Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Lessons from the success of "It"

"The marketing was smart...they did a good job of using a "less is more" approach" - Jakey

 "This is a rare case of a movie that was perfect to remake: has a strong nostalgic following but which also kind of sucks and has a lot of room for improvement. You get the pre-installed fan base but don't have the pressure of re-creating and improving on a legit classic." - MJS

What'cha Looking For?
Interviews

Karen Allen Actress
(By the Sea)
Costume Designers
(Grace & Frankie
Jerome Reybaud Director
(4 Days in France)
Nicholas Galitzine Actor
(Handsome Devil)
James Ivory Director
(Maurice Restoraton)

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500 Patron Saints!

IF YOU READ THE SITE DAILY, PLEASE BE ONE BY DONATING. 
Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Subscribe

Entries in musicals (408)

Wednesday
Jun012016

"Mary Poppins Returns" and "In the Heights"

Broadway's Hamilton fever has caught up with mainstream Hollywood. The Tony winning writer/director/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton is the easy frontrunner going into the Tony Awards a week from Sunday (I'm finally seeing it, too, wheeee, albeit a few days after the Tony Awards - thanks Rory!) has two big movies brewing now.... and that's before anyone gets around to trying to get Hamilton on the big screen. He exits Hamilton on July 9th so he'll have plenty of time to chase these Hollywood opportunities.  

Mary Poppins Returns
We've heard rumors of a Mary Poppins remake for ages but it looks like we're getting a sequel instead with the delightfully versatile Emily Blunt as the magical nanny (the iconic Julie Andrews part) and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a new character but I'd still expect a jolly-holiday sort of partner in magical highjinks for Mary. He's described as a "lamplighter" which isn't that far off of chimney sweep in civic duties, don'cha know. The score will be written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who wrote most of the best songs for Smash as well as Broadway's terrific Hairspray. So all of that is very good news. Plus an ORIGINAL movie musical. That is a rarest of things since forever outside of Disney's Little Mermaid era!

But... the film is to be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods, Nine).

The choice of Marshall is wholly expected since Hollywood doesn't seem to believe it can make musicals without him. That's a pity. Nothing against Marshall but he's not consistent enough to be anywhere close to a "must get". We wish they'd realize that the genre needs and deserves new Vincente Minnellis, Stanley Donens, and Bob Fosses, not someone who can just get the job done and hope for the best about the final result. I am confident that those people exist but remain untapped. The film is due on Christmas Day in 2018. The original Disney classic was nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5. (It's still Disney's only live action Best Picture nominee... though there Touchstone wing has been nominated before) Good luck measuring up! 

In the Heights
The Weinstein Company is also getting into the Miranda business with a film version of In the Heights, his musical from 2008 about three days in the lives of characters in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC (which is largely Hispanic). A previously announced production by Universal failed to materialize. The film won 5 Tonys including Best Musical. No casting or director announced for this one but they want it to be bare bones and "scrappy." No release date yet announced but sometimes stage to screen versions take decades. ("Wicked"? What's that?)

Any suggestions for the director's chair? 

Wednesday
Jun012016

Judy by the Numbers: "On The Atchison Topeka And The Santa Fe"

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

Though we last left Judy Garland in 1944 crooning from a trolley and cementing a (troubled) place in Hollywood history, this week we must catapult two years into the future to rejoin our musical heroine. The reason has to do with the odd nature of the Studio System in general and this series in specific. Judy Garland actually shot two movies between 1944 and 1945, but because one was delayed due to reshoots (therefore getting bumped to next week) and the other was a straight drama (therefore not fitting a series focused on musical numbers), we must travel through the end of WW2 and the beginning of Judy Garland's marriage to Vincente Minnelli. Thus, in 1946 we arrive in... the Old West? 
 
The Movie:
 The Harvey Girls (1946)
The Songwriters: Johnny Mercer (lyrics), Harry Warren (music)
The Players: Judy Garland, Angela Lansbury, Ray Bolger, Cyd Charisse, & John Hodiak, directed by George Sidney 

The Story: In 1946, Judy Garland hopped off the trolley and onto a train for a Western-style musical entitled The Harvey Girls. I have to admit, while this is by no means Judy Garland's best musical, it remains a personal favorite for three reasons:

1) Judy Garland sings on a train. 
2) It's a musical western genre mashup that misses Oklahoma! by three years and and one saloon fight.
3) Angela Lansbury plays a chorus girl/prostitute named Em. In fact, the movie is a veritable Who's Who of MGM & the Freed Unit, since it also stars baby Cyd Charisse, the return of former Scarecrow Ray Bolger, deadpan alto Virginia O'Brien, and the delightful dulcet tones of Marjorie Main and Chill Wills!

More importantly for Judy, though, this movie shows the Freed Unit's ability to find a winning formula for its tiny Technicolor titan and stick to it. Like Meet Me in St. Louis before it (and many Freed films after it), The Harvey Girls was a musical that leaned heavily on nostalgia; a period piece mixing authentic songs - conveniently taken from the MGM catalogue - with new insta-classics provided by a rotating stable of songwriters. The plots of each of these movies revolves around Judy meeting, loathing, then learning to love a confounded-but-charismatic man; providing ample opportunity for musical numbers, slapstick, and a brightly-colored battle of the sexes. Though this decision may seem limiting, it also further defined Judy Garland at MGM: Judy's image would embrace the tension between modern stardom and nostalgic Americana, a potent symbol of post-war America.

Wednesday
May252016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Trolley Song"

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

It's difficult to overstate the importance of Meet Me in St. Louis to the myth that is Judy Garland. The Wizard of Oz guaranteed Judy immortality at age 17, but the 1944 Freed musical would be the first Garland product to assemble the pieces of her myth beyond her larger-than-life talent. Though Meet Me in St. Louis is usually known as arguably the best "adult" performance by Judy Garland in an MGM musical, this time the alternately exciting and exhausting events offscreen would be as important to her image as her sparkling turn in Technicolor as Esther Smith.
 
