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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 12:06pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

MY FAIR LADY, which remains my favorite musical in spite of what I feel is a
stumble at the final moment.

The film version leans a bit to indicating Henry Higgins is going to be back to
his same old ways soon. But the song he just sang reveals inner change. If he
demonstrated just a little more that he really believes what he just sang about i
could believe him, but...

Maybe Henry really has changed and just doesn't want to reveal it yet-- but
considering how little he has had to suffer before getting what he wanted, it's
hard to feel anything but worry for poor Eliza who, for all she knows, has
returned to take Henry "as is".
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 1:01pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

The ending to "Pygmalion" was a flop, much to Shaw's chagrin. The drive for a happy ending is overwhelming! Here's Shaw's own prose sequel:

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 1:44pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

My mother was a huge fan of MY FAIR LADY. Long before the movie, she had an LP of the songs and some of the set pieces from the Rex Harrison/Julie Andrews stage version.

This included a lot of liner notes about the production of the show. In one, one of the writers commented on the sweeping changes they had wrought upon the ending of PYGMALION. "We think GBS would approve," he said.

The writer in my 11 year old self was barely embryonic, but I read that and thought "Uhm.... no!"

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 2:27pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Pardon a tangent, but... I so much more prefer the London Cast recording to the Broadway Cast recording. The only cast difference, I think, is "Freddy," but the 1959 London performance is scintillating. I wonder which your mother had, JB.
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David Miller
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 2:45pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. It was already a terrible movie, but I was more or less on board until the last few minutes, when I was snapped out of my soporific fugue by the Joes using explosives to blow up the Arctic ice shelf and drop it on Cobra's underwater base. "Come on!" I literally said out loud.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 2:51pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

THE RISE OF COBRA was dumb enough for the Cobra Commander origin/reveal. The ending only made it worse.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 3:26pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Pardon a tangent, but... I so much more prefer the London Cast recording to the Broadway Cast recording. The only cast difference, I think, is "Freddy," but the 1959 London performance is scintillating. I wonder which your mother had, JB.

Pretty sure it was the London cast.

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Bill Mimbu
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 12:50pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

the Joes using explosives to blow up the Arctic ice shelf and drop it on Cobra's underwater base.

***

Actually, that was a COBRA self-destruct feature built into the base. Pretty sad that I remembered this...
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Warren Scott
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 12:50pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I know I'm not the first person to notice this, but the part in "The Wizard of Oz" when Glenda tells Dorothy she had the power to return home all along, simply by clicking her heels and saying, "There's no place like home."
So why didn't Glenda say that to begin with? The Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion all underwent personal change through their experience, but Dorothy had no way of knowing the ruby slippers could return her home. The movie sort of redeems itself by revealing the whole thing was a dream (even though it flies in the face of Frank Baum's books)because dreams often include such lapses in logic.
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Steven Myers
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 5:59pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The hole in Wizard of Oz's ending is it doesn't answer what is going to happen to Toto. I've seen stage productions that comment on Gulch getting injured in the storm, but in the movie there's no reason why she won't show up to get Toto at any future time!

Also, the movie makes it seem like Dorothy did a selfish thing running away, when she ran away to save Toto, not because she doesn't love her family!

By the way, concerning Disney's Beauty and the Beast, I don't think Stockholm syndrome is an accurate description. Belle does grow sympathy for the Beast, but he undergoes the biggest change for knowing her, and eventually allows her her freedom. (Granted, imprisonment was steep penalty for trespassing...but I guess old French laws are cruel like that...)
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 10:22pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Dorothy had a lesson to learn from her journey about valuing home and the comfort to be found there. Had she not been able to properly appreciate the place, the magic needed to return her there might not have worked. She flat out asks Glinda why she didn't tell her she could have gone home sooner, and Glinda tells her she wouldn't have believed her, implying that belief would have been required for the magic to work. Since the question is directly addressed in the film, I'm not impressed when film detectives come up with this startling observation time after time after time. Sorry, Warren. I don't mean to slight you personally, but as you point out, this has come up a lot. 

Also, the dream sequence ending does imply a solution to the Miss Gulch conundrum that so occupies the thoughts of critics. Dorothy has been unconscious presumably for days given the level of everyone's concern and the events she dreamed couldn't possibly have taken place since the house is still there and never went with her to Oz. Toto, still present when she awakes, didn't go with her either. That means he's been there the whole time and Miss Gulch hasn't come back for him and the family hasn't handed him over to her. Either everyone has greater concerns following the tornado than Miss Gulch's order from the sheriff or she's been told to go climb up a rope. Clearly no one is giving up the dog at the end of the picture. The question isn't addressed as directly, but we do see Toto there. If Miss Gulch was going to be any kind of problem in the future, Dorothy would have awakened to find him already gone.

