This song is from one of my all time favorite movie musicals, A Star is Born. You might already know this but Judy Garland is one of my all time favorite singers/performers and can leave me knocked on the floor from the power and emotion behind her voice, which can be heard in this particular ballad.

Just the pain and frustration that is heard in her voice can convince you that it’s real, this pain or this lost love.  You never know who or what she’s talking about in this song.  Could it be an ode to her career at MGM or her past lovers (aka Vincente Minnelli, David Rose, her father)?  There seems to be some emotion she’s gripping on to because she is truly singing from her heart, her voice can’t lie.

Just take a look at the lyrics and listen to this song and see for yourself that there’s some deep rooted pain that makes any heart ache.

The night is bitter,
The stars have lost their glitter;
The winds grow colder
And suddenly you’re older –
And all because of the man that got away.

No more his eager call,
The writing’s on the wall;
The dreams you dreamed have all
Gone astray.

The man that won you
Has gone off and undone you.
That great beginning
Has seen the final inning.
Don’t know what happened. It’s all a crazy game!

No more that all-time thrill,
For you’ve been through the mill –
And never a new love will
Be the same.

Good riddance, good-bye!
Ev’ry trick of his you’re on to.
But, fools will be fools –
And where’s he gone to?

The road gets rougher,
It’s lonelier and tougher.
With hope you burn up –
Tomorrow he may turn up.
There’s just no letup the live-long night and day!

Ever since this world began
There is nothing sadder than
A one-man woman looking for
The man that got away…
The man that got away.

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I recently have been obsessed, to no surprise, with the musical genre and all the effort that goes in them.  When watching these films, you usually don’t stop and think how long it might have taken a person to set up a living room to look as if it was lived in by this fictional family for years or even what might inspire these designers to choose certain outfits for the scene because it compliments the set. There’s a lot more that goes in to these films than I’m even letting on but one of the biggest, I feel, is the location.

Take note that most of the musical films were shot on set like MGM Studio.  These studios were built in mass proportions to provide a steady stream of films to be cranked out, though it seemed, at every hour of the day.  Usually meaning that most all of the films before 1940s were filmed right there one the MGM (Paramount, RKO) lot.  As in many musicals, location is key to the story and I had started to notice one location in particular that kept springing up.  And that location was New York City.

It makes sense that the Big Apple would be the the main hub for the Hollywood musicals because they were usually adapted from the Broadway musicals that were successes in NYC. And even the first ‘on location’ musical, “On the Town”was filmed was in the fair city and that was just the start.
Lets name a few musicals that take place in NYC:
The Band Wagon
On the Town
Easter Parade
42nd Street
West Side Story
Newsies
Hello Dolly
Rent
A Chorus Line
Little Shop of Horrors
and the list goes on.

It’s interesting how the each use the city at their stage (either in reality or syndicated):

In this film you see them praising the city and all it’s glory and possibilities.  In this case it’s seeing the sites in one day that blooms into chasing after woman or as Gene Kelly states it his “dream girl”.  They sorta take you on a whirl wind tour of NYC and show you the hot spots, which at the time was exciting and fun for audiences who might not have traveled a lot and seen the city in that way.

West Side Story takes a whole new view on gangs or at least how gangs fight; by dancing!  I just love how they use objects that would be in the streets as aids to their performance and how bridges and alleys become proscenium arch ways.  Honestly who wouldn’t love dancing in the streets with your name on it?  JETS! or STACE! while in the mist of a twirl.  The streets of New York in this film has a type of danger and excitement that you can do anything, well that is only if you’re a Jet or a Shark.  Who are you?

Similar to West Side Story the streets of New York is not only the Newsies stage but also their home.  They know the streets like the back of their hand and makes you feel at home with them too.

I think really what I want to happen is to have a mash up of West Side Story and Newsies street dancing scene.  There is a similar feel to both of those scenes that tell you a story just by seeing their location.  New York City.  Rough, tough, and mean streets.  Taking the typical audience out of their American Dream and showing them the hard life (which Annie does too to some extent).  Who would have thought the impact it could have (and still has) on viewers to this day.  Locations can only make you feel closer to reality and feeling connected to these films.  The next step would be taking our high jumps and pelvic thrusts to the streets.


