Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE MUSICAL JUDY GARLAND


To post on Judy Garland is a vast undertaking. I would contest that there are very few women who have done as much for Hollywood as her. From a little girl in "Pigskin Parade" (1936) to her last film "I Could Go Singing" (1963), every performance was astounding and mesmerizing. She did it all: Singing, Dancing & Acting.

Generally, an Actor can only go so far before they lean on their crutch of musical or comedic talent. Judy, however, used her other talents to expound her acting not conceal it. She was the female voice of Christmas and the poster child/adult of MGM.

AS AN ACTOR:
How can you mention Judy without mentioning "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). This film catapulted her out of the Hardy neighborhood and over the rainbow. It wasn't just her singing that got her there though. Even at the age of 16, she amazed audiences with her acting, which won her one of the youngest Oscars ever presented. My favorite acting of hers is in "The Judgement of Nuremberg" (1961). Her performance is gripping and moving.


AS A SINGER:
Her voice was mellow, pure and original. "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944) showcased a range of her singing talent and gave her a new list of popular songs to perform. My personal favorite is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song." It's amazing that with all the personal struggles in her life she could sing songs that were so beautiful and encouraging. Later in her concerts she would sing the song "San Francisco," which was originally Jeanette MacDonald's song in the movie with the same name. Jeanette was asked if she was upset by this, of which she replied: "Oh, I don't mind... as long as it's Judy!"


AS A DANCER:
From Mickey Rooney to Gene Kelly to Fred Astaire she held her own on the dance floor. Her favorite of mine is "Easter Parade" (1948). Though their wasn't a lot of swooshing and flying through the air, her dance was right on step. In the dance sequence of "When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam'" we see her fast paced feet which generally moved a little slower with the tempo in her other films.


Though she had a rough life, the films she was in contained a Judy that enjoyed what she did and knew how to do it better than most. Her musical talent far surpassed many of the other Actresses in her day, as her acting grabbed a hold of the audience who filled the box office every time her name was on the screen. What a talent was Judy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100th POST!!!


This post marks my 100th post since I created this blog on December 18th 2011. I have a post for almost everyday since then, and I'm still posting.

I started this blog with the purpose of sharing some of my favorite films and movie stars. It quickly transitioned into setting a theme for each month and posting around it. Personally, It has given me a chance to tour some of the many sides of Hollywood that I've never known about or ever thought existed.

I greatly appreciate any comments that I have received. Each one has helped me to shape this blog to become better and hopefully more interactive. If you have any other ideas on how I can make my posts to become more interesting, I look forward to your feedback. It is my goal to create multiple critic discussions on any one of these topics. With some of my posts on Actors or Directors, I want to hear what film is your favorite and which scene you like the most. Some of them may be new to me, and could cause me to add them to my favorites.

All in all, I look forward to the next 100 posts and hope for an even greater appreciation of VINTAGE MEDIA.

THE MUSICAL DANNY KAYE


To start off the posts of the week right, I've turned my attention to the quadruple threat, named Danny Kaye. In Acting, Dancing, Singing & Comedy, he excelled with flying colors that have never been duplicated to this day. From "The Court Jester" (1956) to "Hans Christian Andersen" (1952), he created a Musical genre on his own.

What I love about him was his clean humor. He never had one inappropriate moment, not one dirty joke, just PURE comedy. No one can successfully imitate his speedy limericks or his dizzy tongue twisters, but this wasn't all he had to offer the world. His voice was honest and his acting moving.

He may not have danced like Gene Kelly nor sung like Frank Sinatra but he created his own space in the universe of Hollywood.

AS AN ACTOR:
"Hans Christian Andersen" (1952) & "Wonder Man" (1945) are the first to come in mind. To me, he will always be the author from Denmark. He was the perfect fit for the film, since his voice was matched with his acting. In "Wonder Man," we see him take on two completely opposite roles. From the book worm to the party animal, he never compromised his special something that he always gave in a performance.


AS A DANCER:
With "White Christmas" (1954) as popular as it is in our day, I don't see it needful to elaborate on his talent of dancing. In fact I may only be able to mention a little known fact from the movie itself. As he & Bing Crosby finished off the "Sisters" routine, he had Bing laughing so hard, they had to re-shoot it. With each new take, the laughing got worse until they finally abandoned the idea and stuck with the first shot they had, which is in the film today.


 AS A SINGER:
He had one of the most soft and pure voices of the big screen. My favorite songs of his were "Inchworm" in Hans & the lullaby "I'll Take You Dreaming" in the Jester. Then all of sudden, he becomes a humorous opera singer in "Soliloquy for Three Heads" & "Gypsy Drinking Song" for "The Inspector General" (1949). Another is when he finds himself disguised as the lead in an Opera on "The Wonder Man."


