It blows my mind that this blog has nearly a year and a half worth of posts and, until last month, the song “Cute” never appeared. It was composed by Neil Hefti. I never knew it had lyrics but it does. The internet says they were written by Stanley Stein but I couldn’t verify that. It’s the perfect song for drum solos!
This excellent clip is from the show “The Hollywood Palace.” This particular episode is from the 1964 season. This version of “Cute” features an eye crossing talent roster! There’s an introduction from Victor Borge and drum solos by Loui Bellson, Philly Jo Jones, Shelly Manne and Irv Cottler plus the fantastic dancing of Caterina Valente.
Only one of these performers has been featured on this thread so far. There’s no way I’d do them all justice in one post so I have decided to bestow the music industry’s highest honor on them all and give them individual posts right here on this blog! I know it’s a huge honor but these kids have talent and I want to make sure they finally get the recognition they deserve!
Busby Berkeley had no formal dance or choreography training. He started his career in the army during World War I coordinating marching drills for as many as 1200 troops at a time. After the army he worked in the theater for a decade before finally coming to Hollywood to direct movie musicals. “Gold Diggers,” “42nd Street” and “Dames” are some of his most famous films. Here is a spectacularly trippy dance number from the 1934 film “Dames.”
I bet 39,000 of my 40,000 favorite movies are musicals. It seems to me the economic times are right for musicals to make a big comeback but I doubt they ever will. We’ve gotten too cynical. Besides, I imagine Busby Berkeley numbers would be accomplished by CGI effects these days which would suck all the magic out of it. All I have to say is thank goodness for the slave wages, the female exploitation, and the tyrannical and abusive directors of the olden days or we’d have nothing pretty to look at today!
Part 3: The Show
Long story short: After a fantastic dinner we all went to see Cinematic Titanic! After the show everyone went back to the hotel, got properly hammered, and had a blast. Everyone except me. I went to bed sober and hours before anyone else because apparently I am 80 years old and Amish.
Cinematic Titanic is a spoken word comedy show so, of course, I had to go with this video:
We got seated just as the show was starting and saw that Gruber, their usual opening act, was missing from the line up. But the rest of the crew ably handled the warm up of course. We had hilarious comedy from Frank along with this beautiful song of Christmas cheer:
We had great music from Josh, readings from Trace and Mary Jo from Trace’s book “Silly Rhymes For Belligerent Children” and magic from Joel! Then this happened which got everyone excited:
Then the movie started. It was called “Rattlers” and it was pretty terrible as one might expect but the gang made it hilarious. I thought the riffers were a bit quiet in some places but where they were joking they were firing on all four cylinders!
After the show came the meet and greet. Joel was first in line and he recognized me right away. I go to a lot of these shows so that’s not surprising. Then Trace who told me how my daughter’s comment about his book made his day and how he might like to use it for promos. I thought that was cool. Then J Elvis who I forgot to tell that I enjoyed his song! Then Mary Jo asked me about my adoption (how the heck she knew I have no idea but how cool is that??).
Last in line was Frank who looks like he’s been losing weight. I wonder if that man ever has a bad hair day. I bet he just wakes up in the morning looking all coiffed and perfect like that. Anyway I asked him about his dad. Frank’s father was a journalist and he rubbed elbows with some very powerful people so I asked Frank if his dad had ever shared stories. The answer was no. Frank says his dad was pretty sick when he (Frank) was a kid so not much into sharing. Seems to me Frank’s dad’s life would make one hell of a great book though I forgot to mention that to Frank. Ah well, it’s something to talk about next time.
I think I was the only one bright eyed and bushy tailed for the brunch on Sunday morning. The rest of us were a bit bleery eyed and green around the gills. Some of us didn’t make it at all. Still it was a great capper to a really fun weekend with friends. I can’t wait until next time!
“The Red Shoes” is a 1948 British film which stars Moira Shearer, Leonide Massine, and Marius Goring. It’s the most popular ballet film ever made. The story is actually a love triangle. The beautiful Victoria Page (Shearer) must choose between her love of the handsome Julian Craster (Goring) and her love of the dance. I don’t want to give too much away but if you are familiar with the Hans Christian Anderson story, you have probably guessed that it’s a tragedy. The film was recently restored at UCLA and it was screened in the renovated Egyptian Theater on 6/24. The movie was the first to stage an extended dance sequence in the middle of the film. Other films like “An American In Paris” would follow suit but this was the original. I’ll post both halves of the ballet “The Red Shoes.” The choreography is masterful!
This section is titled:
PWNED!: Beautiful The Bigot Learns A Lesson
I also watched “Sex And The Single Girl” this week. I’m a feminist so when I saw in the Netflix plot summary that it was based on a book by Helen Gurley Brown I thought it would be right up my alley! I will probably end up in movie lover’s hell for saying so but,even though there were many good points, I really did not like it. Henry Fonda and Tony Curtis were both good and Lauren Bacall was great. The movie soundtrack even had some awesome Count Basie numbers in it. But the plot was a big unfunny mess to me and even though Natalie Wood was beautiful, her performance seemed very wooden and unnecessarily shouty. It got a couple stars out of me but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again.
When I read the plot summary for “The Red Shoes” I didn’t think I’d like it at all. The male character descriptions seemed overly Neanderthalish and the female seemed overly weak and foolish. But it’s a musical with dancing so I figured I’d watch it anyway. I was blown away. It was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. So anyway yeah, it turns out that, perhaps, prejudice is kind of a bad thing. I know it’s a bold and pioneering notion but now you can all say you heard it here first.
I’m not sure of the order but I think that’s Sam Sr on the left, Sam Jr in the middle of course, and Will Mastin on the right. The three men started performing together in the 20’s when Sammy Davis Jr was just 3 or 4 (sources conflict). They continued working together through the 60’s even while Sammy Jr was at the height of his fame. I don’t know for sure but I think this is probably a clip from the 1947 movie “Sweet and Low.” If nothing else we know that this performance is before 1954 because Sammy Jr hadn’t lost his eye yet. I love a great tap number and this is a great tap number!
When I was a kid back in the 70’s, it was popular to reject the work of many early 20th century African-American performers because it was considered too stereotypical and insulting. These performers’ works were actually banned from our home in a lot of cases so I didn’t get the chance to see them until I was an adult. I’m ashamed to say there are way too many great performances I still haven’t seen.
Sammy Davis Jr got caught up in the civil rights Uncle Tom blacklisting too because of some of his personal and professional choices. In our house though, Sammy was always an exception. We watched him whenever he was on. I’m not sure why Sammy got special immunity with my arrogantly afroed ancestors. I guess it really doesn’t matter in the long run. I’m just glad I got to grow up appreciating the talent of at least one of my favorite heroes.