Saturday, September 29, 2012

Country for Old Men

Unless you're a big old-school country fan, you've probably never heard of Ferlin Husky or Faron Young. If you have heard of them, and want to see them, you may want to see Country Music Holiday (1958). If you consider that June Carter (later Cash) played Ferlin's girlfriend, or that he is vamped by Zsa-Zsa Gabor (as herself), you may find this movie irresistible. But think carefully before you commit the 70 minutes or so it will take to watch.

The plot is the usual - backwoods boy Husky gets home from the war to find out that he is no longer the number-one singer in his small town. His rival, Faron Young, has gone to New York and started singing on TV. So Husky's army buddies, Al Fisher and Lou Marks (an Abbott and Costello type team), take him to New York to compete for fame. He gets a manager, Jesse White, whose assistant is ex-pug Rocky Graziano (as himself). Soon, he is painting the town with society dame Gabor - but what if June finds out?

The story is pretty pedestrian, as is the comic relief. But, asks the music fan, how about the songs? Well, Husky has a beautiful voice, but the arrangements are strictly squaresville, and I don't think this is his best material. Faron Young is a little wilder, with some almost rockabilly stuff.

And June Carter doesn't sing a single song. Aside: a young Patty Duke plays Husky's sister, and she is very cute.

Interesting to see the "country music on TV" phenomenon that Fred Astaire and Betty Hutton complained about in Let's Dance (made 8 years earlier, though).

Similar, but much better is Mr. Rock and Roll (1957). It stars Teddy Randazzo as himself, a rock 'n' roller being promoted by Alan Freed, as himself. Randazzo resembles Dick Contino from Daddy-O - he even sings a song called "Kiddio". We can safely ignore him and concentrate on the other musical acts, which include:
  • Chuck Berry
  • Little Richard
  • Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
  • Clyde McPhatter
  • La Vern Baker
  • Lionel Hampton (?!?)
  • Ferlin Husky (again, with better material)
The movie goes something like this: static, boring scene with Randazzo and romantic interest, cross-fade to Alan Freed introducing a musical act, then a static boring comic relief, then cross-fade to a spinning record and Alan Freed introducing a musical act, etc. The effect becomes kind of dreamlike, especially when the acts are the surreally rocking Little Richard or Chuck Berry - talk about showmanship!

Oh, and the comic relief is Fisher and Marks and Rocky Graziano, just like in Country Music Holiday. Maybe they are a package with Ferlin Husky.

Not a bad movie, and a great chance to see Alan Freed, who invented rock 'n' roll. He broke the color barrier by playing rhythm and blues by black and white acts, for black and white audiences. All hail!

Late Update: I just looked up Teddy Randazzo for some reason, and it turns out that he wrote, among other things: Gonna Take a Miracle, Hurts So Bad and Going Out of My Head! Wow! So sorry for the put-downs, honest, I rank those songs up with Burt Bacharach. Go, Teddy go!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Disk Man

I know the posts have been a little skimpy lately; we've been busy with the moving and everything. We haven't actually watched a lot of movies per se - most of our Netflixing has been TV shows: We've settled into a pattern of Burn Notice or Psych, followed by Futurama.

Even now that we are settled, I think we're going to be doing a little more socializing, seeing old friends etc. So don't expect a lot more posts. But, in celebration of our return, I've signed up for the Netflix 2-disk + streaming plan.

So at least we'll have a wider variety of movies not to have time to watch.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Road Trip Report

The Spensers are home, home from the sea (the Tallahas-Sea, ha!). Here is the tale of the trip, after the break. (Caution: long, boring.)