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August 22, 2019:


Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, for those keep tracking, yesterday we got to 178% and are only about a thousand bucks from doubling our funding goal – such great news and I’m hoping we have some last-minute folks at the end, but I’ll keep on keeping on in a few days with some new, fun perks.  What fun this campaign has been, I must say.  While one does have to be relentless, I’ve tried to keep it a fun relentless.  In any case, share it, tell people, post to groups – that’s the ticket – lots of great perks left.

Yesterday was something of a day.  I got just under eight hours of sleep, arose at eleven, answered e-mails, was delighted to see we’d gone up to 178%, and had some telephonic calls, including one very interesting one that was very interesting. Then I went to Jerry’s Deli and had a chili, cheese, and onion hot dog and side Caesar salad, after which I picked up one package.  I then took the motor car to the car wash place nearby – it had not been there this year, I don’t think.  So, I left it to be washed and detailed, and walked home.  Once here, I had to find a couple of things in the garage, did so, then did some work on the computer, namely finished writing the Kritzerland show commentary, so that’s done now, thank goodness.  Then I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I finished watching the new Blu and Ray of Sweet Charity. For whatever reason, I did not see the film during its original release, which is odd.  I was living in New York that year and I remember it playing and I was seeing a lot of movies and I’d never been in the Rivoli (not the Ziegfeld as said in that silly Fosse/Verdon thing), but in any case I think the first time I actually saw the thing was a 16mm dye transfer print of the shortened reissue version – cut down to 121-minutes.  I enjoyed it, but felt it was very fragmented and choppy, and then I found out it was about twenty-five minutes shorter than the road show version.  I finally got to see that and I liked it much better.  And while I had some problems even back then with some of Fosse’s attempts to be cinematic, time has been rather kind to the film and it’s fun to watch now.  Over the years, Shirley MacLaine has been given a bum rap about this film, mostly from people who love Gwen Verdon and think she should have been cast, and that Shirley is a weak sister to Gwen.  To those people I would say, sometimes it’s fun to leave Fantasyland and live in the real world.  In the real world, the film would never have been made with Gwen Verdon.  She didn’t have a film career for a reason, and that’s very much in evidence in the film of Damn Yankees.  She’s very good, but the camera doesn’t really like her.  And while Shirley MacLaine may not be the dancer Ms. Verdon was, she began as a dancer doing, guess what – Fosse choreography – she was Carol Haney’s standby in The Pajama Game.  She does a great job dancing in the film of Sweet Charity.  And her acting of the role is superb, every single beat of it.  Because the camera LOVES her and because she’s subtle and endearing and you care about her at every step.  She should have been nominated for an Oscar, frankly, but the film was a massive box-office bomb.

It was great that they used John McMartin to recreate his Broadway role, and the supporting cast is strong – Chita Rivera, Paula Kelly, Stubby Kaye, Ricardo Montalban, and Sammy Davis, Jr.  The Fosse choreography comes off great, especially Rich Man’s Frug – this from a time when each dancer was unique, unlike today – we simply don’t have people like Suzanne Charney – just watch her arms, watch the way she moves – completely unique.  Montalban is surprisingly fun as an Eyetalian movie star, but it’s really MacLaine’s show and she’s just brilliant.  The bittersweet ending of the film improves on the show’s original ending and is close to the Fellini ending in Nights of Cabiria.  It’s emotional, and HOPEFUL.  And MacLaine’s playing of it is perfection as is that theme Cy Coleman wrote for that cue.  The stupid alternate “happy ending” is fake, BS, and doesn’t work at all – and yet some people LIKE it.  But I find the real ending not to be a downer at all – it feels very right, very pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

I had the French Blu-ray and thought it looked and sounded very good.  But this brand new 4K transfer from Universal (Kino issued the disc) puts the French disc to shame and seeing them side by side it’s very obvious the French is an older transfer, with clunky grain, continuous gate weave, and not nearly as sharp. Everything about the new image is fantastic.  The sound, however, is another story and it feels like a bad authoring error.  I have my volume set at a level that works for 95% of the movies I own on Blu-ray – nice and loud for those.  For the other 5%, I may have to go up or down one or two db but never more than that.  This audio is at least 10 db lower than it should be – it’s ridiculous – I had to turn the sound up hugely to get it where it needed to be – and it’s that way for the alternate and the supplements.  Not good. But once you’ve got the sound at a decent level, it’s fine.  Anyway, highly recommended by the likes of me.

After that, I went to Gelson’s and got a little mac-and-cheese for my evening snack.  I came home and ate it, and then instead of writing more liner notes on the big project, I decided to get the packaging for a release that’s coming first in the works. I also sent those tracks to the mastering engineer.  If all goes according to Hoyle, we’ll announce those two releases next week, and then the next announcement after that will be the biggie. Then I relaxed and listened to music, namely more Stokowski Phase 4 recordings – almost done with that large set.  The later CDs are better – less distortion – those early CDs are too loud and too relentless and too filled with unseemly distortion, which is what I think they actually strove for.

Today, I’ll get up by ten-thirty, I think, continue on the biggie liner notes and try to actually get my portion done or close to done, then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, eat (I am having a real hankerin’ to head over to Musso and Frank for a combo Louis – I haven’t been there in at least three years – we shall see), and then at some point relax.

Tomorrow and the weekend will be new liner notes to write, but I hope to relax and get some nice beauty sleep in, as I have a very busy week next week, which includes a work session for the Kritzerland show and doing three audio commentaries in one day for The Creature Wasn’t Nice DVD.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, write liner notes, hopefully pick up packages, eat, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite performances of Miss Shirley MacLaine? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to be at 178% and happy to have seen this splendid new Blu-ray of Sweet Charity.

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