Sunday, June 8, 2014

A review of MGM’s only putrid musical featuring George Sanders and dancing elephants.

Yo, everybody! I’ll start today with an update on Sam’s health [read previous post] because several thousand Howdygram readers are dying to know. (Okay, maybe six of you. I lied.) The scoop is ... although Sam’s eye is improving and the bug bites all over his body don’t itch quite as much as they did a couple of days ago, he’s still feeling semi-crappy and still taking a couple of prescriptions. The good news is, at least he can sleep at night. There’s probably nothing worse than being miserable AND exhausted.

It’s not every day that I get to write a movie review using the words “MGM musical” and “putrid” in the same sentence, but what the hell. I’m referring to a monstrosity called Jupiter’s Darling (1955) starring Esther Williams and Howard Keel. He sings, she swims. Holy crap.

Jupiter’s Darling attempts to tell the story of Hannibal’s attack on Rome around 212 B.C. Esther Williams is a Roman woman in a bathing suit who’s betrothed to Emperor Fabius Maximus (George Sanders), but George is a mama’s boy and Esther wants excitement so she sneaks off with her slave girl to check out the legendary Hannibal (Howard Keel), whose army is getting ready to attack Rome. Here MGM saw fit to insert several really rotten musical numbers, a couple of awkward Esther Williams synchronized swimming extravaganzas, and Broadway legends Marge and Gower Champion dancing with Hannibal’s elephants. I was embarrassed for the elephants. The best part of this movie was the closing credits because that meant it was finally over.
As a side note, does anybody besides me think Howard Keel was seriously overrated? His only real attribute was his height at 6'4" because in other respects he came up short as an actor, and his singing voice, while extremely loud and extremely deep, had about as much passion and range as a kazoo. Keel BELLOWED. Maybe he was better-suited for the Broadway stage. Think Ethel Merman with a lot of facial hair.

It’s 10:45 Sunday morning and high time to ponder breakfast even though I’ve been awake for several hours and probably ought to ponder lunch instead. As a compromise I think I’ll do a couple of frozen Costco hamburgers with gravy and teeny Green Giant mushrooms. If you want to join me please send an email. You have 15 minutes to decide.

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