A Musical Metamorphosis: The 1960s
"Hollywood Singing and Dancing" is a thirteen-part series that takes you on the set of some of the most beloved movie musicals of all time. Memorable interviews with stars and people behind the scenes bring Tinseltown to life. Starting in the silent era, the series moves through Hollywood's toe-tapping golden years, the iconoclastic 70s and 80s, and ends at the start of the 21st century.
♪ Life can be bright in America ♪
♪ If you can fight in America ♪
♪ Life is all right in America ♪
♪ If you're all white in America ♪
You're asking me what happened in the '60s?
Reinking: There was a huge revolution,
you know, there was the flower power,
there was different music, rock and roll changed,
and a lot of the musicals that were being done
took on a completely different demeanor.
And it influenced everybody.
♪ That when I tell you that I love you ♪
It's fascinating to watch what happened
to musicals in the '60s.
I mean when you think of it, "Sound of Music"
was the most successful, commercial musical of all time.
And soon after that,
musicals were completely out of fashion.
As the eras moved on,
so did the reality of the musical.
It never stayed still.
Stevens: Great performers, great dancers,
great singers, and songs that touched your heart.
All of that just makes a wonderful event.
The demise of the once-powerful Hollywood studio system
and the rise of the independents,
brought a different kind of realism
to the movies of the 1960s.
A new generation of filmmakers brought challenging themes
and innovative style to their films
during this turbulent decade.
Hollywood musicals reflected the changing tide
of social morays, and embraced
the decades darling: rock and roll music.
The freshly minted "Rock and Roll Generation"
of the late 1950s helped to create
youthful and rebellious attitudes in the 1960s.
And as the cinema reflected the social changes of the times,
a transformation in American film had begun.
Well, the studios had to see how the world was changing,
and since musicals didn't particularly die out completely,
the bigger budget musicals -- yes, they still made some,
but not as much as they used to do in the '40s,
or even the early '50s.
Champion: Some of the films that followed into the '60s,
things became looser, and hair became looser,
and the pace and the cutting became looser.
I think that that's what they learned --
it might be well to loosen up.
Morse: This was the early '60s
and it was a wonderful time.
Really, I think everybody thought
peace is forever now.
Life is gonna be beautiful now.
I really mean that, it was a wonderful time.
Jones: For a decade that would later be revealed
as a time of radical revolution,
surprisingly, the dawn of the '60s saw
the Hollywood Musical carry on in the same fashion
it had established during the 1950s.
Whitcomb: You've got "My Fair Lady",
I mean, a lot of these films that we associate with the '50s,
were actually made in the '60s,
although the shows had been popular
on Broadway before that.
Jones: However, some of the most illustrious artists
of the previous decades,
saw their musical movie careers come to an end
during the 1960s.
A film ballet anthology, "Black Tights",
featured Cyd Charisse's final appearance in a musical film.
Both Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby would croon
in their last musical movie roles
for "Robin and the 7 Hoods".
Busby Berkeley choreographed his final film,
with Billy Rose's "Jumbo".
Fred Astaire would hang up his dancing shoes
after making "Finian's Rainbow".
Both Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe
would star in final films
before their tragic and untimely deaths.
And one of the genre's most extraordinary talents
would begin the decade with his cinematic swan song.
[ Telephones ringing ]
Masuyama: When we speak about Arthur Freed,
his last book musical that he ever did at MGM
was "Gigi" in 1958,
which won an Academy Award for Best Picture,
and Best Song sung by Louis Jourdan.
However, he was planning on several more,
and one of them, fortunately,
was "Bells are Ringing", with Judy Holliday,
who had this explosive personality on the screen.
♪ At the Bonjour Tristesse Brassiere Company ♪
Jones: "Bells are Ringing" was the last movie musical
ever produced by MGM legend Arthur Freed
in a career which spanned over four decades.
Champion: Arthur Freed, I think was more in touch
with music and how musicals could be done.
And he would take chances with people like Judy Holliday,
who had not had big Hollywood names before,
because his musicals had his name on it
and people knew that they were gonna get quality.
And therefore they could create new stars.
Jones: The legendary writing team
of Betty Comden and Adolph Green
adapted their hit Broadway show for the film,
as they had previously done with "On the Town".
Osborne: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
were always Broadway Babies.
They were very sharp-witted satirists
who were also performers.
They had actually a little musical group
with Judy Holliday called The Reviewers,
how they all got started,
doing snappy stuff down in Greenwich Village.
And they were great wits,
and they also created for the Broadway stage
"On the Town" with Leonard Bernstein.
And they also did, of course,
"Bells are Ringing" and a lot of things like that.
♪ I met a girl, and I fell in love today ♪
Jones: Dean Martin was cast as a hard-drinking playboy,
but more importantly, the film would star Judy Holliday,
who had carried the Broadway play
to rave reviews night after night.
