Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Deep in My Heart(1954). Biographical musical about the life of operetta composer Sigmund Romberg, who wrote the music for The Student Prince, The Desert Song, and The New Moon. Leonard Spigelglass adapted the film from Elliott Arnold's 1949 biography of the same name. Stanley Donen directed and Eugene Loring choreographed.
The film, which takes its title from "Deep in My Heart, Dear," a song from "The Student Prince," which has cameos by nearly every singer or dancer on the MGM lot at the time. These include Cyd Charisse, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Howard Keel, Gene Kelly and his brother Fred Kelly (their only on-screen performance together), Tony Martin, Ann Miller, James Mitchell, Jane Powell, and the ballerina Tamara Toumanova. Robert Easton and Russ Tamblyn both make uncredited appearances.
Some highlights of Fred Kelly's career:
Winner of three Donaldson awards, which were the precursor of the Tony Awards: one for acting (presented by Helen Hayes), one for comedy (presented by Charlie Chaplin), and one for dance (presented by Antoinette Perry, for whom the Tony awards are named).
Directed The Ice Capades.
Introduced the mambo to the New York City dance scene.
Invented the cha-cha.
Taught a young man named John Travolta to dance in Oradell, NJ.
In the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, the song “The Boy Next Door” was based on Fred and his wife, Dottie, who was his childhood sweetheart. They lived next door to each other in Pittsburgh.
Fred produced, directed, or was otherwise involved with the first television drama series, soap opera, cooking show, and talk show - a true television pioneer.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Everybody Sing(1938). A musical comedy film starring Judy Garland, Allan Jones, Fanny Brice, Reginald Owen and Billie Burke.
Judy Bellaire, must go home and face her family after being expelled from, Colvin School for Girls for turning her classical music into jazz . Her eccentric father Hillary and mother Diana are too busy with their own lives to deal with her problems. The family servants, Olga Chekaloff and Ricky Saboni and her sister Sylvia, are the only ones who seem to understand.
When backer John Fleming, decides that he won't finance the play, Judy thinks that she can save the play by performing herself. Judy, is sent off to Europe to prevent her from taking a job singing at the Cafe Neppo, but... she sneaks away and becomes a huge success on her own.
Wanting to help his friends the Bellaires, Ricky talks his boss at the Cafe, Signor Giovanni Vittorino, into backing a show starring himself and Judy.
Meanwhile, Jerrold has threatened to quit Hillary's play and Sylvia promises to marry him. Heartbroken, she sends Olga out with a message for Ricky, but... Olga forgets all about it, when she is given a part in the show.
A child welfare agent, tries to stop Judy from performing in the play because she is under age, but... Olga has the man arrested as a kidnapper. Realizing that Judy is not in Europe and worried that she really has been kidnapped, they go to the police station, where they learn that she is performing in a play. They go to the theater to try and stop her, but... seeing her perform, they realize that the stage is where she belongs.
"Everybody Sing" is a delightful 1938 film filled with music. Pre-Wizard of Oz, Judy sings with her incredible voice: "Swing Mr. Mendolssohn," "Down to Melody Farm," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "Ever Since the World Began."
Brice, does a specialty number, and Jones, in his beautiful tenor, sings "The Show Must Go On," "Cosi-Cosa," and "First Thing in the Morning."
Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 – May 29, 1951) was a popular comedian, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances and is known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl (1968).
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Judy at Carnegie Hall is a two-record live recording of a concert performed by Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall in New York.
This concert was held on the night of April 23, 1961, has been called "the greatest night in show business history".
After her battle with drugs and alcohol, she returned to the concert stage with a program of 'Just Judy.' Garland's 1960-1961 tour of Europe and North America was a huge success and eventually she was known as 'The World's Greatest Entertainer'.
The release of Garland's record set, only two months after the concert, was a huge best seller.. charting for 73 weeks on the Billboard chart, including 13 weeks at number one, and being certified gold. It won four Grammy Awards, for Album of the Year (The first live album and the first album by a female performer to win the award.), Best Female Vocal Performance, Best Engineered Album, and Best Album Cover. The album has never been out of print.
In 2003, the album was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
Video: first of 3.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The Constant Nymph(1943). A romantic drama. Cast Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, Charles Coburn, May Whitty, and Peter Lorre. It was adapted by Kathryn Scola from the Margaret Kennedy novel and play by Kennedy and Basil Dean, and directed by Edmund Goulding.
