September 30, 2018

20,000 Vinyl LPs 150: The King and I ~ when Deborah danced


~
Today, September 30, is the birthday of Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer, known professionally as Deborah Kerr, who was born in 1921. She was a Scottish film, theatre and television actress who won a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Anna Leonowens in the 1956 musical film, The King and I.     

    
The King and I soundtrack 
vinyl LP album cover detail
 detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


I will mever forget her performance in The King and I; talk about refined elegance. And especially when she dances with the King, portrayed by Yul Brynner. She swiftly but gracefully bounces across the floor with him while her hoop skirt under her lavender silk dress swings and sways around her like a gigantic lavender bell; visually, if not sonically, you can almost hear it ringing with each and every movement. Costume designer, Irene Sharaff, must have been deliriously overjoyed with the final effect.         




The film is a beautiful study in fashion history (link below).When Sharaff made use of silks from Thailand for stage production of The King and I (1951), she created a trend in fashion and interior decoration. The costumes are the biggest reason this film was the second costliest film in 20th century fox history, which cost four and a half million dollars. Sharaff won best costume design for The King and I and it was she who advised Brynner to shave his head for his role as the King of Siam.   


photographer & date unknown




The music by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II is brilliant but of course, I have favorites. One is the song for the above scene, Shall We Dance? (link below). But my very favorite is Something Wonderful (link below) which is sung by Terry Saunders who portrays Lady Thiang, the wife of the King. It is a poignant paean to deep love for an imperfect lover; it is achingly passionate and beautiful.

Saunders had understudied the role of Lady Thiang in the Broadway production and in 1952 had taken over the role when it was vacant.    

Something Wonderful has been covered by the best: Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters and probably many others.


The King and I soundtrack 
vinyl LP album back cover detail
 detail photo of album cover by Styrous®



While it's beautiful, but not my favorite, I've always thought Hello, Young Lovers is an interesting song on several levels. In it, Anna (Kerr) sings of her dead husband as well as surreptitiously telling two young star-crossed lovers, Lun Tha (Carlos Rivas) and Tuptim (Rita Moreno), that all will end well. That doesn't happen but, oh, well, whoever said life was fair. 

Marni Nixon actually sang the vocals for Kerr in the film. Nixon was an American soprano and ghost singer for many actresses in movie musicals. In addition to The King and I, she is now well-known as the real singing voices in West Side Story, and My Fair Lady, although this was concealed at the time from audiences. In 1950, Nixon married Ernest Gold who composed the theme song to the movie Exodus.      


top photo: Terry Saunders (Lady Thiang )  
bottom photo:
Carlos Rivas (Lun Tha) left &
Rita Moreno (Tuptim) right
The King and I soundtrack 
vinyl LP album back cover detail
 detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


Moreno disliked most of her film work during this period as she felt the roles she was given were stereotypical. The one exception was her supporting role of Tuptim in this film version of The King and I.     

    
Rita Moreno (Tuptim)


The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is based on the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, which was based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.          
       
    
The King and I film poster 


The film was a critical and commercial success, and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning five, including Best Actor for Brynner.        
           

 
The King and I soundtrack 
vinyl LP album cover
 photo of album cover by Styrous®


This album was released at the time the film was, 1956; stereo recordings were new so albums were releast in stereo as well as mono, this origianl issue is a mono High Fidelity recording.   


The King and I soundtrack
vinyl LP album cover detail
 detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


Deborah Kerr was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Her first stage appearance was at Weston-super-Mare in 1937, as "Harlequin" in the mime play Harlequin and Columbine. She then went to the Sadler's Wells ballet school and in 1938 made her début in the corps de ballet in Prometheus. After various walk-on parts in Shakespeare productions at the Open-Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London, she joined the Oxford Playhouse repertory company in 1940, playing, inter alia, "Margaret" in Dear Brutus and "Patty Moss" in The Two Bouquets.

In 1943, aged 21, she made her West End début as "Ellie Dunn" in a revival of Heartbreak House at the Cambridge Theatre, stealing attention from stalwarts such as Edith Evans and Isabel Jeans. "She has the rare gift", wrote critic Beverley Baxter, "of thinking her lines, not merely remembering them. The process of development from a romantic, silly girl to a hard, disillusioned woman in three hours was moving and convincing".   

