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Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Past chats with our guests.

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kingrat
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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby kingrat » April 18th, 2014, 7:05 pm

Matthew,

I must buy your book. This sounds fascinating. I remember how eager many of us were to see My Fair Lady. The songs were familiar from television, and I knew the Broadway cast album from childhood. This is referenced in Driving Miss Daisy, when Patti LuPone has waited so long for tickets to the Broadway show that she doesn't want to go back to Atlanta because of Miss Daisy's illness.

No one today could believe how eager some people were to see Barbra Streisand on screen. I knew two girls who were so excited to see Barbra that they started crying when the theater curtains pulled back to show the movie title!

Did winning the Oscar for Oliver! end up hurting Carol Reed's reputation with the intelligentsia, the way that the Oscar win for A Beautiful Mind has hurt Ron Howard's reputation with some of the critics?

What is your next project? I love the idea of seeing how several directors faced the same kind of challenge. Thanks so much for visiting with us.

David

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lucky Vassall » April 18th, 2014, 7:08 pm

Thanks for all the info, Matthew. I had no idea the roadshow concept went back so far, although I certainly should have, having been an usher at the Roxy (briefly, the home of "Cinamiracle") in my misspent youth. Makes me all the more anxious to read your book.

Rivoli, of course. Not all that far from the Winbtergarden, which was the home of the Broadway show.

I knew the Wise/Chaplin connection to WWS, but was surprised by all the match-ups with Sound. Explains a lot about the success of both shows.

Surprised by your suggestion that the overwhelming success of Sound led to the copy-cat explosion that "done 'em in." Have to agree, though. That means, I guess, that House of Was should get the credit for killing off 3D before Hitch's Dial M for Murder could be released. Recently learned that Kiss Me Kate was also filmed in 3D. Should have guessed it from the number of things they throw at you in that film. Would like to see both films in 3D. Maybe the latest revival of the system will last long enough for me to get my wish.

There will now be a brief pause while everyone listens to: "and STEREEEEEE O PHONIC SOUND!"

Thanks, again, Matthew. Will be reading your further posts with great eagerness.
Matthew wrote:Hi Lucky,
Roadshows actually go back to the silent era, when live orchestras traveled with major films, i.e. "let's take this show on the road."

If there was a Golden Age of the roadshow, it would have been the '50s, when Hollywood was delivering reserve seat blockbusters like This is Cinerama, The Robe, Oklahoma!, Around the World in 80 Days, Ben-Hur, etc. West Side Story came along in 1961 and somewhat foreshadowed The Sound of Music. They were both directed by Robert Wise, produced by Saul Chaplin, written by Ernest Lehman, adapted from Broadway, and premiered at the Rivoli, the roadshow cinema place in New York for many years. And both had those spectacular openings! :)

Your memories of feeling a little taken by the higher ticket prices were shared by millions in the late '60s, dooming the roadshow. Was there one film responsible for the death of the roadshow? Would I be pelted with tomatoes for answering with The Sound of Music? Its phenomenal success incited so many would be hoped for copy cats that Hollywood was in a recession by 1969.
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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lzcutter » April 18th, 2014, 7:35 pm

Matthew,

Paint Your Wagon is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. There are parts of that film that I just love, especially Harve Pernell singing "Mariah".

Do you think the movie was hurt by straying so far away from the plot of the Broadway play?
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 18th, 2014, 8:16 pm

David,
I had the My Fair Lady movie LP, and memorized it when I was about 8. That's when my parents realized they had a very strange child! :lol: Thanks for the reference on Streisand's highly anticipated film debut - It has a "you had to be there" quality. Reed's reputation may have been damaged by the Oliver! Oscar in some circles. It may also have been seen as a valedictory for Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol, and The Third Man.

Ideas are bumping around, but I haven't settled on a topic for the next book. Suggestions welcome! :)

kingrat wrote:Matthew,

I must buy your book. This sounds fascinating. I remember how eager many of us were to see My Fair Lady. The songs were familiar from television, and I knew the Broadway cast album from childhood. This is referenced in Driving Miss Daisy, when Patti LuPone has waited so long for tickets to the Broadway show that she doesn't want to go back to Atlanta because of Miss Daisy's illness.

No one today could believe how eager some people were to see Barbra Streisand on screen. I knew two girls who were so excited to see Barbra that they started crying when the theater curtains pulled back to show the movie title!

Did winning the Oscar for Oliver! end up hurting Carol Reed's reputation with the intelligentsia, the way that the Oscar win for A Beautiful Mind has hurt Ron Howard's reputation with some of the critics?

What is your next project? I love the idea of seeing how several directors faced the same kind of challenge. Thanks so much for visiting with us.

