal Angie. And that's where Marty meets Clara (Blair). Sweet!
Of course it's not all rainbows and butterflies but you really root for the two. They're both "dogs", and each are lonesome and just want someone to love them. You can really relate with Marty and  Clara. They each have their sorrows and joys and you learn so much about them that it's kind of sad how they aren't real people in your lives. MARTY is one of those films that gives you hope in life and all that sort of mush. But it's also just a fantastic film with a fantastic script, acting, direction, cinematography; the list is endless. Everyone should see this movie.

You get kicked around long enough, you become a professor of pain,
LW

Monday, August 15, 2011

That's Quite A Fine Madness

A FINE MADNESS

Released: June 29, 1966
Directed: Irvin Kershner
Starring: Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward, Jean Seberg

In the midst of Bond films, Sean Connery found time to do this little comedy. Is it fantastically marvelous? Of course not. But it has some genuinely funny moments and it's nice to see Connery in something other than his usual role(s).
Samson Shillitoe (Connery) is a poet who's lacking inspiration for his epic poem. He's also behind in his alimony to his previous wife and much of the film is composed of him trying to write and being chased by a debt collector and eventually police. Shillitoe, despite his faults, is quite a ladies' man, which tends to get him into much trouble. And yet his wife Rhoda (Woodward) sticks by him gallantly. She is so concerned with his well being that she goes to a psychiatrist to help him.
A FINE MADNESS is actually a very fine madness. It isn't quite well developed and true it's a bit difficult to believe Connery is a poet, but he really plays his part well that you can't blame his as so much as the script. Joanne Woodward is just marvelous as Rhoda and the two have quite a nice chemistry going. There are several running gags, that if you're an impatient type of person, might get old quickly. Fortunately I'm not so much. Shillitoe isn't the nicest guy, but you can't really help but love him.

The words of Mercury are hard after the songs of Apollo,
LW

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Believe The Bride Came C.O.D.

THE BRIDE CAME C.O.D.

Released: July 12, 1941
Directed: William Keighley
Starring: James Cagney, Bette Davis

THE BRIDE CAME C.O.D. is one of those rare occasions where drama stars turn to comedy, screwball comedy at that, and make a success of it. Joan Winfield (Davis) is an oil heiress, who after very little persuading, decides to elope with a musician (Jack Carson) whom she's only known for four days. Steve Collins (Cagney) is the lucky pilot who's going to get them to Las Vegas, but he's strapped for cash and decides to double cross the heiress and take her back to her father: unmarried. Hilarity ensues.
The film isn't exactly the best movie ever made, but for two actors who were pretty straight shooters, this whirlwind adventure is just what the doctor ordered. Cagney is pretty fantastic as the jerky pilot and Bette Davis is rather funny when she feels like it. There are some rather amusing supporting characters and some pretty fancy flying. Jack Carson is, as always, magical. This movie didn't make much headway at the time of its release, but it's an entertaining film that will surprise you a bit or maybe just reaffirm your suspicions. And even though at the time it was generally announced (or at least implied) that this was the first pairing of Cagney and Davis, they had been in JIMMY THE GENT several years earlier.

Let's have a nice, clean dirty fight,
LW

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Poke In Adam's Rib

ADAM'S RIB

Released: November 18, 1949
Directed: George Cukor
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday

Wow! What's not to love about this film? Alright...I'll shut up....
Tracy and Hepburn play Adam and Amanda Bonner, two married lawyers who are on opposite ends of an attempted murder trial. Adam is the Assistant District Attorney who thinks he's going to get an open and shut case while Amanda, who owns her own practice, slides into the case like only a woman can. As things heat up in the court room, the tension builds up at home. It's the ultimate battle of the sexes. Judy Holliday is the "murdress" while Tom Ewell is her cheating husband and Jean Hagen (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN) is his mistress.
It's delightful to relive the chemistry that overflowed between Tracy and Hepburn. These two made nine films together and it's no surprise to see why. Their relationship in the film is so beautifully destroyed that it kind of breaks your heart. ADAM'S RIB is funny, enlightening, and makes you feel good inside. The supporting players are superb and chances are you'll have seen them someplace before. And 'Farewell Amanda' will probably get stuck in your head.

No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think,
LW

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Dream is Yours, Apparently

MY DREAM IS YOURS

Released: April 16, 1949
Directed: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Jack Carson, Doris Day, Lee Bowman

Jack Carson is Doug Blake, a talent agent whose prize (and only) client, Gary Mitchell (Lee Bowman), has given him the boot in order to further his career. Blake would be fine with that if Gary wasn't such a backstabbing, conceited guy. Being unable to get Gary to renew his radio contract, Blake goes out to prove that he can make a star not only once, but twice. And the star he finds is down on her luck, single mother Martha Gibson (Doris Day).
MY DREAM IS YOURS is a lighthearted film with lots of songs and some funny bits. I'm not a huge Doris Day fan so it's not the best movie in the world, but Jack Carson is wonderful as fast talking, deal making Doug Blake. He's such a likeable guy, and I think that's one of the wonderful things about Jack Carson. Eve Arden is Vivian Martin who gets roped into Blake's scheme. You'll probably finding yourself hating or at least not liking Doris for a brief period but she makes up for it. And an interesting part, although I think a rather badly done part, of the film is the Freddy's dream sequence involving Bugs Bunny and Carson and Day in bunny outfits. Appropriate bunny outfits. I think compared to ANCHORS AWEIGH and SLIPPERY WHEN WET, the animation isn't that great, nor do they really use the idea to its fullest extent. Either way, it's a nice film. Not the best, but for a lazy afternoon, it'll brighten it up a bit.

