Author Topic: Sandy Faces the Music  (Read 23864 times)

sdedalus

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #80 on: February 28, 2012, 11:11:13 PM »
Don't know that one, but I hear Jolson is unbearable in everything except Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (which is awesome).

The Altman analogy, musicals climaxing at the end, seems appropriate for other genre films as well.  How many action films follow the same basic structure, with the action sequences slowly building until the final craziness?  What's great about the 30s musicals (most of the Berkeleys I think, and several of the Astaire-Rogers, Follow the Fleet in particular) is that after the final climax, the plot comes to an end as quickly as possible.  No cuddling, just wrap it up and get on with our lives.
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Sandy

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #81 on: February 28, 2012, 11:15:31 PM »
There was the perfunctory smoking of the cigarette. :)

1SO, I remembered when you reviewed it, I was kicking myself for not having seen it. It took me a year to finally get to it. :P The only thing I know about Go Into Your Dance is that its deals with the shadier side of putting on a show and that Keeler and Jolson were married for a time.

Corndog, I'll start with Angels in the Outfield. I don't dislike baseball, I just get bogged down with the stats sometimes. The heart is willing, but the brain gets tired.
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Sandy

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #82 on: March 06, 2012, 04:17:05 AM »

Ladies and Gentlemen, the main event this evening is the bout between two champions of the silver screen and the winner will be rewarded a position in my top 100.


                                                                         
In this corner we have Top Hat, an Academy Award best picture nominee for 1935, #15 in the AFI’s list of best musicals, and supported by corner man Irving Berlin.                             


And in this corner we have Swing Time, conceivably an underdog but definitely no Tomato Can. Having an Academy Award win for best song “The Way You Look Tonight” and the capable second of Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, makes this 1936 film a serious contender.

Pound for pound they will be judged in seven rounds of grueling competition. With the skill level of these greats, it is sure to go to the scorecards for a final decision.


Round 1
The screwball comedy premise: masking attraction with an antagonistic front. Fred and Ginger’s variation on the theme: Astaire’s actions propel him to fall in love and for Ginger to fall in hate.

TH: Fred’s nocturnal tap dancing wakes Ginger and she confronts his inconsiderate behavior. Then she mistakenly thinks he’s her friend’s husband.

ST: Ginger thinks Fred has stolen a quarter from her purse and in trying to make things right, Fred accidentally gets her fired from her job as a dance instructor.

Both serviceable show launchers, but this round goes to Top Hat. The tap dance scene is funny and endearing. The familiar mistaken identity device gets a little long in the tooth, but it sets up some good comedy and the sweet conflict for the “Cheek to Cheek” dance. In Swing Time, Fred’s actions make for a superb challenge dance (see round 2), but he needs to continue to make other blunders to keep Ginger sufficiently angry.


Round 2
The Challenge Dance: advance, retreat, conflict makes way for cooperation.

TH: Fred and Ginger get caught in a storm and seek refuge in a pavilion. He persuades her with a complex dance to call a truce.                                                                                                                 

ST: Fred wants to help Ginger get her job back so shows the boss how well he can dance because of her instruction.
 
Swing Time wins this one. “Isn’t this a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain” may have better examples of dance steps that illustrate the conflict/cooperation, but “Pick Yourself Up” is technically intricate and humorously emerges right from the plot.

Round 3
Supporting Cast: Helen Broderick and Eric Blore

Top Hat best utilizes these two actors. Helen delivers some great dead pan lines that raised the show’s comedy level up much higher. Eric isn’t laugh out loud funny, but does some interesting physical humor and gets to articulately insult a police officer. I don't find either one of them is particularly funny in Swing Time and think their talents are a bit squandered.


Round 4
Fred Astaire Specialty Song and Dance

This might not be a popular verdict. The iconic “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” should be the winner of this round but I’m going to go with “Bojangles of Harlem” in Swing Time. My belief is that Fred’s was paying a loving tribute to Bill Robinson, who had been an influence on his dancing. The black face is jarring, but with the filter of what I think was the intent, it allows me to watch and enjoy the prowess and innovation.


Round 5
Best Bittersweet Romantic Dance

I’m going to get in trouble with this one too. “Cheek to Cheek” is a flight of fancy. Ginger is swept away and doesn’t come back to reality until after the notes fade away. The dips and lifts are beautiful. But, I’m going for bittersweet as the emphasis. “Never Gonna Dance” is charged with emotion and despair. The dancing is breathtaking and the undercurrents remind me that Fred and Ginger are not just great dancers, but believable actors as well. Swing Time wins this round.


