I’ve always wanted to go to the annual Sound of Music singalong at the Hollywood Bowl. So when a friend organized a group dinner and bought tickets, I happily went along. Besides, I wanted to see Nora in her usher uniform.
Now that I’ve done it, while I lustily sang along with 18,000 other people under the stars, peering at the subtitles, I hope that my own private experience of the movie has not been lost. The Bowl has ritualized the proceedings with an open-call costume contest which goes on forever with endless boring folks traipsing across the stage. The five or so decent standouts (including a cool moonbeam in her hand) were obvious to everyone. The ushers gave out yellow plastic bags with cards to hold up at key moments (“Julie!”). We were encouraged to hiss poor Eleanor Parker (the sophisticated mature single woman), who deserves better, and to bark “Rolf, Rolf” whenever the young Nazi appeared on screen.
We finally found Nora lurking under escalator three after the show. (She says she spotted producer Don Murphy.) She couldn’t hear anything, it turns out, so I ended up watching and singing along with parts of the movie with her at home (thank you, fast-forward). Somehow, that was even better. Show your kids enough movie musicals when they’re young, and they too will grow up loving them.
It would be fun to sing along with a series of clips from popular musicals, but I suspect everyone would have different likes and dislikes. (And they’d have to get permission from all the rights holders.) What about Moulin Rouge? Would that work? The Bowl has built up this crowd over the years, all in love with this great well-known musical. And Twentieth Century Fox plays along. Would My Fair Lady work? Or concert movies like Woodstock or The Last Waltz?
Michael at 2Blowhards has been posting some of his fave singalong clips, found on YouTube. Maybe I’ll do the same. I once owned an amazing laserdisc full of all the best Busby Berkeley musical numbers. The knockout was Jimmy Cagney shimmying along the top of a bar, looking for his “Shanghai Lil.” I can’t find that one on YouTube, so here’s a good 4th of July number showcasing Cagney’s tapdancing chops, as Yankee Doodle Dandy:
Continuing the 4th of July theme, here’s Fred Astaire dancing with firecrackers in Holiday Inn.
And for Berkeley fans, this outrageously Freudian Carmen Miranda number, “The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat,” from The Gang’s All Here, will have to do:
Here’s a great Max Fleischer Betty Boop cartoon starring Cab Calloway singing “Minnie the Moocher.” Fleischer was the rotoscope pioneer–in other words, an early version of what Richard Linklater does now.
And here’s Fleischer/Calloway’s “St. James Infirmary”:
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]