Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anybody else you know you can't remember?

Hello everyone! My but it's been a long time. Well, first things first.

For those of you who guessed On The Town in my quote post from oh-so-long ago (that is, Meredith, Amanda Cooper, and emma wallace), congratulations!!

The results for the Mary Poppins poll were very interesting. Here they are:
"Chim Chim Cher-ee" won with 6 votes (54%). "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" was close behind with 5 votes (45%). "Sister Suffragette," "Jolly Holiday," and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" tied with 4 votes (36%). "Spoonful of Sugar" and "Let's Go Fly A Kite" both had 3 votes (27%). "The Life I Lead" had 2 votes (18%) while "A Man Has Dreams" and "Stay Awake" each had one vote (9%). "I Love to Laugh," "Fidelity Feduciary Bank" and "Step in Time" didn't get any votes, which is surprising to me. Thank you to everyone who voted!!

Well, I've been away for practically a whole month. I wish I could promise I'll be on top of things from now on, will read blogs in a timely manner, and post regularly. However, my schedule is still pretty crazy so I'm not sure how long it will take me to settle things down. Believe me, I'd like to have a calmer schedule. I'm working on getting a new job right now, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

While I have been neglecting my blog-writing and my blog-reading, I haven't been as neglectful in reading film-related books. This month, I read TCM's book 50 Leading Men of the Hollywood Era and I'm working on Arlene Croce's The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book. I've also been watching those Makings-of I decided to start watching way back when. And then I've been slowly chipping away at my 95-long Netflix queue. I've watched To Catch A Thief, Summer Magic, Dodge City, and The Happiest Millionaire. I have My Blue Heaven sitting on my desk right now but I'm not quite sure when I'll get to it.

Today, since I've been reading about Fred and Ginger, I decided to watch a bit of Roberta. It's a funny thing about those movies - no matter how stressed you are, how long it's been since you've watched them, whether or not you're watching them alone - they're delightful to watch every time. When they start dancing the "I'll Be Hard to Handle" number, I felt elated and calmed at the same time. There should be a study about the therapeutic qualities of Fred and Ginger films. And now, to pass on the joy, I leave you with this:

Thanks for loyally following me! I really appreciate it! I will endeavor to get back into the groove of things soon!

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Gee, all my life I've wanted someone to love me for my sack of defalic head."

And now, the quote of the week! No one guessed the quote from several weeks ago which was from The Music Man. But, here's this week's:

"Gee, all my life I've wanted someone to love me for my sack of defalic head."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'd love to make a tour of you...

Yay! I get to write to do my compare/contrast segment post (also known as my Old Hollywood/New Hollywood post, also known as my musical remakes post). I've been wanting to do another one for quite a while. It's so exciting!

There are several that I want to do but I think I'll go with comparing Ninotchka (1939) and Silk Stockings (1957). I watched the original a few months ago for the first time. Although, now that I think of it, "a few months ago" may very well have been January. Ah well. The truth is, I saw the remake first. And the first movie is usually the most dear, if only for sentimental reasons. Sometimes there are exceptions, but I've found that people are usually more attached to the first version of anything they've seen. That said, you can probably guess which of the two I prefer.

I think the original has many marks in its favor. A brilliant cast, for one. Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas are in fine form in this movie and both are delightful to see. The movie also has the benefit of being the original and, thus, the jokes are fresher and newer than they are in the remake.

Now, here are my problems with the movie. I don't like Ninotchka's transition. I don't think there is enough leading up to her change. She laughs and then, suddenly, she's a new woman. I suppose the laugh is a magical moment for her, but I have a hard time believing her new love and her new free spirit after just one luncheon. And, although this may sound odd, I do believe it in the musical, where the change arises from a dance. Again, not exactly a realistic approach, but a lot can come from music and a lot can be expressed in a dance. The "All of You" number shows her loosening and changing and, by the end of the number, we're as transported by the music as she is. That is the benefit of musicals - they get music and music has a magic all its own. What's more, the musical has Cole Porter music, which is in a class all its own. There are some fantastic numbers in this movie which is one of the major reasons I enjoy it.

As much as I like Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas, I have to confess that I love Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse more. Not saying they're better actors necessarily; I just happen to like them better. I love Cyd Charisse and I think she is adorable in her role. Ironically, neither Fred Astaire nor Melvyn Douglas are exactly the handsomest men around (in my opinion), but if I were to choose between them, I'd pick Fred Astaire. This probably comes as no suprise, really, but there it is.

However, I will say this about the original. I absolutely love the scene when Ninotchka first meets Leon. I enjoy the way she tolerates his flirtation.

Which do you prefer? The original or the musical remake? I'm posting a poll to the side so you can tell me there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coo! What a sight!

