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Post an unpopular statement about a classic movie

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In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 10:20:35 PM PDT
W.A. Smith:

I had no idea that you like the Busby Berkeley musicals. Is there a number that you are particularly fond of?

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 7:20:18 AM PDT
JB: Brain dead = votes for Democrats (couldn't resist....)

Posted on May 17, 2012 7:27:00 AM PDT
BGT: Which ones can't you like? Even the completely over-the-top exercises in lurid excess (basically everything in Wonder Bar, but particularly Going to Heaven on a Mule). Particular high points might include: the three big numbers at the end of Footlight Parade, particularly "By a Waterfall"; the one with neon violins; the "I Got Rhythm" Western number; of course, "The Lady in the Tutti-Fruiti Hat" (the end is a truly surreal moment); and several he did with Esther Williams, including the water-skiing number at Cypress Gardens. I had the good fortune in my youth to see the last work he ever did--staging for the musical numbers in a revival of No, No, Nanette, with Bobby Van and Helen Gallagher on Broadway.

Posted on May 17, 2012 7:45:13 AM PDT
Steelers fan says:
I own a copy of "Wonder Bar". Film is very strange. "Goin' To Heaven On A Mule" (think it was censored for years) is absolutely jaw-dropping. Probably the most racially offensive production number in Hollywood history.

Film features Kay Francis, who is always worth watching.

Posted on May 17, 2012 8:01:32 AM PDT
Steelers: Certainly alien to modern sensibilities--although not to be censored on that account. No worse than Green Pastures, frankly.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 11:55:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 17, 2012 11:57:46 AM PDT

I've only seen a few clips from "Wonder Bar." Apparently it's quite racially offensive. Amazon it has on DVD-R for a price and I don't mean low.

Most of the songs for these pictures were written by the two hack song writers Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Music director Leo Forbstein got his name on the credits of WB pictures for at least 25 straight years.

In the "Shadow Waltz" number, you can see, in some shots, the electric cords draped over the shoulders of the dancers and connected to the neon lights of the violins and bows. I wonder if anyone got electrocuted in trying to film this number?

"The Words are in My Heart" number with the girls and their little pianos is a bit comical. You can see the legs of the male dancers, dressed in black pants, hunched over inside the pianos to move them around. In the closing shot the pianos all magically move to fit together to form a perfect rectangle, achieved by the film's being run backward, betrayed by the manner in which the dancer's gown moves.

The "Lullaby of Broadway" is my favorite somehow. There are no fancy vertical shots but the expressions of determination and almost grimness of the dancers is impressive, almost a little frightening. The scene is a natural for black and white photography. Listening to the Warner Bros. orchestra chug through thirty-seven choruses of Lullaby of Broadway is enough to put any jazz lover's teeth on edge. Musically, the ultimate in the realm of the unhip.

Posted on May 17, 2012 2:15:59 PM PDT
BCG: Berkeley's work represents one of the pinnacles of dance on screen; he invented the crane shot, and there is nothing else like the mesmerizing symmetry of his compositions. Dare I say that Balanchine and he shared some sensibilities? "Going to Heaven on a Mule" is, as I noted, quite alien to modern sensibilities, but quite remarkable nonetheless, and certainly not to be censored. And any consideration of surrealism in cinema must include him, although he was of course no doctrinaire surrealist.

I'm not to be drawn into a discussion of the four-letter musical form. stevign is out of my blood as a result of the last.

Posted on May 29, 2012 6:41:44 PM PDT
I'll revive this thread:

I absolutely despised Shakespeare in Love.

Posted on May 30, 2012 9:03:34 AM PDT
P: And why, pray? Well acted, well mounted, very well written indeed, and witty and intelligent. And how are these bad things?

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 9:54:57 AM PDT
I thought it was just plain cheesy. You could argue that the same problems happened in Amadeus, but the problem was essentially that it was poorly directed.

Posted on May 30, 2012 10:12:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2012 8:37:56 AM PDT
P: Cheesy. You praise Disney animation, and call a film with a Tom Stoppard screenplay cheesy. Amadeus has no respect for Mozart--that is my long-standing issue with it, as well as its deadly seriousness. Shakespeare in Love is a comedy, a light-hearted jeu d'esprit. And very well directed.

Frankly, I think you need to reset your aesthetic standards.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 10:32:29 AM PDT
WAS: The movie was made purely for a political campaign by Miramax to get people to name it Best Picture.

