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Supporting Actress Smackdown 1948
The Write Up / The Podcast 



"I'm a huge Jean Simmons fan, and I think she legitimately takes the prize here" - Matt

"Pauline Kael called Claire Trevor's a great bad performance or something in an aside for a review in the seventies, and I agree. She's auditioning for the Carol Burnett parody of herself." - Alfred

"People really should see Raw Deal because it's absolutely spectacular." - Cal

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Entries in musicals (242)


Stage Door: The ghost of Smash haunts First Date

In Stage Door we share our live theatre adventures here in NYC through our movie-mad filter…

Glenn here. The poster for the Longacre Theatre’s First Date makes it look, shall we say, rather interminable. An insipid, generic romantic comedy with an overdose of uber-quirk made by phony producers in West Hollywood as a tax write-off. Something along the lines of this. To be honest, I can see how many would find it to be exactly that, but it subverts its potential worst case scenario to win a few hearts the old fashioned way.

First Date is a rather modest original musical with a book by Austin Winsberg, plus music and lyrics by the team of Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner who have used their one-act show (no intermission in the roughly 100-minute musical) to show off a variety of music styles and a broad comedy style. Modest in size, but not pizzazz or laughs or heart. It’s got those in spades. There’s only one set – a cozy-looking New York City bistro with a flashing neon sign just off to stage left and a cabaret-singing bartender – although it frequently breaks out with fantasy sequences and a fair share of discotheque lighting to keep the eyes busy. That is when said eyes aren’t fixed on dreamboat Zachary Levi who stars alongside Krysta Rodriguez as Aaron and Casey, a pair of miss-matched (or are they…? I think you can figure that out on your own) blind-daters. Zachary Levi is 

The ghost of Smash returns after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Back "2" School Again!

Dancin' Dan here to welcome you all to 'Back To School' Month at The Film Experience! We'll be sharing our favorite moments from cinema's schools all month.

Has there been a better back-to-school anthem than the opening number of Grease 2? I just love it.

Of course, it was always my fantasy to return to high school on the first day back from summer break and have the entire student body descend upon the front doors with a crazily-choreographed, flawlessly-danced production number, but that's just me. I mostly just settled for a snazzy outfit instead. Usually with a bow tie.

Any fond memories of the first day of school you'd like to share?


Stage Door: Asher Lev, The Jungle Book, Love's Labour's Lost

How has "My Name is Asher Lev" never been made into a movie? The novel by Chaim Potok, about a young Hassidic Jew who becomes a controversial and successful fine artist (painting crucifixations of all things) is one of those mainstays of primary education so you'd think that there would be a movie. Most of those get-em-while-they're-young classic novels can claim multiple film versions. But there's only been runs at the stage. I recently saw a new adaptation by Aaron Posner at the Westside Theater. 

The production was minimally staged but the set was a moody beauty. The night I attended the understudy for the female roles (there are only three actors in the production) went on. Turns out she was Chaim Potok's actual daughter! Imagine that.

Ari BrandAri Brand was constantly on the stage in the title role but adeptly swung around between various ages from little boy to grown man to track Asher Lev's artistic awakening and simultaneous emancipation from and acceptance of his faith. But the chameleon in the cast was Mark Nelson who plays quite a few characters including Asher's father and is particularly memorable as his jovial uncle and Asher's mentor artists who speaks largely in manifestos about what art is and how artists should live. Asher's struggle couldn't be more specific (a Jew painting Christian iconography) but the themes are wildly flexible to any coming of age or coming into one's own spiritual or ideological journey which is surely why people love it when they're young. 

It's Your Last Chance: My Name is Asher Lev plays through September 1st at the West Side Theater. 

Movies and TV Moving to the Musical Stage
Playbill warns that there's a GLEE stage musical in the works? God Antoinette Perry help us all. We've really gone over the top and back down again with the cross pollination of mediums. In September HONEYMOON IN VEGAS hits Paper Mill in Jersey and over in Boston at the Huntington Theater Company they're launching Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK which is aiming for Broadway (eventually) and one supposes they're dreaming of another Julie-Taymor-does-Lion-King size hit. Here's a Making Of with director Mary Zimmerman, whose biggest hit Metamorphosis was so good. Let's hope she doesn't fall into the Julie Taymor trap of not being able to edit herself. Bostonian readers who've seen the show do tell us what you thought! 

The great Norbert Leo Butz in BIG FISH

The migration continues directly on Broadway with Big Fish (Sept 2013), The Bridges of Madison County (Jan 2014) and Rocky (Feb 2014) among others. Which are you most interested in hearing about?

