Musicals Talking Pictures


Musicals

The story of the Hollywood musical, featuring interviews with stars from the genre's golden age, as well as some of the directors and songwriters who helped create them.


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Transcript


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Lavish, spectacular, bursting with emotion -

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the musical has been a feature of cinema ever since Al Jolson uttered

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the immortal words, "You ain't heard nothing yet."

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Throughout Hollywood's golden age and the decades that followed,

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cinemas were alive with the sound of musicals.

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At their best, they showcased the extraordinary talents of some truly

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great stars, who we'll hear from in this programme.

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Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand,

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and the man we'll start with... Fred Astaire.

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The verdict on his first screen test was,

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"Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."

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Well, here's a bit of his dancing

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being discussed on Parkinson in 1976.

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A lot of these numbers that you danced

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for these people who wrote them,

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you were dressed up in what became your sort of trademark,

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the top hat, the white tie and tails.

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Two questions. How much is that really you?

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Well, I don't like wearing a full dress suit. I hate it.

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Well, I had so much of it that people thought I was born in it.

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-I began to think I was, too.

-AUDIENCE LAUGHS

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But it was necessary for the thing we were doing at that point.

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I actually haven't worn it anywhere in a film for quite a long time.

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I had to wear it to a couple of shindigs I went to recently,

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but I just don't like it.

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It's stiff and...you know.

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-It made you dance very well.

-I've got a word for that.

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Well, we've got a clip here. Let's have a look at it.

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Probably it was the last time that you appeared on screen in that rig

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-and that was in Blue Skies.

-Well, that isn't a full suit.

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-The one you're talking about, it's a tail...

-Let's have a look.

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MUSIC: Puttin' On The Ritz by Irving Berlin

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AUDIENCE APPLAUDS

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APPLAUSE DROWNS SPEECH

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-You enjoy watching that?

-Well, it interests me to see it again.

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I haven't seen it lately and, I mean,

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I know it's there because I've always remembered it.

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It was very complicated to get it, all that stuff,

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the screens, the separate screens.

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I did one thing alone and then they had...

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..changed the set so that the one line would go this way

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and that was another shot and then the other line would go that way.

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-In other words, there was a multiple amount of...

-Of you on screen.

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Yeah, of split screens put all together.

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It's a very complicated process.

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It wasn't all ready to look finished until about three months

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after it was made and I was very anxious to know

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how they could ever get it timed together so well...

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It was a wonderful department of special effects...

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could get that all synced properly,

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that's what I worried about mostly.

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You knock hell out of your canes, don't you?

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Oh, I've broken a lot of them.

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LAUGHTER

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Sometimes on purpose - I got mad or something,

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because I wasn't getting something I was trying to get, and then...

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I'll tell you another slight technical thing

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that always puzzled me whenever I see that sequence, and that's -

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how do you get that cane off the floor to shoot into your hand?

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Is that trick photography?

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Well, it's not trick photography, it's a mechanical thing,

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there was a little hole in the ground, on the stage,

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it had a little...thing that shot up,

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and when the cane was there, it went...

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like that, and came up on...

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-LAUGHTER

-..on rhythm.

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This other hand out there had to press the button just right,

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and we had to have a musician to do it,

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because the timing had to be just a fraction ahead of that beat,

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cos if you'd hit it on the beat,

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it would have been a little late in throwing things out,

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so he had to go, "Da da da da dum,"

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and start laying it up in my hand, you see?

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-Extraordinary.

-Things like that take a lot of time and...

-Yeah.

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And you pray all the time that they're going to work!

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Fred Astaire's only rival

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to the title of cinema's greatest male dancer

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wasn't a rival at all -

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in fact, he and Gene Kelly were close friends.

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Kelly once described Astaire as the Cary Grant of dancers,

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whereas he was more the Marlon Brando.

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A director as well as an actor and dancer,

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he changed the musicals forever.

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What would you say was your own major contribution to the musical?

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It would seem to me

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that you were the man that brought muscle and sweat

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and athleticism into dancing.

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Well, that might be true, but I feel that my biggest contribution

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was changing the costume.

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Whereas the male dancer in movies was always representative

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of the upper classes, er, I certainly couldn't be,

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because of not only the way I danced, the way I wear clothes -

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if I put on, er, evening dress, white tie and tails,

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I look like a truck driver, you see, or The Iceman Cometh,

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and I think the outfit,

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changing into a sweatshirt and blue jeans and moccasins,

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and I think that might've...

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visually changing the look of the male dancer,

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might have been my greatest contribution.

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I don't know.

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I remember in...

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I suppose On The Town is the one I remember most vividly,

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and it seemed to me for the first time in a musical,

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the song and dance came spontaneously out of the action...

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-Yeah, well, that's...

-That was a contribution you made, surely?

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Yes, we did it on location, we did On The Town on location,

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and we did it as real people coming down real streets

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in New York City, and the sailor suits...

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show your body, you know,

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just the same as a ballet dancer wearing tights.

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You can see how he dances.

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# New York, New York

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# New York, New York

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# New York, New York

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# It's a wonderful town! #

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-LAUGHS:

-Hey, fellas, what's the big rush?

