Some Baby Boomers define their lives by the music they’ve loved. Some Boomers look to look to the Golden Age of television and beloved classic shows like I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners or The Ed Sullivan Shew (really big shew!) Some BBs identify with a movie that has had a lasting impact on their life.
AGMA is in the last category.
It hit me this past week that my life has been profoundly and deeply influnced by one movie. My entire view of the world and adulthood is inextricably linked to this masterpiece of the big screen. The themes have been woven into my life to the point where I don’t know where the movie ends and my life begins.
That move is, of course…
(wait for it…)
The picture was to throw you off track.
AGMA needs to set the stage for you (pun intended)…
Last week we went to the Atlanta Fabulous Fox Theater to see White Christmas, the musical. Although it’s been making the rounds since 2004, I’d never had the chance to see it and was pretty darned excited to go.
I gotta tell you, I had high exceptions. AGMA’s seen WC the movie so many times that I pretty much can recite the most of the dialogue. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen are like family that I visit once a year and it’s always a glorious reunion.
Sadly, I was pretty disappointed in the stage adaptation. I’m sure it’s difficult to take a classic movie and remake it for the stage, but it’s even more challenging if it’s an iconic movie adored by literally billions of people around the globe. And on Mars.
That may be an exaggeration…
The stage musical was choppy, disjointed and sorta kinda followed the basic plot of the movie, but not really. There were glaring omissions, unnecessary additions and sh*t that was just plain wrong.
It was all AGMA could do to not walk out.
It starts out like the movie in 1944 with Bob singing White Christmas and General Waverly leaving his troops. Then the next scene is Phil and Bob doing a nightclub act in 1954. WTF? No building falls on Phil so Bob doesn’t get to save him? How did they become a duo? Gone from the play is Phils “injured” arm that was a running gag thought the movie.
And there’s no Novello’s in the play. Phil and Bob meet Judy and Betty at a club in NYC not Florida. And in the play, Bob and Phil were going to be heading to Florida after the girl’s show. Holy crap, my head was spinning…
Once they got to Vermont, things went from bad to worse. Emma, the busybody, but lovable, housekeeper in the movie is replaced by Martha, the busybody, not that lovable, former vaudeville star who belts out songs like a wannabe Ethel Merman and wants a part in the show. Is nothing sacred?
Oh, and the General’s niece, Susan (her name in the play as well), is also a singing and dancing showbiz wannabe who really should have been cast as a snarky orphan in Annie rather than WC. Evidently it’s a hard knock life in Vermont.
Ed Harrison is gone, and The Ed Harrison Show is replaced with the Ed Sullivan Show Huh? And there’s a farm hand (ski lodge hand?) named Ezekiel who was cute but totally superfluous.
There were extra Irving Berlin songs thrown in that didn’t seem to fit the theme and pretty much wasted time that could have been used for backstory. And movie songs were left out – Mandy, Choreography, Gee I Wish I was Back in the Army. WTF?
And in the play, when the Army rejects the General’s request to be put on active duty, he writes to President Eisenhower. And the President pulls some strings to get him back in and assigned to a post in Europe. But at the end, he turns it down. WTF?
Oh, and Bob was taller than Phil. And Betty was not nearly as snarky in the play as she was in the movie and the stage Judy tried really hard, but her dancing paled in comparison to Vera Ellen. Oh the humanity!
After being traumatized by the play, AGMA HAD to watch the movie again to set the universe right.
So Hubs and I settled in on Sunday evening to drink some ‘nog (the stuff you buy at the liquor store) and watch White Christmas. I felt my anxiety easing and the earth started turning on its axis again.
Then it hit me. Like a Robert Mueller subpoena slap across the face.
White Christmas is my “life” movie.
It was made in 1954. I was made in 1954. We have experienced childhood, puberty, middle age and now, the beginning of our golden years together. And I’m pretty sure the movie is aging more gracefully than AGMA.
I realized that a lot of my ideas of adulthood came from WC. As a teenager, I wanted to be one of those very lovely, sophisticated women, all dressed up to the nines in the final scene, drinking a martini with my brave ex-soldier husband at my side in a ski lodge in Vermont. In the snow. On Christmas Eve. With Bing, Rosie, Danny and Vera entertaining me.
I still do.
AGMA loves the themes of the movie – self sacrifice, bravery, loyalty, friendship, love, the importance of family, honoring those who served in the armed forces…
Stuff that the stage musical tripped over terribly.
I can hear you ask, ‘Did you like ANYTHING about the musical, AGMA?”
Fair question and yes.
I liked the tap dancing scenes. And that General Waverly was played by John Schuck. You remember John Schuck right? He’s best know for playing dentist Capt. Walter “Painless” Waldowski in the 1970 move M.A.S.H.
Remembering that mock burial scene with him in the coffin made me smile.
Don’t judge me.