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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 25, 2012.
To further muddy the waters on this, is the 1972 movie "Cabaret" a musical?
Yes... CABARET is most definitely a musical and indeed was a Broadway show before being transferred to film (albeit with some significant changes).
LOL. A very good point, as they did drop the book songs for the film. There are some muddy hybrids (Garland's A Star Is Born being another). But logically, if the definition of a musical is having someone perform a song on film (even as a performer to an audience) then the question of "Que Sera Sera" being out of place in the film becomes moot. By that very definition, The Man Who Knew Too Much becomes a musical by having someone merely perform a song in the film. As does Casablanca, To Sir With Love, Dark City, Cat Ballou, Back To the Future, The Pink Panther, The Poseidon Adventure and any number of other films both comedic or dramatic that feature people performing songs onscreen. That's not my definition of a musical, but if that's what others think makes a musical, who am I to argue?
And with the exception of Casablanca, none of those films' songs are germane to their plots at all, unlike TMWKTM, yet I've never heard anyone complain about liking them "except for that musical number which was so out of place."
Interestingly, Hitchcock's approach to Que Sera Sera in TMWKTM defied a certain convention found in many otherwise non-musical Hollywood movies that happen to feature a character singing a song; no orchestra accompaniment creeps into the sequence where she and her son sing it in the hotel room. How many times previously did we get movies where a character sings a lullabye or a love song to another character and suddenly the orchestra accompaniment creeps in out of nowhere? Not in TMWKTM. In fact, that convention had become so widely accepted by the time TMWKTM was released I wonder if some audience members felt uncomfortable about the absence of it in that hotel room sequence and in some weird way accounts for their immediate resistance to it, as though this more appropriately private sing-along moment had occurred in public at the table next to yours.
So by the absence of that convention, Hitchcock is, I believe, adamantly arguing against this sequence or this movie that is so dependent on music (and not just songs sung by Doris Day) being taken as anything like the conventional "musical theater" musical you were talking about, not even a Cabaret or music biography version of one.
I agree 100%. I don't find anything "musical" (in the genre definition of the word) about either appearance of the song in the film. But the bottom line is a lot of people have issues with the song and its appearance in the film, for whatever reason, and they have every right. I'm not one of them, thank goodness, so I can enjoy the film completely.
I think when Paramount dictated a song or two he absolutely made certain it would be essential to the plot and not just pause the action. Much like he did in Rear Window with the song, "Lisa." That song is played as much if not more in RW than "Que Sera Sera" is in TMWKTM. But it's not there just to get a Best Song nomination. It serves a plot point:
stopping Miss Lonelyhearts momentarily from taking the pills, and more importantly, stopping Lisa from escaping Thorwald's apartment in time before he returns, resulting in him attacking her. And of course, it brings resolution to the MIss Lonelyhearts storyline at the end of the film.
This is what made Hitchcock one of the greatest filmmakers of all time; he could have just plopped a song in the middle of the movie like so many other directors did because it was the convention or because they were pressured to do so by the studio. Instead, whatever the convention or studio pressures were, Hitchcock insisted on using the song, integrating it into the plot and theme, turning it into another cinematic tool rather than merely adding it his movie because he could (or, under studio pressure, because he should).
He did the same with sound, of course, Under pressure from the studio and demands from audiences to make sound movies...because sound was technically available...he didn't just add sound to his first sound film. He used sound to enhance the subjective nature of his cinematic approach, even to the point of, quite courageously really, producing what one could only describe as a degradation of the quality of the innovation by deliberately muddying all but the word "KNIFE" uttered by a character in order to replicate the mental state of his heroine. Astonishing. Meanwhile, every other director in the world was turning potted plants, furniture and even other actors into microphone stands just to make sure every-single-word-was-heard-so-loud-and-clear. They were only adding the technology of sound. Hitchcock was already using the technology of sound.
And so that's what Hitchcock did about the convention or in response to the pressure to include a song in his movies. Your example of Lisa in REAR WINDOW is it exactly. He didn't hit a home run every time in this regard. But he was probably the Hollywood studio director who understood best and most thoroughly accepted his job to bow to the marketing and profit demands of his employer (and to himself when he was the producer) while doing so as much as possible in service to the art and craft of cinema.
Yeah, that's ir for me. I'm not saying the song makes the film a musical, just that to me it feels like a song in a musical, and as such feels jarring and out of place.
Bottom line, had they had another actress in the role, not famous for singing, I doubt there'd have been a song in there. It feels like it's there to showcase DD.
That's exactly how I feel. I don't have a problem with DD singing at the Embassy (even though I don't like the song) because she is specifically asked to perform for the guests and it acts as a major plot point but in the hotel she begins singing for no reason at all and it seems completely wrong - to me. It adds nothing to the plot and was obviously put in to showcase DD and the song.
Parents sometimes sing with their kids, just because it's fun. As a plot point, the songs says we don't know what's coming ahead in life, which is in part what the film is about too. The song shows how close a bond the mother shares with the son in just a couple of minutes, so that when they are separated we know what's at stake. Hitchcock almost never used songs in his movies. But he did it here perfectly, and to great effect, imho. Doing it early in the movie brings things full circle when we hear the song "wrong" in the end.
Doris Day used for her singing as well as acting talents? Yes, of course, that's why you hire them. Just as Bumstead is used for his impressive production design skills, Edith Head for costume design, Bernard Herrmann for music, etc. Of course, everyone gets to make up their own minds about this, but Hitchcock did this very carefully, and I think he knew what he was doing.
Doesn't the little boy start singing it and then the mother join in? I thought it was introduced very intrinsically into the plot. It didn't seem shoehorned in at all to me.
BTW, I watched the Blu-ray of this last night. (I have the UK set.) Though I could certainly see some of the color shifting, to me it wasn't nearly as disconcerting as it is in, say, the DVD of Can-Can where it almost makes you seasick. For me, I'd say about 85% of the movie looked very good and was an acceptable upgrade to the DVD I had. I was not dissatisfied.
On to Vertigo.
Very different problems. One is based upon overall fading, the other on chemical damage from poorly produced "B" roll.