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-We only got 24 hours.

-Yeah!

-Yeah, we never been here before.

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Ah, what could happen to you in one day?

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What do you think you're going to do?

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HE HOWLS

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# New York, New York

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# A wonderful town

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# The Bronx is up but the Battery's down

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# The people ride in a hole in the ground

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# New York, New York

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# It's a wonderful town! #

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But didn't the studio think with On The Town

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that they had a disaster on their hands?

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They thought that going to New York

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was the most ridiculous thing in the world, yes.

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-They wanted to do it all in the back lot?

-Oh, sure.

-Yeah.

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Oh, sure. "Why not?" they said. Yes.

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-Cheaper.

-Yes.

-HE CHUCKLES

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-And quicker, yes.

-But it was your idea to take it to New York.

-Yes.

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-Yes.

-Why?

-Because I knew it would work - I somehow knew it would work.

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Maybe if I'd been older and wiser,

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I would have said, "Well, I shouldn't take that kind of a risk,"

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but I felt it was time to do it,

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and I had planned out ways to hide the camera

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so that we didn't need a police force around us

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to pull people back,

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we could shoot very quickly, and we did.

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# We've sailed the seas and we've been the world over

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# Made the Mandalay

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# We've seen the Sphinx

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# And we've seen the Cliffs of Dover

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# And we can safely say

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# The most fabulous sight is New York in the light of the day

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# Our only day

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# Now York, New York

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# It's a wonderful town

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# The Bronx is up and the Battery's down

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# The people ride in a hole in the ground

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# Now York, New York

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# It's a wonderful town! #

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Well, let's talk about the musical which, I suppose,

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it's got to be among almost everybody's

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top two or three musicals, and that's Singin' In The Rain.

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How much of that was scripted?

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Because I can't imagine a script that says, "And at this point

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"Gene goes dancing up and down through puddles," because...

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No, no script -

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usually the scripts that were written about musicals

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would say, "And here Kelly, or substitute Astaire,

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"does a dance, and it stops the show,"

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you see, usually they say something like that.

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It's up to the choreographer to supply a great deal.

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# Doodle-ooh-doo

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# Doo-dee doodle-ooh-doo-dee-ooh

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# Doodle-ooh-doo

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# Doo-dee doodle-ooh-doo-dee-ooh

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# Doodle-ooh-doo

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# Doo-dee doodle-ooh-doo-dee-ooh

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# I'm singin' in the rain

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# Just singin' in the rain

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# What a glorious feeling

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# I'm happy again

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# I'm laughing at clouds

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# So dark up above

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# The sun's in my heart

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# And I'm ready for love... #

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The Singin' In The Rain number per se was done

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because it's a charming song,

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and the producer, who happened to write it, Arthur Freed,

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said "Well, what are you going to do with this now?"

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You know, we'd done it a couple of times before.

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I said, "Well, it's going to be raining,

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"and I'm going to be singing."

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And it was one of the easiest numbers

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I've ever had to put together.

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It's fantastic, because it's the one everyone remembers.

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Well, it's...

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It's a joyous number.

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I think people like to see joy on the screen.

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The man who produced Singin' In The Rain

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and wrote the title song was Arthur Freed.

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Freed ran the musicals unit at MGM Studios,

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and amongst his many successes were enduring classics

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like The Wizard Of Oz, Meet Me In St Louis,

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Easter Parade,

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Show Boat and An American In Paris,

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Silk Stockings and Gigi.

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Despite his incredible track record,

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he famously raised eyebrows over one composition,

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as Singin' In the Rain co-director Stanley Donen explains here.

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We said, "Well, would you like to write a song?"

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He said, "Sure, we'd like to write a new song.

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"What kind of song would you like?"

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And we said, "Well, a song like Be A Clown," the Cole Porter song.

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# Be a clown, be a clown

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# All the world loves a clown

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# Be a crazy buffoon

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# And the 'demoiselles will all swoon

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# Be a crack jackanapes

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# And they'll imitate you like apes

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# Why be a great composer with your rent in arrears?

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# Why be a major poet and you'll owe it for years?

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# When crowds'll pay to giggle if you wiggle your ears

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# Be a clown, be a clown be a clown. #

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And they went away and wrote a song

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which was incredibly like Be A Clown.

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# Make 'em laugh

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# Make 'em laugh

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# Don't you know everyone wants to laugh?

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# Laugh, laugh!

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# My dad said be an actor, my son

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# But be a comical one

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# They'll be standin' in lines

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# For those old honky-tonk monkeyshines

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# Or you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite

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# Or you could charm the critics and have nothin' to eat

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# Just slip on a banana peel the world's at your feet.

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# Make 'em laugh make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh. #

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None of us had the nerve to say, "Arthur, this song is too close,

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"you can't do that," so we used it.

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Arthur brought Irving Berlin down on the stage

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when we were shooting Make 'Em Laugh,

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and obviously Irving Berlin knew Be A Clown, the Cole Porter song,

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and as the song went on, his head got lower and lower and lower,

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and after about eight bars,

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he said to Arthur Freed, "Who wrote that song?"