We can't give out that information,
LW

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Lady Eve Wants You

THE LADY EVE

Released: March 21, 1941
Directed: Preston Sturges
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn

Gosh I love this movie! OK, so Barbara Stanwyck is Jean Harrington, the dazzling and beautiful con artist who, like her father, "Colonel" Harrington (Coburn), are out to fleece Pike's Pail heir, Charles "Hopsie" Pike (Henry Fonda). Considering Pike has "been up the Amazon for a year," it's a relatively easy job for Jean to make him fall head over heels over her. The only problem she's fallen too. Unfortunately Pike finds out, thanks to his bodyguard (of sorts), that she and the Colonel are really card sharps. That's when Jean gets her payback. She disguises herself as Lady Eve and makes a mess out of Hopsie's life.
Henry Fonda makes a rare appearance in a comedy and he's marvelous at it. He falls over himself and is adorable as the lovesick fool. Barbara Stanwyck is at her (ahem) sensual best. She's so stunningly beautiful and wonderfully funny. Her costumes were created by Edith Head (a brilliant designer) and you can just see how easy it was to make Stanwyck glamorous.
This is really one of Sturges' best work. It trumps CHRISTMAS any day of the week. The story is delightful, the acting superb and generally a great film. If you haven't seen this one, you just haven't lived.

Positively the same dame,
LW

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Had Better Thank Your Lucky Stars

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS

Released: September 25, 1943
Directed: David Butler
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Cantor, Bette Davis

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS was made by Warner Bros as a WWII fundraiser, and therefore is filled to the brim with actors and actresses. Two theatre producers (Edward Everett Horton and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall) are putting on a charity show for war relief and are both quite eager to get Dinah Shore. The only problem is that egotistical Eddie Cantor won't let them have her unless he's calling the shots. On the downtrodden path, are Randolph (Dennis Morgan), Pat Dixon (Joan Leslie), and Eddie Cantor look alike, Joe (played by Eddie Cantor), who are trying to make it in show business.
This story is the reason for every singing, dancing, and joking star you see. And despite Bogart having first billing, his cameo is rather brief, but worth the wait. In fact, perhaps the most seen star is Dinah Shore, who, unlike Cantor, doesn't really move the 'plot.' John Garfield, Errol Flynn, Ida Lupino, and Bette Davis all sing. You get to see some great numbers and songs. A nice piece of history. Even then, it's great to see some of the greatest actors of all time together having fun.

Hey! I must be losing my touch,
LW

Monday, August 1, 2011

Won't You Give My Regards to Broad Street?

GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET

Released: October 23, 1984
Directed: Peter Webb
Starring: Paul McCartney, Bryan Brown, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, Linda McCartney

So the second show of McCartney starts in half an hour and I am clearly still suffering, so I rewatched GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET. To be quite honest, BROAD STREET, is for die hards only, in the way HEAD, MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, and Buster Keaton's Educational/Columbia pictures cheaters are. Therefore, this must be taken with a grain of salt.
The plot is about as thin as women's t-shirts, but that's a complaint for another day. Paul's newest album is missing, and so is the fella who's supposed to have had them. The guy has a shady past and therefore all signs point to him having stolen it. That's more or less the plot....but to be honest no one - and I mean no one - watches it for that reason. I simply love to watch all the songs or I suppose to say properly, the music videos. Some may not like the style or whatever, but I like the music. In fact, the album did much better than the film itself back in '84. Of which I don't blame. I listen to that record all the time.
So if I were to judge as a normal human being, definitely pass it up, but as I'm a die hard, albeit poor, fan, this film is definitely something to watch on a rainy afternoon. The story may suck pickles, but the music is dazzling. Plus it's nice to see Linda, and Ringo. My favorite bit of his is when he's looking for his brushes.

It's gonna be one of those days,
LW

Your Sunny, Funny Face

FUNNY FACE

Released: February 13, 1957
Directed: Stanley Donen
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson

FUNNY FACE is, surprisingly, not a very well known musical. I mean if you were to name the musicals of the 50's, FUNNY FACE probably wouldn't make your list. Just the same, it's a rare gem.
Fred Astaire is Dick Avery, a fashion photographer for Quality Magazine, of which Maggie Prescott (Thompson) is president of.  Unhappy with the atmosphere of the studio, Dick, Maggie, and their entire entourage drive down to a dark, dusty bookstore in Greenwich Village where our Jo Stockton (Hepburn) works. He takes a picture of her and is smitten with her 'funny face.' In fact everyone thinks it's funny, including our leading lady. Being a philosopher and general hater of fashion, she's not happy with them. But Dick thinks she can be the 'Quality' girl and thus she is whisked away to Paris where fun (and trouble) ensues.
Hepburn did lots of films in Paris, and when I think of all of them, FUNNY FACE, doesn't exactly pop into my head. The movie is less about Paris as it is about fashion and being yourself. Kind of. Sure, there's a love story, but all musicals tend to have one. And besides, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn isn't the worse age difference. Gary Cooper and Hepburn in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON is a bit weirder, but that's just me. Maybe it's because Fred is still fit and dances wonderfully despite his age. He's just the kind of guy you fall in love with no matter how old.
FUNNY FACE is directed by Stanley Donen who directed other great films such as SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, and CHARADE. The songs are quite memorable and enjoyable. I only had a problem with one, but I'm nitpicky like that. Hepburn also does her own singing, unlike in OUR FAIR LADY, as well as having a solo 'dance.' To be quite honest, it's more interpretative dance...of which I'm not a fan of. Think ballet/dance, but without the grace or elegance of Gene Kelly. It kind of attempts to knock his style, but if you can't accomplish the feat, than don't try.

Take the picture, take the picture!
LW