Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Wonder Bar
|12.10.05||Alamo Downtown||This Screening is part of event: Butt-Numb-A-Thon 7|
Fake: Top Hat
Back in the theater, Harry introduced the next film as 1933s Footlight Parade, which is his favorite musical (I think he said that) and a nice way to stay in '30s-era New York (rebuilt after Kong's escapades of course). He mentioned how James Cagney is best known for his gangster roles (probably because he was so freakin good in them) but he was also quite a hoofer. His background is in vaudeville but he wouldn't really get any notice for dancing in movies until Yankee Doodle Dandy like a decade after this. He really doesn't dance much in this but when he does it's pretty good and not nearly as stiff-legged as Dandy. There's also a scene where Cagney eats breakfast and there's a great big grapefruit there on the table which I can't help but think of as some set dresser's ode to The Public Enemy which came out a few years before this. The best parts of Footlight Parade should be attributed to Busby Berkeley, who created the music numbers for the movie including the tour de force triple threat of a finale that piles one outstanding number on another on another.
I was very excited to see this movie because it's the one film I never quite tracked down when I went through my own private Berkeley mania a few years ago. He did this in a really hot year for him; the same year as 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, Roman Scandals, and also Dames according to Harry (although IMDb has it listed as a 1934 release). I think I still like Gold Diggers of 1933 more than this but that's simply because I saw it first. The last three numbers: Honeymoon Hotel, The Waterfall, and Shanghai Lil all belong in a museum and I believe I've seen either clips or the numbers in their entirity elsewhere. The film also has Dick Powell before he stopped shaving and became Philip Marlowe, Ruby Keeler who tries to look ugly by wearing hot eyeglasses, and Joan Blondell playing lovestruck with wild abandon. I also really love how this is clearly pre-code in that the dancers are always barely wearing anything and the humor is dirty and wise-cracking and adult. There's definitely something great about a whole music number built around a hotel where newlyweds come to screw.
I think the main reason why Busby's stuff is so great though is that it captures the essence of the musical perfectly. I actually much prefer these musicals of the 30s and early 40s that all have some arbitrary plotline set in a theater of some sort because it reinforces the reality that the actual music number shatters. Once you get people singing whenever they want to, for some reason directors must think "well, we can buy them singing for no reason, but to have a lamp that wouldn't be there normally is too much. nobody will believe that." That's total BS. Footlight Parade, Dames, the Gold Diggers movies (although '35 takes place in a hotel, they still put on shows in a small stage on the grounds), 42nd Street... they all take place in a theater to give it some excuse for why people start singing. When they do though, the magic of film takes over. It becomes something completely emotional and surreal and reality distorts and melts as is needed. There's something really great about trying to imagine a Busby Berkeley number actually take place on a stage and I think that's part of the fun too.
So yeah, I'm really happy Harry showed that instead of The Producers, which would probably get it all wrong wrong wrong for me.
Oh, I forgot. Before Footlight Parade, they showed a Betty Boop short called Parade of the Wooden Soldiers which acted as a pretty nice transition from Kong to a musical. The cartoon had a stuffed ape come to life and wreck stuff.
After footlight parade, Harry asked if Angela and Lucky were in the house. Up stepped supertiny hottie actress Angela Bettis and young horror director Lucky McKee. I immediately got super excited. I'd spooted an older guy in the ticket line with a great shirt that had a red axe on the back. Later on, inside the theater, I'd glimpsed that the front of his shirt said "The Woods," which is the movie that Lucky made starring Angela and Bruce Campbell after he finished a great little updated lesbian romantic comedy version of Frankenstein called May. So now that I saw that the older guy was actually Lucky's Dad, I completely thought that we'd get to see The Woods.
They stood up and came down and stood next to Harry (cue ass-staring) and introduced... Lucky's episode of Masters of Horror. It's called Sick Girl
Fake: I Married A Monster From Outer Space
Sick Girl is about a weird bug scientist (yeah yeah they're all weird i get it) that keeps tons of pet bugs and talks weird played by Angela who meets a really cute long-haired girl played by softcore "actress" Misty Mundae and falls in love with her. I've never seen any of her work but here it's really fun. Look her up on IMDb and you'll see stuff like Bikini Girls on Dinosaur Planet, Lust for Dracula, Spiderbabe, Vampire Vixens, The Lord of the G-Strings, Play-Mate of the Apes, Naked Cooking, and Erotic Survivor, where she plays Misty, member of the Puu-Nani tribe. The list of great titles goes on and on. She actually did a really great job in this. I missed the beginning credits because I was peeing without having to wait in line so I missed her name and totally didn't know she was that type of "performer." I did really like it when her character said she wasn't shy and took her top off, but after she gets a bug's seed planted in her ear and starts mutating into a girlbug, there's some actual acting that needs to go on and she pulled it off really well.
I will say this about Sick Girl. Having not seen John Landis' Deer Girl that aired the night before BNAT, Sick Girl was the best episode of the series that I'd seen to date. It's a fun little thing that unfortunately still has a rushed look to it but makes up for it with Angela Bettis' performance and some cool suspense dealing with a pillow that the superbug nests in. It made a really fun prelude to The Woods for sure.
Meaning after they got back up and did their Q&A, They'd be showing The Woods... right?
Well, they did get back up and they did take some Q&A. I did get to look at some more booty as Eric asked about working with Misty (Lucky knew her beforehand and wanted to work with her), where the story came from (it was a script before he was hired and the main part was written for a man but she wanted to have Angela as the lead so changed it to lesbo), shooting time (10 days, pretty fun and smooth shoot), and where Angela got her character choices (playing with the bugs was fun. this one little green leafy guy was like the best actor she's worked with. Off-mic Lucky said "didn't you base your character on an ex-boyfriend?" and she said "shh! it was an ex-boyfriend from Austin!") and what the progress is with The Woods (Lucky: "Well, it's done. It's sitting somewhere"). Argh! Wrong Answer! You were supposed to say "Funny you mention that... We have it right here! Enjoy The Woods, BNATTERS! LET'S SHOW IT NOW!!!1" but instead you just sat down. Harsh! No Fair!
Oh well. At least the Masters of Horror series was redeemed now that I've actually seen a good one. Harry said there was one more movie to see before the next break and it was Sympathy for Lady Vengeance! (Harry: "I am DYING to see this")
The lights dimmed and they ran trailers for Lucky Seven and The Soul of Bruce Lee (this didn't play at trailerthon, Lucky Seven did). Then the screen went white and the movie started.