This is another one it’s hard to find much description that doesn’t just recap the entire plot, so I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to see for a while. A rich Boston kid running away to Gold Rush California to have adventures? Eh, not too exciting. The kid getting accompanied by his family’s very buttoned-up butler out of concern for his safety, and the butler is played by Roddy McDowall? This is somewhat more relevant to my interests.
I suspect this is going to have more of an episodic structure, as the Disney equivalent of a pulp Western adventure. Apparently it’s a musical, which could go either way. Being based on a book, there will probably be a decent amount of substance, but mostly I expect loosely connected Western-themed hijinks and barely justified showstopper songs.
The more I dig around the edges to get a bearing on what to expect, the more excited I get. This is described on the box as a very witty and literate show, and while I don’t think I’ve heard any of the songs before, the titles I’ve come across sound lovely.
I’m not sure if Vanessa Redgrave had a career renaissance recently or if it’s one of those cases where I just didn’t start noticing her until I noticed her. Still, it’s going to be rather different to see her as a young lady and a love interest, and I don’t think I’ve heard her sing before either. I know Richard Harris both as a singer and an actor. I think. He’s still muddled in my mind with Richard Attenborough, but I’m fairly certain I’ve now got them straight.
For the most part, I’m ready to be swept away, but there’s a voice in the back of my mind going “on second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. Tis a very silly place.”
For as long as it runs, this blog will mostly center on the 80s and later, because that is what appeals to my tastes and what I’m most likely to have something to comment on beforehand. I’ve challenged myself to focus on older films for the last few weeks because I felt they needed more of a focus, but although the films themselves have been positive experiences, it’s mostly just created more work looking for older films and trying to fit my thoughts on them into the format of this blog. My reserve of pre-80s films has almost run out, so why not finish this run off with a musical that’s even on Broadway today?
So… a fun romp in song and dance that satirizes the business world. It sometimes seems like “Business” in the sense that this film presents it was never as keenly analyzed as in the 60s. Then I remember The Secret of My Success, which was made in the 80s and shows a young man climbing the ranks similarly.
It occurs to me to wonder if the children’s books How to be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days and Make Four Million Dollars by Next Thursday draw any direct inspiration from this story, though I doubt it.
I never realized how little I’ve seen of Dick Van Dyke’s work, or the fact that most of it is in television. Even more than Peter Sellers, Dick Van Dyke is just kind of an institution. It strikes me that his best work is in his films of the 1960s and 70s, because those show off not only his comic skill but also often the physicality he didn’t have opportunities to express in domestic sitcoms and is probably no longer capable of. I’m not saying I necessarily expect him to dance on rooftops in this film, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some slapstick for him to get into.
What sort of movie is this? Well, once again I’d never heard of it, but I’m expecting a madcap web of lies caper, and possibly some screwball elements.
What I know about this movie is… well, the iconic scene. Surely the plot can’t be as simple as “he gets seduced by an older woman?” Sources seem to indicate it is, but I don’t see how it could have such staying power if that’s all there is. I’m a little comforted by the mention I see that he has no direction in life after graduation, so I guess it’s a coming of age story?
It was not until I had this copy in hand that I realized that the title character was played by a very young Dustin Hoffman. Sure, I’ve seen him mentioned in context with the film a few times, but somehow I never heard “Dustin Hoffman” when people said, “In The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman…” Continue reading →