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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Chuck Pennington, Aug 25, 2014.
Ultimately, Mr. Warner and Mr. Disney both got the fair ladies they wanted.
The Academy Awards for that year have to be one of the biggest high profile collision situations I could imagine.
I don't mean that there was any enmity at all.
I mean that you're putting both My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins up against each other in the same year and telling the voters: "Choose!"
Oh, and as a side choice you can look at Dr. Strangelove or Beckett.
When I see this kind of talent being stacked up against each other in the same category, I usually just yell "Car Crash!" and throw up my hands.
One could look at the one I'd vote for, Zorba the Greek.
It's funny to me, but I read a lot about how people don't like Marni doing Natalie - but during the film's initial release people loved everything about the film including the dubbing. No one made a thing out of it and no one sat there scratching their head because, in fact, Miss Nixon did a perfect job and it's very believable. It's only in the last couple of decades that suddenly people are saying they don't like the dubbing and not only that, the don't like Miss Wood at all. Well, I saw the film every week for heaven knows how many weeks during its original run at the Chinese and everyone loved Natalie Wood in it. And I will defend her from all who NOW say she is not good. I really believe a lot of that comes from people having read Arthur Laurents and Sondheim - I think before they piped up that I hadn't read anything negative about Miss Wood.
"Natalie Wood is full of luster and charm as the nubile Puerto Rican who is poignantly drawn to him." Crowther, NY Times
"Natalie Wood offers an entrancing performance as the Puerto Rican who falls in love with Richard Beymer, forbidden by strict neighborhood ban against group intermingling, and latter impresses with his singing." Variety (obviously the dubbing of Beymer fooled this critic)
Of course, Pauline Kael hated every second of the film, so there's that. But back then the general consensus with audiences and critics was that Miss Wood was lovely and entrancing in the part - and she bloody well is. In fact, I can think of no other actress of the day who would have been anywhere near as good as her.
And then there's the overriding difference in 50 years regarding how many of cinema's secrets have been either exposed, or the general understanding now re technical issues.
Nope, I just think she's a very limited actress. I've never believed her in ANY movie (except a few moments in Miracle on 34th Street). Of course she's perfectly lovely, and I get the sense (often, not always) that she's trying hard, but she never, ever convinces me. (In this way, her acting reminds me of Madonna's. The guard is always up, though at least early Madonna had some lowdown chutzpah in her acting.)
YMMV, of course; it's hard to think of anything more subjective than how humans respond to other human faces on the big screen. But I came to this conclusion all by my lonesome, Laurents, Sondheim, and Kael notwithstanding. And as for "everyone" liking her in the past, well, I'm sure they did, just as millions now adore the latest attractive mediocrities. Plus ca change, and all that.
I think Natalie Wood was an excellent actress, and if it's true that there's more negative reaction to her Maria in WSS now than there was when the film came out, I think it's mostly for two reasons. Wood wasn't Puerto Rican or any other type of Latina, and nowadays it's not P.C. to accept her casting for that reason -- even though that's a silly objection because, of course, there were extremely few Latino stars and, for that matter, relatively very few Latino performers in the film industry at all at that time. Also, while dubbed singing was commonplace back in the day, and people rarely made an issue of it, the practice has apparently become unacceptable since the CHICAGO film.
At least Marni Nixon didn't need AutoTune, unlike some whose names I will not drop so as not to take all the glee out of this thread.
It can be done, and you did it for the laserdisc and that was before digital editing.much has advanced since then. I've made poor singers sound fine in the recording studio after they left for the day. Audrey can not hit every high note but some more of her voice could be used as an alternate track for those who want a truer experience (Marni's voice seems wrong coming out of Hepburn's mouth)
There are crude examples of her singing the score on the web and yes she would need help but much more of her voice could be used and it can be done - she will never sound like Marni nixon or Julie Andrews, but then again she shouldn't. A creative engineer could combine her voice with some of Marni's and come up with an decent performance. Digital tricks didn't exist in 1963 or else some would have been used, like they were used in the film of "Chicago" THe dubbing has always been a sore aspect of the film.
Those who don't want to listen don't have to, it's just an option
Count me among those who thought Natalie was fine in West Side Story. And I thought she was even better in Gypsy. In fact, I thought she was the ONLY good thing in that miserable film adaptation.
Oh, nobody remembers Pauline Kael but people are still watching West Side Story. So there's that. Meanwhile, they're restoring her movie and Audrey has something to smile about:
Love Natalie in everything I've ever seen her in. She breaks my heart in "Inside Daisy Clover".
