Thursday, May 22, 2008

What A Joy it is to Dance and Sing!*

The late works of Howard Hawks series is coming up at Anthology. I'm planning to sit through a double bill of Hatari and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and I'll try to restrain myself from singing along to the latter. Speaking of singing, there's a nice defense of "My Rifle, My Pony and Me" in Rio Bravo in the AV Club:

"It’s front and center and performed by the actors, with no apparent deeper meaning beyond the pure enjoyment of watching them. I don’t think the actors are even supposed to be in character here. We’re not meant to see Dude and Colorado, we’re meant to see Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, and bask in the effervescent glow emanating from their collective star power. "When you've got some talent, your job is to use it,” Hawks said of the scene, deflecting criticism he was being self-indulgent with his stars by shoehorning an unnecessary musical number into a western. Of course Hawks was being self-indulgent. Why would Hawks let a little thing like plot get in the way of giving the audience pleasure?"'

So true. I love song and dance numbers, or even just songs, in my movies -- and I feel no real need to defend them, due to the fact that anyone who can't enjoy them is too dull to bother with. If I had to rank my favorite songs in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I'd have to say "When Love Goes Wrong" is right up there, just because I love how seamlessly it's woven into the scene in the cafe in which our heroines commiserate over being broke with broken hearts. The big showstoppers are great too, but I can't help loving the scene where Lorelei and Dorothy cheer themselves up with a little song and dance number in a cafe.

* Angela Carter, "Wise Children"


P.L. Kerpius said...

I feel like I've gone comment crazy today, but I can't restrain myself from saying Hooorah for random, cheerful song and dance! My old roommate and I used to resolve to put on a cd and do a little dance whenever the blues set in. Never failed to pick us up. Clearly, this is how it works in celluloid form, as well.

Andrea Janes said...

Yeah, musical numbers always make me happy.

Maybe it's from watching The Sound of Music too often as a kid.

Maria: "This is one time it would *not* help to sing!"
(Spoken whilst hiding family from Nazi Rolf in the abbey's catacombs.)