Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Man of La Mancha (1972)

It seems New Year's resolutions are meant to be broken, even ones as foolproof as spending more time in front of the TV. I guess next year I'll resolve to exercise less and eat more, too.

Anyway, after a month-long hiatus, I watched another musical: 1972's Man of La Mancha by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion. Although I grew up listening to my parent's record of the original Broadway cast, I don't count this one among my special favorites. I don't think I was even aware there was a movie version until I saw it as choice for instant viewing on Netflix. Not having tried the instant download feature before and knowing this was definitely one my husband would not want to watch, I decided to watch it from the discomfort of my own desk. I was pleased with the instant download, but the movie itself was a bit drab. In fact, it was brown. Everything was brown. There was no other colors save for some black and white. I guess that wasn't out of place for the early 70s, but they could have at least used some avocado green or harvest gold.

Cervantes and his faithful servant become prisoners of the Spanish Inquisition (they weren't expecting that). While awaiting their fate in the dungeon, Cervantes tells the other prisoners of his story: Don Quixote de La Mancha, which is acted out with the help of the prisoners. Peter O'Toole plays Cervantes/Don Quixote, James Coco plays Sancho Panza, and Sophia Loren plays Aldonza/Dulcinea. Apparently Peter O'Toole had a voice double, while Sophia Loren did her own singing. I think it would have worked out better the other way around.

Of course the most well-known and memorable song of the movie is considered to be "The Impossible Dream." But this isn't my favorite song. Perhaps inexplicably, my favorite song has always been "I'm Only Thinking of Him." In this song, Don Quixote's niece and housekeeper share their "concerns" about his well-being with their priest. The song is a bit different (and better) in the stage version, but here is the movie version (courtesy of junikid on YouTube):

Unfortunately, I have had this song in my head for 24 hours straight now. Woe-o, Woe-o.

The Schenectady Connection: Since several other movie musicals have mentioned Schenectady, I was expecting a mention in this one, too, but no luck. However, I did see Man of La Mancha at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady a few years back (actually 10 years ago - that can't be right!). And the role of Cervantes/Don Quixote was played by Broadway legend Robert Goulet.