mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I went to see a double-feature of this and "Applause" (also 1929) with [personal profile] movingfinger last night. It was a lovely evening; I always enjoy her company, and we found an Indian place with spectacularly fresh food and fun nouveau cocktails. Mine was kaffir-lime vodka and a ginger-jaggery syrup, to give you the general idea, and perfect for what now appears to be a very early summer.

Anyway, The Love Parade is a Lubitsch movie, and a Maurice Chevalier movie, and a Paramount movie from the period when that meant opulence. All these elements are absoutely perfect. So is the first (roughly) half of the movie. The erotic jokes are light and funny; Chevalier is witty and risque and exquisitely tailored. I was particularly struck by his carriage. His spine is perfectly straight -- even when, as he often does, he leans into the camera -- and his shoulders are far back. It's not a stance you see often in the modern world, and it's very attractive without at all impairing the appearance of flexibility. The magnificent Lupino Lane plays his comic valet, and is a miracle of acrobatic comedy, both as a dancer and as a pratfaller. His straight woman and physical support is ably performed by the uncredited Yola d'Avril.

So, what goes wrong in the second half of the movie? The movie is about a charming man in a Ruritanian republic who marries the Queen and therefore becomes Prince Consort. This offends his male desire to run things and romantic conflict ensues. The premise per se isn't terribly offputting for me, because it's a period piece and otherwise charming. The problem is that Chevalier spends the post-marriage half of the movie sulking.

The male character expresses his resentment of his lack of a constitutional role by throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum. He shouts, he refuses to eat his breakfast, he sulks at the Queen when she drops by for a kiss. I find sulking just as unattractive on Maurice Chevalier as on a toddler. The writing isn't deft enough to pull it off, and even the irresistible Chevalier can't be consistently charming while whining.

The movie, or at least the print we saw, has 1929-quality sound editing, which is to say that the art of mixing, and especially of mixing songs, wasn't there yet. Jeannette McDonald's soprano keeps threatening to burst the tweeters, the orchestra drowns out the ensemble pieces, and almost nobody's lyrics are easy to understand. The songs are forgettable sub-operetta: the title number is Chevalier assuring Macdonald that she has all the best (mimed) features of all the other women he's loved. Then, for no apparent reason other than operetta, she duets the list back at him.

I sound cranky; I'm not. This was a 1929 Lubitsch-Chevalier-Paramount --I'm neither for nor against Jeanette Macdonald-- and therefore a joy to behold. I just came away humming the flaws rather than the many successes.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 This is actually a side trip to somebody else's cloudland, because as far as I'm concerned the 1960s and 1970s happened to somebody else.  (There were books.   All else was irrelevant.)  

I have just discovered The Kinks.   Of course I knew "Lola" and "Come Dancing": IIRC the former shocked me when I was a young thing, which just goes to show.)  But I've spent the last week or so grinding a pixel-dragon game, and I needed a soundtrack.   I started running through the British Invasion -- the Animals, the Zombies, like that.  Then I came to the Kinks, and suddenly I had to keep the Youtube window open and pay attention.   The two things that blew me away were the intelligence of the lyrics and their essential kindness.  The speaker feels sympathy, or at least empathy, for the twentieth-century man, the narrator in "Lola", the grandmother in "Cuppa Tea", the lonely observer in "Waterloo Sunset"*.   The songs don't punch down; they punch sideways.  This essential sweetness doesn' t keep the band from rocking out; far from it. In live performances, Ray Davies sings with a singularly sweet smile; I don't know if it's love for what he's doing or a performer's correction for a tendency to sing flat.  See Joan Sutherland's habitual singing face.

I've ordered "The Village Green Preservation Society" and more will follow; I don't think the Greatest Hits album will come close to satisfying me.

* Which American TV entirely omitted from the Olympic Closing Ceremony.  I ask you.


mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

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