Showing posts with label ann miller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ann miller. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Ann Miller/ Lucille Ball Watch: Too Many Girls (1940)




Watched:  09/08/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  George Abbott

I'd forgotten this was living on my DVR and I needed something to watch on the elliptical - and it starred Lucille Ball.

Too Many Girls (1940) is a particular breed of Hollywood musical that was about big dance numbers loosely tied together with characters working through a paper-thin plot, and really an excuse to get a whole bunch of characters on screen at one time for song and dance numbers.  The better ones are the ones choreographed by Busby Berkeley, and then there's stuff like this with dancers sort of just running around a lot.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Ann Miller Watch: Kiss Me Kate (1953)

normally I wouldn't include a poster featuring spanking, but this was the image they stuck on *every* poster


Watched:  08/18/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  George Sidney

You know, I liked this one a lot.

Yeah, a lot of stuff dated very badly, but, I mean...*

No, Kiss Me Kate (1953) didn't feature enough Ann Miller, but nothing does.  The idea and execution worked for me.  The film works in the age-old tradition of a "play within a play", which is only fitting when adapting Shakespeare - as Howard Keel's leading man of Broadway tries to woo his ex-wife (Kathryn Grayson) back to the stage and back into his arms.   Even if he's also got Ann Miller lined up, and cast as Grayson's sister in the show. 

I've seen *some* Shakespeare, but never The Taming of the Shrew, which is the basis for the musical in the movie.  Still, it's tough to get through life in the English speaking world without getting some reference to the show at some point in life, and I'm familiar with the idea.  The film is adapted from a 1947 Broadway show - and in the film, Howard Keel has teamed with someone playing a fictional version of Cole Porter to put on a musical of Taming of the Shrew, so we get a framing first act and then jump to the opening of the show, including backstage antics, and parts of the show mixed in.  Complete with a theater full of extras on the stage and in the seats.

Of course the backstage and on-stage stories intermingle in theme and character arcs, and everyone ends up happy in the end.  But there's something about the contrivances and even "you said the quiet part out loud" bit where watching Shakespeare makes people feel smart - that actually kind of works.  Musicals have notoriously goofy plotlines piled on the oddness of people just busting into song, so keeping you busy with this much story just sort of works.

Miller has the big show starter with Porter's "It's Too Darn Hot" as a sort of tap burlesque,  and with Porter providing songs, it's kinda hard to go wrong.  Of course Keel and Grayson were musical stars of no small stature (well, Grayson looks to be about 5'1"), and play well together. 

The film is a visual spectacle, shot and released in 3D - I can only imagine how the sets and dance numbers looked for 1950's audiences.  That includes some sets and costumes designed with an almost Mary Blair palette approved by Technicolor.

It's also worth noting that the film includes a young Bob Fosse, who apparently got a big boost from his work on the film that led to him getting work on Broadway. 

Anyway - light, fun, better than I figured - it's a good time.  But I'd love to see it in 3D on the big screen.

*sometimes you have to think of the past as an exotic locale where you can have your opinions, but the locals are gonna do what they're gonna do.  You just gotta do better when you get home.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ann Miller Watch: The Opposite Sex (1956)



Watched:  08/15/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  so very 1950's
Director:  David Miller


This is essentially a remake of The Women (1939), still rightfully hailed as a Hollywood classic. 

I dunno.  The Opposite Sex (1956) is somehow more dated than its 1939 counterpart, although both take place in Manhattan's society page sort of environment.  The real reason to watch this one is probably to see a movie so chock full of "oh, wow, she's in this" actresses of the era.

Ann Miller
Joan Collins
Dolores Gray
Ann Sheridan
Agnes Moorehead
Joan Blondell
Alice Pearce
June Allyson

and two of the main dudes in the movie are Leslie Nielsen (back when he was straight leading man material) and a favorite around here: Sam Levene.

I don't think *any* men appear in The Women, they're just discussed.  And it's arguable both films fail the Bechdel Test, despite the female centric casts- but they do give a curious bit of insight into the topsy turvy world of wealthy women dependent on men, alimony, and bouncing back over and over - in both good and mercenary ways.

Frankly, it doesn't make anyone look *great*, but it is silly and dishy, and goes by fast.

I didn't particularly like this movie, but Ann Miller looked stellar.  But she wasn't in it enough for my dollar, so.


