Gwen Verdon

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Alice (1990) Review


Good
Alice in Wonderland gets a Woody Allen update and makeover in this oddball story of a woman (Mia Farrow) who is stricken with a backache and seeks the advice of a Chinese herbalist/hypnotist, who diagnoses her with emotional problems instead. Soon she's hallucinating, invisibly eavesdropping, communicating with the dead, and otherwise curing herself, all while navigating the waters of her heart. Allen earned a screenwriting nomination, but Farrow is charming in her red hat, and William Hurt is memorable as her straying husband.

Broadway: The Golden Age, By The Legends Who Were There Review


OK
Self-indulgent to a fault and brusquely shoved together without much of a sense of rhythm, Broadway: The Golden Age is on the surface the five-year-long quest by filmmaker Rick McKay (Elaine Stritch at Liberty) to interview pretty much every Broadway luminary he could get his hands on, all for the purposes of limning the glory that was Broadway's "Golden Age." Now it's no surprise that you interview a bunch of aging actors/actresses who are in this particular demographic they're going to tell you that things today are rather awful, and in their day, were much, much better. What makes Broadway as engaging as it is would be the fact that McKay's interviewees are able to back up those claims with some rather illuminating anecdotes - and not just all of the "you could go to the automat and get a muffin and coffee for 15 cents" variety, though there's plenty of that as well.

Although McKay - whose irritating narration, the usual guff about moving to New York from Indiana and just how exciting it all was, brackets the film - never really posits what exactly he's on about with "The Golden Age," two things quickly become clear: The time period he and his subjects want to talk about is Broadway theater from the 1930s to the 1950s, and that period really would have been something to behold. The cavalcade of interviewees all point to not just the embarrassment of riches that were around then in terms of both the material (Lerner & Lowe and Rodgers & Hammerstein were like musical hit factories, not to mention the new dramatic work being produced by the likes of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller) and the talent, but another very simple factor: It was cheap. In a time of $480 The Producers tickets, it's partially nice but mostly infuriating to know that not so long ago it could cost less to go to a Broadway show than the movies.

Continue reading: Broadway: The Golden Age, By The Legends Who Were There Review

Damn Yankees! Review


OK
I like baseball. I love movies, especially musicals. I figured that Damn Yankees! would be my movie version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. It was more like combining chocolate and a pound of seasoned ground beef.

This 1958 musical, adapted from George Abbott's Broadway hit, presents a baseball fan's ultimate dream. What if you could help your favorite team win the pennant? And what if you got to be the star of that team?

Continue reading: Damn Yankees! Review

Marvin's Room Review


Weak
This weepfest really pulls out all the stops: Not only is Meryl's sister (Diane Keaton) dying of leukemia, her dad's (Hume Cronyn) almost a vegatable, and her son's (Leonardo DiCaprio) a rotten pyromaniac. Poor Meryl. There's a lot of talent that elevates this being movie of the week material, but it's still hard to be thrilled by the melodratic histrionics, Leo or no. Family angst and reconciliation... bleargh. More than anything, though, I wonder who would want to go see the play this was based on?
Gwen Verdon

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