Damn I really phoned this one in. But really, while there are other great scenes and musical numbers in Singing in the Rain the only scene and musical number any of us would recognize is Gene Kelly singing in the rain.
Well this one was one I wasn’t looking forward to after all everybody does Wizard of Oz. On the plus side it helped me get over the “Has to say everything the movie the movie is about” problem.
So going in you have to remember that this is for the movie, not anything else involving Wizard of Oz. What makes the movie great for me is that it’s an all star cast but it’s difficult to notice this because it was an all star broadway cast. Ray Bolger was the dancer of his times, and Bert Lahr was one of the comedy greats, he was the definitive Estragon in the first Broadway performances of Waiting For Godot. So it’s a shame that Wizard of Oz is one of the few film recordings of a master of at work.
So anyway for me Wizard of Oz is all about Bert Lahr, and because of this I did my version of “If I were King of the Forest.”
Hmm… Two players in a row. I’m beginning to think it’s the films I like that are the hardest ones to do for this exercise but what can I say, Casablanca has so much stuff in it. There’s so many quintessential scenes in it. Do I do the refugees watching the plane leave? do I go with the “La Marseillaise” scene? how about Louis and Rick walking into the fog as the Ilsa and Victor’s plane leaves… the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I finally decided to go with what ties it all together the song “As Time Goes By”. Unfortunately I had a bit of a false start. I started with having Ilsa leaning over the piano listening (not the way it was in the movie but I couldn’t remember if it she was sitting at a table next to the piano or not and the first rule of this exercise is not to refresh my memory.
A quarter of the way in I decided it would be better to do it with Rick wallowing in self pity, drunk remembering Paris.
Rick: You know what I want to hear.
Sam: [lying] No, I don’t.
Rick: You played it for her, you can play it for me!
Sam: [lying] Well, I don’t think I can remember…
Rick: If she can stand it, I can! Play it!
I saw first saw Amadeus performed at the Trinity Repertory Theater and loved it. So when the movie came out I was able to enjoy it not just as the tour de force by Miloš Forman, F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce but also as a brilliant adaptation of his own material by Peter Shaffer,
What I like best about Amadeus (both play and movie) is it is once you get past the historical fiction. conspiracy and darkness of human jealousy is that it is all about the joy of music and the love that both Mozart and Salieri have for it. So for me the scenes in the movie that say it all are every time we see Mozart perform. Yes he is showboating but the joy of it is there too… and in doing this he is unintentionally taunting Salieri.
A very happy birthday to Charles and Abe.
I wanted to do more with them this year but unfortunately because of timing you can do a Valentine’s Day story or a Darwin/Lincoln story… you can’t have both.
It was fun doing the Superbowl joke even though it’s two weeks late. (I suppose Lincoln would theoretically more likely be a Bears fan but as President it makes more sense he’d go pats.)
The first film, Man in the White suit had Guinness plays Sidney Stratton a brilliant chemist obsessed with trying to create a dirt resistant and nearly indestructible polymer that will revolutionize textiles.
Once he successfully creates this miracle cloth both management and labor realizes the economic ramifications of an indestructible cloth that doesn’t have to be cleaned, repaired or, most importantly, replaced. They do everything they can to squash the discovery with Guinness on the run wearing the prototype the titular White suit.
This makes for a brutal satire of the industry at the time and how it reacts to an innocent visionary like Sidney Stratton.
I enjoyed most of the first half of this film with Guinness’s efforts to create his formula ending up with him bouncing from one textile mill to another and embezzling equipment, with the strange sound effect his equipment makes serving as a leitmotif for the progress in his research.
I can’t say I cared for the second half of the film quite as much. It felt like they crammed in too much from the industry deciding they could not afford progress to the final chase scene. A lot is made of the Sidney’s incorruptibility but I thought it was more of a case of his innocence. Most of the time it seemed as if he didn’t truly understand why he was being chased.
I actually saw an interview with MacCendrick on Criterion’s Sweet Smell of Success DVD where he said he believed Sidney wasn’t nearly as incorruptible as people thought with it just being a matter of the executives not knowing how to bribe him. Had they offered him with unlimited research possibilities he would probably signed everything.
The next film on the list the Ladykillers is a delightfully dark comedy about a team of crooks whose master plan revolves around a sweet little old lady Mrs. Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce, played wonderfully by Katie Johnson, who owns a “lopsided” boarding house next to the railroad.
While their caper is successful, once they get the money back to the house the human factor led by Mrs. Wilberforce makes everything fall apart, with their attempts to silence her permanently end with hilarious fatality.
This was a fun movie with a great ensemble cast led once again by Alec Guinness playing master criminal “Professor” Marcus, a wonderful antithesis to Sidney he is made up like a reject from a horror film with greasy hair, bad teeth and a sinister smile. (I kept imagining him being played by Peter Lorre if this had been made in the states at the same time) With him is a wonderful cast of character actors including a very young Peter Sellers,
I couldn’t help thinking of League of Gentleman as I watched this except where that was a caper of clockwork precision run by a group of professionals this was a hilarious shambles botched by a bunch of idiots… And I loved it because of it.