Category Archives: Musical

The Blues Brothers

Elwood and Jake Blues and the Bluesmobile

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by John Landis
Produced by Bernie Brillstein, George Folsey Jr, David Sosna & Robert K. Weiss
Written by Dan Aykroyd & John Landis
Starring John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Carrie Fisher
John Candy
Henry Gibson

Additional Cast

Cab Calloway as Curtis
Carrie Fisher as Mystery Woman
Aretha Franklin as Mrs. Murphy
Ray Charles as Pawn Shop Owner/Himself
James Brown as Reverend Cleophus James
John Candy as Burton Mercer
Kathleen Freeman as Sister Mary Stigmata, “The Penguin”
Henry Gibson as Head Nazi
Steve Lawrence as Maury Sline
Twiggy as Chic Lady
Frank Oz as Corrections Officer
Jeff Morris as Bob
Charles Napier as Tucker McElroy
Steven Williams as Trooper Mount
Armand Cerami as Trooper Daniel
Chaka Khan as Choir soloist
John Lee Hooker as musician on Maxwell Street
John Landis as State trooper
Stephen Bishop as police officer with broken watch
Paul Reubens as Chez Paul waiter
Steven Spielberg as Cook County Assessor’s Office Clerk

The Blues Brothers Band

John Belushi as “Joliet” Jake Blues, lead vocals
Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues, harmonica and lead vocals
Steve Cropper as Steve “the Colonel” Cropper, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and vocals
Donald “Duck” Dunn as Donald “Duck” Dunn, bass guitar
Murphy Dunne as Murphy “Murph” Dunne, keyboards
Willie Hall as Willie “Too Big” Hall, drums and percussion
Tom Malone as Tom “Bones” Malone, trombone, tenor saxophone and vocals
Lou Marini as “Blue Lou” Marini, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone and vocals
Matt Murphy as Matt “Guitar” Murphy, lead guitar
Alan Rubin as Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin, trumpet, percussion and vocals

Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Stephen M. Katz
Editing by George Folsey Jr
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date June 20, 1980
Running time 133 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Fox Classics had a Blues Brothers marathon on New Year’s Day, screening the movie several times throughout the day. Even though I have seen this movie millions of times I just had to watch it again.

While the film is quite hilarious at times I don’t think that it is the funniest film of all time like a lot of people under the age of 40 have said. It’s probably the funniest film of the 80s though. I like the way that Belushi and Ackroyd play everything very straight regardless of whatever madness is occurring around them. There are a lot of good, funny, lines that have all gone down into movie folklore.

We’re on a mission from God!

I think the thing that I like most about this picture is the great music featured. Firstly there is the Blues Brothers‘ Band featuring Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi as well as the members of Stax records house band Booker T and the MGs. Then there are the cameos by John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and James Brown playing and singing some of their most famous hits from the past. The scene featuring Ray Charles singing Shake A Tailfeather is very funny.

Overall the film is very funny with lots of great music.

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Ride ‘Em Cowboy

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Alex Gottlieb
Written by True Boardman & John Grant
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Dick Foran
Anne Gwynne
Ella Fitzgerald
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography John W. Boyle
Editing by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date February 20, 1942
Running time 86 minutes
Language English

Ride ‘Em Cowboy is a 1942 Abbott & Costello comedy that is funny in places but it does feel some boring musical pieces. One bright spot is the number featuring Ella Fitzgerald. I wish that she had of been given a bigger role than just being relegated to the background and singing one number, as well as the duet with the Merry Macs.

Abbott & Costello are quite funny in this, although there are a number of jokes involving native American Indians that today would be considered politically incorrect. Lou Costello is not as annoying as he was in Hold That Ghost, which came out a year earlier, and is funnier. The abuse that Bud gives Lou has also been toned down a lot since that earlier movie.


Never Give A Sucker An Even Break

Directed by Edward F. Cline
Starring W.C. Fields
Gloria Jean
Margaret Dumont
Franklin Pangborn
Leon Errol
Music by Charles Previn & Frank Skinner
Cinematography Charles Van Enger
Editing by Arthur Hilton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date 10 October 1941
Running time 71 min.
Country U.S.
Language English

Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is a quite surreal film in that W.C. Fields is playing himself trying to pitch a film. It has quite a few funny scenes but is a little uneven. The bits where he’s discussing his script with Franklin Pangborn are amusing but the movie that Fields had envision is quite weird (I guess that’s the point!).

