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Marni Nixon - Stories from a Legend

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Chuck Pennington, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    I was fortunate to have met and worked on a project with Marni Nixon just a few months ago at Symphony Space in New York. I created three videos for the event, but I also recorded the audio and took a few pictures and videos.

    Now with her passing, I thought some of her fans here might enjoy me sharing some of the material from this event.

    https://lifefullofcheese.com/2016/07/26/marni-nixon-at-symphony-space-april-10-2016/
     
  2. Message #2 of 30 Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
    Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Sorry to hear this news. I have resented that her voice replaced those of so many actors whose singing was a tad insufficient but by no means terrible (Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY, Audrey Hepburn in MY FAIR LADY, etc.), but that wasn't her fault, and she did a nice job replacing them. RIP.
     
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  3. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    That was great. Very enjoyable, thank you for sharing.
     
  4. B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Cinematographer

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    Thank you for posting this ... I understand Robert Wise specifically asked to have her APPEAR in TSOM after her contributions to WSS were not acknowledged
     
  5. GlennF

    GlennF Second Unit
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    Enjoyed listening to this. And just to set the cat among the pigeons, I couldn't help but notice the sequence from THE KING AND I looks like I remember it and not the way the Blu-ray does. (Oh no! He isn't starting that again!)
     
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  6. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    That's because I didn't use the master that it on the Blu-ray.
     
  7. Message #7 of 30 Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
    B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Cinematographer

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    She did get at least one LP recording credit
    [​IMG]

    I used to play the cut at 9:23 over & over when I was a child
    I'm sure she is singing with the Angels now ...RIP Marni
     
  8. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Marni Nixon and Bill Lee, two of the most famous of all the Hollywood ghost doubles, recorded a children's album of Mary Poppins songs (both got cover billing) which was released concurrently with the Julie Andrews-Dick Van Dyke soundtrack album. The soundtrack won the Grammy that year for Best Children's Recording, but it seems to me the Nixon-Lee album got nominated for something.
     
  9. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    And between that album and her vocal work in the movie proper, her dubbing of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, and her presence as Sister Sophia* in The Sound of Music made her one of the few people who was actually in all three films.

    *Of course, her son Andrew Gold's song "Thank You For Being A Friend" later became the theme from The Golden Girls where it was used for a different Sophia, one whose career as a nun didn't last quite as long, and one who also outlived a child (Dorothy's brother Phil died in a 1990 episode; Gold died in 2011, and I assume he got a check every time it aired which would make up for him not actually getting credited on the show until 1990, but I digress).
     
  10. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn were more than just a tad deficient, singing-wise. It would have been a disaster for them to have sung their roles. It would have been like Paint Your Wagon all over again. Once actresses were chosen who didn't have the pipes for their parts, they had to go the dubbing route.

    Don''t resent Marni doing the singing, resent the powers that be that chose non-singers. Particularly when Julie Andrews was available for MFL.

    I have great respect for Audrey and Natalie but they weren't singers.

    RIP Marni.
     
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  11. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Yet in the aftermath, Hollywood chose to hire more non-singers for subsequent musicals and let them go undubbed. 10 years later, the big Warner Bros. musical du jour was Mame, where Lucy did her own singing, arguing they couldn't match anyone else's singing voice to hers.
     
  12. B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Cinematographer

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    Based on the vocals that were provided on the DVD (& on the Bluray reissue) of MFL I think by today's standard's Audrey's voice would have been fine. Unless I'm mistaken, when she had Breakfast at Tiffanys ;) she sang Moon River with no particular problems other than inadequate breath support.



    The issue of the day was that a flower girl with a strong throaty Cockney dialect was suddenly expected to be a coloratura Soprano - whether it fit the part or not. (I know that's basically how Julie Andrews sang it. But there is reason that that type of singing would be expected on Broadway: Before microphones it would be more difficult to hear for a diaphramatically unsuppported voice) http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?section=articles&doc=EffectiveAndProperBreathingForSinging

    Ms Nixon's talents were used because her clearly supported voice was the expectation of the audience of a singing voice at the time. This is not to diminish either performer ...
     