She made clear that her surname should be pronounced the same as "car". To avoid confusion over pronunciation, Louis B. Mayer of MGM billed her as "Kerr rhymes with Star!"       


The King and I soundtrack
vinyl LP album back cover
 photo of album back cover by Styrous®


She made her Broadway debut in 1953, appearing in the Robert Anderson play, Tea and Sympathy, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Kerr repeated her role along with her stage partner John Kerr (no relation) in the Vincente Minnelli film adaptation of the drama.   

She departed from typecasting with a performance that brought out her sensuality, as "Karen Holmes", the embittered military wife in the Fred Zinnemann film, From Here to Eternity (1953), for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The American Film Institute acknowledged the iconic status of the scene from that film in which Burt Lancaster and she romped illicitly and passionately amidst crashing waves on a Hawaiian beach. The organisation ranked it 20th in its list of the 100 most romantic films of all time.       

In 1955, Kerr won the Sarah Siddons Award. she experienced a career resurgence when she played the role of the nurse, played by Elsa Lanchester in the 1957 movie, Witness for the Prosecution,  on television in the early 1980s. Later, Kerr rejoined screen partner Robert Mitchum in Reunion at Fairborough. She also took on the role of the older Emma Harte, a tycoon, in the adaptation of A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. For this performance, Kerr was nominated for an Emmy Award.    

In 1998, she was honoured in Hollywood, where she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1709 Vine Street for her contributions to the motion picture industry.    


1709 Vine Street, Los Angeles, California 


Deborah Kerr was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, more than any other actress without ever winning. In 1994, however, having already received honorary awards from the Cannes Film Festival and BAFTA, she received an Academy Honorary Award with a citation recognising her as "an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance". She was the ultimate 'Lady'.        

She won a Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy" for The King and I in 1957 and a Henrietta Award for "World Film Favorite – Female". She was the first performer to win the New York Film Critics Circle Award for "Best Actress" three times (1947, 1957 and 1960).

 Kerr was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1998, but was unable to accept the honour in person because of ill health.     

Deborah Kerr died, aged 86, on the 16th of October, 2007, at Botesdale, a village in county of Suffolk, England, from the effects of Parkinson's disease.   



The King and I soundtrack
vinyl LP side 1
 photo by Styrous®







 

The King and I soundtrack
vinyl LP side 2
 photo by Styrous®

   



Tracklist:

Side 1: 

A1 - Overture    
A2 - I Whistle A Happy Tune    
A3 - My Lord And Master    
A4 - Hello, Young Lovers    
A5 - The March Of Siamese Children    
A6 - A Puzzlement



Side 2: 

B1 - Getting To Know You    
B2 - We Kiss In A Shadow    
B3 - I Have Dreamed    
B4 - Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?    
B5 - Something Wonderful    
B6 - Song Of The King    
B7 - Shall We Dance?    
B8 - Something Wonderful (Finale)    

Companies, etc.

    Copyright (c) – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Credits:
    Conductor – Alfred Newman
    Directed By – Walter Lang
    Executive-Producer – Charles Brackett
    Featuring – Carlos Rivas, Deborah Kerr, Rita Moreno, Terry Saunders, Yul Brynner
    Lyrics By – Oscar Hammerstein II
    Music By – Richard Rodgers
    Musical Assistance – Ken Darby
    Screenwriter – Ernest Lehman

Rodgers And Hammerstein* ‎– The King and I
Label: Capitol Records ‎– W-740
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono
Country: US
Released: 1956
Genre: Stage & Screen
Style: Musical




     
Viewfinder links:     
       
Yul Brynner           
Deborah Kerr      
Rita Moreno               
Something Wonderful lyrics       
             
Net links:     
       
Devorah Kerr Filmography 
The King and I ~    
           Plot   
           Cast     
Wonderful World of Cinema ~    
           Irene Sharaff’s Costumes for The King and I      
Fashion & Film ~ The King & I (1956)            
      
YouTube links:     
       
Shall We Dance? 
Something Wonderful 
The King And I Trailer 
 
      
      
    
     
"It's [acting] an unbelievable terror, a kind of masochistic madness. 
The older you get, the easier it should be but it isn't." 
                       ~ Deborah Kerr 


         

Styrous® ~ Sunday, September 30, 2018
   






Something Wonderful lyrics

~    
This is a man who thinks with his heart
His heart is not always wise
This is a man who stumbles and falls
But this is a man who tries

