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Thursday
Sep042014

"Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after"?

Manuel here, to discuss some news that got lost in the shuffle last week -in an interview with EW last week, Rob Marshall confirmed that that new Stephen Sondheim-penned number for Into The Woods was cut. [Gay gasp!] Yes, that song which Meryl was so effusive about last year and which Sondheim had penned just for her (seemingly in response to certain plot strands that were left dangling by, well, Disneyfied cuts to the fairy tale musical) has found itself on the cutting room floor. In Marshall's words,

“It was beautiful and spectacular, but it was very clear, as good as the song was, that [the movie] was stronger without.”
Rumblings on the web lead me to believe there's more to the story (isn't there always?) but rather than give credence to the rumor mill, we'll at least have something to look forward to in the film's DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features (they still have those, right? I feel as though I've been streaming so many films lately, I haven't sought out or outright explored these behind the scenes featurettes unless they become viral sensations). 

 

But rather than ask that obvious question ("will the song still be featured in some way in the film and thus be eligible for the Best Original Song?") I thought I'd open it up to a more interesting, if obscure, conversation. Writing new songs for existing musicals as they make their way to the silver screen is nothing new. Written either as an Oscar-grab or as a way to solve cinematic problems when adapting stage-primed material, these songs have been just as often outright hits as they've been unmistakable misses. For every serviceable number such as "Suddenly" (Les Mis) there is a head-scratcher like "Cinema Italiano" (Nine). For every tacked on song like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease) that nevertheless finds life outside of the musical film therein, there is "Mein Herr" which is now integral to stage mountings of Cabaret

I know I'm talking to the theatre queens in the audience, but I'm sure there's plenty of you out there: If you could choose one such number to nix it from a musical film adaptation, which one would it be? Or, conversely, which numbers written specifically for the screen do you think have captured the spirit of the show and made significant contributions to its sensibility? 

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Reader Comments (20)

I'm a purist. I don't want anything added or taken away and never appreciate any "Oscar grab" song.

I will give Caberet a pass on this. This brilliant film stands on its own as a complete departure from the stage version and Mein Herr not only fits in, but doesn't feel like it was added just to grab an award or meet the contract demands of a diva performer.

I do not understand why Disney is making Into the Woods. They do not feel like a good match and I fear that the changes needed to make the story fit the Disney brand will leave it feeling more like Into the Particle Board.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

ooh, it's gonna get ugly in the film experience hq when nathaniel discovers you've been dissing 'hopelessly devoted to you' in his absence

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I agree with Henry re: Cabaret.

I love 'Hopelessly Devoted to You'!

I'd have preferred Les Miserables without 'Suddenly'. It just about works on the basis that it explains Jean Valjean's feelings at that moment, but I just thought it was a) quite a weak song and b) a fairly blatant Oscar grab. Thankfully Adele rode to the rescue!

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Interestingly enough, with all this talk of these songs being "Oscar graba", the only one to win thus far is You Must Love Me from Evita (which is a lovely ballad and makes the latter part of the film incredibly moving). Others have been nominated, but I believe that's the only one to win (not even Dreamgirls, which had three songs nominated, could win)...

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Hi there. A theatre queen here.

I'm not a purist. It all depends on the quality of the song and how it's staged. "Surprise, Surprise" or "Suddenly" added nothing to the movie except Oscar nominations. "Listen" and "You Must Love Me" allowed the divas a moment to shine (and they did). "Mein Herr" and "Maybe this Time" are beyond perfect (Fosse + Liza were unbeatable).

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

This film has the most terrible buzz going into Oscar season.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

@par: Did it read like a dig? I love me some Hopelessly Devoted to You but it was quite literally "tacked on" (added at the end of filming at the request of ONJ given that her contract required a solo). Its enduring quality was what I wanted to single out.

@Richter Scale: You're so right! The winners in the category have, I think, have made for a better roster than the longer list of nominees would suggest.

