Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Love Me Tonight (1932)

One of the earliest musicals that I have ever seen is the very entertaining film Love Me Tonight that features several notable actors and actresses that would go on and achieve major success. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a Parisian tailor who poses as a nobleman. Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love with. Also featuring Charles Ruggles as a penniless nobleman with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family. It is a very engaging musical comedy with all the stars doing excellent work. The songs are top notch too with such classics as Love Me Tonight, Isn't It Romantic, Mimi and Lover. The staging of "Isn't It Romantic?" was revolutionary for its time, combining both singing and film editing, as the song is passed from one singer (or group of singers) to another, all of whom are at different locales. In 1990, Love Me Tonight was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. And music by Rodgers and Hart. Love Me Tonight is a gorgeous and extremely entertaining musical. Just look at the beautiful photo below of Myrna and Charles.

The Golden Age of Musicals: From the 1930s: Alice White

Alice White, attended Roanoke College in Virginia and then took a secretarial course at Hollywood High School. After leaving school she became a secretary and "script girl" for director Josef Von Sternberg. Soon after she worked for Charlie Chaplin, who decided to place her in front of the camera.

She was often compared with Clara Bow, playing mostly flappers and gold diggers, she attracted the attention of the director and producer Mervyn LeRoy who saw potential in her. Her first sound films included Show Girl (1928) and Show Girl in Hollywood (1930), both released by Warner Brothers and both based on novels by J. P. McEvoy. In these two films, White performed as "Dixie Dugan".Al Jolson (and his wife Ruby Keeler), Noah Beery (with his son), Walter Pidgeon, and Loretta Young make a cameo appearance in this film in the final reel, which was photographed in Technicolor. All four of these actors were big stars for Warner Bros. in 1930 but only four of them (Jolson, Keeler, Pidgeon, and Young) maintained their popularity beyond the early talkie period. Soundtracks:

"I've Got My Eye on You"

"Hang Onto a Rainbow"
"There's a Tear for Every Smile in Hollywood"

"Merrily We Roll Along"

In October 1929, McAvoy started the comic strip Dixie Dugan with the character Dixie having a "helmet" hairstyle and appearance similar to actress Louise Brooks. She left films in 1931 to improve her acting abilities. She made her final film appearance in, Flamingo Road (1949).

This month on Chick Flicks Musicals:

Monty, came up with a wonderful idea for Chick Flicks Musical Page. He thought it would be fun if every month we would come up with a theme.. So we decided that: This month on Chick Flicks Musicals: The Golden Age of Musicals: From the 1930s. I hope you enjoy..

The 1930s decade (and most of the 1940s as well) has been called "The Golden Age of Hollywood". The 30s was also the decade of the sound and color and the development of film genres (gangster films, musicals, newspaper-reporting films, historical biopics, social-realism films, screwball comedies, westerns and horror). It was the era in which the silent period ended, with many silent film stars not making the transition to sound.

As the 1930s began, there were a number of unique firsts, here are just a few:

Jean Harlow performed in her first major role in Howard Hughes' World War I aviation epic, Hell's Angels (1930); the "Blonde Bombshell" and soon became a major star

Greta Garbo, part of MGM's galaxy of stars and nicknamed "The Divine Garbo" and "The Swedish sphinx," spoke her first immortal, husky, Swedish-accented words in director Clarence Brown's MGM film Anna Christie (1930). (As a floozy, she spoke: "Gimme a vhiskey, ginger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby") - it was Garbo's first talkie (advertised as "GARBO TALKS!")

MGM stars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford starred together in the risque pre-Code film Dance, Fools, Dance (1931), the first of eight features that teamed them together

In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code, administered by Joseph I. Breen (and former Postmaster General Will Hays) set film guidelines regarding sex, violence, religion, and crime (not yet strictly enforced until the Production Code Administration (1934))

The first daily newspaper for the film industry had its debut in 1930, The Hollywood Reporter.

The world's first drive-in theatre opened in Camden, N.J. in June, 1933; the fourth drive-in was located on Pico in Los Angeles, CA and opened in September, 1934

The longest Hollywood talkie released up to that time, MGM's The Great Ziegfeld (1936), at 2 hours, 59 minutes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lovely to Look At(1952).

