Breaking Down the Walls: Sheldon Harnick at 90

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By Scott Ross

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I’m over a month late in noting that, impossible as it seems, one of my favorite lyricists has become a nonagenarian. So consider this an overdue commemoration or, more simply, my attempt at an appreciation of a man whose work has given countless millions pleasure, whether or not they even know or recognize his name. Now this may be cold comfort, but people who couldn’t conjure the names Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg if their lives depended on it know one of their songs as well as they do “Happy Birthday.” If you know “Over the Rainbow,” you know them. And if you know “Sunrise, Sunset,” you know Sheldon Harnick.

In her superb Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof Alisa Solomon refers to Sheldon Harnick as a “sensitive” lyricist, and I think that’s about as apt a description as any, although it does not take into account his playful wit nor his felicitous way with a rhyme. Those who enjoy rating lyricists may (at their peril) dismiss Harnick as a minor figure. Presumably he is considered “third tier,” a Hell I once saw Harnick’s early influence “Yip” Harburg consigned to in a book review, although I’ve never understood what that even means; any man who could write lyrics for The Wizard of Oz and Finian’s Rainbow places third on no scale.

Theater-Sheldon Harnick  (AP)

Neither does Harnick. Even his hitherto unknown “trunk” songs, those that didn’t make it into his shows, shimmer with keen perceptiveness and his special brand of gentle yet piquant humor. In honor of his 90th birthday, Harbinger Records has added a generous, two-disc sampling of Harnick’s demos and archival recordings to its Songwriter Showcase Series. On Sheldon Harnick: Hidden Treasures, 1949-2013, you can savor, along with such familiar, and beloved, gems as “Merry Little Minuet,” “Garbage,” “Worlds Apart” and that non pariel cut-out from Fiddler “When Messiah Comes” such a plethora of Harnickian joy your facial muscles may ache from smiling. That’s when your eyes aren’t misting up from the perfectly pitched emotional impact of songs that never plead, or descend into bathos.

My only complaint, and it’s admittedly a minor one for the completist who no doubt already owns at least one iteration of Harnick’s utterly charming 1971 “Lyrics and Lyricists” concert/lecture, is that the Harbinger disc omits the lyricist’s delicious introductions. (Although he did write his own, charming and informative, liner notes.) This is particularly poignant, for example, when at the 92nd street Y Harnick recognizes within his work the theme of breaking down a wall. Sometimes this is explicit, as in “Worlds Apart,” but more often the metaphor is cloaked, as in Motel Kamzoil’s exuberant “Wonder of Wonders” in Fiddler with its flavorsome Biblical citations. Most writers, good and bad, have themes they address throughout their work, conscious or no. The best ring creative changes on their obsessions, and that applies as much to the great lyricists as to any important prose or dramatic writer. Not only is a good stage lyricist (implicitly and explicitly) a dramatist, he or she must dramatize in rhyme, paying heed not merely to the meter of the music to which lyrics are written but to any number of other, equally valid and necessary, concerns: The shape and body and rhythm and color of the lines, the mindset and point of view of the singer or singers, where inner-rhyme is or is not appropriate to the character and the situation, and a myriad of additional technical and poetic matters over which few librettists (and no poet) need worry and without which a song, and thus a dramatic or comic moment, lives or dies. Nowhere in Sheldon Harnick’s considerable output will you find a false step along these lines.

An Evening with Sheldon Harnick

Although most of his earliest songs were satirical in nature and reactions to or against then-ubiquitous popular forms, suitable to revue, and while he quickly adapted to the more stringent demands of the musical play, Harnick’s acute and idiosyncratic sense of humor has remained a vital part of his output. Think, for instance, of the audacity of risking, as he did in “When Messiah Comes” (1964), the activation of still-fresh thoughts of the Shoah in his audiences:

And I spoke to God and said,
“Would that be fair,
If Messiah came,
And there was no one there?”

