I've decided recently that my hypothesis was unfair: Hollywood's Pinboard does not only apply to action movies, and it isn't a recent phenomenon.
I've decided I like Danny Kaye. He's an actor from the age of Hollywood musicals. I've often expressed the fact that I don't much care for musicals (except, of course, for the undislikable Singing in the Rain), but The Court Jester is excellent family-friendly fare; if you've never seen it, I recommend it highly as good, clean fun. It's also a good introduction to the sort of humor Danny Kaye excels at.
Because my wife and I like Danny Kaye, we'll occasionally pick up a movie he's in without knowing anything about it except that he's in it (when movie rentals are free at the local library, there's no real risk in random movie selection). Sometimes we do well (On The Double was a non-musical comedy that had some surprisingly hilarious moments despite its fairly straightforward comedy-of-errors formula), but sometimes we don't.
On The Riviera is a 1951 musical that stars Danny Kaye, and it made me realize just how accurate my beliefs about a Hollywood Pinboard must be. It functioned like a lot of other musicals (White Christmas, which Danny Kaye is also in, comes to mind) in that its protagonist has a career as a musical performer, so throwing unrelated dance numbers together becomes child's play, but this movie went one step farther:
There's a scene in which a party is going on, which the protagonist (Danny Kaye) was at but has left. Now, the protagonist has recently gotten a big break: a television studio wants to broadcast his stage show because his impersonations of a famous aviator (also Danny Kaye) have been making such a big splash. So he runs off to do his broadcast, and some people at the party gather around the TV to see his show. But instead of his impersonations, he does this number, which I imagine had been on a yellowing sticky note on the Hollywood Pinboard for years before someone finally said, "Okay, fine. Fine! We'll throw it in the next movie we do." This scene simultaneously demonstrates 1) why I don't like musicals and 2) why I do like Danny Kaye. It's complicated, I know. If you can sit through this video, you'll get to see Danny Kaye slaughter the pronunciation of various animals and plants, and it makes me giggle, but the song is grating and the scene had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie: it was never alluded to beforehand; it was never mentioned afterward. And I imagine it was really expensive, with all the harnesses etc. How was it deemed worth the time and money?
No wonder musicals don't exist anymore....
Anyway. I give you the final death throes of musical cinema:
[un]Ironically, of course, Singin' in the Rain was unabashedly born on a pinboard.
True. Which means it can produce good things. I actually operate this way myself, occasionally, in that, when a bunch of previously unrelated ideas suddenly interrelate, I write them down as a story.Delete
It isn't an inherently bad idea, I don't think, but you have to have a substantial idea to tie the pins together, and a lot of musicals and action flicks lack that.
Hey! I couldn't find your email in my address book but I wanted to let you know--my debut novel is coming out this July. The hometown of the protagonist is on a mountain called... yes, Mount Jepson. I was having trouble naming it and Carl just said, remember what Kyle was always saying he'd name a mountain? And I thought--yes! So there we go. ^.~ You have a mountain named after you in my book. You're welcome.ReplyDelete
Wow, I'm--flattered! Thank you! What is this book called?ReplyDelete
It's called The Body Electric. Even more exciting--people have already been asking for advance copies to peruse for possible movie rights. Whaaaa???! So exciting!ReplyDelete