Streaming Musicals V

 

by Alix Cohen

 

A Chronological Assortment

 

 

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever 1970 Adapted from the Broadway show by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane. Free spirited/flighty Daisy Gamble (Barbra Streisand) attends an addiction workshop (hers is smoking) by psychiatrist Marc Chabot (Yves Montand) at the behest of conservative boyfriend Warren Platt (Larry Blyden.) Unintentionally hypnotized, she seems a good subject for further study. Daisy agrees to submit to Chabot’s tests in exchange for being cured.

While under hypnosis she becomes Lady Melinda Winifred Waine Tentrees, a 19th century coquette, the illegitimate daughter of a kitchen maid with unexpected powers. Melinda marries a beautiful rogue and is tried for treason when she prevents tragedy by foreknowledge. Over the course of their meetings, Daisy grows infatuated with Marc while he falls in love with Melinda. Jack Nicholson has a tiny role as Daisy’s brother. In the stage play, the question of whether Daisy really was a reincarnation of Melinda went unresolved, but the film script made it clear she was. Decorative. A few good songs. Rent on Amazon Prime

 

 

Fidder On the Roof 1971 Based on stories by Sholem Aleichem. Adapted from the Broadway show by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein. Produced and Directed by Norman Jewison. Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon. 1905. The Ukrainian village of Anatevka. A story of milkman Teyve, his devoted wife, Golde, the nontraditional relationships of oldest daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava respectively to a politically active Marxist from Kiev, a poor local tailor, and a Russian Orthodox Christian; family, community, faith, and oppression- the Russian pogrom at their heels.

Mixed points for casting and it looks a bit Hollywood polished but oh the show itself! Now and forever. Universally moving. And smart. Norman Jewison felt that Zero Mostel, who originated the role, would make the audience see an actor, not the character. Free with Amazon Prime

 

 

Cabaret 1972 Adapted from the Broadway show by John Kander and Fred Ebb which in turn derives from Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical The Berlin Stories and his play       I Am a Camera. Sally Bowles was based upon Jen Ross, a British cabaret singer with whom Isherwood lived as a room-mate in Weimar-era Berlin. Directed by Bob Fosse. Reserved British academic Brian Roberts (Michael York) moves into a Berlin rooming house where he intends to teach English while finishing his dissertation.  He’s swiftly conscripted into camaraderie (and, despite being gay, eventually bed) by bohemian, nightclub performer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli.)

Playboy baron, Maximilian von Heune introduces wealthy decadence into the friends’ lives. Fascism marches on. At the start a Nazi is ejected from the club, then it’s filled with uniforms. A student of Brian’s needs help convincing a Jewish heiress that he has no ulterior motive for wanting to marry her. Citizens get beaten up. Brian gets beaten up. The Nazi anthem reverberates. With Joel Grey as The Kit Kat Klub’s extraordinary Master of Ceremonies. Evocatively and appropriately dark. Sizzles. Rent on Amazon Prime

 

 

Auntie Mame 1958 Based on the novel by Patrick Denis and the Broadway play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Directed by Morton DaCosta. Rosalind Russell. A romp. Far preferable to the dreadful musical film that followed. Roz is great. Free with Amazon Prime

Mame 1974 Directed by Gene Saks. When her brother dies, madcap Mame Dennis inherits her nephew Patrick. Things start off wonderfully but bank trustee, Dwight Babcock interferes at every turn, eventually sending the boy to a conservative boarding school. Mame loses her money in the crash and disastrously attempts various professions.

Botching a Christmas sale in Macy’s toy department, she meets rich, southern gentleman Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, then has to prove herself to his family. The match is good, but brief. Patrick almost marries the wrong woman. Mame’s naïve secretary gets pregnant taking her advice to “live.” Everything works out. Horribly miscast Lucille Ball.  Time wrote “The movie spans about 20 years, and seems that long in running time …” Rent with Amazon Prime- or don’t.

 

 

Grease 1978 Based on the musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Directed by Randal Kleiser. A high school love story bringing together greaser, Danny Zuko (John Travolta channeling Fonzi from Happy Days) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton John.) The couple falls in love, are parted, then brought together again with miscommunication and efforts to prove themselves along the way. Happy ending. Stockard Channing is featured as the tough Rizzo. With Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Jeff Conaway, and            Didi Conn. A 1950s era hoot with cliché characters and energetic dance numbers. Rent on Amazon Prime, Free with Netflix

 

 

Hair – 1979 An American Tribal Love Rock Musical 1979 Adapted from the Broadway show by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Directed by Milos Forman. Soft focus on drafted Oklahoman Claude Hooper Bukowski (John Savage), hippies George Berger (Treat Williams), and debutante Sheila Franklin (Beverly D’Angelo); hard focus on bigotry, anti-war and racial issues. Loyalties, love, resistance, arrests. The hippies open Claude’s eyes. He ends up at a Nevada training center but the “wrong” man gets sent to Nam. With Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Nell Carter. The musical of a generation; subtitle says it all. Contrived but buoyant  and accurate in spirit. ‘Might be illuminating for those of you who weren’t there. Free with Amazon Prime

 

 

 

Annie 1982 Based on the Broadway musical by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, Thomas Meehan. Inspired by the Orphan Annie comic strip by Harold Gray. Directed by John Huston (?!) Aileen Quinn in the title role with Albert Finney, Carol Reinking, Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Geoffrey Holder. In order to improve mogul, Daddy Warbucks’s image, a little girl, Annie,…with stay-dog, Sandy, is released into his care from Hudson Street Orphanage run by mean, alcoholic Miss Hannigan (Burnett.) At first the irascible Warbucks finds relating to Annie impossible. Like Pollyanna, she has a sunny effect on everyone, even President Roosevelt, however, and proves irresistible.

The child has only a locket to tie her to her parents, so her foster parent and his secretary run an ad trying to find them. The large response includes Miss Hannigan’s con artist brother, Rooster and his girlfriend Lily St. Regis who arrive with inside information. It all comes out well in the end. Good cast, but terribly miscast here. Burnett is grand. Major differences from the stage show. The film is way over produced. Rent on Amazon Prime

 

 

 

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