Episode 21: White Christmas

White Christmas

Songs, dancing, Edith Head gowns…who needs plot??

This week, Holiday Hams, Mike and Vinnie are exposed to that Christmas mainstay WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Directed by Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA) with costumes by Edith Head and filmed in glorious VistaVision, it’s a visual treat.  The dance numbers are lavish, and the cast is glorious. The actual plot is… good enough to keep watching for the next dance number!

This movie is an annual tradition at Windy’s house having grown up with it, but we think it’s worth a watch no matter your traditions. Snappy dialogue, engaging relationships, and tunes galore – happy holidays from Windy, Mike, and Vinnie!

 

 

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Episode 20: Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn

Is there a film genre for “problematic but charming”?

This week, Vinnie and Mike finally take in the seasonal classic HOLIDAY INN, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, with Windy as their native guide.

It’s a standard romantic comedy love triangle, except that one-third of the triangle is crooner extraordinaire Bing, and another third is one of the best dancers of his (or any) era.

The plot serves mainly as a vehicle to get from one Irving Berlin song to the next, but along the way you get gowns by Edith Head, and snappy banter courtesy of Claude Binyon.

But.

You also get one of the most infamous blackface numbers still remembered today, as well as troubling gender politics, and even a bit of jingoistic war propaganda.  Because that’s what the holidays are all about!

There’s so much that is delightful – and there’s so much that should be seen and not forgotten – that you should take some time out to watch HOLIDAY INN.

Holiday Inn

Bing is giving some side-eye to the film tropes of 1941

Marilyn singing “Lazy”

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Episode 19: Broadway Melody of 1940

Broadway Melody of 1940

Not Picture: George Murphy because DUH

It’s a super-sized episode this week, Jazz Hams! Vinnie and Mike just couldn’t stop talking about the amazing dance numbers in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940!

Teaming up two of the best tappers of the era, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, the dancing is fast and light, just like the banter. The plot is as fluffy as meringue, but you’re watching for the amazing dancing anyway. Eleanor Powell doesn’t get mentioned as often as her male counterparts of the era, or even Ann Miller, which is a shame because her tapping, ballet, and gymnastics are all top notch – not to mention a smile that lights up the screen.

All the dances are beautiful, but it’s the finale “Begin the Beguine” that has made this an enduring classic.  Fred and Eleanor tapped themselves into history, and they look like they’re having the best time doing it.

Take a listen and if you can’t find the movie, at least hit up Youtube for the dances. You won’t regret it!

Eleanor in “All Ashore” – adorable and amazing!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032284/

Episode 18: Tangled

Tangled

Stockholm Syndrome: The Musical! (but charming!)

This week, Jazz Hams, we dive into our first Disney animated musical with the charming and tuneful TANGLED!  Mike was our virgin this week, and he absolutely fell in love with Donna Murphy’s performance as Mother Gothel, and – of course – the sassy sidekicks Maximus and Pascal.

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater (GALAVANT), the songs are catchy and clever, but it’s the gorgeous animation that really shines, even if Rapunzel’s hair might be sentient??

Mother knows best and she says to take a listen!

As Mentioned: SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF SONGS IN DISNEY MUSICALS

Little Mermaid                   5 (plus 1 reprise, and 2 forgettable chorus numbers)
Aladdin                                   5 (plus 2 reprises)
Beauty and the Beast     6 (plus 2 reprises)
Mulan                                      4
The Lion King                      5
Tangled                                   4 (plus 3 reprises!)

 

Tangled

Yep!

Tangled

Is your hair…prehensile??!

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398286/

Episode 17: Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me, Kate

How does Tommy Rall not get higher billing than Bobby Van??!

The Fossepocalypse begins!

KISS ME KATE boasts so many amazing things (Howard Keel in striped tights! Tommy Rall defying gravity! James Whitmore as the most adorable thug ever!) that you might forget that this is also the movie that put Bob Fosse on the map.

The movie version of Cole Porter’s masterpiece, boasting some of his most clever and saucy lyrics telling the story of Shakespeare’s biting The Taming of the Shrew, Mike and Vinnie have dubbed KISS ME KATE equally as horny as ON THE TOWN (our previous high-water-mark for libido).

Making the most of the backstage-musical show-within-a-show format, Kathryn Grayson divas it up bigtime as Lilli Vanessi, typecast as the titular shrew. But Howard Keel is not to be denied his own ham sandwich as his producer/director/star Fred Graham stuffs his ego into those magnificent tights. Rounding out the main quartet are two of this era’s best dancers: Ann Miller and Tommy Rall. Tommy’s first dance break in the movie literally made Mike and Vinnie sit up and take notice.

Kiss Me, Kate

“Did someone say ham sandwich?”

And – just incidentally – this is the movie that launched Bob Fosse’s choreographic career.  NBD.

Kiss Me, Kate

Why walk when you can slither?

Take a listen and find out for yourself just how “Wonderbar” it is!

(Video links as promised:)

Chita Rivera & the Jack Cole Dancers

From This Moment On

 

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Episode 16: Little Shop of Horrors

, with special guest:
Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis is so adorable, I just want to EAT HIM

This week, Jazz Hams, all three of your hosts have seen the movie, so we brought in our first “official guest” (Jennie is more a silent partner than a guest) – Kaitlin Piraro – to watch that cult favorite LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The intro sound quality (about 4 minutes) isn’t the best and we apologize. Things improve radically after the cut.