Frankly, that nomination was wasted. The Big Lebowski and Pleasantville were better pictures that year.

Posted on May 31, 2012 8:37:34 AM PDT
PoM: With respect: please. I freely admit the existence of a class of films that exist solely for the purpose of Academy Award nominations--like in particular those featuring showboating perforamnces like Ironweed, and I Am Sam, and those that are painfully Relevant, like Blood Diamond and A Mighty Heart. And it is true that Miramax invested a good deal of energy in its campaign for Shakespeare in Love that year. And, furthermore, I can understand how one might prefer The Big Lebowski and Pleasantville on a personal basis.

But Shakespeare in Love remains a first-rate film with a top-notch screenplay--particularly to those of us with a taste for wit and literacy and for first rate writing--whether or not it accords with your personal taste. I again respectfully suggest a reset.

Posted on May 31, 2012 1:30:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2012 1:30:23 PM PDT
WAS: It's true, I've seen the movie only once. But frankly, I've done much with Shakespeare myself, and I just didn't find the film enjoyable compared to Amadeus. Maybe I will give it another shot in a little while, but not anytime soon, since I saw it last year.

Posted on May 31, 2012 1:50:48 PM PDT
PoM--In my canon, Shakespeare stands at the top in drama, as does Mozart in music. And Shakespeare in Love does far more honor to Shakespeare than does Amadeus to Mozart--the Mozart of Amadeus is crude caricature.

Posted on May 31, 2012 2:21:07 PM PDT
WA Smith:

I hadn't watched "Shakespeare in Love" for a few years and decided to order the Blu-ray of it, the price being quite reasonable. I had forgotten what a really fine film it is and it does look particularly beautiful in Blu-ray. Also, I had forgotten that Geoffrey Rusch was in that. I certainly think it rated the best picture Oscar.

I don't think there was any intent to make Mozart in the stage or film version of "Amadeus" biographically accurate. The message seemed to be that great talent, like a bolt of lightening, can strike anywhere. Apparently, in this instance, the play was better than the film. In the film, Antonio Salieri is depicted as helping the dying Mozart in completing the Requiem -- a total fiction, of course.

A question keeps nagging me: Will there be a significant advantage to seeing Citizen Kane in Blu-ray? I recently bought the 1940 "Rebecca" in Blu-ray and it's a big improvement.

Posted on May 31, 2012 4:27:49 PM PDT
BGT: Amadeus fails dramatically in ways. First, I don't demand absolutely biographical fidelity--but the film fails even reasonable credibility. And that whole "God, why did you choose him and not me?" theme--obviously to be enhanced by making Mozart a fool outside of his musical genius--is trite and silly. The only good thing about the film is the music.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012 7:42:20 PM PDT
WAS: I completely agree about Shakespeare and Mozart being at the top of their respective art forms. But Amadeus was more about Salieri's envy rather than Mozart's brilliance. F. Murray Abraham gave a brilliant performance.

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 8:04:07 AM PDT
PoM: F, Murray does give a fine performance--of a very silly script that does not stand up to examination. And the whole theme of Salieri's envy is tired--it goes back to a work of Pushkin's, and has nothing to do with the real characters. I have no patience with it.

You might however find Rimsky-Korsakov's short opera Mozart and Salieri of some interest.

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 8:32:06 AM PDT
Shannon M. says:
I absolutely hate gangster movies. The Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas. I hate them all. People talk about how great the acting is, how thrilling the stories are. I see nothing but the glorification of cold-blooded killers. When murder has touched your own family, you don't see on-screen murderers as great anti-heroes anymore.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 11:29:21 AM PDT
WAS: Funny that you bring up opera: I'm headed to Berklee College of Music in the fall, and my dad gave me some lecture tapes on listening to and understanding opera since he knows my great ambition and passion for film scoring. What's the opera you mentioned called?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 11:30:37 AM PDT
Shannon M.: Funny then how The Godfather and Goodfellas are consistently ranked among the greatest films of all time. But the filmmakers are not trying to get people to become cold-blooded killers, now are they?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 12:50:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 1, 2012 12:53:06 PM PDT
P: Mozart and Salieri. See

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 1:22:39 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 1, 2012 3:44:41 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 7:58:22 PM PDT
Shannon M. says:
Pastor of Muppets: I thought that was the point of this discussion, to post an unpopular comment about classic movies. I guess that means: as long as everyone else agrees with what I said, right?
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  211
Total posts:  1782
Initial post:  Feb 9, 2010
Latest post:  6 days ago

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