#194- The Sound of Music

Quick recap: A singing nun takes on the role of governess for 7 children and teaches their widower father about love.

The hills are ablaze with the euphonious symphonies of descant

The hills are ablaze with the euphonious symphonies of descant

Fun (?) fact: Julie Andrews fell several times while on the mountain

funny-hills-sound-music

My thoughts: Oh, Sound of Music. I fell in love with this movie as a kid after my music teacher showed it to us in its entirety. I have since seen many more ( sometimes better) musicals as an adult, but this one still holds a special place in my heart. Since I am familiar with this movie, watching it again for the list was more about whether it holds up as much as it did when I was little rather than if it is actually a ‘good’ movie.

When I told my husband that I was going to be watching The Sound of Music, he scoffed at how schmaltzy it is. This is coming from someone whose favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, but that’s for another post.Anyway, while watching it, I could definitely see some schmaltziness, but it just didn’t bother me like I feared it would now that I am a jaded, cynical adult. Like, for instance, how quickly the children latch on to Maria when they are known to have driven several governesses away, including one that only lasted a couple of hours. She’s just someone that you can’t help but want to do good by, though. And Julie Andrews was made for this role. The kids can be eye rollingly cute at times but it is her that completely makes this movie into something wonderful.

Above all things, I love The Sound of Music for, what else, the music. I love every single song and was pleasantly surprised by how many of the lyrics I remembered ( the cats were not impressed with my singing, by the way, especially one who bit me throughout the movie). Edelweiss is still my favorite because of its simplicity and yet all the complicated things it stood for. For a kid just getting acquainted to the ‘adult’ world, this movie was a perfect bridge between childhood and adolescence. It was the first time I really understood the Nazi regime and how terrible everything was, and yet there was a happy ending so that I could still have hope. It may be schmaltzy, but it’s my kind of schmaltzy.

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Final review: 5/5.

Up next: All that Jazz

#191- 42nd Street

Quick recap: Director Julian Marsh has been hired to put on a musical, even though he is very close to a nervous breakdown. Of course, nothing goes right and hilarity ensues.

If there's one thing I love, it's a stereotype about over-stressed directors

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a stereotype about over-stressed directors

Fun (?) fact: A line in the song ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo’ says ‘I’ll go home and get my panties’, which is sung by the male lead. Back in the 1930s, ‘panties’ was a synonym for ‘underwear’, so men used the word too.

probably thinking about his panties

probably thinking about his panties

My thoughts: 42nd Street is the chicken noodle soup of movies-comforting, well known, satisfying and also a little bland. It’s the kind of film I could probably watch a few times without getting bored, but not one of my favorite movies I keep coming back to. And that’s ok sometimes.

When I think of the musical genre, 42nd street is the kind of film that pops in my head- something all-American, with a bunch of theatre stereotypes and big, flashy numbers. No songs stuck out particularly for me, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. This isn’t really your typical movie musical though, because no one bursts into song at the drop of a hat. Instead, all of the dancing and singing is isolated into the rehearsal, which I loved because the movie was about the making of the musical and so the musical itself didn’t really have to make sense. You do get to see a few numbers at the end, to see how everything comes together, but I liked not knowing what the musical was supposed to look like. It all felt like a hot mess, just like director Julian Marsh saw it.

The plot and acting was a little bland for me, but maybe it’s because I’ve seen the situation play out on so many sitcoms and kids’ television programs. Basically, a small town girl, Peggy, is cast into a tiny role but through various circumstances, ends up as the lead and does a perfect job. Meh. The star of the musical, Dorothy Brock, was temperamental, but not necessarily evil. She is dating the financier of the musical, even though he is clearly not her type because if she loses him, there will be no show. That part of the plot seemed the most familiar to me for some reason…..

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Final review: 4/5. The dancing was phenomenal and the rest of the film was decent enough to watch again.

Up next: Last Year at Marienbad

#184- Gigi

Quick recap: A young girl has foolish ideas of marrying instead of going into the family business of being someone’s mistress

from a scene where a creepy old man sings about how much he loves little girls because they grow up into women he wants to date

from a scene where a creepy old man sings about how much he loves little girls because they grow up into women he wants to date

Fun (?) fact: The cat in the film hated Leslie Caron, who played Gigi and had to be drugged anytime it was in a scene with her. Considering that the cat had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, I’m not sure why director Vincente Minnelli didn’t just let it go.

I couldn't find a picture for Gigi's cat, but this came up and I liked it better

I couldn’t find a picture for Gigi’s cat, but this came up and I liked it better. That cat looks like it knows something.

