More 4th of July Escapism: Small-Town Iowa and Declaration of Independence Musicals

More 4th of July Escapism: Small-Town Iowa and Declaration of Independence Musicals
(See previous post: Fourth of July Movies: Escapism During a Weird Year.) On the evening of the Fourth of July, besides fireworks, fire hazards, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, if you're watching TCM in the U.S. and Canada, there's the following: Peter H. Hunt's 1776 (1972), a largely forgotten film musical based on the Broadway hit with music by Sherman Edwards. William Daniels, who was recently on TCM talking about 1776 and a couple of other movies (A Thousand Clowns, Dodsworth), has one of the key roles as John Adams. Howard Da Silva, blacklisted for over a decade after being named a communist during the House Un-American Committee hearings of the early 1950s (Robert Taylor was one who mentioned him in his testimony), plays Benjamin Franklin. Ken Howard is Thomas Jefferson, a role he would reprise in John Huston's 1976 short Independence. (In the short, Pat Hingle was cast as John Adams; Eli Wallach was Benjamin Franklin.) Warner
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An admiring nod to ’60s dream siren Daliah Lavi! American-International leaps into an epic Jules Verne comedy about a trip to the moon, a good-looking but slow and unfunny farce that must squeak by on the goodwill of its cast of comedians. Burl Ives is excellent casting as P.T. Barnum, promoting a Greatest Show Off the Earth.



Olive Films

1967 / Color/ 2:35 widescreen / 119 99, 95 min. / Street Date March 21, 2017 / Those Fantastic Flying Fools; Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon / available through Olive Films / 29.95

Starring: Burl Ives, Terry-Thomas, Gert Fröbe, Lionel Jeffries, Troy Donahue, Daliah Lavi, Dennis Price, Hermione Gingold, Jimmy Clitheroe, Graham Stark, Edward de Souza, Judy Cornwell, Allan Cuthbertson, Sinéd Cusack, Maurice Denham.

Cinematography: Reginald H. Wyer

Film Editor: Ann Chegwidden

Original Music: John Scott

Written by Dave Freeman, Peter Welbeck (Harry Allan Towers) inspired by the writings of Jules Verne

Produced by Harry Allan Towers

Directed by Don Sharp
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Debbie Reynolds’ 10 Best Moments: IndieWire Staff Pay Tribute to A Star Who Shined on Everything

  • Indiewire
Debbie Reynolds’ 10 Best Moments: IndieWire Staff Pay Tribute to A Star Who Shined on Everything
When Debbie Reynolds died on Wednesday at the age of 84, she had been famous for more than 65 years. A multi-talented star who fixed her place in the Hollywood firmaments when she was just 19 years old (the same age that her daughter, the late Carrie Fisher, was introduced to the world as Princess Leia), Reynolds’ life was the stuff of Tinseltown legend, and she never seemed to grow tired of the spotlight. On the contrary, she was a force of nature until the bitter end, brightening almost every corner of showbiz at one point or another during her decades on stage and screen.

Read More: Debbie Reynolds’ Co-Stars and More Celebrities Mourn Her Passing on Twitter

A hit recording artist, an Oscar (and Tony)-nominated leading lady, a Las Vegas lounge sensation, and a dedicated collector of movie memorabilia (some of her most heroic efforts were dedicated to the preservation of
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Judy by the Numbers: "Take My Hand, Paree"

This week's number is hands down the weirdest entry in Judy's filmography. It doesn't fit neatly into Judy's biography or star image; it really appears to be one of those things that happened because the timing was right. In 1962, Warner Bros released a Upa animated feature called Gay Purr-ee. It's a movie about Parisian cats that feels like An American in Paris meets The Aristocats as played by the Looney Tunes. In a bit of early celebrity stunt casting Upa cast two big voices for its dimunitive feline leads: Judy Garland and Robert Goulet

The Movie: Gay Purr-ee (WB, 1962)

The Songwriters: Harold Arlen (music) & E.Y. Yarburg (lyrics)

The Cast: Judy Garland, Robert Goulet, Red Buttons, Hermione Gingold, Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, directed by Abe Levitow.

