Tracy: So . . . this was my first Busby Berkeley musical, and I was surprised how racy it was!
Natalie: Hmmmm . . . .I don't know if I've seen one either . . .
Tracy: I always enjoy musicals about putting on musicals--it makes the breaking out in song element a lot easier to take.
Natalie: Ha! That's true. No one wonders why you're breaking out into song or dance when you're practicing an act. But I do wish there were more song and dance numbers and that I could have
discerned what the final fictional production was supposed to be about.
Tracy: Oh my god! Pretty Lady? It was the most bizarre play ever. Like, wasn't Gandhi in it or something?
Natalie: What? What part?
Tracy: During the play? I took a note that reads, "Gandhi? What is this play about?" Maybe it was a random Indian man? I also have a note that it was a wee bit racially problematic.
Natalie: I totally missed Ghandi. Huh. There was the racially problematic train dance number at the end.
Tracy: Yes. The play was just strange. And the plot itself was pretty predictable. Young ingenue, etc. But parts of it did make me laugh. I thought the way the Depression figured in was also interesting.
Natalie: The plot was pretty predictable--but has spawned every song&dance, film, broadway show . . . etc. movie since. There are echoes of it in The Artist even. A lot of it made me laugh. I loved Ginger Rogers as "Anytime Annie" and a lot of the costuming was fun--I liked the regular stuff better than the play-in-the-play outfits. And, yeah, they brought in a lot of pertinent social issues of the time. And they were butting right up against movie code and all of that drama so the raciness was even more cheeky.
Tracy: Yeah--I was audibly surprised at Anytime Annie. But the whole thing was really frank about women's sexuality and how they choose to use it and not at all judgmental. The director's despair was funny and poignant and totally tied to when the "play" was taking place. His franticness trying to prepare the new lead was one of my favorite parts.
Natalie: I did like that about the film--Anytime Annie was just doing her thing and that was ok; and it wasn't a scandal that Dorothy had a man on the side to fund the production, or that she was only with him for the money. It really gave women the upper hand and made the men look foolish rather than scorning women for their sexuality.
Tracy: Yeah! She didn't care that people were calling her that--it wasn't an insult. And I liked the moment between Dorothy and the ingenue before the performance (I'm blanking on her name now). It was also nice to be able to put "Shuffle off to Buffalo" in context!
Natalie: Peggy--I liked that moment too because it was honest and let women talk to each other frankly without being catty and only shallow. Part of it was shallow but it let Dorothy acknowledge that and then explain and be an actual person about the situation. Staying on women for a second--the film also used their bodies in some pretty explicit ways with all of the shots between the legs and whatnot in the dance numbers. But it didn't seem to cheapen the women. And, of course, it's always interesting to see the body type that was preferred in the 30s.
Tracy: That's really true re: the body stuff. And I also liked how they made that focus on the female body part of putting on the play. Everyone knows what the audience (of the play and the movie) were interested in seeing. But you're right--the women are so in control of the way their image and bodies are presented that it doesn't feel exploitative.
Natalie: Yeah, way to go, 42nd Street. I just looked and, random tidbit, when this opened on Broadway it starred Jerry Orbach.
Tracy: HAH! The Law and Order guy?
Tracy: It would be fun to see it on stage, I bet.
Who should be Anytime Annie if we were casting it now?
Natalie: I bet. I didn't know he did stage stuff. Oooooooh. Emma Stone.
Tracy: YES. Genius. I was thinking Katy Perry (for some reason), but I like Emma Stone better. And I want Oliver Platt as Daddy Warbucks.
Natalie: HA! Oliver Platt would be genius as Daddy Warbucks. Let's see who gets to be Dorothy?
Tracy: Hmmm. Someone sassy and wise.
I think Drew Barrymore is too sweet in the face.
Natalie: Anne Hathaway? She can sing and dance. Meanwhile, Katy Perry? That's completely random for you.
Oh, right. Dorothy should be a touch older
Tracy: I just read about her fling with John Mayer so she was on the brain.
Natalie: HA! Who hasn't had a fling with John Mayer.
Tracy: No kidding! Let's pray they never duet.
That's missing a letter or two I think
Tracy: Oh, she'd be great. She even looks like she's from the era. So Peggy the Ingenue? Zoe Kazan (who is on my brain from Ruby Sparks)?
Natalie: Super! So, now we just need Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon Levitt to fill in some boys
Tracy: And I will see this play every night.
Natalie: Me, too.
Tracy: And RDJ as the depressed director.
Natalie: OOOOOOOH! I knew I forgot someone! YES! Brilliant. Done and done. Who do we call?
Tracy: I know! We really need to be in charge of this. And a lot of other things as well. What did the book have to say?
Natalie: Well, yes, we should just be in charge in general. The book is flaky and basically says it's the best musical about a musical with all the cliches. But it doesn't say anything quotable or disagreeable or smart about it. Sigh.
Our Hindu Floaty Thing is not especially smart.
Tracy: Hehehehe. That's the problem with the Hindu Floaty Thing. So I'm thinking we're both on board for this staying on the list?
Natalie: Sure, I'll keep it! It's fun and good for girls--hooray
Tracy: And next . . . another movie that is about well, a woman.
Natalie: Oooh, you're being mysterious about one you've already watched and I have not. Tricksy hobbitses.
Tracy: Oh, have you not seen it yet? Then I shall say no more!