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Hello again, world!

I'm sitting in JFK airport right now, waiting for a layover to Boston (oh joy), and I thought...I haven't update about Donald in a while! Oops. Well, life has been leading me a merry dance, so time for posting anything has been scarce. I was a vendor at my favorite festival about a week ago (The Faerieworlds Festival), so that took up a great deal of time. I didn't do as well as I have in the past, but just being there and being apart of the festival was enough for me. I love it there and I also love that I am surrounded by fellow believers of faeries...not to mention the entire Froud family :)

I was raised on The Dark Crystal and </i>The Labyrinth</i>, so I pretty much idolize the Frouds...kind of how I idolize Donald O'Connor.

ANYWAY. On to Donald because, let's face it, there is a serious and depressing lack of information/talk/attention given on or about him. I haven't talked about Donald and Mitzi yet, so I think the two of them will be the topic for tonight.

This clip comes from a picture from 1960 (or there abouts), with Donald (duh), Mitzi Gaynor, Bing Crosby (Pops), and Jeanmaire, called Anything Goes. The picture was made following the huge success of the previous Bing Crosby picture called White Christmas, with Vera-Ellen (yay!), Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. The story lines are painfully similar. Two best friends meet two girls, they fall in love, something happens to temporarily split the couples up, couples come back together, everyone lives happily ever after. Yet both are still very enjoyable to watch because they both have a slightly different flavor to them. As for Anything Goes, I think I enjoy it a bit more than White Christmas because it isn't as awkward and the combination of Bing, Donald, and Mitzi are brilliant. Mitzi is such a firecracker at some points, that you can't help but fall in love with her. And, of course, Donald is just as spunky as his female costar, so the two work wonderfully together. Especially when they dance together.
When Vera and Donald dance together, there is a grace to their movements that I don't think any other pair could touch, but add Mitzi into the mix and there's a playfulness that comes bursting out. As far as acting goes, I don't think Mitzi is as good as Vera, but her dancing makes up for that ten fold. Her facial expressions during the title number "Anything Goes" are brilliant. I can't watch that scene without cracking up. The scene before "Delovely" is also hilarious, mostly because of how...ehem...sneakily Donald's character is moving Mitzi's chair closer to his own. When he asks her if she can cook, my first thoughts are, " what kind of a question is that??", but then I remember the time period and start giggling to myself. The actual dance sequence for "Delovely" isn't as beautiful as the dance sequence for "It's a Lovely Day", but its still very enjoyable to watch. I love how the two of them are kissing as they're sliding down a...oh, what is that thing...for the sake of my remaining brains, let's just call it a pole. I would think that would be awkward, but the two of them make it look so easy!

My other favorite part in the film, is the opening number called "Ya Gotta give the People Hoke" where Bing and Donald sing about, what else, but making people laugh. The combination of the two is delightful. Almost, if not better than, the combination of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. The facial expressions the two of them make are priceless. It's amazing how in one scene, O'Connor looks older, but in other parts...he looks like a nineteen year old kid! It's amazing to just take note of. The other joke I finally caught between O'Connor and Crosby, is the fact that Donald is always making fun of Bing's age. If you listen to some of the old radio broadcasts of Bing's show, when Donald was the guest...that's their whole act is Donald poking fun at Bing's age, and Bing in some way, shape, or form calling Donald a small fry. If I can, I'll post the two radio broadcasts I have so you can hear for yourself.

The only complaint I have for the film is Jeanmaire. I was never a big fan of hers, even in Hans Christian Anderson, so as you can imagine, she annoyed me quite a bit in this film. From what I've read, she had a very difficult time matching O'Connor's 'jazzy' style of dancing, since she was a classical ballet dancer. Her voice is also just a bit painful...especially when paired with Mitzi. There is only one song where the two ladies sing together and, let me tell you...it ain't pretty. My friend and I were watching it and both of us reached for the mute button when their two voices combine. The funny thing to notice is at the finale, when the four of them are singing "Blow, Gabe, blow"...you can hear Bing's voice, and you can kind of hear Donald at points...but you can't hear Jeanmaire. Mitzi completely drowns her out with her own voice. I don't know if it was done on purpose, but it sure as heck feels like it. With those girls, it's either one or the other. The two of them DO NOT work well together. Also, the relationship between Jeanmaire's character and Bing's character, seems extremely static to me. I think he and Rosemary Clooney worked better together in White Christmas...but that's just me. :)