  13. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    The audio commentary on Breakfast at Tiffany's also says they considered using Marni Nixon to sing "Moon River," so they heard some similarities between the two of them.
     
  14. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    It's my recollection that Mame was a bomb, I might be wrong, but that's my recollection. I'm also not familiar with the songs in Mame, so I won't comment on whether Lucy was up to the job.

    I do disagree with the idea that songs like Tonight, I Feel Pretty, A Place for Us (?), Wouldn't It Be Loverly, I Could Have Danced All Night, Show Me, could have been sung successfully by the thin voices of Audrey or Natalie. It would have been disaster.

    There are places for the non-traditional voice. My Fair Lady and Rex Harrison, The Music Man and Robert Preston. They let non-singers replace Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet and used their totally inadequate voices. IMHO Camelot was a disaster and illustrates what would have happened if Natalie and Audrey had sung their parts.
     
  15. Matt Hough

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    They hired a dubber for Franco Nero in Camelot - Gene Merlino. His singing was more than adequate, but it didn't have the rapturous expansiveness of Robert Goulet's baritone.
     
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  16. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I'd have rather have had Audrey Hepburn as Guinevere—with or without Marni—than that Redgrave woman. There they actually offered it to Julie Andrews but she didn't want to work with Richard Harris again after Hawaii, and IIRC Richard Burton wouldn't do it unless Liz did it with him.

    And I'd also take a dubbed actor over an autotuned one. At least the dubbed voice is coming from someone who can hit the right notes without a computer.

    Meanwhile, Disney dubbed very few of its musical actors, even the non-singers, until Eisner came around.
     
  17. Message #17 of 30 Aug 1, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
    Garysb

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    Most interesting is the difference in how the voice ghosts sound dubbing different characters especially Marni Nixon, Bill Lee, and Betty Wand. I believe the 'Sound of Music" children rather than their singing voices being replaced, there were additional voices used. Some of the voices are so close to what the actors sound like I would not know they were replaced by ghosts such as Barbara Stanwyck singing Drum Boogie in Ball of Fire
     
  18. Chelsearicky

    Chelsearicky Stunt Coordinator

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    Just catching up to this thread now......I was a teenager during the initial theatrical release of WSS, and I (as well a as everyone else in metro NYC) was aware of Marni Nixon's dubbing this film. In fact, her participation was mentioned in the NY Times review of the film. I never remember this being a 'secret'. If that had been UA's intent, their cover was blown long before the film premiered.
     
  19. John Maher_289910

    John Maher_289910 Supporting Actor

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    I don't recall Nixon's name being mentioned in any review of WSS, although it was fairly well-known that people in it were dubbed. MY FAIR LADY, on the other hand, was completely different. However, that had more to do with Julie Andrews being overlooked for a role that she was so identified with, than anything else. Up to that point, most people just didn't care if someone was dubbed. In the case of MFL, Julie Andrews was well known, in the United States and the UK, and the cast album of MFL was the biggest selling record album (any genre) in history. Everyone, whether or not they saw the show, knew that Julie Andrews was Eliza, and were shocked to hear she wouldn't be in it.
     
  20. Eric Vedowski

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    The review of WSS by Bosley Crowther in the NYTimes (10/19/61) doesn't mention Nixon by name- "Although the singing voices are, for the most part, dubbed by unspecified vocal performers, the device is not noticeable and detracts not one whit from the beauty and eloquence of the songs." However on 2/6/62 the Times had the story "Plea for Credits by 'Ghost Singers' - Marni Nixon of Film Musicals Condemns Concealment" which notes that Nixon had "won an important victory" by "gaining the right to royalties" on the WSS album. No other voice ghosts are mentioned by name in the story.
     

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