The Movie:
 Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
The Songwriters: Hugh Martin (lyrics), Ralph Blane (music)
The Players: Judy Garland, Mary Astor, Margaret O'Brien, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, directed by Vincente Minnelli

 

The Story: Long after the completion of Meet Me In St. Louis, Judy Garland would state that she never felt more beautiful than when she was on that film. Look closely during the number and you'll see why. Look past her inner glow and you'll notice some small cosmetic changes: her teeth are crooked and her nose isn't. Though MGM had capped Judy's teeth during The Wizard of Oz and put her through dozens of makeup and wardrobe changes in order to make Garland a more typical MGM girl, director Vincente Minnelli and makeup designer Dorothy Ponedel hit on the truth: Judy Garland wasn't a typical MGM girl. Ponedel and Minnelli's secrets were well-placed blush, an appreciation for color design, and the knowledge that Judy's imperfections were as winning as her talents.

Of course, Judy's inner glow could have been from the other big news in her life: she was in love with Vincente Minnelli. The 21-year-old was working on her first divorce (from musician David Rose), and found Minnelli's mind, and the way he made her feel she looked, absolutely glamorous. For many reasons - his sexuality, her increasing problems, their incredible daughter - this is Garland's most famous marriage. However, the relationship is also famous for the problems it created.

One problem Minnelli couldn't create but did witness onset was the beginning of Judy's difficulties. Though it was originally scheduled for 58 days, Meet Me In St. Louis didn't wrap for 70 days. This was blamed, in part, on Judy's tardiness. Exhausted from a mandatory war bonds tour and initially dissatisfied with playing another teenager, Judy snuck out of rehearsals, began showing up late, and outright skipped 13 days of shooting. At the time, it may have seemed like petulant childishness or diva-like drama. Unfortunately, it would become a pattern that would eventually kill her career. In some ways, Meet Me In St. Louis was Judy Garland's peak at MGM. From 1945 onward, she would never make the studio as much money - or be as carefree - as she had while singing on that trolley.

Monday
May232016

Stage Door: American Psycho The Musical

In the Stage Door column we review theatrical productions, often with one eye on their movie origins or connections.

We first alerted you to the glorius full bodied talent of Benjamin Walker way back in 2011 writing:

You're in for such a treat when you see him on the big screen. Major charisma he has. Big stardom awaits.

The movie career didn't happen quickly in the way we imagined despite a couple of lead roles (The Choice, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) but that major charisma is still blinding on stage. It's impossible to miss even when the strobe lights are flashing. And flash they do in his latest show. He's recently returned to Broadway as soulless Patrick Bateman in American Psycho the Musical. Yes, that American Psycho. The best selling 1991 novel turned initally troubled 2000 arthouse horror flick turned cultural mainstay and now a Broadway musical. We recite all the history to remind ourselves that American Psycho has never been a property to elicit universal praise in any iteration. Instead, it's always greeted with a mix of  "worst ever" / "how amazing!" And so it's gone with the Broadway musical...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May182016

Judy by the Numbers: "Embraceable You"

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

Throughout the 1930s, Mickey and Judy had been one of America's favorite musical duos. With Mickey in the lead and Judy providing musical support, the two young teenagers - with the help of the Freed Unit - dominated the box office, regularly grossing $1 million even during the Depression. However, by the beginning of the 1940s, both 21-year-old Judy and 23-year-old Mickey had grown past the simple comedies in which they'd made their names. While both continued to pull in the same amount at the box office, Mickey was moving into more serious roles - though he still had a few more Andy Hardy movies in his contract - and Judy was dropping her hems and trading in her hair ribbons for hats. So, at the end of 1943, Mickey and Judy starred in their last musical together.

The Movie: Girl Crazy (1943)
The Songwriters: George Gershwin (music) & Ira Gershwin (lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, June Allyson, directed by Busby Berkeley and Norman Taurog

The Story:  This transition affected their partnership in Girl Crazy as well. While before, Judy had been Mickey's sidekick, now she was her own force to be reckoned with. Director Busby Berkeley gave 3 musical numbers to Judy alone, while Mickey appeared with her in 2 more (and also was dubbed on piano for one number). While the plot still mostly fell on Mickey's shoulders, the musical was entirely Judy's. In fact, she got two more iconic hits from it: "Embraceable You," and "But Not For Me."

Though Mickey and Judy would continue to be friends (and perform together - once more in a movie and again later on her TV show), their onscreen partnership had run its course. And though Judy couldn't have anticipated it, right around the corner was another movie that would change her life forever.

Previous Related Highlights:
"Our Love Affair," "Good Morning," "Got a New Pair of Shoes"

Saturday
May142016

Q&A: Everybody Wants Drop Dead Gorgeous Editing & Combative Personalities

It's the time again: Reader Questions hooray. I picked 8 to answer this week. Thanks to everyone who asked. I can't answer all but who knows - the unanswered might well inspire something down the road, conciously or otherwise. You never know...

MARSHA: Are people like Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump just so evil and insane that they are beyond parody, or are there actors and directors you can think of who could convey their humanity and worldview?

NATHANIEL: Marsha, I promised I wasn't going to talk about politics until September, remember?!? Don't tempt me.  All I will say is that a great actor can perform magic even under impossible circumstances. Remember how deep Julianne Moore was able to go with Sarah Palin?

JB: Can we discuss Drop Dead Gorgeous. In spite of having all the right ingredients, it's never quite hit cult (gay) status like I always assumed it would. Why do you think that is?

lots more after the jump...

Click to read more ...