Chakiris: "Bells are Ringing", you have Judy Holliday
and Dean Martin, who is so, so terrific.
And she was... Judy Holliday, my God.
♪ I'm in love, with a voice ♪
♪ Plaza O, double four, double three ♪
Tune: She had this thing, she pulled you in,
she pulled you in like Gwen Verdon pulled you in.
There's that thing, there's the kind of
entertainment that goes "whap!"
And they sweat for you,
and they knock themselves out for you.
And then there's the other kind
that goes like this,
and pulls everybody in,
so you're sitting on your seats so you can get it.
And that was -- Judy Holliday had that.
♪ To be so near you
♪ Is better, better than a dream ♪
Jones: Hollywood musical legend Vincente Minnelli
directed "Bells are Ringing",
his 13th and final association with Arthur Freed.
Boone: Vincente Minnelli was unique.
His mouth twitched all the time,
his eyes were so big,
he was so enthusiastic,
and he was very, very creative,
and flamboyant, you know?
Wore an ascot sometimes.
He looked like the film director.
Jones: Although he had his dream team --
director Vincente Minnelli,
as well as writers Comden and Green on board,
Freed's long-standing MGM production unit
was now disbanded.
Freed found it challenging
to bring "Bells are Ringing" to the screen
without many of the people that he had trusted for so long.
Caron: First of all, he worked again and again and again
with the same people because
he trusted them, and he respect them.
Reynolds: That wasn't really Arthur Freed's fault,
but money took over,
and the creative people were all fired.
They wouldn't put up any money for musicals.
Jones: After the deaths of such moguls
as Louis B. Mayer of MGM,
Harry Cohn of Columbia,
and the legendary Cecil B. DeMille,
the monolithic studio system was quickly becoming history.
Minnelli: Many of the big studios were also being acquired
by other business conglomerates,
and the studio-bound contracts, stars, and directors,
were soon a thing of the past.
I went to the studio, you know, after school,
practically every day to visit my dad.
You know, right up until the last years of MGM that,
you know, when they sold off.
My father was the last one there.
♪ You found me just in time ♪
Jones: "Bells are Ringing" would sadly be
Judy Holliday's last film.
She died of cancer on June 7th, 1965.
Just 43 years old.
She had a great concept of who she was playing,
and using herself,
and it made it seem real.
And she had this wonderful comic timing.
Morse: That feeling of having one foot in the audience,
and the other foot on stage,
and knowing you're holding them.
And that's the ability of Judy Holliday.
Jones: Fishnet stockings, high heels, feathers and frill,
it's the can-can -- a high kicking, high spirited
chorus line dance has had a sexy and scandalous history
dating back to the early 1800s.
Banas: Can-can is a French dance,
and it's done with high kicks, and girls linking arms,
and doing kind of a chorus line up in it
and jumping into splits.
The can-can at the time was done without panties.
That's why it was illegal.
Jones: Cole Porter found inspiration in
not only the dance, but it's lascivious legend
while creating his 1954 musical play "Can-Can".
In 20th Century Fox's 1960 film of the play,
Shirley MacLaine starred as Simone Pistache.
♪ Ooh la la
Jones: Although playing French characters in Paris,
the very American MacLaine and co-star Frank Sinatra
were an odd contrast in the film
playing against the especially Gallic
Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.
♪ Just one of those fabulous flights ♪
Chevalier was very interesting,
very much of a narcissist,
very much of a "I'm Mr. France".
He knew who he was.
Geez, he never forgot it.
And at the same time,
it was palpable, because after all,
he was Chevalier, and he knew it too.
I liked him a lot.
Jones: During production on the film,
Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev
visited the set with a slew of politicians and studio heads
in the course of his visit to America.
Dahl: Khrushchev went from our set on "Woman's World"
to the set next door, which was the "Can-Can" set.
And Shirley MacLaine was there, and Maurice Chevalier.
MacLaine: Irene Sharaff designed
can-can costumes for us that were absolutely authentic.
So they were real French velvet,
and the weight of those things was about 75 pounds.
I mean, I'm not kidding you.
But when Khrushchev came to visit the set,
we had to do the whole damn thing through.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Prowse: We did the can-can, Shirley and I.
And you know, a lot of the skirt up in the air,
and flipping the skirts, and all that kind of stuff.
Afterwards we met him,
and he shook our hands, and wished us luck.
And then we heard the next day
that he was highly offended by the display of underwear
and what have you from us.
MacLaine: The press asked him
what did he think of the can-can?
He said, "The face of humanity is prettier
"than it's backside."
So then they asked me what I thought,
and I said, "He's just upset because we wore panties."
[ Laughs ]
So it was a very interesting day.
