In this post I want to focus on two musicals that are directly connected to non-musical films. I am a HUGE lover of Federico Fellini’s films. I think I have all of them on DVD. And have watched them dozens of times and still find them enjoyable.

Three Fellini films were adapted into musicals (stage and/or film). The film that was only adapted for the live stage was La Strada. 8 1/2 one of Fellini’s several masterpieces was adapted first into a live stage production and re-named NINE. And was later adapted by director Rob Marshall for film. If you love Fellini it can be a bit unnerving at first to watch this musical. But it does pay off with repeated viewings. Fellini was known for his film style called magical realism mixing flights of fancy with realistic situations and settings. The musicals don’t seem to carry that over so well. NINE especially seems more like straight opera in an obviously staged setting. But it’s overall story is consistent with the film about a film director in crisis professionally, romantically and emotionally. And the music in NINE is absolutely wonderful. It has an all-star cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role of the director Guido. And the women are a who’s who of modern film including Sophia Loren, Dame Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Fergie and others. Here are clips from some of my favorite numbers in the film.

in this first clip French actress, Marion Cotillard, as Guido’s wife decides to say goodbye as she’s had enough of his cheating and dishonest behaviours. The song is “Take It All”. It is quite wonderful how the song reflects her interior dialogue in comparison to the “real” conversation she is having with Guido.

This next clip comes much earlier in the film and features Penelope Cruz who plays Guido’s mistress, Carla, always competing for his attention. In this scene Guido has escaped the movie set to try and pull things together and he places a call to his mistress. And she gives him what can only be described as a cinematic version of phone sex. So hot! And our good old Guido pretends it’s a call from the Vatican. LOL

And for a final scene – Kate Hudson in an unusual role featuring her singing and dancing. Cinema Italiano captures all the flash of a paparazzi photo session and glitz of Italian film making while singing about all the wonderful things that are typically seen in Fellini films (or in this case Guido’s films).

Now film number two. The hit Broadway Musical SWEET CHARITY from 1966 was made into a film 1969 and featured Shirley McClain in the title role of a girl who is looking for “real love”. The original movie was Federico Fellini’s NIGHTS OF CABIRIA which told the story of a prostitute looking for genuine love. For the adaptation to the stage and film production of SWEET CHARITY the main characters career was changed from prostitute to taxi dancer; a girl that dances with men who pay her. Of course the insinuation is that there is more than dancing going on. But that is Hollywood and the censorship board for you – always sanitizing and trying to “clean up” film. But the music is wonderful and deserves some mention here. Charity is an honest, and free spirited girl who has managed to maintain a certain innocence in spite of her profession. It is an endearing film but there is one thing about it that has not aged particularly well – that is it’s use of snap shots in place of filmed action in an effort to save time. But that aside – the music and dancing is great.

For this first clip I give you the song “Big Spender” which takes place in the dance bar where Sweet Charity works. A memorable song to say the least.

As Charity has several hits and misses in her quest for true love with men that have paid to dance with her and she has fallen in love with them hoping they were true in their intentions only to find they are not. After one of her rejections she is left wandering down the street in the rain and comes upon the “film star” Vittorio, played by Ricard Montalban who is in the midst of being rejected by his romantic interest. He and Charity connect and he takes her to a swank exotic club featuring different dance and music acts. Here is a the scene featuring the dances “The Aloof”, “The Heavyweight” and “The Big Finish” choreographed by the legendary Bob Fosse.

Well Charity does meet here true love in an elevator and eventually he takes her to “church” officiated by Sammy Davis Jr. It’s the Rhythm Of Life Church with a groovy hippy culture. Another fantastic song. So, turn up the volume, tap you feet, clap your hands to the “Rhythm Of Life”

So what about the original Fellinin films these wonderful musicals were based on. Here are the trailers.
first for 8 1/2 and then Nights of Cabiria. Both films I highly recommend.

more musicals…

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