Man, Busby Berkeley really is on another level, isn’t he? He certainly had an eye for film, which I think really distinguishes him from other choreographers, both of his era and of any time. His most famous set pieces simply can’t be replicated in any other medium–not only are the dancers choreographed, but the cameras as well… and you can’t get one of those great Berkeley overhead geometries seated in a theater.
I was trying to think of a new category of posts to write about, since that helps to keep me in line, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to put together the fact that I’ve named my film blogging site The Vintage Cameo and that maybe, hmm, I don’t know, I can perhaps highlight some literal vintage cameos? To be fair, I didn’t even really “come up” with it–I was just watching The Seven Little Foys and was surprised by the sudden James Cagney appearance.
I became supremely excited as Mommie Dearest neared on my watch-schedule, because even though a lot of its fame comes from being so over-the-top, it’s a movie that’s definitely been absorbed into the collective pop culture unconscious. I’m always fascinated by movies like this, where I already know most of the plot, the famous scenes, lines, could probably identify it in a police lineup, etc., and yet I haven’t ever seen it. Someone makes a “wire hangers” joke here, a Simpsons spoof episode there, and over time I’ve unwittingly absorbed half the movie.
Well, that’ll teach me to actually read the synopses before seeing the movie: I got about 5 minutes into High Society thinking, “Hmm, this is awfully similar to The Philadelphia Story before realizing that–well, yes, that’s because it IS The Philadelphia Story.
I tend to avoid synopses and trailers and so on before seeing movies if I can… I figure if I’ve already got enough to convince me to see the movie another way, I don’t need to do any further research. The last time this happened was with The Matchmaker, which had seemed awfully similar to Hello, Dolly–though really, in that case, it was the other way around since Matchmaker was out first.
There’s a singular pleasure to watching an older movie and discovering there’s an actor you thought you knew–an actor you had pretty easily categorized as a…
It’s probably a testament to their incredible individual success that the comedy duo of Crosby and Hope–that is, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope–isn’t as well-known…