Well, obviously some folks don't care for her. I've loved her in everything. But I'm not sure how anyone can watch Splendor in the Grass or Daisy Clover and not find her a good actress. But everyone's different. I find her performance in West Side Story to be perfect and she carries the dubbing off without a hitch. There were many people back then who, as Mr. Harris says, never questioned whether she was singing or not, just as they never questioned whether Deborah Kerr was singing or whether Richard Beymer was singing or Russ Tamblyn was singing. And even though we actually credited Annette O'Toole in The First Nudie Musical with an on-screen credit at the end, People Magazine called me and wanted to do a feature on Leslie Ackerman because they thought she was not only a terrific actress, but an amazing singer. They bought it hook, line, and sinker because Leslie made them believe it. It was better back then, before DVD extras and the Internet basically took all the magic out of the movies.
When dubbing is done right the audience should be unaware it's not the actors voice. The singer doesn't have to have a pretty voice but must be able to fool the audience. Mark Lester's voice was dubbed in "Oliver" as was Peter O'Toole in "Man of La Mancha" and the audience thought they were singing themseleves (Even Roger Ebert who commented on O'Toole's singing in his review of "Man of La Mancha")
Jeremy Brett in "My Fair Lady" "Rita Moreno in "West Side Story" all fooled the audience. Chris Plummer and Peggy Wood in "The Sound of Music". Antia Gordon sang for Jean Seaberg in "Paint Your Wagon" and Franco Nero was dubbed in "Camelot"- for years writers assumed they did their own singing. The only singer in "South Pacific" was Mitz Gaynor all others were dubbed - but only one singer got screen credit. Most film musicals have some dubbing.
Audrey in "My Fair Lady" is one of the cases were it's pretty obvious she's not singing (though Nixon has a great voice) and the illusion is broken, and the voice doesn't really match the actress. Two audio tracks would be welcome but it would take someone with musical and voice training to fix Audrey's voice. Mr Harris is an Ace when it comes to film restoration, maybe the "Best in the Business", but he most likely doesn't have the musical background /training needed to perfect a Hepburn track (as he proved on the laserdisc - the breathing is all off and notes were just pasted together to match the mouth movements). The raw tracks are much better as some have pointed out. A little imagination and someone with musical training could pull it off. Don't knock it till you've heard the results, you may be pleasantly surprised.
link to Audrey singing (with digital tweeking and help from Marni Nixon the sound could be better)
Please don't get me wrong, Audrey should have been dubbed in the film and should remain dubbed in the film. I'm just suggesting an alternative option/supplement for home video (and better than what's already be presented)
RAH, your post from the 29th regarding Audrey Hepburn's audio tracks was succinct and enlightening. I saw the songs with her own tracks on both the laserdisc and dvd sets and thought 'what's wrong with these people, are they mad? She's great!' -- until I read your post and it put it all back into perspective.
If there is a 50th anniversary set (in will be in the stores along with "The Alamo" I'll bet), I hope the producers have the good sense to include the details behind these tracks and to have you state pretty much what you had in that earlier post -- I think for the sake of film history it has to be put forward very clearly one last time -- that everybody tried everything and didn't quite make it -- and that full tracks didn't survive as they were not completed.
Clearly the only movie from that Class of '64 of any real importance was Dr Strangelove. I tried to watch Becket recently (the BBC ran a lovely transfer) and it took me three days to get past the two-hour mark. Then I gave up.
One of the most surprising dub jobs is Juanita Hall in "South Pacific". Hall had originated the role of Bloody Mary on Broadway, but her voice had apparently diminished by the time the film rolled around, some ten years later. Ms Hall's singing was supplied by Muriel Smith, who'd played the role in the original London company. Hall's singing was left untouched, however, in the film version of "Flower Drum Song".
Up to a few years ago I always thought it was Natalie Wood's voice singing The Sweetheart Tree in The Great Race (& I sort of wish I still did), whoever sung it did it really well, it sounded so much like Ms Wood. The Blu-ray in a couple of weeks!
And the popular singers dubbed in Carmen Jones. And the people who dubbed for Rita Hayworth. Lucille Ball in an MGM musical, Dubarry was a Lady but you do hear her voice in a few words at the finale, after the dubbing voice has had her go as Lucille! Or there was a Metro film around 1930 where a black contingent of dancers and chorus are performing and clearly Ukelele Ike(who worked there then) is clearly heard in that chorus.
Everythng you could ever hope to know about who did what instead of whom.