The commentary track by film historian John Fricke also raises and misses a point that has become trendy for modern viewers to freak out over. Folks on FB sometimes post photos of the Scarecrow holding a revolver and bounce off the walls about the straw man packing heat in this beloved childhood favorite. Fricke correctly observes that the three males are all armed with various weapons when they leave Oz to cross the Haunted Forest and confront the Witch. The Lion has a large butterfly net and a canister of Witch Remover. The Tin Man is carrying a large wrench along with his ax. The Scarecrow has a cane of some sort (I'm not entirely convinced that's what it is since it moves more like a whip in a couple of frames.) and a gun, kind of implying once again that he is the smartest of the group since his is the most effective weapon. Fricke goes on to say that the film thereafter fails to address what happened to these weapons. Not true.

Immediately the group is attacked by invisible spooks who hoist the Tin Man straight up into the air. He comes crashing back down and his wrench bounces to the ground. The Scarecrow is holding his gun when he begins to race towards the Tin Man and does not have it when he reaches him, having dropped it on the way. If you freezeframe the scene, you can see him do so. I know because I did. Then the Lion is shown averring out loud that he does believe in spooks, he does, he does. His paws are shown so he has obviously dropped both his weapons to do make this proclamation to the spooks. The group is then set upon by flying monkeys and everyone runs every which way to escape them. Clearly, no one thought to grab any of their extra weapons in the melee since they didn't do them any good against the Witch's spooks anyway. 

I do wonder if the weapons appear at all in the deleted "Jitterbug" sequence that immediately was to precede the attack of the monkeys, but since they're more or less accounted for anyway, it wouldn't have been necessary. 


Edited by Brian Hague on 05 January 2017 at 10:25pm
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Steven Myers
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 6:03am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Yes, I have no problem with the missing weapons. The only real glitch is the Witch mentioning the Jitterbug, but then not having him appear.

When my local High School did Wizard of Oz, they included the Jitterbug scene.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 6:20am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Dorothy has been unconscious presumably for days...

Most dreams last only seconds, however much time they seem to take for the dreamer.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 6:27am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Let's just all agree that Miss Gulch perished in the storm.

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Warren Scott
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 7:58am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

No offense taken, Brian. I had forgotten about Glinda's comment that Dorothy wouldn't have believed her. I'm not sure I'm convinced, though.
I agree with Steven's point that Dorothy shouldn't be taken to task for running to fetch Toto. But she also shouldn't be taken to task for dreaming of a life different from her life on the farm. I guess because she appears to abandon that dream at the end, I don't think of her changing personally but I guess she sort of has. One question might be whether her dream was a realistic one.
By the way, I still love "The Wizard of Oz," despite its flaws.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 11:52am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

If I recall correctly, Toto was only able to bite Miss Gulch because Dorothy walked home from school past her house, where Toto had caused trouble before. She'd been told to take a different way home and hadn't done so. In that sense, she was responsible for what took place. 

We don't really know if Dorothy's rescuing Toto by running away from home was an unselfish act. If there had been a compromise proposed where Toto would live, but have to be taken to another farm where Dorothy couldn't spend time with him, then we'd have been able to see if she was thinking only of him or prioritizing her own feelings. Either way, running away wasn't the right thing to do and was inconsiderate to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, and selfish in that respect.

Everyone had time to recover from the tornado and there was time for Professor Marvel to come down and get to know everyone so his popping his head in the window wasn't a surprise intrusion. We also can't say that Dorothy's dream of Oz took place all at once as an unbroken narrative. Its episodic enough that she could have been fading in and out of her dream state. I believe the movie still suggests a certain passage of time in its ending. Even if its only the next day, I don't think Toto is on the chopping block after Dorothy's injury.

The Jitterbug scene is interesting. There are short bits of film that survive from it, but the music for it still exists. The song is wary but also kind of peppy and uplifting. The Haunted Forest scene is much more effectively frightening without it, I think. That being said, more opportunities for song and dance in stage productions is a good thing, so I'm all for its inclusion there where a consistent tone isn't quite the same concern.

The Cowardly Lion's "If I Were King of the Forest" is the last song in the picture. For a musical, "Oz" goes on for a considerable time without any songs. There's a brief callback to "The Witch is Dead," but not a full song. Had the "Jitterbug" been in there, that would have been the last song of the movie and it would stand out more, I think. It's also worth noting that the Wizard almost got the last song of the film since his giving out gifts at the end was originally set to music. Frank Morgan apparently preferring delivering the scene in dialogue and the scene is something of a classic just the same.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 12:11pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

We also can't say that Dorothy's dream of Oz took place all at once as an unbroken narrative. Its episodic enough that she could have been fading in and out of her dream state. I believe the movie still suggests a certain passage of time in its ending.

You are seeing what you want to see -- basically, building your own parts to the story to "fill in" what is not there.

That is Sin Number One when it comes to "audience participation." The story must be built from what the storyteller's provide, NOT what the audience wishes was there.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 1:46pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eEIiyTYy64

When Dorothy says she was trying to get back from Oz "for days and days," does anybody in room with her think she was instead unconscious literally for days and days?
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 2:06pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I would think the people in the room with her her would know if she's been unconscious for days and days. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 3:37pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

The storytellers provide a vigil, a rumor of her injury, and time for the Professor to come check on her. The room also looks in remarkably good repair after the tornado. If you prefer all that take place in real time in relation to the movie, more power to you.

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