Sunday, August 28, 2011

Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)

Period pieces can be a funny thing when they're from a different period themselves. I didn't realize until about halfway through this one that it begins in 1915. I was clued in after World War I broke out and one of the characters went to fight (well, play in the army band) in Europe.

The story starts simple enough here that I really wasn't expecting much. An up-and-coming band and new-to-town female singer are forced to work together when a club owner insists they are a package deal or no one gets the job. The initial bitter sparks fly, but it then evolves into a more nuanced love triangle between the girl, the band director, and his right-hand man (well, slightly more nuanced - it is still from the 30's). All three have to juggle loyalty, love, and their own personal ambitions.

The band leader is played by Tyrone Power, a very big star at the time who isn't as well known today. His best friend is played by Don Ameche, Oscar winner decades later for Cocoon, and maybe best known (to me at least) as Mortimer Duke from Trading Places.

Overall a pretty good show. The musical numbers don't overstay their welcome and, more often than not, continue to serve the story.

62 to go...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Star is Born (1937)

This is the original version of the movie that has been twice remade in the U.S. with another on the way. The story is a cliche now and has been used even by stories that aren't exactly this one: starry-eyed girl moves to Hollywood, becomes a big star, and learns about life and love. The paparazzi were also apparently just as infuriating then as they are now.

I enjoyed this one primarily because it's innocence seems to fit that of the era in Hollywood (the Production Code was just a few years old). The writers won an Oscar for original story and it also earned an honorary Oscar for basically what sounds like being the first really good movie filmed in color.

63 to go...