The Fashion industry in the 1950’s is booming. A popular woman’s magazine is in search for the perfect model to head their new campaign for the “intellectual woman,” however they get more than they bargain for when they find Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), a bookkeeper, who the photographer (Fred Astaire) working for the magazine thinks has the perfect look. He takes it upon himself to stand up for his choice in model, and makes sure she is ready for the big fashion shoot. Although getting the smart and headstrong woman to agree to be the focus of his camera lens proves to be a very daunting task, and he soon finds himself in over his head.
This musical takes you through a ride of clichés that we think of when we think of the 1950’s. From the fashion world of dumb models and mindless drones, to the dark and dingy nightclubs where the intellectuals pour out their feelings in a poetry slam attitude. These clichés, though acted out well enough, didn’t add up to the brilliant love story this was obviously supposed to be. Although Hepburn and Astaire made a cute, if sometimes timid couple, there was nothing compelling to drive the romance home. The songs were either unusually to the point, or making odd references to history and literature. So be well prepared before watching, that you may not quite understand all the lyrics, or at least not fully comprehend the significance. The art direction by Richard Avedon, one of my personal favorite photographers, was well done however.
This was not one of my favorite musicals, but it was entertaining enough. Those of you who like Fred Astaire’s dancing and charm will enjoy it, although there wasn’t as much of his brilliant step work as I would have liked. I wouldn’t recommend this movie if you are looking for any kind of wow factor, however. All in all it was very sweet and quaint, but not dazzling.
Funny Face at IMDB
Think Pink on YouTube
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is about a woman named Milly (Jane Powell), who marries into a family of seven brothers that all live on a newly settled piece of Organ territory together. The men are messy, and covered in grime after working the farm all day. When Milly finds the brothers in a state of chaos, she takes it upon herself to shape up these rough men so they can find love and proper wives. However, Millie’s husband Adam (Howard Keel), the eldest brother and head of the family, has a very different idea about what love and marriage should be. This leads to major confusion and conflict between the members of the family, which ultimately threatens to break all of them apart.
This film is entertaining enough as long as you don’t take it too seriously. The movie, being that it is set in the 1840’s and made in the 1950’s, starts out filled with outdated expectations of women and the traditional family, and although these sentiments are never completely diminished, the lead character is a strong-willed woman who you grow to love and respect. The moral of the story, though not immediately detectable at the beginning of the movie, did have the right intentions of giving a lesson in how women are not just things to be used for washing and cleaning. The music was perfectly matched with the story, and although the melodies sometimes sounded similar they were altogether catchy and nicely sung. The entertaining part of the movie for me however, was the dancing. It was a type of modified ballet set to barn raising tunes that were both skilled and extremely acrobatic at times. Unfortunately, the ending of the movie fell a little flat after being rushed.
By the end of the movie you have fallen in love with the characters no matter what their misdeeds were. The deep voices, and memorable songs made it entertaining till the end. So, I say even if at the beginning it seems unworthy of the time, just watch a little bit more and you may find the heart of it.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers at IMDB
Barn Dance on YouTube
The King and I is a musical set in 1860’s Siam when Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr), an English schoolteacher, is hired by the King (Yul Brynner) to educate his royal children in the ways of western culture and science. Their feelings towards each other are quickly established when the King refuses to make good on the promise to Anna to provide a home separate from the castle for her and her son. From that point on there is conflict between the two about the traditions of the kingdom, science, and the place of women.
Although this movie is often called a classic of musical cinema it was hard for me to find many redeeming qualities about it. I went in hopeful when I saw the, I’m sure painstakingly built, intricate sets and wonderful costumes, however as soon as the first lines were spoken I knew something was wrong. The whole thing was filled with cliché and overdone acting, which unfortunately so many musicals fall victim to. The climax was weak and although it was clear that every one of the characters had beautiful and operatic voices, the “opera” made the lyrics to some songs barely audible. By the end of the film I was left without many songs I could sing along to. This movie is over two hours long and it sadly felt that way. Even after two hours there was absolutely no pay out in the end because it was clear the King had not learned the moral of the story at all. With the subplot of the King’s mistress having a secret affair not coming to a satisfactory ending either I left my seat disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, if you enjoy a more mild style of opera you may enjoy this movie, but for me nothing caught my attention. I must concede that you may want to see it simply because it is an important part of our cultural literacy, and “Shall We Dance” is a song from this movie that so many of us know. But be warned there are many better musicals out there.
The King And I at IMDB
Shall We Dance- Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr on YouTube
For those of you who are fans of YouTube: I have been a huge fan of A Very Potter Musical for a long time and A Very Potter Sequel just came out! So check out the StarKids in action, if you haven’t already, and enjoy their musical stylings in the hilarious spoof on everyone’s beloved book franchise.
This classic musical tells the story of leading Hollywood actors making the hard transition from silent movies to talkies in 1927. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) have been playing two lovers on the big screen for years, yet in real life they can’t stand each other. However, since they are the “dynamic duo” they are only expected to be some of the first to transition to sound. The problem? Lina’s voice, her raspy tone and high-pitched nasal notes mean she needs to stay silent. So Don’s real love interest (Debbie Reynolds) and Don’s best friend (Donald O’Connor), step in to help, even if it means keeping the American starlet in the dark.
Singin’ In The Rain was every bit the classic movie I was hoping to see. The star-studded cast each gave brilliant performances and made me want to dance the night away with them. Kelly and O’Connor’s dancing skills are something that is rarely seen nowadays. They are so perfectly synchronized with each other that even if you were to pause the movie in the middle of one of their dance sequences you are barely able to find a hair of a difference from their feet to their posture. Even the inexperienced dancer, Reynolds, was elegantly able to keep up with their flawless tap dancing stylings. However, although the vocals from the whole cast were wonderful, this movie really ought to have been considered a theatrical tap and dance number rather than a musical. The extreme dancing abilities of the cast often led to dancing tangents, while these were endlessly entertaining they often were needlessly long and sometimes completely unnecessary for the story. This unfortunately led to a slight disconnect from the storyline that had otherwise been blossoming beautifully. Watchers should also be aware that while the musical score was fantastic not all of the songs were written specifically for the movie. However, while I know some people find that to be a nuisance I did not think it tainted the movie in any way, shape, or form.
Individual performances made up the magic of this movie, from O’Connor’s classic slapstick and amazing stunts in “Make Em Laugh” to Hagen’s completely believable role as the brat star. Kelly and Reynolds will have you believing they are a real and adorable couple before the movie is over. So, although this movie will be enjoyed much more by those who like to see quality choreography rather than listen to a plethora of lyrical tunes, it nonetheless deserves it’s title as a classic of American cinema.
Singin’ in the Rain at IMDB
Moses Supposes- Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner on YouTube