Oh! One more tid bit of amusing news...Phil Harris, Mitzi's father in this film...is the voice actor for many early Disney animated features. To name a few characters he's lent and voice to, Baloo the bear, Little John, and Thomas O'Malley.



Until next time...
All the pipes in the house are clogged and we are now unable to take showers or go to the bathroom. Ooooh, dear. Unfun, unforeseen stuff. Best to move along. Okay...EHEM.

Onto my little Donald blurb for the day. I decided to pull a video out from my collection of youtube clips, that I think is brilliant, but it comes from a movie Mr. O thought was rubbish. This is from a film called, I love Melvin. I haven't seen the entire film, only clips, but I want to see the whole thing...even with the bad review Donald gave it. *ouch*
When one of the stars calls the movie they're staring in crap... you know not to expect much. Even if the movie is terrible, Donald is good in whatever he's in because he pours himself, heart and soul, into the project. Also, he dances in it. I'd fast forward through the picture just to watch him dance.
I'm still a little hazy on what the film is about. I think it has something to do with Donald being an assistant photographer (____ Hoover) who promises to put an aspiring actress's picture on the cover of a magazine. She plays the part of a dancing football on a broadway show (the hell??), they fall in love, her little sister sings a number, and...stuff happens. I'll admit that the plot/script sounds a bit lacking and it doesn't really help that Debbie Reynolds is Donald's love interest, but still. There are some things that are worth wading through the mud to get to. I should mention that Debbie, is one of my least favorite people. Her voice in Singing in the Rain was like nails on a chalkboard, as was her acting ability. My on bias on Debbie aside...this first clip is with Donald and the little girl who plays the part of Debbie's little sister (no idea what her name is). It was interesting to find out that before Gene Kelly did his tap dancing number on roller skates...Donald did it in this film, but no one even seems to give him any credit for that.




This second one is probably one of my favorite, just because I love, love, LOVE it when Donald makes funny faces or is a complete goof. Every time I watch anything he's in, I have a checklist of things I want to see him do at some point in the movie; sing, dance, and make a funny face. During the one part where he's doing the dance sequence as a sailor, I'm always mesmerized by how fast his feet are going! I find myself sitting there thinking," how the heck does he do that????"



Until next post!

Fer the love a Berma mud!

So for the first time ever...I rented Francis the Talking Mule and Francis goes to the Races. I wanted to see what all the hula baloo was about with the Francis pictures, seeing as that dang mule messed up more than one opportunity for O'Connor in the couple of years he was shooting these films. They aren't pieces of cinematic genius and they definitely weren't the best O'Connor pictures ever made, but still they are amusing to watch.
I just want to hug Peter Sterling every time he gets himself into a mess because he can't lie about getting information from Francis. I have to say that so far, I like the first film the best mainly because every time Peter mentions Francis to his superiors, he gets locked up in the psycho ward making baskets. Its great how every time he lands in the loony bin, the baskets he makes get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. He's such a dunce during some scenes that you can't help, but go "aaaawwww".

Its funny. When I watch these, after a while I forget that the movies are in black and white. Its also hilarious when Peter threatens to smack Francis if he doesn't talk. Gotta love it.

I can see how O'Connor got type cast as the overly polite character after watching these two films. Whenever Francis starts talking, I start laughing to myself because I can see the strings they use to move the mule's mouth to make him look like he's talking. I still can't believe that a damn mule got more fan mail than O'Connor! It's. A. Regular. Old. MULE.
Jeez...


After looking at all of my entries so far, I'm seriously reconsidering the title of this journal. The way things are going, I might as well rename it "The O'Connor". Sheesh. Donald O'Connor junkie? Why yes, I am.