AS A COMEDIAN:
I think the best film to portray his Comedy spectrum was "The Court Jester." It contains all of his shape-shifting, tongue twisting, facial expressing, cowardice best. What a spectacular movie! Each time he was in front of the camera, he presented to us a new side of himself. To find a twin of a comedian, I would have to turn to the great Red Skelton. Both with red hair and each with there own unique pantomimic expressions.


I wish I could show all of my favorite clips but this post would take up the whole site. Instead, I have created this collage to portray his alter egos.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

EVERYTHING MUSICAL

For my last week of Musical March I'm going to post on some of the composing duos of Hollywood. Many of them reached their fame on Broadway first and reached the big screen through their successful songs. With this in mind, I apologize if I dont give enough credit for their contributions to the stage. If I have time, I hope to also post on some of the entertainers in musicals like Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Betty Hutton, Doris Day, Judy Garland & the many others.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

MEREDITH WILLSON (1902-1984)

ROBERT MEREDITH WILLSON

Born: May 18th, 1902 (Iowa)

Died: June 15th, 1984 (heart failure)

Marriages: Elizabeth Wilson (1920-1948), Relina Zarova (1948-1966 Her death) & Rosemary Sullivan (1968-His death)

Children: NONE

Interesting Fact: From 1921-1923 he played the flute and piccolo in John Philip Sousa's band.

Successful Era: In the late 50's and early 60's was when "The Music Man" started on Broadway and transitioned to the screen in 1962.

Awards: He has been nominated twice for an Oscar in Best Music: "The Great Dictator" (1940) & "The Little Foxes" (1941). He was also nominated for a Golden Globe & Tony Award on "The Music Man" (1962) and received 5th place for a Laurel Award. He also has a Star on the Walk of Fame for Radio and was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982.

My Favorite Film: "The Music Man" is my favorite of his. The music has so much energy and humor.

Now that I realized he composed the music in "The Great Dictator" now I can see the brassy music connection in "The Music Man." He also had one of his songs, "Till I Met You," adopted by the Beatles.

He has always had a love of music and instruments and dedicated his life to it. It was his play and film, "The Music Man," that became the capstone to his memorial of service to music. He also made the film to give appreciation to his home state of Iowa. Below is one of my favorite songs from the film. To contrast it, I have included music of his from "The Great Dictator."



Friday, March 23, 2012

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II (1885-1960)

OSCAR GREELEY CLENDENNING HAMMERSTEIN

Born: July 12th, 1985 (New York)

Died: August 23rd, 1960 (stomach cancer)

Marriages: Myra Finn (1917-1929), Dorothy Hammerstein (1929-His death)

Children: He had three children in all: William Hammerstein & Alice Hammerstein Mathias by first wife and James Hammerstein with Dorothy.

Interesting Fact: He would often write while standing on a bookkeepers desk given to him by his friend Jerome Kern to keep his creative juices flowing.

Successful Era: Though he began to have his lyrics in films as early as the 30's, it wasn't until the 50's and 60's that he became the legend he is known of today.

Awards: He has won two Oscars: Best Music for "Lady Be Good" (1941) & "State Fair" (1945). He was also nominated three other times for: "The Lady Objects" (1938), Centennial Summer" (1946) & "The Strip" (1951). He has also received five Tony Awards the Pulitzer Prize for Drama on "South Pacific" (1950).

My Favorite Film: "The Sound of Music" is my favorite of his work. Each song in the movie is still celebrated in our day and some of them have been redone. I can't express how much the song "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" made sense when I was that age.

Hammerstein is a true dreamer and it shows through his lyrics. He was very proper in giving credit where it was due and would often request that the ending credits be changed if he was not the sole author of the lyrics. He was also often frustrated by the talents of his collaborators who could write music to a lyric in a matter of hours that took him many weeks to prepare. He, with his composers, gave us some of the best music of the 50's & 60's.

The song "Edelweiss" would be the last song he would write before he died of cancer in 1960. Can you imagine writing the last words you would be remembered by, and pondering on what message to give the world. Can you imagine the trust he had in his friend Rogers to give it justice when put to music. The result is one of the sweetest and most tender lullaby's written in our day. A song of hope, a song of piece, a song to remind us of the small and beautiful things in life. The most notable lyric in the song is the last word "forever." 

Here is his last song "Edelweiss."
The applause at the end goes to Hammersein himself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

STEPHEN SONDHEIM (1930-LIVING)

STEPHEN JOSHUA SONDHEIM

Born: March 22nd 1930 (New York)

Died: LIVING

Interesting Fact: He was taught by Broadway legend, Oscar Hammerstein II

Successful Era: Known more for his Broadway contributions, he has been successful from the early sixties to our current time.

