Thursday, 26 May 2011

Encore’s Birthday Marathon: Day 9

I was listening to Rufus Wainwright’s Carnegie Hall Judy Garland Concert last weekend. I’m not the biggest Wainwright fan, but he’s a great songwriter, he’s got a good voice but his secret weapon is his humour. He’s just hilarious in concert. The thing is, I’m not altogether infatuated with Judy, really. I like her, she’s so naturally convivial that I can’t imagine anyone not liking her. Still, as much as I love her musical oeuvre in classics like The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born I don’t ever rush out to see a film just because she’s in it. Strangely, too, my favourite of her is the non-singing, non-dancing work she does in Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg, go figure.
The reason I bring up Judy is because I recently watched Easter Parade (somewhat trite, but generally enjoyable) and it got me to thinking about films of the era, well MGM musicals to be exact. I’m a somewhat reticent fan of the musical genre, but MGM musicals are one (of my many) cinematic blind spots. Of course, it’s because that whole period from the 30s to the 50s is a bit like a blind spot for me and I don’t know if it’s because of lack of chance or lack of interest. I confess that I like Fred Astaire more than Gene Kelly, but it’s a bit like deciding that I like Todd Fields more than Todd Haynes. I like them both (Field a bit more), but I don’t go crazy over either. School’s as good as out for me (one more insufferable exam to go) and I think the holidays will be as good a time as any to get acquainted with those lost years. Sure, I’ve seen almost every Katharine Hepburn film form the era, but almost everything else is fair game – well, the musicals seem “fairer” than anything else.
What do you think of the 30s-50s in cinema? Which films (or musicals) stand out?
(More on the birthday marathon.)

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