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Entries in musicals (386)

Wednesday
Jul132016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (S1.E3-4)

We're encouraging you to watch season 1 of Crazy Ex Girlfriend before the show returns in the fall. It's one of the best comedies on television and a musical, our most beloved entertainment genre. We previously covered the first two episodes so here's two more...

Both Rebeccas - the neuroses only multiplied with age

S1:E3 "I Hope Josh Comes To My Party" 

In which Rebecca throws a housewarming party despite not knowing anyone in town and childhood trauma from party-throwing. Josh saves her from humiliation. Let's rank the crazy...

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Wednesday
Jul132016

Judy by the Numbers: "I Don't Care"

Though nobody foresaw it at the time, 1948 was a major turning point in what would be Judy Garland’s last few years at MGM. After the one-two Freed Unit punch of Easter Parade and Words and Music at the beginning of 1948, Judy was supposed to head straight into her third Arthur Freed film,The Barkleys of Broadway. With Fred Astaire coaxed out of retirement, the duo of Astaire and Garland looked to be a new box office guarantee. Unfortunately, what wasn’t a guarantee was Judy’s health. After two months of rehearsal, Judy backed out of The Barkleys of Broadway, to be replaced by Ginger Rogers. This decision sounded the death knell for her partnership with Arthur Freed, the producer who had created the Judy Garland formula. Judy was too tired, too thin, and too weak to go on filming, until another producer from her past swooped back into the picture: Joe Pasternak.

The Movie: In The Good Old Summertime (1949, MGM)
The Songwriter: George Evans (music), Ren Shields (lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Van Johnson, Buster Keaton, S.Z. Sakall, Spring Byington, directed by Robert Z. Leonard 

The Story: Joe Pasternak would end up producing what would be Judy Garland’s last two pictures at MGM. The first was In The Good Old Summertime. Pasternak used many of the Freed Unit tricks, including recycled music and a recycled plot, this time from the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner (which would also be remade again into a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks comedy and a Broadway musical that was revived just this year). Despite the title, In The Good Old Summertime was shot in Fall and set during Christmas. Such is Hollywood. It teamed Judy with the affable black hole of charisma Van Johnson, the (at the time) nearly forgotten Buster Keaton, and a cameo by three-year-old Liza Minnelli. This movie also gave us Judy Garland’s single most gif-able song.

There’s a lot to love about this number. Judy is healthy, smiling and sassy. With less focus on footwork, we get some great Judy gestures and a lot of broad comedy from the diminutive diva. (The foot kick is my personal favorite.) As is so often the case during these high-energy numbers, Judy looks like she’s having a lot of fun and by all reports that was really the case, because Joe Pasternak did one thing very different from Arthur Freed: he refused to overtax his star. No more pressure, no more forced slimdowns. And it worked! Judy finished the shoot incident-free. Unfortunately, MGM took this as a sign that her health and ability had returned, and immediately cast her in Annie Get Your Gun. Judy wouldn’t complete that picture, though the film she made after would add another iconic performance and sad chapter to the Judy Garland legacy.

Select Previous Highlights:  
"Dear Mr Gable" (1937), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938), "Over the Rainbow" (1939), "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (1941), "For Me and My Gal" (1942), "The Trolley Song" (1944), "On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe" (1946), "I Love a Piano" (1948),  "Johnny One Note" (1948)

Monday
Jul112016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (S1. E1-2)

You know what's crazier than leaving a half a million salary in NYC to move to West Covina, California (2 hours from the beach! - 4 in traffic) on the off chance your ex boyfriend from teen summer camp might be interested in reviving your fling as an adult? Not much. But it is crazy that The Film Experience didn't adopt Crazy Ex Girlfriend in the way it adopted Smash since musicals are kind of our thing (well, one of our things). Over the past two weeks I accidentally ended up rewatching the first five episodes again with friends who hadn't seen them so they're fresh in mind. So with Season 1 now on Netflix, let's catch up before Season 2 arrives in October.

S1:E1 "Josh Just Happens to Live Here!"

