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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Episode 11: Newsies

Newsies

It sure looks exciting, doesn’t it?

This week, listeners, Windy steers Mike and Vinnie towards NEWSIES, the 1992 live-action Disney musical.

Starring a teen-aged Christian Bale (who was mortified to appear in a musical), a scenery-chewing and excessively gesturing Robert Duvall, and Bill Pullman singing and dancing, this is a film oddity worth watching at least once.

This also marks the directorial debut of Kenny Ortega, who also choreographed.  Kenny established himself as a choreographer with XANADU, and also choreographed for a greatest hits list of 80s teen classics (PRETTY IN PINK, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, DIRTY DANCING). Kenny would go on to direct the subject of our first episode – HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.

Honestly, we watched this mostly as a gateway to next week’s episode on the filmed Broadway stage musical. But if you’ve never seen Christian Bale sing and dance (he even has a dance solo), then you need to give this one a look.

Newsies

You’ve got a dance solo – did anyone tell you that?

Newsies

Hats are cool.

Attentive listeners will also hear references to one of our “lost” episodes on SHOW BOAT. (We recorded it, but the audio wasn’t salvageable. Maybe someday we’ll try that one again.)

You may not be the King of New York, but we hope you’ll Seize the Day and take a listen!

 

 

Newsies

The face that ruined BATMAN BEGINS for Mike.

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Episode 10: The Music Man

The Music Man

He’s a what? He’s a what?
He’s a flim-flam man!

This week, listeners, Mike discovers and Vinnie re-discovers the sweet, simple (yet sly) joys of THE MUSIC MAN.

Robert Preston stars as Professor Harold Hill (spoiler: not his real name) in the role that made him a Broadway star, and defined both the role and his career.  His charisma and energy is the unstoppable force that throws the entire town of River City, Iowa into an uproar. Standing resolutely firm and throwing some old-timey side-eye is Marion Paroo (Shirley Jones), old maid librarian and the town’s music teacher. Shirley Jones adds warmth and intelligence to a role that could seem trite and cliched. Joined by Buddy Hackett doing…whatever it is only Buddy Hackett can do, a barbershop quartet, and the biggest hats we’ve yet seen, this movie races by faster than Robert Preston’s patter.

It’s tuneful (with a capital T!), funny, and heartfelt – a classic for a reason. Don’t wait for the Wells Fargo Wagon – take a listen now!

The Beatles cover of “Til There Was You”

The Music Man

I must avert my eyes from The Hat.

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Episode 9: Phantom of the Paradise

Phantom of the Paradise

I want this Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next musical.

 

Listeners! Take a listen as Mike gets his mind blown by PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE!

Brian DePalma’s 1974 rock opera is gloriously garish with literary references galore, Paul Williams’ soundtrack is a smorgasbord of musical styles settling in on glam-prog-rock, and William Finley eats allll the scenery as the titular phantom, Winslow Leach.

DePalma’s second movie, two years before CARRIE, is confident, stylish, and wildly entertaining. Take a listen, and let it bring you to “Life at Last”!

 

Phantom of the Paradise

Legalese that clearly says what it means.

Melissa in a Colander (Butt-Numb-a-Thon 2015 application)

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Episode 8: On the Town

On the Town

More wholesome than three sailors on shore leave really should be.

This week is our first episode featuring Gene Kelly as he sails through Manhattan in ON THE TOWN! Neither Vinnie nor Mike had ever seen it, and this is a classic for a reason.

Based on a ballet created by Jerome Robbins (THE KING & I), and made by the Freed Unit (known for kicking ass in all things musical), it features a delightful cast, TWO ballet segments by Mr. Kelly, and plenty of comedy.

This is a key movie in your six degrees of separation strategy, with Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, and Vera-Ellen. Also featuring a performance by Carol Haney in the “A Day in New York” ballet, who was assistant and muse to THREE of modern American dance’s greatest choreographers.

Join us as we go On The Town!

Gene Kelly

Dat ass.

Your quiz:
1. Name one other movie Vera-Ellen appeared in.
2. Leonard Bernstein & Jerome Robbins collaborated on a very famous musical. Name it.
3. Name one other movie that Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen collaborated on.

Gene Kelly

Dat ass (exemplar)

Mentioned in this episode: Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, Frank Sinatra, Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Carol Haney, Stanley Donen, Arthur Freed, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, George Abbott, Alice Pierce, Adolph Green, Betty Comden

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Episode 7: Sweeney Todd (stage)

Sweeney Todd

Bakers gonna bake.

If the only version of SWEENEY TODD you’ve ever seen is the Tim Burton one, then Windy has some strong opinions on what you should be watching first chance you get. (Which is literally how this episode happened to Mike and Vinnie.)

Arguably Sondheim’s masterpiece, the 1979 Broadway sensation was recorded on tour in Los Angeles in 1982 with Angela Lansbury recreating her iconic performance as Mrs. Lovett and George Hearn ably stepping into Len Cariou’s shoes as Sweeney. The show was the pinnacle of the Stephen Sondheim (lyricist/composer)-Hal Prince (director/producer) partnership that would be shattered by the failure of their next show (MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG). Dark,  disturbing, and deliciously wicked, it’s Sondheim’s ode to the Victorian penny dreadfuls.

Attend our tale as Windy rants about why musicals should cast trained singers, Mike gushes over Angela Lansbury, and Vinnie retroactively hates the Burton movie even more. We want you, bleeders!

Angela & Len at Stephen’s 75th Birthday Concert

 

Mrs Lovett

Bright ideas just pop into my head.

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Episode 6: Main Hoon Na

Main Hoon Na

SRK in MHN, as the locals would say.

It’s our first Bollywood!  I mean, not our first – all three of your hosts have seen at least one Bollywood movie. But it’s our first Bollywood episode and it is the delightful MAIN HOON NA (“Trust Me, I’m Here”)! Windy was super-duper excited to show this one to Mike and Vinnie.

Farah Khan’s 2004 directorial debut is an homage to action tropes with awkward fish-out-of-water comedy plus family melodrama. Shah Rukh Khan, one of Bollywood’s brightest stars, gets to show off wire work, stunts, dancing, crying (he cries so beautifully), dimples, and some laugh out loud comedy.

Featuring four ludicrously entertaining dance numbers (plus a couple heartfelt ballads), this is an excellent “starter” movie if you’ve never watched Bollywood before. If you are an experienced fan of Bollywood, but have never seen it, you are missing out on some of Farah Khan’s best choreography and staging!

Not sure about committing to 3 hours of entertainment? Trust us, we’re here – to show you the way.

Shah Rukh Khan

SRK YASSS *note: not from this movie (but who cares?)

Main Hoon Na trailer

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