Monday, June 25, 2007
That Ol' Devil Consequence
The trailer to Cabin in the Sky, which we watched today. It's what they called a "Race Movie," back in 1943, and by that, they didn't mean that a horde of d-list actors would be put through the lamest paces possible by Hal Needham. This is the type of race film that never played south of the Mason/Dixon, much to the disappointment of those who were either proto-NASCAR fans, or, y'know, race.
Quite good, although it gave Ethel Waters too many songs to sing and Rochester and Lena Horne not nearly enough. Round that out with what amounted to cameos for Duke Ellington (as himself) and Louis Armstrong (as a trumpet-playing demon in a checkered bathrobe), and the film had too much talent to burn. One of those films that you're supposed to feel bad for liking, I guess - or at least the film company should be ashamed for making. And they assured us they were in a 'you hadda be there' kind of disclaimer at the beginning.
Anyway, the film doesn't really get aggressive enough in its stereotyping to offend anyone (unless they want to be offended), and the skill of the performers rises above any of the more cringe-worthy moments and characterizations. Could've used more uptempo numbers, though. The last twenty minutes has a big set piece backed by Ellington with a stripped-down version of his orchestra, so at least it goes out with a bang.
My advice? Rent the DVD and start at chapter 17, which is both where a very young and very hot Lena Horne enters the picture, and is the film's best song, "Life's Full of Consequence." A really great short and punchy song sung by Rochester in a remarkable state of shock and revelation, and Lena Horne as a pretty convincing argument for damning whatever torpedos you happen to have handy.
The funny bit is, I'm not even sure how we ended up with this film. It turned up from Blockbuster Online one day, and neither Yesenia nor I could remember placing on the queue. I wouldn't put it past me to have put it on there and forgotten - maybe as something to chase Idlewild out of my system. It's also possible that I accidentally put it on there when searching for Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, but apart from very similar titles, the two films couldn't have less in common.
Oh, well - a mystery for the ages.
Also, I finally saw all of:
And, well. It's a very good movie, but perhaps its legend has outstripped its reality? Edz came over to visit Yesenia, and I spouted off a bunch of stuff I had problems with, but what it boils down to is that it's a little unfocused. Is that really a problem? Not really. Clearly, the story isn't the most important thing - at least it's clear that it's not what Coppola was interested in.
What I was most amazed by watching it was how one of the most popular films of all time would have tanked at the theater, today. Could modern audiences tolerate things like the extended Sicily sequence? Doubtful. How about a crime film that takes a twenty-minute opening sequence set a a wedding just to establish a few characters? Also doubtful.
Anyway, it's one half of Yesenia's favorite movie, and it was nice to sit in bed with her and watch it.
And now, to work.