Sunday, March 03, 2019

Brides, Birds, and Men of Steel

Began a cloudy morning with Banana Pancakes two musicals by director Stanley Donen, who passed away last week. Began with the soundtrack from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I have on the B-side of an LP with the 1954 Rose Marie. While there isn't enough space for "The Barn Raising Ballet," all of the other songs from the film are included. This tale of a feisty lass who marries an Oregon farmer and eventually encourages his six younger brothers to marry as well is a long-time favorite in my family, especially with my brother and late stepfather. My favorite numbers are Jane Powell's "Wonderful, Wonderful Day," "Goin' Courtin'" for Powell and the brothers, and "Spring, Spring, Spring" for the brothers and their ladies when they're celebrating the end of the snow and the arrival of new life.

Decided to do something different with Singin' In the Rain. I have the deluxe 2-disc CD edition that includes the original versions of the songs in the film on the second disc. These are the music from the films the songs were taken from, ranging from Charles King performing the title song of The Broadway Melody to Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney's spirited "Good Morning." I also like Jeanette MacDonald's rendition of "Would You" from the early disaster film San Francisco and June Knight and a surprisingly decent Robert Taylor having fun with "I've Got a Feelin' Your Foolin'" from The Broadway Melody of 1936.

Played some Angry Birds Star Wars next. The Wii comes with 10 "Bonus Rounds" representing each world...but not with the rounds for Return of the Jedi, which apparently came out online after the disc was released. Bummer. There's only 10 rounds for The Boba Fett Missions as well, but I'm going to move on to them next time anyway, if only to finish out the game.

Finally headed to the laundromat around 1:30-2 PM. I should have gone earlier. They were packed when I got there. For once, I actually had a harder time finding a dryer than a washer. I worked on story notes and half-listened to the New York Rangers-Washington Capitols game that was on the TV. (The Capitols eventually won, by the way, 3-2.)

Put everything away that I could (some things still needed to dry), then went on the computer to start winding down my Han/Robin Hood story. Instead of going straight upstairs, he and Yoda are surrounded by Admiral Piett and a squad of guards. They're rescued by the arrival of Chewbacca, Leia, Thomas, Artoo, and several diminutive but aggressive peasants from the fair. It takes Artoo's nose to figure out where Vader has taken Luke and lead the others to him...

Since I had a little bit of extra time, I wound down with a bath. Ahhh. After everything that's gone on in the past month, never mind the past week, I seriously needed it. I looked over some of my self-help books while listening to my George Shearing Quintet Black Satin/White Satin CD.

Finished off the night online with something unique on YouTube. Musicals and superheroes are not normally the best combination - witness the failure of Spider Man, Turn Off the Dark about a decade ago. An earlier musical, It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, did even worse, shuttering after three months. For some reason, they attempted to do it as a 90 minute TV film in 1975. On one hand, there's a terrific cast, including Leslie Ann Warren as Lois Lane, Kenneth Mars as egotistical columnist Max Mencken, Loretta Swift as his secretary Sydney, and David Wayne as mad scientist Dr. Abner Segwick. The by-then offensive villainous Chinese acrobats were replaced by goofy mobsters who aren't any fonder of Superman (one of them is Al Taliferro of Happy Days and The Odd Couple).

On one hand, there's a couple of decent numbers. The gangsters get the one new song written for the show, the hilarious "It's a Free Country," while Mars and Warren have a great time with "You're the Woman for the Man." Mars and Wayne make great villains, too, especially in their reprise of "You've Got What I Need."

 Alas, some of the songs (including the only standard from this score, "You've Got Possibilities"), are marred by attempts at updated tempos. Warren is too gushy and gosh-golly, and the Superman, David Wilson, is skinny, bland, and annoying whether he's the Man of Steel or Clark Kent. No wonder Lois doesn't see him. Not to mention, the sets are ridiculously cheap, with Superman easily breaking through them (though this does lead to a decent gag when bricks spill out whenever he leaps into the obviously thin paper).

If you're a fan of musicals, Superman, or anyone in the cast, this is worth a look once for curiosity's sake if you can handle the cheese.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!

Incidentally, it started raining lightly on my way home. By the time I was writing, the rain had turned into a downpour, and then into about an inch of snow. It switched back to rain sometime around dinner, and from what I can hear, has been rain ever since.

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