This is a man you'll forgive and forgive
And help protect, as long as you live
He will not always say
What you would have him say
But now and then he'll do
Something
Wonderful

He has a thousand dreams
That won't come true           
You know that he believes in them        
And that's enough for you 
program drawing by Albert Hirschfeld 
[Chorus:]
You'll always go along
Defend him where he's wrong
And tell him, when he's strong
He is wonderful

He'll always need your love
And so he'll get your love
A man who needs your love
Can be wonderful

[Chorus:]
She'll always go along
Defend him when he's wrong
And tell him when he's strong
He is wonderful

He'll always need her love
And so he'll get her love
A man who needs your love
Can be wonderful         


Music: Richard Rogers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II




Styrous® ~ Sunday, September 30, 2018
   








Deborah Kerr srticles/mentions

~ 

              
The King and I ~ when Debora danced 
  
  
mentions:       
Robert Mitchum ~ Hollywood bad boy
      
          
      
      
Deborah Kerr      
publicity photo     
       
       
            
          





September 29, 2018

Tales of Tomorrow & Sergei Prokofiev

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In the early fifties my family bought a TV from Montgomery Wards and I remember watching television on Guy Place.     




The living room would be jammed with the whole family, mom, Lucy, Ben, etc (links below). The adults would have the couch and chairs while us kids would sit on the floor. I was VERY near-sighted so I would sit directly under the TV which had a 16-inch screen; this was eNORmous for that time. 

1950-1959 Airline (Wards
(05WG-3039C)  16" console  
     

I have terrific memories of the shows we watched: I Love Lucy (of course), The Twilight Zone, etc. But my VERY first memory of watching was, Tales of Tomorrow. This show is forever burned in my memory.   
     
I recall the intro theme for the show vividly! It would raise the hairs on the back of my neck and what few hairs I had on my arms; it was years before I discovered who the composer was.

The theme music was written by the Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev, for his 1938 ballet in four acts, Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64. The very short piece of music opens the segment, Montagues And Capulets (links below).      


Sergei Prokofiev - New York, 1918 


Tales of Tomorrow was an American anthology science fiction series that was performed and broadcast live, mistakes and all as hysterically related by lighting designer, Imero Fiorentino (link below). It had a cheesy electronic organ accompaniment at times (common for the period). It was aired on the ABC network from 1951 to 1953.  

The series covered stories such as Frankenstein, starring Lon Chaney, Jr., 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starring Thomas Mitchell as Captain Nemo, and many other stories featuring a fantastic array of performers: Boris Karloff, Brian Keith, Lee J. Cobb, Veronica Lake, Rod Steiger, Bruce Cabot, Franchot Tone, Gene Lockhart, Walter Abel, Cloris Leachman, Leslie Nielsen, Paul Newman and many others (complete list @ link below).   

Tales of Tomorrow had many similarities to the later Twilight Zone which also covered one of the same stories (What You Need). In total it ran for eighty-five 30-minute episodes. It was called “the best science-fiction fare on TV today” by Paul Fairman, editor of If.


If magazine

    
The idea for this science fiction television series was developed by Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahamson, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The original title was planned as Tomorrow is Yours. A deal was struck with photographer Richard Gordon and writer George Foley, giving the producers of the show first choice of any of the 2,000 short stories and 13 novels by the various members of the League.        

Tales of Tomorrow was the first dramatized showcase for several authors, Arthur C. Clarke; etc. Other early science fiction writers whose work was reflected in the series included Fredric Brown (The Last Man on Earth and Age of Peril), Philip Wylie (Blunder) who with Edwin Balmer wrote When Worlds Collide, C. M. Kornbluth (The Little Black Bag) and Stanley G. Weinbaum (The Miraculous Serum). The show was intended for adults; at the time, most science fiction productions were targeted to children. The producers wanted to blend mystery and science fiction, and emphasize fast pacing and suspense.

Tales of Tomorrow episodes, with ads included, were recorded on Kinescope which can be seen on YouTube (links below).              
             