Announcer: It's Elvis Presley,
with his co-star Juliet Prowse,
the "Can-Can" girl who proves she certainly can.
Elvis is back.
Jones: "Can-Can's" beautiful star,
Juliet Prowse, moved directly into the production
of Elvis Presley's next big screen vehicle, "G.I. Blues".
Presley had made a handful
of blockbuster Hollywood musicals in the late 1950s,
most notably, "Jailhouse Rock"
and "King Creole",
in which he burst onto the movie screen
with a potent mixture of sexual dynamite and enormous charm.
But the image of untamed youth that Elvis projected
in his first four movies would soon be history.
After a two-year stint in the army,
Presley returned to Hollywood in 1960 to make "G.I. Blues",
much tamer than the raw Elvis of "Jailhouse Rock"
a few years earlier.
Astoundingly, Presley would crank out 26 more movies
before the '60s was over.
Kenrick: Elvis Presley through the 1960s,
did more film musicals
than some of the great musical film stars
did in their entire careers.
And made a lot of money doing it.
Those very much are musicals.
The ability to make a song a hit
was part of what musical film always wanted to do.
So it made sense that they would turn to
hit song creators like Elvis Presley.
Osborne: Elvis made a lot of movies that had music,
but he didn't a great one, which is a pity.
It's a pity, that as talented as Elvis Presley was,
that he wasn't in an era when you had a young
Vincente Minnelli, or a manager
that would allow that to happen.
You know, and I think he got a lot of opportunities,
but his manager, Colonel Parker,
wouldn't -- just kinda kept him on the treadmill.
Manzarek: I've heard stories that they wanted Elvis
for the movie "West Side Story".
And Colonel Parker said,
"No, no, no, he's not playing a hoodlum."
You know, they wanted him for Tony,
they wanted Elvis for the lead.
Can you imagine the part of Tony,
the Richard Beymer part, Elvis doing that?
And the Colonel said,
"No, that's a hoodlum, those are gangs.
"We don't want Elvis associated with gangs.
"Well, Elvis is not a juvenile delinquent,
"he's not a hoodlum, he's a good, decent,
"wholesome American entertainer
who's going to give you "Roustabout".
Just what we need, another "Roustabout".
♪ Clambake, going to have a clambake ♪
Mann: Some of the films could have been
"Clambake", "Spinout", two syllables,
you know, interchangeable.
Like, okay, one times it's a race car,
or one time it's a speedboat.
But when I looked at Elvis acting,
he always knew his lines
and he really could do it on one take,
and he really knew what was expected of him.
And he didn't give the director,
like, you know, "I'm not ready",
none of that attitude.
I got to meet Elvis, he was adorable.
Sweet, Southern boy, as charming as it could be.
No wonder all the girls fell all over for him.
He was as wonderful in person
as he was on the screen.
Mann: One of the things that he would always say to me
is, "Is it natural? Does it feel right?"
And I'd always remember him saying,
"That doesn't feel right.
It's got to be natural."
I think why everybody --
well, I certainly know why I loved him so much
as an entertainer,
it's because it always looked like it felt right.
Announcer: Hold it! Here comes the girl
who put M-m-m-m-m-m-m!
Jones: As Marilyn Monroe's comedy "Some Like it Hot"
burned up the box office,
she immediately jumped into production on a film
which would turn out to be her last musical,
"Let's Make Love".
Although directed by Hollywood veteran George Cukor,
the film was not a commercial or critical success.
Masuyama: "Let's Make Love", that's an interesting picture.
It wasn't a big success,
because it was a film that Marilyn Monroe
didn't really want to make
in that she wanted to be a dramatic actress.
She just didn't want to do any more comedies
as a dumb blonde.
Well, Fox unfortunately
was just marketing on, you know, her...
cuteness, her, you know,
her dumb blonde persona yet again,
and "Let's Make Love" was one of them.
♪ Cause heaven knows I'm in love ♪
♪ With those crazy eyes
It has a plethora of great songs in it,
one being the most famous,
"My Heart Belongs to Daddy" number,
with her in a blue sweater and black stockings,
and nothing else.
♪ While tearing off a game of golf ♪
Banas: We did this number with Marilyn,
called "My Heart Belongs to Daddy".
And at the end of the number, director George Cukor said,
"I want you to jump up on this guy,
back as we huddle around her, and kiss her."
I said, "Come on, you want me to kiss Marilyn?"
He says, "Yeah." I, "Come on,
you're kidding me, aren't you?"
He says, "No, I want you to do it."
So sure enough I did,
and kissed her.
For weeks I wasn't going to wash my lips,
but I had to eventually take a shower.
But it was wonderful.
I mean, she was wonderful too.
