When you start to watch a musical made in 1954, starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, with the same songwriters as Meet Me in St. Louis, you might think you have a pretty solid concept of what’s to come before you’ve even hit play. But … Read More
It’s no secret that I love a good sailor musical, so when I caught wind of the getTV Mickey Rooney Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club, it took only a moment’s perusal of the channel’s upcoming … Read More
By the 1980s, the movie musical was… well, far beyond the time of transition. Since their heyday in the ’30s and ’40s, musicals had become limited to just a handful of movies per year, without a lot to choose from—Disney films for kids, pop hits designed to sell soundtracks, the occasional prestigious musical dramas, and the cheesy movies that seemed to capture everything cringeworthy of their era. For the studios financing the films, musicals were, to put it mildly, anything but a sure thing. That’s partly what makes Purple Rain such an interesting moment in film history—though it’s easy to see its significance 25 years after the fact, Purple Rain is still a weird, weird movie.
Considering the historical entwinement of the United States and Britain, for the most part, people on either side of the Atlantic know where to spot the differences between our two cultures. The chips, the crisps, biscuits, boots, and lifts—as an American, I … Read More
Imagine a world where you commute to work by hoverplane, consume all your food and drink via a digestible tablet, and use a sequence of letters and numbers as a name. That’s the speculative setting of Just Imagine, the 1930 sci-fi musical that takes … Read More
It takes a lot of skill to make a movie look easy, and when Billy Wilder’s at his best, his films can appear almost effortless, moving forward so naturally that I’m often surprised, and a bit disappointed, when they’re over. … Read More
The late 1960s were a turbulent time of new cultures, changing norms, and shifting values, and one place that was immediately obvious was in Hollywood. With the downfall of the studio system, the impending doom of the Code, and the radical growth of … Read More
The Manchurian Candidate is a heady, political thriller from a heady, political time. Released in 1962, the film is set a decade prior, in 1952, yet still manages to tell a tale that rings recognizable for the past, present, and future; often prophetically ahead … Read More
When you settle in to watch a film called “Honolulu,” you might expect to see a lush, expansive musical with plenty of opulent sets and numbers, perhaps a sequence or two in Technicolor to highlight the natural beauty of the island and to wow the viewer’s imagination. But, lest you start to think that all of 1939’s films were big epics, that’s really not the case for MGM’s 1939 Honolulu—it’s a very small-scale movie, set mostly in the interiors of passenger ships and homes instead of tropical jungles and pristine beaches. Instead, we’re treated to some fun trick photography and several Eleanor Powell dance numbers, which may be a fair enough trade for some people.
In 1937, Katharine Hepburn was struggling. Or rather, the idea of “Katharine Hepburn” was struggling. Though she’d already claimed her first Oscar win in 1933 for Morning Glory, and contributed to the enormous success of George Cukor’s Little Women, a string of financial … Read More