Jul. 6th, 2009

I'm a little jarred from moving and going on upside down carnival rides yesterday, so I'm just going to post one little clip from There's No Business Like Show Business. In this particular scene, Tim Donahue (Donald O'Connor) is in the hospital after driving drunk and getting into an accident. His Father, Terry Donahue (Dan Dailey) comes in and starts ragging on his son for being such an idiot and he leaves the room in a huff.

See, originally, Dailey was supposed to walk in, talked to O'Connor, and walk out after O'Connor's character makes some snide remark. As you can see...that didn't happen. Dailey decided to do things his own way and slap O'Connor without any warning, hence the genuine shock on O'Connor's face. From what I've read, Dailey had been seeing O'Connor's wife at the time (Gwen Carter) and crap just hit the fan for one reason or another during that particular scene. When I'm more awake, I'll post all my thoughts and findings, but for right now...ya got the reader's digest version of it, complete with youtube clip :)




Until next time.

A few Tip-top Twosomes

Today I figured I'd talk about two of my favorite dancing pairs, Donald O'Connor with Peggy Ryan, and Donald O'Connor with Vera-Ellen. Like I mentioned in my first entry, Donald is my idol, hence the icon and my username ;)

Both dancing pairs share a partner, but the styles are extremely different.
This first clip is from a Universal picture from 1944 called, This is the Life. This is a movie I haven't seen (sadly), so I couldn't tell you what its about. For a good many pictures, Peggy and Donald were paired together as members of " The Jivin Jacks and Jills," a group of dancers spanning from age 12 to 18, who performed dance numbers in a great many of Universal's musicals from the 1940's.

One of the reasons I love Peggy and Donald is because of how funny they are together. Both grew up preforming on the Vaudeville circuit and specialize in comedy. The great thing about these two is that they're always beating each other to a pulp in every picture they appear in together. I think Donald gets the worst of it though because Peggy doesn't hold back with the beatings XD
Peggy's style is extremely wild, which makes watching her very interesting and entertaining, but at the same time you worry that the poor girl is going to give herself a concussion. From what I've read, Donald was a little behind the eight ball at this point with his dancing. He knew how to do more complex tap dancing moves from the family act he preformed with his brothers and Mother (I think some in-laws might have been involved in act, but don't quote me on that), but he never learned the basics. Due to that fact, he had a very hard time keeping up with the other dancers...later in life, he made up for that 'downfall' by creating a 60 minute workout video called Let's Tap, in which he teaches the viewer 12 basic tap dancing steps.




Now Vera-Ellen and Donald O'Connor are my absolute, all time favorite dancing pair, not only because they work beautifully together, but also because both are incredibly strong dancers on their own. In my opinion, I think they were the cream of the crop and even some of their fellow performers recognized this. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire both made the comment that Vera-Ellen was the top female dancer because of how many styles of dance she knew and could preform without a problem. As for Donald, Gene Kelly had such a respect for him that he referred to him as "The O'Connor".
Combine these two forces of dancing genius together and you get a dance sequence for the record books. This clip comes from an 20th Century Fox film from 1954, entitled Call me Madame. If I'm not mistaken, O'Connor got an award for his work in this film (I'll have to go back to my favorite O'Connor website to check all this out), which makes perfect sense because he did a wonderful job as Kennith Gibson. As for Vera, I recently found out why she's always wearing long necked outfits or thick necklaces. The studio put so much pressure on her to lose weight (why, I'll never know) that she became extremely anorectic, hence the efforts taken to cover up her neck. There is one scene where you can see part of her back and its painfully obvious that the poor girl has nothing on her. You can see the bones of her spine sticking out. Putting that aside, she is still one of the best, if not THE best female dancer from this time period.
On a lighter note, there was one story that O'Connor recounted in an interview where he talked about the scene I've left a link to. During the part where the two of them are doing a bunch of tight, fast twirls together, Donald accidentally smacked her on the back really hard. He thought he'd really hurt her, but she got up and continued on with the rehearsal. O'Connor then says how she got even with him by giving him an elbow every once in a while, sending one of the plastic seashells from her dress up his nose.