Jones: After "Let's Make Love",
Monroe would complete only one more film,
"The Misfits", before everything
came crashing to a tragic halt.
On August 5th, 1962,
she was found dead in her Brentwood, California home.
The official cause was an overdose of barbiturates,
yet the circumstances of her death
were the subject of much speculation and debate
that continues even today.
She sang, she had one incredible instinct,
she was a wonderful actress,
and then on top of that, she was who she was.
Jones: The decade may have begun
with musicals in the traditional vein,
but during the holiday season of 1961,
a groundbreaking film was unleashed
into the movie palaces of America.
And the Hollywood musical would never be the same.
[ Snapping fingers ]
Reinking: There's an energy that comes from any musical,
you know, like "West Side Story",
which had a lot of drama,
but still immensely entertaining and intoxicating.
It could make you laugh, it could make you cry,
it could make you think.
Dahl: Fabulous, "West Side Story".
Fabulous, it moved!
You were right there, it was terrific.
Jones: Just as Arthur Freed
was exiting the musical scene, another Hollywood legend,
known mostly for thrillers and science fiction,
stepped into the musical arena.
"West Side Story" was director Robert Wise's musical debut.
Wise: "West Side Story" was my first musical as a film.
I had worked on a lot of the Astaire/Rogers musicals,
as a sound editor, or assistant editor,
and editor, so I knew the form,
I knew the musical forms.
Stevens: Robert Wise's direction and how he shot it,
and the very beginning of it looking down
from a helicopter on top of New York City,
and his vision of it,
that too was wonderful.
Man: "West Side Story" was really a collaboration
between Wise and Jerome Robbins.
Wise handled the dramatic parts of the picture,
and Robbins really handled the musical numbers.
I certainly loved "West Side Story",
but it's very much a product of Broadway.
Jones: Jerome Robbins created "West Side Story"
after reading "Romeo and Juliet",
and wondering how the story
could be interpreted in modern times.
He brought the idea to writer Arthur Laurents,
composer Leonard Bernstein,
and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
Fabray: His concept of the show was so far out,
so unusual, he picked what came in off the street,
and put it on the stage.
He picked the craziness of the gang wars,
and was able to incorporate that into the dances
for the show.
And of course, when he had the freedom of film,
that gave him more of a broad spectrum
to be able to even make it bigger and broader.
Kenrick: You also have Jerome Robbins choreography
recreated by Jerome Robbins in most of the scenes.
He took what he had created on stage,
and pretty much kept the steps there,
but decided how the camera could be used to approach them.
Those dance sequences are among
the finest dance sequences ever filmed.
Moreno: Jerry was new to films,
he'd only done "King and I" before then.
But he had something different,
and he also understood dance.
Chakiris: The way Jerry Robbins starts the prologue
with The Jets walking down the street, their turf,
and there would be like, just one little move,
and then they'd keep walking, and there's another little move.
You know, and little by little. And then eventually,
they burst into quote unquote "dance".
But it's dance with dialogue.
It's dance with a feeling,
dance that tells us how these young guys feel
about their turf, and how it belongs to them.
Buenas noches, senorita.
Moreno: The Hispanic experience
in a very hostile environment
was something I understood very, very well.
Where you goin'?
Moreno: The candy store scene in "West Side Story",
Anita comes in to try to save the situation
and The Jets won't let her.
In fact, she says, "Let me pass."
and they say, "You're too dark to pass."
Will you let me pass?
She's too dark to pass.
What happened was that we rehearsed it for days and days,
and, you know, they kept calling me
"spic" and "garlic tooth",
and were picking and pushing at me and all that.
And at a certain point --
I guess old wounds don't necessarily heal well --
at a certain point,
this might have been the fourth day
we were doing that scene over and over and over,
I just stopped in my tracks,
and I sat down at the candy store counter,
on the stool, put my head on my arms,
and I started to cry.
And I could not stop crying.
And in fact, I can't talk about it now without getting teary.
It's so odd, such a...
such an emotional experience.
and they had to stop everything.
Bob Wise just said, "Okay, let's --
let's break for lunch."
And I just sat there and he let me cry it out,
there was nothing more to do.
And the kids felt so bad.
'Cause you know, I loved them all,
they were wonderful boys.
And they, "Rita, please don't, you know we love you."
"Oh, my God, the audience is going to hate us."
You know? And I could not stop crying.
And obviously I still can't. Isn't that amazing?
So you know, just when you think
that everything's healed and that you're fine,
you realize that the, um...
it's not even a scab, it's just the thinnest covering
on this kind of wound.
And here I am, at 75, emotional about that.
Kenrick: Many people do not know that
what is currently Lincoln Center
was a set of tenements that were condemned,
everyone was moved out of them,
so that Lincoln Center could be built.