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accusingly, and Arthur said, "That's enough, Irving,

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"we don't need to hear any more, let's go somewhere else."

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he said, "The guys and I got together and wrote a song, come on, Irving."

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And that was the easing out without admitting

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that he had somewhat borrowed some of it.

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In many ways, the world of musicals was a small one,

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dominated by a very talented group.

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Stanley Donen co-directed Singin' In The Rain with Gene Kelly,

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and Kelly would later marry Donen's ex-wife.

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Kelly starred in An American In Paris

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which was directed by Judy Garland's husband Vincente Minnelli

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and written by Alan Jay Lerner, who also wrote My Fair Lady and Gigi.

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And Lerner discusses both those films here,

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after this marvellous morsel of Maurice Chevalier.

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# How lovely to sit here in the shade

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# With none of the woes of man and maid

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# I'm glad I'm not young anymore

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# The rivals that don't exist at all

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# The feeling you're only two feet tall

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# I'm glad that I'm not young any more

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# No more confusion

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# No morning-after surprise

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# No self-delusion

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# That's when you're telling those lies

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# She isn't wise

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# And even if love comes through the door

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# The kind that goes on forever more

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# Forever more is shorter than before

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# Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young

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# Any more. #

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APPLAUSE

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Was that one of your favourite ones?

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Well, it was actually almost his idea.

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Because when I first met him I asked him how it felt to

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be 70 or 71 years old, which is what he was when he made the film.

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He said considering the alternative, it wasn't too bad.

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But I remember when we went into the recording studio to make that song,

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he said to me, "Would you mind terribly...

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"Come with me and sit outside and tell me if it's all right."

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So I sat outside in the control room and he recorded the song.

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And then he came back to see me afterwards and he said,

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"How was it?" I said, "Maurice, it was perfect."

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He said, "But how was the accent?" I said, "I understood every word."

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He said, "No, no, no. Was there enough?"

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So he was very shrewd. He knew exactly how to be French.

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That's right.

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Of course, he was one of the legendary figures of...

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And one of your great heroes, too.

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When I was a child I grew up listening to

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"every little breeze seemed to whisper Louise"

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and all those songs.

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With, of course, a reputation for meanness that few have surpassed.

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It isn't that he was mean but he was frugal.

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He was, as we say in the States, close with a dollar.

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And when he first went out to Hollywood

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he was making something like 20,000 a week.

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There was a parking lot outside Paramount where you could

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park your car for ten cents.

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Four blocks away you could park it for five cents.

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And that's where he parked.

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Really? On 20,000 a week?

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Yes, I'm sure he died at a ripe old age with every penny he ever had.

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LAUGHTER

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What's your favourite lyric of the ones that you've written?

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Actually it's from that film, the song Gigi.

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-You like that one.

-Both Fritz and I are... We judge things

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differently, I suppose. Whether something is popular or not.

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It just so happens that that one was.

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We always judged it from,

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-"Did we accomplish what we set out to do?" you know.

-Yes.

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And that song seemed to us to be the most successful

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from that point of view.

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Was it a difficult one to get together, the words and the music?

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It...

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It was created under rather bizarre circumstances.

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Not very romantically, I might add.

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We were working in Paris and Fritz was in the living room playing.

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And I was in the john, the bathroom.

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And suddenly I heard this beautiful melody.

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HE VOCALISES

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And I came running into the room forgetting,

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if I might say, that my trousers were around my ankles.

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And I took a header as I went into the living room

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and Fritz saw me fall down and assumed that having

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fallen down I would get up because he didn't do anything about it.

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He said, "Do you like that?"

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I said, "Yes, it's beautiful," from down there on the floor.

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-And it was Gigi.

-That's that lovely love song.

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Of course, My Fair Lady, when you talk about that you

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talk about an extraordinary phenomena, don't you?

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It's possibly been the most successful musical ever written,

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-hasn't it?

-I believe it has.

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Has anybody ever estimated how much money that musical has

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made from the moment that you wrote it?

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Well, it has been estimated roughly, as of a few years ago...

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Considering they estimated from the point of view of all

0:20:070:20:11

the grosses of all the theatres and all the recordings that have

0:20:110:20:16

been made and it came to something like £500 million.

0:20:160:20:22

-£500 million?

-Yes.

0:20:220:20:23

-Strewth.

-It didn't go to me, but...

0:20:240:20:27

LAUGHTER

0:20:270:20:28

It went to that Arab that...

0:20:280:20:30

They've got it all, I assure you.

0:20:320:20:34

That's extraordinary. What made you want to do that?

0:20:350:20:40

Obviously, it wasn't a wild guess on your behalf.

0:20:400:20:44

A man named Gabriel Pascal who owned the rights,

0:20:440:20:49

a rather legendary figure who acquired the rights from Shaw.

0:20:490:20:53

As a matter of fact I asked him how...

0:20:530:20:56

Cos he was an unknown producer.

0:20:560:20:58

How he ever got those rights

0:20:580:21:00

and he said that he went out to Shaw's house.

0:21:000:21:03

And he knocked on the door and he had a very thick Hungarian accent.

0:21:050:21:09

And the maid came to the door and said, "Who is it?"

0:21:090:21:12

He said, "I am Gabriel Pascal."

0:21:120:21:15

She said, "Who sent you?" And he said, "Tell him fate sent me."

0:21:150:21:19

So Shaw was on the steps and heard that and came to the door

0:21:190:21:24

and said, "Who are you and what do you want?"

0:21:240:21:26

He said, "I'm a producer

0:21:260:21:27

"and I wish to bring your great works to the screen."

0:21:270:21:30

And Shaw said, "How much money do you have?"

0:21:300:21:33

And Pascal looked in his pocket and said 12 shillings.

0:21:330:21:36

And Shaw said,

0:21:360:21:37

"Come in, you're the first honest movie producer I ever met."

0:21:370:21:40

LAUGHTER

0:21:400:21:41

That's how he got the rights and then he came to Fritz

0:21:410:21:45

-and me about doing it as a musical many years later.

-Yes.

0:21:450:21:49

What about... You've written an awful lot of very, very memorable stuff,

0:21:490:21:54

-not for singers but for actors, haven't you?

-Yes.

0:21:540:21:56

I think specifically of Rex Harrison and Richard Burton.

0:21:560:22:01

Larry Harvey, too, he played in Camelot in London.

0:22:010:22:04

Do you prefer writing for actors?

0:22:040:22:06

I discovered that I did, because I was forced to write for Rex.

0:22:060:22:10

When I say forced, I don't mean it was a hardship

0:22:100:22:14

but the idea of doing Shaw, of doing Higgins as a baritone

0:22:140:22:21

where suddenly you would hear this marvellous dialogue

0:22:210:22:24

and a moment later you would hear the voice coming out

0:22:240:22:26

and you would say, "Where's that voice coming from?"

0:22:260:22:29

There obviously had to be some relationship to what he sang,

0:22:290:22:34

to his normal voice production.

0:22:340:22:37

And so we evolved sort of speech singing for Rex

0:22:390:22:43

and the minute we started doing it I felt very much at home doing it.

0:22:430:22:47

And then continued doing it

0:22:470:22:51

because it seemed like my most natural form of expression.

0:22:510:22:54

But is it because also actors treat the words better than a singer does?

0:22:540:22:59

-I mean, with more reverence?

-They phrase them.

0:22:590:23:02

An actor... I've heard you in musicals. An actor phrases, you see,

0:23:020:23:07

much more to the spoken word than he does to the musical line.

0:23:070:23:11

Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!

0:23:140:23:17

# I've grown accustomed to her face

0:23:200:23:22

# She almost makes the day begin

0:23:250:23:27

# I've grown accustomed to the tune that she whistles night and noon

0:23:290:23:32

# Her smiles, her frowns

0:23:320:23:34

# Her ups, her downs are second nature to me now

0:23:340:23:37

# Like breathing out, breathing in

0:23:390:23:41

# I was serenely independent and content before we met

0:23:420:23:46

# Surely I could always be that way again

0:23:460:23:48

# And yet I've grown accustomed to her looks

0:23:510:23:55

# Accustomed to her voice

0:23:550:23:57

# Accustomed to her face. #

0:23:580:24:01

And here is the great Rex Harrison, also discussing

0:24:040:24:08

the genesis of his performance in the fabulous My Fair Lady.

0:24:080:24:13

I had never sung in my life but they didn't want a singing Higgins.

0:24:130:24:17

They wanted somebody to be able to handle the numbers

0:24:170:24:20

and I didn't know whether I could.

0:24:200:24:22

What about this music question?

0:24:220:24:24

Finally they got me to stand round a piano with them

0:24:240:24:29

and sing Gilbert and Sullivan.

0:24:290:24:31

And I just did... We were all singing Gilbert and Sullivan.

0:24:320:24:38

-The oddest audition you ever had, in a way?

-Yes.

0:24:380:24:41

I became less and less embarrassed because they were singing too.

0:24:410:24:44

They were also listening to me and they decided I had about three notes,

0:24:440:24:48

three possible notes.

0:24:480:24:50

Which is the best qualification for doing a musical.

0:24:500:24:53

Well, for which they could write the numbers round.

0:24:530:24:55

I mean...

0:24:550:24:57

HE VOCALISES

0:24:570:24:58

I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face is a very simple melodic line.

0:24:580:25:02

And not hard to use or not use.

0:25:030:25:06

Anyway, I finally said I would do it.

0:25:080:25:11

And they left saying they would start writing new numbers for me

0:25:110:25:15

now they knew I was going to do it.

0:25:150:25:17

I went to Wigmore Street to study singing, Bel Canto singing...

0:25:170:25:24

All the sort of operatic bit?

0:25:240:25:26

All the operatic bit. I realised within two or three days

0:25:260:25:29

that it was absolutely...

0:25:290:25:30

It would take me ten years and then I wouldn't be a singer.

0:25:300:25:33

So I got hold of Alan and Fritz in America and said, "I don't know,

0:25:350:25:39

"I don't think I can do it, I don't know what to do about this

0:25:390:25:43

"because I not going to be able to sing the numbers."

0:25:430:25:45

So they said, "Why don't you ring a man called Bill Lowe,

0:25:460:25:50

"he's a conductor at the Coliseum."

