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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GOOD NEWS (1947)

M-G-M musical producer supreme Arthur Freed baptized those ON THE TOWN New York wiseguys, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, with an unlikely assignment; revamp this corny mother-of-all college musicals. The 1927 show is only remembered for two songs, ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’ & ‘The Varsity Drag,’ plus the usual football game theatrics, but the new script puts all irony on hold allowing us to smile with (rather than at) the well-calibrated conventions of musical comedy from ‘27 & ‘47. Charles Walters helms smoothly in his debut, keeping everything human-scaled (with a nice expansion for the big finale), while the modest talents and challenged intonation of leads June Allyson & especially the young Peter Lawford seem just right in this low-pressure entertainment. Even if this sort of thing isn’t your sort of thing, search out ‘The French Lesson,’ the one original number Comden & Green added with Roger Edens supplying the music, it’s a true delight.

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