Tag Archives: musicals

TOM SAWYER: 1973 MUSICAL

Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer

The TOM SAWYER I’m referring to here is the 1973 musical version which is unforgiveably forgotten by many people. This musical has some incredibly catchy songs, memorable dialogue portions and terrific performances from all cast members, young and old.

Most importantly the film nicely distills the essential elements of Mark Twain’s popular story in a nearly seamless way. Anything you loved from the book when you read it is to be found here: Tom’s tall tales to Aunt Polly to explain why he’s late for supper or didn’t show up at school, Tom tricking other kids into paying him to whitewash a fence for him, Tom and Huckleberry Finn witnessing Injun Joe’s murder of Ol’ Doc, Tom chivalrously taking a thrashing for Becky Thatcher, Tom and Huck running away and being given up for dead and of course Tom attending his own funeral.

All that and a great musical number during an excellently mounted 1870’s Fourth of July Celebration. Injun Joe gets a much more merciful end in this movie than he did in the book, so that’s a plus, too. 

Johnny Whitaker, known to generations of Continue reading

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under FRONTIERADO

ELVIS PRESLEY: ROCK’N’ROLL VS THE REDCOATS

Elvis IS General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans

Elvis IS General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans

January 8th of each year always represents the general rift that separates American pop culture from alleged “high culture”. On the one hand it’s Elvis Presley’s birthday. On the other hand it’s also the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, in which General (and future President) Andrew Jackson teamed up with French pirate Jean Lafitte to hand the British their worst defeat in the War of 1812.

It’s not tough to guess which event gets more attention year in and year out, but cult director Eddie Wozniak took a break from the film world to write, produce and direct this musical comedy.

General Jackson as a one-man USO show for his battle-hardened troops

General Jackson as a one-man USO show for his battle-hardened troops

Rock’N’Roll vs the Redcoats is Wozniak’s hilarious but educational fusion of Elvis’ birthday with the martial anniversary. The musical comedy depicts the events of 1815 as they might have been depicted in an Elvis Presley movie with an actual Elvis impersonator in the lead role. So basically the star of Rock’N’Roll vs the Redcoats is a man playing Elvis Presley playing General Andrew Jackson. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Fantastic Movie Reviews, humor

SCROOGE (1970)

Scrooge 1970 2Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2016 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the 1970 musical version that starred Albert Finney.

The only – and dubious – advantage to having such a young man portraying Ebenezer Scrooge is that he could realistically play Scrooge’s younger self in the Christmas Past scenes.

Big deal. In reality it meant that the portions with Belle get dragged out even longer and more excruciatingly than they usually do, just to take advantage of the fact that for once it’s not a different actor playing the younger Ebenezer. Again – big deal.  

Yet I like this version much more than I should. A rerun of it late one Christmas night was my first exposure to it years ago when I was first getting into the multiple versions of A Christmas Carol. That has probably colored my feelings about it all these years because I have to admit when I read negative reviews of this production I laugh like hell and nod my head in agreement at all the bashing it gets … yet I still like it for some reason. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL

JEWISH GAUCHOS (1975)

j-gauchosJEWISH GAUCHOS (1975) – It’s no secret that I love cinematic oddities. For this go-round I’ll examine the movie Jewish Gauchos based on the 1910 novel by Alberto Gerchunoff. The film deals with the musical adventures of a group of Jewish immigrants from Russia working as gauchos (Argentine cowboys) in Argentina in the very early 1900s.

This film plus a few westerns filmed in Israel but set in the American frontier make up the very, very unusual subgenre called Matzoh Westerns (as I’m sure you’ve guessed, those are the Jewish version of the Italian Spaghetti Westerns).

Outside of the bizarre subgenre of amputee kung fu movies from Hong Kong, Matzoh Westerns are my favorite cul de sac in the weirdass movie neighborhood. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Bad and weird movies, FRONTIERADO

FOURTH OF JULY MUSICAL: 1776

1776-musical-movieIt may be my fondness for mythology that makes me love to watch particular movies around particular holidays.  I say that because many of the well- known myths were recited on ancient holidays when their subject matter was relevant to those holidays. The stories helped accentuate the meaning of the special events and that’s the way I use various movies. At Christmas I watch countless variations of A Christmas Carol, around Labor Day I watch Eight Men Out, at Halloween The Evil Dead and the original Nightmare On Elm Street, Thanksgiving Eve I do Oliver! and for Frontierado (which is just a month away now) I do Silverado.

Since the actual 4th of July is loaded with activity I always show 1776 on the night before. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Independence Day. It’s a musical but with brilliant dialogue portions and the story involves the political maneuvering  surrounding the Original Thirteen Colonies at last announcing their independence from Great Britain, more than a year after Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Revolutionary War

THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN (1953): LIVE ACTION

The Stingiest Man in Town (1953)THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN (1953) – For  several years only the soundtrack for this terrific musical was available because the bulk of the video from this television production was missing. As of a few years back all the video has been restored so this Christmas season treasure can finally be enjoyed in its entirety.

Most people are only familiar with the 1978 Rankin-Bass Cartoon version of The Stingiest Man in Town, which chops the story down and omits or shortens a few songs. Here in all its glory is the original live 1953 production from December 23rd, rebroadcast in 1956, hence the 1956 date on some copies. Basil Rathbone stars as Scrooge, Johnny Desmond plays Nephew Fred, Martyn Green plays Bob Cratchit and Vic Damone appears as the young Ebenezer Scrooge at Fezziwig’s party. 

Many of the songs in this musical have become Christmas song standards and people are often amazed that The Stingiest Man in Town is where the songs originated. An Old Fashioned Christmas, Listen to the Song of the Christmas Spirit, Yes, There is a Santa Claus, and Birthday Party of the King are among the Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL

SCROOGE (1970)

Scrooge 1970 2Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2014 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the 1970 musical version that starred Albert Finney. The only – and dubious – advantage to having such a young man portraying Ebenezer Scrooge is that he could realistically play Scrooge’s younger self in the Christmas Past scenes.

Big deal. In reality it meant that the portions with Belle get dragged out even longer and more excruciatingly than they usually do, just to take advantage of the fact that for once it’s not a different actor playing the younger Ebenezer. Again – big deal.  

Yet I like this version much more than I should. A rerun of it late one Christmas night was my first exposure to it years ago when I was first getting into the multiple versions of A Christmas Carol. That has probably colored my feelings about it all these years because I have to admit when I read negative reviews of this production I laugh like hell and nod my head in agreement at all the bashing it gets … yet I still like it for some reason. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL