Sunday, February 11, 2007

Don't Write 'Em Like That Anymore

[posted by Callimachus]

While the wife is off work with the baby, with no TV, we've started using Netflix for entertainment. She's partial to old musicals; I'm not, but I admit it's fun to be in the room when one is on the screen -- so long as I can leave the room again.

Today she was watching "Footlight Parade," which I knew by reputation as The One Where Busby Berkeley Blows a Circuit and Surrenders to His Hallucinations and Fetishes.

It was. I like the snappy banter, the early '30s notions of style, and watching Jimmy Cagney prove he's a better dancer than Ruby Keeler. (Jimmy C. was better as a hoofer than he was as a heavy, IMHO.)

[According to IMDB, the gaggle of chorus girls who provided the continuous reel of leg shots and back-lit see-through lingerie poses for Berkeley included uncredited Dorothy Lamour and Ann Sothern.]

But those musical numbers ... shudder ... what a train wreck of "bigger!" and "sappy!" and "because we can!" Mawkish lyrics, impossible situations. It's just laughable.

And yet all day long I've had the tunes from those three songs stuck in my head. I had to look it up before I understood why. Harry Warren, who wrote the music for two of them, was a great modern American pop song writer whose credits also include "I Only Have Eyes for You," "42nd Street," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "Jeepers Creepers," and "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me."

Holy hell! I never would have recognized his name (I know my blog-partner would have, though). Now I don't feel so bad for succumbing to the melodies.

The other big musical number was penned by Sammy Fain (nee Samuel Feinberg), who was no slouch either: His resume includes "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing."