Theater directors rarely get any credit when they venture into film. Case in point: I loved what Morton DaCosta did with the film versions of plays that he originally directed on stage, "Auntie Mame" (1958) and "The Music Man" (1962). Both are noteworthy for their fidelity to their stage predecessors and yet are impressively cinematic.
DaCosta would direct only one other film - 1963's now-forgotten "Island of Love," starring Robert Preston, Tony Randall and Walter Matthau.
You could say, "That was then, this is now." But matters haven't changed.
Harold Prince made what I thought was an auspicious film directing debut with the delicious 1970 Angela Lansbury-Michael York black comedy, "Something for Everyone," one of those sophisticated sex comedies in which the randy young hero (York) sleeps his way through every member of a family (shades of Pasolini's "Teorema" with Terence Stamp).
The film is just about impossible to see nowadays, although Prince's second (and last) film, a truncated version of the Sondheim musical, "A Little Night Music," has been available on DVD.
The estimable James Lapine, meanwhile, made one of the best films of 1991 - now also forgotton, of course - with "Impromptu," a randy farce about the affair between Frederic Chopin (Hugh Grant) and George Sand (Judy Davis, alas, in oneof her last great film roles). Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Emma Thompson and Julian Sand round out the cast.
I can't think of anything wrong with this film.
Lapine subsequently filmed the Michael J. Fox-Nathan Lane show-biz comedy, "Life with Mikey" and the Anne Tyler adaptation for HBO, "Earthly Possessions," sarring Susan Sarandon and Stephen Dorf.
If rep houses still existed and had resourceful bookers, "Something for Everyone" and "Impromptu" would make a great double-bill.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
The month kicks off on January 1st with a selection of roadshow musicals, all based on Broadway hits, natch, and all made at a time when the film musical reached its zenith, the 1960s, thanks to 70mm, stereophonic sound and unchecked choreographic enthusiasm. These five titles make the current “Les Misérables” look like the dreary stick that it is.
The mini-marathon starts at 6 a.m. with Francis Ford Coppola’s “Finian’s Rainbow” (1968), the third and final Tommy Steele roadshow musical (the other two being Disney’s “The Happiest Millionaire” and George Sidney’s “Half a Sixpence”); followed by William Wyler’s “Funny Girl” (1968), in which Wyler recruits Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis from “Forbidden Planet” for supporting roles; George Cukor’s masterful “My Fair Lady” (1964), with Audrey Hepburn (above) in a role she was born to play; Joshua Logan’s towering “Camelot” (1967), in which cinematographer Richard H. Kline shoots stars Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Harris up close while honoring the work’s innate intimacy, and Gene Kelly’s “Hello, Dolly!” (1969), an elephantine lollipop that has, yes, improved with age.
Going in the complete opposite direction are two titles being screened in the wee hours of Janaury 5th , both by film miminalist Amos Poe – “The Foreigner” (1978) at 2 am and “Alphabet City” (1984) at 3:45 a.m.
Later that night, you can savor an early William Castle title, the clever “The Whistler” (1944) at 10 p.m., followed by Anthony Asquith’s “Libel” (1959), based on the venerable play by Edward Wooll (that had just been revived on Broadway) and starring Dirk Bogarde and Olivia de Havilland.
The American New Wave of the ‘70s is well repped on January 8th, starting at 12:30 a.m. with Robert Altman’s “California Split” (1974), one of the filmmaker's better, least self-conscious films, and Hal Ashby’s electric “The Last Detail” (1973), with a first-rate Jack Nicholson. Later that night, Turner has fun with a selection of caper flicks, screening everything from Lewis Milestone’s “Ocean’s 11” (1960), less fun than it tries to be, at 8 p.m. and Jean-Pierre Melville’s silky “Bob le Flambeur” (1955), at 12:15 a.m.
The Mineo films, starting at 1 p.m. on January 10th include Don Weis’ “The Gene Krupa Story” (1959), with Susan Sohner, Alfred L. Werker’s “The Young Don’t Cry” (1957) and Don Siegel’s “Crime in the Streets” (1956), both with James Whitmore, and Mineo’s seminal film performance, in Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), with Jimmy and Nat.
An unsual trio of films (clashing subject matters! clashing styles!) dominate the early hours of January 14th – Jacques Tati’s “Jour de Fete” (1949), starting at 2 a.m. and followed by Nicolas Roeg’s haunting “Walkabout” (1971) and Elliot Silverstein’s “A Man Called Horse” (1970).
Write this one down: “Carnal Knowledge” @ 12:30 a.m. on January 15th. Nicholson, again, soars in Mike Nichols’ consummate, most emblematic work from 1971. Now, watch it or, better yet, record it.
Rome is showcased in five daytime titles on January 17th, starting at 10:45 a.m. with Mario Lanza in Roy Rowland’s “The Seven Hills of Rome” (1959), followed by José Quintero’s “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” (1961), based on a Tennessee Williams novel (as adapted by Gavin Lambert), Guy Green’s affecting/intelligent “Light in the Piazza” (1962), featuring a very fine Yvette Mimieux, and Delmer Dave’s “Rome Adventure” (1962), where Suzanne Pleshette met Troy Donahue.
Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers romp delightfully in Howard Hawks’ blissful “Monkey Business” (1952). Join the fun at 6 p.m. on January 18th.
Dick Van Dyke, meanwhile, twinkles his way through five films on January 21st – Bud Yorkin’s “Divorce, American Style” (1967), at 8 p.m., and Norman Lear’s “Cold Turkey” (1971), Delbert Mann’s “Fitzwilly” (1967), George Sidney’s “Bye Bye Birdie” (1963) and Garson Kanin’s “Some Kind of Nut” (1969). (“Divorce” encores at 3:30 p.m.on January 31st.)
Airing on January 27th are Nunnally Johnson’s “Black Widow” (1954), which is essentially “All About Eve” done as a murder mystery and stars Ginger Rogers in n atypically camp performance, and the Howard Hawks classic, “His Girl Friday” (1940). They play back-to-back, starting at noon.
Robert DeNiro had one of his early roles in “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” (1971), a whirling comedy that nominally stars Jerry Orbach (also in an early role), along with Leigh Taylor-Young and Jo Van Fleet, who’s a hoot. James Goldstone, a solid filmmaker who died way too young, directed. It screens at 4:30 a.m. on January 28th.
The 29th offers three Otto Preminger films – “Carmen Jones” (954) at 6 a.m., “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) at 7 :45 a.m. , “Saint Joan” (1957) at 1:15 p.m. and “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959) at 3:15 p.m. Finally, following “Murder” is the Tony Curtis vehicle, “Not with My Wife, You Don’t!” (1966), directed by Norman Panama.
Posted by joe baltake at 8:22 PM