Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Theater on the big screen
One of my favorite podcasts, "Filmspotting," has a segment each week on the Top 5 movies about a single theme. Recently, hosts Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson picked their top five movies about the theater. If you want to listen to Adam and Matty talk about their picks, go here and scroll down to show #173. The Top 5 discussion is at the 46-minute mark.
Here are their lists:
1. All That Jazz (1979)
2. All About Eve (1950)
3. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
4. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
5. Moon Over Broadway (1997)
1. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
2. All About Eve (1950)
3. Cradle Will Rock (1999)
4. Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
5. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
I've heard about or seen most of these movies, and they're great lists. The one I'm not familiar with is "Moon Over Broadway." Apparently it's a documentary by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus about the making of a Broadway comedy, "Moon Over Buffalo," starring Carol Burnett. The show played for 309 performances, opening on Sept. 13, 1995. The documentary is available on DVD, so I'll definitely be checking it out.
Husband and wife team Pennebaker and Hegedus are acclaimed filmmakers whose works have included "The War Room," about Bill Clinton's presidential campaign. Pennebaker is also known for "Don't Look Back," his terrific documentary on Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of the United Kingdom.
A couple of other theater-themed films I've enjoyed are two that take place in wartime Britain: 1983's "The Dresser," about an aging actor, played by Albert Finney, who leads a touring troupe performing "King Lear" and from 2005, "Mrs. Henderson Presents," starring Dame Judi Dench, whose character revives a derelict London theater by putting on an all-nude revue. Bob Hoskins is the showman who becomes her partner. (Ok, I admit I'm an Anglophile. And if it involves a big country house, so much the better. I loved "Mrs. Miniver," too).
If you'd like more suggestions, here's a thread on the subject from rottentomatoes.com. The list overlaps a bit with Filmspotting, but there are some different ones. Several of them I've heard of but haven't seen, including a movie of Michael Frayn's play "Noises Off," about a traveling theater troupe, and director Louis Malle's "Vanya on 42nd Street," about actors in New York rehearsing Chekov's play.