We’re the kind of people other people would like to be

Update: I’m in the middle of South Pacific and (alas) finding it nearly unwatchable. Thanks insane color filters and nauseating racism, despite overt messages of anti-racism! (For example, Lt. Joe Cable’s view on racial politics boils down to: “It’s bad and unnatural to be a racist. Interracial relationships are totally cool. I mean, have you seen my silent, submissive, exotic child bride?”)

Meanwhile, my theories about Curly, Jud, Billy B., Julie, and Laurey are keeping me up at night (seriously. sadly.).

Sometimes you just gotta chill:

Victor Victoria, where have you been all my life? I am a Fancini.


A Fair is a Veritable Smorgasbord!

As we continue our tour through the Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, I have lots to say about Oklahoma!, which turns into, I’m sorry to say, even more to say about Carousel. But in the meantime, a quick and easy report on State Fair.

This weekend, I watched the 1945 version, which is a musical adaptation of a 1933 film adaptation of a novel. And of course, the 1945 musical was re-made in 1962 with Ann-Margret–that version is in the R&H box set as well, but I haven’t watched it yet. (And we complain that “these days” there are no original stories at the movies!)

This is apparently the only musical that Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote directly for film, which puts it in an odd position: it was written after Oklahoma! and Carousel, but appeared on the big screen a decade before they did.

State Fair is fun. Brother and sister carry on mildly scandalous affairs at the fair, while their cheerfully oblivious parents win all the awards. Blueboy the boar gets a blue ribbon and finds true love.

Jeanne Crain’s sleeves are amazing in basically every single scene.


You’ll never dream the things that you could hide within these sleeves!

State Fair is pleasant enough, but I can’t help but feel that Technicolor was wasted on this film. If it weren’t for those R&H tunes that sure do get stuck in your head,

(and let’s not discount those porcine sound effects) I think this would be one of those anonymous things that comes on Turner Classic Movies at 8 a.m. and sucks you in to watching when you should be doing work.

Surely I’m not the only one this happens to.

Anyway, the verdict? State Fair is basically…Charlotte’s Web: the College Years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’d rather walk alone

For Christmas, my mom gave me The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, a DVD box set containing Carousel, The King and I, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music (so now I have three copies of that!), South Pacific, and State Fair.

The outliers here are SOM, which I obviously watch in my dreams while I sleep, and State Fair, which I’ve never seen. All of the others I’ve seen, but only once or twice around 6th grade as part of a short-lived personal quest to expand my musical education. The truth is, at the time I didn’t really care for what I found down this road, and in the end fell back on my old (lighthearted) standbys: My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Guys & Dolls, Singin’ in the Rain, Hello Dolly…

Nearly two decades later, I guess it’s time to give R&H another try. Since they, you know, invented the genre as we know it. I decided to start with Carousel, because it was the first one in the box, alphabetically speaking, and because it was the one I dreaded the most: while my grandma and Time magazine agree that it is the best musical of the 20th century, as I recall, I fucking hated fucking Carousel.

This time around, I tried to educate myself and come to the show with an open mind. I learned that Carousel, which debuted on Broadway in 1945, was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second collaboration, after Oklahoma! It’s a musical version of the Hungarian play Lilliom. The 1956 film stars Shirley Jones and Gordon Macrae, who obviously also co-starred in Oklahoma! the year before.

OK, so none of this historical context does anything to help the fact that Carousel is basically Breaking Bad meets It’s a Wonderful Life. With songs. (Or the fact that Gordon MacRae spends most of this movie and Oklahoma! awkwardly copping some sideboob feel by grabbing Shirley Jones right under the armpits instead of around the waist.)

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