0:25:500:25:52

-The pit orchestra?

-The pit orchestra.

0:25:520:25:55

"He might be able to...

0:25:550:25:57

"He's heard all the methods over the years of musical comedy people,

0:25:570:26:01

"why don't you talk to him?"

0:26:010:26:03

So I rang up Bill Lowe and he came round to see me.

0:26:040:26:08

I had a piano, I was staying in a hotel at the time, the Connaught.

0:26:090:26:13

He had a piano moved in

0:26:130:26:15

and he started to fiddle on the piano with it.

0:26:150:26:18

And I started with him to learn the technique of speaking on pitch,

0:26:180:26:23

which is... You can only do

0:26:230:26:26

if you've got an in-built sense of rhythm...

0:26:260:26:30

..because otherwise you couldn't do it.

0:26:310:26:34

Finally, I got to the stage where I used the notes I could use,

0:26:340:26:37

I wanted to use, and I simply spoke the rest of it.

0:26:370:26:42

There was a mythology that somebody couldn't take

0:26:420:26:46

-something from the stage to the screen?

-Absolutely.

0:26:460:26:49

Because a lot of purely stage actors are too big in front of a camera.

0:26:490:26:53

They project too much.

0:26:530:26:55

There were a lot of people after the part, obviously.

0:26:570:27:00

And it was a great plum part to be picked.

0:27:020:27:04

A lot of people wanted me to go and show my face in Hollywood,

0:27:050:27:09

but I didn't, I sat on top of my hill in Portofino and thought,

0:27:090:27:13

-"If they want me, they can come to me."

-And they did.

0:27:130:27:17

Finally. They went to other people first.

0:27:170:27:19

They did come to me finally, yes. And so I went out there and did it.

0:27:190:27:24

Now, Julie Andrews, who has become a great screen star subsequently,

0:27:240:27:30

who had the triumph with you on the stage,

0:27:300:27:34

was not chosen and Audrey Hepburn was instead.

0:27:340:27:37

I think the reason for that was very largely

0:27:400:27:43

because Julie had not made her big success

0:27:430:27:46

at the time of the casting of the film.

0:27:460:27:49

Plus the fact that they had me who they considered to be

0:27:500:27:53

a doubtful box office entity because I was then more stage than screen.

0:27:530:27:59

So they felt...

0:27:590:28:00

It really is, very largely,

0:28:000:28:02

a question of securing their investment.

0:28:020:28:05

They went to one of the then million-dollar girls.

0:28:050:28:08

That's a girl who can get a million dollars per picture.

0:28:080:28:10

Yes, a million dollars for a picture

0:28:100:28:12

and they consider draws a lot of money into the box office.

0:28:120:28:15

Which indeed they do, like Taylor. And Hepburn.

0:28:150:28:17

# The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain

0:28:170:28:22

# By George, she's got it By George, she's got it

0:28:220:28:25

# Now once again, where does it rain?

0:28:250:28:28

# On the plain, on the plain

0:28:280:28:30

# And where's that soggy plain?

0:28:300:28:34

# In Spain, in Spain

0:28:340:28:38

# The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain... #

0:28:380:28:42

Bravo!

0:28:420:28:43

# The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain... #

0:28:430:28:47

Julie Andrews may have been passed over for the film of My Fair Lady,

0:28:520:28:56

but it meant that she was available for Mary Poppins.

0:28:560:29:00

That won her an Oscar and led to her being cast in what was then

0:29:000:29:05

the highest grossing film of all time, The Sound Of Music.

0:29:050:29:10

Let's talk about a spectacular success that you had.

0:29:110:29:14

A film that has grossed more money,

0:29:140:29:16

The Sound Of Music, than any other movie, hasn't it?

0:29:160:29:19

Certainly more than any other musical.

0:29:190:29:21

Maybe, since its rerelease,

0:29:220:29:25

it probably is number one in grossing.

0:29:250:29:28

It's close to, like, Godfather, I think.

0:29:280:29:30

There was an odd story about that, though, wasn't there?

0:29:300:29:32

That the studio had no faith in it when it first came out.

0:29:320:29:35

I don't know about that.

0:29:350:29:37

I know that we were all very aware that it could be over-saccharin,

0:29:370:29:41

and sweet and we had to be very careful about it.

0:29:410:29:45

With religion and nuns and children and mountains

0:29:450:29:48

and all that sweetness going on, it was too much.

0:29:480:29:51

So we all tried to play it down

0:29:510:29:53

and make it very real, as much as we could. But I don't think...

0:29:530:29:57

There was a considerable lot of money spent on the film

0:29:580:30:01

and hours put into it,

0:30:010:30:03

I don't think they thought it wasn't too important. I do know that...

0:30:030:30:06

I don't suppose anybody had any idea how successful it was going to be.

0:30:060:30:09

Let's have a look at the sequence that I suppose everybody remembers.

0:30:090:30:14

We showed part of it before you came on.

0:30:140:30:16

That magnificent opening sequence.

0:30:160:30:18

That huge shot over the mountains there

0:30:180:30:20

-and the camera comes on to you. Beautiful moment.