Exit Music
And did any of you get a chance to see the final Shakespeare in the Park for the season: Love's Labour's Lost? I'm still humming this particular show stopper. 

Heavy rotation on my playlists.



Morning Truth Tell: All That Jazz is a Freaking Masterpiece

If you haven't yet seen All That Jazz (1979) or haven't yet loved it -- you better stop and change your ways, daddy! Joe Gideon deserves the kind of hallowed cinema rep that Michael Corleone and Charles Foster Kane enjoy.

Live this truth. Carry it with you today.


Visual Index ~ Mary Poppin's Best Shots

For this week's 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' we wanted to highlight a film that will be the subject of robust conversation this year. I saved this visual index until this afternoon to make sure all the articles were in. See, this Christmas Disney will be releasing Saving Mr Banks which is about "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and her resistance to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) making the movie back in the day. We discussed that new film's trailer recently so let's hit the source material, Disney's classic Mary Poppins

The film opened in August 1964 quickly becoming the most popular film of its year -- adjusted for inflation it was as big in its day as The Avengers was last year. Imagine that! The musical went on to score 13 Oscar nominations and 5 statues: Actress, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Original Song and Original Score.

OSCAR TRIVIA NOTE: This is the only film in the history of the Oscars to win both Best Actress and Best Visual Effects. Mary Poppins best shots after the jump

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Best Shot: Mary Poppins Makes Your Heart Feel Light

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Mary Poppins never explains anything! That's true of both the character and the film, actually. There's no back story (Hallelujah!) and no fussiness about the how and why of her "magic". (Sadly, this movie would never be made today when the mystery is drained from everything). More surprising for a family film there's very little overstating of its message (though Dick Van Dyke does a little bit of singing it directly to Mr. Banks just to make sure he's clear). If you don't believe me, really watch it again. Despite the imposing length (2 hours and 20 minutes) it's structurally smart and so light on its feet that it simply blows in on the East wind and then floats away when the super nanny's mission is accomplished. Like its heroine, the movie is practically perfect in every way.

"Cheeky" - my favorite shot of Julie Andrews in the film

I'll do my best to emulate her and keep my "best shot" explanation brief -- if only I could sing it! though it's a bittersweet task since, if I was choosing a different shot, I'd get to talk at length about how brilliant Julie Andrews is in the movie. Her Oscar win is one of the most unusual choices the Academy ever made for a Lead Acting trophy (no histrionics, no "clips", nothing one might define as Oscar-Bait) and one of their smartest, too. But I'll have to wax rhapsodic about Julie another time and jump right to my choice for Best Shot.

When I was a kid my favorite song in the movie was "Jolly Holiday". I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to dive into the chalk paintings or if I just found it catchy or if I just loved that incredibly funny moment when all the barnyard animals get solo lines and they each sound EXACTLY like a singing version of that animal should. As an adult I still love the song mostly because its such an accurate description of how one feels in Mary Poppins presence: light and grand... your heart starts beating like a big brass band.

Best Shot -- I wish I could see this on the big screen!

But, as anyone familiar with Mary Poppins know, there's a beautiful melancholy undercurrent to the plot and the feeling which is why I'm choosing this moment, right after the chalk painting adventure when Mary and the children have left Bert in the park. It's gray and stormy now but Bert's mood is unaltered. He keeps dancing in the rain, still enjoying the imagined holiday as the colors lose their shape but glow like memories.

This visual motif with a man in near silhouette with a telling splash of color is repeated again (only more empathically) in both the showstopping "Steppin' Time" number (blue) and when Mr Banks is fired from his job (red) but here is where it most beautifully summarizes the film's smart disposition (both firm and truthful but  loose and magical) and the color Mary brings to people's lives.

When the day is gray and ordinary
Mary makes the sun shine bright!

Mary Poppins warns us over and over again -- though not in hamfisted redundant ways -- that all things are temporary. One day childhood will end. Very soon the chalk paintings will wash away. As soon as the wind changes Mary herself will vanish. Mary Poppins would never say anything as mundane as "seize the day" but in her cheeky way she's making sure that we get that each day counts. She recommends feeding birds, flying kites, and a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

Best Shot Steppin' Time
Antagony & Ecstasy - on Julie Andrews' brilliant star turn
Allison Tooey - the feeling it gives
Encore Entertainment - Mary Poppins needs you to get your act together
Entertainment Junkie - on magical realism
Film Actually - defying logic, physics, and gravity
The Film's The Thing - a familiar silhouette
Manuel Betancourt - Julie Andrews Steppin' Time
Stale Popcorn - actually hates the movie!
Serious Film - praises David Tomlinson's Mr Banks
Victim of the Time - the measure of a woman
We Recycle Movies -on childhood nostalgia