We decided to show Kaitlin the director’s cut of the movie: the ending so unpopular with test audiences that only 13% of them thought it was a good idea. That didn’t keep Kaitlin from loving it – the music, the staging, the sets, and costumes. Director Frank Oz kept the ties to the off-Broadway stage very visible, and uses all his puppetry experience to make Audrey II a fully menacing and believable villain.

Starring that adorable pokemon Rick Moranis and powerhouse singer Ellen Greene, plus a cavalcade of cameos, plus songs by Menken & Ashman, it’s delightfully dark entertainment.

Having yet another set of opinions makes this episode super-sized, so grab a snack (doesn’t have to be meat, doesn’t have to be fresh) and take a listen!

Little Shop of Horrors

Dressing up as Audrey II and Seymour – totally healthy relationship!

(Sidenote: listen for “Taye Diggity” – Windy’s pretty proud of that one)

Ellen Greene’s Broadway.com interview

Rick Moranis’ country album The Agoraphobic Cowboy

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Episode 15: It’s Always Fair Weather

It's Always Fair Weather

Sure does LOOK like a winner!

This week is unusual in that none of your hosts have seen our movie – IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER!

Known today as the movie that “the Gene Kelly tapping on roller skates” dance is from, 1955’s IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER pretty much marks the end of the Golden Age of big movie musicals.  Coming from the famed Freed Unit, with Stanley Donen directing and Comden & Green writing, this movie was expected to be a huge hit, especially since it was conceptually a sequel to the fantastic ON THE TOWN.

Instead, it suffers from it’s own cinematic mid-life crisis, with the storyline focusing on three friends reuniting in middle age only to discover that none of them are particularly happy with where their lives have led them – and a film that doesn’t know how to turn that conceit into an entertainment.

This one’s a bit of a deep cut, and we’ll be honest that the film doesn’t really work.  But it’s still worth watching for the snappy writing given to the ladies (Cyd & Dolores), and the terrific dance sequences (staged by Michael Kidd, who also acted in this one – one of his few onscreen roles).

Take a peek and take a listen!

It's Always Fair Weather

Cyd with her magical legs in the magic skirt.

Tapping with trash can lids?! (“The Binge”)

Gene tapping on skates! (“I Like Myself”)

Dolores has her own flippy boys!

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Episode 14: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie

So adorable you might even forgive the White Slavery plot.

For this week’s episode, Windy bends Mike and Vinnie’s brains with THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE.  An all-star cast made this movie a hit at the time, but it has since vanished into cinema obscurity – resurfacing as a hit Broadway musical in 2000!

Starring the inimitable Dame Julie Andrews, along with Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing, this movie has pedigree to spare (check out the director’s other credits, for a start). Julie gets a chance to truly strut her comedic inclinations, with everybody else in the cast joining in the silliness 1000%. There’s a lot of high energy zaniness, which is necessary to distract from the really problematic racial stereotypes and white slavery plot elements.  Yes.  You read that right.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Seriously? Who thought THAT was a good idea?

Still, the comedic bones were strong enough to support a Tony-award-winning stage musical, which launched the career of Sutton Foster.

Sutton Foster in the opening number “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

It’s not banana oil to say there’s a lot of entertainment to be found in this forgotten gem. Take a listen to our episode, and then take a look for yourself!

Thoroughly Modern Millie

“Just load those uncomfortable racial stereotypes into the back of the truck.”

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Episode 13: Xanadu

Xanadu

10-year-old Windy imprinted on this image HARD.

This week, Mike and Vinnie struggle to keep up as Windy lays out several decades of her obsession with XANADU. Mike had never seen it, Vinnie never on the big screen, and it was showing at the Alamo Drafthouse so this was an EVENT, capital “eeeeeeee!”

Famous for being a flop, for killing Michael Beck’s (THE WARRIORS) career, and for being Gene Kelly’s last screen role, this movie also gave us Kenny Ortega (choreographer and director of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) in his first film choreographing gig that resulted in a close friendship with Mr. Kelly himself!

Featuring an iconic soundtrack by ELO, a Don Bluth animated sequence, and so so so much roller skating, it’s the perfect encapsulation of the confusion of the 70s meeting the 80s.  Olivia is lovely, Gene is so damned terrific and charismatic, and Michael Beck…is fine. He’s fine.

Join us in a place that nobody dared to go – which they should, because it’s great!

It’s 1980 all over again.

Xanadu

Gene Kelly said yes to being in a movie with you, buddy. Step up.

In his eyes: cringing despair or “what the fuck YES”?

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Episode 12: Disney’s Newsies the Broadway Musical

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

Raise your hand if you’re too young to remember the movie!

This week, Mike and Vinnie gush about DISNEY’S NEWSIES THE BROADWAY MUSICAL (and Windy sits back and preens with “I told you so”).

Thank god for Harvey Fierstein who restructured and improved the plot and characters, giving us a story with emotional weight, snappy banter, and satisfying interpersonal relationships! It doesn’t hurt that the cast is anchored by the terrific Jeremy Jordan and the sassy Kara Lindsay.

And the choreography.  Oh. My. SweetbabygiraffesWHAT!

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

That’s just astoundingly impressive looking, right?

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

I didn’t even know that was a thing a human could do.

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

I mean, just…I think I could actually walk under them.

You’ll hear us reference THE LAST FIVE YEARS as we talk about Jeremy Jordan – that’s one of our “lost episodes” (lost to the gods of shitty sound recording), but we plan to re-record that episode! (Unlike our lost SHOW BOAT episode, which we have no plans to recreate for y’all.  #sorrynotsorry)

There’s so very much to like about this production, you should watch right now and then listen to our episode and gush along with us!  Find out for yourself what a “flippy boy” is!

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

#truth

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