My thoughts: Without knowing anything about Gigi, I was fully prepared for it to suck. I ran across a list a few months back that ranked Best Picture winners and Gigi was at the bottom. I assumed from the synopsis Netflix provided  that maybe the writer of the list just didn’t like musicals but 5 minutes in, I realized that no, this movie is in fact terrible and messed up.

Before I get into my rant, and believe me there will be a rant, I’d like to admit that I really loved the musical portion of the movie. The songs were catchy and witty and I found myself humming them the next day. The actors also did a fine job with their characters, although the heavy French accents got on my nerves. It felt like they were over the top, but when I looked up trivia I learned that they were genuine so I’ll give it a pass. The setting and costumes were also wonderful and reminded me of something Disney might put together to showcase Paris long ago.

So, why is this movie so bad? Basically, Gigi, who is a 15 year old girl (very important. Don’t forget this detail) has been born into a family of courtesans. She lives with her grandmother and mother but visits her great aunt once a week for lessons on snagging a rich guy to sleep with. Yeah. Gigi is naturally against the whole thing, but is seen as a girl in need of a makeover so that MEN WILL SLEEP WITH HER. So, in comes Gaston, a rich guy, who likes to hang out with this family but not sleep with any of them. He is particularly fond of Gigi, but sees her more like a child BECAUSE SHE IS. After a weekend with him at the beach, the Great Aunt and grandmother decide that poor Gigi needs to be transformed so Gaston will want to sleep with her. When he sees ‘grownup’ Gigi for the first time, he is repulsed (maybe because she’s 15?) but then sings a song about how he thought she was a baby but seeing her in that dress reminded him that he can totally hit that now. So he does. Gigi isn’t too happy about the whole thing but whatever, that’s the family business. The movie ends with Gaston returning the girl to her grandmother and running away, as the audience thinks he’s a jerk. But then he comes back and announces that he doesn’t want her as a mistress but instead as a wife. Awww. Except not, because she is freaking 15 years old.

There's a scene at the beginning of the film where Gigi and Gaston are playing around and he threatens to spank her. Knowing how this would end only ups the creepiness factor.

There’s a scene at the beginning of the film where Gigi and Gaston are playing around and he threatens to spank her. Knowing how this would end only ups the creepiness factor.

Final review: I’d love to give this movie a 1/5 but I was thoroughly entertained in a car crash sort of way, so let’s go with 3/5 and then never speak of it again.

Up next: Fantastic Planet

#180- Le Million

Quick recap: A man loses a million dollar lottery ticket, which sucks for him because he told all of his creditors that he is rich now and can afford to pay his debts.

those are his creditors dancing for joy because this guy was kind of a jerk and apparently owed a ton of money

those are his creditors dancing for joy because this guy was kind of a jerk and apparently owed a ton of money

Fun (?) fact:  Nothing. Zip. Nada. First time in 180 movies that the trivia page on IMDb was empty, but it’s bound to have happened at some point.

My thoughts: The fact that I had such a hard time finding anything out about Le Million says a lot. It wasn’t a good or bad movie. It just was. For a movie made in 1931, I was most impressed by the sound quality, which is the reason, I think, for including it in The List. The songs (yes, this was a musical) were catchy, although they kind of drifted in and out through the movie, never really beginning and never really ending. It was weird, but also made the movie’s events seem more plausible, almost as if it was a dream.

One of the reasons I didn’t really embrace Le Million is because of the characters. Michel is the jerk who lost the lottery ticket. He’s a penniless artist who has a fiancée but also sees girls on the side, which she totally knows about but refuses to break it off. Classy guy, that one. His friend (or rival?) Prosper is not much better and challenges Michel that if he finds the ticket, he gets half of the fortune. There’s also a mob guy, Grandpa Tulip, who takes the jacket that the ticket was in, and then the opera singer, Ambrosio, who buys the jacket and refuses to return it. I spent most of the film trying to figure out whether I wanted Michel to find the ticket or not, but ultimately rooted for him because his fiancée Béatrice was the one who gave the jacket away initially and I wanted something good to happen to her.

Looking on the positive side, although I can’t really say that I ‘enjoyed’ myself, I certainly wasn’t bored. I never laughed at any of the funny parts but I recognized that they were supposed to be funny, if that’s a thing. One scene in particular stood out: when the opera singer is on stage and Michel sneaks on to take the jacket. It had many elements of Moulin Rouge, including the way the audience was seated. I couldn’t find anything online, but I’m curious if Le Million inspired Baz Luhrmann in any way. It’s also possible that I see Moulin Rouge in practically everything.

Final review: 2/5. A very ‘meh’ movie.

Up next: The Ballad of Narayama