Tag Archive: Guys and Dolls


Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

A few weeks go, I began to talk of my favorite musicals.

 

Musicals were always my place for hiding when I couldn’t deal with life. And sometimes it was the place I need to go when I need a break from the real world. Maybe you do it with ice cream or potato chips or golf. Sports on TV always seem to make my husband relax after a long day.

 

hamilton_Lately, I have been listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton. It is interesting how different styles of music are used to define different characters. The King of England uses the style of a pop love song, the three Schuyler sisters sound like pop trios from the 80s. And Mr. Hamilton is a rapper telling a complicated story. You think he is fast until you hear Marquis LaFayette.

 

But I have to admit at this time I think it is more important to pay my mortgage than take the family to see this award winning show. One of my friends joked that it would be less expensive for him to take a Rhine River cruise, including the cost of airfare to Germany. Until this show comes to the big screen, I need to be patient.

 

This made me think about some of my favorite musicals. The ones I love are energetic with saucy heroines. When the movie is done, I want to feel as if I could dance and sing for no apparent reason. I get this feeling whenever I watch Mamma Mia starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. I like to put is on whenever I feel blue because by the end of the movie I am laughing and singing and dancing. I last watched this on the day of my colonoscopy as I recovered from the anesthesia.

 

guys-and-dollsI feel it is one of the great ones, not for the wonderful singing. The older guys are all a bit imperfect in an adorable manner. All cast members have such fun singing that I can forgive the imperfections I would normally rant and rave about.

 

That is what makes Guys and Dolls great as well. There are many great singers in the Frank Sinatra version. But Marlon Brando had never sang before in the movies. I don’t think he ever did another musical but I really liked what he did here. His voice was strong and interesting, filled with musical imperfections that makes for a great song stylist. Imperfections make a song come alive, strengthens the emotional intent.

 

Frank Sinatra uses his imperfections and strong accent to make his gambler sing of the misfortune of being dragged around by the nose by a doll. That is until his doll tries to make him quit the gambling life. Then his voice turns into smooth cream to keep her happy for just a while longer.

 

moulin_rouge_movie_posterAnother musical that I love to watch is Moulin Rouge! directed by Baz Lurhmann. Released in 2001, this movie crossed time periods and musical styles while telling a story of a young writer who falls in love with a beautiful courtesan. He (Ewan McGregor) sings Your Song, originally sung by Elton John, to his love despite the fact that she has to please the Count underwriting the show.

 

Satine (Nicole Kidman) has wonderful productions including a mash-up of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and Material Girl while swinging about the auditorium. Like anything by Lurhmann, the set designs are incredible and big, really big. And this re-telling of La Traviata will have you crying at the end.

 

A word of warning. Moulin Rouge! is not meant for small children. It is fill with sexual innuendo and direct talk. Guys and Dolls would be better but not by much. After all, we have guys talking about, and creating, a massive floating gambling game. Perhaps the younger ones would just like to watch Frozen for the umpteenth time. Who can get tired of listening to Idina Menzel over and over again?

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Revisiting 1950s Movies

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

As Pumpkin Fest gets closer and it is time to create a costume for the scarecrow, I have to admit I am a bit stymied.

I keep thinking about 1950 fashions with those great wide skirts and soft cashmere sweaters. But I am not putting that sweater on a scarecrow that is going to be outside in all sorts of weather.

While I am trying to go through clothing options what I have, I have to admit there are some movies that rolled through my head almost iummediately.

One of the most popular teen movies from the 1950s is Rebel Without A Cause in which there is a new boy in town who has a tendancy to find trouble. But of course, right away he find a girl who understands him and wants to be by his side. This is one of the three movies that made James Dean into a Hollywood legend before his tragic early death. Natalie Wood stars as the girl who loves him.

This next selection might be harder to find but it used to be a classic on late night TV as the star of the movie became a huge TV star on Bonanza, Ponderosa, Little House on the Prairie and Higway to Heaven. I was a Teenage Werewolf starred Michael Landon as a new kid in town with a hot temper. When a fight leads to an appointment with a psychologist, the teen discovers too later that the doctor is really a mad scientist. Things go from bad to worse after that but this movie is great campy fun.

The 50s were a strange time in which we feared nuclear destruction which lead some film makers to create all sorts of monster movies. Godzilla always comes to mind for me as Tokeyo is once again destroyed by various creatures that have grown to ginourmous size about being hit with radiation. Another monster movie from the era was The Blob in which a gelatinous mass tries to absorb the community after coming from outer space. Perhaps one of the best horror/thriller movies from this era might be Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Once again we are being invaded by aliens. But this time they are able to replicate humans and take our lives away.

The fear and suspicion of the era wasn’t just about what could come from outside of our planet. Alfred Hitchcock played on the suspicion we felt about the people around us with Rear Window as Jimmy Stewart’s housebound photographer who starts to wonder if his neighbor has killed his wife. Hitchcock’s 1951 movie, Strangers on a Train, focused on the fears of a mad man that Farly Granger meets on a train as he is trying to figure out how to get his wife to divorce him so Granger can marry the woman who is his true love. The merry-go-round scene still gives me a thrill.

Thankfully, not all movies focused on our fears. Some went out of their way to be crazy fun. This was the era of the musical. One of my favorites is Guys and Dolls which stars Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando as two gamblers who are trying to find a way to get a place for a big game that is hosting a gambler not known for his kindness and generosity. It involves a Slavation Army-type girl in Jean Simmons and show girl Vivian Blaine. But for me the show-stopping number is “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.”

However, that is not the best musical of the ear. That honor goes to Singin’ In The Rain starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Conner. The story is about the movie industry as it changes over from silent movies to sound. But really the film is built around a collection of songs. One of my favorites is the “Make ’em Laugh” dance routine with Donald O’Conner and a variety of props.

Do you have a favorite movie from the 1950s?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.