Friday Video: What’s The Matter, Othello?

A Bedford Falls Splash from Past

I’ve been thinking about this scene from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1947) lately for two reasons. The first is that I’m doing some historical research for a client that centers on a 1928 high school basketball team, and this reminded me that George Bailey’s kid brother was a class of ’28 high school graduate and how much the fashions, haircuts, and faces in this film look right for 1928 based on the period newspaper stories and yearbook photos I’ve been reading.

The other reason has to do with another one of my projects that deals with cinematic storytelling. The performances, the editing, and the directing are superb, but this deceptively fun and simple flashback of Twentieth Century Americana is also a nifty bit of screenwriting by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra (who may have also directed the film). It sets up the conflicts and themes of the rest of the film, but it’s done so skillfully that we’re having too much fun to see the writers laying the pipe.

I’m probably going to write more about this scene in a few months, but for now, let’s join join the festivities at Bedford Falls High School prom dance, already in progress…

Friday Video: Bruno Bozetto

Bruno Bozetto’s kitty does a sad waltz through memories.

This Friday’s video is a exquisite segment from 1976’s ALLEGRO NON TROPPO, written, directed, and produced by the great Italian director, Bruno Bozzetto.

The film is a surreal and irreverent parody of Disney’s FANTASIA and, like the Disney classic, is an anthology of short films that matches moving images with classical music to tell a tight story or evoke a mood in the course of a few minutes. The colorful animated segments are framed by black and white live action behind-the-scenes interludes featuring an enslaved “animator”(played by Italian comic actor, Maurizio Nichetti), the “orchestra,” comprised of octogenarian women, most of whom are one high note away from the grave, a bullying conductor, and a slick, glib announcer who has never heard of this “Prisney” fellow.

When this film was initially released wide in the U.S., I was immediately smitten and saw it seven times during its original run, often dragging friends and family to see it. In a just world, this film would have launched Bozetto’s feature film career, but it flopped. He returned to doing animated shorts and continues to animate. Ah, but what could have been.

While some ALLEGRO NON TROPPO segments go for a laugh, others tackled deeper ideas and commentary or matched the emotions of the music with animated imagery. That’s exactly what this video does with the Sad Waltz by Jean Sibelius.

Friday Video: Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor likes the sheikh, he likes his daughter, but he prefers her…

Here’s a bit of popular entertainment from nearly eighty-eight years ago. This is Eddie Cantor singing and dancing the “Okay, Toots” number in KID MILLIONS (1934).

The movie is a trifle, a musical about a Brooklyn ne’er-do-well who inherits 77 million in depression era dollars and must travel to Egypt to claim. On the way, he encounters a sheikh and his amorous daughter. In the number, Cantor resists temptation from the sheikh’s neglected wives, exalts his Brooklyn and the steadfast nature of his love for her, and puts the sheikh’s daughter in her place.

It’s hokey as hell, culturally insensitive, and firmly embraces a more patriarchal view of women. Still, thanks to the clever wordplay of the song (by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson) and Eddie Cantor’s charisma and energy as a performer, I can’t help but love it. A relic of an earlier time, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless.

Friday Video: George Booth

One of the greatest New Yorker cartoonist of all time.

I’m going to leap feet first into deep unknown chasm known as 2022 by launching a new weekly feature where I post an inspiring or interesting video.

Today’s video is THE DRAWING LIFE WITH GEORGE BOOTH, a New Yorker documentary directed by Nathan Fitch that profiles the prolific George Booth, w who, at 95 years old, is the oldest living cartoonist to contribute actively to The New Yorker magazine. As noteworthy as that might be, what’s truly phenomenal about this film is the glimpse into Booth’s creative process. You would be hard-pressed to find a better model for your own creativity than George Booth.