Innovative is the only word that I can think to describe Royal Wedding.  It has piazzas but lacks in the story department and did not keep me interested.  Granted, I loved the fact that this film was loosely based on the brother/sister partnership of Fred and his actual sister and how they began their career in show biz, I just did not care about the love interests. It’s surprising because I LOVE Peter Lawford.  I thought his and Jane Powell’s (Ellen Bowen, Astaire’s sister in the film)  romance was silly and fun and I enjoyed how both characters were “playing”, for lack of better term, the opposite sex but found each other and fell head over heels in love.  Though, for some reason I felt that the chemistry between them just lacked and seemed forced, along with the marriage at the end.  That goes the same with Astaire and Sarah Churhill’s romance.  Nothing was there expect the fact that in the musical world there always had to be some sort of romance and marriage at the end, which seemed to marry the audience to this type of genre and its faithfulness.

As I stated before there is a lot of note worthy performances because, honestly, they were the only thing keeping me watching.  Studying the history and theory behind musicals, authors would usually mention a few performances from this film such as the rocking back and forth during the “Open Your Eyes” dance that represented Astaire and Powell being on the cruise ship and the difficulty of dancing at the same time.  In the scene they used a nice touch of dutch angle which made the viewers feel like they actually were on a ship.  Another few scenes that have been discussed are the dance numbers with Astaire, dancing with an coat rack or defying gravity and dancing on ceilings.  Both of these scenes have Astaire manipulating mundane rooms and either making them his stage or using the entire space and dancing all over it.  I’m still blown away by “You Are the World to Me” scene and how they accomplished this moment.  I know I’ve read how the crew actually had to rotate the room and camera at the same time to make it seem like Astaire was tapping on the walls.  I enjoy this scene because he’s so in love that he’s lighter than air and nothing else, not even gravity, can hold him down.  Though, I felt that nothing can compare to Fred dancing with the coat rack.

There is something magical about that moment.  He’s able to take an inanimate object and make it come to life by making it is dancing partner.  You see how he handles the coat rack ever so gently and how it glides smoothly and effortlessly across the floor.  This moment not only turns the coat rack into his dancing partner but it transforms the whole gym into his stage and the rest of the equipment as his partners.

Astaire time and time again makes me fall head over heels in love with him and his dancing and is the best part of this film.  He’s able to hypnotizes you with his dancing and is the only reason, really, why I toughed it out and watched this whole film.

Scenes to watch:

“Open Your Eyes”

“You Are the World to Me”

“Sunday Jumps”

Fun Facts:

Fred Astaire and Jane Powell sing “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life,” the longest song title in a Hollywood film.

June Allyson was first cast in the role of Ellen, but became pregnant. Judy Garland was cast next, but MGM terminated her studio contract.


Every viewing of this film feels like I’m watching it for the first time.  It is so beautifully dazzling and Vincente Minnelli makes me fall in love with him time after time.

This film definitely lived up to it’s name, The Band Wagon, because it had a little  bit oft everything.  It had the catchy songs, huge stage productions, and the good ole backstage drama that musicals tend to feed on in the early days.  However this musical was a bit different because this time they are reverting back to the stage musical.  The big time Hollywood star, Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire), goes back to New York City where his career began.  I am not sure if this film was predicting that even with the success of the on-screen musicals that nothing will be as good as the stage.  This than can lead to the whole debate between which is superior:  stage and screen.

Ever since the advent of film there has been a heated debate on which was the greater/truer entertainer.  The theater believes that there is nothing greater than the actual presence of actors.  The audience is able to feel the energy from every stage hand to extra that makes the performance more enjoyable.  In film the audience is detached from the flesh and blood presence of the actors on screen but are still able to feel some sort of connection, even though it may be as vain as seeing yourself as one of the characters.  One difference between the stage and screen is that the stage is limited in time and space and only give you illusions of that through sets and using your imagination.  While the screen can literally take you to an actual backstage of a theater and really put you in the performance by giving you views (birds eye view, camera on a crane, zoom) you would not be able to see sitting in the audience.  It is also able to give you a more realistic sense because the sets can be modified allowing it to look more like our reality.  In this film we are transported from Jeffrey Cordova’s (Jack Buchanan) fully furnished house to the backstage of the theater with a simple dissolve taking mere seconds, while on stage it would take minuets to change the set.