Round 6
Best Dress

Oh those controversial feathers wafting in the air and onto the dance floor. Ginger designed the dress for the "Cheek to Cheek" dance in Top Hat and with her mother stood up to Fred’s disapproval. Good for them and good for us. I watch the dance carefully to see if I can find any trace of Fred’s disgust, but I can’t. Now that’s a professional.


Round 7
Best Song

“Cheek to Cheek” is top tier, but I give this round to “The Way You Look Tonight” from Swing Time. It’s played over part of “Never Gonna Dance” and makes me want to cry, it’s so beautiful.


Fouls: -˝ point each

Swing Time
Forced Hilarity (band leader's pants) This is going to be an issue as well when I get to A Star is Born.
Convertible in the winter (All for a windshield wiper/snow gag)
Georges Metaxa (the band leader who can't sing or act)



Well folks, It’s been a barnburner, but Top Hat has been decided the winner by a mere ˝ point. It looks like my top 100 needs some adjustments to accommodate both of these fine films.





« Last Edit: August 26, 2015, 04:36:07 PM by Sandy »
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Bondo

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #83 on: March 06, 2012, 07:55:00 AM »
Hmm, this would have been no contest in favor of Swing Time. I found Top Hat extremely contrived as a plot.

1SO

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #84 on: March 06, 2012, 09:09:44 AM »
I also would've gone with Swing Time, because of Top Hat's plot and the too-long section in Venice.

"Pick Yourself Up" from Swing Time is my favorite Astaire/Rogers moment, topped by the perfect punchline of Victor Moore and Helen Broderick trying to repeat some of the steps.

If both of these made your Top 100, then you have to watch Shall We Dance which has the screwball comedy, the dances, the dresses. All of it.
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smirnoff

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #85 on: March 06, 2012, 09:18:25 AM »
Pip pip gentlemen, I do believe your monocles need cleaning!
The plot for Swing Time is every bit as contrived.

Quote
Ginger thinks Fred has stolen a quarter from her purse and in trying to make things right, Fred accidentally gets her fired from her job as a dance instructor.

Outrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous!

MartinTeller

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #86 on: March 06, 2012, 09:57:30 AM »
Hmm, this would have been no contest in favor of Swing Time. I found Top Hat extremely contrived as a plot.

A rare occasion where I'm in agreement with Bondo.  All it takes for the plot of Top Hat to collapse is for someone to NOT talk in circles for a second.  Neither would make my top 100, but overall I find Swing Time more satisfying.

I love the way you wrote this up, Sandy!  Very clever!
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Sandy

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #87 on: March 06, 2012, 10:05:06 AM »
Thanks Martin. :) Just don't look at it on an itouch. My forced formatting is all jumbled.

Yes, two wimpy little plots that provide an excuse to see Fred and Ginger perform! The contrived nature of both films keep them from being higher on my top 100, but oh the songs and dancing.

"Pick Yourself Up" from Swing Time is my favorite Astaire/Rogers moment, topped by the perfect punchline of Victor Moore and Helen Broderick trying to repeat some of the steps.

If both of these made your Top 100, then you have to watch Shall We Dance which has the screwball comedy, the dances, the dresses. All of it.

I do love that whole sequence at the dance studio and it was Helen's bright moment in the film. I just saw Shall We Dance last night! I didn't like the end production, but "Slap that Bass" is my favorite Astaire solo so far. The story line was a little more enjoyable as well.
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sdedalus

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #88 on: March 06, 2012, 10:17:48 AM »
Swing Time is in my top 100 (#72), mostly because it has the best combination of songs and dances.  Top Hat and Shall We Dance are at 251 and 276, respectively.

The biggest disconnect between quality of musical sequences and plot has to be Follow the Fleet, right?  I still maintain that that film's final number, "Let's Face the Music and Dance", is the greatest thing Fred and Ginger did together.
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1SO

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Re: Sandy Faces the Music
« Reply #89 on: March 06, 2012, 11:24:36 AM »
The biggest disconnect between quality of musical sequences and plot has to be Follow the Fleet, right?  I still maintain that that film's final number, "Let's Face the Music and Dance", is the greatest thing Fred and Ginger did together.

Oooo, I doubt they've ever been more beautiful together for sure. However, in Shall We Dance they perform "They All Laughed" to which I said "Astaire and Rogers are dancing a duet, but they're not two people doing the same exact moves at the same time. Each one is doing slightly different moves, but the variations come together to create some kind of awesome mega-dance."

Also "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" has them dancing on ROLLER SKATES. So, I definitely hear what you're saying, but my definition of 'greatness' differs from yours.
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