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Entries in musicals (318)

Wednesday
Feb242016

Musical Moments

Time for more Film Bitch Categories. We're almost done*. Click away for the nominees in two more scene categories involving music.

Films featured in this round include (deep breath now): Chi-Raq, Ex-Machina, Girlhood, I'll See You In My Dreams, The Last Five Years, Magic Mike XXL, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Ricki & the Flash, Straight Outta Compton, and Victoria

*Only eight more categories to go... Best Scenes (not featured in these categories), Opening and Closing Scenes, Title Sequence, Sex Scenes, Best Kisses, and Best Actor and Best Actress in Limited or Cameo Roles... (which generally means no more than 2 scenes). We'll name our gold, silver, and bronze medalists on Friday/Saturday.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Judy by the Numbers: "Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart!"

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

The Movie: Listen, Darling (MGM, 1938)
The Songwriter: James F. Hanley (Music & Lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Freddie Bartholemew, Mary Astor, Walter Pidgeon, directed by Edwin L. Marin

The Story: No rise to stardom is without its setbacks. Despite Judy Garland's continuing success teaming up with established stars like Mickey Rooney and Fanny Brice, Listen, Darling marked Judy's first box office disappointment. 

 

Though Judy and Freddie were stars in their own right, when starring in a film together, their chemistry was nil. As a result, the thin 70 minute musical comedy fizzled at the box office, ultimately losing $200,000.

Nonetheless, Listen, Darling did introduce the public to another Judy Garland standard. Though young Judy had been singing "Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart" for years - she actually auditioned for MGM with the song - this 1938 film and a 1939 Decca record added the song to Judy's public repertoire. Judy made the Hit Parade, and would go on to perform and re-record the song throughout her career. Even if Listen, Darling wasn't a hit, Judy Garland and her zing-y song were.

 

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938) 

Thursday
Feb182016

50 Years Ago Right Now ~ An Evening With Carol Channing !

Imagine your parents or maybe your grandparents gathered 'round a 21 inch television on February 18th, 1966 on ABC to watch this.  If you were born in October 1966 I apologize that the weirdest things got your parents frisky.

Wowee Wow. Here's Our Dolly now! 🎵 

There were only three channels in 1966 and, I mean, why would ANYONE have been watching anything else? She was on Broadway at the time with Hello Dolly. Broadway had such a cache back then. Can you imagine a Broadway star getting a whole hour of television to promote their celebrity today?

Some highlights...
04:10 Wanna hear where Lady Bunny got her voice. It's right here. 
12:22 David McCallum (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) reads T.E. Lawrence and speaks multiple languages with Carol, cracking each other up
24:20 Mona Lisa musical comedy sketch. The takeaway: the 1960s were a very strange and alien time from an alternate Earth. Possibly another Galaxy altogether
33:00 Los Angeles, skewered. Must see if you've ever hated on L.A.
50:30 George Burns & David McCallum join Carol for the finale. "The Monkey Rag"
 
 

Wednesday
Feb172016

Judy by the Numbers: "In Between"

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


At age 16, Judy Garland already had six pictures and three years as a studio contract player under her belt. Judy's seventh picture would reteam her with Mickey Rooney for her first in many guest appearances in the wildly popular Andy Hardy series. Judy was worked hard - rumors of how hard include studio "medication" and rigid diets - and over the course of her MGM career she would average 3 pictures per year. The result was studio stardom at the expense of self. But incredibly, she never showed it when she sang.

The Movie: Love Finds Andy Hardy (MGM 1938)
The Songwriter: Roger Edens
The Players: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden directed by George B. Seitz

The Story: Young Judy was on a roll, but her biggest smashes were still to come. After the success of Thoroughbreds Don't Cry, it became clear to the studio that Judy and Mickey had something together--at least onscreen. Their lifelong friendship translated to innocent romance on celluloid, though offscreen Rooney was busy chasing the newly-minted "Sweater Girl" Lana Turner, who was only a year older than Judy. Turner plays a naive proto-vamp in Love Finds Andy Hardy too. It's telling that even though there's only a small difference between their ages, Turner was an overnight sex symbol while Judy was dressed in frills and sang about being "too young for boys." It was a false formula, but it worked. Judy would continue to play young and naive for the next 8 years.

Thursday
Feb112016

Coming Soon: "Frozen" vs "Wicked" On Broadway

As you may have heard Frozen will be coming to Broadway in the Spring of 2018. The original composers will write additional new songs which is smart since the second half of Frozen the movie is weirdly not a musical at all. The songs abruptly end after "Let It Go"  

It will be curious to have two versions of Wicked on stage simultaneously, though.

Shade. (I couldn't resist.)

No matter how much one loves Frozen, it's hard to deny that it shamelessly rips off of Wicked. When Wicked's producers rather dimly dragged their feet on a film version of their 3 billion dollar smash (they should have started immediately since it takes years to get a picture made properly and now a picture will feel "old" when it arrives) Disney swooped in with their own version of Wicked called Frozen -- even using the same leading lady with the huge pipes (Idina Menzel) and had their own billion-dollar smash (with endless revenue yet to come in merchandising).

Consider: 

  • Sisters / Besties. One is good and likeable. The other is secretive and perceived as "Wicked"
  • The "Wicked" girl is strong with magic and this scares people and she hides herself away from the fearful citizens of Arendel/Oz
  • During her escape/rise into her power she sings an athem of self-actualization "Let It Go"/"Defying Gravity" 
  • And then the villagers come after her and the good girl has to intervene. (From their the stories diverge... as they do with the supporting cast, too) 

Wicked will obviously still be selling out in 2018 when Frozen arrives. 12 years and a few months into its run it's still always near the top of the box office charts. It will be so strange to see them side by side. Do you have a preference? 

 

Wednesday
Feb102016

Judy by the Numbers: "Why? Because!"

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

With Judy Garland's growing success, MGM decided it was time to have her star in her own feature. The studio dusted off some musical numbers (arranged by Roger Edens) as well as a handful of contract players and Ziegfeld stars. Judy played a young aspiring actress stuck in a conservative school. Supported by her zany Russian maid (Fanny Brice), the young girl decides to join a musical. The result was another hit for Judy, and a delight for future Vaudeville nerds and historians.  

The Movie: Everybody Sing (MGM 1938)
The Songwriters: Harry Ruby & Bert Kalmar
The Players: Judy Garland, Fanny Brice, Allan Jones, Reginald Owen, Billie Burke, directed by Edwin L. Marin

The Story: In Everybody Sing, Judy was joined by not one but two famous Ziegfeld women: Billie Burke (aka Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld, who we'll see again later), and Fanny Brice, a Jewish comedienne whose life would eventually inspire the musical that would launch Barbara Streisand's career. At the time of Everybody Sing, Brice had successfully transitioned from Vaudeville to radio, and this musical number was based on one of her characters, Baby Snooks. I'll admit that this week's clip isn't so much Judy by the Numbers as Fanny by the Numbers, but there are so few films of Brice. Watching Fanny Brice in action, you see the blueprint being laid out for future funny girls like Barbra Streisand, Lily Tomlin, and Gilda Radner.

Tuesday
Feb092016

Hail, Caesar! is a secret musical. 

If you didn't catch the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar! this weekend it might surprise you to hear that it could actually be categorized as a musical. No, not a full blown musical with a good portion of their narrative emerging from the songs but musically inclined. It's more like "a film with music" as Yentl once said to the ticketbuying public. There are three distinct musical numbers in the film, which is three more than 95% of films get. More...

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