Another example of a difference between stage and screen is in the “Louisiana Hayride”.   During this performance, along with others, we are able to see each face of the performer clearly and the high angle shots gave us a greater overview of the set than, say, sitting in the last row of the theater.  Granted, the earlier musicals used a few techniques to replicate a type of audience view by placing the camera slightly angled up as if we were there in the audience ourselves but still they reverted to entertaining us in new ways (ie Busby Berkly).

I find it ironic how in this film they sing, “That’s Entertainment.”  What type of ‘entertainment’ do they favor—stage or screen? In this film it feels as if they favor both equally, but is that true, and is that possible? Are they arguing that screen is better because it gives you the ability to see “stage performances” in more in-depth ways?  Because I doubt the “Girl Hunt” ballet scene would have the same effect when performed on stage as it did on screen, allowing the viewer to be right up in the action. However, I could be wrong, because I feel like I sometimes underestimate the stage and its power.  In the end, I would state that the stage and screen impact us as viewers in different and interesting ways that can still leave us with goosebumps and a sense of emotional enjoyment that leaves you come back for more.

Scenes to watch:

“Shoe Shine”

“Girl Hunt”

“That’s Entertainment”

Fun Facts:

The characters reflect real life. Fred Astaire was indeed considering retirement as his career was at a standstill, just like his character in the movie. The characters played by Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant are based on the film’s screenwriters, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  Jack Buchanan’s character is based on José Ferrer, who at the time was producing four Broadway shows and starring in a fifth.

by Stacie Sells and edited by Kathleen Keish


More like Presenting Judy Garland.
This was Judy’s first adult roll at MGM and I would have to say she was stunning.  Just to get this out in the open I might be a bit bias when talking about Judy Garland movies because I am totally infatuated with her.  She’s one of the greatest performers of the Hollywood era and it’s a shame she had to leave us so soon.

Back to the film, Presenting Lily Mars is about a single mother raising five children in a small town and making it by with selling and creating hats.  Of course the oldest, Lily, has her heads in the clouds and dreams of making it big one day.  Luckily she has an foot in the door because one of the families close friends has a son who’s a big time New York producer, John Thornway (Van Heflin) who’s always on the search for talent.  Lily tries several ways to impress Thornway several ways by by coaxing her younger sister to be an orphan child and getting the whole family to chip in to help turn the living room in to a makeshift stage.  Even though this doesn’t impress Thornway he gets tired of all the pestering and finally gives her a chance when she shows up in New York City sneeking and sleeping in the theater just to prove that she’s serious.

Through the film Thornway states the only reason he’s giving Lily a chance is because his father brought her into the world but that simplistic excuse slowly diminishes when he realizes that he’s falling for her.  He basically sees Lily grow up right in front of him from immature small town girl to a bonified  professional stage actress.

Though I felt the love story was a little weak and forced in this film I would ahve to say there were several entertaining scenes like when Lily accidently falls into a band during a party and starts singing “Tom Tom the Pipper’s Song” which is this whole dynamic view between classical music and swing.  Also, Thornway states he’s not human because if he was he wouldn’t be able to resist Lily’s voice, bringing himself to realize that he’s intimidated by her as this strong independent woman, and can’t shake the fact that he still sees her as a little girl.  Even with the juvenile tendencies such as blowing her hair out of her face, Lily begins to transition from childhood to adulthood.

Check out this film and let me know if you feel this passion that Lily feels and how it’s always good to keep your heads in the clouds because eventually you’ll find your dream and have them all come true.

Scene to watch:

“Tom, Tom The Piper’s Son”

“Broadway Rhythm”

“Every Little Movement (Has a Meaning All Its Own)”

Fun Facts:

In the elaborate musical finale, Judy Garland is dancing with an uncredited Charles Walters, who would eventually become one of MGM’s top directors and direct Judy herself in both “Easter Parade” and “Summer Stock.”