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ann Miller Watch: Hit the Deck (1955) and Reveille with Beverly (1943) and The Great American Pastime (1956)




shut the hell up, Tom Ewell

Watched: 08/8 (HtD), 08/9 (RwB), 8/11 (GAP)
Format:  Ann Miller Day of TCM
Viewing:  First for all 3
Decade:  1950's, 1940's


Look, I've been clear about the whole Ann Miller thing, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

It's August, and therefore "Summer Under the Stars" time on TCM, which means 24 hours of movies from one actor each day all month.  And this last week featured Ann Miller day, and here we all are.

Three very different movies.

Hit the Deck (1955) is pretty clearly a "I like Guys and Dolls" and "wow, was On the Town a decent movie" mash-up.  I dunno.  It was fine.  Little Debbie Reynolds is cute as a button.  Ann Miller got a couple of numbers.  It's okay.  It has a lot of deeply sexist set-up that kind of unravels in a pleasant way and has a great few numbers by the women in the movie.  And it's always great to see Russ Tamblyn.  And I need to look into this Kay Armen.  She was terrific.

Reveille with Beverly (1943) is war-time spirit-boosting propaganda and was one of the movies that was essentially an excuse to do a musical variety show with everyone from Duke Ellington to Bob Crosby.  Ann Miller plays a feisty and insanely perky radio host.  The film, however, ends on a very strange pivot as they remind you, all the soldiers are going off to war - and it was this odd, incredibly sad transition, with Beverly still in her show costume watching them go.

The Great American Pastime (1956) is a post-war movie trying to recapture some of the magic of Seven-Year Itch and reminding me "I don't particularly care for Tom Ewell".   What could have been a Bad News Bears instead is kind of a sitcom dad who seems oblivious to the fact he's married to Anne Francis and that Anne Francis has decided Ann Miller is a sexual threat (she is not, which...  I mean).  Anyway - the movie felt really under-written and I kind of hated the way they wrote Tom Ewell's son.  Seemed like a dopey ingrate.


But Ann Miller looked great in all of these movies.  So.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ann Miller Watch: On the Town (1949)



Watched:  07/05/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director(s):  Stanley DonenGene Kelly


Look, I'm not *proud* of the whole Ann Miller thing, but there it is.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Tidings from The Signal Watch

I dunno about this team-up, y'all

Growing up, Easter was a pretty big deal in our house.  My folks are good Lutherans, and until about high school we got together with family and friends - hosting them for the weekend, or they'd host us - and insert the sort of small riot that can occur when you've got four boys born within 27 months of each other.  There was always shenanigans on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday was Easter Eggs, church and then a substantial dinner.  If we were out of town, then a 3 hour drive back.

The trick to Easter was that teachers didn't care about your long weekend (we often had Good Friday off from school), and the holiday rolled on through lunch and into the late afternoon, but that didn't mean I didn't have a book report or a test to deal with on Monday.  So, good job, my teachers.  That was super cool of you.*

Of course, school days are decades in the past.  No one lets me participate in egg hunts, I haven't dyed eggs in 15 years (it's way more work than its worth as an adult), and I've realized the chocolate at Easter is weirdly, uniformly terrible even as its just as bad for you as good chocolate.

But, you *can* often land a solid brunch or dinner out of the deal.

Aside from Biblical epics (an early and overlooked part of film's history which faded in the 60's), the entertainment offerings for Easter are pretty few and far between.   No one really wants to trample all over the Passion story or the religious import of the holiday to a lot of people quite as cavalierly as they're willing to do with Christmas.  I did see Hallmark took a stab at recycling their Christmas movie formula to make an Easter movie or two this year (never stop being you, Hallmark Channel).  And, of course, we've got Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade.

It's not the best movie - pretty standard romantic comedy stuff, and Garland and Astaire are typically great, but it does feature Ann Miller shaking the blues away.  And to that, we tip our hat.




Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Let's Ring in 2017!

we're gonna start on a high note with some Ann Miller

Happy 2017.

Dear god, let us hope 2016 wasn't just the start.

Now, more Ann Miller.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Texas Watch: Texas Carnival (1951)


Some forms of comedy just don't work for me, and it's safe to say that I'm not a huge fan of Red Skelton.  I know the guy was huge in his day, but whatever he's up to always feels a bit like he's opted for the obvious, crowd-pleasing, least offensive choice.  If we were active today he'd be on a sitcom with an improbably good looking wife who would always be putting her hands on her hips and saying, "Oh, Red!"

I watched the movie for two reasons.  (1)  It took place in Texas in the 1950's, and I wanted to see what Hollywood thought Texas was like in 1951.  (2)  Ann Miller is in a smaller role in the movie as a girl with showbiz dreams and also ready to marry the first idiot who comes along.

