Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Producers (2005)

The first musical of 2010 was the 2005 film version of Mel Brooks' The Producers. This is one instance of a movie turned Broadway show turned movie that I heartily approve of! I saw the original 1968 movie a very long time ago, and I remember actually being disappointed by it. Perhaps it was just that my expectations were so high, but aside from the "Springtime for Hitler" play within the movie, I don't remember it being terribly funny.

The new musical version is a vast improvement. Not only is it extremely amusing, but it also has great singing and dancing to boot.

I was already familiar with the songs from the original Broadway soundtrack, but seeing the production was a real treat. Most of the cast reprised their original Broadway roles, including Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Some notable additions to the cast were Will Ferrell (good) and Uma Thurman (bad). In fact, I'd have to say the only thing about this movie I didn't like was Uma Thurman. I've never been a fan of hers, and this performance didn't change my opinion.

There seems to be dearth of available clips on YouTube, but here's one of "Springtime for Hitler" featuring a very Aryan John Barrowman:

Courtesy of clarityisback on YouTube

I won't say that this movie will become a classic up there with The Sound of Music (my favorite Nazi-themed musical), but it's definitely enjoyable and worth watching!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Up in Arms (1944)

Up in Arms is one of my absolute favorite movie musicals. This forgotten gem from 1944 features Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore (as well as my favorite 40s actor Dana Andrews). I watched an old VHS recording I had made in the 90s when it played on AMC. It's not out on DVD and I don't know if it has ever aired again. This movie was almost inaccessible, but now the whole movie is up on YouTube courtesy of Huilifoj.

Of course the movie has a feel-good, patriotic plot. Danny (Danny Kaye) is a hypochondriac who is in love with nurse Mary (Constance Dowling). But Danny is the object of nurse Virginia's (Dinah Shore) affection. Mary agrees to go on a double date with Danny, along with his friend Joe (Dana Andrews) and Virginia. Naturally Mary and Joe fall for each other. Then the men are drafted, and the nurses enlist, too. Hilarity and adventure ensue. Of course Danny realizes Virginia is really the girl for him and both couple live happily ever after.

Every number is a treat in this movie. Here are some of the best:

Theater Lobby Number (by Sylvia Fine and Max Liebman):

Courtesy of avissar on YouTube

Melody in 4-F (by Sylvia Fine and Max Liebman):

Courtesy of avissar on YouTube

Tess's Torch Song (by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler):

The song is at 2:10. Courtesy of Huilifoj on YouTube.

Jive Number (by Sylvia Fine and Max Liebman):

Courtesy of theodorebear2009 on YouTube

Well, toast me, Melba! This hep song is all reet! I really think this musical deserves to be more widely known than it is. I think it's one of the best WWII musicals (even without Jules Munchen).

For Me and My Gal (1942)

Last month I also watched MGM's 1942 classic For Me and My Gal starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. This was a nostalgic story of a vaudeville duo preceding and during World War I. Both Garland and Kelly (in his film debut) were in top form, although there was not as much dancing as I would have liked (despite being directed by Busby Berkeley). This was a more plot-driven musical than many, and some of the scenes (like Kelly deciding to injure himself to avoid the draft) were pretty weighty for a musical.

I liked the World War I-themed numbers (which must have conjured up fond memories for the audience of the last war), but the title song takes the cake:

Courtesy of spearsboy01 on YouTube

Watch the movie and I guarantee you will be wishing you could buy some war bonds!

Hairspray (2007)

I saw the 2007 version of Hairspray last month, but I've hesitated doing a post about it for a couple reasons. First, I never saw the original 1988 John Water's movie, so I don't know how this compares. Second, I dozed off during the movie. I thought it was just for a few minutes, but now looking at YouTube, I see whole songs that are unfamiliar to me. Oh well. Maybe I'll see the next remake in 20 years.

Hairspray belongs to a growing list of musicals that started off as a movie, got turned into a Broadway show, and then back to a movie. Well, the only other musical I can think of right now that falls into that category is The Producers, but I have a feeling Legally Blonde: The Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Spamalot can't be far behind.

This was a pleasant-enough movie with some surprisingly deep themes. I liked the part I saw, but didn't find any of the songs very memorable. I actually enjoyed the sets and costumes best, especially the joke shop which I knew about from one of my favorite blogs, Secret Fun Spot.

Here is a peppy clip of a song called "Ladies' Choice" as a sample:

Courtesy of XxMusicalLyricsxX on YouTube

It features Zac Efron, who I understand is a teen heartthrob. He's no Shaun Cassidy, but he's not bad. There was one other aspect of this movie that I especially like: more movies, especially musicals, should have a short, chubby brunette as the heroine.

Musical Catch-Up

The first year of The Sound of Musicals has drawn to a close. Although I didn't watch as many musicals as I would have liked, I certainly saw more than I would have otherwise, making this my most sucessful New Year's Resolution ever. This year's resolution is not to start another blog, although I was sorely tempted by a few ideas. But instead I'll continue this one, and today I'll catch up on three musicals I saw in 2009 but haven't posted. This makes a total of 13 musicals watched - 10 movies and 3 live - for 2009.