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Topic: "Applause"

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AuthorTopic:   "Applause"
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posted: 7/25/2004 at 12:58:15 PM ET
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I just finished watching the remarkable early sound film "Applause." The first film directed by Reuban Mamoulian (director of the stage productions of Porgy and Bess, Oklahoma, Carousel, etc.), it's set in the world of burlesque in the teens and twenties. It stars the legendary torch singer Helen Morgan as blowzy blonde burlesque queen Kitty Darling. It's the world of Gypsy, only captured at the time it was happening rather than recreated later. The scenes of the flabby, homely strippers doing their specialty numbers in front of leering, sweaty, grotesque customers are like George Grosz drawings come to life. The visuals are really striking. It was shot on location in New York, and the cityscapes they captured can be breathtaking.
The plot situation is almost the reverse of Gypsy, because here the mother, Kitty Darling, is already in burlesque, and is trying to keep her daughter protected from it. She's good hearted and well intentioned, but too weak and ineffectual to handle life. She's sent her daughter to a convent school, but her ne'er-do-well boyfriend schemes to get the girl back so he can exploit her as well.
The plot may sound trite, but the way it's filmed makes it extremely fresh and vivid.
The seedy backstage atmosphere, the slangy period dialogue, the unusual camera angles, all contribute to a realism that almost seems documentary at times.
I got the film on video from the public library, so I would imagine it's not too hard to find. It's really an experience to watch it; if you're interested in the Gypsy milieu, I would strongly recommend you get a hold of a copy.

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New Jersey

Fav. BP Song: With So Little to be Sure of
Fav. BP Show: Gypsy
Fav. BP Character: Dot
Fav. BP CD: Sondheim Ect.

posted: 7/26/2004 at 6:30:48 AM ET
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That sounds amazing! Talking about old movies, if anyone has seen "Jazz Singer" you know what a brillant and amazing movie that is. "Jazz Singer" was the 1st motion picture to incorporate sound into it. The sound/music was only included during the musical numbers so its interesting to see the transition from written words during the dialoge to full out musical numbers. Like Karen mentioned, the lighting, make up and costumes are very interesting.... Anyways, thanks Karen I'm gonna need to find that movie. Sounds great!

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