Friday, 16 October 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 30

With the cartoons out of the way, it was time to start sifting through the musicals my sister had lent me. Now in my humble opinion, let’s face it this is my blog, who else’s opinion are you going to get? In my opinion, a musical should have you singing and dancing as you leave the theatre/cinema. At the very least it should have one memorable song that you’re humming a few days later: West Side Story has ‘America’ or ‘Somewhere’, Oliver! Has ‘Consider Yourself’, even South Park has ‘Blame Canada!’.

I am forced to admit here, and I hope musical purists don’t think ill of me, that I rank South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, as one of the finest examples of the screen musical. Simultaneously spoofing and celebrating the Disney-esque cartoon musical, the 4-way medley towards the end of the film is an absolute triumph of the genre...
But I digress, I was planning on talking about:

353 – Funny Face – 1 star
A musical without a single memorable song and bloated, overlong, self-indulgent dance sequences (Fred Astaire, I’m talking to you. Yes you can dance, we know, cut it out). Also, bless her heart, Audrey Hepburn is no singer. No wonder she was dubbed over in My Fair Lady.
And that is where we come to my second major problem with the film. The plot concerns a fashion magazine giving a bookworm a makeover to turn her into their next cover girl, so far so clichéd, and I know of the phrase ‘suspension of disbelief’ but when the bookworm in question is Audrey freakin’ Hepburn, one of the most beautiful women to ever live, it skips into the unbelievable. They don’t even attempt to make her look unattractive by messing her hair up or making her wear glasses.
Suffice to say that I did not like this movie at all.

485 – Breakfast At Tiffany’s – 3 stars
Come back Audrey, nearly, all is forgiven. It seems fate has delivered you to me again in the form of Tiffany’s being screened on Portuguese TV this afternoon, what are the odds?!
Have you ever had the feeling you had thought you had watched a movie but it turns out you haven’t? I had that with this film. Seems I had pieced together an idea of the film from posters, books, and countless E4 compilation shows for romantic films, etc.
Forget Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and the red haired one (only kidding, I know its Miranda). Holly Golightly was the original SATC girl: fancy apartment, gorgeous outfits, different man every night, etc.
Now I did like this film. It was a sweet little romance, even with slight hints towards HG being an escort, but there was something that bothered me during the film: George Peppard. He plays the romantic lead, and Holly’s neighbour, Paul Varjak. Fair enough, they have a great chemistry together and if I had seen this in 1961, there would have been no problem (only problem being I wasn’t born till 1980). The problem for me is that George Peppard will always be Hannibal Smith from The A-Team. I grew up watching the show every Saturday afternoon on ITV1 after the Shinty results. After he gets the girl at the end, I half expected him to light up a cigar and say “I love it when a plan comes together”.
Overall a good film and much better than the song “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” .

Top 3 movie style icons
1. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s – no one has ever looked more stylish on screen
2. Sean Connery in Goldfinger – what man has ever put on a tuxedo and NOT pretended to be Bond, James Bond?
3. Brad Pitt in Fight Club - come on, he made being beat up look cool!

333 – Grease – 3 stars
Yes, they are all far too old to by playing teenagers. Yes, it is a lot dirtier than you remember (the Rizzo pregnancy angle, “Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity, etc), not the most suitable musical for a PG family audience to watch together.
But where it succeeds, it excels. Now THIS is a musical with memorable songs and dance sequences. I’d forgotten how many songs I actually knew, even the slow ones ( Hopelessly Devoted, Born To Hand Jive, and the always played at weddings, Grease Megamix) *Please note – I did NOT sing a long to the movie alone in my room*
You can forgive a film its minor flaws when it is so infectiously fun as this... as they say in the film, “Grease is the word”.


  1. Grease is one of my favorite musicals too. As a kid, I saw it so many times edited on TV, I forgot about the dirtier parts until I watched it in full. Rizzo and Kinicke in his car saying "what the hell" when the condom breaks, and her song, "That's the worst thing I could do." Sad to see Jeff Conway these days, though.

    Best Audrey Hepburn movie: Roman Holiday. Her first, for which she won an Academy Award for best actress. Not too shabby.

  2. If you want dirt in Grease, look up the words to "Greese Lightning". A real pussy wagon? That's not very PG...

    Also, watch the end of the Born to Handjive dance sequence. It's a relatively long shot with a large crowd dancing - tricky enough. But just as the song ends, Vince Fontaine (the TV presenter) does a forward flip into the shot, catches a mic that's thrown on from the side, and then delivers his lines. Genius!