I apologize for the crappy quality, but when it comes to youtube...beggars can't be choosers.


And before I forget again...for some really wonderful and detailed information on Donald O'Connor, check out this site. It is the Mecca of all things O'Connor related, seeing as there is no biography on this man. Why? When I figure it out, I'll let you know.

http://donaldoconnor.org/studiof.htm

Attack of the youtube video clips!

I have a great deal I want to say, but today has turned out to be one of those days where words fail me. SO, rather than sit here all day hemming and hawing while I try to figure out what to say about who...I decided to post some of my favorite video clips relating to the dynamic performer that is, *sigh* was, Donald O'Connor.

http://www.archive.org/details/private_buckaroo

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't the best picture known to man, but it does have one or two good points to it, Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, and The Andrew Sisters, to name a few. The story is basically a vehicle film for WW2, which centers around a band (Harry James and his Music Makers) and their slacker singer (Dick Foran), who get drafted into the army. While Lon Prentice (the singer) wants to be in the army and fight side by side with his buddies, he manages to get on the wrong side of his entire company by not taking the army and the rules that make it run effectively, seriously. Pretty standard, cookie cutter plot for Universal, considering the time in which it was made, but the songs are so amusing that you kind of forget about the 'plot' after a while.



This clip right here needs no explanation, but I'll put my two cents in here anyway :)
This is, of course, Donald O'Connor performing 'Make Em Laugh' from Singin' in the Rain. While the sequence is brilliantly done, I also end up flinching just a bit because of what all these pratfalls did to O'Connor. He was taking all these falls on concrete, which not only left him black and blue, but also the amount of shock his body was absorbing from all the hits it was taking, made it so that he needed three days bed rest after the sequence was completed. What makes this even better [insert sarcasm here], is the fact that the day O'Connor came back to the set, he was greeted with applause from all the cast and crew, before being told by Gene Kelly that the next day he'd have to re-do the entire scene because someone fell asleep at the wheel and the aperture was off, making it so that it looked like there was a ghost dancing around on the screen.


I'd love to post all the videos I've found, but I think I'll restrain myself and sprinkle them throughout future posts :)

Until next time.

And so it begins...

What do you do when your friends get sick of your sudden obsession with old time musicals and threaten to bean you over the head with the nearest blunt object if you recite one more random factoid about Donald O'Connor?

Create a blog, trust that someone else out there has the same crazy passion as you, and hope to the heavens that they find your journal.

For as long as I can remember, I've been watching musicals like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of OZ, but it wasn't until recently that I became completely enamored of most of the musicals from the 1930's, 40's, and 50's. I say "most" because, let's be honest here, there are some stinkers out there that make you wonder what in the heck the director was thinking. I enjoy the fact that a good majority of the actors and actresses on the screen from this time period were not "one trick ponies". Not only could they act, but they could sing, dance, play some sort of instrument, and take a beautiful fall among other things. It's a treat to watch them at their craft, but at the same time there is a bit of a melancholy to the films based solely on the fact that talent of that magnitude is extremely rare now a days. Unfortunately, the magical talents of people like Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen, and Judy Garland can never faithfully be replicated and will never be seen again, except contained within the frames of the movies they worked so hard to make into successful, as well as uplifting pictures. While this journal is devoted to musicals, I'll be throwing in a bit about vaudeville from time to time just because I wish I had been alive while this form of entertainment was still going strong.

If it's not already painfully obvious, I am an avid admirer of Donald O'Connor, so the majority of my posts will be devoted to one of Hollywood's most under-appreciated geniuses. I saw his performance in Singin' in the Rain as Cosmo Brown, and was hooked from that point on. Ever since then, I've been attempting to see every film and television show with Mr. O'Connor, which, lemme tell you, is no easy task. His black and white films from the 40's are especially difficult to get a hold of.

Until next post...


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