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Posts Tagged ‘Musicals’

Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1969)  —  movie review
This movie is a musical adaptation of the novel about the life of a schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, written by the James Hilton.  The book was first adapted into movie form back in 1939 (also a great movie).  This version is a modification of both the novel and the original version.  It’s placed later in history – around World War II instead of WWI; Chipping is married longer; meets his wife differently; and, it’s a musical (instead of a “normal” drama / romance movie).  I have not read the novel, but I have seen the 1939 version several times before.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to find it somewhere and watch it again so I can do a review from a fresh viewing.  This was my first viewing of this movie!
Mr. Chipping is a staid and stern housemaster at an English public school.  (That’s a “private” school to those of us in the U.S.)  The boarding school is where the upper crust of society send their boys to learn to be proper British gentlemen.  Chipping teaches Latin and Greek.  He gets talked into going to a play to see the future bride of a friend.  The lady doesn’t realize this is the “arrangement”.  Chipping unknowingly embarrasses himself and his friend.   Chipping goes on his holiday (vacation) to Pompeii, where he coincidentally meets the lady again.  As he is an expert on Greece, she asks him to be her tour guide for the day – which he does.  They hit it off and she falls in love with him (and he her).  Blah, blah, blah.   Mild comedy and laughter ensues.  They marry and she returns to school with him.  They become popular at the school.  She dies during the war.  He spends the remaining years of his life at the school.
The movie stars Peter O’Toole as Arthur Chipping (“Mr. Chips”), Petula Clark as Katherine Bridges / Chipping, Michael Redgrave as The Headmaster, George Baker as Lord Sutterwick (the wealthy donor who is at odds with Chipping due to his own previously sordid background), Siân Phillips as Ursula Mossbank (a famous actress who has a “background” with Lord Sutterwick), and Michael Bryant as Max Staefel (a German teacher who “must” return to Germany).  Phillips is “simply marvelous” in her take on being a famous actress.  Bryant is also impressive in his subtle expressions.  In fact, I repeated several scenes just to re-watch his facial reactions.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a musical?  And, did I enjoy a rom-com musical?  Yes.  Mostly yes.  Emphatically yes!  I know I’ve seen Peter O’Toole in other roles (obviously “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Becket“), but I really think this is my new favorite role for him.  He was nominated for the Oscar and a Golden Glove for Best Actor for this role.  One of his eight Oscar nominations for Best Actor.  (He holds the lifetime record for nominations without a win.)  Interestingly, his wife (Siân Phillips) at the time was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role (Mossbank).  He won the Golden Glove.  She did not.
As a musical, the movie is not “great” – in my opinion.  With the exception of “Fill the World With Love” (see videos below) only a couple of the other songs were entertaining, let alone memorable.  This is partly why the movie was panned by the critics on its release.  In fact, I understand several of the songs were removed from the theatrical release because initial audience reviews were so poor.  The songs have been re-added for the “TCM” version which I watched.  The result is the movie is a “classic” movie with an introduction, intermission and exit production which add almost 15 minutes to the viewing time.  The total run time I watched was over the 2hrs 35min of the “official” run time.  But, it is worth it!!
Final recommendation:  VERY highly recommended.  While at one level, this is the story of one man’s struggle with the apparent mediocrity of his life, at a more profound level it is a love story – personal (husband and wife) and general (Chippings love for knowledge, teaching, manners and character).  I am sure some will find this a bit of a “chic flick” and a tear-jerker.  I did not find it the former.  I did find it the latter.  But then, I often find movies about character and integrity (and love stories) to be tear-jerkers.  So, get the Kleenex ready.
As a “bonus” for this review I am including two videos.  The first two verses of this song are performed by: Petula Clark (from the 1969 musical: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”).  The last verse is performed by Peter O’Toole and is slightly different from the “actual” lyrics as he is singing to his deceased wife at the end of the film.  (Listen for the “Shhsh” and watch for Bryant / Staefel’s expression during Clark’s singing.  Priceless!!)
[I noted today (3 Feb 2020) that the original 2nd video is no longer available on YouTube, so I have replaced it with Peter O’Toole singing – but not “appearing” in the movie.  If I ever purchase this movie, I will consider uploading the excerpt from my copy to YouTube.  We’ll see…  —  KMAB]
I sang this song many times back in my senior year of high school.  It was the first year of our high school choir – and they were taking anyone who was willing to volunteer to sing in public.  LOL.  I did not know the song was only a few years old.  Nor did I know it came from a movie / musical.  But then, I had not seen either version of this movie – 1939 or 1969.  I think I’m better for now having seen both.  If you can find them, I highly recommend them!
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On This Day In:
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2017 We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
2016 But You Have To Learn It Feels Good
2015 Never Stop
2014 Caution
2013 Treat Her Like A Lady
2012 Build New Worlds
2011 I Grok Elegance
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Cinderella 2015 as performed at the African-American Shakespeare Company

Cinderella 2015 as performed at the African-American Shakespeare Company

Earlier this month – December 19th, to be precise – I took Hil to see a play.  It was a musical production of Cinderella presented by the African-American Shakespeare Company.  The play has been running each Christmas season for over a decade and it is (was) easy to see why it has remained so popular.  It is magical!
I have a friend from work (Todd Risby) who performs in theater around the Bay Area and he’s been after me for a number of years to come see him in one of his productions.  Now, normally I just say no (politely, but firmly)…  I don’t like crowds.  I don’t like travelling in lots of traffic.  And most of all, I hate fighting for parking.  But lately, I’ve been trying to find things for Hil and me to go to so we can share more experiences.  Mainly, this is because although we both have a lot of stuff, we are not really “things” persons.  So, this was to be an early Christmas present.
Todd played two roles in this production (the Duke and Cinderella’s childhood father) and he was very good in both!  It’s funny how we can draw a sense of joy from someone else being up on stage, but I did.  As I watched him all I could think of was how happy I was for him to be living his dream and doing it well!
If you’ve seen the Disney film, you’ve got the gist of the story – pretty young girl, evil step-mother and two step-sisters, prince,  ball, slipper, and all.  Todd told me in advance it would be a musical and that it would be funny (it was).  What he didn’t say was ALL the rest.  This was not just a love story of a princess getting rescued by her prince charming.  It was a story of self-empowerment and self-belief.  And more importantly, it wasn’t only about Cinderella, it was also about the prince.
Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably come to realize I’m a big softy – and I unapologetically admit it – I am.  There is a point in the play where the prince and Cinderella stand at opposite ends of the stage and sing (to the audience and facing away from each other) about despairing of ever finding true love and then feeling that now, just maybe……  And I teared up.  I have heard it said that “true” art (music, dance, sculpture, painting or theater) touches you.  Sitting next to my wife of thirty years and remembering back to my own doubts of finding my true love, the performance “touched” me.
I have no idea how many of my readers are in the San Francisco Bay Area, but if you are around in the Christmas season, I highly recommend taking in one of these performances.  As I said above, this is an annual production and well worth taking your daughters or nieces to.  As I’ve stated many times in the past, support your local arts, particularly live performances.  Art makes us feel human.
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On This Day In:
2014 It Lies Ahead…
2013 At Least One Difference
2012 Are We, Are We?
On Not Playing The Game
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2011 Nutcracker And Nooks
Seeing Differences

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