Lovely to Look At(1952). Director: Mervyn LeRoy. cast: Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Howard Keel. Marge Champion, Ann Miller and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

A couple of Broadway producers, are looking for backers for their fashion show. Al is one of the heirs of a dress salon in Paris, but it is almost bankrupt. The two other heiresses, Stephanie and Clarisse and the three producers are able to convince the creditors to back a fashion show. Of coarse everything becomes complicated, when Al and Tony fall in love with Stephanie.

I really loved the dance numbers by Ann Miller and The Champions. I also loved the gorgeous fashion show designed by Adrian The designers at the end of the film. Grayson and Keel, seemed a little stiff together. Red Skelton was funny, but.. this was not my favorite skit, that I have seen him perform in. Zsa Zsa her presence added a bit of charm to the movie.

Fun Facts:
During a party scene, Al Marsh (Red Skelton) does an "Irish tenor" skit, intermingling comedy and song. As the audience laughs, he comments "Well, you knew I wasn't Howard Keel when I came out here." Howard Keel, of course, co-starred in the movie as "Tony Naylor."

Howard Keel's character was named "Tony Naylor". During the 1950s and 60s, one of the most popular hang-outs for the stars in to meet after the filming was called "Tiny Naylors". It was located in Hollywood at the corner of Sunset Blvd and Vine Streets. Keel's characters' name was a nod to that famous coffee shop.

The lavish fashion-show sequence, directed by the uncredited Vincente Minnelli, showcased the gowns of Adrian, the influential designer associated with MGM's golden age of Garbo, Shearer, Harlow and Crawford. Adrian's work on the entire feature concluded his 28-year film career.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach and Dorothy Fields
Sung by Kathryn Grayson, and later danced by Gower Champion and Marge Champion

"Lovely To Look At"
(from the 1935 film version of "Roberta")
Music by Jerome Kern
Original lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Sung by Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel

"The Touch of Your Hand"
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Sung by Kathryn Grayson

"I Won't Dance"
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Dorothy Fields
Sung and Danced by Marge Champion and Gower Champion

Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Sung by Kathryn Grayson

"You're Devastating"
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Sung by Howard Keel

"I'll Be Hard to Handle"
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Bernard Dougall
Sung and Danced by Ann Miller and Men's Chorus

Music by Jerome Kern
Performed by Howard Keel, Red Skelton and Gower Champion

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jane Russell

Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell, in Bemidji, Minnesota, she was eldest child and only daughter of the five children of Roy William Russell.

Her father was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and her mother was a former actress with a road troupe. Her parents spent the early years of their marriage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For her birth her mother temporarily moved back to the U.S. to make sure she was born a U.S. citizen. Later the family moved to the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. They lived in Burbank in 1930 and her father worked as an office manager at a soap manufacturing plant.

Russell's mother arranged for her to take piano lessons. In addition to music, she was interested in drama and performed in stage productions at Van Nuys High School. Her dreams were to be a designer, until the death of her father at forty-six, when she went to work as a receptionist after graduation. She also modeled and at the urging of her mother, studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop and with famed Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya.

In 1940, Russell was signed to a seven-year contract with Howard Hughes and made her first movie, The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to show her figure.

One of my favorite Jane Russell movies is:
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953).Director: Howard Hawks.Cast: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, Taylor Holmes, and Norma Varden in supporting roles. The screenplay by Charles Lederer. Music of songwriting teams Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson and Jule Styne and Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written for the film.

The movie is a comedy with musical numbers. Russell is down-to-earth, with a sharp wit. Monroe role is the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is best remembered. Who can forget Monroe's performance of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"!

This video is for Bec.:D

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mel Carter - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.