David

Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 18th, 2014, 8:21 pm

Hollywood has a long standing habit of imitating success until audiences revolt. Who knows what would have happened to the film musical had The Sound of Music been a medium sized hit rather than a gargantuan one? Here's a tidbit - adjusted for inflation, Music is the third highest grossing film in history after Gone with the Wind and Star Wars.


Lucky Vassall wrote:Thanks for all the info, Matthew. I had no idea the roadshow concept went back so far, although I certainly should have, having been an usher at the Roxy (briefly, the home of "Cinamiracle") in my misspent youth. Makes me all the more anxious to read your book.

Rivoli, of course. Not all that far from the Winbtergarden, which was the home of the Broadway show.

I knew the Wise/Chaplin connection to WWS, but was surprised by all the match-ups with Sound. Explains a lot about the success of both shows.

Surprised by your suggestion that the overwhelming success of Sound led to the copy-cat explosion that "done 'em in." Have to agree, though. That means, I guess, that House of Was should get the credit for killing off 3D before Hitch's Dial M for Murder could be released. Recently learned that Kiss Me Kate was also filmed in 3D. Should have guessed it from the number of things they throw at you in that film. Would like to see both films in 3D. Maybe the latest revival of the system will last long enough for me to get my wish.

There will now be a brief pause while everyone listens to: "and STEREEEEEE O PHONIC SOUND!"

Thanks, again, Matthew. Will be reading your further posts with great eagerness.
Matthew wrote:Hi Lucky,
Roadshows actually go back to the silent era, when live orchestras traveled with major films, i.e. "let's take this show on the road."

If there was a Golden Age of the roadshow, it would have been the '50s, when Hollywood was delivering reserve seat blockbusters like This is Cinerama, The Robe, Oklahoma!, Around the World in 80 Days, Ben-Hur, etc. West Side Story came along in 1961 and somewhat foreshadowed The Sound of Music. They were both directed by Robert Wise, produced by Saul Chaplin, written by Ernest Lehman, adapted from Broadway, and premiered at the Rivoli, the roadshow cinema place in New York for many years. And both had those spectacular openings! :)

Your memories of feeling a little taken by the higher ticket prices were shared by millions in the late '60s, dooming the roadshow. Was there one film responsible for the death of the roadshow? Would I be pelted with tomatoes for answering with The Sound of Music? Its phenomenal success incited so many would be hoped for copy cats that Hollywood was in a recession by 1969.

Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 18th, 2014, 8:26 pm

Paramount tried hard to make a 20 year old stage musical relevant for the times by radically altering the story line until it's nearly unrecognizable. I've never seen it on the stage, but I've heard the original cast album, and the score and voices are sublime. It's a shame that none of the three movie leads were singers who could do their songs justice. The effectiveness of "Wand'rin' Star" feels like a happy fluke.

Lzcutter wrote:Matthew,

Paint Your Wagon is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. There are parts of that film that I just love, especially Harve Pernell singing "Mariah".

Do you think the movie was hurt by straying so far away from the plot of the Broadway play?

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lzcutter » April 19th, 2014, 12:15 am

Matthew,

I was wondering if you could talk a bit about Fred Astaire and Finian's Rainbow.

Compared to the studio musicals he was used to, I can imagine the production might have been fraught with problems and was wondering how Astaire dealt with that as well as a completely different work environment than the one he worked in for thirty years.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 19th, 2014, 9:25 am

I think it was a challenge for him to adapt to the working conditions of Finian's Rainbow. He hadn't made a big screen musical in 10 years, he was in his late sixties, and he was used to dancing on flat studio floors (or walls or ceilings - :wink: ), while much of Finian was filmed outdoors. His '30s choreographer Hermes Pan was fired during production, and his director, Francis Ford Coppola, had just one non-musical to his resume. He and Coppola apparently liked and respected each other, though they worked in entirely different worlds.

Sounds like the recipe for a flop, but Finian made a small profit at the box-office. Astaire, with his reputation for perfectionism, was disappointed in the results. We screened Finian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in February as a Roadshow! tie-in film series, and it went over quite well.

Lzcutter wrote:Matthew,

I was wondering if you could talk a bit about Fred Astaire and Finian's Rainbow.

Compared to the studio musicals he was used to, I can imagine the production might have been fraught with problems and was wondering how Astaire dealt with that as well as a completely different work environment than the one he worked in for thirty years.

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lzcutter » April 19th, 2014, 11:53 am

Matthew,

Thanks!

I have yet another question (imagine that!):

When the studios were trying to duplicate the success of Sound of Music with other roadshow musicals to decidedly mixed results, was there anyone who spoke up against continuing to make such extravagant musicals that weren't doing well at the box office or clicking with audiences?

Also, hoping you can talk a bit about the changing social and cultural tastes in the country that was happening at the same time.

