This could have been a miracle. It could have featured Judy Garland who in her prime was the most committed performer (with talent) in movies. She prepared the way for Brando.
It could have been arranged by Busby Berkeley, who in his prime invented the notion of cinematically transitioning from beautiful women to abstract patterns. He prepared the way for Welles.
Of the possible three choices in greatness, we have only Irving Berlin. We had a few great composers, but only one songwriter who wrote movies in songs.
There’s still lots to like, even with what we get. Judging from the out takes with Garland, she was already gone, able to only put her life on the line in cabaret fashion and then only when noticeably juiced. Busby had lost his inspiration and confidence as well.
But these three in their prime could have levitated a city.
I first saw Hutton in what was her first real movie, a quickie thing to celebrate the Armed Services shortly after Pearl Harbor. She does a comic bit trying to climb over a wall to get into the movie studio (as part of a rather deeply nested self-referential construction). It was hilarious and showed an ability to place herself in the mind of the audience.
Her timing is all off here. After all, this was a broken project by the time she arrived. But she is endearingly animated.
What’s interesting is how self-referential this project is. It is a show about a show, featuring an actress who replaced someone playing a character who is a performer (the most famous of her era) who worries about replacing someone.
It features a song celebrating show business that is a celebration of show business. In the craftiest bit, we have the best known song: “Anything you can do.” It starts talking about things they can do in character. Then it segues to things they do as actors: singing notes longest, for instance.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.