Thursday, January 27, 2011

Great Musical Scenes from Non Musicals II

The ongoing list of great musical scenes from non musicals continues. . .

Picnic (1955)

I do agree that one person's idea of sexy can be another person's milquetoast but this moment with Kim Novak and William Holden is both sexy and romantic. Sure, Holden looks a little stiff and a little old but that's ok because Novak is has enough smoldering sex appeal for the both of them. Plus, the entire setting is just so lush how could you not fall in love with in the soft glow of those paper lanterns. . .

Criss Cross

Yvonne DeCarlo and Tony Curtis in a hot number from the noir thriller Criss Cross. Everything about this scene vibes HOT. I love the way Burt Lancaster looks down at Decarlo as she shakes it. We know just as well as Lancaster that no good can come from any of this and even the music has a sexy and slightly sinister tone warning him to stay away. But this is a noir so Cherchez la femme. . .

Written on The Wind

Dig Dorothy Malone's far out dance in an Oscar award winning role from Written on the Wind. Douglas Sirk was a master of melodrama and this dance number gives us all of Marylee's alcoholic psycho sexual nymphomania summed up in shimmies and hips swivels. As she grooves to a latin tinged version of Temptation her dear old dad drops dead. He knows his daughter is a hussy and so does everyone else in the place.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kate Winslet as Mildred Pierce

So. . . award winning director Todd Haynes, who directed that wonderful Douglas Sirkian masterpiece Far From Heaven is bringing us a faithful adapatation of James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce. This five part mini-series will air on HBO in March, and unlike the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford, this version is giving us everything the censors would not let Warner Brothers give us the first time.
I am a fan of Kate Winslet and since this film, like the Coen Brother's True Grit, is loyal to its source material I hope Winslet will not suffer from endless comparisons between her performance and Crawford's. Although, when thinking about casting I could also envision Mildred being played by Cate Blanchett, or Rachel Weisz, or even Tilda Swinton.

I am optomistic about this. Usually, I cringe when I hear that such and such classic is being remade. But, with Todd Haynes as director I have my fingers crossed. He has shown that he is very adept at period melodrama. With Far From Heaven, which could have crossed the line to either corny or camp, he produced a thoughful and beautiful women's picture in the classic model. I wonder what Ann Blyth thinks about all this. . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Uninvited. . .

I watched the Uninvited last night and immediatley, upon seeing that beautiful tragic face of its star Gail Russell, recalled a wonderful post from the great LA Times Daily Mirror blog. I thought I would share it with you. http://http//

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Great Musical Numbers from Non Musicals - I

Sometimes the best musical numbers do not necessarily appear in musical films. Sometimes there is a wonderful music filled moment in an otherwise dramatic or comedic film that becomes an iconic moment.

This is going to be an ongoing list but at this moment I only have time for three but as the pistons in my overstuffed brain begin firing I will add more.. . .

Movie: Gilda

Song: Put the Blame on Mame

Actress: Rita Hayworth as Gilda

This scene sums up Rita's character Gilda in one deliciously seductive and playful song. There are actually three musical numbers in this film, but this is the best. Rita Hayworth gets to showcase her svelte figure, sex appeal and shows us why she was one of the GIs top pin-ups during the war. The film is a strange noir revenge tale/love story that gets better and better with each viewing. Hayworth is a genius in this film. Her subtle facial expressions and mannerisms are as breathtaking as this number. What was the color of that dress? In my mind it's RED.

Movie: Cleo from 5 to 7

Song: Sans Toi

Actress: Corinne Marchand as Cleo

This song is a beautiful downer. Written by the great French composer Michel Legrand the song expresses all of Cleo's inner emptiness and existential torment. The piano player in the scene is the songs composer, the GREAT Michel Legrand.

Movie: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Song: I've Written a Letter to Daddy

Actress: Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson

Well there isn't a another musical number in the history of musical numbers that exposes a characters insanity quite like this one. Jane is a complete whack job and Davis nails the hail on the head with this number. From the costume to that one of a kind voice that caould be classified as the horrible and wonderful at the same time - is it any wonder that this scene has been ripe for parody since the film's release. This is a moment of absolute campy bliss. Savor it!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seperated at Birth

Recently, I was watching that great Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins film, Old Acquaintance (1943) and I was shocked to see an Ann Sheridan doppelganger in the role of Deirdre Drake. Well, of course, it wasn't Sheridan. It was a Dolores Moran.

Moran had a short and mostly undistinguished career as a Warner's contract player. She had credited appearences in nine film between 1943 and 1954. In fact, she had the second female lead in the first classic film I ever saw (at age 11 on the old AMC channel in 1994) - Count the Hours (1953) starring Teresa Wright and Macdonald Carey.

Dolores Moran Ann Sheridan

Moran, in Old Acquaintance, is pretty good. It's a role that does not require too much depth of emotion or technique. She handles her scenes with Davis especially well. She holds her own which is a compliment because Davis gives a very realistic and undated performance. But, like so many other pretty and moderatley talented young women she dissapeared from the screen. After all, if Warner's wanted a blonde Ann Sheridan, they would just dye Sheridan's hair.

But, lest you were worried, she did not meet a tragic end a la Gail Russell (a cautionary tale of Hollywood if there ever was one). She made a good marriage and settled into wife and motherhood dying in 1982 from cancer.

PS - Old Acquaintance was directed by Vincent Sherman who appears on the commentary for the film. I own several films directed by Sherman and on each that include his commentary he admits to making love with his leading lady. His descriptions of how his relationships with Davis and Joan Crawford come about are hilarious. True stories? Who knows. . .