Awards: He won the Oscar for Best Music on "Dick Tracy" (1990). For the same film he was nominated for two Grammy's & two Golden Globes. In 1974 he won a Edgar Allen Poe award for the film "The Last of Sheila." He also has five Tony Awards.

My Favorite Film: "West Side Story" (1961) has my favorite lyrics out of all his work. The "Jet Song" & "Cool" is especially amazing 'from the womb to the tomb.'

I've chosen to post on Stephen for two reasons: One, I seem to have been following a pattern of Lyricist rather than composers and two, it's his Birthday. After he wrote his first musical, he played it for his friends father, Oscar Hammerstein II. Hammerstein was unhappy with the music and proceeded to educate him on how to write a musical. He later said that he learned more in those moments than all the schooling he had dedicated to it.


"Cool"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JERRY BOCK (1928-2010)

JERROLD LEWIS BOCK

Born: November 23rd, 1928 (Connecticut)

Died: November 3rd, 2010 (heart failure)

Marriage: Patricia (?-His death)

Children: He had two children.

Interesting Fact: For his hit Musical "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971) they had a new comer conduct for the music. The composer they chose was a young John Williams.

Successful Era: He wrote many songs for Broadway hits from the 50's on into the 70's.

Awards: For the 1959 Musical "Fiorello!" he received a Tony Award as Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  He also won another Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist on "Fiddler on the Roof" (1964). In 2010 he received a Daytime Emmy for "The Wonderful Pets" (2006). In 1972 he was inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame. He is also a memebr of the Theater Hall of Fame.

My Favorite Film: "Fiddler on the Roof" was really the only one of his films with his music to make it on the big screen. That was just fine with me. The film is filled with energy, culture & beautiful music.

Known for his Broadway contributions rather than his Hollywood experience, I still chose to post on Jerry for his marvelous work on the music of "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971). Each song, though religious, reaches out to every group of mankind. From "To Life" to "Do You Love Me" it causes an individual to pause and think on the lyrics. What wonderful music he wrote!

 
"Tevye's Dream" goes from a slow-paced celebration
to a fast-paced nightmare.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ALAN JAY LERNER (1918-1986)

ALAN JAY LERNER

Born: August 31st, 1918 (New York)

Died: June 14th, 1986 (lung cancer)

Marriages: Ruth Boyd (1940-1947), Marion Bell (1947-1949), Nancy Olson (1950-1957), Micheline Muselli Pozzo diBorgo (1957-1965), Karen Gunderson (1966-1974), Sandra Payne (1974-1976), Nina Bushkin (1977-?) & Liz Robertson (1981-His death).

Children: All together he had five children.

Interesting Fact: He was on the Yearbook Committee of his High School with John. F. Kennedy.

Successful Era: Wrote Lyrics to songs in popular musicals from the early 50's on into the late 60's.

Awards: He has won three Oscars: Best Writing "An American in Paris" (1951) along with Best Writing & Best Music for "Gigi" (1958). He was nominated for: Best Music "Royal Wedding" (1951), Best Writing "My Fair Lady" (1964) and two Best Music Oscars for "The Little Prince" (1974). He has received six other achievements with nominations for an additional three.

My Favorite Film: From "My Fair Lady" (1964) to "Camelot" (1967) to "Brigadoon" (1954) I'm finding it hard to choose. Brigadoon would win as my favorite though. The story is more impressive to me.

Earlier on he became a Lyricist but found true success when he was teamed with Frederick Loewe in 1942. Since he lost the sight in his left eye from a boxing incident he was rejected during the war to serve in the military. Their first real hit together was "Brigadoon" in 1954. They went on to write songs for "My Fair Lady," "Camelot" & "Gigi" to name a few. Before his death he was approached by Andrew Lloyd Weber to write lyrics to a new play "Phantom of the Opera." Unfortunately his failing health did not allow him to participate as much as he would have liked.

Here is one of his best songs, "How to Handle a Woman"

Monday, March 19, 2012

ARTHUR FREED (1894-1973)

ARTHUR GROSSMAN

Born: September 9th, 1894 (South Carolina)

Died: April 12th, 1973 (heart attack)

Marriage: Renée Klein (1923-?)

Children: Barbara Saltzman

Interesting Fact: Arthur had a difficult time playing out a scene in his mind and would also respond "I just can't visualize it." This common occurrence was spoofed on after the Kelly & Charisse dance sequence in "Singin' in the Rain" by Millard Mitchell as film producer R.F. Simpson.

Successful Era: MGM musical years of 1923-1960.

Awards: He has won two Academy Awards: Best Picture for "An American in Paris" (1951) & "Gigi" (1958). In 1952 he won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, and then another Honorary Award from the Academy in 1968. He has been nominated for the Laurel Award four times never to win one. After his death he was awarded the ASCAP Award in 1986 along with his co-composer Nacio Herb Brown for the song "Singin' in the Rain."

