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An average movie

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 14 January 2014 09:49

Even though I’m not a huge fan of musicals, since this one is a classic, I thought I might as well give it a try. Well, I really enjoyed the opening scene with Louis Armstrong, actually, all his scenes were pretty neat but, as soon as the actual story started, I got bored pretty quickly. It is only when it was finished that I realized that it was another version of ‘The Philadelphia Story’, a better classic which still didn’t really blow me away. Still, the cast was pretty nice (Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong) and it was interesting to see Grace Kelly in her last part before she became Princess Grace of Monaco. To be honest, even though she was really amazingly charming as usual, I really had a hard time with her but I’m not sure if it was her acting which got on my nerves or her character. Eventually, only Frank Sinitra did manage to make something appealing with his character, the rest didn’t entertain me at all. At the end of the day, it is a mix between a musical and a screw-ball comedy and therefore the whole thing was just too fluffy for my taste. Still, even though I didn’t really like it, it remains a decent musical and it is worth a look, especially if you like the genre.

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High Society

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 24 August 2012 07:49

By the time High Society was released the MGM musical machine was already in the midst of breaking down, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the whole thing is plagued with problems from start to finish. But at least there’s enough movie star charisma, cute if unmemorable songs, and ridiculously lavish colors to entertain you.

A musical version of The Philadelphia Story, High Society grafts onto that basic premise Louis Armstrong and his band as a kind of Greek chorus who introduce us to the main conflict through a calypso-jazz opening song and comment on the proceedings from the sidelines throughout. It works, mostly, and Armstrong gets a few charming moments to steal the spotlight from hyper-talented crooners Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

And while it may not have the same level of talent working behind the camera as The Philadelphia Story, at least we’re given three central performances which radiate charm and old fashioned magic. Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm make a wonderful duo, and Holm in particular is egregiously underused. And while I’m normally very hard on Grace Kelly (you try not to cringe watching her trying desperately to emote in High Noon!), I find her limited abilities as an actress put to fantastic use in the trio of films she made with Alfred Hitchcock and this film, her last before becoming Princess Grace. She’s perfectly cast as a New England blue blood, and her performance is charming, funny, elegant and simply divine. Light comedy serves her well, and her singing while not mind-blowing is perfectly fine and serviceable, like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Bing Crosby mostly sleepwalks through his role, only bothering to show his natural spark in two scenes, one with Frank Sinatra (“Well, Did You Evah!”) and another with Louis Armstrong (“Now You Has Jazz”).

Perhaps if the rest of the movie had been brought up to the energy level of those two scenes, and maybe if Celeste Holm hadn’t been criminally underwritten (she is particularly great hurling out sarcastic quips), High Society could’ve been something better. As it is, it’s entertaining for the most part, but it never distances itself away from the shadow of The Philadelphia Story to really make its presence worthwhile. If that movie had too much clever dialog for you, well, here’s one with indifferent scenes in-between clever musical numbers.

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