-It was very cold.

0:30:200:30:24

# The hills are alive with the sound of music

0:30:430:30:50

# With songs they have sung for a thousand years

0:30:500:30:58

# The hills fill my heart

0:30:580:31:01

# With the sound of music

0:31:010:31:06

# My heart wants to sing every song it hears... #

0:31:060:31:12

APPLAUSE

0:31:120:31:14

That's a smashing shot, that over the top of the hill helicopter shot.

0:31:200:31:24

Yes, it was an amazing shot to be in the middle of

0:31:240:31:28

because it was a helicopter that was coming up sideways,

0:31:280:31:31

the cameraman was hanging out of the side of this helicopter

0:31:310:31:34

and how they ever do that, I don't know because there is no door or anything,

0:31:340:31:37

it's just the camera down at you like this.

0:31:370:31:39

But it was a jet helicopter and every time...

0:31:390:31:42

We would do many, many takes before they were satisfied.

0:31:420:31:44

And so the helicopter would come towards me, get closer and closer,

0:31:440:31:48

looked like it was sidestepping towards me,

0:31:480:31:51

then it would make a circle and go back and come through

0:31:510:31:53

the trees again and I had to rush to the end of the field and start all over again.

0:31:530:31:57

But every time it made the circle to go back,

0:31:570:31:59

it would knock me flat from the downdraught of the jets.

0:31:590:32:02

And so I would do my lovely bit and then it would go bam!

0:32:020:32:05

I'd pick myself up

0:32:050:32:06

and I got so angry because it just kept knocking me down.

0:32:060:32:09

-Did you swear?

-Yes.

0:32:090:32:12

Despite the phenomenal success of The Sound Of Music,

0:32:150:32:19

the 1960s saw the popularity of the traditional movie musical

0:32:190:32:24

starting to fade.

0:32:240:32:25

The films of the Beatles and Elvis

0:32:250:32:28

were outperforming movie adaptations of Broadway hits.

0:32:280:32:31

Of course, there were exceptions.

0:32:310:32:33

Amongst them, Barbra Streisand,

0:32:330:32:36

here talking about her movie debut Funny Girl.

0:32:360:32:39

What would you say was the most memorable thing about it?

0:32:410:32:44

Oh, God, that's terrible. Um...

0:32:440:32:46

I think it's a very difficult film to, er...

0:32:510:32:56

..to describe.

0:32:590:33:00

Because, intellectually, and from a paid critic's point of view,

0:33:000:33:05

perhaps it is sort of old-fashioned,

0:33:050:33:09

corny or something. But life is corny.

0:33:090:33:13

But on the other hand, it's a very entertaining picture, I feel.

0:33:150:33:20

People get involved with it. The audience... It's an audience picture.

0:33:200:33:24

The audience seems to like it and, um...

0:33:240:33:27

So as a critic, you know,

0:33:300:33:31

I wouldn't want to have to be a critic seeing it.

0:33:310:33:34

It's a silly thing,

0:33:340:33:36

and yet the audience thinks that if you sing some songs in a movie,

0:33:360:33:41

then you are a singer.

0:33:410:33:43

I do maybe, I don't even know how many, 50 scenes in Funny Girl

0:33:430:33:49

and they are all just talking, which is called acting.

0:33:490:33:53

Which is called being.

0:33:530:33:56

And then I sing ten songs.

0:33:560:33:59

So would you say I was more of an actress or a singer?

0:33:590:34:01

I would say I was more of an actress.

0:34:010:34:04

I mean, singing is only an extension of acting.

0:34:040:34:07

So to me...I've never done a musical,

0:34:070:34:12

but I've only done stories with songs.

0:34:120:34:16

There is a number in the film in which you roller-skate.

0:34:160:34:19

-It wasn't in the play, as I remember.

-Did you see the film?

0:34:190:34:22

-Yes.

-Where did you see it?

-In New York, couple of days ago.

0:34:220:34:25

You do some rather impressive roller-skating.

0:34:250:34:28

Could you skate before the film?

0:34:280:34:30

Just as much as you see me skate.

0:34:300:34:32

I mean, I had to fake that I was awkward.

0:34:320:34:34

Actually, all these girls were skating for like six weeks

0:34:360:34:40

and they all took these flops.

0:34:400:34:41

I'm not a very good skater but I was only one who never fell.

0:34:410:34:45

It was like a joke - make me fall.

0:34:450:34:48

I'm not a very good skater,

0:34:500:34:52

but I did have to work at looking that awkward

0:34:520:34:55

because I skate better than what I was supposed to.

0:34:550:35:02

But I used to go skating every Saturday in Brooklyn,

0:35:020:35:05

in the Empire Roller-skate Drome or something like that.

0:35:050:35:10

The Empire Roller Drome. It was fun to do. Roller-skate.

0:35:100:35:15

And I remember thinking, because I had to borrow the skates,

0:35:170:35:20

you had to pay like a quarter and you get skates,

0:35:200:35:22

my big dream was to buy my own skates.

0:35:220:35:25

And these girls had these tin boxes that,

0:35:250:35:27

I remember, divided in half like there were four colours in the box

0:35:270:35:31

and this, to me, was like the end, with white skates.