After, composer Lewis Dodd's latest symphony does not go over very well in London, he goes to visit an old friend musician, Albert Sanger. One of Sanger's four daughters Tessa, falls in love with Lewis and dreams of helping him follow his dream as a composer.
The very ill Sanger has removed his daughters away from society and now worries about what is to become of them. He asks Lewis to inform the girls wealthy uncle, Charles Creighton, if he dies. Soon after, Sanger then scolds Lewis for the lack of feeling in his music. When the girls play a little song that Lewis wrote for them, Sanger tells Lewis that, the beautiful melody is better than his more intellectual work.
Some time later, Sanger dies. Lewis sends for Creighton, who arrives with his beautiful daughter Florence and Kate travels to Milan to study music and Toni marries wealthy Fritz Bercovy. Lewis and Florence fall in love and when they announce their engagement, the frail Tessa faints. Creighton arranges for Tessa and Paula to attend school in England and Lewis and Florence marry.
Six months later, Lewis is frustrated by Florence trying to take over his career and the couple quarrel constantly. When Tessa and Paula run away from their school, Lewis leaves to look for them, not attending the party that Florence has planned to introduce him to her friends. Lewis, later finds them home waiting for him. Paula leaves to join Fritz and Toni, who is pregnant and Tessa stays with Florence and Lewis. When Tessa hears Lewis' latest composition, based on the song that he wrote for her and her sisters, she believes it is not his best work.
Later, Tessa encourages Lewis to put sentiment back into his music and with Tessa's help, Lewis changes his composition. Florence, now knows that Tessa is her rival and tries to get rid of her, but Lewis comes to her defense. The night of the first performance, Lewis realizes that he is in love with Tessa and asks her to go away with him, but Tessa refuses because he is married to her cousin. The excitement of Lewis' proposal and the premiere of his composition causes Tessa to have another fainting spell, and Florence insists that Tessa stay home, rather than attend the concert. Will Lewis' concert go well and will Florence decide to let him go?
Fun Fact: Alfred Hitchcock was considered for directing this film. Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville was one of the writers of The Constant Nymph 1928 version.
A very romantic film, with beautiful music by Erich Korngold. Alexis Smith as the unloved wife gives a perfect performance, as does Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer. The supporting actors are also very good, including Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall, Dame May Witty, and Jean Muir. You will need plenty of Kleenex for the very touching ending.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
They Shall Have Music(1939). A musical film starring violinist Jascha Heifetz (as himself), Joel McCrea, Andrea Leeds and Gene Reynolds.
The story begins when a boy from the slums named Frankie, life is changed when hears a performance by violinist Jascha Heifetz.
Inspired by the maestro, Frankie goes back to playing his violin, that his late father had taught him to play.
After his stepfather smashes the violin he threatens to send Frankie to reform school, Frankie runs away from home and joins up with a music school for underprivileged children run by Professor Lawson and his daughter Ann. Impressed by Frankie's talent, the professor takes him in.
Unknown to the Professor, the school is threatened by Flower, who insists that the school charge tuition or will be shut it down. When Frankie overhears Ann and Peter McCarthy, discussing the schools financial problems, he and the other children perform on the street.
After hearing the children play, Heifetz shows an interest in the school and Peter, tells them that Heifetz will perform at the children's concert. On the evening of the performance, Flower learns that Peter was lying and sends his men to repossess the instruments. Will Peter and Frankie find Heifetz, in time to perform with the children and save the school?
Fun Fact: One of the few films in which conductor Alfred Newman actually makes an on-screen appearance.
This film is truly a heart warming, story about poor but musically gifted children fighting to keep their music school open. Gene Reynolds, plays the young boy who's transformed by his love for the violin at a school which becomes the first real family. The performances by the musically gifted children and Heifetz are amazing. The cast including Joel McCrea, Andea Leeds and Walter Brennan make this film a true a treasure.