"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me". Written by Harry Noble in 1952. It was a hit in 2 different decades. The original version was by Karen Chandler in 1952. It first reached the Billboard magazine charts on October 17, 1952 and lasted 18 weeks on the chart, peaking at #7. It was her only charted hit. As was often the case with songs of that era, a version was recorded by British singer Muriel Smith and became a hit in Britain in 1953, reaching the Top 3. Shirley Bassey covered the song on her 1969 album Does Anybody Miss Me. The version most often heard today is the latter-day hit version recorded by Mel Carter, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the "Easy listening" chart in 1965. The song was also used as the title for Gloria Estefan's 1994 album of covers, and was later referenced by U2's 1995 song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Bob Fosse!

Bob Fosse, was one of the greatest choreographers of all time and had many achievements in his life. For Damn Yankees, he took his ideas from, Jack Cole. He also took ideas from Jerome Robbins. While working on the show New Girl in Town, Fosse wanted to direct and choreograph his next show because of the conflict with the collaborators. The first movie he directed as well as choreographed, Redhead, Fosse used one of the first ballet dance numbers in a show that had five different styles of dance; Fosse's jazz, a cancan, a gypsy dance, a march, and an old-fashioned English music hall number. Fosse used the idea of subtext and gave his dancers something to think about during their numbers. He also used lighting to influence his work and direct the audience's attention to certain things. During Pippin, Fosse made the first ever commercial for a Broadway show.

In 1957, both Verdon and Fosse were studying with Sanford Meisner to develop a better acting technique for themselves. Fosse believed that, “The time to sing is when your emotional level is too high to just speak anymore, and the time to dance is when your emotions are just too strong to only sing about how you feel."

Big Spender Sequence from Sweet Charity. This is a dance sequences from one of the greatest choreographers of all time, Bob Fosse!

Song "It's A Bore!" From the Movie: Gigi.

Gigi(1958). Director: Vincente Minnelli. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. The film features songs with lyrics by Lerner; music by Frederick Loewe, arranged and conducted by André Previn.

"It's a Bore"
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Performed by Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, John Abbott

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Song "I Remember It Well" from the film: Gigi (1958)

Gigi(1958). Director: Vincente Minnelli. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. The film features songs with lyrics by Lerner; music by Frederick Loewe, arranged and conducted by André Previn.

"I Remember It Well"
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Performed by Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Louis Jordan

Louis Jourdan
Louis Jourdan Photos(1921-present) Happy birthday to one of cinema's most charming leading men in musicals and dramas. Born Louis Gendre, he was educated in France, Britain, and Turkey. He trained as an actor with René Simon at the École Dramatique. He debuted on-screen in 1939, going on to play cultivated, polished, dashing lead roles in a number of French romantic comedies and dramas. During World War II, after his father was arrested by the Gestapo, Louis and his two brothers joined the French underground; his film career came to a halt when he refused to act in Nazi propaganda films. In 1948, David O. Selznick invited him to Hollywood to appear in The Paradine Case (1947); he remained in the USA and went on to star in a number of Hollywood films. After 1953, he appeared in international productions and, in 1958, appeared in Gigi (1958), his best-known film by American audiences. His career was hampered by the limitations of the roles he was offered, most of which featured him as an old-fashioned Continental lover. But one of best latter day roles was as the villian Kamal Khan, who butted heads with super spy James Bond in 1983's Octopussy. He was very effective as the villian and subsequent roles cast him as such. Still living day with his wife of 64 years and one child in Vielle, the south of France.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Three Daring Daughters(1948).

Three Daring Daughters(1948). Director: Fred M. Wilcox. The screenplay was written by Albert Mannheimer, Frederick Kohner, Sonya Levien and John Meehan. Cast:Jeanette MacDonald, José Iturbi as Himself, Jane Powell, Edward Arnold, Harry Davenport, Moyna MacGill, Elinor Donahue and Ann E. Todd.

After the graduation ceremony of her eldest daughter, New York fashion magazine editor Louise Rayton Morgan, is placed under the care of Dr. Cannon, for an nervous breakdown. Louise's three daughters, Tess, Alix and Ilka, believe that their mother, is suffering from a broken heart.

