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My Kind of Movie
on September 1, 2003
Dismissed by many as overly-long, poorly-scripted Rat Pack self-indulgence with inferior musical material, "Robin and the 7 Hoods" is a wacky mafia musical in the fun-loving style of pre-Hammerstein Broadway variety shows, and with a pretty snappy collection of Cahn-Van Heusen tunes. Remember, it's this musical, not "Chicago," that gave the Windy City its proudest anthem. But as solid as the Chairman's performance is, it's almost no match for Crosby's, in the venerable crooner's next-to-last film appearance.
Once Bing appears mid-way through the film, the rest of the picture--with the exception of the"My Kind of Town" gala finish--belongs to Crosby. His acting, singing, and dancing not only outshine his on-screen companions' but ihelp bring order to the proceedings, practically making the somewhat slipshod Rat Pack appear like a coherent musical comedy team. At five foot seven inches, Bing was usually the shortest member on the set, but his crisp, economical body movements and quick, graceful feet make him "play" taller than his actual height.
The dubbing is, as others have observed, pretty unconvincing. On the other hand, most of the dance and music scenes are shot continuously in a single take or two, like an Astaire film. Others may prefer the frenetic and manipulative MTV editing style of films like "Chicago," which permit the filmmaker to edit a "constructed reality" while transforming Bozos into Baryshnikovs. I'll take these lovable Bozos just as they are (though a Blu Ray version is certainly overdue).