Oh! Calcutta! (1972)

Not Rated   |    |  Comedy, Musical

Oh! Calcutta! (1972) Poster

Based on the controversial off-Broadway musical comedy revue, "Oh! Calcutta! is a series of musical numbers about sex and sexual mores. Most of the skits feature one or more performers in ... See full summary »


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19 August 2005 | emdoub
| A fun bit of groundbreaking history
First the film, then the stage production: Okay - this was filmed long before anyone had a home video system - it was back when videotape was a fairly new phenomenon, the player/recorders were far too expensive to be considered for home use, and electronic manipulation of the images was sparkly and new. There are some annoying transition special effects, some cute double-exposure shots, a scene that takes place in a forest glade instead of on-stage, and a scene that's not shown at all - you see a long cut of the outside of a building while you hear what's happening on stage - presumably because of simulated intercourse, though that's apparently not an issue later in the play.

Side note to cinematographers who film plays - just show the audience what they'd see if they were watching the stage production. That's what they expect - it won't disappoint them. A split screen is okay if it's not overdone - but don't cut to the audience during anything but closed-curtain time, don't show closeups of a couple of actors when the whole ensemble is on-stage and moving, and please, please, don't show a line of Celtic dancers from the waist up, ignoring the footwork.

There - had to get that off my chest. Sorry.

Most of the camera-work here is actually pretty good - the annoying parts happened in editing, and the incomprehensible decision to take the one scene away from the stage and put it elsewhere - I'd rather have seen what the actual audience saw.

The stage production - a series of dance numbers and skits about sex - the pain of it, the joy of it, the general absurdity of how it's dealt with in our society. There's some pathos, lots of comedy, some dirty gleeful joy, and some of it falls flat - but some will hit you where you live. By 2005 standards, it's really pretty tame - by 1972 standards in the USA, it was outrageous and shocking. Much of the reason that it's pretty tame now is that it dared to be shocking in 1972 - those who enjoy sexual freedom today owe the folks who dared to do this then. Some of the songs were interesting, but the music was largely forgettable - not everyone has a hit every time out.

As social history, it's interesting. As entertainment, it's spotty, but very fun in parts - well worth an evening. It was really much more fun than I'd expected.

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