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Entries in George Sidney (4)

Sunday
Oct 09 2016

George Sidney Centennial: "The Three Musketeers"

by Nathaniel R

After looking at three popular musicalsAnchors Aweigh(1945),Kiss Me Kate(1953),andBye Bye Birdie(1963),in our miniGeorge SidneyCentennial celebration,we're closing up with his other primary mode: the adventure flick. Curiously those films also feel like musicals even when they aren't.Case in point isThe Three Musketeers(1948) and the subliminal feeling that at any moment a song and dance number might break out.That's not only because glorious Gene Kelly is the star.This feeling radiates outward from the ebullient movement of all of the swordsmen.It's also firmly embedded in the swooning romantic overtures that happen instantaneously between Gene Kelly and each of the women.Lana Turner is the devilish Lady de Winter and June Allyson is the saintly Constance and,in case you're wondering,no one will ever accuse this movie of subtlety or evolved gender politics.Still the love scenes are memorable for their queer duet of completely earnest and purposefully comic registers.

WhileThe Three Musketeers,MGM's second biggest hit of the entire decade,never abandons its swashbuckler adventure commitments to make room for the theoretical song and dance number,it does make quite a few overtures to other identities.This treatment of the Alexander Dumas story is also a romantic comedy,a slapstick farce,and even a stylized melodrama...

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Thursday
Oct 06 2016

George Sidney Centennial: Bye Bye Birdie

Our Centennial celebration of director George Sidney continues withJoseonBye Bye Birdie

George Sidney's adaptation of the Tony award winning musicalBye Bye Birdiecontinued showing his prowess when it came to making big,bold,Technicolor musicals.The plot imagines the frenzy surrounding the imminent departure of an Elvis-like superstar,who receives his draft notice,but decides to reward one of his biggest fans with one gift before leaving: a televised kiss.Though the plot's depiction of how the media thrives on scandals surrounding celebrities was rather prescient (not to mention how it predicts how love and sex would become "prizes"on reality shows) its gender and racial politics have made it one of the most icky musicals of the era.

Its casting proved significant for two reasons: for the big part of Kim MacAfee,the director chose a complete unknown he discovered dancing in a Las Vegas casino.After being selected out of millions,just like Kim,Ann-Margret would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the decade.

In fact just a year afterBirdie,Sidney cast her opposite the real life Elvis inViva Las Vegas-- perhaps as a tribute to how he discovered her and also toBirdie?...

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Wednesday
Oct 05 2016

George Sidney Centennial: "Kiss Me Kate"

by Tim Brayton

Our centennial tribute to MGM mainstay George Sidney continues with the director's 1953 musicalKiss Me Kate,and such a curious beast it is.Adapted with a slightly free hand from Cole Porter's hit 1948 musical,it's a musical version ofThe Taming of the Shrewthat's also a backstage comedy about the staging of a musical version ofThe Taming of the Shrew,in which the actors playing Kate and Petruchio are recently feuding exes.

Don't let the plot worry you,though.Since this is a 1950s MGM musical the focus is obviously one one thing first and foremost,and that's big,heaving SPECTACLE.

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Monday
Oct 03 2016

George Sidney Centennial: Anchors Aweigh

It's George Sidney Centennial Week!

Dancin' Danhere to begin our mini-celebration of one of Hollywood's more undersung directors.

George Sidney was an MGM workhorse who got his start onOur Gangshorts.Though he was nominated for the DGA Award four times between 1952-1957,he never received an Oscar nomination.No,not even for 1945's Best Picture nomineeAnchors Aweigh.And really,you could make a very persuasive argument that he was robbed.

Anchors Aweighis a strange picture,one that feels more like a fantasy than anything else,and to the extent that it is remembered today,it is remembered for one thing:

You would be forgiven,of course,for thinking that the film reallywasa fantasy based on that one number...

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