16 July 2006 | ptb-8
Someone who knows how to make a musical in Hollywood should take a look at the career of Eddie Cantor and give it the FUNNY GIRL treatment. Now before you all roll your own banjo sized eyes, we are edging closer to a time in this clever new century where good nightclub/theater musicals are being released: DE LOVELY, CHICAGO, BEYOND THE SEA, RAY and WALK THE LINE are each quality musicals that are creative screen musical biographies and each are successes. Some even won a clutch of Oscars. The public like them all. What the public do not like now days is Rogers and Hammerstein style screen musicals (pity, though)... but will happily embrace a showbiz musical with songs sung in places people sing and perform in real life; in a nightclub, a theater or in a movie/movie. THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY as made in the 50s is a revered bio pic hampered by the conservative 'musical style' of the time. Keith Braselle creates a passable imitation and the tinkly songs from vaudeville are fun in a Doris Day or Betty Grable way... which suits 1953. Cantor's own ribald 1944 comedy SHOWBUSINESS is a faux life story of himself anyway, and more closer to the real vaudeville tawdriness than his own biography here. . However, if someone has the sense to license the hilarious musical films Cantor made from 1930-1937 produced by Samuel Goldwyn, lift all the original musical numbers whole as directed by Busby Berkeley directly into a new production.... get Caroline O'Connor from DE LOVELY who already does a great Ethel Merman, find an actor to play Cantor in the story scenes.. there is a spectacular and hilarious musical ready to hit audiences right in both the funny-bone and box office. If you have seen THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKYS and THE PRODUCERS and maybe even SHOWBUSINESS you will get the picture. The thing with the original Cantor films of '30-'37 is that the songs are so good, hilarious and well staged. As BEYOND THE SEA and DE LOVELY proved one does not need to tinker with the songs, just show them in situ as written. The bonus with any Cantor idea is that the film musical sequences from WHOOPEE or PALMY DAYS or KID FROM SPAIN are modern enough still to be lifted straight into a new film. STAR! the bio of Gertrude Lawrence did the reverse: color musical numbers burst from a B/W newsreel of Gertie's life as watched by Julie Andrews. The EDDIE CANTOR STORY follows that format.... but if remade today, prefer the reverse: make a new color movie story using original Cantor b/w screen musical movie footage from the 30s is the way to go. And it's cheaper! The music numbers are already in the can still fresh from 70 years ago! They are so spectacular, rude and hilarious they will translate to this century and a young audience very well.