Soon after their mother leaves for Cuba on a much needed vacation, Tess, Alix and Ilka pay a visit to their father's employer, Robert Nelson. Wanting to get their father called home from his overseas assignment. Tess wins Nelson's heart by singing a song for him, and he decides to help the girls get their parents back together. While, on board a cruise ship headed for Cuba, Louise falls in love with famous pianist and orchestra conductor José Iturbi. The couple marry as soon as they reach Cuba. A short time later, Louise returns to New York, and is about to tell her daughters her surprise when she learns the girls have a surprise of their own.

Three Daring Daughters, is a cute little movie. It may be a little fluffy, but a perfect film to watch on a hot summer day.

The Musical Rose Marie(1936).

The 1924 Broadway musical Rose Marie has been the basis of three MGM films of the same title. The best-known film adaptation was released in 1936; however, a silent version was released in 1928 and another film was released in 1954. All three versions are set in the Canadian wilderness. Portions of Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart's original score for the Broadway musical were used in the 1936 and 1954 films. The best known film version was the 1936 version, which starred Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Although the original plot was changed, and most of the songs were dropped, it was a huge success and became MacDonald and Eddy's best-known film. From what I have seen so far, I'm putting this movie on my "gotta see" list of movies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the Harvey Girls(1946).

The Harvey Girls(1946). Based on a 1942 novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams about Fred Harvey's famous Harvey House restaurants. Director: George Sidney. Cast: Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury, Virginia O'Brien, Ray Bolger, and Marjorie Main. It won an Academy Award for Best Song for "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", written by Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren.

A group of new waitresses for Harvey House restaurants, travel on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to the little town of Sandrock. Also traveling by train is Susan Bradley, who is is on her way to marry the man whose beautifully written letters letters swept her off her feet. Unfortunately, the man doesn't want to get married, so they agree to call it off. When she learns that the letters were written by the owner of the saloon, Ned Trent, she storms off to confront him and gives him a piece of her mind, which somehow he finds very attractive.

Now needing a job, Susan joins the Harvey Girls, and soon finds herself fighting against Trent's business partner, Judge Sam Purvis , who wants to close them down. Em, who is in love with Trent, sees Susan as her rival and the war is on.. You have to watch to see which girl wins her man.

I thought the film was Beautifully filmed, also..a wonderful supporting cast who all get a moment to shine including Ray Bolger, Virginia O'brien, Marjorie Main, a very young Cyd Charisse and a stunning 19 year old Angela Lansbury.

Fun Facts:
Angela Lansbury, is a singer in her own right, her voice was considered unsuitable for the character she played and her singing in the film was dubbed by Virginia Rees. Cyd Charisse, who had her first speaking role in the film, also had her singing dubbed, by Marion Doenges.

"On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung by Ben Carter, Marjorie Main, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland and chorus
Danced by Ray Bolger

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Stock(1950)

Summer Stock(1950). Director: Charles Walters. Cast: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main, and Phil Silvers. Nicholas Castle Sr was the choreographer.Summer Stock, was Judy's last MGM movie and also her last performance with Gene Kelly.

Jane Falbury, a farm owner whose actress sister Abigail, arrives at the family farm with her theater troupe. They need a practice stage, and Jane and her housekeeper Esme, not to happy about it agrees to let them use their barn. The actors and director Joe Ross, repay her by doing chores around the farm. You have to watch the movie, to see if they can pull off the the Big Show.

I really loved Judy's performance in the songs "Hello, Neighbor," the lovely "Friendly Star," and the show-stopping, "Get Happy." Her voice sounded in perfect condition. Kelly, is also wonderful in his performance.

Fun Facts:

In the films final song-and-dance number "Get Happy" performed by Judy Garland in a tuxedo jacket, black fedora. Choreographed by Charles Walters and filmed two months after the rest of the movie, because Garland, wanted to lose weight for the number. She went to see a hypnotist in Santa Barbara and lost 20 pounds. Garland performed the number perfectly in one take, and the rest is history. According to New York Times critic Bosley Crowther: " 'Get Happy' finds Miss Garland looking and performing her best".
Kelly performs a solo dance in a barn, using a newspaper and a creaky board as a props, to the song "You Wonderful You". The dance turned out to be one of the breakthrough numbers, of his career.