The marquee names are Red Skelton and Esther Williams, the bathing beauty famous for her aquatic acrobatics and perfect make-up at 10 feet below sea-level.  Which is an odd fit for the deserty Texas where the action occurs.

Look, I basically wanted to see what numbers they'd give Ann Miller, which was one song and dance number you can already find on YouTube.  The rest of the movie, including an effects sequence with Esther Williams superimposed "swimming" around a bar as Howard Keel thinks about how much he's in love with her, is barely memorable.

There's an element or two that requires the movie take place in Texas, but 90% of the movie takes place anywhere but the titular carnival.

So.  You got that going for you.

What was kind of funny was that i gave up on the movie, thinking it had about ten minutes of denouement left to work through and I'd catch it later.  So I turned it back on this evening and it had literally 30 seconds left to go.  I guess that tells you how much I felt invested in the movie.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ann Miller Watch: On the Town (1949)



I watched On the Town (1949) just last year at The State Theater downtown, so there was no good reason to watch the movie again.  But, Ann Miller.  Sometimes these things happen.

Here's my write up from last time.

best not to think on it too much



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ann Miller

Ann Miller and I share a birthday, but she has better legs.

Here she is in Easter Parade, performing "Shakin' the Blues Away".





indeed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year from The Signal Watch



Via the power of Ann Miller, The Signal Watch wishes you a very Happy New Year.

May 2016 bring you joy, fulfillment and monkeyshines.

Thanks for sticking with us.  You guys are the bestest.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

End of the Year Lists and Whatnot

Ann Miller ringing in New Years 70 years back

It's December, which means "Best Of" lists are imminent.

After doing this off and on for almost 13 years, it's pretty clear nobody gives a damn what I think was the best of anything in any year, but I'd point you to Sound Affects as Gerry has started his countdown of his favorite albums of the year.  I know we've got more than one music snob in the house, so go over there and nod with him or shake your head in disgust.

I think the only new album I noticed this year was by Adele, and I'm pretty sure that even if I were in a deep coma since July and woke from it, I'd still be aware of Adele's new album somehow.

Please send me your own Top Ten lists of 2015 if you'd like to see them printed here (use that Contacts tab or message me on the social medias).  Make sure they're relevant to the site content and include a JPG or PNG for me to use with the list.

Again, I'm not sure I'll do anything like that.  More likely, I'll break down the numbers for My Year in Movies, and you'll either care or you won't.  I like numbers, so, there you go.

In the New Year, we'll be dropping that whole "blogging every movie we watch" business, but we'll keep it up in some respect.  I ran out of steam in October, which, happily, coincided with all my TV shows coming back on, and I don't blog those, so I've been enjoying the Not Blogging Movies All the Time aspect of my life.

We'll see what we morph into next year.  Hopefully you'll stick around.

I don't have any personal news, but in 2016, I hope to be pointing you guys to a new site by a friend of the blog, so we've all got that going for us (you're right.  It's Adele.  And she and I are best friends.*).



*this is not true, but I pretend it is.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Musical Watch: On the Town (1949)

I've seen On the Town (1949) before, but it was years ago and I couldn't begin to guess the context other than that it was probably on cable and I had an evening to kill.

This one is years after the heyday of the Busby Berkeley spectaculars (42nd Street was 1933) and tilts much more toward what was coming in by 1952 with Singing in the Rain or even Oklahoma! (1955).  But the bright lights of New York itself are still the attraction as in so many of those musicals of the 1930's, and as a former Broadway show - produced at the tail-end of the second World War, the original show sits at a curious precipice between eras.  And, of course, they must have rewritten plenty of the show to accommodate the fact WWII was actually over by the time the movie went into production.



The plot:  three sailors disembark at Navy Yard in New York, New York for a 24 hour shore leave.  They intend to see the sites, maybe get some dates with some girls, etc... when Gabey (Gene Kelley) falls for the girl in a poster for "Miss Turnstiles", a dubious honorific bestowed upon girls looking for publicity for their career as a performer in NYC and a bit of shoddy publicity for the NY transit system.  And, of course, he meets Miss Turnstiles (Vera-Ellen) quite by accident, convincing his pals Chip (Frank Sinatra) and Ozzie (Jules Munshin) to help in pursuit after they lose track of her.

They meet an amorous cab driver (Betty Garrett) and a tap-dancing anthropologist (Ann Miller), and hi-jinks ensue.

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's my B-Day (and that of Ann Miller)

Today is my b-day.  It is also the birthday of actress and dancer Ann Miller.



So wish Ann a happy birthday.