The Story: Gay Purr-ee really needs to be seen to be believed. Done in the limited-animation style of Upa, the movie sets
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TCM Oscar Homage Kicked Off Today: Is Bigger Always Better?

'Ben-Hur' 1959 with Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston: TCM's '31 Days of Oscar.' '31 Days of Oscar': 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ben-Hur' are in, Paramount stars are out Today, Feb. 1, '16, Turner Classic Movies is kicking off the 21st edition of its “31 Days of Oscar.” While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is being vociferously reviled for its “lack of diversity” – more on that appallingly myopic, self-serving, and double-standard-embracing furore in an upcoming post – TCM is celebrating nearly nine decades of the Academy Awards. That's the good news. The disappointing news is that if you're expecting to find rare Paramount, Universal, or Fox/20th Century Fox entries in the mix, you're out of luck. So, missing from the TCM schedule are, among others: Best Actress nominees Ruth Chatterton in Sarah and Son, Nancy Carroll in The Devil's Holiday, Claudette Colbert in Private Worlds. Unofficial Best Actor
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Remembering Oscar-Winning Gwtw Art Director Menzies

William Cameron Menzies. William Cameron Menzies movies on TCM: Murderous Joan Fontaine, deadly Nazi Communists Best known as an art director/production designer, William Cameron Menzies was a jack-of-all-trades. It seems like the only things Menzies didn't do was act and tap dance in front of the camera. He designed and/or wrote, directed, produced, etc., dozens of films – titles ranged from The Thief of Bagdad to Invaders from Mars – from the late 1910s all the way to the mid-1950s. Among Menzies' most notable efforts as an art director/production designer are: Ernst Lubitsch's first Hollywood movie, the Mary Pickford star vehicle Rosita (1923). Herbert Brenon's British-set father-son drama Sorrell and Son (1927). David O. Selznick's mammoth production of Gone with the Wind, which earned Menzies an Honorary Oscar. The Sam Wood movies Our Town (1940), Kings Row (1942), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). H.C. Potter's Mr. Lucky
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Remembering Actress and Pioneering Woman Producer Delorme: Unique Actress/Woman Director Collaboration

Danièle Delorme: 'Gigi' 1949 actress and pioneering female film producer. Danièle Delorme: 'Gigi' 1949 actress was pioneering woman producer, politically minded 'femme engagée' Danièle Delorme, who died on Oct. 17, '15, at the age of 89 in Paris, is best remembered as the first actress to incarnate Colette's teenage courtesan-to-be Gigi and for playing Jean Rochefort's about-to-be-cuckolded wife in the international box office hit Pardon Mon Affaire. Yet few are aware that Delorme was featured in nearly 60 films – three of which, including Gigi, directed by France's sole major woman filmmaker of the '40s and '50s – in addition to more than 20 stage plays and a dozen television productions in a show business career spanning seven decades. Even fewer realize that Delorme was also a pioneering woman film producer, working in that capacity for more than half a century. Or that she was what in French is called a femme engagée
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DVD Review – Munster, Go Home! (1966)

Munster, Go Home!, 1966.

Directed by Earl Bellamy.

Starring Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Debbie Watson, John Carradine, Richard Dawson, Terry-Thomas, Jeanne Arnold and Hermione Gingold.


Herman Munster inherits the title of Lord Munster and the estate of his English uncle so the family visit England but their presence isn’t welcomed by their dastardly English relatives.

TV shows very rarely make for good movies, with only a few notable exceptions such as Batman making the transition successfully. And Batman is an apt example as it was the full colour adventures of the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder that put an end to the creaky black-and-white escapades of The Munsters TV show back in 1966 after two series. As a result, The Munsters got their own movie and for the first time they were shown in Technicolor.

