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Mitzi... The First Time (1973)

TV Movie  -  Musical  -  1973 (USA)
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1973 (USA)  »

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Mike Connors imitates Ethel Merman.
19 December 2006 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I viewed a videotape of this American TV special in London in the mid-1970s, when I was working for a TV producer who sometimes bought the UK syndication rights to American TV shows. I think he passed on this one. Dancer-singer Mitzi Gaynor performed some solo material, and also did a double act with each of the three male performers listed here. I don't think that any of the men performed together.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't recall anything about Ken Berry's and Dan Dailey's turns in this special ... embarrassed, because I've consistently enjoyed their song-and-dance work elsewhere. Since I viewed this programme as part of my job, I was supposed to take notes during the screening: this show is listed in my screening logs, but I can't find any notes for it. Either I've lost them, or I never bothered to write them down in the first place.

I recall that Mitzi Gaynor did a weird solo bit which consisted of her standing absolutely stock-still in the middle of a sound stage, wearing a spangled gown with an enormous skirt. While the orchestra played some bad disco music, stagehands pumped pressurised air into Mitzi's skirt so that it billowed all round her. I found this quite stupid: Gaynor was a talented dancer and singer, yet this 'musical' sequence required her to stand still like a tree stump.

I vaguely recall Mitzi speak-singing a song while sitting down and writing a letter; she ended by signing the letter 'Mitzi Gerber', which is (I think) her birth name.

More impressive was her musical turn with Mike Connors, not normally considered a song-and-dance man. Gaynor and Connors, in sailor suits, performed Irving Berlin's song 'A Sailor's Not a Sailor Till a Sailor's Been Tattooed'. This was originally performed by Gaynor and Ethel Merman(!) in the movie 'There's No Business Like Show Business', and I still can't get over the spectacle of Merman in male drag wearing muttonchop whiskers. Connors (unlike Merman) is actually quite good here: he takes Merman's role as the older sailor, while Gaynor (reprising her previous performance) is the 'young recruit from the Brooklyn Navy Yard'. The two of them do a sprightly little dance.

That's all I remember, but I suspect that this special wasn't too memorable in the first place.


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