Or the hero of She Loves Me, in “Tango Tragique,” attempting to dissuade the heroine not to continue waiting for the mysterious rendezvous he alone knows is actually himself by warning her that her anonymous romantic vis-à-vis could turn out to be a homicidal maniac:

Her left leg, floating in a local brook
They never did find the rest of her,
Or her book…

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The great Barbara Cook as Amalia in She Loves Me.

Yet Harnick can, within moments, turn from the darkly risible to the infinitely touching, as when the same young woman, waiting in a restaurant for the lonely hearts correspondent who has stood her up can sing (without, the lyricist was pleased to note, a trace of self-pity) a verse that could melt the hardest heart:

Charming, romantic,
The perfect café.
Then, as if it isn’t bad enough,
A violin starts to play…

Oh, the perfect placement of that heartbreaking “as if it isn’t bad enough”!

It is generally recognized that She Loves Me contains the finest work, both of Harnick and of his best composer, Jerry Bock (even if it was sadly under-appreciated at the time of its all-too-brief 1963 Broadway run) just as it has become a commonplace to state that the team’s work in Fiddler is merely passable, buoyed along by the overall brilliance of the original production. And this is not simply a case of over-familiarity with a classic show; those remarks were being made 50 years ago(!) as well. I beg to differ. No musical with an indifferent score could scale the artistic heights of a Fiddler, and not even a Jerome Robbins could create high art out of mediocre material. No, Fiddler on the Roof is treasurable as much because of its beautiful, and beautifully integrated, score as it is for Robbins’ overall conception and staging. Or, for that matter, Boris Aronson’s superb, Chagall-inspired sets, or Patricia Zipprodt’s cunningly designed costumes, or even Zero Mostel’s indelible originating performance as Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye. The songs — music and lyrics — not only set the tone and elucidate the almost overwhelming emotions the show generates as it goes along; they also define character as clearly and concisely and exuberantly as Joseph Stein’s book, and provide an almost infinite variety of response, from excitement to laughter to rapturous joy to achingly expressed heartbreak. As Harnick said in 1971, he knew who Sholem Alecihem’s people were, and where their lives and concerns intersected with his. This transcendent commingling may make for more direct emotional connection and less showy lyrical panache, but simplicity of thought and feeling, expressed in heartfelt terms, matters (at least in this case) more than complex rhyme schemes and wittily expressed erudition. If you think writing an immediately graspable lyric for two parents watching their oldest child marry, or for a man writhing in the most acute confusion of love and betrayal, is easy, you try it. Let’s see if what you come up with is better than what Harnick achieved in “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Chavaleh.”

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The Fiddler team: Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Jerome Robbins.

Harnick’s first important Broadway credit was as composer and lyricist of “The Boston Beguine,” featured in the otherwise rather creatively barren New Faces of 1952, where it was performed with comic brio and impeccable musicianship by Alice Ghostley. It was Harnick’s special genius to sense something innately humorous about the beguine itself which, coupled with his hilarious topical verses, made for a deliciously self-conscious parody with a tincture of social disgust:

We went to The Casbah
That’s an Irish bar there;
The underground hideout
Of the D.A.R. there…

The Boston Beguine

“The Boston Beguine”: Alice Ghostley in full cry.

Seven years later, at 35, Harnick was the co-recipient of both a Tony and a Pulitzer for Fiorello! This was not his first collaboration with Jerry Bock — the unsuccessful The Body Beautiful a year earlier constituted their debut as a team — but it was the project that cemented their partnership. A George Abbott show in the venerable Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition of the well-made/integrated-musical, its score exhibits Bock’s almost uncanny ability to capture in his modern songs the style and sound of a different era (a quality he shares with the equally adept John Kander) as well as Hanick’s superb gift for felicitous comic and dramatic writing.

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The protean Tom Bosley inspires the working poor in Fiorello!