And then they gave Robert Wise just enough time
to use those empty tenement streets
as the set for "West Side Story".
There were also studio sets used for much of the film.
But for the outdoor sequences,
you've got real city streets
that were put in the hands of the filmmaker.
Badham: The streets of New York or of any city,
bring a certain reality to it
that you don't have on the stage.
But when you have these real buildings,
and real sidewalks, and real everything,
to say, "These guys are going to dance?
These bad, tough gang members are going to dance?"
He made it work, he drew you in gently.
And next thing you know,
the audience is going with it.
Jones: With memorable roles played by Rita Moreno,
Natalie Wood, and others,
the Broadway classic translated
to the big screen with splendor.
♪ Skyscrapers bloom in America ♪
♪ Cadillacs zoom in America ♪
♪ Industry boom in America ♪
♪ 12 in a room in America
♪ Lots of new housing with more space ♪
♪ Lots of doors slamming in our face ♪
♪ I'll get a terrace apartment ♪
♪ Better get rid of your accent ♪
♪ Life can be bright in America ♪
♪ If you can fight in America ♪
♪ Life is all right in America ♪
♪ If you're a white in America ♪
♪ La la la la la la America ♪
♪ La la la la la la America ♪
♪ Here you are free and you have pride ♪
♪ Long as you stay on your own side ♪
♪ Free to be anything you choose ♪
♪ Free to wait tables and shine shoes ♪
♪ Everywhere crime in America ♪
♪ Organized crime in America ♪
♪ Terrible time in America ♪
♪ You forget I'm in America ♪
Moreno: I've never had so much fun
as I had in doing "America".
We worked so hard, all of us.
Because Jerome Robbins was a genius,
he lit a fire under you.
Jones: The vibrant energy of Rita Moreno
and George Chakiris was in stark contrast
to the subtle warmth and beauty of Natalie Wood's "Maria".
Chakiris: Natalie, when Natalie turned up,
she was glorious, gorgeous,
sweet, talented, darling,
but she was a movie star.
She was 23 years old.
I mean, 23 is pretty young,
but she had been in movies since she was a kid.
It was not clear how much...
Natalie Wood was going to sing.
Moreno: But Natalie made a deal that
she would at least get a chance to record the stuff,
and then if they weren't pleased with it,
they had her permission to get someone else to sing for her.
Nixon: They called me in to do "West Side Story",
and they didn't want to really state it right out,
because I think they were afraid of offending her.
When it came to the recording session,
she would record the whole songs,
and then I would record the whole songs.
And I noticed that after her playback,
and some of it was not that good,
she would be listening,
and everybody would come around her
and say things like,
"Oh, Natalie, that was just terrific,
"that was so fantastic.
"Did you hear that?
That was just wonderful."
And then they'd turn to me and go.
♪ What you do, what you say ♪
The dubbing has always been part of the industry.
Not for the musical stars like Judy Garland or Jane Powell,
they're doing their own.
But even Rita Hayworth was dubbed in by somebody else,
and it was just not known and not even thought about.
Some people say, "Well, yeah, but it wasn't her voice."
Well, who cares?
It was her performance.
There was only one Natalie Wood.
Jones: The movie turned out to be
the biggest moneymaking musical of 1962,
and swept away ten Academy Awards,
including Best Picture.
"West Side Story" is just the perfect, you know,
combination of magnificent music drama,
and choreography and superb acting.
I would have loved to have been in "West Side Story".
Great, great musical, award-winning,
It took movies to a whole different place, that film.
Jones: By the early 1960s,
there was little that the Walt Disney Studios
hadn't captured on film.
The studio had ventured into nearly every genre --
except for the live-action musical.
Announcer: Walt Disney's
first big musical motion picture.
"Babes in Toyland"
Jones: Victor Herbert's operetta "Babes in Toyland"
was Disney's Christmas offering for 1961.
The 1903 Herbert original
had very little in the way of a plot,
so the Disney screenwriters lifted elements
from a 1934 film adaptation of "Toyland",
which starred Laurel and Hardy.
I don't want to stay here with him.
I don't love him.
[ Crying ]
♪ Bo Peep, go and save your sheep ♪
♪ Soon home again you'll be
Jones: Not as successful as Disney had hoped,
it lead the way for the studio to develop
more successful live-action musicals in the future.
♪ Toyland, Toyland
Announcer: New York's Music Hall holds a gala premier
for the the motion picture version of the smash
Broadway musical "Flower Drum Song".
Celebrities attending include Hope Hampton.
And the picture is acclaimed by all in attendance,
including Myrna Loy.
The president of Universal International, Milton Rackmil,
accompanies co-author Richard Rodgers,
and star Nancy Kwan.