0:35:310:35:34

Because when you rent them, you get these dirty old skates.

0:35:340:35:38

I never did get my own skates!

0:35:380:35:40

# I'd rather be blue thinking of you

0:35:400:35:45

# I'd rather be blue over you

0:35:450:35:49

# Than be happy with somebody else

0:35:490:35:57

# Will I be good? Will I be bad?

0:35:580:36:01

# Don't be a fool, you fool

0:36:010:36:04

# My little flat, I'm turning that

0:36:060:36:08

# Into a Sunday school

0:36:080:36:11

# While you're away, I'm here to say

0:36:130:36:16

# There'll be no ice man there

0:36:160:36:18

# Singing the blues I'm gonna use

0:36:200:36:23

# Nothing but Frigidaire

0:36:230:36:26

# I'd rather be blue, thinking of you

0:36:260:36:30

# I'd rather be blue over you

0:36:300:36:35

# Than be happy with somebody else

0:36:350:36:44

# Blue over you

0:36:440:36:47

# I'd rather be blue over you

0:36:470:36:52

# Than be hap-hap-hap-happy

0:36:520:36:55

# With somebody else. #

0:36:550:37:02

APPLAUSE

0:37:050:37:08

That performance won Barbra Streisand

0:37:090:37:12

a Best Actress Oscar for 1969.

0:37:120:37:16

Four years later, another musical star was picking up the same award -

0:37:160:37:21

Liza Minnelli for Cabaret.

0:37:210:37:23

The role of Sally Bowles made her a huge star,

0:37:230:37:27

but the idea that it took her

0:37:270:37:29

out of the shadow of her mother Judy Garland

0:37:290:37:31

was something she had little time for.

0:37:310:37:34

-Liza.

-Yes, sir.

0:37:350:37:36

There was something like 60 photographers

0:37:360:37:39

and 50 journalists here today

0:37:390:37:41

and you got star treatment.

0:37:410:37:42

Do you like that? Do you enjoy that?

0:37:420:37:44

-It makes you feel like when you were little...

-Hm.

0:37:470:37:50

..and you pretended to be a princess.

0:37:500:37:53

There's something lovely about it.

0:37:540:37:56

There's also something temporary about it.

0:37:560:38:00

You know, in other words,

0:38:000:38:01

I know I can whip on the fox, whip on the eyelashes,

0:38:010:38:04

whip over to the Dorchester, do that,

0:38:040:38:06

and go home and put my jeans on again, you know.

0:38:060:38:08

Because I think that if you get to rely on that kind of treatment,

0:38:080:38:11

or if you depend on it,

0:38:110:38:13

you'll ultimately be...disappointed,

0:38:130:38:17

and a bit heart-sick.

0:38:170:38:18

What about the pressure? I mean, one of the things,

0:38:180:38:21

you have loss of privacy,

0:38:210:38:22

people asking all sorts of personal questions.

0:38:220:38:24

Do you just think, "Well, that goes with the game?"

0:38:240:38:27

I think...you know, it doesn't affect me

0:38:280:38:31

as much as it might somebody else,

0:38:310:38:33

because I've never known...privacy.

0:38:330:38:38

I mean...when I was born,

0:38:380:38:40

somebody took a picture and put in the paper, you know.

0:38:400:38:43

It was one of those things.

0:38:430:38:44

So I really don't have any area of comparison,

0:38:440:38:46

so it doesn't bother me that much.

0:38:460:38:48

Yeah. Because...

0:38:480:38:49

And I do find that I have a great deal of privacy by just not,

0:38:490:38:55

um...pretending to be somebody else.

0:38:550:38:58

Now, the film Cabaret in this country, anyway,

0:38:580:39:00

has established you very much as a person in your own right,

0:39:000:39:04

as opposed to "Judy Garland's daughter".

0:39:040:39:06

-Do you think that's important, in that way?

-Yes...

0:39:080:39:11

Yes, but, see, I...I never mind. I'm very proud of my mom, you know.

0:39:120:39:18

And being...

0:39:180:39:19

People, it sounds so ominous when somebody says,

0:39:190:39:22

"People used to call you Judy Garland's..."

0:39:220:39:25

It sounds like, "The son of Dracula..."

0:39:250:39:27

What are they talking about?

0:39:270:39:29

My mother was a genius -

0:39:290:39:30

the only thing that ever gets me upset or annoyed, or even uptight,

0:39:300:39:36

is when I'm put in the position of defending her,

0:39:360:39:40

because I feel she needs no defence.

0:39:400:39:42

Sure.

0:39:420:39:44

For many, Judy Garland

0:39:440:39:46

ranks alongside Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire

0:39:460:39:50

as one of musicals' greatest stars - open, vulnerable,

0:39:500:39:56

and ultimately tragic.

0:39:560:39:59

From The Wizard Of Oz to A Star Is Born and beyond,

0:39:590:40:02

the world watched her grow, flourish and then fade

0:40:020:40:06

as she struggled with depression, addiction and weight issues.

0:40:060:40:12

Again? That's right, turn.

0:40:130:40:16

When we finished Summer Stock, Judy went away...