#30 Mary Poppins (1964)

I know I say this a lot, but this is one of my absolute favorite movies ever. It's so magical and beautiful and poignant and touching and fun. It's a masterpiece. When people ask me what my favorite movie is (and I work at Disney so this question does come up in conversation from time to time), I automatically think cartoons but then as I start listing them, I always have to throw this one in because I think it is one of the best made movies, and one of the best made Disney movies.

I don't think I have to give you a nutshell of the plot, so I won't. Phew! I'm off the hook for this one!

Reasons for why this movie is a masterpiece: 1) the story. It's really quite perfect. It has a complete arc that's filled with emotion and entertainment and poignancy and, importantly, it ends with hope (I like that Bert bids Mary Poppins farewell; it makes her character, and his, seem less lonesome). 2) the technology. I know that movie makers, and Walt Disney in particular, had been experimenting with combining cartoon and live action for decades before Mary Poppins (the Alice comedies of the 1920's), but the combination of the two blend so beautifully together, it's hard to imagine them separated. 3) the characters. Every one in the film from the practically perfect Mary Poppins, the mysterious but friendly Bert, jolly Uncle Albert, suffragette Mrs. Banks, stoic Mr. Banks, to the "adorable" children, the servants, the policeman, and the sweeps are colorful and thoroughly enjoyable characters. There isn't a dislikeable one among the lot. Although Mr. Bank has his moments, he is, in general, a pitiable character and he gets some fantastic numbers, which leads to #4.... 4) the music. You all know how much I love the Sherman Brothers. I think they were geniuses and I do wish they got more credit and recognition for their work. But, at the very least, they get a good amount of press for their work here. These songs are classic and they are classic Sherman magic. I love the way each song has a story behind it and every song has a philosophy or observation behind it. 5) the performers. this really goes hand in hand with #3, but I feel there should be something said about how amazing all of the actors are in this. There isn't a bad pick in the entire cast. Everyone is a perfect fit. 6) Finally, the magic. You just can't deny it. The movie is pure Disney magic from beginning to end. It's charming and touching, philosophical and entertaining.

Now, for some trivia. And these ones I know from watching documentaries and reading bits and pieces from time to time so I really can't cite them off-hand like I usually do. Like I said earlier, a lot of the songs have stories behind them which are very entertaining. One of my personal favorites is the story of "Sister Suffragette." When Walt Disney called Glynis Johns in to offer her the role, she thought he planned to make her the title character and was completely overjoyed. When he told her he actually wanted to make her the mother, she said she wasn't interested. So, Walt Disney told her that they'd written a song for her in this role and she told him that she'd think about it after she'd heard the song. So, Walt Disney called up the Sherman brothers and told them to think up a song for Mrs. Banks and fast. They had, luckily, already been playing with a tune for Mary Poppins about her being "practically perfect in every way." After changing the lyrics, it became "Sister Suffragette." The rest of the trivia that I know is in bits and pieces:
- "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" was Walt's favorite song
- "Step in Time" was more or less inspired by "Knees Up, Mother Brown"
- The Sherman brothers originally wrote a song for the character Admiral Boom but Walt requested the song be taken out. The tune of the song is still the Admiral's theme and you can hear it whenever he has a scene (sing to yourself "Admiral Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom Boom" when he comes on and you'll pick up on the tune).

I could go on and on. If I'm not careful, I will!! I'm having to stop myself from waxing too eloquent on this movie. I'm in no way an expert but I have watched the documentary on it and I read the book written by the Sherman brothers and paid especial attention to this chapter. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend both. I'll post a new poll up too - which is your favorite song in Mary Poppins?

I leave you with this little bit of silliness and one of my favorite quotes.

"There's the whole world at your feet. And who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And think of all of the fun if we played each other on repeat one...

Wow. Long time, no see! Same old excuse, I'm afraid: I've been crazy-busy with work, working 6 days/50 hours a week. I haven't had much time for blogging and blog-reading. I'm going to try and get back into gear with all that, slowly but surely. It's hard making a regular schedule for one's self when one's work schedule is totally irregular. I've finally gotten myself to clean the cat's litter box in a (more or less) regular manner.

Like I said, slowly but surely. Once upon a time, I used iCal and scheduled everything on my to-do list around my work schedule. It worked beautifully, if I remember correctly, so I don't know quite why I stopped. In any case, I may have to try it again and see if it works beautifully this go around. All this to say, it feels like it's been ages since I've been able to post about a movie in my 100 movies list, or a segment post, or a list, or a quote of the week. Today is my first day of in 12 days and I'm hoping to take full advantage of the opportunity and maybe pre-write a few posts in order to get back on track. However, I also need to go through the very un-fun task of shopping for work shoes. sigh. We'll see how it works. I may have too much fun relaxing to do anything productive.

In the meantime, I have managed to work on some projects when I'm off work. For one thing, I made a new banner. Do you like it? I'm prodigously proud of it! And, most recently, I finished a video for Emma Wallace's new cd. You can view the video on my YouTube channel but I'll embed it here to make things easier. I hope you enjoy it!