Episode 32: Once Upon a Mattress (2005)

Once Upon A Mattress

Stellar cast, silly show, simply delightful.

When the movie you were supposed to watch won’t play, you pivot immediately to the colorful and charming ONCE UPON A MATTRESS.

The original Broadway production launched the career of a young comedienne named Carol Burnett. Now she takes the role of the conniving Queen Aggravaine, scheming to make sure her son never marries and stays her little baby forever. Until Princess Winifred (Tracey Ullman) shows up.

Ullman and Burnett are fantastic apart, but even better when sharing the screen. Denis O’Hare makes Prince Dauntless charming (a minor miracle). Tom Smothers, Zooey Deschanel, Matthew Morrison – it’s a terrific cast!  Directed by Kathleen Marshall (Tony winning choreographer), the dances are top notch, and the story zips along.

But what we mostly talk about this episode are the costumes.

Once Upon A Mattress

Bob Mackie makes me FAAAABulous!

Once Upon A Mattress

So. Fabulous.

Take a listen, and then find the movie and take a watch! And then tell us which costume was your favorite!

Once Upon a Mattress (2005)
Once Upon a Mattress poster Rating: 6.4/10 (1,025 votes)
Director: Kathleen Marshall
Writer: Marshall Barer (musical), Dean Fuller (musical), Jay Thompson (musical), Mary Rodgers (musical), Janet Brownell (teleplay)
Stars: Carol Burnett, Tracey Ullman, Denis O'Hare, Zooey Deschanel
Runtime: 90 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Released: 18 Dec 2005
Plot: In this hilarious tweaking of the fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea", Queen Aggravain has ruled that none may marry until her son, Prince Dauntless marries. However, she has managed to ...

Episode 31: Ziegfeld Follies (Part 2)

Ziegfeld Follies

“Follies” seems so appropriate.

This week, your hosts finish our discussion of ZIEGFELD FOLLIES, that star-studded dud of a musical revue.

They say that failure is a great teacher, and we certainly learned a lot about what we don’t like, and what doesn’t work, watching this one. If you are truly interested in the deeper workings of comedy, watching old comedy can be fascinating. It’s not funny – but it is fascinating.

While it may have been an effort to get through this movie, that effort was rewarded handsomely by the penultimate number: a duet between Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire that shows them both off at their best, with charm and wit to spare.

Don’t bother to watch the whole movie, it’s right here on Youtube:

The Babbitt and the Bromide

Take a listen, and if a segment seems interesting – watch it on Youtube and let us know what you thought!

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
Ziegfeld Follies poster Rating: 6.6/10 (2,614 votes)
Director: Lemuel Ayers, Roy Del Ruth, Robert Lewis, Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, Merrill Pye, Charles Walters
Writer: David Freedman, Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane
Stars: Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice
Runtime: 110 min
Rated: Approved
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Released: 08 Apr 1946
Plot: The late, great impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. looks down from Heaven and ordains a new revue in his grand old style.

Episode 30: Ziegfeld Follies (Part 1)

Ziegfeld Follies

Look at all those famous movie stars! How exciting! #lies

Jazz Hams, this week your hosts discover a movie that none of us had seen – ZIEGFELD FOLLIES.

This movie has been mentioned frequently in other episodes whenever we would check a major movie star’s resume and find that they, too, had also been in this mysterious film ZIEGFELD FOLLIES.

The cast is an embarrassment of riches resulting in a movie that is, sadly, mostly just an embarrassment. Like the Follies of yesteryear, the film is simply a collection of musical numbers and comedic interludes, showcasing the stars and the comedy routines that Ziegfeld made famous. Unfortunately, the comedy is one hundred years out of date.  But the musical numbers provide a steady source of entertainment, with a few stellar performances that are worth seeking out.

Given how jam-packed the movie is with talent, it’s no wonder our recording session ran long. So this week is Part One.  Tune in next week for the continuation of our epic discussion.

Ziegfeld Follies

If I ever find out who is to blame for this nightmare fuel, shit will Get Real.

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
Ziegfeld Follies poster Rating: 6.6/10 (2,614 votes)
Director: Lemuel Ayers, Roy Del Ruth, Robert Lewis, Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, Merrill Pye, Charles Walters
Writer: David Freedman, Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane
Stars: Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Lucille Bremer, Fanny Brice
Runtime: 110 min
Rated: Approved
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Released: 08 Apr 1946
Plot: The late, great impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. looks down from Heaven and ordains a new revue in his grand old style.

