Thursday, December 31, 2009

Give me a P-I-A-N-O Oh! Oh!

First off, Happy New Year's! Okay, it's New Year's Eve. But I won't see you until next year so... Happy New Year's!! Oh, and I have a special new year's treat: a new movie!


Second off, I'd like to thank my wonderful, wonderful followers for following me because on Tuesday I surpassed my goal of 15 followers by New Year's. Hooray!! And a big, warm, grateful thank you to Amanda Cooper at A Noodle in Haystack for mentioning my blog!



I also want to thank everyone who voted in this week's poll. Tom voiced concern about a possible tie and there actually was one: Susan from Miracle on 34th Street and Zuzu from It's A Wonderful Life both received 4 votes! Daphne and Vanderbilt from Holiday Inn earned 2 votes, coming in second. Thank you again to all who voted! And don't forget to vote in this week's poll: do you prefer light films or dark films or do you prefer both in equal proportion?

And I also want to thank everyone who suggested Cagney movies for me. I've added them to my Netflix queue and I can't wait! Thank you so much! I also realized after I wrote the post that I already knew of two light Cagney movies (oops) that I, in fact, own (oops): A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) and Footlight Parade (1933). I plan to rewatch these while I wait for the others to come in the mail. Thank you again everyone who suggested titles to me. I've taken your advice to heart and I will report back when I've seen the movies.

I've decided to do slightly more than just a spotlight on a musical number. Perhaps it's because it's the end of the year and I'd like to have a slam-bang finish or perhaps it's because my growing number of followers has inspired me to new heights... in any case, today I'm discussing "I Love A Piano" from Easter Parade (1948). I decided on this number in part because Andrew at Encore Entertainment asked if Easter Parade is good. The answer? Yes! It's a wonderful movie. The chemistry between Judy Garland and Fred Astaire was so great that the studio made preparations for another Judy and Fred film: The Barkleys of Broadway. Unfortunately, Judy Garland was having difficulties at this time and so a different actress was cast... Anyway, I picked this number (which begins at 3:34) because it is so enjoyable to watch. I love how Hannah's character blossoms as she becomes more like herself. The way she sings, the way they dance - they look like they're having so much fun! I love the way musical numbers develop character (that is, I love when they do). This scene shows Hannah's and Don's relationship perfectly - he grabs her up and swings her around, but is he doing that because he loves her or because it's part of the dance?



As I rewatched the scene in preparation for this post, I realized that there was more to be said about this number: namely, how much fun people seem to have when they're dancing on a piano. Fred and Judy do it here and I've found a few other examples....

Gene Kelly
does it in American in Paris (1951).

Shirley Temple does in Curly Top (1935).

Fred Astaire even does it again in Let's Dance (1950).

Apparently Hannah isn't the only one who loves pianos. If you had the chance, would you dance on one?

3 comments:

  1. I am so glad that we were all directed to this post! :) I love that you do spotlights on musicals because they so often get marginalized as mindless frivolity when there is really so much to be said about expression through dance and music, even if the plots aren't always that deep.

    I also love that you have chosen Easter Parade to spotlight as it was my gateway to a potential career in film that really started my passion for it. Sort of fun fact: Apparently Judy's red feather hat that she wears in that first number with Peter Lawford didn't react well to the rain, so in shots it goes between being perfectly alright to practically dripping red dye onto her forehead!

    I'd never really thought about how much people like dancing on piano's before, but see it as something of a return to vaudeville and a way to make musicals seem more down to earth. This made me think of a great sculpture by Dali (http://www.artisangalleries.com/images/sculpture/wg/dali/dali_surrealistpiano.jpg) which features an anonymous figure dancing on a piano with dancing legs of its own, creating a harmony between instrument and performer that is quite beautiful.

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  2. Well, as a pianist, I admit I cringe a bit when someone puts (gasp) their shoes (and tap shoes! Even worse) on the poor piano. But I do love that song!

    And the outfit she wears in the Fiddle Up song - too cute!

    Happy New Year! Your blog is one of my fave 2009 discoveries! Here's to 2010 being the best year yet!

    iamemmamusic.blogspot.com

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  3. Thank you sallytonks for this wonderful post! I also love this song sequence as we see Fred become more pleasant and you can’t help falling in love with Judy!! Plus it culminates in one of my all-time-favorite musical numbers…”We’re a Couple of Swells” Awesome post!

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