I could compare this film to a Marx Bros. film as it mixes music with the comedy. In Never Give A Sucker An Even Break Fifteen year old Gloria Jean sings some light operatic songs, but unlike those types of songs in the Marx’s films, these musical interludes are not completely boring, which I guess is testament to the fact that Ms. Jean had some semblance of a personality, which can rarely be said for the singers in the Marx films. The songs here are just as mind-numblingly boring as those in Marx Bros. films, but in one scene in particular Ms. Jean actually pokes fun at this fact by showing how bored she is with the song. There is so much other funny stuff going on in the background that you don’t have to hit the fast forward button. Considering she was so young and seemed to be a talented actress and singer, I wonder why she did not appear in many more films.

Another comparison to the Marx Bros. is that Fields tries to woo Margaret Dumont in order to become wealthy. This is part of his script for his fictional film. Unlike Groucho though, Fields comes to his senses when he sees just what he’s gotten himself into. Another contrast here is that Ms. Dumont really isn’t playing the straight man to Fields here and that she is in on the joke. Perhaps Fields included this element to satirize the Marx Bros. films? He does mention Groucho by name in an early scene.

This is a funny yet weird film. The parts that are not Fields’ fantasy seem to work the best.
Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2 with The Man On The Flying Trapeze, You’re Telling Me, The Old Fashioned Way and Poppy. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $43.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…


The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash

Directed by Eric Idle & Gary Weis
Written by Eric Idle
Starring Eric Idle
John Halsey
Ricky Fataar
Neil Innes
Michael Palin
George Harrison
Bianca Jagger
John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Gilda Radner
Bill Murray
Running time 76 minutes
Language English

Years before This Is Spinal Tap and almost two decades before Homer’s Barbershop Quartet there was The Rutles, the first ever rock and roll mockumentary and the first spoof of the career of the Beatles. It was created by Monty Python’s Eric Idle and Neil Innes who also wrote the music. Innes was a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in the 1960s.

Anyone who knows the Beatles career and enjoys their music will enjoy this fantastically funny parody which also features a lot of cameos by the Python’s Michael Palin as well as respected musicians such as Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and the Beatles’ own George Harrison, who was of course close friends with Eric Idle and the rest of the Python’s and was apparently a part of this project right from the start. Also appearing are many Saturday Night Live alumni such as Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi.

The plot of the movie follows the career of the Rutles, four Liverpool lads who took the pop world by storm after being discovered by Leggy Mountbatten, who went onto be their manager. The four, Ron, Dirk, Stig and Barry impressed the one-legged Mountbatten with how tightly they wore their trousers rather than their music. There was also a fifth member, Leppo, who left the group when he climbed inside a trunk with a small German fräulein and was never heard from again. Luckily, he couldn’t play anyway.

The film follows the career of the Pre-fab Four from their days playing at the Liverpool Cavern right through to their final album Let It Rot, and features lots of their musical highlights including Ouch!, Goose Step Mama, Cheese And Onions and Get Up And Go.

Apparently most of the Beatles loved the film. George of course had a cameo, while Ringo is said to have liked the happy scenes but thought that the sad ones cut a bit too close. John loved the film and refused to return the preview tape he’d been given, but warned that one song, Get Up And Go, was a little too similar to Get Back and thought that McCartney may sue. Paul refused to comment on the film and was apparently a little frosty towards Idle for a while after, but Linda was said to be a fan.

This film served as inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap as well as the numerous Beatles parodies that have appeared over the years. I feel that this is better than Spinal Tap and is undoubtedly the best of the Beatles parodies.

As a side note, this was one of the first videos that I ever saw back in the early 80s. This movie was a preview on most videos that we borrowed, which is how I learnt of the films existence as a 7-year-old. (Other movies always found as previews include Idi Amin, Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and King Kong!)


Robin And The Seven Hoods

Directed by Gordon Douglas
Produced by Frank Sinatra
Written by David R. Schwartz
Starring Frank Sinatra
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Bing Crosby
Peter Falk
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Editing by Sam O’Steen
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date June 24, 1964 (U.S. release)
Running time 123 min.
Language English

Robin And The Seven Hoods is nothing more than a vanity project for Frank Sinatra and the ‘Rat Pack’ in which Frank gets to fulfil his fantasy on screen by playing a gangster.
This movie is supposed to be a musical comedy but it’s really not that funny and with the exception of Frank singing ‘My Kind Of Town’ the songs aren’t that great. The film is a bit of a mish-mash in that it doesn’t know whether it is a film for adults with the gangster theme and talk about people being killed, or a family film with songs and a kid-centric sub-plot that is very annoying. The movie is still interesting in its own way due to the charm and personality of its stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy David Jr., as well as Bing Crosby and Peter Falk. Like all ‘Rat Pack’ movies the guys basically just play themselves but here, with the exception of Frank, neither Dino or Sammy receive nearly enough screen time in my opinion. Peter Falk has more screen time as Dean and Sammy combined.

