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Tender romantic comedy about an aspiring musician who arrives in New York in search of fame & fortune. He soon meets a taxi dancer, moves in with her, and before too long a romance develops. Written by
Mac, Owner of Macs Bar:
Ah don't sweat honey, perfectly normal. Half the world is looking for the other half, did you ever notice it? Just consider, buyers and sellers trying to meet up, and visa versa. Crooks lookin' for suckers, boys for girls. Tops for bottoms and bottoms for tops, very interesting - no end. Jobs lookin' for people, people lookin' for jobs... or for trouble. Ah no hon, it's nothin' to be ashamed of.
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It lacks the archetypal romance of Breakfast at Tiffany's, but only by a little. See it!
The Rat Race (1960)
Maybe this will help: Tony Curtis is himself, really strong, and if you like him, you'll like him. Debbie Reynolds is kind of at her best, for me, less trivial than she is sometimes portrayed. She doesn't dance or sing, but is just a girl trying to make it in New York. Throw in Don Rickles at an exaggerated but believable role, with less humor and more grotesqueness. Finally, though big sax man Gerry Mulligan gets big letters in the credits, he appears, as himself, only briefly (though we do get to hear him play for a few seconds).
But let's turn this around and talk plot. In a very broad way, this is a kind of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" a year earlier. Nice guy lands in New York without a clue and local woman is braving it on her own and having to compromise her principles in the process. Even the music, by Elmer Bernstein, is in a Henry Mancini style (only rarely dipping into any real jazz, for those looking for that). Though painted as a story of boy meets girl and the improbable follows the unlikely, the basic premise is heartwarming and true to a lot of our dreams of making it, and making it with the right person (both).
I liked this movie a lot. It's even photographed by Alfred Hitchcock's cinematographer, Robert Burks, and so it looks good, too, in mildly widescreen Technicolor. It's a situation drama/comedy--there is no sensing that this is actually real. In that sense it's really a 1960 era movie, when artifice had reached a truly plastic kind of height (sometimes with wonderful results, but even classics like, say, "West Side Story" have a style from the times that is neither classic 1940s Hollywood in its believability nor totally creative invention as with those rare movies here and there all through the decades). The point is, you have to like this kind of set-up style to start with. You probably know whether movies like some of the Doris Day classics or even Marilyn Monroe movies are up your alley.
Or "Breakfast at Tiffany's," or the black and white counterpart in a different sense, "The Apartment." I think this Curtis/Reynolds romantic comedy is totally overlooked, and deserves a close look. There are ever some fabulous if fleeting shots of busy New York City. And if you've never heard of the director, Robert Mulligan (no relation to Gerry), don't worry. He did pull off one all time classic handled with similar panache--"To Kill a Mockingbird." Yeah, don't underestimate this one.
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