Not surprisingly, Morton DaCosta is not beloved among self-monitoring cinèphiles. DaCosta made only three films, two of which were based on stage plays that he helmed rather triumphantly on Broadway.
"Auntie Mame" and "The Music Man."
I suppose his status as a stage director made him inferior in the minds of those who think they know and appreciate anything filmic.
But the two films that DaCosta made based on his stage successes are anything but inferior. Both "Auntie Mame" (1958) and "The Music Man" (1962), two Warner Bros. titles, are films that have a loyal fidelity to their source material, but which are uncannily cinematic as well.
DaCosta's eye for the screen - which cropped up when one least expected it - is especially evident in his witty staging of the piano lesson near the beginning of "The Music Man," set during the clever Meredith Willson musical number, "If You Don't Mind My Saying So."
Shirley Jones is the piano teacher to Monique Vermont's student and, for the occasion of the lesson, DaCosta and cinematographer Robert Burks playfully filled the expansive Technirama screen with the piano's entire keyboard. It's a visually eccentric moment and it jumps out at me - like a pop-out book - every time I watch this wonderful musical (which is often).
Note in Passing: "The Music Man" airs tomorrow night @ 8 (est) on Turner Classic Movies as part of its July 4th celebration.