      
       
              


Viewfinder links:      
       
Sergei Prokofiev
Bernard E. Simonson, Jr.       
Christine K. Simonson         
Lucy Cadena-Jazzux         
Television         
The Twilight Zone        
          
Net links:      
       
IMDb ~ full cast & writing credits             
Academy of Television ~ Lighting Director Imero Fiorentino interview   
Sci-Fi Wire ~ Remembering the first sci-fi anthology series    
   
YouTube links:      
       
Tales of Tomorrow  
              ~ intro theme music 
Sergei Prokofiev ~ Romeo And Juliet - Montagues And Capulets
              ~ The Crystal Egg ( H.G. Wells )  
              ~ What you need (1952)      
Tales of Tomorrow episodes                         

      

        
"Stuff happens!"
              ~ Imero Fiorentino 
         
 



To the family and especially Lucy!


 
        
          
Styrous® ~ Saturday, September 29, 2018      

 













September 27, 2018

1,001 LaserDiscs 7: Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell

~     



 



photos by






Today is the birthday of  Marvin Lee Aday (aka Meat Loaf) who was born on September 27, 1947. He is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor who is also noted for his powerful, wide-ranging operatic voice and theatrical live shows.  

This blog entry on the 1991 reissue of his 1984 compilation album on LaserDisc is my tribute to the day of his birth and the song, Paradise by the Dashboard Light.    
         
       
Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
compilation video on LaserDisc
cover design by Jim Steinman
illustrated by Richard Corben
photo of album cover by Styrous®


My first apreciation of Meat Loaf was his 1975 portrayal of Eddie, the Frankenstein-style monster Dr. Frank N. Furter created in the Classic-of-all-Time, Rocky Horror Picture Show (link below). I will never forget his dramatic emergence from the deep-freeze locker on his motorcycle as he blasts forth with, Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul (link below).   

Whoa!


Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
compilation video on LaserDisc
cover design by Jim Steinman
illustrated by Richard Corben
detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


I like all the songs from the album but I especially love, Paradise by the Dashboard Light. This song is about a teenage boy trying to convince a girl to have sex with him in a car. Sex would be the "Paradise" for him, but she holds out until he says he loves her and will stay with her forever. Overcome by sexual passion, he promises, and honors his word to spend the rest of his life with her even though, years later, he can't stand her anymore. "So now I'm praying for the end of time."      

The song is actually a pretty funny duet running 8:28. Many listeners heard the beauty in the song, but industry people were skeptical, as it veered so far from convention. It made the US Top 40, but did so on the Billboard charts tagged as a "Novelty" record, the same label given to Cheech & Chong and The Chipmunks.     

Even musicians working on the album had their doubts. Kasim Sulton, who played bass on the sessions (he was in the Todd Rundgren band, Utopia), said, "Through the whole process I remember distinctly saying to myself, 'This is just the biggest joke that I've ever been involved in. I cannot believe that these people got a record deal! This is just crazy. I'll never hear this record. It's just a joke. It's a comedy record.'"  

Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
compilation video on LaserDisc
back cover
photo by Styrous®


In the original video for Paradise, as released to television and in 35mm prints, the male/female Hot Summer Night prologue from You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth was spoken live by Jim Steinman and Karla DeVito before the song performance. On this compilation, the prologue was removed and spliced in front of the video for You Took the Words, ostensibly to properly replicate the album Bat Out of Hell, and the video for Paradise goes right into the performance. The song was originally produced by Todd Rundgren. Steinman wrote a lot of the songs performed by Meat Loaf.  They made a great team.     
             

Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
compilation video on LaserDisc
back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®
 
Paradise by the Dashboard Light is divided into three parts:
Part I. Paradise
The song opens with the characters reminiscing about days as a young high school couple on a date. They are parking by a lake and having fun, experiencing "paradise by the dashboard light", until the male character insists they're "gonna go all the way tonight". This is followed by a radio broadcast of a baseball game.
Part II. Let Me Sleep on It
Just as the boy is about to score (via the suicide squeeze), the girl bursts out telling him to "Stop right there!" She refuses to go any further unless the boy first promises to love her forever and marry her. Reluctant to make such a long-term commitment, the boy repeatedly asks her to continue on for the time being and promises to give his answer in the morning. However, she is not giving in that easily, so he finally cracks and gives his promise: "I started swearing to my God and on my mother's grave/That I would love you to the end of time".     
Part III. Praying for the End of Time
Back in the present, the male character can no longer stand the woman's presence. As the man cannot possibly break his vow and hence is now praying for "the end of time" to relieve him from his obligation. The song fades out on the situation, juxtaposing his gloomy "It was long ago, it was far away, it was so much better than it is today!" in the left channel with her nostalgic "It never felt so good, it never felt so right, we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife" in the right channel.

