Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Changes are Just Around the Corner

Began a gorgeous, sunny day with breakfast and Just Around the Corner. Penny Hale (Shirley Temple) returns to the luxury hotel where she lives with her architect father (Charles Farrell), only to find he's lost their penthouse and now lives in the basement. Penny does her best to deal with the changes. She befriends the hotel's chauffeur (Bert Lahr), head door man (Bill "Bojangles" Robinson), and maid who walks the residents' dogs (Joan Davis). She also makes friends with the rich boy who now lives in the penthouse (Bennie Bartlett) after she saves him from being beaten by bullies. When her new guy buddy refers to his rich businessman uncle as "Uncle Sam," she thinks he's the icon and decides that, thanks to the late 30's slump, he needs help. Not to mention, her dad may have to leave the states for a job if he can't find one soon. She puts on a benefit...but this isn't MGM, and neither "Uncle Sam" nor the hotel manager (Arthur Treacher) are all that amused at first.

To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying this one. It's fairly strange fluff, but it's cute fluff, with decent music and a terrific cast. The plot is a unique, very 30's variation on Temple's usual "orphan/motherless child convinces crusty old person to help out" plot. (She even gets to dance with Robinson again in the rain-based finale.)  In fact, it comes off as something of a cross between Babes In Arms and a kid-oriented Busby Berkley movie.

I will add that you probably need some passing knowledge of the history of the Depression and the late 30's (specifically the stock market slump) to really understand the plot. Other than that, this is a fun little musical that's one of Temple's better movies.

Ran some quick Three Stooges as I got my laundry together. They're "Three Dark Horses" who are hired to vote for a corrupt politician aiming to become president. Even the Stooges aren't that dumb. Once they figure out what the guy really is, they change their votes.

Headed out to the laundromat around 11...and got quite a shock when I arrived. All washing machines are now $2.50, regardless of whether they're old or new. Good thing I brought an extra quarter and didn't have a big load to do anyway. (At press time, the price on the dryers remains the same.) I worked on story notes, looked at a copy of Country Living from last April, and ignored the election hoopla on TV.

When I got in, I put everything away, then had leftover soup with broccoli for lunch. Ran a couple of Schoolhouse Rock shorts on the US government as I ate. "I'm Going to Send Your Vote to College" sends up college fight songs while discussing the Electoral College. "Three Ring Government" compares the three branches of the US government to a typical circus. "Sufferin' 'Til Suffrage" is a driving number about how women finally got the vote after years of campaigns. "I'm Just a Bill" introduces one of the series' most beloved characters, who tells a little boy about how a bill becomes a law (and how long that process often takes). "Tyrannosaurus Debt" is a pointed take on how big the US debt has gotten.

Next on the list was running a couple of errands. I deposited the check Dad and Jodie gave me on Sunday in the PNC Bank in Collingswood. Hit the Haddon Township Library after dodging traffic on Cuthbert. Not a lot going on there. I organized the children's DVDs and looked for items on hold. One of the librarians offered me a bike she got from another librarian who couldn't use it anymore. It was sweet of her, and the bike was very nice, but I don't like bikes with handle brakes. Stopped at Dollar Tree on the way home for a birthday card for my sister Anny (whose birthday is the day before Veteran's Day), treat bags for Christmas cookies (I couldn't find the cookie boxes I've been using), and tissues.

When I got home, I worked on writing. Re-wrote and simplified last night's part. Luke now tells Leia he has the magical flower in Obi-Wan's old garden. Leia finds it there among the desert blooms. She, Luke, and Chewie take it to Bast Castle. While Luke distracts Vader, Leia goes upstairs to free Han. She finds Palpatine trying to force the heartbroken brown sparrow to sing. He intends to steal his energy, so he can become more powerful. He feeds on the energy of innocent lovers.

Got off in time for leftovers and the last of the Brussels sprouts for dinner. Made Apple-Honey Muffins while watching The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. The title characters find themselves involved with the infamous contested Grover Cleveland/Benjamin Harrison election of 1888 when they move to the (still) Republican stronghold of North Dakota. Older sister Alice (Leslie Ann Warren) is in love with the printer of a Republican newspaper (John Davidson). Outspoken die-hard Democrat Grandpa (Walter Brennan) becomes at odds with the lovers and his Republican son (Buddy Ebsen) when he interferes with both Alice's romance and her new teaching job. Matters come to a head at the town's big Election Day party, where everyone finally learns a lesson - states and bands work best when everyone comes together, regardless of which side of the political divide they're on.

This is pretty strange for a big late 60's musical, and while it's no masterpiece, I like it better than Disney's previous big-live action tuner The Happiest Millionaire. The Sherman Brothers provided a great score, including the rousing dance numbers "Ten Feet Off the Ground" and "West 'O the Wide Missouri" and the charming ballad "'Bout Time." If you're a fan of the cast or big musicals, or are looking for an unusual musical for the family, you can do far worse than this one.

Finished out the night with a couple of election-themed sitcom episodes. Hilary Booth and Jeff Singer are "Strange Bedfellows" during the second season of Remember WENN when they both run for the same seat on the Pittsburgh City Council. Meanwhile, the remaining staff of WENN conducts their own political poll.

The Cunningham family is at odds in "The Not-Making of the President" from the second season of Happy Days. Richie wants to get the attention of a girl who is campaigning for 1956 Democratic Nominee Adelai Stevenson. He ends up voting Democrat, much to the annoyance of his very pro-Ike father, causing some arguments between the two.

Ended with an early second season episode of The Monkees. "Monkee Mayor" has group leader Mike Nesmith running for mayor of their small California town in order to save their neighbors from losing their homes to a new parking lot. It's one thing to lead a band, and something else entirely to lead a town. Mike discovers just how hard the political game is when the corrupt businessman who essentially owns the current mayor threatens him and the other Monkees.

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