Now With More Than 3000 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES (1938)


They didn’t call it Goldwyn’s Folly for nothing. The first & last of this putative series defangs the normally acerbic Ben Hecht on a tale about a Hollywood Mogul who hires a small-town gal for honest advise on his pics, There’s a satiric idea in there, but it’s lost between the ballets, comedy routines, opera stars, songs and even a dummy act! (That’d be Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy who provide a bit of relief from the dross.) Yet, the film remains essential. George Gershwin died during production and his last two hits are here; George Balanchine choreographed for his (then) wife Vera Zorina; there’s even Gregg Toland’s earliest TechniColor lensing. You can ease the suffering by gasping when Kenny Baker sings those crazy high notes while prepping hash house ’sliders’; or by rethinking the Dada-slapstick of The Ritz Bros. with better material. Why not guess what song Ella Logan left on the cutting room floor? Or have some fun noticing just how closely Disney’s FANTASIA/’40 burlesqued Balanchine’s‘Water Nymph ballet: the Greek colonnade, the dancer rising out of the water, the wind sweeping everything away. So much better with ostriches & elephants.

CONTEST #1: There are touchstone elements from both the 1937 and the 1954 versions of A STAR IS BORN in this film. (Hint: One is a cast member and one is a piece of dramatic business.) Name them both to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up on the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

CONTEST #2: One of the cast members has a surprising connection to the original production of George Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS. Name the cast member and the connection to win . . . oh, you know.

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