Monday, August 24, 2020
Musical Watch: Sweet Charity (1969)
Director: Bob Fosse
I'd never been terribly curious about Sweet Charity (1969), but I watched - and was a huge fan of - Fosse/ Verdon last year (highest recommendations) and felt I owed the movie a look-see, especially after seeing Fosse in Kiss Me Kate. And, I'm enough of a fan of Cabaret that I own a copy.
I'm not sure 51 years on what the legacy or reputation is of Sweet Charity. In 2020 it wears its late-60's-ness like a cement block tied with a chain. There's just a level of misogyny that pervades the whole film - which is essentially about a dime-a-dance-girl/ stripper/ possible sex-worker (depending on your reading) seeking marriage and happiness but who - for reasons the movie finds inessential - has no tools for doing so. There's just no interest in ever really exploring who Charity is, herself. And the characters feel oddly two-dimensional throughout.
In the inevitable comparison to Cabaret, Sally Bowles may have exactly the same issues and hang-ups, but we know who she is and get a few lines about how she got there. Which I don't think we ever get about Charity.
The dance numbers are, of course, Fosse and in them the movie shines. Absolutely. Worth the price of admission. Sammy Davis Jr. guests in a terrific number, and Maclaine is better than I figured as a song and dance girl.
The movie has some interesting editing quirks that now feel deeply dated.
But the ending... doesn't. It's an unnecessary ellipses that doesn't leave the viewer feeling the ambiguity is the point - it feels like they failed to finish the script or didn't know how to wrap up the story and wanted it to have a sort of bittersweet ending that would feel heady, but it fails to earn it. Like, literally anything could have happened as the movie wrapped, good or bad, and it would have not just felt like air coming out of a tire.
Have a point, movie.
Anyway - if nothing else, watch the most famous scene from the film, which is - frankly, amazing stuff.*
*and should be assigned viewing for any person about to enter a gentleman's club for the first time