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Entries in Howard Keel (7)

Saturday
Apr132019

Howard Keel Centennial: "Day of the Triffids"

We conclude (probably) our Howard Keel Centennial celebration with one of the actors last pictures before retirement (though he returned in the 1980s via "Dallas" stardom). Here's Deborah Lipp...

When Nathaniel announced a celebration of Howard Keel’s centennial, I had my pick of Keel movies. Perhaps counter-intuitively, I lept at the chance to write about my beloved The Day of the Triffids (1963). Once committed, I had a moment of fear. Here is a movie I have loved almost my entire life; a movie played over and over on local television in the pre-cable days of my youth. I have probably not seen Triffids since graduating from high school—what if it doesn’t hold up?

I need not have worried but if you want to argue that Triffids is a terrible movie, there is plenty of evidence...

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Friday
Apr122019

Howard Keel Centennial: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

We're celebrating music man Howard Keel's centennial this week. Here's Lynn Lee...

In many ways, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) marked the peak of Keel’s MGM career, coming after his breakout role in Annie, Get Your Gun and his star turns in Showboat and the less-successful but still-classic Kiss Me, Kate!  Keel’s film career would fade in the years that followed, although he continued to enjoy success on the stage and in later life would find TV fame with his role on “Dallas.”  It was Seven Brides, though, that captured Keel in his screen prime as an appealing and charismatic musical actor who managed to make a problematic character (to say the least) surprisingly compelling.

Full disclosure: Seven Brides was one of my favorite movies growing up, and remains one of my all-time favorite musicals.  As a young child I loved it even more than West Side Story and The Sound of Music because it felt like a happier movie than the other two...

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Thursday
Apr112019

Howard Keel Centennial: "Calamity Jane"

We're celebrating musical star Howard Keel's Centennial this week. Here's Tim Brayton...

Presenting a musical in which Howard Keel plays the obnoxious gunslinger love interest to a famous woman from the Wild West. My apologies if you feel a little bit of déjà vu from that logline: Nathaniel did, after all, just write about Keel's breakout performance in 1950's Annie Get Your Gun, about which every word of that sentence equally applies. And that's absolutely no accident. Warner Bros. had fought to get the rights to that stage musical as a vehicle for its up-and-coming singing star Doris Day, but lost out to MGM. When that film proved to be a hit, Warner's responded by developing an original Western musical based - oh so very loosely - on the life of Calamity Jane, famous frontierswoman and scout.

So eager was the studio to recreate that Annie magic that they even went to the trouble of borrowing Keel from MGM for the span of this one production. Not that you could tell any of this just by looking at 1953's Calamity Jane...

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Wednesday
Apr102019

Howard Keel Centennial: "Annie Get Your Gun"

Our Howard Keel Centennial celebration begins. Here's Nathaniel R...

What is the lasting legacy of Hollywood's biggest musical of 1950, Annie Get Your Gun? The best remembered thing about it may well be its place in Judy Garland's storied career; she was infamously fired well into production, marking in some ways the nadir of her career, and fueling the mythology of that comeback of all comebacks with A Star is Born (1954) after a four year absence from the big screen. But that's not the movie as it exists today, only what could have been. And "could have beens" are many with this troubled production which lost its original star (Judy), its first two directors (Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters) and one key supporting cast member (Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill, who died after filming began) on its way to its final cut.

The first shot of Howard Keel in "Annie Get Your Gun"

Though "Annie Get Your Gun" has had a long healthy life on stages, big and small (including three Broadway runs: 1946-1949, 1966, and 1999-2001) it's most lasting cinematic contribution is the introduction of Howard Keel as a leading man...

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Thursday
Apr132017

On this day: Butch Cassidy, Catherine de Medici, the '63 Oscars, and more

On this day in history as it relates to showbiz

1519 Catherine de Medici, Queen consort, born. She's been played in movies and TV by Kerry Fox, Megan Follows, Françoise Rosay, Maria Palmer, and many more but none so brilliantly as Virna Lisi in her Cannes winning performance in the sensational French epic Queen Margot (1994)

1570 Guy Fawkes born in England. V for Vendetta's "V" wears his face as a mask.

1743 Founding Father Thomas Jefferson born in Virginia. He's been played in movies and TV by actors like Nick Nolte, Jerry O'Connell, Stephen Dillane, Sam Waterston, Ken Howard, and many more...

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Wednesday
Oct052016

George Sidney Centennial: "Kiss Me Kate"

by Tim Brayton

Our centennial tribute to MGM mainstay George Sidney continues with the director's 1953 musical Kiss Me Kate, and such a curious beast it is. Adapted with a slightly free hand from Cole Porter's hit 1948 musical, it's a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew that's also a backstage comedy about the staging of a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, in which the actors playing Kate and Petruchio are recently feuding exes.

Don't let the plot worry you, though. Since this is a 1950s MGM musical the focus is obviously one one thing first and foremost, and that's big, heaving SPECTACLE.

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