In this big screen adventure, Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) receives
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Oscar Nominated Moody Pt.2: From Fagin to Merlin - But No Harry Potter

Ron Moody as Fagin in 'Oliver!' based on Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist.' Ron Moody as Fagin in Dickens musical 'Oliver!': Box office and critical hit (See previous post: "Ron Moody: 'Oliver!' Actor, Academy Award Nominee Dead at 91.") Although British made, Oliver! turned out to be an elephantine release along the lines of – exclamation point or no – Gypsy, Star!, Hello Dolly!, and other Hollywood mega-musicals from the mid'-50s to the early '70s.[1] But however bloated and conventional the final result, and a cast whose best-known name was that of director Carol Reed's nephew, Oliver Reed, Oliver! found countless fans.[2] The mostly British production became a huge financial and critical success in the U.S. at a time when star-studded mega-musicals had become perilous – at times downright disastrous – ventures.[3] Upon the American release of Oliver! in Dec. 1968, frequently acerbic The
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Vanessa Hudgens Sails Into Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre As Sting Departs

Vanessa Hudgens Sails Into Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre As Sting Departs
Thank heaven for not-so-little girls. A revival of the Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe musical Gigi, starring Disney-minted and Spring Breakers starlet Vanessa Hudgens, has booked the Neil Simon Theatre and will begin previews on March 19, with an official opening on April 8. The theater became available when the producers of The Last Ship announced that the Sting musical would trim its sails as of January 24.

The revival of the musical by the team behind My Fair Lady and Camelot will begin its out-of-town tryout this weekend at the Kennedy Center in Washington, where it runs through February 12. The show, based on the novel by Collette about a young Parisian girl who is being groomed for life as a courtesan, will feature a new book (Lerner wrote the original) by UK writer Heidi Thomas.

The director is Eric Schaeffer and the choreographer is Emmy-winner Joshua Bergasse (Smash, the current Broadway revival of On The Town.
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Politically Active Actress Bergen Made into Nixon's 'Enemies List'

Polly Bergen: Actress on Richard Nixon's 'enemies list' (image: Polly Bergen publicity shot ca. late 1950s) (See previous article: "Polly Bergen Movies: First U.S. Woman President.") As discussed in the previous post, despite its deceptively progressive premise — the first United States woman president as a palpable reality — Kisses for My President, written by veteran Paramount screenwriter Claude Binyon (Search for Beauty, The Gilded Lily) and newcomer Robert G. Kane (whose sole other movie credit was the poorly received Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Western Villain), was an unabashedly reactionary, "traditional family values" effort. Ironically, Polly Bergen, for her part, was a liberal-minded, politically active Democrat. At around the time Kisses for My President was released, Bergen, along with Gregory Peck, James Garner, and other Hollywood personalities, publicly came out against California's Proposition 14, a 1964 ballot initiative that would have nullified the Rumford Fair Housing Act, thus paving the way for
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Bww CD Reviews: Masterwork Broadway's Remastered A Little Night Music (Original Soundtrack Recording) Waltzes Well

Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music holds a special place in my heart. A particularly impressive production at a community theatre was my first time to see a Stephen Sondheim musical staged, and it began my love affair with the man's music. The Tony Award winning and successful 1973 musical features a score written entirely in schmaltzy waltz time signatures and has a delightfully soapy plot derived from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 Swedish film Sommamattens leende In English Smiles of a Summer Night. In 1977, a film version of A Little Night Music was released, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Lesley-Anne Down, and Diana Rigg, with Len Cariou, Hermione Gingold, and Laurence Guittard reprising their Broadway roles. While the critical reception to the stage musical was glowing, the critical reception of the film was notoriously underwhelming. Despite this, Jonathan Tunick received an Oscar for his orchestrations of the memorable, lovely, and tuneful score, which
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Will Angela Lansbury win a record sixth time at Tony Awards?