0:40:200:40:25

..to lose some weight,

0:40:260:40:27

and we realised we didn't really have a finish to the picture,

0:40:270:40:31

she hadn't really done her big last number.

0:40:310:40:34

And in the two weeks she was away, she lost, like, 20 pounds

0:40:340:40:38

and looked absolutely great so an awful lot of people thought,

0:40:380:40:42

when we did Get Happy,

0:40:420:40:43

we'd taken a number out of an older picture,

0:40:430:40:46

something that hadn't been used in another picture.

0:40:460:40:49

But it wasn't, it was only two weeks later we did Get Happy.

0:40:490:40:53

# Forget your troubles Come on, get happy

0:40:530:40:56

# You better chase all your cares away

0:40:560:40:58

# Shout Hallelujah Come on, get happy

0:40:580:41:01

# Get ready for the judgment day

0:41:010:41:04

# The sun is shinin' Come on, get happy

0:41:040:41:06

# The Lord is waitin' to take your hand

0:41:060:41:09

# Shout Hallelujah Come on, get happy

0:41:090:41:12

# We're going to the promised land

0:41:120:41:15

# We're headin' cross the river to wash your sins away in the tide

0:41:150:41:20

# It's all so peaceful on the other side

0:41:200:41:25

# Forget your troubles Come on, get happy

0:41:250:41:28

# You better chase all your cares away

0:41:280:41:31

# Shout Hallelujah Come on, get happy

0:41:310:41:33

# Get ready for the judgment day

0:41:330:41:36

# Forget your troubles Come on, get happy

0:41:360:41:40

# Chase your cares away

0:41:400:41:43

# Hallelu, get happy

0:41:430:41:45

# Before the judgment day... #

0:41:450:41:46

This interview with BBC News comes from 1963

0:41:480:41:52

as Judy arrived in London to make the film

0:41:520:41:55

I Could Go On Singing with Dirk Bogarde.

0:41:550:41:58

I believe you had a bit of a job landing, didn't you?

0:41:590:42:02

Well, the fog closed in around the airport,

0:42:020:42:06

it wasn't anyone's fault.

0:42:060:42:08

We wound up in Manchester

0:42:080:42:11

and I've been there before - it's a nice town.

0:42:110:42:13

At last, I'm back in London, that's important.

0:42:130:42:16

Now, I Could Go On Singing is your first British film, isn't it?

0:42:160:42:20

-Yes, it is.

-How are you enjoying working in this country?

0:42:200:42:22

I enjoy it very much, very much. I like making films here.

0:42:220:42:26

I like working here, I like living here.

0:42:260:42:29

Dirk Bogarde is a very personal friend of yours,

0:42:290:42:31

-as well as your co-star in the film, isn't he?

-Yes, yes.

0:42:310:42:34

This must have been a great help to you.

0:42:340:42:35

Yes, that was one of the things

0:42:350:42:37

that I was so disappointed about last night,

0:42:370:42:39

when we couldn't land, because I knew that he was,

0:42:390:42:42

er...at the airport to greet me and I was...

0:42:420:42:47

You know, he doesn't...come out very often to do that.

0:42:490:42:54

He's a tough guy, as a matter of fact.

0:42:540:42:56

And the fact that he would wait up that long to greet me,

0:42:560:43:00

and that we couldn't touch ground, made me sad.

0:43:000:43:04

I Could Go On Singing would end up being her final film

0:43:070:43:12

and it was in London in 1967

0:43:120:43:14

that Judy would finally lose her battle with drugs and alcohol.

0:43:140:43:19

She was just 47.

0:43:190:43:21

I didn't think that Judy was an impressive

0:43:230:43:25

or a good dramatic actress.

0:43:250:43:27

I thought she was a unique and marvellous comedienne

0:43:270:43:31

with a great emotional depth and power

0:43:310:43:36

and she had a quality that perhaps could be compared

0:43:360:43:40

to that of Chaplin at his best -

0:43:400:43:42

that is to say, a funny little person,

0:43:420:43:45

gay, happy, playing against either a personal background

0:43:450:43:50

or a family background of sadness and tragedy.

0:43:500:43:55

And if you place that little comic figure,

0:43:550:43:58

playing against a sad context, it's most moving,

0:43:580:44:02

and Judy could be marvellously moving

0:44:020:44:06

when she was in such a situation.

0:44:060:44:08

If musicals are about anything,

0:44:100:44:12

they are about big emotions and moments of magic.

0:44:120:44:15

Judy Garland delivered emotion,

0:44:160:44:19

Astaire and Kelly and their various partners brought the magic.

0:44:190:44:23

They were stars whose light we'll never see again

0:44:230:44:27

and it was thanks to them

0:44:270:44:28

that Hollywood's golden age shone the way it did.

0:44:280:44:32

In this episode, Talking Pictures tells the story of the Hollywood musical, using interviews with stars from the genre's golden age, as well as some of the directors and songwriters who helped create them.

Among the big names remembering their experiences are Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland - and the films under discussion include some of the best-loved in cinema history: Singin' in the Rain, On the Town, My Fair Lady, Funny Girl and The Sound of Music.


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