Episode 29: Kismet

Kismet

In a word…LUSCIOUS

This week’s episode features Windy’s beloved Howard Keel and the gorgeous melodies of Borodin – it’s KISMET!

Mike and Vinnie literally had no idea this movie even existed.  And yet…

The Broadway musical ran for over 500 performances. When the film production was announced, the biggest stars of the day vied for the leading role of Hajj. It features the exciting choreography of Jack Cole, the father of modern jazz dance.  All this, and the musical has been largely forgotten by modern audiences.

Seek this one out, Jazz Hams! Howard Keel positive revels in the wily charms of the Poet. And his wiles are more than matched by the arched side-eye of Dolores Gray. Throw in Vincente Minelli’s eye-popping palette, and you’ll find yourself swept away by its sensuous, sly, and silly chams.

“Not Since Ninevah” watch JACK COLE choreography here!

Kismet (1955)
Kismet poster Rating: 6.3/10 (1,223 votes)
Director: Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen
Writer: Charles Lederer (screenplay), Luther Davis (screenplay), Charles Lederer (adapted from the musical play "Kismet": book by), Luther Davis (adapted from the musical play "Kismet": book by), Edward Knoblock (founded on "Kismet" by)
Stars: Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray, Vic Damone
Runtime: 113 min
Rated: Approved
Genre: Adventure, Musical, Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
Released: 23 Dec 1955
Plot: A roguish poet is given the run of the scheming Wazir's harem while pretending to help him usurp the young caliph.

Episode 28: Starstruck

Starstruck

Cyndi Lauper’s adorable Australian cousin?

Citizens of Jazzhandia, we are here with an ambassador from the 1980s by way of Australia – it’s STARSTRUCK!

If a Cyndi Lauper music video had a love child with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the result would be the delightfully bonkers STARSTRUCK.  Featuring catchy early 80s punk/pop delivered in the form of mini-music videos, the movie flies by with quirky interactions sprinkled liberally between musical set pieces.

None of your hosts had ever even heard of this movie when the Alamo Drafthouse did a screening of a newly restored print, and this episode proves that it’s really hard to describe dance with just words. Which means you’ll just have to seek out this movie and see it in all its glorious joy for yourself.

And if you have seen and loved THE APPLE, you need to make this a priority, Jazz Hams.

Take a listen and fill up our letterboxes with your own thoughts!

BEST NUMBER IN THE MOVIE

SECOND BEST BUT STILL AHMAZING

Starstruck

“Penis envy!” (It makes sense if you watch the movie.)

Starstruck (1982)
Starstruck poster Rating: 7.1/10 (818 votes)
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Writer: Stephen MacLean (original screenplay)
Stars: Joey Kennedy, Ross O'Donovan, Margo Lee, Max Cullen
Runtime: 105 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Drama
Released: 26 Jan 1983
Plot: Young woman wants to become the next big singer with the help of her friends and despite the wishes of her working class family.

Episode 27: The Band Wagon

The Band Wagon

Legs not to scale: They’re even longer in real life

Jazz Hams, this week’s episode features a pairing that is sure to delight:  Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse! THE BAND WAGON is a light, frothy delight featuring iconic and influential dances created by Michael Kidd. Neither Vinnie nor Mike had seen it before, but Windy was downright giddy at getting to revisit this gem.

Meta as all hell, THE BAND WAGON tells the story of an aging song-and-dance man (Fred Astaire) who wants to revitalize his career by doing a show. He gets paired with a ballet dancer (Cyd Charisse) and the two have concerns about the age difference and their differing dance styles. But the real fun comes when Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) agrees to helm the show and decides it is clearly a modern retelling of Faust!  Hilarity and shenanigans ensue – along with dances that have cemented this film’s place in cinema history (“Dancing in the Dark” and “Girl Hunt Ballet”).

Vincente Minnelli – the man who loves color – directs, and the sets and costumes are eye popping.

The Band Wagon

Arm loofas are a thing that should come back in style

But the real star is the amazing amount of talent from our leading players.

The Band Wagon

“Whose idea was this again?”

If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat!

Triplets! You know you’re curious

Gilda Radner and Steve Martin dancing in the dark

The Band Wagon (1953)
The Band Wagon poster Rating: 7.5/10 (9,015 votes)
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Betty Comden (story by), Adolph Green (story by)
Stars: Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray
Runtime: 112 min
Rated: Passed
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Released: 07 Aug 1953
Plot: A pretentiously artistic director is hired for a new Broadway musical and changes it beyond recognition.

