Thursday, 19 November 2015

But get the ice, or else no dice

Yesterday, I asked younger daughter if she'd like to see a late matinée screening at the Bytowne Cinema of the 1953 movie version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Rather to my surprise, she readily agreed. It turns out that she loves "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend". I bet you do, too.
G'wan, watch it, you know you want to:

Younger daughter was thrilled when I pointed out a young George Chakiris amongst the dancing millionaires. She's a huge fan of West Side Story, in which Marni Nixon provided the singing for Natalie Wood's Maria. Marni Nixon also hits the high notes for Marilyn Monroe in this movie, and provides the operatic "No's" at the beginning of the song.

The 1953 film is based on the 1949 Broadway musical which was based on the 1925 book by Anita Loos which was created out of a series of stories that Anita Loos wrote for the magazine Harper's Bazaar, based on her observation of her friend HL Mencken's helplessness at the hands of a blond bombshell. The Broadway musical was set in the 1920s; the 1953 movie wasn't, and the plots of neither had much to do with the book nor each other.

The Broadway musical starred a young Carol Channing. I can't imagine anyone less like Carol Channing than Marilyn Munroe, but the show and movie also had little in common, and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is closely associated with both Channing and Monroe. Here's Carol Channing singing it on a 1957 television show (I don't know which one):

It's really younger daughter who led me to the discovery that watching movies in a movie theatre is worthwhile, even when the movie is readily available on TV, DVD, or online. You won't be getting up to do things around the house, nor multitasking. Your concentration is on the movie; this is the first time I've actually watched GPB straight through. You hear the reaction of the audience around you. You can eat popcorn, and in the Bytowne, you're watching the film in the sort of movie theatre in which it would have been shown in 1953.

Mind you, the experience is digital and the mindset you bring into the theatre belongs to the twenty-first century.

What, for example, does a denizen of the twenty-first century make of the following number?

This is supposedly the American Olympic Team - would they really make their way to the 1952 Oslo games via Paris? Jane Russell's character is crest-fallen because the team has a strict curfew and is thus unavailable for amorous activities. Am I the only one who suspects the curfew is not the chief barrier for a woman making out with these fellas? Oh well, they may have thought otherwise in 1953; it was another time.

After the movie, the Resident Fan Boy and I discussed how sexual politics have changed (or not), and remembered Madonna's famous video for "Material Girl", which has a different message from the famous song and film that it references. Or does it?

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