In the film Garland and Kelly, share what may be one of Garland's best dance duet on screen, the swinging "Portland Fancy" where a square dance turns into a challenge dance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dance, Girl, Dance! (1940)

This movie is on my wish list of movies to see. Dance, Girl, Dance!(1940) Director Dorothy Arzner. The dancers, Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball, are good friends trying to preserve their integrity, while trying to find their place in the spotlight.
Fun Fact: Lucille Ball and Maureen O'Hara became inseparable friends while filming Dance Girl, Dance, and became life-long friends afterward, up Till Ball's death in 1989. Maureen was having lunch with Lucille when Lucille first saw her future husband Desi Arnaz.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spoon With Me - Angela Lansbury

From the film: 'Until the Clouds Roll By' Angela Lansbury doing a musical number.

"How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?
Lyrics by Edward Laska
Music by Jerome Kern
Performed by Angela Lansbury

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). Romantic/ comedy. Director: Jean Negulesco. Produced and written by Nunnally Johnson. Music by Alfred Newman. Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald. Costumes: Travilla. Cast: Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D'Arcy, and Fred Clark.

High fashion model Schatze Page leases a luxury New York City apartment owned by Freddie Denmark, a businessman "on the lam" from the Internal Revenue Service. She quickly calls her friend calls, Pola Debevoise, to tell her that they rented the apartment. Pola, arrives and convinces Schatze to also invite her friend Loco Dempsey, to come live with them. Loco Instructed to bring lunch, arrives with several bags of groceries and Tom Brookman, who paid for her food. Schatze, immediately kicks him out (not knowing that he is rich), tells the girls" that a man met at the cold cuts counter is not the kind of man they want to get hooked up with." Over hot dogs and champagne, Schatze tells Loco that she and Pola have taken the apartment in order to find rich husbands, and that after divorcing a "gas pump jockey," she now wants to live in luxury. Thinking Schatze's scheme is the smartest thing they ever heard, Loco and Pola agree.

After three months, none of the girls have become engaged and Schatze has to sell the furniture to pay the rent.

One afternoon, Loco comes home with another gentleman helping her with her boxes. J. D. invites the women to a reception that night, where the girls meet promising looking men. Afterward, the women accompany their dates to a fancy restaurant. Pola is escorted by J. Stewart Merrill, "Arab" who brags about his money, while Loco is accompanied by Waldo Brewster, a rich businessman who complains about his wife. Now all the girls have to do is use all their talents to trap and marry 3 millionaires.

I really enjoyed watching this film. It has three wonderful actresses of the time, Marilyn, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall. A great movie with cute twists and turns, with several interesting elements that make it worth watching, maybe on a Sunday afternoon.

This film was the final box-office success in Betty Grable's 26 year movie career.
Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, then on her way to major stardom, became friends during filming with Betty Grable, who said to her "Honey, I've have mine. Go get yours."

Click to view movie trailer.


"Street Scene (aka Sentimental Rhapsody)"
Composed and Conducted by Alfred Newman
Performed by The Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra in the prologue

"New York, New York"
(1953) (uncredited)
Music by Lionel Newman
Lyrics by Ken Darby
Sung by chorus during the opening credits and played in the score
Conducted by Alfred Newman onscreen at the end
Performed by The Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra

"How About You?"
(1941) (uncredited)
Music by Burton Lane
Background music played in the restaurant

"I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'"
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Background music when Schatze, Pola and Loco are in the women's lounge

"Home on the Range"
(1904) (uncredited)
Music by Daniel E. Kelly
In the score during Schatze's dream

"Deep in the Heart of Texas"
(1942) (uncredited)
Music by Don Swander
In the score during Schatze's dream

"Ach, du Lieber Augustine"
(ca 1768) (uncredited)
In the score during Loco's dream

"Sweet and Lovely"
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Gus Arnheim, Harry Tobias and Neil Moret
In the score during the fashion showing

"You'll Never Know"
(1943) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the radio at the lodge and often throughout the picture

"I Know Why (and So Do You)"
(1941) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the piano before the wedding

"Bridal Chorus"
(1850) (uncredited)
From "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Played as Schatze is walking down the aisle