Episode 26: RENT

Rent

ENTIRE CAST: “It was easier to play a decade younger on stage.”

Listeners, this week Mike leads us through the movie version of RENT which Vinnie has never seen.

The 2005 film unites much of the original cast which seemed like an exciting idea at the time – until you have a close up on a 30-something trying to sell the uniquely narcissistic arrogance of the mid-20s. It also illustrates how very much “of the time” the musical was in 1996:  ten years later and the themes, topics, and music do not age well. A period piece rather than a timeless classic.

Perhaps the greatest stumbling block is uninspired and clunky (and strangely sanitized) direction that manages to take an ensemble of incredible talent and render them lackluster.

Join us as we cover RENT (see what I did there?)!

Rent

“WHO is directing??”

Rent (2005)
Rent poster Rating: 7.0/10 (46,475 votes)
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Jonathan Larson (book)
Stars: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin
Runtime: 135 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
Released: 23 Nov 2005
Plot: This is the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America.

Episode 25: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

, with special guest:
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

French. Charming. COLORFUL. (Did we mention colorful?)

Citizens of Jazzhandia, this week we go international with guest Melissa Kaercher who shows us THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (which neither Vinnie nor Windy had seen!).

We actually recorded this the same night as THE LAST FIVE YEARS and it made for a surprisingly eloquent double feature about the relationships of youth, and the conflict between our dreams and our needs.

The movie inspired much of the visual look of LA LA LAND, and wow – is it obvious! Much of our discussion focused on the visuals – hard to encapsulate in words – so we hope you’ll seek this out and take a look yourself.

If only for THE WALLPAPERS.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Wallpaper. Her dress MATCHES the WALLPAPER. (And every single room has more breath-taking Wallpaper.)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The WALLPAPER.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

OMG. THE. WALLPAPER.

 

 

 

 

 

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg poster Rating: 7.9/10 (20,390 votes)
Director: Jacques Demy
Writer: Jacques Demy (scenario and dialogue)
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel
Runtime: 91 min
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
Released: 16 Dec 1964
Plot: A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.

Episode 24: The Last Five Years

, with special guest:
The Last Five Years

Notice how they’re looking in different directions. Foreshadowing.

This week, we explore the uniquely constructed, emotionally haunting THE LAST FIVE YEARS. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay. This is a theater nerd deep cut (frankly, Windy is shocked that a movie version even got made).

One of the often-mentioned “lost episodes,” we grabbed special guest star Melissa Kaercher while she was in town for Fantastic Fest.  The resulting conversation gets into a deeply psychological character study – very appropriate for this musical (but with our patented goofiness).

It’s on Netflix and we highly recommend a watch.  The music by Jason Robert Brown is excellent, Anna and Jeremy are sublimely charismatic, and the concept is an intriguing gimmick that actually does add to the emotional story.

You can’t do better and we guarantee you’ll be smiling (those are song references).  Take a listen and let us know what you think!

The Last Five Years

Yeah, this isn’t gonna end well.

The Last Five Years (2014)
The Last Five Years poster Rating: 5.9/10 (8,717 votes)
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Writer: Jason Robert Brown (based on the musical play by), Richard LaGravenese (screenplay)
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan, Tamara Mintz, Cassandra Inman
Runtime: 94 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance
Released: 18 Feb 2015
Plot: A struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair.

Episode 23: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns
LOVELY

Alright, Jazz Hams, it’s an extra giddy, extra squeeful, extra-long episode this week because we all absolutely fell in love with MARY POPPINS RETURNS!

SIDENOTE: We promised to link to the Drafthouse no talking PSA featuring Lin and Emily, but it was not to be found on Youtube. Apologies!

BONUS SIDENOTE:  The BMX bikes do not have motors, that is just the spokes whirring.

EXTRA SIDENOTE: That random whirring sound you hear is Windy’s laptop fan getting excited.  Not – as Mike has theorized – an alien spaceship beaming us up.
PLAY ALONG BONUS ROUND:  Jazz hands everytime you hear the laptop fan!

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns poster Rating: 6.9/10 (48,728 votes)
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: P.L. Travers (based upon the "Mary Poppins" stories by), David Magee (screen story by), Rob Marshall (screen story by), John DeLuca (screen story by), David Magee (screenplay by)
Stars: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer
Runtime: 130 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical
Released: 19 Dec 2018
Plot: Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael's children through a difficult time in their lives.