Thanks again!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lucky Vassall » April 19th, 2014, 1:33 pm

Hi, again, Matthew,

Your mention of your discovery of Arthur Jacobs files on Goodbye, Mr. Chips, led me to wonder, was this a very rare case of completeness or are detailed files frequently available if searched out? In either case, such files when they exist seem to me to hold promise for interesting books. I remember, many, many years ago, reading the David O. Selznick Memos and becoming thoroughly involved. The same thing happened to me when I read the Letters of Francois Truffaut.

Also, your mention of the exercise of "star privilege" in certain specific cases (bet there are a good deal more names you could mention) makes me wonder if you have any other "backstage gossip" you could share with us. Unless, of course, you're saving it for that NEXT BOOK!

Lucky
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Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby ChiO » April 19th, 2014, 4:17 pm

LZCutter anticipated my question in part: What, if any role, did movies such as Monterrey Pop, Woodstock and Easy Rider (rock documentaries and rock songs as soundtracks) play in the demise of the Big Musical? Cause, result, or just the point in time when one thing was bound to replace another?
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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 19th, 2014, 4:32 pm

I didn't find a lot of naysayers in the years immediately following Music. No doubt there was anxiety in the industry when Dolittle and Camelot both came out in late '67 and performed below expectations. There were doubts at Fox voiced by producers David Brown and Saul Chaplin, but it wasn't until 1969, when Star! lost oceans of money, that anyone started being more outspoken about big musicals' non-viability. Hello, Dolly! came out in late 1969, and by then there were no more mega-musicals in the pipeline. Dolly! was a thing of the past before it even opened.

As for changing tastes, it all happened so fast. Popular music, literature, art, and movies all responded to a society reeling from assassinations, campus and urban riots, the generation gap, and Vietnam. There were charged emotions everywhere for what was going on, but roadshow musicals would have none of it, and waltzed right into extinction.

Lzcutter wrote:Matthew,

Thanks!

I have yet another question (imagine that!):

When the studios were trying to duplicate the success of Sound of Music with other roadshow musicals to decidedly mixed results, was there anyone who spoke up against continuing to make such extravagant musicals that weren't doing well at the box office or clicking with audiences?

Also, hoping you can talk a bit about the changing social and cultural tastes in the country that was happening at the same time.

Thanks again!

Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 19th, 2014, 4:41 pm

Hi Lucky,
I was able to find production files for most of the big roadshow musicals, thanks to the Warner Bros. Archive at USC, the Fox files at UCLA, and the UA files at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. They're like gold to a film historian! The Jacobs files (Dolittle and Chips) felt unusually complete - and came in many, many boxes! Such collections do hold promise for interesting books, but first one must set aside lots of time to sift through the letters, memos, call sheets, production notes, script drafts, press releases, etc. etc.

I don't have much more gossip to share than what's in Roadshow! - honest! :)

Lucky Vassall wrote:Hi, again, Matthew,

Your mention of your discovery of Arthur Jacobs files on Goodbye, Mr. Chips, led me to wonder, was this a very rare case of completeness or are detailed files frequently available if searched out? In either case, such files when they exist seem to me to hold promise for interesting books. I remember, many, many years ago, reading the David O. Selznick Memos and becoming thoroughly involved. The same thing happened to me when I read the Letters of Francois Truffaut.

Also, your mention of the exercise of "star privilege" in certain specific cases (bet there are a good deal more names you could mention) makes me wonder if you have any other "backstage gossip" you could share with us. Unless, of course, you're saving it for that NEXT BOOK!

Lucky

Matthew

Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Matthew » April 19th, 2014, 4:54 pm

I think most of the studio heads that produced the big musicals were deaf to and/or in denial of changes taking place even since The Sound of Music. Jack Warner and Darryl Zanuck were still in charge, and they weren't exactly hip. Paramount went after the youth market, but the decision-makers were upwards of 60 years old. Easy Rider became the prototype for low budget youth appeal, and its wide popularity took everybody by surprise. I suppose it, Woodstock, etc. did contribute to the downfall of the Big Musicals, since in them audiences saw what musicals films could be if they were in tune with the times.

ChiO wrote:LZCutter anticipated my question in part: What, if any role, did movies such as Monterrey Pop, Woodstock and Easy Rider (rock documentaries and rock songs as soundtracks) play in the demise of the Big Musical? Cause, result, or just the point in time when one thing was bound to replace another?

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Re: Welcome to Matthew Kennedy, Our Guest Author April 18-21

Postby Lzcutter » April 20th, 2014, 1:02 pm

Matthew,

Happy Easter!

I was wondering how big a gamble it was, in light of the number of big musicals that had failed up to that point, for Bob Fosse to bring Cabaret to the big screen?

Did he encounter any problems with "the suits" in making the musical or did they leave him alone and let him make the film the way he wanted to?
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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