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

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.

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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