Rockula

Rockula. Cannon Films 1990

Before watching the movie:

I just learned that Dean Cameron is not Dean Cain or Kirk Cameron, so I don’t have as much to say as I thought. Dean Cameron doesn’t seem to have achieved the celebrity status as the others, and appears to be what’s called a “working actor”, despite having led a feature film of moderate success as a young man.

Anyway, he plays a young man cursed to watch his one true love die and be reincarnated and die over and over, and this time his chance to break the cycle involves becoming a rock star.

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Jailhouse Rock

Jailhouse Rock. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1957.

Before watching the movie:

Early summaries I saw were all about Elvis’s character learning music in jail, so I was expecting a plot entirely in the jail, but looking a little closer, it seems like more of the story is about how the music changes his life outside of jail. That’s not as interesting to me, but then, I guess the story I was expecting was Prisoners of Love. At least I know the music will be good.

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Man of La Mancha

Man Of La Mancha. United Artists 1972.

Before watching the movie:

I think this is the way most people have experienced Don Quixote.  I’ve read some of the book, but despite the new translation I was using, the stilted nature of it still sometimes overpowered the comedy, which itself sometimes felt a little too much like “mental illness is funny!” It’s at the same time amazing how modern it feels at over 400 years old and yet how basic the storytelling can be at times, because it’s had 400 years to become part of the way we always tell stories.

But the grandeur of the way Man of La Mancha interprets the book is enticing and accessible. Everyone has heard at least a few bars of “The Impossible Dream”. It’s a classic showtune ballad. The romance is probably more feel-good in this take as well.

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Rock and Rule

Rock and Rule. Nelvana 1983.

Before watching the movie:

This movie has the rough edge to its animation that I normally associate with Don Bluth or Ralph Bakshi. I guess everybody that wasn’t Disney had this kind of look in the 80s, and The Black Cauldron didn’t quite escape at that.

Being an animated adventure centered around rock and roll and magic, this reminds me vaguely of Rock-a-Doodle, but by way of Cool World.

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Neptune’s Daughter

Neptune’s Daughter. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer 1949.

Before watching the movie:

I’m pretty sure this movie was recommended to me, and that’s why the title sounded familiar, but I don’t really remember what basis the recommendation was made on. It was probably close to the reason it caught my attention now. The stars include Red Skelton and Ricardo Montalban. The leading lady is Esther Williams, who I’m not really familiar with, though apparently MGM never missed an opportunity to put her in circumstances that involve swimsuits.

It looks like a basic romp with a swimming and  polo theme (and perhaps water polo?), and with musical numbers included in a runtime of not much past an hour and a half, not only a light story, but light on story. Just a bit of fun with some Hollywood legends.

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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.

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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