Twenty five years too late, “Cats” is that kind of Broadway hit that may have worked wonders on the stage but fails spectacularly when it’s given a very literal adaptation on screen (e.g. “Jersey Boys”). I say that as someone that’s never liked “Cats” or really ever seen the big deal behind it. I barely stayed awake during a production airing on PBS back in the mid-nineties, and I only fondly remember it thanks to a classic TV ad that played around the clock in the eighties and nineties. “Cats” has always been that production I hope studios would stop trying to put on to the big screen.
In the nineties, many American movie studios were trying to beat Disney at their game by basically—mimicking everything that made their movies a hit. They didn’t try to rewrite the rules until the early aughts; before then we had a bunch of movies that were basically D grade copies of Disney hits. Richard Rich is a once Disney animator who tries his best to riff on Disney, taking a classic fairy tale and adding about every trope from the Disney list you can imagine, right down to funny talking animals. What he forgets is entertainment and a sense of life.
1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” is and is still widely considered the definitive fantasy masterpiece that has barely aged after so many decades. Even film fans that don’t care much for older films still have a hard time turning down “The Wizard of Oz” and ignoring its indefinable charm, and sense of adventure. Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard Of Oz” remains one of the most influential and engaging masterpieces, one filled with awe, surrealism, and a healthy sense of mystery, even eighty years after its initial release.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was an absolutely peerless pair of brilliant dancers that didn’t just inject chemistry on the dance floor, but also as a romantic pairing. Whether they were swooning over one another, or tap dancing in sync, it’s impossible not to be caught up in “Swing Time.” George Stevens’ classic romance comedy and musical takes the pairing as mismatched strangers that fall in love over the art of dance and their performances that look effortless but actually act as their own characters.
Eleven years later, and the great recession is still echoing throughout most of America, especially with fear of a new one. Based on the article “The Hustlers at Scores” by writer Jesssica Pressler, “The Hustlers” is a surprisingly tight and engrossing crime drama. It’s one that takes the still very relevant concept of economic ruin and the ever widening class gap, and injects it in to what’s often a tense and engaging tale of people exploiting people, exploiting people.
By now it’s become common knowledge by all forms of movie buffs that Quentin Tarantino has a big fetish for feet. The man loves feet, especially women’s feet. Not only does he seem apparently aroused by them, but he also seems to use the feet as a means of conveying emotion and some kind of free style toward the audience. In a way we do learn a lot about his characters through the feet, and he’s not shy about putting them front and center.
In honor of the upcoming “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” these are five Feetastic Moments in Tarantino Cinema. What are your personal favorites?
Chubby Checker managed to get a lot of mileage out of his dance hit “Twist.” Not only did he get three movies, but he presents variations of the dance with a variety of the songs where he beckons us to twist. There’s “Don’t Knock the Twist,” “Slow Twistin’,” “Salome Twist,” “Bucket Twist,” “La Paloma Twist,” and “I Love to Twist”! “Don’t Knock the Twist” is a sequel to the 1961 movie headlined by Chubby Checker. Though he’s the headliner he’s not the star per se, but he does show up every so often to present another performer or twist for us.
By the time Fred Sears’ “Rock around the Clock” arrived, the Bill Haley and the Comets song “Rock around the Clock” was already a massive hit thanks to “Blackboard Jungle.” It’d been accepted already as the quintessential youth anthem about rocking out and partying to rock and roll until the broad daylight. Banking on the beloved anthem was a stroke of genius, with a film that puts Bill Haley and the Comets front and center and zeroes in on the appeal of rock and roll. Well—the Caucasian version of rock and roll, anyway.