Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Applause ? I don't think so ....

Here at 'Mike's Movie Projector' we aim to discuss the things and people we like and leave all the negativety outside, but having just seen the 1973 television version of the hit Broadway show APPLAUSE one can only reel in amazement. "This is absolutely the worst musical adaptation EVER with the most inadequate, atrocious, inept performance ever recorded by a major star" starts an IMDB review of it and I heartily agree. As a musical it is at best mediocre and as a show, it is absolutely atrocious with that cheap 70s look with tacky sets and those hideous colours in shades of orange and brown, not to mention the dated haircuts and outfits.

I have never seen a more simplified version of a film or book turned into a musical - the book though here is by those stalwarts Betty Comden and Adolph Green (whose work in THE BANDWAGON for instance I love). It is howlingly awful with the whole story changed and just snippets of the original dialogue remain. As Fox own the original material there is no Addison de Witt or Margo's maid Birdie Coonan. Birdie is now a gay guy called Duane whose role is practically non-existant and Eve gets her comeuppance from the Max Fabian character now called Howard Benedict. Larry Hagman with a dreadful hairstyle wanders in and out on autopilot as Bill Sampson, while Karen and Lloyd (now Buzz) Richards also have nothing much to do. Karen is not even in the car when the petrol runs out and that great self-realisation speech by Margo is gone, and there is no Pheobe at the end to supplant Eve.

Bacall IS the show and normally I quite like her ([particularly her '50s movies like DESIGNING WOMAN) - but perhaps after a year or so in the Broadway show and then on the road and in London she is totally unsubtle here and yells most of her lines as though playing to the back of the balcony - she is lean and rangy here, nothing at all like Bette's curdled cocktail Margo. The gay bar scene is an absolute scream, particularly when she puts on the leather cap and dances the "But Alive" number with the boys - as the lights spell out "gay power" on the wall behind (with the letters all mixed up - this was 1973 after all). The famous party scene is nothing much though there is a little "fasten your seat belts" number. The "But Alive" gay bar sequence can be seen in full on YouTube. You will laugh, you will howl ...

The funny thing is that I saw this show in London in 1973 (programme pictures attached) but could never remember anything about it. It couldn't have been that bad could it?, on this evidence yes it could.

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