Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Focusing features - back to the diary

Some time back on this blog I had decided to adopt more of a diary-like format to get me to write in it more often.

As too often happens with me, the best laid plans fell flat. Granted, I've been through a lot of trauma this year, including having a tree fall through my house, but I hate that I haven't written here very much and that my audience has dwindled as a result. 

So I'm going to try again to re-spark this. Can't make any promises it'll stick. I guess I'd like to try to post at least twice a week. I seem to work better if I set myself goals and deadlines.

Haven't seen anything new theatrically since I saw Cars 2, and the rest of the current crop doesn't impress me. I do not voluntarily give Michael Bay my money, so I'm skipping Transformers Trois. The reviews for Tom Hanks' Larry Crowne make it look eminently skippable. The jury's still out on Horrible Bosses, and I need to see Zookeeper like I need to be stampeded by an elephant. 

So that leaves me to discuss the classics. The summer classic movie series has started around here. Saw Hitchcock's Frenzy last week. and I still think that's Hitch's best picture of his troubled post-Birds period. Some may argue that it's hard to get into because the "wrong man" (Jon Finch) is a particular prick, but I think that makes the picture novel and daring. Sadly, Athena Massey, who played Finch's sort-of love interest, only died this past weekend.

Fun trivia: the editor of the movie, John Jympson, and the cinematographer, Gil Taylor, performed the same duties on A Hard Day's Night. This is what you notice when you're a credits geek like me. 

This past weekend I saw West Side Story. Still a great picture, and Natalie Wood is still miscast, but the fact that Natalie doesn't look the least bit Hispanic isn't what bothers me. It's the same problem I have with My Fair Lady - the face and the voice simply don't match. 

Of course, the same voice in both cases is the ubiquitous Marni Nixon, who also dubbed Deborah Kerr in The King and I, and sang the high, operatic notes of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (Marilyn handled the rest.) 

Marni was the epitome of  a session musician - the player who is technically proficient but has very little personality. And a friend of mine made a very good point. Why is it that females so commonly get dubbed, yet it doesn't happen as often with men? 

Case in point: Jimmy Stewart warbled his way through a movie I watched this weekend, Born to Dance. Jimmy readily admitted he didn't have a very good singing voice, yet according to Robert Osborne of TCM, the MGM brass thought that a "professional" voice would have sounded phony. 

Oh really? Well, that didn't stop them from dubbing Ava Gardner in the 1950s Show Boat, even though she had a perfectly capable singing voice, as That's Entertainment 3 revealed. For that matter, Audrey Hepburn sang pretty well in Funny Face, although I understand she didn't have the operatic tone needed to pull off the Lerner and Lowe numbers of My Fair Lady. 

Still. with all this replacement going on, why was Brando permitted to sing as flat as a board in the film version of Guys and Dolls? And why in God's name did they let Lee Marvin grunt his way through Paint Your Wagon? Hell, at least Clint Eastwood could carry a tune, which is more than can be said for Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia.

These are rhetorical questions, of course, but I think we know the answer...

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Glad to see that you are back to posting. I always enjoy your comments. I saw Transformers this past weekend. Not bad, but certainly not a classic. He could use an editor to cut out more than a few minutes. I look forward to once again reading your postings.