My Favorite Film: As a songwriter "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) is my favorite. As a producer my favorite of his is "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950). It is a completely different setting from the other musicals of the time.

He began as a simple song lyricist and was enlisted at MGM with composer Nacio Herb Brown. Together they created some of the most popular songs of early Hollywood. Arthur, however, wanted to do more than music. He became an associate producer for "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939 and then went on to produce almost every musical hit on MGM's lot. Now as a producer he created a new kind of musical that incorporated the meaning of the song into the script itself, rather than just for entertainment. He also created a team of talented artists known as the "Freed Unit" and drew from their talents often. This team included Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire & Judy Garland, which he often teamed together. After this he became President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1963 to 1966. In 1972 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In the collage above are the pictures that he has written music for, and not the films he produced. I hope to cross his name again as a Producer and make a new collage.

In this trailer of "Singin in the Rain" (1952)
you get a compilation of some of his music.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

COMPOSERS OF THE WEEK

In the past months I have dedicated the third week to the directors of my favorite films. Since the theme of the month is Musicals, I would rather do the posts on the composers of my favorite films. I hope to learn much about them and to connect the dots on which films they have worked on.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

BUDDY HACKETT (1924-2003)

LEONARD HACKER

Born: August 31st, 1924 (Brooklyn)

Died: June 30th, 2003 (natural causes)

Marriage: Sherry Cohen (1955-his death)

Children: Sandy Hackett, Ivy Julie & Lisa Jean.

Interesting Fact: He was the voice for "Scuttle" the Seagull on "The Little Mermaid" (1989). This was to be one of his last films.

Awards: He has a star on the Walk of Fame for live theatre.

My Favorite Film: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" I think was him at his best. He was a perfect team with Mickey Rooney in that film. My favorite scene with him in that movie is when they try and land the plane.

From his chipmunk face to his curling voice, he is an actor and comedian that is enjoyable to watch any time, any film. He was at one time a prime candidate for replacing Lou Costello in a new duo while at Universal Studios. That wasn't hard to do since he looked just like him. Even though he starred in many a family film, it was on stage that he was a polar opposite with his off-color jokes. I enjoy Buddy's performances, big or small, for his timing, his facial expressions and his bewildered responses. What a comedian!

Here he is in the old TV show "What's My Line"

Friday, March 16, 2012

RICHARD HAYDN (1905-1985)

GEORGE RICHARD HAYDON

Born: March 10th, 1905 (London)

Died: April 25th, 1985 (heart attack)

Marriage: UNKNOWN

Children: UNKNOWN

Interesting Fact: He played the voice of the caterpillar in Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (1951)

Awards: NONE

My Favorite Film: Even though he is most known for his part in "The Sound of Music" (1965), my favorite film with him is "And Then There Were None" (1945). In the middle of all the suspense and mystery is this lanky butler who soon becomes a prime suspect as a murderer.

Richard was not keen to interviews and kept to himself for the majority of his life. In fact, he was  found dead in his home all alone. Regardless of his shy tendencies, he was an amazing comedian and performed on Broadway, Radio, Television and the Big Screen. He had his own unique facial expressions and combined this with his voice which came through his nose. He is one of my favorite unknown comedians.


Here is the complete film of "And Then There Were None"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

RUSS TAMBLYN (1934-LIVING)

RUSSELL IRVING TAMBLYN

Born: December 30th, 1934 (Los Angeles)

Died: LIVING

Marriages: Venetia Stevenson (1956-1957), Sheila Elizabeth Kempton (1960-?), Bonnie Tamblyn (?-Present)

Children: Out of Rusty's three children, Amber Tamblyn has become a notable actress.

Interesting Fact: He was discovered by Lloyd Bridges.

Awards: He has received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in "Peyton Place" (1957) and a Laurel Award nomination for "Tom Thumb" (1958) where he came in 5th place. The only other award he has been requested for was the Golden Globe in 1956, which he won, as the most promising newcomer.

My Favorite Film: From "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) to "Tom Thumb" (1958) to "West Side story" (1961) it becomes hard to pick a favorite. In each one his dancing far surpasses any acrobat show. When it comes down to the wire though, "West Side Story" comes in first.

I chose to post on Rusty for his athletic dancing. In a majority of his films we get to see some of his agility. He came to Hollywood as the musical era began to wain and leaped from picture to picture. It wasn't until his portrayal of Riff that he showed off not just his dancing, but his dramatic acting at it's best.

When I was a kid I thought that I could dance like him. Needless to say, I didn't do so well and luckily I didn't use an axe as a prop. He makes it seem so effortless.


Here is a sequence from "The Fastest Gun Alive" (1956).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

TOPOL (1935-LIVING)

CHAIM TOPOL

Born: September 9th, 1935 (Palestine)

Died: LIVING

Marriage: Galia Topol

Children: He has three children: Omer, Ady & Anat.