"Flower Drum Song" is a wonderful musical,
and I'm glad it got on film
because it really addressed
Asian Americans in the '50s when the war was over,
and Asian Americans were still having issues.
So do do that musical, at that time,
about those issues, and still be, you know,
still have some sort of blithe spirit to it,
I thought was extremely important.
And I think it's one of -- one of the first musicals
that takes a really tough situation,
and one that's still extremely fiery at the time,
and they address it.
[ Cheering ]
Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta
have key roles in this cinematic delight.
Shigeta: It's special because I think
it's the only all-Asian musical ever produced on Broadway.
And especially from greats like Rodgers & Hammerstein,
you know, so I think that made it very, very special.
Announcer: Starring that bewitching
"Suzie Wong" girl, Nancy Kwan,
handsome James Shigeta.
Shigeta: 'Cause it was just an ordinary college kid
from an affluent Chinese family
who find themselves in a bind because he loves one girl,
and he's loved by another.
He was a dream part.
Jones: Legendary choreographer Hermes Pan
helmed the musical sequences in "Flower Drum Song".
♪ I float as the clouds on air do, I enjoy ♪
Jones: Pan had previously worked most often
in collaboration with Fred Astaire,
plotting out the dance routines
of RKO's Astaire and Rogers films.
Shigeta: He really surprised the heck out of me,
because when he walked into rehearsal one day,
I thought it was Fred Astaire.
I mean, this guy looks remarkably like Fred Astaire.
Champion: When he and Fred would be walking down the lot,
if you didn't see their faces,
or didn't know them,
you couldn't tell which was Fred
and which was Hermes.
♪ May I have your attention please? ♪
♪ Attention please
♪ I can handle your troubles, friends ♪
♪ Now you know I can, oh, yes I can ♪
♪ Please observe me if you will ♪
♪ I'm Professor Harold Hill
♪ And I'm speaking of a big fat picture ♪
♪ "The Music Man" [ Imitates drum ]
♪ I say Broadway's biggest long run hit ♪
♪ Is coming right here to your screen ♪
♪ Yes, Professor Harold Hill's on hand ♪
♪ And now for a peek at "The Music Man" ♪
♪ Not a big peek, just a little peek ♪
♪ At the wonders that await you in Technicolor ♪
♪ Now you out there
♪ And you, and you
Jones: In "The Music Man", Robert Preston
brought his legendary Broadway stage performance
as con man Harold Hill to the big screen.
Birenhard: "Music Man" is a remarkable film,
it's in many ways very stage-bound,
very true in spirit and execution
to a stage play, but for some reason,
it works as a film.
I think in part, it's because
Robert Preston and Shirley Jones
are so strong as film performers.
Some other time, maybe tomorrow.
You pile up enough tomorrows,
and you'll find you've collected
nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.
Frank Sinatra was supposed to play the lead role.
It was Warner Brothers that was doing the film,
and they wanted the star-magic of Sinatra,
'cause Robert Preston, even though
he'd done movies, as we know,
but he had never really done a major motion picture.
And of course, he'd just completed,
I believe, three years on the stage doing the role.
And Meredith Wilson, the writer,
came in, and he said,
"This is my piece,
"And unless you use Robert Preston,
you do not do the film."
Marion was a real woman,
she was very strong minded, very self-willed,
and said, "I'll do what I want to do,
"And I'm going to do it my way."
The character was great to play,
because, you know, she didn't realize that basically
she was falling in love with him the whole time,
but she was out to prove that he was really no good.
And then finally at the end,
when she did find out that he was lying
and none of it was true, she couldn't do it
because she was already charmed by him,
as he had charmed everybody in the town.
♪ There were birds
♪ In the sky
About three months into filming,
I discovered that I was pregnant.
And Morton DaCosta was the director,
and he directed the stage production,
and I thought, "What am I going to do?"
You know, because I'd already had one child,
and I knew that -- and I had large babies.
So I took him to lunch, and I said,
told him, and he said,
"Don't worry, we'll do everything we can to help you."
He said you know, "We'll build a corset,"
and he said, "We'll keep pulling you in,
and pulling you in."
And he said, "It's a period picture,
"so we can add fringe and bows, and whatever we can."
And he said, "If need be,
"Toward the end, we'll just shoot you from the waist up."
You know, so that was the case.
But he made me promise
not to tell anybody that I was pregnant.
He said, "Don't tell a soul,
"I don't want this in the news,
I don't want you to even tell your co-stars."
We were doing the love scene,
and had arms around each other,
you know, holding each other tight,
eyes closed, and everything, and all of a sudden,
Bob opened his eyes and he stepped back, and he said,
"What the heck was that?"
And of course it was a giant kick
that Patrick had given.
And of course, I said that was Patrick Cassidy.
