Monday, November 1, 2021

Pin It


Cinema '62: Sing It!

In addition to musical fare discussed before, a number of 1962 releases - some musicals, some not - feature notable songs or musical numbers. A look at nine of those films:

Blast of Silence
dir: Allen Baron
pr/cin: Merrill Brody
scr: Allen Baron, narration by Waldo Salt

A nasty Christmas noir, where a hitman crosses paths with old friends, leading him to consider something else...after finishing the job, of course. Leave optimism at the door. It's not that it's overly brutal in its depiction of violence (though it is blunt), just merciless in its depiction of loneliness. Great dialogue. Earns its place here thanks to an important sequence in a Greenwich club, where Dean Sheldon serenades the ensemble with "Dressed in Black" and "This Torrid Town," accompanying himself on the bongos - catch the latter by following this link to Turner Classic Movies. 

Girls! Girls! Girls!
dir: Norman Taurog
pr: Hal B. Wallis
scr: Edward Anhalt and Allan Weiss, story by Allan Weiss
cin: Loyal Griggs

Elvis is back in Hawaii, fishing and fighting and romancing the ladies (club singer Stella Stevens and a glass of milk of a gal). Shaky plot, fine songs. "Return to Sender" was the hit, but I'm a fan of "A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You" and "Earth Boy."

In Search of the Castaways
dir: Robert Stevenson
pr: Walt Disney
scr: Lowell S. Hawley
cin: Paul Beeson

A pair of children and Maurice Chevalier convince a wealthy shipping magnate and his son to search the world for their missing father. What a thrill! Three musical numbers, an avalanche, a flood, a jaguar - and that's just the first hour! So many surprises, so many twists, so many fine performances. A little, shall we say, problematic regarding its depiction of the Maori, an unfortunate blight on a film that, otherwise, is a real humdinger, solid family entertainment. Musical highlight is, of course, "Enjoy It."

Jules and Jim
dir/pr: François Truffaut
scr: François Truffaut & Jean Gruault
cin: Raoul Coutard

When I first saw Jules and Jim in high school, I, like many a young cinephile, fell in love with Jeanne Moreau. Fifteen years later, I want to shake everyone, they all seem to walk about in dreamland. Not a negative, by the way, the movie's aware of it, but it doesn't let that get in the way of its infectious affection for the characters. Who hasn't been foolish - repeatedly! - in love and friendship? The song "Le Tourbillon," written by cast member Serge Rezvani (credited as Bassiak) and performed by Rezvani and Moreau, gets a good showcase, even its own shoutout in the opening credits.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation
dir: Henry Koster
scr: Nunnally Johnson
cin: William C. Mellor

Non-stop marathon of hilarity, pausing only to provide genuine warmth - without the saccharine flavor. Roger Hobbs loves his family - you never doubt the dedication between him and his wife - but he doesn't always like them. His frustrations seem almost dismissive, but the lengths he goes to to try to get a smile from one daughter, the approval of his son, a job for a son-in-law, and overall happy marriages for two of his kids, tells you just how committed he is to his family's happiness. James Stewart and Maureen O'Hara prove to be perfect partners and great physical comedians. The only thing I don't like is Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's original song "Cream Puff," which would be an agreeable enough distraction were it not for the decision to try to make it a round. 

dir: Ishirô Honda
pr: Tomoyuki Tanaka
scr: Shin'ichi Sekizawa
cin: Hajime Koizumi

Mothra is awakened when an opportunistic showman kidnaps miniature twins from a thought-to-be-uninhabited island for his cabaret act. Got to hand it to the human villain of the story, he develops a great show for those twins and their musical summoning of Mothra. Catchy, catchy tune! The best score from this franchise since the original.

Murder She Said
dir: George Pollock
pr: George H. Brown
scr: David Pursall and Jack Seddon, adaptation by David Osborn
cin: Geoffrey Faithfull

The first of four Miss Marple films starring Margaret Rutherford...and the only one adapted from a Miss Marple novel. If you're into this kind of movie, you'll probably like this one: helpfully, it's one of the best English-language Christie adaptations out there. No original songs, but it does introduce Ron Goodwin's "Miss Marple Theme," a tune so groovy I once heard it included in a DJ set.

The Road to Hong Kong
dir: Norman Panama
pr: Melvin Frank
scr: Melvin Frank & Norman Panama
cin: Jack Hildyard

The final Road to... film starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, this one British-produced, a full decade after the last entry. No Chinese or Hong Kong performers to be found, but plenty of hijinks and good musical numbers, albeit written around the unfortunately-named "Oriental riff." Dorothy Lamour comes in for a song, the film's best scene.

State Fair
dir: Jose Ferrer
pr: Charles Brackett
scr: Richard L. Breen
cin: William C. Mellor

Remake of the 1945 musical version of the 1933 adaptation of the 1932 novel about a family experiencing Life at the Iowa State Fair. Actually, in this version, it's Texas, which provides an opportunity for the film's best musical number, "The Little Things in Texas." The cast does not rise to the 1945 version's level of across-the-board effortless charm, though Ann-Margret, in her second film role, proves why she became a star. Good soundtrack.

Tomorrow, more films to discuss.

You May Also Enjoy:
Like us on Facebook

No comments: