Saturday, July 2, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 7 (61 - 69)

61 & 62: The Slipper and the Rose (1976)

Dancing in his arms forever my heart will never be free, dreaming of the night he danced with me.

1976 is getting a bit modern (in my opinion) to be an 'old movie' but The Slipper and the Rose is a pretty film, so I put it in the lineup on the basis that it has fancy costumes. 

It's a straightforward retelling of Cinderella, with music by the Sherman Brothers (who did Mary Poppins among many other Disney films, although this film is not Disney) and in my opinion it would be an excellent movie if it were not suffering from what I call '1960s movie bloat' - starting in the 60s, films that would previously have run to a trim 90-110 minutes were suddenly pushing two and a half hours or more. The songs go on too long, the dances go on too long, there are unnecessary scenes.... and I make use of the fast forward function on my dvd player. The Slipper and the Rose goes for 146 minutes (as a comparison, The Glass Slipper (numbers 39 & 40 in my 100 Days) goes for 93 minutes, and still manages to squeeze in three arty 1930s ballet dream sequences, and the latest Disney Cinderella goes for 105 minutes.). 

This isn't to say that I don't like The Slipper and the Rose, I just think it would have been better if they'd trimmed it a little - but many people adore it just the way it is, and that's just fine. It's got beautiful costumes and sets, some truly lovely music, and Annette Crosbie makes an excellent long-suffering fairy godmother. Cindrella is played by Gemma Craven and the prince is Richard Chamblerlain. 

More under the cut (Singin' in the Rain, Gilda & Gigi)

63, 64 & 65: Singin' In The Rain

Good morning! Good morning! We've danced the whole night through. Good morning! Good morning to you!

Obviously no celebration of old movies would be complete without Singin' In The Rain - especially a celebration that is rather musical-heavy! It's one of the absolute classics that everyone should see. 

Set just after the release of The Jazz Singer, Hollywood is turning to talkies - but there's one problem: Monumental Picture's biggest female star (Lena Lamont, played by Jean Hagan) has a voice that could strip paint and a personality to match. How are they going to turn their newest picture into a musical without letting the public know? The big male star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), his best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) and Don's girlfriend Cathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) have their work cut out to save Lockwood and Lamont and Monumental Pictures. 

66 & 67: Gilda (1946)

I hate you too Johnny. I hate you so much I think I'm gonna die from it. 

Gilda is a classic film noir. It's got all the elements - a slightly dodgy hero narrating in first-person, a menacing villain, a femme fatale who also sings, gambling, a policeman on the trail... and of course gorgeous black and white cinematography. There are so many fabulous sparkly costumes in this movie, but of course I had to go with the famous Gilda dress which Rita Hayworth wears to sing 'Put the Blame on Mame'.

Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is a gambling cheat who is dazzled by illegal casino owner Ballin Mundson (George Macready) and goes to work for him. One day Ballin comes back from a business trip with a wife - Gilda (Rita Hayworth). She and Johnny have a past. We're never entirely sure what it is, but they hate each other (or so they say). Gilda tries to make Johnny jealous by playing around with other men. Johnny, mainly out of respect for Ballin, tries to cover this up. When Ballin's plane crashes over the ocean, Johnny marries Gilda, and keeps her a virtual prisoner, as punishment for her behaviour. I'd tell you the ending, but that would spoil it, go and watch it instead!

68 & 69: Gigi (1958)

Oh Gigi, you're not at all that funny awkward little girl I used to know, oh no, overnight there's been a breathless change in you...

Gigi is a fairly adult musical for the time. I didn't like it when I first saw it as a small girl, partly because the subject matter was a bit beyond me, and partly because it was a very low-quality poor-picture VHS with terrible sound - add poor sound to a film full of French accents and the fact that I have unilateral hearing loss.... and I have no idea what is going on at all. Many years later I bought it on dvd and was able to enjoy it as I should. 

Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) is a bored playboy in Belle Epoque Paris. For amusement he regularly visits Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold), an old friend of his father (Maurice Chevalier), whose granddaughter, gangly teen Gigi (Leslie Caron) is in training to become a courtesan. When he returns after an absence to find Gigi all grown up, Gaston is at first horrified, then thinks he'd like her to be his new mistress. Gigi doesn't want to, she's always adored Gaston - but she is persuaded, and dutifully does all the things she has been taught - for about 15 minutes, after which Gaston is so appalled by the way she's behaving that he drags her out of the restaurant before dinner and back home - and offers to marry her instead. 

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