June 06, 2013

Middle age arrives like freight train with bad brakes

So I watched Singin' in the Rain this weekend with the family, the way it was meant to be seen, in an old theater, projected using a projector on a big screen.  And I love that movie, just love it, and we were having a great time.  The "Moses Supposes" sequence, with its long continuous takes (from 2:13 to 3:15 and again from 3:15 to 3:45), is as good as I've ever seen two men dance, at least this side of the Nicholas Brothers - just flawless.

There were some downsides to the theater experience, of course - no remote control, so no fast-forwarding through "You Are My Lucky Star", or rewinding to watch Cyd Charisse in "Broadway Melody" over and over...and over...

But I digress.  At home, we usually skip the ending.  I showed it to the guys once, and explained it, and we had a good laugh, but, truth be told, it bugs me.  The men are pigs.  The final scene humiliates two women as publicly as possible, destroys one career, and ensures the other will be, however successful, nothing more than an ornament to the powerful men atop Monumental Pictures.  The movie has many imperfections - maybe that's part of its appeal - but the joyful humiliation of the tragic Lina Lamont strikes me as among the greatest.  Perhaps its a measure of the acting skill of Jean Hagen that I care a whit for Lina.  Others may differ, but I see that character and I see a girl who knows the rules, takes the trouble to read her contract, and makes damn sure she has a good lawyer.  Sure she's a prima donna - what bankable romantic female lead isn't? - but after all the success she's had with the studio, the way they wreck her life is appalling.  So the ending always struck me as gratuitous, and I usually skip it.

Which, I suppose, is why I have overlooked this bit of dialogue:
R.F.:  She's got a five-year contract with me.  Get over to that mike.
Don:  You heard him, Kathy. Now do it!
Kathy:  l'll do it, Don.  But l never want to see you again. . .

Kathy Selden has a five year contract with Monumental Pictures?

When did that happen?  She's not popping out of cakes at the Coconut Grove anymore?  She is signed talent for the studio?

I'm sorry, what's the problem then?

The studio has just now learned that its biggest-grossing act, Lockwood and Lamont, can go forward, right into the talkie era.  Kathy has just learned that, thanks to her voice talent, her beloved Don Lockwood can continue to be a star of the screen.  Dancing Cavalier 2, Dancing Cavalier 3, and Too Dancy Too Cavaliery are sure to follow in quick succession, making a fortune for everyone involved.

And now Kathy's having second thoughts?

Ok, I'm a middle-aged man, but when signed talent is backing away from sure-win projects, someone needs a talking to.  Maybe several people.  If I'm R.F., I'm calling a meeting Monday, and setting everybody straight.

And don't tell me it will ruin Kathy's career...no one knows that.  Don Lockwood might think so, but he's not objective, and in any case, however hot, and cute, and perky, and sweet, and hot (did I mention hot?)...what was I saying?  Oh yes, however cute Kathy is, she can't play the Lamont roles.  She's not busty enough, or haughty enough, or mean enough to be a Hollywood bombshell.  She's Gidget, not Marie Antoinette.

So let Lina be Lina!  Let Lockwood and Lamont live!

Explain it nicely to Kathy, and if she doesn't like it, bring in the lawyers.

And the Kleenex

But, sorry, a deal's a deal.


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