Thursday, June 30, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 6

Here is the 6th Instalment of my 100 Days of Old Movies. I'm powering towards the finishing line!

51 & 52: 42nd Street (1933)

Come and meet those dancing feet. On the avenue I'm taking you to, 42nd Street.

I have a very soft spot for 42nd Street. It was (along with Singin' in the Rain) the first musical I ever bought, as a poor-quality unremastered VHS. I was 12, and had never really seen anything in black and white before, but obviously I have never looked back! 

Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) is putting on a show. The doctors warn that it will kill him, but he's broke. He's a great director, and everyone is very excited at the prospect of work. His star is Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels), a big-time performer who has to play up to Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee) who is financing the show because she is starring in it. Behind his back, she still goes around with her boyfriend and ex-vaudeville partner Pat Denning (George Brent). Wondering where Ruby and Dick come in? Ruby is Peggy Sawyer, a first-time performer who gets a job in the chorus, helped by Billy Lawler (Dick Powell) the juvenile in the show. He thinks she's pretty cute. One day she passes out after a gruelling rehearsal, and is looked after by Pat Denning, who's hanging around the stage door. When Dorothy is stuck with Abner, he takes Peggy out to dinner instead, and she witnesses him being beaten up by gangsters hired by Marsh to keep him away from Dorothy (the finances are at stake). When the show goes to Philadelphia for tryouts Pat is already there for a job, and Dorothy (after embarrassing herself getting drunk at a party) rings him up to come to the hotel, and Peggy sees the gangsters follow him, and rushes in to warn him. Still drunk, Dorothy takes a swing at her, falls over and breaks her ankle. Oh no! Right before opening night, and there's no understudy! Abner picks Anytime Annie (Ginger Rogers) to take her place, but she knows she hasn't got it in her. Peggy is the girl. She's coached all day, goes on stage to the immortal line 'you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!' and steals the show. 

There are lots of fabulous Busby Berkely routines in here, and Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers for wisecracks. What's not to love?

More below the cut:

53 & 54: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Big love for my darlin' as we share whatever may come our way, wonderful, wonderful day!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is such a happy musical. Apparently it was originally supposed to be filmed on location, but a big chunk of the budget went to Brigadoon and so neither of them was filmed on location. Ah well. 

Howard Keel is a woodsman who decides it's time he had a wife to cook and clean for him and his six brothers. He picks Jane Powell because she's a hard worker. She thinks it's love, and is excited to start a new life looking after just one man, instead of working in the local hostel. When she gets to her new home and finds six dirty men there, she's furious, but rolls up her sleeves and sets about civilising them. She does well with the brothers, but not with her husband. They all go to a barn raising where the brothers meet girls, but the menfolk from the town pick fights with them. Now the townsfolk won't let them come courting. Howard Keel can't see that this is a problem, the Romans stole the Sabine women, why should it be any different now? He leads the brothers down to the town to abduct their girls. Heading home, they set off an avalanche that blocks the pass. No one can get through until spring. The brothers are feeling pretty good about themselves until they get home. Pocket rocket Jane is not impressed. She kicks all the men (hubby included) into the barn, and declares the house women-only. Howard goes off in a snit to brood in a hunting hut. While he's there, Jane has a baby, and good relations are forged between the brothers and the kidnapped girls. Hearing of the baby, Howard is struck with remorse, and arrives home to declare that the girls must be returned home. The girls now don't want to go home, and the villagers arrive to rescue them to be greeted by highly suggestive scenes of shrieking girls being chased by the brothers. They then hear the cries of Jane's baby and in a striking example of how men should not be let out alone, they disregard facts of biology (I refuse to believe the a pass snowed under in mid-winter can take nine whole months to clear) and demand which of the girls it belongs to. The girls look at each other, and yell 'mine!' in unison, precipitating probably the biggest shotgun wedding ever. The end. 

55 & 56: The Awful Truth (1937)

Things could be the same if things were different. Things are the way you think I made them, I didn't make them that way at all. Things are just the same as they always were, only, you're the same as you were too, so I guess things will never be the same again.

When Jerry (Cary Grant) returns home from a 'trip to California' (It's never made clear exactly where he was, or why he's lying to his wife, but it certainly wasn't sunny California) and finds his wife Lucy (Irene Dunne) is not home, he laughs it off. When she comes in later that morning, in full evening dress, with her music teacher, he gets suspicious. She's suspicious of what he was doing too, and they end up going for a divorce. On the rebound, she picks up prize dunce Daniel (Ralph Bellamy) to make Jerry jealous. He tries to sabotage the relationship. Realising that she's still in love with him, Lucy asks her music teacher to explain the innocent events that lead to the divorce, but Jerry gets the wrong idea, and picks up Barbara (Molly Lamont) to make Lucy jealous. Lucy tries to sabotage this relationship. Things end happily. 

I couldn't find a trailer, so have a clip instead.

57 & 58: Pride and Prejudice (1940)

 – I have made the mistake of being honest with you.
– Honesty is a greatly overrated virtue. Silence in this case would have been more agreeable.

This version of Pride and Prejudice is better if you completely ignore the original novel and watch it as an unrelated film. If you try to compare the two... it's not good. The costumes are wrong, the dialogue is wrong, and the characters are, in important particulars, wrong. Other than that, it's fine. I try and ignore the novel so that I can enjoy the film, which has nothing wrong with it as a stand-alone film, and is in fact very pretty.

Do I need to mention the plot? The Bennets have five daughters. Mrs Bennet just wants to get them all married off suitably, so when Mr Bingley arrives in the neighbourhood, she immediately starts scheming. When his friend Mr Darcy (Laurence Olivier) arrives, Elizabeth Bennet (Greer Garson) takes him in instant dislike, although he soon starts to like her altogether too much. They fight a bit, and a family crisis eventually precipitates their getting together. 

59 & 60: You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

You were never lovelier, than you are tonight.

You Were Never Lovelier was the first of two films starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. The other was You'll Never Get Rich, but I prefer the former. 

The Acunas, a wealthy South American family, have a tradition that the daughters must be married in order. The next unmarried daughter is Maria (Rita Hayworth) who is totally gorgeous, but cold as ice. He father wants her off his hands, so he decides to warm her up a bit, in a rather dodgy way. He writes love letters to her from an unknown admirer, and sends her orchids, on the basis that she will then fall into the arms of the man she thinks wrote them - a suitable man that her father will of course provide. Unfortunately, Robert Davis (Fred Astaire), a famous dancer who is broke and wants work at Acuna's hotel, delivers one of the orchids, trying to get on Acuna's good side. Maria sees him, and sets out to reel him in. Her father is horrified, and keeps trying to get rid of him. Robert is confused, and by the time he's decided that he really would like to marry Maria, she's discovered the truth and won't talk to him. 

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