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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Wonderland Burlesque's Let's All Go To The Movies - Summer Edition, Part II : Classic Summer

Wonderland Burlesque's
Let's All Go To The Movies
Summer Edition, Part II
Classic Summer

Music, laughs, drama, and sex appeal can be found in abundance in today's Let's All Go To The Movies.

Bringing a bit of cinematic class to the season, these films are a mixed lot utilizing summer as their backdrops or inspiration. 

Classic films all, they each have a story to tell and a claim to fame. 

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Summer Holiday

(A musical based on Eugene O'Neill's play Ah, Wilderness!, it was filmed in 1946 and sat on the shelf for two years.)

(Frank Morgan - The Wizard Of Oz - plays the drunken uncle and Agnes Moorehead appears as Cousin Lily.)

"You'll laugh, you'll sing! You'll have the time of your life!"

(Director Rouben Mamoulian wanted to create a different kind of musical. so he gave the songwriters very specific instructions on how to incorporate spoken word within musical montages. It was a total box office failure, but is now considered a minor classic because of Mamoulian's innovative approach.)

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Summer Stock

(The original "I have a barn we could use..." musical and another one featuring Gloria De Haven.) 

(Following the debacle of Annie Get Your Gun, Garland's subsequent suspension from the studio and a three month hospital stint, it was announced that she and Gene Kelly would team up for Summer Stock. However, MGM changed its mind and, at one point, announced that June Alyson would replace Garland, who was still struggling with psychological, weight, addiction, and health issues.)

"New joy from that girl and boy!"

(Garland's behavior proved erratic throughout the shoot. Entire musical numbers had to be reconfigured because she would simply not show up on the set. It got so bad, at one point the producer asked to be let go. The highlight of the film, Get Happy, featuring a newly slimmed Garland, was filmed three months after the rest of the film had wrapped.)

"MGM brings on the show with music, dancing... Technicolor!"

(Garland was not the only casting issue. Busby Berkley was originally slated to direct with Mickey Rooney in the role Kelly would later assume. But both Rooney's and Berkley's stars had started to dim and they were replaced. Kelly and Director Walter Charles signed on as a favor to Garland, who needed a career comeback.)

(Tales of Garland's struggles during the filming of Summer Stock are rather legendary. It would end up being her final film for MGM, as well as her last film with Gene Kelly. Following this film, she was drafted to replace a pregnant June Alyson in Royal Wedding, opposite Fred Astaire. But her performance was lackluster and, due to frequent absences, she was fired. Louis B. Mayer then terminated Garland's contract with the studio in September of 1950, something he later said he very much regretted doing.)

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Summer With Monika
"Adult love at a tender age!"

(The frank nudity exhibited in this film made an international star of Harriet Andersson and helped seal Sweden's reputation as a sexually-liberated country.) 

(Bergman was romantically involved with Andersson at the time the film was being made. It was conceived as a vehicle to help establish her career. Even after the two were no longer a couple, they continued to work with one another on a number of films.) 

"Everybody's talking about Monika!!"
"The story of a bad girl! Filmed in Sweden."
"So daring we recommend a babysitter!"
"Men wilt under the touch of her lips."
"You'll flip!"

(In 1955, exploitation king, Kroger Babb purchased the US rights to the film. He promptly cut it down to 62 minutes, renamed it, and began a marketing campaign which focused solely on the nudity. Simultaneously, Janus Films would also buy rights to the film, restoring it to its original length and marketing it to the art-theatre crowd.) 

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Smiles Of A Summer Night
"A sexy frolic about the sport of love."
"Starring Sweden's most beautiful women."

(Another from Ingmar Bergman. This lovely farce of manners, social decorum and illicit romantic trysts would serve as the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim's amazing musical A Little Night Music, which opened on Broadway in 1973, and Woody Allen's 1982 film A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.)

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The Long, Hot Summer
"It was a lazy, languid day with the girls in their summer dresses - and then the stranger came to town - and nothing was ever the same again."
(Adapted from three works by William Faulkner and heavily influenced by the work of Tennessee Williams, this film marked the return of blacklisted director Martin Ritt. Most of the cast is made up of students from Elia Kazan's famed Actors Studio, while Paul Newman was on loan from Warner Bros.)

"In the language of Faulkner... the frankness of Faulkner."

