more musicals…

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.

ramblings on suffering


Of all living things
the most fortunate are
those who escaped….

I saw a still-born hippo
floating in a pool,
it’s legs reaching to the sky
as it’s grieving mother swam, circling around it.

Why did the opossum cross the road?
Did it not see the car speeding onward?
Now just another memory of life
flattened on asphalt.

There’s a black man hanging from a tree, like my savior,
with a sacrilegious cross burning in the yard.
The sounds of wailing through tears
mocked by fleeing hooded jeers and laughter.
And I’ve seen a black man stopped by police
because of the color of his skin
Unjustly harassed, searched and thrown against the car
only to find nothing.

My dear Ophelia, drifting underwater
what was your last thought
watching the last air bubble, wobble
and rise toward a liquid sky?

To a woman: Did you feel free
the moment you jumped
from that high blue bridge
and flew toward the earth?
The broken red wings of your spirit
spilling through your cracked skull
onto the pavement one summer morning.
Your twisted body, lying there
in front of me behind the wheel,
on a street called North when you went South.
The subject of a undisciplined and indiscriminate passerby
who just had to wiggle out of her red van,
before the police arrived, get up close
and take a photo with her cell-phone.

The mosquito gorging itself
on the blood-feast of its host
takes no notice of the hand that will kill it.

The fly for all it’s many eyes
still cannot see
that it feeds, mostly, on shit.

Does the flower feel pain
as each of its petals fall until
all that is left is a withered stem?
Does the tree feel pain
when its limbs are stripped from the trunk
during the storm or when
this living thing is cut down
by the chainsaw massacre of deforestation?

I’ve seen wild mice care for the injured young in a nest disturbed.
I’ve heard the piercing, shrieking squeal of injured rabbits.
I’ve seen the Killdeer risk its life to distract a predator
and I’ve looked into the sad, fearful eyes of an unloved dog.
I’ve seen a deer hit by a car get up and limp away
only to die by the side of road while looking back
as if to apologize for disturbing traffic.
I’ve seen a butterfly with a broken wing
clinging to hope while wishing it were back in its cocoon.
I’ve seen the fish
stranded too long on the beach
its glassy eye blinded by sunlight
its gaping mouth filled with sand and
its scales sticky with death

In Alaska, I found a cassette tape
by the side of the road
the middle of nowhere
the wilderness, no one around for miles
wet and muddy, its case cracked
I don’t know what made me
pick it up and take it home.
I let it dry, cleaned it, rewound it and carefully placed the tape in a new case.
My proud first attempt at restoration.
Then I put it in the player and pressed “PLAY”
I was assaulted by the sounds of thrown objects
hitting something and someone,
cursing, screams, cries, anger, hatred, vicious argument,
begging and pleading.
There were no names.
Only he
Only she
and the sound of a crying child hiding in a corner whimpering “please stop”
Threats and the dull sound of fists hitting flesh
meting out punishment where once there was love.
I sat listening. Frozen. Unable to move.
As the sun set I cried.

I’ve smelled living death
The stink of blood mixed with piss
as the cancer-fill man stood naked by the toilet.
His unbathed pasty flesh clammy with sweat.
He is too weak to bathe himself so I have to help
as I try to disguise my gagging reflex;
and I wonder if this is what the mortician sees, feels and smells.

And I’ve smelled the death of a slaughterhouse
the mindless cruelty and knock of a thudding blow
to the head of a cow with a stunbolt
the still live animal lying helpless, it’s throat now slit,
blood gushing in rivers onto the dirty, stained concrete floor,
the twitching limbs of a dying years supply of hamburgers and steaks.

I’ve even smelled the death
of a carcass in the hot summer sun
at the dumping grounds of livestock no longer “live”.
Cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats piled indiscriminately
the rotting remains, not yet destroyed
lying in an open trailer to a buzzing soundtrack
the pungent waves of nauseating stink
this unmovable feast for flies and their maggot young
The bodies juices oozing
from the rusted corners of the container.

I’ve heard the uncontrollable impulsive
wailing of the living that accompanies
the release of the recently dead

Maybe I’ve seen too much
Maybe I’ve heard and smelled too much.
Maybe I’ve even said too much.
But of all the things that have touched me –
Have I let them move me?
Or do I stand in shock,
immobilized by the glare of oncoming lights
that are driven by forces beyond my control?

I sometimes wonder
if the luckiest child is
the one never born
into this world of suffering –
and of those already born;
if the most fortunate ones
have already escaped
the suffering that is yet to come.

The Players Song

Players Song

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the end has come
lights gone down
crowds are gone
strides across
this sawdust clown

baggy pants
dirty shirt
worn out shoes
treading through
another broken town

hotel room
lonely bulb
peeling paint
dingy and dank
inhabited mold drown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the naked man
in the bathtub
smokes a cigar
wearing the painted
face of a clown

milky surface
soapy water
shimmers like diamonds
one deep breath
he’s sliding down
what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

warm wet meditation
wraps up the man
mind quiet, at peace
distant thunder smoking
cigar lifeline

rising up
paint-stained flesh
reveals the man
washed renewed naked
suffering reality frown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

I don’t remember when I wrote this – possibly 2013-2014. But I only recorded it recently.