♪ There was love all around ♪
♪ But I never heard it singing ♪
Jones: "Till There Was You" was covered by The Beatles
on their second album
not long after "The Music Man" was released.
Harry: Paul had been brought up on musicals,
he loved people like Fred Astaire.
And he introduced songs from musicals into The Beatles,
sort of sets, like "Till There Was You",
from "The Music Man", he was a lot more into melody.
Jones: The Beatles version of "Till There Was You"
was extremely popular, both on record
and during their early concerts.
And many had assumed it was one of their own songs.
Burlesque and Broadway have always had
a kindred relationship, so it was no surprise
when a stage musical relating the life story
of burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee
hit Broadway in 1959.
Although the smash play was the crowning achievement
of Ethyl Merman's stage career, she was not cast
in Warner Brothers' 1962 film adaptation.
Instead, the role of Mama Rose
went to established screen star Rosalind Russell.
♪ You'll be swell, you'll be great ♪
Masuyama: Rosalind Russell got a lot of heat,
because Ethyl Merman didn't play the part.
Well, Ros Russell was more of a draw in the movie theater,
so that's why she got the part.
And it's very unfair for her,
because she did a great performance,
she's a great actress to start with.
And Lisa Kirk did her singing,
who matched her voice beautifully.
♪ Honey, everything's comin' up roses ♪
I thought Rosalind Russell was wonderful.
I thought she -- you know what I loved about her?
She wasn't afraid to be mean,
she didn't back off from being --
she didn't try to be nice through it all, you know?
She was tough, and I liked that yeah.
Jones: It was no surprise then
that the second lead was given to another
well-established movie star.
♪ Let me entertain you
Announcer: And brother, Natalie Wood's
got the entertainment that really entertains.
Jones: During shooting, the real Gypsy Rose Lee
visited the set and gave Natalie Wood some tips
on her stripping routines.
And though my stockings I have revealed,
and just a bit of me remains concealed.
I think you have a life of doom, sir.
I loved the movie because I loved the story,
and I loved Rosalind Russell.
And I loved the setting of the story
in th-- the burlesque world, very fascinating to me.
Jones: Although it wasn't a blockbuster,
"Gypsy" did well at the box office,
especially considering that the year after its release
was the worst year for US film production
in nearly 50 years.
Man: You know, Payton, in my 27 years,
this is the slowest I've ever seen it on this lot.
Jones: Only 121 features were released in 1963,
including a couple more Elvis movies,
another "Gidget" movie, and fortunately a raucous,
groundbreaking musical adapted from the Broadway stage
skyrocketed the career of an upcoming superstar.
♪ How lovely to be a woman ♪
♪ And change from boys to men ♪
Dahl: Ann-Margret was young, fresh,
She had that beautiful skin.
And she had naughty eyes, she was a flirt,
she had a voice, she could dance.
And that made her as star.
Jones: Her sparkling performance in "Bye Bye Birdie"
solidly placed Ann-Margret
as one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood.
She was quickly cast opposite Elvis Presley
in what would be the 11th of 27 feature films
he would make during the 1960s, "Viva Las Vegas".
Elvis and Ann-Margret probably were
the two hottest items going in Hollywood at that time.
And for them to do a motion picture together
was really great.
There was a lot of electricity, a lot of sparks going on.
And they hit it off right off the bat.
They became very, very close friends
right from day one.
And it really was a nice situation,
because Ann w-- Ann-Margret was hot,
and of course, Elvis was the biggest star going at the time,
and there was no ego trips whatsoever.
And it was really fun on the set with Ann and Elvis.
There was a lot of downtime, a lot of kidding around,
and Elvis and Ann would ride motorcycles together,
or they would play silly games together,
or they would sing, you know, goof around.
And r-- "Viva Las Vegas"
probably was one of the most fun movies Elvis ever made.
♪ Our state fair is a great state fair ♪
♪ Don't miss it, don't even be late ♪
The movie "State Fair", of course,
was a big, big deal.
José Ferrer directing it,
and so it was wonderful
because Ferrer was an actor and singer,
and he had this great sensibility
for musicals and how to direct singers.
♪ It's the little things in Texas I love ♪
Alice Faye was really captivating in her day.
She was Miss American Pie.
I mean she was wholesome, she was beautiful,
but there was a sensual quality as well.
And that's what really made her such a big star.
she didn't portray herself as, sort of,
vacant, brain-wise, like Marilyn Monroe sometimes did.
Not a dumb blonde. No, she was a bright,
but still a very innocent kind of blonde.
And, you know, major actors, you know, they got in line
to co-star with Alice Faye.
So it was a great thing to have her, again,
play my mom in "State Fair".
Announcer: Pat Boone as you've never seen him before.
♪ I know what I like
♪ And I liked what I saw
Boone: And I think for me, the high point
was doing Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's
♪ It's a grand night for singing ♪
You know, doing that.
