Carousel

Carousel. 20th Century Fox 1956.

Before watching the movie:

On the surface, this looks like just as much fluff as State Fair, but the setup sounds rather dark. It’s a man’s one more day to get it right with his family after a fatal accident. Moreover, one summary I saw specifically calls him abusive, though that’s probably from subtext. Depressing themes in a musical? Not something one would expect before the late 60s.

But then it manifests as flowy dancing around a carnival, so it can’t be entirely bleak.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! Chenault Productions 1969.
Hello, Dolly! Chenault Productions 1969.

Before watching the movie:

I’m sure there are other movies that reach this level of substanceless fame, and probably ones that I’ve reviewed here before, but while I know I’ve reviewed well-known movies nobody actually seems to discuss the content of before, I can’t think of one so big yet so mysterious.

I roughly know its time period, but mainly because Wall-E used some clips. Otherwise, it’s somehow the codifier of what a classic musical film is, to the point that it’s taken as a generic for “musical”. But it’s theoretically in that position because it’s good and because it’s influential. But the mold got overused and eventually musicals started defying it. Later on Broadway reinvented Disney reinvented Broadway, but that’s beyond the scope of a review of Hello, Dolly! Continue reading

Teen Witch

Teen Witch. Trans World Entertainment 1989.
Teen Witch. Trans World Entertainment 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I was entirely unaware of this movie until it came up in algorithmic recommendations. Surprisingly, it has no relation to the Archie Comics series “Sabrina the Teeenage Witch”, which I know as the 90s sitcom of the same name. It really looks like the same setup, with the dreamy, unattainable boy and everything. I guess that’s just the story writers want to tell about teenaged girls. According to the summary on Wikipedia, it started life as a female twist on Teen Wolf, which… okay. Not exactly as weird and desperate as Teen Wolf 2 telling the same story again with the first werewolf’s cousin in college.

This is probably the best place to comment on how bad the theatrical posters are. I always try to use a poster from the original theatrical release, and sometimes that results in using things like this one, where who cares about the title character, there is a cute boy who is the most important part of the movie probably. More recent box art, as seen on IMDB, has just the girl on a broom, which at least gets the priorities straight. Also the German poster is very nice, but not in English and the only pictures I can find are folded.

Continue reading

State Fair

State Fair. 20th Century Fox 1945.
State Fair. 20th Century Fox 1945.

Before watching the movie:

There are at least three major screen adaptations of this show, and I’m not sure if this version is the most popular or just the most available. The 1933 version stars Will Rogers, but it’s in black and white, so it’s probably not expected to sell as well.

I thoroughly expect this to be a thin plot for hanging songs about rural Americana on, but it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein, so they should be great songs. I’ve probably heard of at least one, but I can’t think of any I specifically associate with it. Continue reading

Anchors Aweigh

anchorsaweigh
Anchors Aweigh. Metro Goldwyn-Meyer 1945.

Before watching the movie:

I only know this movie exists because it famously has a scene where one of the men, probably Gene Kelly, dances with Jerry the cartoon mouse, which must be a fantasy number.

Apparently, this is a musical about falling in love on shore leave. Sinatra and Kelly are friends and shipmates and at least one of them falls in love with a local girl in port. I would be pleasantly surprised if this didn’t make up the bulk of its plot on a love triangle, but I’m just looking forward to some songs about sailors having good clean fun ashore.

Continue reading

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone. Paramount Pictures 1976.
Bugsy Malone. Goodtimes Enterprises 1976.

Before watching the movie:

I stumbled across this maybe decades ago, I believe referenced in an educational book about movie making, which noted that there was a movie that cast all child actors in grown-up roles, requiring all of the sets and props to be custom-built at a child scale. That obviously stuck in my mind, but I never followed up on it. Recently I watched a movie that made an offhand reference to this movie, finally looked it up, and here it is.

I had no idea before I looked it up that it was a musical. This sounds fantastic. A G-rated gangster movie musical with a completely child cast, starring Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. I mean, it could go horribly wrong, but what reputation I’ve been able to glean about it suggests not.

Continue reading

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver's Travels. Fleischer Studios 1939.
Gulliver’s Travels. Fleischer Studios 1939.

Before watching the movie:

This is a story that gets remade every so often, probably because the state of film technology marches on and someone decides they can do better than the last one. Certainly, the recent version with Jack Black established the look very realistically. However, hardly anyone has adapted the entire book, and the title is almost universally considered to refer to only the Lilliput section, which this appears to do. Brobdingnang sometimes gets included since it’s just the reverse of the scale effect, but to my knowledge no version, or at least no enduring version, has attempted, for example, the island of the horse people. Not even the Harryhousen-powered The Three Worlds of Gulliver tried.

This is a staging by another great name in animation and effects, Fleischer Studios. I feel animation is underrepresented on this site, and I’m glad to bring in a historically significant animated feature now. I’ve never really cared much for the Fleischer style, so much as I’ve seen it, but Fleischer didn’t really endure long enough to develop as well as Disney and Warner Bros. did. But it should serve to tell the story adequately.

Continue reading