Full length movie:
Heifetz performed in the movie, They Shall Have Music (1939) directed by Archie Mayo and written by John Howard Lawson and Irmgard von Cube. He played himself, stepping in to save a music school for poor children from foreclosure. He later appeared in the 1947 film, Carnegie Hall, performing an abridged version of the first movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, with the orchestra led by Fritz Reiner, and consoling the star of the picture, who had watched his performance. Heifetz later recorded the complete Tchaikovsky concerto with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as one of RCA Victor's "Living Stereo" discs. In 1951, he appeared in the film Of Men and Music. In 1962. he appeared in a televised series of his master classes, and, in 1971, Heifetz on Television aired, an hour-long color special that featured the violinist performing a series of short works, the "Scottish Fantasy" by Max Bruch, and the Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 by Bach. Heifetz even conducted the orchestra, as the surviving video recording documents. The most recent film featuring Heifetz, Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler, premiered on April 16, 2011 at the Colburn School of Music. It is "The only film biography of the world's most renowned violinist, featuring family home movies in Los Angeles and all over the world "
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Here's the last movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole" danced by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
The entire piece was released as a short entitled "Spanish Fiesta." Later, Massine would appear in "The Red Shoes" and Toumanova in "Torn Curtain." Other dancers here included Danilova, Franklin, Krassovska and Eglevsky. Efrem Kurtz conducted and Jean Negulesco was the director.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
My Wild Irish Rose(1947) film directed by David Butler. cast: Dennis Morgan and Arlene Dahl. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1948.
A fictionalized bio-pic of Chancellor Olcott, the film showcases the rise of an Irish-American tenor to stardom at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th.
Olcott's original composition, of the same name, was included in the film's music, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Working, as a tugboat operator Chauncey Olcott, has dreams of making it "big" in show business. Soon finds a way into a dinner party in honor of the famous, Miss Lillian Russell, who tells him that he has a wonderful voice. With that Chauncey, decides to tell his mother, that he is ready to leave home to follow his dreams. His mother gives Chauncey his father's watch and asks him not to use his father's name until he can honor it with success. Chauncey, quickly pawns the watch to buy a banjo and using the stage name Jack Chancellor, travels around the country.
When his money for the watch runs out, he trades in his carriage for the lease on a bar. Later, he stops a runaway horse carrying Rose Donovan and immediately falls in love with her. It is not long before Chauncey learns, Nick Popolis, is the real owner of the bar is and demotes Chauncey to janitor and Rose is engaged to Terry O'Rourke.
Rose, Popolis, Terry and her father John, travel to New York to hear Chauncey sing. There, Terry learns of Chauncey's feelings for Rose and sends some of his friends to beat up the singer. After, Chauncey wins the fight with the help of his friends, Rose invites him to meet her and her father at church the next day, but Chauncey, finds himself behind bars. Several days later, Duke Muldoon, another member of the show, pays Chauncey's bail, but he has already lost his job.
Looking for work, Chauncey again meets Lillian Russell, who hires him to sing in her show. When, Rose hears the rumors of a romance between Lillian and Chauncey, she travels to New York to find out for herself. Rose misunderstands, what she finds, heartbroken she returns home.
After Lillian's show closes, Popolis, who manages the Irish singer William Scanlon, hires Chauncey to sing in the show. For the first time, Chauncey performs using his own name.
On St. Patrick's Day, Scanlon is unable to sing, and Chauncey takes his place. Disappointed the crowd is furious, until Chauncey's voice charms them. Scanlon wants Chauncey to be his successor and gives him a watch he received from the Prince of Wales. Will Chauncey win over Rose heart once again?
This very charming musical played beautifully by Dennis Morgan and Arlene Dahl his love interest. There are over 25 songs: Come Down My Evening Star; My Nellie's Blue Eyes; You Tell Me Your Dream; Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie; Will You Love Me In December?; By The Light Of The Silvery Moon; Minstrel Days; Polly Wolly Doodle; The Natchez and the Robert E. Lee; Miss Lindy Lou; If I'm Dreaming; Wee Rose of Killarney; Shake Hands; One Little Girl; A Little Bit of Heaven; Mary; Sweet Innescarren; Tiddely Um; When Irish Eyes Are Smiling; Mother Machree; The Kerey Fair; Room In My Heart; My Wild Irish Rose.
Although, the film only earned one Oscar nomination for Scoring. I also think it should have won one for Art Direction and Costume Design.
Dahl began her acting career in 1947. She reached the peak of her popularity and success in the 1950s. Some of her films include: Reign of Terror (1949), Three Little Words (1950), Woman's World (1954), Slightly Scarlet (1956), and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959).