25 janeiro 2013

Deixa-me rir...

Caros Audiophiles, I have just seen the latest film version of Les Miserables. Is it released yet in Portugal? It is perhaps my favourite musical of all time, together with Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story, so I was afraid that the film might disappoint. Please don't mess it up for the millions of fans. Well, I did enjoy the film - great cinematography, perfect cast, and surprisingly good singing from most of the actors (Russell Crowe struggles a bit but is ok), especially from Anne Hathaway, always a fine expressive actresss, who delivers a heart-rending performance of I Dreamed A Dream. Much has been written in the media about her and about how all the actors sang 'live' when filming their scenes. To me, however, they did not sound 'live', so I suppose there must have been some audio editing later. As a result, some scenes sounded a little undramatic. 
I still prefer the live immediate drama of the orchestra and performance of the theatre stage version.
Anyway, it makes me think of so many actors and actresses who have also tried to achieve singing success, or singers who have had also acting success. Not surprising perhaps since drama school often includes singing and dancing classes. It is all about performance.
There are a few stars who have been hugely successful in both mediums for many years - Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand and Cher, for example.
There are some famous actors who have enjoyed a short period of pop success - John Travolta in Grease, David Soul during his Starsky & Hutch tv fame, Will Smith as a rapper during his early days as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and later Men In Black), Bruce Willis.
There are actors who have embarked on less stellar singing careers - Gwyneth Paltrow, Minnie Driver, Scarlett Johansson.
And, of course, singing stars who have pursued acting careers, generally with less success - Elvis Presley and Madonna.
There are actors who achieve one-off singing fame through biopic films about singers - Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray, Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon as Johnnie Cash & June Carter in Walk The Line, Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis in Great Balls Of Fire.
But then there are actors who really should not have been allowed to go anywhere near a microphone - Telly Savalas of Kojak tv fame unbelievably had a number 1 hit with a half-spoken/half-singing version of the ballad If (if only he had not!); William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Captain Kirk and Mr Spock of Star Trek fame, were each so bad, so kitsch, that one could say that sonically they 'boldly went where no man had gone before' - check them out if you dare!
And among all these, there are some special jewels, some unique moments in time, to share with you. 
Lee Marvin was definitely not a singer. He did not claim to be. He refused to try. But eventually he (and Clint Eastwood) was persuaded to 'sing' for his role in the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon. The result was a reluctant but warm-hearted rendition of Wandering Star, a song with a hummable tune which became a big number 1 pop hit in the UK:

Michelle Pfeiifer - who can forget her lying down on the piano as the sexy sultry singer Susie Diamond in The Fabulous Baker Boys with Jeff & Beau Bridges! I wish I could present an action video of this scene but unfortunately Youtube only has photos accompanying her version of Making Whoopee/My Funny Valentine. But she has a great voice, you just have to imagine the rest:

Richard Harris, famous already as a wild fast-living heavy-drinking Irish actor, but whose biggest successes such as A Man Called Horse, Cromwell and as the original Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films were still in the future, had a brief flirtation with pop stardom. In 1968 he recorded the first version of MacArthur Park, later a fantastic disco hit for Donna Summer. The song was written by his friend Jimmy Webb who already had had major success with Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell and other songs, but apparently nobody wanted to record this new song because it had a crazy surreal lyric and was nearly eight minutes long. So Richard Harris did and it has come to be regarded as something of a kitsch classic:

Finally, Laurel & Hardy, masters of silent comedy films, sang a bar-room love ballad in their 1937 film Way Out West. This song Trail Of The Lonesome Pine became a surprise UK Christmas hit in 1975 after some of their old films appeared again on tv. The scene captures  their film characters quintessential slapstick humour and comic timing:

A proxima.

2 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

What a wonderfully comprehensive post, P! Names, videos, stories, recollections, subtle personal impressions... you're the best! xxxx pcp

Anónimo disse...

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