How does a musical exceed being just a typical musical?  Once you got the music, the dancing , the actors how can you make it pop and sparkle?  How do you draw attention to the audience and bring them in for a hell of a show..a different show…a water show?

Neptune’s Daughter
is one of MGM’s many “aquamusicals” which featured not only song and dance numbers but also had magnificent synchronized swimming and diving scenes that just leave the audience breathless.  Ester Williams is the impressive ‘bathing beauty’ who has not only brains but also the skill of swimming to go with it.  Granted this film had some well done beautifully colored aquatic scenes I’m pretty sure these were just a minor affair compared to some of Williams’ other “aquamusicals”.  Though, I would have to say this musical was extremely entertaining and engaging with it’s quick whit and humorous dialogue I could not stop watching!

“The only interest I have in men are whether they whistle at our suits or not”  Eve Barrett (Williams) states in several different ways during this film.  She is, of course, a independent career woman who puts all of herself in to the business and has no time for love.  That is, until she meets the ever some handsome South American polo player named José O’Rourke (Richardo Montalban).

How can you deny an ever so charming Richardo Montalban?  From the moment he walked on the screen he steels your heart.  He’s so different, he’s so “exotic”.  The “exotic” factor is still intriguing to me even in today’s films because it not only brings out the cultural differences but can bring them out in a stereotypical way, which happens in this film.  It’s funny because it displays O’Rourke as a ladies man who has had many woman and also stereotypes Barrett as the career driven woman who will leave it all for love.  It just doesn’t seem right to state that’s how ALL South American’s are and that deep down all woman want to marry and settle down.  Though, I would have to say I enjoyed the humorous take these stereotypes with the good ole comic reliefs played by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton.

All in all I would have to say with all the mix ups and run arounds this film was pretty entertaining and the ending swimming sequence was well worth the wait.
So, check it out and tell me what you think of Neptune’s Daughter and whether it wet your appetite for more.

Scenes to watch:

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” (love this song)

“I Love Those Men”

“Jungle Rhumba” with Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra

Trivia:

Esther Williams was pregnant during the filming of this movie.


What happens when you put together a French, British, and American dame all in an act, in Paris with an ever dreamy Gene Kelly?  You get a show called Les Girls with show stopping numbers with a dash of deceitful stories and lies.

It begins when Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) is sued for libeling her fellow dancer Angele (Taina Elg) after writing a tell all book about their time on stage.  It’s basically the Rashamon for musicals where the audience is seeing everyone’s side of the story.  In this film there is no murder and stems off the premise that someone tired to kill them self all because they were madly in love with Barry Nichols (Mr. Kelly).

In the film you hear from Sybil (British), Angele (French) and Barry but never from the other dancer, the American, Joy (Mitzi Gaynor).  Since this was aimed at an American audience all the stereotypes about British and French women were in place along with Kelly falling in love with the American girl because of her old fashioned, good values.  How could he love the saucy, sexual French woman or the cold hearted lush of a Brit? It all comes down to Kelly’s “All American Image” and how his masculine demeanor always gets what he wants.

During the musicals of the 1940s and 50s men were portrayed as the hard headed working man, which was the way Barry was viewed by Sybil and Angele.  Though, when it’s Barry’s turn to speak in court he shows his more sensitive side of being a lonesome American in a foreign city and is only looking and wanting love.  How could Kelly be a man whore?  Of course the men in this film are not as scandalous as the women.  Though, for Kelly to get his lady he really desires he pretends he’s dying, a typical way to get her (Joy) to fall in love with him.  It seems to happen in several Kelly musicals where his character is viewed, at least for a moment, like a creep and just wanting to get in the girls pants/dress.  The girl usually seems repulsed for a half a second and eventually falls for his enchanting smile and charm.

Take a look at Les Girls to see if Joy, too, falls for Kelly’s charm or perhaps turns it around on him…..you’ll just have to watch and see!

Scenes to Highlight:

Finally a good dance scene!  Near the end their is a fun filled dance between Joy and Barry in the more Avant Garde setting.  Just take a look how silly this dance is and how it does not seem to fit the musical.

Other scenes to watch:

The Rope Dance

“Ladies In Waiting”