Interesting Fact: He was the first Israeli Actor to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Awards: Out of the seven awards he has been nominated in his life, there was only one that he did not win. The award was his only Oscar nomination in behalf of his performance for "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971).

My Favorite Film: "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971) is my favorite film of his, though I had no idea how many other films he has been in.

Topol has a certain energy and honesty that have rarely been repeated by any other performer. Every time he looked to God in "Fiddler on the Roof" he had a different face, showing to us that a relationship to Him can change even though He doesn't. One of his greatest tricks was how he played a Tevye in his fifties while in his mid-thirties. What a talented Actor on the screen and on the Stage.

He has retired recently from the playing of Tevye and has been doing Hebrew dubbing for recent films like Harry Potter and Jungle Book. It is strange to see him without his beard. Here are some pictures of him in some other films:



For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Flash Gordon (1980)


This is my all time favorite love song.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SIR REX HARRISON (1908-1990)

REGINALD CAREY HARRISON

Born: March 5th, 1908 (Lancashire, England)

Died: June 2nd, 1990 (pancreatic cancer)

Marriages: Noel Marjorie Collette Thomas (1933-1942), Lilli Palmer (1943-1957), Kay Kendall (1957-1959 her death), Rachel Roberts (1962-1971), Elizabeth Rees (1971-1975), Mercia Tinker (1978-his death).

Children: Rex had two children Carey Harrison & Noel Harrison.

Interesting Fact: He became almost completely blind in his left eye as an effect of the measles he had as a child.

Awards: He received an Oscar for "My Fair Lady" (1964) and a nomination the year before on his role in "Cleopatra" (1963). For "My Fair Lady" he also received a Golden Globe, Laurel Award and a Tony Award. He also has two stars on the Walk of Fame for Television & Motion Picture.

My Favorite Film: "Midnight Lace" (1960) is actually my favorite film of his. He was perfect in that thriller and I am surprised they didn't have him in more films like that. It seems the complete film is not available in USA format but is viewable on Youtube.com

Rex can be cold one scene and warm-hearted in the other, he was the perfect Englishman. Though he couldn't really sing he had successfully performed each song while reading off some of the words. Very few actors have been able to portray genuine frustration in a character as well as he did. I chose to post on him because he is was one of the last stars of a crumbling Hollywood. He was knighted the year before he died.
"Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it."


Monday, March 12, 2012

DONALD O'CONNER (1925-2003)

DONALD DAVID DIXON RONALD O'CONNOR

Born: August 28th, 1925 (Chicago)

Died: September 27th, 2003 (heart failure)

Marriages: Gwen Carter (1944-1954), Gloria Noble (1956-his death)

Children: Donald had one child, Donna Gwen O'Connor, with his first wife. Alicia O'Connor, Donald Frederick O'Connor & Kevin O'Connor were born later with his second wife Gloria.

Interesting Fact: While filming "Singin' In the Rain" (1952) he was smoking four packs a day.  After his sequence of "Make Em Laugh" he was put on temporary rest.

Awards: He has never been nominated for an Oscar, but has received both a Golden Globe and an Emmy. He also has a star on the walk of fame.

My Favorite Film: His performance in "Singin' In the Rain" (1952) is one of my favorite comedic dancing scenes. I also enjoyed his film "I Love Melvin" (1953).

Here is an Actor who had it all from Dramatic to Comedy & Dancing to Singing. Despite such talents he never found himself as popular as Kelly & Astaire. He was born into a Vaudeville family and learned many of those talents at an early age. He began in films when he was quite young, but had to be rediscovered multiple times. One thing that has surprised me is by how many websites are dedicated to him. Here is a list of them:

http://donaldoconnor.org/
http://www.biography.com/people/donald-oconnor-9542325
http://www.nndb.com/people/944/000043815/
http://www.eviltwinltd.com/muppetlabs/oconnor/donald.htm

He is one of my favorite actors because whether the camera is on him or not he is always entertaining. He has the facial expressions of Jerry Lewis and the dancing steps of Gene Kelly. What a performer.

"Moses Supposes His Toes's are Roses"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

MOVIE STARS OF THE WEEK (MUSICAL)

On the second week of each month, I have turned to the Actors or Actresses in the leading roles. This month I wanted to have a post on some of the supporting roles, since they may never come up again. With each post I do on a movie star, I learn so much more. I am so glad I started this Blog.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE MUSIC MAN (1962)

Studio: Warner Brothers

Producer: Morton DaCosta

Director: Morton DaCosta

Music: Meredith Willson

Awards: "The Music Man" won only one Oscar for the category of Best Music. It was also nominated for: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Picture & Best Sound. I guess that would be a little awkward if "The Music Man" didn't win at least the Best Music Academy Award. It has achieved seven other awards with nominations for an additional six.

