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Thompson on Hollywood

My Fair Lady: Thompson Wants Laurie as Higgins

Emma Thompson has won Oscars for both acting (Howard's End) and writing (Sense and Sensibility). And she is coming to accept how satisfying both can be. "I always thought acting was my compulsion," she says," but that writing was a different form of creativity because it is so back to the knuckle. Acting is a natural thing because you are using your body, it's like singing. I was wrong about that. Both can answer the same need. I feel better after writing for two hours."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 16, 2008 9:39 AM
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Thank Heaven for Movie Musicals like Gigi

Speaking of escapist musicals, 1000 folks crammed into the Academy Theater on Friday night to escape the financial crisis and fall happily into the giddy world of the 1958 Arthur Freed/Vincente Minnelli musical Gigi, which swept all nine of its Oscar nominations. It's the film's Golden anniversary, and star Leslie Caron flew in from France to be quizzed by critic Stephen Farber. Warners supplied a gorgeous digital restoration. Both Minnelli's Gigi and 1951's An American in Paris are coming out in special two-disc editions.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 13, 2008 12:52 PM
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Hail Fredonia! Hollywood Depression Economics

"We're in the money," sang Ginger Rogers in the escapist musical Gold Diggers of 1933. Luxurious Busby Berkeley musical comedies were big hits during the Depression.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 12, 2008 12:40 PM
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Mamma Mia! Review: Escapist Musical for Dark Times

As a fan of movie musicals, Meryl Streep and the hunky stars playing her trio of ex-lovers, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, I was eagerly looking forward to Mamma Mia! The Movie.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 8, 2008 7:43 AM
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Mamma Mia! Review: Escapist Musical for Dark Times

As a fan of movie musicals, Meryl Streep and the hunky stars playing her trio of ex-lovers, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, I was eagerly looking forward to Mamma Mia! The Movie.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 8, 2008 7:39 AM
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Knightley Starring in My Fair Lady Remake?

As far as I'm concerned, the 1938 Pygmalion starring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard is far better than the terrible 1964 My Fair Lady movie adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe Broadway smash musical. The movie got by on Rex Harrison and the great music, barely. It was one of those cases where Hollywood insisted on casting a star--Audrey Hepburn, who was voiced by Marnie Nixon--instead of Broadway sensation Julie Andrews, who went on to score in the blockbuster movie musicals Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music instead!
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 6, 2008 7:32 AM
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Rolling Stones Shine a Light

While Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stone concert doc Shine a Light grabbed some flat reviews out of Berlin (here's ">Variety), I was delighted with it when I saw it Tuesday night. That's partly because Scorsese gives camera operating duties to 10 top cinematographers (Robert Richardson! Robert Elswit! Ellen Kuras! John Toll! Declan Quinn!) to shoot two Stones concerts at the Beacon Theatre in New York. The results are dazzling for those of us who get a kick out of swooping cameras and brilliant editing and the whirling Stones.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 6, 2008 7:06 AM
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Sweeney Todd Opens in 5th Place

Sweeney Todd opened to excellent reviews (87% fresh on Rottentomatoes.com) and strong initial numbers on Friday, but the movie dropped an estimated 28 % (actually 25%) between Friday and Saturday. (Here's Sunday's Variety weekend boxoffice report.) This indicates that many viewers were lured by Paramount's mainstream horror-driven ad campaign, which did not sell the film as a Stephen Sondheim musical, and walked away disappointed. (The company also seeded the internet with clips showing the musical numbers.) Selling a unique movie like this, where there is no tried-and-true pattern to follow, is admittedly tricky. So Paramount made the call to go wide with 1200 runs--and not build the movie from fewer runs in sophisticated urban markets. It now looks like Dreamworks' initial strategy might have been the right way to go. That way early adopters would spread good word and build an audience slowly over time, rather than folks being lured into seeing a movie that they wind up not liking--and spreading bad word.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2007 7:56 AM
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Sweeney Todd Reactions

DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited "non-reviews" from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 2, 2007 6:03 AM
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Movie Musicals: Singing Along with The Sound of Music

I've always wanted to go to the annual Sound of Music singalong at the Hollywood Bowl. So when a friend organized a group dinner and bought tickets, I happily went along. Besides, I wanted to see Nora in her usher uniform.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 3, 2007 5:25 AM
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