Ah! True Love!
     

Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
compilation video on LaserDisc
back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


In early live performances of the song, this part (and thus the conclusion of the song itself) was followed by a spoken-word epilogue by Meat Loaf and Karla DeVito, where they, still in character as the two protagonists, argued about what to keep after the couple's divorce (having been presumably married for a number of years). The argument was cut short by DeVito shouting "...And I'll keep the baby!", which left Meat Loaf's character speechless as he apparently ignored the existence of a baby; immediately after, he ended the argument by screaming incoherently at her.         


Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
LaserDisc w/ sleeve, side 1
photo by Styrous®


35mm prints of a live-on-soundstage performance of Paradise were struck and initially sent to many theaters holding midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as a short subject to play before the feature. Very few of these prints are still extant and/or in playable condition. The video also received healthy airplay in the first years of MTV, despite its relative age to the new artists the channel was showcasing.       


Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
LaserDisc label, side 1
photo by Styrous®

The single had modest success in the United States, peaking at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song is very well known and is a classic rock staple. In the United Kingdom, it did not chart at all. However, in the Netherlands, the single became Meat Loaf's biggest all-time hit, reaching number one at the end of 1978. Paradise became a hit there again in 1988. In various all time charts, such as the Radio 2 Top 2000 or Radio Veronica's All Time Top 1000, it consistently charts inside the top 30. In Belgium, the single stalled at number 2 where it stayed for 5 weeks, the whole time being held back from the Number 1 by Y.M.C.A. by the Village People.           



Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
LaserDisc w/ sleeve, side 2 (blank)
photo by Styrous®


Meat Loaf has expressed that he has social anxiety, being quoted saying "I never meet anybody much in a social situation because when I go into a social situation, I have no idea what to do." He revealed that he does not "even go anywhere", and also feels he leads a "boring life", saying that he "completely freaked" when having to attend a party, and that he was "so nervous, so scared". I can completely relate to this. In 1984, he legally changed his first name from Marvin to Michael        


Meat Loaf ~ Hits Out of Hell
LaserDisc, side 2 (blank)
photo by Styrous®



Tracklist:

Side 1:

1 - Bat Out Of Hell - 9:49    
2 - Read 'Em And Weep - 5:25    
3 - Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad - 5:23    
4 - Razor's Edge - 4:07   
5 - More Than You Deserve -     
6 - I’m Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us - 7:09    
7 - If You Really Want To    
8 - You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer's Night) – 5:04   
9 - Paradise By The Dashboard Light – 8:28    
9i - Paradise    
9ii - Let Me Sleep On It    
9iii - Praying For The End Of Time    

Side 2: BLANK

Companies, etc.

    Manufactured By – Epic Music Video
    Copyright (c) – Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

Notes:

Running time: 58 minutes.
Digitally remastered,
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Barcode (Text): 0 7464-49079-6 4
    Matrix / Runout: LDVS-001885-A-A4

Meat Loaf ‎– Hits Out Of Hell
Label: Epic Music Video ‎– MLV 49079
Format: Laserdisc, 12", Single Sided, Stereo, NTSC, CLV
Country: US
Released: 1991
Genre: Rock
Style: Hard Rock

Personnel:




Viewfinder links:
    
Meat Loaf articles/mentions
Paradise by the Dashboard Light lyrics      
Rocky Horror articles     
Village People articles    
      
Net links:
    
ESPN ~ Phil and Meat Loaf will always have "Paradise"
NY Times ~ Meat Loaf In Search of Paradise    
Songfacts ~ Paradise by the Dashboard Light
stonybrook.edu ~ Sex song Reflection - Paradise by the Dashboard Light   
Section 309 ~ Paradise by the Dashboard Light: A Baseball Analysis
The Austin Chronicle ~ Meat Loaf loads into the Texas Film Hall of Fame   
       
YouTube links:
    
Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul
Paradise By The Dashboard Light (8 min, 29 sec.)
      
         
The Meat Loaf ~  
      Hits Out of Hell LaserDisc is for sale on eBay  
       
       
      
         
Happy birthday, Michael!
      
      
        
       
Styrous® ~ Thursday, September 27, 2018