Interesting Fact: Shirley Jones discovered she was pregnant earlier on with her son, Patrick Cassidy. No one knew but Morton the Director. Only one other person discovered it before the film was finished and that was her leading man Preston. He discovered it when going in for the kiss over the bridge and swung back asking: "What's was that!"

My Favorite Scene: Any scene with the Barbershop Quartet is my favorite. "Lida Rose" would be my favorite song. Though, I must admit, the song on the train tops the charts.

I just spoke the other day with a gentlemen who had performed this musical in a town once. When they were complete someone from the audience got up on the stage and started shaking hands with the cast. The play director approached the gentlemen, thanked him and than asked him to return to his seat. The man returned the gustier by saying: "I just want to show my appreciation since I wrote this play." The cast was stunned, here was Meredith Wilson on their stage. He had just stopped by in town, saw there flier at a gas pump and decided to show up. What a story.


This film has so much energy. It's like watching an Indiana Jones film with singing and dancing. I use to be in a Barbershop Quartet and our director would use this film to teach us the technique of each part. Each song is catchy and fun to sing. I love it.

 Trailer


Friday, March 9, 2012

THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Producer: Robert Wise

Director: Robert Wise

Music: Richard Rogers (Music/Lyrics), Oscar Hammerstein II (Lyrics) & Irwin Kostel (Score).

Awards: "The Sound of Music" was awarded five Oscars at the Academy Awards: Best director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Best Picture & Best Sound. It was also nominated for: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Wood), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography & Best Costume Design. It has also been award ten other achievements with nominations for an additional five.

Interesting Fact: Jeanette MacDonald was considered for the role of Mother Abess, but her failing health did not allow her to participate. She died a month before the film was released.

My Favorite Scene: The sequence of "The Lonely Goatherd" is my favorite along with "So Long, Farewell" after the party. Putting the music aside, any scene involving the war and the influence of Nazi Germany is my favorite.

I must admit that the reason this is one of my favorite is the historical data that surrounds the singing and dancing. If there was a musical about D-day I would probably watch that too. The other aspect that I love is the size of the family and that they sang and performed together. I am also from a large family and we sang together many times, though they performed more before I was born.

Trailer

"The Lonely Goatherd"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

WEST SIDE STORY (1961)

Studio: United Artists

Producer: Robert Wise

Director: Robert Wise

Music: Leonard Bernstein (Music) & Stephen Sondheim (Lyrics)

Awards: "West Side Story" was a big hit at the Oscars, winning ten of the eleven awards they were nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (George Chakiris), Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Best Picture & Best Sound. The Best Writing Oscar that they were nominated for, went to "Splendor in the Grass" (1961). It has also been awarded fifteen other achievements, up to date, with nominations for an additional six.

Interesting Fact: To keep tension high during production, the actors in the rival gangs were separated and encouraged to play pranks on the others off the set.

My Favorite Scene: Every song is catchy and every scene is moving, but the sequence of "Somewhere" has a close resemblance to the sacred sonnet's of "Carousel" (1956), "The Student Prince" (1954) and "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971). It is my favorite scene to watch and listen too.

There have been other adaptations of Shakespeare's work, but none of them have been as original and successful as West Side Story's twist on Romeo & Juliet. The film has a large cast of who's who. Some of them are as popular as Russ Tamblyn who was in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954) seven years earlier, while others like George Chakiris can be discovered under a keen eye as a back-up dancer on "White Christmas" (1954) which was also seven years earlier.

The film has heart and strength and proves once and for all that guys can dance and they can dance really well. Who could of ever thought that snapping could have gotten any cooler.

Trailer

"Somewhere"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971)

Studio: United Artists

Producer: Norman Jewison

Director: Norman Jewison

Awards: "Fiddler on the Roof" won three Academy Awards: Best Cinematography, Best Music & Best Sound. It was also nominated for five other Oscars: Best Actor (Topol), Best Supporting Actor (Leonard Frey), Best Art Direction, Best Picture & Best Director. It has achieved six other awards with nominations for an additional thirteen.

Interesting Fact: They had created a little white ball to atach above the camera. It's location represented the direction that Topol would look when he was talking to God, so his eyes stayed on a consistent area throughout the film.

My Favorite Scene: Who doesn't love the "If I Were a Rich Man" sequence. The song is powerful, with a powerful message. His dancing is original and comes straight from his soul. This is a beautiful movie.

To this day my Mom is still upset that the Best Picture Academy Award went to "The French Connection" (1971) instead of this movie. I love this film for it's spyglass history on an era long forgotten. Just as we read books to discover the past, the rising generation will be looking to the films of the past also. I've heard of the repression faced in Russia, but never saw it or understood it. At the center of every dance step and every note sung you see and hear their tragedy and triumphs being written out on tablets of film strips. 

