Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mad for Musicals, part 1

1776 (1972 film; 1969 Broadway)
Written by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone
Stars William Daniel as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Ben Franklin, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, Donald Madden as John Dickinson

Premise/plot: A musical focusing on the (Second) Continental Congress and the fight (led by John Adams initially) for America to declare its independence from Britain. Much centers around the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. When the movie opens, most if not all delegates oppose independence, but, by the end, most support it.

My thoughts: At 165 minutes it is LONG. A LOT of profanity and blasphemy. A lot of coarse jesting and joking among the delegates. There are two 'light' romances in this one. John and Abigail and Martha and Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps if I loved the music, I would not have found it so tedious?!

Favorite scenes: The Lees of Old Virginia is probably my favorite scene/song from this one. Something about Richard Henry Lee's character makes me laugh. Ben and John coax/trick him into being the delegate to propose a resolution for independence. He's enthusiastic and says he'll go "right away." He is a bit full of himself, it's true, and he is slow in leaving. Eventually,  John Adams ends up in the fountain, I think!

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph, featuring music of George M. Cohan
Stars James Cagney as George M. Cohan, Joan Leslie as Mary, Walter Huston as Jerry Cohan, Rosemary DeCamp as Nellie Cohan, Jeanne Cagney as Josie Cohan, and Richard Whorf as Sam Harris

Premise/plot: A musical biopic about the life of Broadway performer/dancer/writer/producer/musician, etc. George M. Cohan.  The musical opens with his birth on the fourth of July. And the film concludes with him meeting President Roosevelt and receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

My thoughts: I saw this several times growing up, and I liked it. Recently I saw it for the first time as an adult. I like it. But I don't 'love, love, love' it.

Favorite scenes: I like the sequence around Mary's A Grand Old Name. How he accidentally "gives" Mary's song away to a star for a new show...but she doesn't mind because she has HIM. Zoom in on her wedding band.

West Point Story (1950)
Written by Irving Wallace, Charles Hoffman, John Monks Jr.
Stars James Cagney as Elwin 'Bix' Bixby, Virginia Mayo as Eve Dillon, Doris Day as Jan Wilson, Gordon MacRae as Tom Fletcher

Premise/plot: A down-on-his-luck Broadway producer (performer) Bixby reluctantly is bribed to go to West Point to see if he can coax a talented cadet (Harry Eberhart's nephew) away from a military career and into show business. Bixby arrives wiling to produce the show and be the dispenser of wisdom...but his TEMPER gets the best of him time and time again. And he ends up having to live like a cadet himself. The show seems doomed to fail...until he calls in a favor from an actress he discovered....

My thoughts: This is one of the earliest Doris Day performances I've seen. (Though I have seen Tea for Two released the same year.) Overall, I liked it. Not love, mind you. The musical numbers were not the strength of this one. But I really liked the story and the actors. Gordon MacRae was VERY charming in this one.

Favorite scenes: I like Doris Day. Here's Ten Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty-Two Sheep. By the Kissing Rock.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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