I think what our feelings on Cabaret show is that when a film focuses on being a thing on its own with a clear cinematic vision these changes can end up looking as necessary, instrumental even to their success.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

At this point, I can't even imagine Cabaret without Mein Herr and Maybe This Time, both of which are two of my favorite numbers from that show.

Suddenly served that movie only only as a play for Oscar, right?

At the very least, I can appreciate that in the case of most of the songs that are added to movie musicals are written my the original composer/lyricist(s) of the stage version.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

You can't talk about Grease and not mention "You're the One That I Want," which is both tacked on and one of the best (and most financially successful) parts of that movie.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

For some ungodly reason, the 1982 film adaptation of Annie chucked the glorious "NYC" for the instantly forgettable "Let's Go to the Movies." The other new song "Sign" is also pretty bad, but at least it lets us see Albert Finney and Carol Burnett perform together, which is priceless. I'm hoping "NYC" is restored for the remake, but it'll probably be some hideous rap rendition.

The two examples of new songs written for the movies from stage musicals that spring to mind are "I Have Confidence" for The Sound of Music and the aforementioned "You Must Love Me" for Evita. Both show-stopping numbers that are forever linked to these movies.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I'm always conflicted about "I Will Always Love You" in Best Little Whorehouse. I'm not sure it adds that much to the proceedings, but it sure is lovely.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I think Something Good was added to The Sound of Music and I think it works terrifically. It may be too intimate for the stage, but the camera really got in there on those beautiful faces of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. What a great moment.

And I think this has been going on forever, right? I love the movie On The Town but I think it's quite different from the stage play. They keep reviving the stage version, but the movie version lives on eternally.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Dave: Julie and Chris--what an insanely beautiful couple. Sigh.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Dave,
I absolutely agree with you on the add of Someting Good. It follows the Hammerstein paradigm that a song should advance the character or plot. We get a softer Christopher Plummer and the song demonstrates how their love has grown.
I for one, prefer the film version of On the Town to the stage. The movie only carried three of the original songs, but I would great miss the that wonderful bass recitative at the opening and closing of the movie.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie18

It's me..........didn't proof my name

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

I too agree re: 'Something Good'. A great romantic moment. The lyrics are so beautiful.

And 'I Have Confidence' works well too.

Re: 'Maybe this Time' from Cabaret: while it wasn't in the original stage show, it also wasn't written specially for the movie. It had been written a few years before. But I'm pretty sure that 'Money Money' was written for the movie. And, like 'Mein Herr' (and 'Maybe This Time'), it's indispensable!

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Funny Girl

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrob

"Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" is a wonderful addition to "Little Shop of Horrors," although I wish they'd retained the original ending to the play (and used the wonderful effects footage that had been shot -- but that has nothing to do with the question at hand).

I had the misfortune of seeing the Broadway production of "Hairspray" late in its run when Bruce Vilanche played Edna. He was godawful and his terrible performance took away from what might have been a much more rewarding theater experience for me. This may color my reception to the film version, which I enjoy tremendously. One of the songs added to the film that makes me smile whenever I hear it is Link's intro song, "Ladies' Choice." I find it much more entertaining and rousing than "It Takes Two," the song that introduces Link in the stage version.

From the flipside of the coin: songs added to Broadway adaptations of films. Let us look at "Beauty and the Beast." Tim Rice added lyrics to the "Beauty and the Beast" theme for the Broodway score. I have always found Rice's lyrics weak, but when he misfired this rhyme scheme, "Long ago I should have seen, all the things I could have been," I realized how much of a hack he is. It made my teeth hurt just typing those lines.

September 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Edkin

Edward L. -- I believe it was Liza who suggested Maybe This Time.

September 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Everyone has such good taste! "You Must Love Me," "Something Good," and "Listen" are all great! Really, all the added songs in Dreamgirls ("Listen," "Patience," and "Love You I Do") work well.

September 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Clark

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