I guess that the really interesting story in regards to Robin And The Seven Hoods is what happened behind the scenes and why Peter Lawford was not a part of the film. He was scheduled to play the part that eventually went to Bing Crosby and was cut from the film by Sinatra because Frank felt that Lawford’s brothers’ in law, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy snubbed him by not staying at his house. The Kennedy’s were going to stay with Sinatra but got cold feet due to a few of Frank’s indiscretions and with him openly cavorting with real life Mafioso. Brother-in-Lawford was unofficially kicked out of the ‘Rat Pack’ and ostracised by Sinatra.

Overall the film is not great but it is watchable although it is probably half an hour too long.

Useless Trivia

  • Victor Buono who plays Deputy Sherriff Potts went on to play King Tut in the Batman TV series. Caesar Romero who starred in the previous ‘Rat Pack’ movie Oceans 11 also appeared in the Batman TV series as The Joker.
  • This film probably holds a record for having the most actors who have a ‘glass eye’. Sammy Davis Jr. lost his left eye as a result of a car accident in 1954, while Peter Falk had his right eye removed at the age of three because of a tumour.

Make Mine Music

Directed by Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimim, Hamilton Luske, Joshua Meador & Robert Cormack
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by James Bordrero
Homer Brightman
Erwin Graham
Eric Gurney
T. Hee
Sylvia Holland

Dick Huemer
Dick Kelsey
Jesse Marsh
Tom Oreb
Cap Palmer
Erdman Penner
Harry Reeves
Dick Shaw
John Walbridge
Roy Williams
Starring Nelson Eddy
Dinah Shore
Benny Goodman
The Andrews Sisters

Jerry Colonna
Sterling Holloway
Andy Russell
David Lichine
Tania Riabouchinskaya
The Pied Pipers
The King’s Men
The Ken Darby Chorus
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release date April 20, 1946
Running time 67 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sometimes I can understand why people illegally download movies from the internet, even though I would never condone such a thing. A case in point is Disney’s Make Mine Music which is not available to my knowledge on DVD in Australia but the American version can easily be found on Amazon. But beware, as the American DVD is censored, with one whole section, The Martins and The Coys, taken out because… I’m not sure. Some people say that this section was taken out because it is offensive to Southerners in the USA, while others say that it’s because there is excessive gunplay. Whatever the reason I don’t think that it should be censored. I can understand people wanting to find the uncensored version of this and think that when companies censor in this way they sort of deserve to lose revenue from people making illegal but complete copies.

Anyway this film is made up of ten segment which we would all be pretty familiar with as they were shown on the Wonderful World of Disney all the time, but now they are rarely seen. I don’t know if I had ever seen the film in it’s entirety before, just the segments individually.

The most well known of the segments are…

The Martins And The Coys

The most infamous of the segments now because it has been banned.

All The Cats Join In

I like this a lot. The music is very catchy and the animation is good.

Casey At The Bat

The most famous of the segments. Pretty funny.

Peter And The Wolf

I liked this segment as a kid but think it’s just OK now. The characters are cute.

Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnett

This has the Andrews Sisters and other than that I didn’t like it very much.

The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At the Met

This is quite funny and the whale is cute, but the ending is sad.

Anyway this is a pretty good piece of forgotten Disney animation. It would be good if Disney could give it a proper (complete) DVD release or even show it on TV so that kids (and adults) can see it.

This reminds me that tomorrow (Friday August 6th 2010) Disney Channel are showing Fantasia at 6.30pm, in between the endless ads for Jonus, Hannah Montana and all th eother stupid tween shows that are currently on Disney.


Living It Up

Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Paul Jones
Written by Ben Hecht & Jack Rose
Starring Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
Janet Leigh
Edward Arnold
Music by Walter Scharf
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date July 23, 1954
Running time 100 min.
Country  United States
Language English

This is another Martin & Lewis comedy from the mid-50s and while it has a few good gags I don’t think it was the teams best effort. Part of the problem was Jerry, who acts like he is about seven years old throughout the film. There is no empathy for him at all and he just does stupid stuff for the sake of doing stupid stuff.

This was made not long before the relationship between Dean & Jerry started hitting the rocks. I wonder if this film could be a reason, as Lewis did want to start taking more control of what he did while Dean only seemed to care about getting a paycheck.