An evening pause: Stan Rogers’ classic song, Northwest Passage.
For just one time, I would take the northwest passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea,
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage,
And make a northwest passage to the sea.
An evening pause:Kate Rusby, singing her song Polly. The video and audio might not be great, but the performance is stellar. And the lyrics, telling such a simple story of love, make it worthwhile regardless.
An evening pause: Not only does Eddi Reader probably have one of the most beautiful voices in the singing world today, she links that voice to some of the best Irish instrumentalists in the game. Watch her and her band bring down the house in this live performance of “Willie Stewart”.
An evening pause: Of all the animators in the world today, Hayao Miyazaki is probably the best. Every single one of his films is an incredible viewing experience. Here is a clip from Whisper of the Heart (1995), a truly wonderful film about young love and hope. Though he didn’t direct it, Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and storyboards as well as produced it. Not surprisingly, the film is seeped in his style, with the same unique but believable characters, unpredictable but compelling story-telling, and a magical originality that is rare in movies today.
An evening pause: Though the sound and video quality from this recording from the Julie Andrews Hour (1972) is not the best, watching Julie Andrews and Cass Elliot do this medley of some of Cass Elliot’s hit songs is still breathtaking.
An evening pause: Though Vera-Ellen made only a handful of films and is not that well known today, during the late 1940s and 1950s she was one of Hollywood’s top female dancers. Here she performs a delightful dance number from the film Call Me Madame (1953).
An evening pause: In a previous post, I described how I have always felt that Julie Andrews’ incredible screen presence was only rarely taken full advantage of during her career. In Mary Poppins — one the films that did showcase her wonderfully, Andrews’ co-star was Dick van Dyke, an amazing talent in his own right. For that film, Andrews and van Dyke had a chemistry that was riveting. In an earlier movie era, the studios would have taken advantage of that chemistry and cast them together again and again, much as Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn were repeatedly cast together throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately, by the 1960s the studio system was dead and such casting was impossible, and Andrews and van Dyke have never again appeared on the big screen together.
However, in 1974 they did do a television variety show special together, Julie and Dick in Covent Garden. One particular skit from that show not only demonstrated vividly the chemistry between Andrews and van Dyke and how we had lost something precious by not having them appear together in many films, the skit’s story itself illustrated in a most ironic manner these lost opportunities of life. Enjoy.
An evening pause: This haunting song from the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is notable not only because of the beauty of the music and dancing, but because the entire number is shot as one take, no cuts. Everyone, from the actors with their axes to the crew moving the camera on its dolly and crane, had to be right on cue for everything to work. Note also that this version uses the original voices. In the movie the voice of the lead singer, Matt Mattox, was dubbed.
An evening pause: Remembered mostly today for his dedication to entertaining our American troops overseas as well as his comedy movies with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope was more than this. He had one of the quickest wits of any comic in history combined with a manner that was gentle but honest. It is a shame that few comics today can put this combination together, going instead for a kind of Don Rickles-type insult humor instead. Here is Hope (with his co-star Jane Russell) in the movie The Paleface, showing that he could sing as well. The second-half of the clip shows a not-too-interesting skit with Roy Rogers and (again) Jane Russell with all three singing the same song:
An evening pause: Julie Andrews, in her prime, had one of the most incredible screen presences of any actor in the history of film. Unfortunately, though everyone will agree that she has had a marvelous career, except for a few rare exceptions (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music) I have always felt that her amazing ability to mesmerize an audience with a mere look was generally wasted in most of the movies she made.
Here is Julie in the movie Star!, which did not do well when released because it came out at a time (1968) when filmgoers seemed uninterested in entertaining musicals. Movies then had to relevant (oh that word!). She is playing a young woman whose deepest passion is to perform on the stage. This scene is her first real chance to do something solo. Stay till the end. Her first words after the she leaves the stage says it all.