Senin, 28 Maret 2011

Edward Sloman - Puttin' on the Ritz (1930)

Not nearly as snappy as any 1931 musical, comedy or drama, nor as slow as a 1929 one, this proto-musical benefits from a couple of awesomely strange, nightmarish numbers. It also has a blonde Joan Bennett and James Gleason in full James Gleason mode. Plus Lillyan Tashman.

The title song is staged in front of a looming backcloth of grinning tower blocks, like a Fleischer bros toon frozen in time. This, and the darkness of the print, brings out some kind of scary quality in what seems like it wants to be an upbeat, carefree song. But that pounding piano and wailing chorus speak of sinister things...

The Alice in Wonderland number serves as a compact version of the later Paramount Alice, complete with scary masks and grotesquerie. William Cameron Menzies designed both.

Apart from the excellent Lubitsch operetta-films, this may be the first good musical with a plot, although the plot is maybe the weakest part. Still, essential for anyone interested in the history of the form.
Most of the film is like the above. But parts are like the below --

no pass

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