A filmed performance (in CinemaScope) of the highly popular Broadway hit that was basically a collection of skits, sketches, songs and dances built around a flimsy plot to meld them all ... See full summary »
A filmed performance (in CinemaScope) of the highly popular Broadway hit that was basically a collection of skits, sketches, songs and dances built around a flimsy plot to meld them all together which, for the most part, worked. The plot involves a performer/producer (Ronny Graham)who finds himself in financial difficulties on the eve of opening night because a big check is needed before the curtain can go up. But a wealthy Texan says he will put up the money, if his daughter is in the show and he can see it first. End of plot, but the beginning of the careers of some young and talented people who have had careers across many decades. Ertha Kitt sings four songs, including "C'est Si Bon" and "Santa Baby" in and around some funny skits; "Trip of the Month", "Snake Charmer", "Crazy Man" and "Oedipus Goes South." Graham and Mel Brooks (in his Melvin Brooks days)are credited with most of the sketch material and just the title of the "Oedipus" bit suggests Brooks. There is a burlesque of "... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I can't imagine anyone but Broadway babies much liking this film more than 50 years after its release, but it offers a unique slice of American theater history and I am glad it's been preserved. "New Faces of 1952" was the most successful of Leonard Sillman's Broadway shows and introduced a raft of talent - Eartha Kitt (who became an overnight sensation), Paul Lynde, Alice Ghostley, Ronnie Graham, Robert Clary and Carol Lawrence (five years before "West Side Story"). Mel Brooks was one of the writers and Sheldon Harnick ("Fiddler on the Roof") contributed to the score. The skits on contemporary events (a spoof of hip music and the Senate, a sketch on "degenerate" Southern writers like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams) are, naturally, pretty flat these days. But some of the musical numbers are very nice and it's great to see some old familiar faces when they were young and starting out. The show ran more than a year on Broadway and did a short tour to the West Coast. 20th Century Fox was still eagerly showcasing its CinemaScope format and decided to film the show, rather hastily, in Hollywood. The film is a rarity in that it is one of the few films made from a Broadway with its original cast intact and perhaps the ONLY revue ever filmed pretty much as it was on B'way, though shortened (and somewhat revised to play up Kitt's fame - she didn't sing "Santa Baby" in the original show but does here). Regrettable, Fox didn't preserve the film and let its copyright lapse a number of years ago. The present DVDs, and there are several, all seem to stem from a worn print discovered God knows where. The transfer, washed out and fuzzy but widescreen (at least), seems to have made with a camera photographing a screening (and not quite getting all of the image in). I saw the film when I was very young and don't remember it being this disjointed, leading to suspicions that some short pieces are missing.
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