Will Angela Lansbury win a record sixth time at Tony Awards?
Last year, Angela Lansbury tied record-holder Julie Harris when she won a fifth Tony Award for her featured performance as the madcap Madame Arcati in the Noel Coward play "Blithe Spirit." On Tuesday, she got a chance to break that tie with her featured nomination as the cynical Madame Armfeldt in the first rialto revival of Stephen Sondheim's 1973 Tony-winning tuner "A Little Night Music." Hermione Gingold, the originator of the role, lost the 1973 race to her co-star Patricia Elliot, who played Countess Charlotte Malcolm. Lansbury's first four Tony wins were for lead actress in a musical: "Mame" (1966), "Dear World" (1969), "Gypsy" (1975) and "Sweeney Todd" (1979). Indeed, Lansbury has only gone down...
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Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Music Man’ Looks Sharper, Thunders Louder Than Before

Chicago – “The Music Man” is alive in a way few Hollywood musicals ever are. Its big numbers often grow organically, allowing melodies to emerge from the rhythm of speech, overlapping action or the seemingly mundane movement of characters across the frame. In the exuberant world of this ageless classic, music is less of a self-conscious construct than an irresistible life force infiltrating the cadence of everyday life.

Much of the film’s success must be attributed to the work of director Morton DaCosta and star Robert Preston. DaCosta directed Preston in the musical’s 1957 Tony-winning Broadway production, and insisted that his lead actor be cast in the 1962 cinematic adaptation, rather than the studio’s preferred star, Frank Sinatra. It’s impossible to imagine anyone but Preston in the role of “Prof. Harold Hill,” a charismatic con artist who seduces the simple citizens of River City, Iowa into financially supporting his
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Leslie Caron to Publish Memoirs, Star in English-Language Sondheim Revival in Paris

The more things change, the more they stay the same, for Leslie Caron at least. The 78-year-old actress will soon play the role of Madame Armfeldt, created by Hermione Gingold in the original 1973 production of A Little Night Music, on the Paris stage. Gingold portrayed her grandmother in the 1958 film, Gigi, which starred Caron as a young courtesan-in-training. Now a grandmother herself, Caron will appear in an English-language revival of A Little Night Music, the musical by Stephen Sondheim, at the Theatre du Chatelet next February; besides Caron, it will also feature Kristin Scott Thomas and Lambert Wilson. Although Caron has been operating a five-bedroom bed and breakfast, Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes in Burgundy, 75 miles outside of Paris, for the last 15 years, she has also been busy the past few years writing her memoirs,
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Gigi - Blu-ray Review

One of the last musicals from the Freed unit is lovingly restored for high definition. The subject of the film is sugarcoated, but it comes to high definition with a nice transfer as well as some bells and whistles. An American in Paris seems more lovingly restored, but Gigi makes a fine companion to set on your shelf beside it. Gigi (Leslie Caron) is a teenager who has come of age. She now is under the tutelage of her Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) to become a courtesan. Her grandmother Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) doesn.t know if Gigi is mature enough to take these lessons seriously. Bachelor Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jordan) doesn.t seem to be enjoying the finer things of
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Blu-Ray Review: Pair of Oscar-Winning Musicals Tap to HD Beat

Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0 Chicago – Two of the most beloved musicals of all time recently made their debut on Blu-Ray with extravagant collections of special features, beautiful HD, and crystal clear audio. All musical fans will want to add the Best Picture-winning “An American in Paris” and “Gigi” to their Blu-Ray collection.

One of my favorite musicals, 1951’s “An American in Paris,” an Oscar-winner for Best Picture, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Score, and Screenplay, is such an essential film to the history of the musical genre that it seems like a no-brainer for HD Blu-Ray. It’s an undeniable classic featuring one of the great stars of the musical, Gene Kelly, at his athletic peak and includes the debut of the magical Leslie Caron.

An American in Paris was released on Blu-Ray on March 31st, 2009.

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

As if Kelly and Caron weren’t enough to entice musical fans,
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