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If you've any inkling to watch "Singin' in the Rain," rent it on Amazon Prime - clearly, this film has not only been "digitized," but also significantly enhanced from its original self - the color and clarity looks like it was filmed with a digital camera this year - it's remarkable. I had never before seen this most glorified of Hollywood musicals, so I really had no idea what to expect. I am not a huge fan of musicals (thank you, "Doctor Dolittle" for helping to eliminate the genre), but went in with an open mind. The song and dance numbers were, surprisingly, all from about 25-years before (except for two), as the film (from 1952) takes place around 1927, in the transition period between silent and talking films, with nods toward "The Jazz Singer." I hate to keep bringing this up in film reviews, and should probably just accept it as a sad part of recent American history, but I honestly did not see one, single person in this entire movie who wasn't white. I watched this in part to honor Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds - Debbie Reynolds was just wonderful in this film, Donald O'Connor was a fine dancer (who looks a lot like the remarkably talented Danny Kaye), and both Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse were perhaps the two best dancers not named Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers ever to grace the Hollywood stage (of the four, the only two who never danced together were Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers). Charisse, a Texan named Tula Finklea (!), had some of the longest and strongest legs I've seen on a classically trained dancer. The eponymous dance number is wonderful, of course, but surpassed in grandeur by the extended "Broadway Melody" sequence which was probably the most involved dance scene I've ever watched. "Singin' in the Rain" is a lot like Venice, Italy - it's something you should see, once - but I know of some older folks who think it is the high point in Hollywood history, and in a sense, they're right - it's magical without needing any computerized special effects, and that era is now gone - forever, I'm afraid, although I'm sure there will be individual films in the future that make do without electronic wizardry. And for the record, I think I prefer both "West Side Story" and perhaps even "The Sound of Music," but both of those had "Singin' in the Rain" to draw on, and 10+ years to think about it. Actually, in terms of "story," "Sweeney Todd" was far superior even though there was nary a dance to be found. If anyone knows where to find the "Broadway Melody of 1929," would you please write me? I've been looking for it, and cannot find it anywhere on the internet. A genuinely funny scene, where Gene Kelly is recalling his "sophisticated" past, and how the audiences were thrilled by his work:
Ah, the glorious 60s, where "The Brady Bunch" meets "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," all with a stupid title to boot. ''With Six You Get Eggroll" is certainly in the rom-com mold, but also contains enough screwball laughs where it's actually quite entertaining if you don't set your sights too high - it's a slice of life from a time of supposed innocence, mixed in with the beginning of our country's rebellious period. It's funny, when I grew up watching Brian Keith (who has the co-lead as Jake) playing "Uncle Beeel" on "Family "Affliction," I never thought of him as a handsome man because the show was so abysmally bad, and his role was that of a struggling widower; now that I'm older, I can see how Abby (Doris Day) could find him attractive. Alice Ghostley (Esmerelda on "Bewtiched") was a very good choice for Abby's extroverted (but not annoyingly over-the-top) maid, Molly - she plays her character with just the right amount of verve without becoming bothersome. It sounds odd, but some of the shots in this film are actually quite pleasing, for example this supermarket scene, with Abby and Jake marching down separate, parallel aisles with their carts, the viewer being fully aware of an impending bump-in: Shortly after this scene, the two go for coffee at the red-and-white striped "Ye Olde Drive Inn." How can you not love that name? And Holy Hell! I thought I recognized who the drive-inn attendant was, and I was right! Herbie, the drive-in order-taker was George Carlin in his first-ever movie! I didn't pick it up at first, but his facial expressions and voice gave him away. I *love* stumbling across things such as this! Brian Keith even had the best laugh-line of the scene! George Carlin is a mere baby of 31-years-old here: And how can you not at least smile at goofy shots like this, with Abby at her wit's end? So I've established Brian Keith as "handsome," George Carlin as "babyfaced," but what is Doris Day? Pretty? Maybe, but she's prettier than that - she has a special quality to her that makes her - not beautiful, not sexy, not cute, definitely in the "pretty" range of the spectrum, but she carries herself so well that she has something extra. Pretty plus, maybe? One thing I found a little shocking is a scene which approaches - and may cross into - frontal nudity when two boys are in the bathtub - they aren't quite pubescent, but they're probably pushing 12, and though innocent, it comes off as fairly risqué for 1968 (it happens shortly after the above picture, when the boys spill some sort of yellow dye in the tub). Jamie Farr (pre-M*A*S*H*) has a silly, intentionally overacted role as a good-natured druggy-hippy flower child who's in a similarly good-natured motorcycle gang (don't forget, 1968 is the same year as the much-more menacing "Born Losers," so motorcycle dramas were just coming into vogue), right at the same time as the Widowed Sit-Com (The Brady Bunch debuted in 1969) - this film foreshadows both. Here's a rather remarkable picture of Farr alongside William Christopher (Father Mulcahy in M*A*S*H*), both standing in front of Ye Olde Drive Inn - "MASH" the movie didn't come out until 1970, but M*A*S*H* the series didn't begin until 1972, so this still-shot is especially interesting: And, of course, this scene results in Doris Day crashing into a chicken truck, with everyone being hauled down to the precinct before the Sergeant (it's still raining chicken feathers at the station), with Farr peaceably addressing the Sergeant as "Your Royal Fuzz," and the Sergeant, by sheer coincidence, happening to be Allan Melvin: Abby's oldest son, Flip (John Findlater) sure looks a lot like Don Grady (Robbie, the oldest boy on "My Three Sons."), and Jake's daughter was played by Barbara Hershey in her cinematic debut. If you enjoyed The Brady Bunch - throw in a few million Hollywood dollars to expand production quality, and add a hint (just a hint - just the vaguest of G-rated hints) of Elizabeth Taylor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966), and you'll have "With Six You Get Eggroll" - a screwball comedy, with full comedic resolution in the final five minutes, that I'm embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed, but I did. This is exactly what I was in the mood for, and when you hear people today talking about "the way things used to be," what they really mean is "the way Hollywood made things *look* like they used to be," and this film is almost exactly what they're referring to - it's a fantasy every bit as unrealistic as the "fond memories" people have of America "back in the good old days" - it's also good, clean escapism, with nary a black person in sight to threaten the viewer. You do know there's going to be a second chicken-truck accident within five minutes, right? With chicken feathers flying everywhere? I wonder how tightly chicken's feathers are attached to their bodies, because if there's a crash, it's as if every feather on every chicken was being held on by a loose piece of tape. The poor driver of the chicken truck (which was remarkably undamaged from the first accident) was Vic Tayback whom you may recognize from "Alice": With Six You Get Eggroll is Doris Day's final film before beginning "The Doris Day Show" on television.