For this week’s Rhapsody we have Frank Bridge’s Rhapsody Trio for two Violins and a Viola. Enjoy.
For this week’s film I did a selection of lesser known Billy Wilder comedies, specifically ones with an international flavor.
“Say Bill you like films you know the name of that film with James Cagney as a Coca-Cola executive trying to sell Coke to the communists?”
“No but I can look it up and get back to you.”
It turned out the film was “One, Two, Three” and after that I just had to see it.
Cagney plays C.R. MacNamara, Coca Cola’s man in West Berlin in 1961 right before the wall went up. He is assigned to baby sit his boss’s out of control dim-witted daughter, Scarlett, only for her to sneak through the Brandenburg Gate and marry a cute but outspoken communist… Hilarity ensues as MacNamara desperately tries to fix things before his boss arrives in Berlin.
This film is fast paced, satirical and hilarious with Cagney giving a tour de force in a way I’d never expected from him.
To follow this up I watched Avanti starring Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills. Lemmon plays Wendell Armbruster a straight laced successful businessman, who is summoned to a hotel in Italy to pick up the body of his father, who had been going to there every summer and died in a car crash. It turns out his father had been having a long term affair with another woman who was also killed in the crash.
While he is there fighting a seemingly endless amount of red tape he meets the woman’s daughter Pamella Piggot who is also there to retrieve her mother’s body. As the insanity of the situation continues they are drawn together.
This was a quieter comedy but Lemmon and Mills are great together.
I was completely stumped for an idea for this week’s theme this week. But as I walked past Scarecrow’s music section I found inspiration and on a whim picked Elvis Presley.
I won’t say that I was ever Elvis’s biggest fan though growing up on classic hits I certainly knew what I liked. As for his film career the only one I was really familiar with as it showed up in many of my movie textbooks was the first film on my list. Jailhouse Rock.
To my surprise Jailhouse Rock was nothing like what I expected. All I knew about it was the title song and the over the top performance with Elvis dressed in prison stripes dancing with his fellow prisoners. This turned out to be a scene near the end of the film with Elvis’s character Vince Everett in his first televised performance.
What it turned out to be was a drama about a young man who learns how to be a musician during a stay in prison for manslaughter when he gets out he becomes an overnight sensation. The rest of the film deals with his rise to fame in fortune and the consequences this creates.
As I said Jailhouse Rock was the only Elvis film I had even heard of so for my second pick I pretty much went with the film with the songs I liked the best whether this was a good strategy is anyone’s guess. (a good friend of mine has been chastising for not picking Blue Hawaii.)
Anyway in my second pick, Viva Las Vegas Elvis plays racecar driver Lucky Johnson who comes to Vegas to compete in the city’s first annual Grand Prix Race. This is complicated because his car needs a new engine and he looses the money while pursuing the hotel’s swimming instructor Rusty Margaret played by the wonderful Ann-Margret
Unlike Jailhouse Rock this is pretty much just a fun romp and a framing device for the musical numbers. This is definitely a double act with Ann-Margaret’s numbers being just as entertaining as Elvis’s. This is all done to the fantastic choreography of David Winters.
This week I decided to sit back and relax a bit and catch up on some of the superhero films I missed in the theater.
The first on my list, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, was one I’d been wanting to see for some time even though I hadn’t been a fan of the return of Bucky storyline from the comic it was based on.
Here we watch Captain America as he continues to adjust to the present while carrying out missions for SHIELD. Meanwhile darkness is afoot as HYDRA makes it’s comeback, infiltrating SHIELD completely, and soon Cap finds himself a fugitive against the organization he’s been working with since he had been defrosted.
This was a nice mix of the superhero film and the political thriller with lots of exciting bits of action, while at the same time challenging the viewer with tough questions about the price of freedom.
If I have anything to complain about it’s the little things that parts of a larger franchise always suffer from… Things like “Gee, Cap a you’re on the run from a secret terrorist organization how about you call the Avengers? Oh you’re going to contact the guy you met three days ago and hit it off? Never mind.
The next film on my list X-Men: Days of Future Past, was lot’s of fun continuing the period piece setting of X-Men: First Class going back and fourth between a dark future where mutants are being hunted down and the Seventies while the United States is still reeling from the Vietnam War and Bolivar Trask wants to exploit anti-Mutant hysteria as a way for America to come together against a common foe. Only a time displace Wolverine has a chance of stopping this.
I enjoyed the alternate comic book version of the seventies the best though the scenes in the future were well done. All in all the effects and action scenes were a blast with Quicksilver stealing the show. Peter Dinklage was great as always playing the villain Boliver Trask (though I confess I fell into the trap of being surprised by him playing someone that different from Tyrion) But most importantly it served it’s most important purpose of using time travel to retcon all of the bad movies in the X-Men franchise out of existence!