And then "Willing and Eager",
introducing a new song
Richard Rodgers wrote for the film and for me
to sing while Ann-Margret pawed at my bare chest.
[ Laughs ]
I guess I should have known
it wasn't gonna get any better than that.
I was one of the last to have a big studio, multi-picture,
multi-year deal under contract.
I could tell, they just weren't making as many musicals.
And I was really, really lucky
to get in on it while they were still making
the last big budget, glamorous movie musicals.
I'm so glad I didn't miss that.
Jones: Not only had the dazzling musical talents
of Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe
flashed their last moments on screen in the early 1960s,
but the matriarch of them all
gave us an enduring final film in 1963.
Judy Garland made her last film appearance in 1963,
in a film called "I Could Go On Singing".
♪ All day long I jump and run about ♪
Jones: Although no longer youthful,
her voice had gained the edge of a woman who had lived
and been though it all.
An artist at her peak.
Masuyama: There are several wonderful scenes.
It's like a biopic of Judy Garland
in the late '50s, early '60s.
Jones: After completing the film,
Judy continued to perform in concerts,
at night clubs, and on television.
♪ Nobody tries to be la-di-dah or upitty ♪
♪ There's a cup of tea for all ♪
♪ Only it's wise to be handy with the rolling pin ♪
Minnelli: I liked everything she did, she was my mom.
You know, I'm not an expert on Judy Garland,
I'm an expert on my mom.
♪ Consider yourself ♪ Consider yourself
♪ Consider yourself ♪ Consider yourself
♪ One, two, three
♪ One of us
This multifaceted talent that was incredibly Judy,
uniquely Judy, was such a huge voice,
and so full of pathos and tenderness.
And I don't think that anyone's ever touched it,
even including Liza.
And I love Liza,
but there's nothing like mama.
Jones: But her life seemed to spiral out of control.
After difficult marriages, legal battles,
and ill health, Judy finally found peace on June 22nd, 1969,
less than two weeks after her 47th birthday.
Her body was found in her bathroom
by her latest husband, Mickey Deans.
One of the world's most beloved personalities
had come and gone,
but she had left an indelible mark.
There would never be another Judy Garland.
Grey: There was never anyone before her
or after her that had the simplicity,
the truth, the beauty, and the spontaneity.
And once again, that killer voice,
that just was so arresting and heartbreaking.
♪ Long for the silver lining
♪ And try to find
♪ The sunny side
♪ Of life
Announcer: Want to hear a wild idea?
Robin Hood, yeah.
Robin Hood in Chicago.
Jones: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin,
and Sammy Davis Jr. brought the Robin Hood legend
to 1920s Chicago in "Robin and the 7 Hoods".
It was not only the last movie musical
that Bing Crosby ever appeared in,
but it was also the last of a series
of features made with the infamous "Rat Pack"
during the early '60s.
I am Robin Hood,
no better life do I crave
than to live in the green forest,
with brave and true men for comrades.
Now that's a new image for me, right?
[ Laughter ]
And you? And I am Little John, baby.
[ Laughter ]
Christened so by Robin's Merry Men,
with a tankard of brown October ale.
And I'm going to get christened again
right after the show tonight,
and you can bet your bow and arrow on that.
MacLaine: They would shoot all day,
go and do their two shows at night,
get to bed at 6:00 in the morning,
sleep for an hour and a half,
and get up and shoot.
They did that for weeks and weeks and weeks,
and they still lived to be 80.
Jones: The "Rat Pack" of the 1960s
was a Las Vegas-based collective of performers headed by
the "Chairman of the Board" himself, Frank Sinatra.
All of the members could sing, dance,
perform comedy, and act well enough to win Oscars.
Taken together, they represented
some of the finest of what
American entertainment had to offer at that time.
♪ My kind of town, Chicago is ♪
MacLaine: I don't know if it was his voice,
but he had this sense of you never knew
what was really behind him.
I think that's what made him star-studded,
'cause there was always a mystery there.
Jones: By 1964, much of the world's musical tastes
were rapidly shifting toward
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The Rat Pack may have been unphased
by the counter-culture
simmering under the country's surface.
By the time the film was released,
the entertainment stylings of the Rat Pack
were quickly becoming dated.
More Episodes (10)
Diversity Rocks the Movies: The 1970sFebruary 24, 2020
A Musical Metamorphosis: The 1960s PT. 2February 17, 2020
A Musical Metamorphosis: The 1960sFebruary 10, 2020
The Golden Era of the Musical: The 1950s Part 2February 03, 2020
The Golden Era of the Musical: The 1950sJanuary 27, 2020
Stars, Stripes and Singing: The 1940'sJanuary 21, 2020