I've been gone for two weeks and festivals are quite a bubble. What did I miss? Besides the impending apocalypse (when I left everyone said Hillary was a done deal and when I returned everyone was acting like Trump has already won).
Entries in musicals (371)
We have reached the end of Juy Garland's film career. From this point forward, this series will be focused exclusively on her television appearances. So, why not play Judy out the way she's remembered best, belting a big number in glorious Technicolor? But the hopeful title and Judy's brassy voice belie a darker truth. This week's number serves not only as the title song of the film, but also as a thesis for Judy Garland's later career.
The Movie: I Could Go On Singing (United Artists, 1964)
The Songwriters: Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
The Players: Judy Garland & Dick Bogarde, directed by Ronald Nearne
The Story: If A Star Is Born represents Judy Garland's image as a tragic, romantic figure in Hollywood, then I Could Go On Singing may be the closest Garland got to a public confession of how messy the tragic parts of her life coud be. Filmed in England while Judy battled for divorce (and custody of her younger children) with Sidney Luft, the film looked like life mirroring art mirroring life. The story of a concert singer whose relationships disintegrate even as she tries to shield (and connect to) her estranged son incorporated biographical details and observations straight from Judy herself. Co-star Bogarde reported rewriting large scenes with Garland to incorporate her own musings on celebrity, addiction and performance.
Perhaps most telling is the scene that happens directly before Judy performs this number. She's all smiles and charm while placating the audience she kept waiting. She looks restored just stepping onstage. However, just moments before, injured and recovering from a destructive bender, she destroys the idea that performing was a pallative:
"There's an old saying: When you go onstage, you don't feel any pain; and when the lights hit you, you don't feel anything...It's a stinking lie."
Dancin' Dan back at long last with a return to our favorite musical comedy TV show! This time out, we movie-lovers have a lot to get excited about as Rebecca goes to court and receives more than a few surprises in doing so.
S1. E13: "Josh and I Go To Los Angeles!"
Rebecca and Josh's case finally goes to court, only the opposing counsel turns out to be a surprise guest from New York...
Let's rank the crazy!
This week's number is hands down the weirdest entry in Judy's filmography. It doesn't fit neatly into Judy's biography or star image; it really appears to be one of those things that happened because the timing was right. In 1962, Warner Bros released a UPA animated feature called Gay Purr-ee. It's a movie about Parisian cats that feels like An American in Paris meets The Aristocats as played by the Looney Tunes. In a bit of early celebrity stunt casting UPA cast two big voices for its dimunitive feline leads: Judy Garland and Robert Goulet.
The Movie: Gay Purr-ee (WB, 1962)
The Songwriters: Harold Arlen (music) & E.Y. Yarburg (lyrics)
The Cast: Judy Garland, Robert Goulet, Red Buttons, Hermione Gingold, Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, directed by Abe Levitow.
The Story: Gay Purr-ee really needs to be seen to be believed. Done in the limited-animation style of UPA, the movie sets jittering characters against beautifully drawn backgrounds. As the casting of Mel Blanc may have tipped some readers off, the movie was actually produced and co-written by famous Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones. (Jones was fired from Warner Bros after making this film as he had violated his contract with them.) However, though the movie is occasionally stunning, it lacks the focused insanity of Jones's animated shorts.
Judy is credited with having brought her "Over the Rainbow" songwriters onto the film. Despite this, neither the film nor the soundtrack did well. When the film fizzled, Judy continued her successful touring schedule. However, another new opportunity was about to present itself to her.
We cannot catch a break here at TFE Headquarters this week (honesty this summer. Uff) so this one will be brief. If you haven't yet seen Baz Luhrmann's latest, the first half of a first season of a show about the birth of hiphop called "The Get Down" have at it. Due to time constraints we've only watched the first episode but it delivered on the Baz-ness that we have so desperately missed.
Here's my choice for best shot with commentary after the jump...
For this week's episode of our cinematography series Hit Me With Your Best Shot we wanted a slight curveball as a way to celebrate the release of the Costume Design documentary Women He's Undressed. It's now available to rent on iTunes or purchase on other digital platforms. (Jose's interview with the director here). The film is about the legendary Orry-Kelly, who designed a truckload of classic Hollywood features and stars, and won three Oscars in the 1950s for An American in Paris, Les Girls and Some Like It Hot. So those playing "Best Shot" this week could choose any of those three. I watched Les Girls since it gets the least attention and they even use its image for the documentary's poster (left).
Les Girls (George Cukor, 1957) is not well remembered today but curiously it reminds us yet again that mainstream Hollywood in the 50s and 60s paid a lot of attention to foreign auteurs and absorbed (or ripped off - you be the judge) their styles and conceits. The semi-musical (a few dance numbers mainly) concerns a libel lawsuit involving a former showbiz act "Barry Nichols and Les Girls" and in the courtroom we hear three different versions of the group's break up in Paris. In each of the stories Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly) gets mixed up romantically with a different girl (America's Mitzi Gaynor, Britain's Kay Kendall, and Finland's Taina Elg) and their musical act eventually implodes. It's clearly modelled on Akira Kurosawa's Rashômon (1950) which had taken an Honorary Oscar from the Academy earlier that decade.
So let's choose a best shot and a best costume after the jump. Happily my three favorite shots come from each of the film's three acts...
Congratulations to Rachel Bloom for winning "individual achievement in Comedy" for Crazy Ex Girlfriend at the Television Critics Association Awards today!
As we continue our Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 1 recap, we finally come to the place where we all knew things were headed right from the pilot: Rebecca finally makes such a massive error that Josh realizes that something's not right. And there's no way she can avoid it.
S1. E11: "That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!"
Rebecca mistakenly sends a text meant for Paula to Josh, and rushes out to save herself by deleting the text before Josh sees it, while Paula attempts to rekindle the spark in her marriage...