In which Rebecca randomly spots her first love in the street and takes it as a sign that she should follow him to West Covina, California, leaving her entire successful New York City life behind.  Let's rank the crazy... 

Greg: Yes, like a date because you're pretty and you're smart and you're ignoring me so you're obviously my type.
Rebecca: I'm sorry what were you saying?
Greg: Perfect.  

Relatably Foolish (Or as Norman likes to say 'We all go a little mad sometimes')
Greg, a bartender, falls hard for Rachel at first sight when she barely looks at him, and talks incessantly about his friend Josh...

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Friday
Jul082016

Posterized: Zac Efron

Given that it's only July and this weekend brings us the third Zac Efron movie of the year (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), perhaps it's time for a Posterized for America's favorite twinkly-eyed twentysomething heartthrob?

Though people are touchy lately about acknowledgement of star beauty, some stars more than obviously lean into it. Efron clearly understands where his plentiful bread has been buttered, regularly getting his shirt off sometimes even as setpiece plot points (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising). And he's increasingly becoming a living example of unrealistic body expectations. If women can feel bad about their bodies via supermodel objectification, so can men via superheroes...or actors with superhero bodies! Low self-esteem for everyone, hooray!

Happily though, Efron is also talented. He's proved to be a deft comic performer and there's still the possibility of more musicals in his future (he's been offered a role in Hugh Jackman's P.T. Barnum musical) so the immediate future looks bright.

How many of his 18 films have you seen? The posters after the jump...

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Thursday
Jul072016

John McMartin (1929-2016)

Good lord but 2016 has been rough on the showbiz community. It's as if the Grim Reaper is trying to meet some new end days quota starting with entertainers.

John McMartin has passed away at 86 from cancer. While the name might not wring a bell to everyone surely the face will. In his 60 year career he worked across all three actor's mediums regularly: stage, tv, and film...

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Wednesday
Jul062016

Judy by the Numbers: "Johnny One Note"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers... 

There's a musical number I should be showing you for this week's post. It's the last musical duet between Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland captured on film, as part of her guest appearance in the Rogers & Hart biopic Words and Music. It's a fun but slightly awkward number. Despite the joy of seeing Mickey & Judy reunited after half a decade apart, there's also a sense that they're almost too mature for their mugging. They're still sweet together, but the frenetic energy of youth has been replaced by practice. Contemporary audience must have agreed to some extent, since the Judy Garland number that made a hit off this movie was not her nostalgic reunion but rather a signature brassy belter.

The Movie: Words and Music (MGM, 1948)
The Songwriter: Richard Rogers (music) and Lorenz Hart (lyrics)
The Players: Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Janet Leigh directed by Norman Taurog

The Story: Full confession: I have a selfish reason for choosing "Johnny One Note" this week. It has been (improbably) the most requested song outside of "Over The Rainbow." It even tops "The Man That Got Away"! The Rogers & Hart belter may have been cut from the movie verson of Babes in Arms, but nine years later it landed Judy another solid hit. And why not? It's Judy at her best - big presence, big joy, big voice!

Though Judy probably didn't know it at the time, 1948 was her zenith at MGM. Her relationship with MGM was souring rapidly. The story would become familiar too quickly: marriage on the rocks, trouble with pills, and too many missed shoot days. Over the next three years, she would make only three more films with MGM and the Freed Unit. Her talent was undeniable, but soon her problems were as well.

Tuesday
Jun282016

On this day: Royalty Porn, Superman Returns, Stonewall Riots

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1461 Edward IV is crowned King of England. Over a dozen actors will play him from silent film to TV miniseries including Roy Dotrice (The Wars of the Roses), John Wood (Richard III), and Max Irons (The White Queen) but despite awards-voters fetish for royalty porn this role has never resulted in an Oscar, Tony or Emmy nomination.
1838 Queen Victoria is crowned. Emily Blunt reenacts the ascenscion for Young Victoria (2009) receiving her third of five Golden Globe nominations (she's won once). Oscar, though, has yet to notice her gifts. When Oscar, when? What do you require?...

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