(Throughout the filming, Ritt would bump heads with the notoriously difficult Orson Welles over line interpretation, costumes and blocking. At one point, Welles refused to memorize his lines, insisting that the be dubbed at a later date. Their disagreements became gossip fodder. Welles character is based on 'Big Daddy' from William's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. He only agreed to appear in the film because he owed the IRS $150K. He later said, "I hated making Long Hot Summer. I've seldom been as unhappy in a picture." Welles, later, wrote a letter to Ritt apologizing for his behavior on set.)

"The people of Faulkner, the language of Faulkner, the world of Faulkner."

(During filming, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were wed.)

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A Summer Place
"That night passions flared at..."

(Based on Sloan Wilson's torrid, best-selling 1958 novel of the same name, the film version, starring Sandra Dee, Troy Donahue, Dorothy McGuire, Richard Egan and Arthur Kennedy and featuring Constance Ford and Beulah Bondi, proved quite popular, earning itself a place in the American vernacular.)

"The inn... the guests... the sensations..."

(The New York Times deemed it "one of the most laboriously and garishly sex-scented movies in years" with "Max Steiner's music hammering away at each sexual nuance like a pile driver.")

"This is the place where a boy and girl discover desire. Where adult emotions violently explode. Where the inn, the guests, and the sensations of the great best-seller come to bold life."
"Have you made love like this to any other girls before, Johnny?"
"Does your husband know about you and me?"
"Don't lie, you little tramp! You were out all night!"
"She makes me ashamed of my body. Does she even make me ashamed of my dreams?"

"What you see in A Summer Place you haven't seen before... What you hear in A Summer Place you haven't seen before... This is bold reality!"

(The film's secondary theme song, an instrumental composed by Max Steiner, recorded by Percy Faith, would end up spending nine weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1960.)

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Summer Of The Seventh Doll
AKA: Season Of Passion
"Two men, two women, and two loves."

(Based on the innovative Australian play by Ray Lawler of the same name. The play is considered 'the most historically significant in Australian theatre history, openly and authentically portraying distinctly Australian life and characters.')

"That was her great longing..."
"For sixteen summers the met and loved... then came the heat... and the storm of the..."

(Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth, along with James Cagney and Rod Taylor were originally tied to the picture. However, after the play flopped on Broadway, the studio's enthusiasm for the film dimmed considerably. The budget was hacked, as were planned film sequences. A new cast and director were brought on. John Mills wanted to bail, but was convinced to stay.)

"This was what she wanted... to be cradled in his big strong arms... to hear him tell her that what they had done was right... that they could go on this way... summer after summer after summer!"
"The blistering international stage success is even more exciting on the screen!"

(The film was not well-received, particularly by fans of the original play, who felt it had been Americanized, losing the original message of the play. Changing the locale from Melbourne to Sydney resulted in losing the blue collar authenticity present in the play. Also, a tacked on happy ending and a wrestling match seemed ill-fitted and superfluous.)

(The film was wrapped up in February of 1959, however, it would not appear stateside until 1962!)

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Summer And Smoke
"In the heat of summer... the smoke of desire..."
"Why do some women turn a beautiful thing into something no better than the mating of beasts?"
"The young one! The wild one! The restless one!"

(Based on the Tennessee William's play. Most critics considered Laurence Harvey as miscast, but Geraldine Page's performance received universal accolades, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.) 

"What had the other women done with him... the young one, the wild one? Could she be as fearless as her love?"

(Una Merkel was also singled out by the Academy. She was nominated for as a Best Supporting Actress. The film marks the debut of Pamela Tiffin.) 

(The film's score is by Elmer Bernstein.) 

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Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams
"Beautiful. Frigid She is called a Snow Queen."

(The story of a discontented woman unravelling, as she rethinks her relationships with her mother, her husband and her children, one of whom is a closeted homosexual.)

(The film would garner Academy Award nominations for Woodward as Best Actress and Sylvia Sidney as Best Supporting Actress.)

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Five Days One Summer
"An obsession, a love, a memory."

Based on a short story, this romantic drama would prove to be renowned director High Noon, From Here To Eternity, A Man For All Season's, Julia - Fred Zinnemann's final film before his death. 

(Sadly, it was a critical and box office failure.)

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And that's all for now.

Tune in next week...

Same time, same channel.

Long Summer Nights - Night


whkattk said...

A great list this week! Summer Stock has always been my favorite Garland film.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

OMG Upton!
I love the tea you spill with these movies! And who would have thought Bergman would make that movie? I had him pegged as super intellectual and dark. The more you know..
So sad to read about Garland. She was a tortured soul. And Gene Kelly and Paul Newman? Shit! Were those men HOT!
I've watched Paul Newman movies just because he was in them.