Tevye: "As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face."


Trailer

"If I Were a Rich Man"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MY FAIR LADY (1964)

Studio: Warner Brothers

Producer: Jack Warner

Director: George Cukor

Music: Frederick Loewe (Music) & Alan Jay Lerner (Lyrics)

Awards: "My Fair Lady" won an astounding eight Academy Awards: Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Music, Best Sound & Best Picture. It was also nominated for four other Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Stanley Holloway), Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper), Best Film Editing & Best Writing. It also went on to be nominated for twenty-four other achievements, winning fourteen of them. You may have noticed that one of the Oscars left out was Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn.

Interesting Fact: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during the production of this movie. Hepburn made the announcement to the cast after the song "Wouldn't it be Loverly" was filmed.

My Favorite Scene: Of all my favorite songs in this film, my favorite would have to be "Get Me to the Church on Time" sung by Stanley Holloway who reprised his role on Broadway. His accent with the dancing is just a treasure to watch.

Very few Broadway hits were unsuccessful when they came to the screen, but even fewer were as big of a hit. This film, to me, presents the spirit of perseverance in a comically loving way. It also teaches a little bit about humility. All that's left to add in the mixture is an amazing cast to perform it and a few hit songs to sing on the way. It is one of the few Musicals to get into the heart and feeling of a person.



Trailer

Soundtrack

Monday, March 5, 2012

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Producer: Arthur Freed

Director: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen

Music: Nacia Herb Brown (Music), Arthur Freed (Lyrics).

Awards: Singin' in the Rain was only nominated for two Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Jean Hagen) and Best Music. Donald O'Connor, however, received a Golden Globe. It has been nominated seven other times for awards and won two other ones. It was also listed as the #1 musical on AFI.

Interesting Fact: Debbie Reynolds said that both the making of this film and giving child birth were the two hardest things she has ever had to do.

My Favorite Scene: Who doesn't love the "Make Em' Laugh" sequence by Donald O'Connor. After some research, I discovered that the scene was very taxing on him, since he smoked four packs a day. The song was also written as the movie progressed and has a close resemblance to Cole Porter's "Be A Clown", shown in another Gene Kelly movie, "The Pirate" (1948).

This is the movie that re-defined the term "Musical." It has become a part of history, and not just for it's story-line. The songs are still sung today, while the movie itself is replayed constantly. It helps us see into the silent-era in a comical way. This is the film that has helped me understand the lifestyle of a star and way of living in that time.

This is my favorite because everything from the Dancing, to the Singing, to the comical relief, to the love story is at the top of it's game. It introduced to two new stars: Cyd Charisse & Debbie Reynolds. It also brought to light, the now immortalized, Donald O'Connor.


R. F. Simpson: "Don, it'll be a sensation! 'Lamont and Lockwood: they talk!'"
Lina: "Well of course we talk. Don't everybody?"

Trailer

"Make Em' Laugh"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

MY TOP TEN MUSICALS

For this genre I haven't really gone outside of the box. The ones I have selected would be common among other lists. Some of my favorite Musicals that are not here would be one of Danny Kaye's "The Court Jester" (1959) or "Hans Christen Andersen" (1952),  Doris Day's "Calamity Jane" (1953), Astaire & Rogers "Top Hat" (1935), or even a MacDonald & Eddy "New Moon" (1940) or "Rose Marie" (1936). Not to mention any Eleanor Powell, Ester Williams, Jimmy Durante and Frank Sinatra film.

With so much to choose from I have stuck to the basics. The films listed below have tunes that sneak into my everyday life.

1. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
2. Brigadoon (1954)
3. My Fair Lady (1964)
4. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
5. West Side Story (1961)
6. The Sound of Music (1965)
7. The Music Man (1962)
8. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
9. Oklahoma (1955)
10. Mary Poppins (1964)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

THE OTHER ON-SCREEN COUPLES

To end the month of romantic movies, I have dedicated this week to some of my favorite on-screen couples. It would be impossible for me to talk on every favorite couple. So today I wish to just list a few more together. In a previous post I mentioned the leading men of Doris Day. If I didn't already have this post, I would be listing each one below as well.

I would like to hear some of your favorite couples out there. Let me know who they are by commenting on this post or any other. I'd love to hear from you.


John Wayne had a few women who played opposite of him, but none of them could stand up to him like the fiery red-headed Maureen O'Hara. Even as a shy Irish country girl in the "Quiet Man", Wayne would give his pardoning bow. They first starred together in "Rio Grande" and were teamed again in four other films. Here is the list: Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jake (1971).




Cary Grant also had many leading ladies, but it was with Irene Dunne that I love his acting the most. They were paired during Grant's comedy years and she could dish it right back. When it came to romance they both could easily switch gears and top that as well. They were teamed in three films together: The Awful Truth (1937), My Favorite Wife (1940) & Penny Serenade (1941). Some of the movies they made, apart and together, have been duplicated with almost as much success as the first. 



The most successful duo in their youth was the talented Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland. They starred in the Andy Hardy Series while attending the same school, provided by MGM. They also starred in a few other films with the same Andy Hardy structure. The contribution to Hollywood, given by these two stars, together and apart, can never be duplicated. In contrast of Garland's short-lived life, we have Rooney's record for acting longer than any other star in the history of movie making. They cared for each other like a brother and sister and even more than that.



There have been musical couples before and after these two, but I love the team of Kathryn Grayson & Mario Lanza. They played together in "That Midnight Kiss" (1949) and in the "Toast of New Orleans" (1950). They were never as successful as the MacDonald & Eddy combination, but I could never find another film where an actress could reach his talent of singing. He is one of my favorite singers.




Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur only starred in two movies together, but since those movies were Capra films, that's all the world needed. "You Can't Take it With You" (1938) and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) were both comedic and monumental, as they were romantic and inspiring. At the center of this, you find two people being pulled in every direction as they choose to stick to each other. Unlike other couples who are re-used to play the same parts, Arthur and Stewart actually flipped roles from corky to understanding and vice-versa. These two have the ability to show the emotions of love and not just love itself.



Shirley Jones first film was the spectacular "Oklahoma!" (1955), opposite her idol Gordon MacRae. They went on to star in one more film, "Carousel" (1956), before the musical became a dying art. Gordon had had other leading ladies before, but Shirley seemed to be the perfect match. His broad stature was the perfect backdrop for her shy curls. Both films are a favorite of mine for the music, scope and this couple.



There are other favorites of mine, some of which blossomed into a real romance like Bogart & Bacall. I wished to list them all, but this will suffice for now.

The month of March will be covering my favorite Musicals. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

JEANETTE MACDONALD & NELSON EDDY

A larger version of this picture has hung in
my parents home since I was a child.

At last the "Singing Sweethearts" of Hollywood. If you claim to know much of Hollywood, than you should know this couple and know them well. They were the original singing couple at the beginning of the sound age and on into the beginning of World War II. Their songs, to this day, are still admired and re-sung.

This is my favorite on-screen couple. As I grew up, their music was frequently in the background. There have been rumors of an affair off-screen, yet reports of the past proves their happy marriages to their respective spouses. I suggest to not read about them on the inaccurate Wikipedia. Eddy said of the rumors in 1957:
"I don't know why people still want to believe that Jeanette MacDonald and I were a couple off the set. There's no truth to that rumor, at all. She's happily married to Gene Raymond and I'm happily married to Anne. I guess people want to believe that what they see on the screen is reality while in actuality, it's just a movie!"

He was the tall and well-established Baritone, she was the starlet chorus girl. Together they were musical dynamite and were coupled for their first movie "Naughty Marietta" in 1935. After five successful films, MGM split them up in hopes of doubling profits. In 1940 they were reunited in "New Moon." In total they starred in eight films together:

Jeanette MacDonald (1903-1965)
Nelson Eddy (1901-1967)



Naughty Marietta (1935)
Rose Marie (1936)
Maytime (1937)
The Girl of the Golden West (1938)
Sweethearts (1938)
New Moon (1940)
Bitter Sweet (1940)
I Married An Angel (1942)




No matter what character they played opposite each other, the chemistry was always there. They sang their way into our hearts and taught us a little bit more about the 'Sweet mystery of life.'

This song was considered to be Louis B. Mayer's favorite
and was sung at his funeral by Jeanette MacDonald.
It would later be sung at hers.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

FRED ASTAIRE & GINGER ROGERS


They are the most popular dancing team in the world to this day. Fred was a stickler for perfection and performed each swooning step with exactness. Ginger, on the other hand, only had to do the same thing but backwards and in high heels.

They were first teamed in "Flying Down to Rio" (1933) during a depression ridden era. This movie was one of the many films intended to be an escape for the public from the sadness that surrounded them, as the name suggests. It was, however, their dancing that floated across the screen that set the country dreaming. They went on to star in an additional nine other movies, here they are:

Ginger Rogers (1911-1995)
Fred Astaire (1899-1987)

Flying Down to Rio (1933)
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
Roberta (1935)
Top Hat (1935)
Follow the Fleet (1936)
Swing Time (1936)
Shall We Dance (1937)
Carefree (1938)
The Story of Vernon & Irene Castle (1939)
The Barkley's of Broadway (1949)



Both of them were successful independently in more than just dancing, but their names together was a household combination. My favorite film of theirs was the true story of Vernon and Irene Castle. It helped me discover how love for another can also be expressed through dancing.