Fiorello! lacks a critical eye toward its subject, and it’s telling that the star, Tom Bosley, was nominated, with Howard Da Silva, as “Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical” (Bosely won.) LaGuardia is less compelling a figure than the characters around him, like Da Silva’s Republican ward-heeler Ben, Fiorello’s eventual second wife Marie (Patricia Wilson) and the secondary comic roles (Pat Stanley, Nathaniel Frey.) Where Harnick shines especially is in his wry satirical songs, led by Da Silva. In “Politics and Poker,” Ben and his hack cronies don’t even interrupt their marathon card game as they consider which straw-man might serve as a guaranteed loser. (When Laguardia wins, they’re comically stunned: “The Bum Won.”) And in their gleeful second act commentary on the Walker administration’s public scandals (“Little Tin Box”) Harnick indulges in a savvy, and very funny, nod to W.S. Gilbert. When the hacks re-enact testimony by Walker’s corrupt officials, the lyrics include some riotously effective choral repetitions:

Ben:
I can see Your Honor doesn’t pull his punches
And it looks a trifle fishy, I’ll admit
But for one whole week I went without my lunches
And it mounted up, Your Honor, bit by bit.

Hacks:
Up Your Honor, bit by bit…

A lovely, “Just a Song at Twilight”-inspired First World War reverie (“‘Til Tomorrow”) and a raucous period campaign number (“Gentleman Jimmy”) exhibit the team’s remarkable ability to refract period melodic and lyric sentiment through the prism of the present. And near the end of the show Marie, disappointed once again by LaGuardia, has an effective, angry comic number (“The Very Next Man”) which, alas, suffers from an appallingly (and, for Harnick, rare) insensitive release:

And if he likes me,
Who cares how frequently he strikes me?
I’ll fetch his slippers with my arm in a sling,
Just for the privilege of wearing his ring.

Bock and Harnick’s follow-up for Abbott, Tenderloin, was also a musical about New York’s past, but a disappointment coming from the team that created Fiorello! Still, the score contains some splendid songs, notably the deliberately sentimental pop-ballad “Artificial Flowers,” another swipe at cronyism (“How the Money Changes Hands”) and a peerlessly funny musical-hall take on a young woman’s falling into prostitution. “The Picture of Happiness” should be offensive, but it’s too giddy and amiable to spark ill will, with a chorus whose reversal makes you grin with happy surprise:

Since that lecherous bounder
Got ’round her and led her astray,
She’s the picture of happiness,
Laughin’ and singin’ all day…

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Daniel Massey with Barbara Cook in She Loves Me. When he leaves she’ll burst into the funny, moving, rapturous “Ice Cream.”

They needn’t have felt too depressed by Tenderloin‘s failure; She Loves Me was next and, despite its heartbreakingly brief run (354 performances) yielded one of the most glorious scores in the history of American musical theatre and, I would argue, the field’s greatest set of songs for a romantic comedy. MGM Records must have understood this when it released a rare, 2-LP Original Cast Album for the show. Like Columbia’s 1957 Candide, it’s largely that recording that kept She Loves Me alive in the hearts of those who loved it, and I don’t think it contains a song, a note or a lyric line that could be improved upon.

Based on the same Miklós László play that also inspired the glorious 1940 Ernst Lubitch/Samson Raphaelson charmer The Shop Around the Corner (and, later, the modern variant You’ve Got Mail) the show details the antagonism of two parfumerie clerks who are, ironically, passionate correspondents in a postal romance. If we are to judge the Fiddler songs against those in She Loves Me, the former does pale, but that is surely no sin; it’s a bit like comparing The Iceman Cometh unfavorably with Long Day’s Journey into Night. In this case, if there is a single reason why the latter trumps the former, it lies in the freedom Bock and Harnick were given by Joe Masteroff’s lovely book to rhapsodize, and illuminate, a superb collection of characters. In Fiddler, the canvas is at once broader and more intimate, the songs illustrating either a community’s focus or the specific emotions of an extended family. With She Loves Me, the creators were presented, aside from the feuding lovers, with no fewer than five important supporting characters, plus a proud maître d’ and a clutch of increasingly frantic holiday shoppers. The opportunities for individual musical elaboration were, therefore, multiplied: Bock and Harnick were free to compose numbers, not merely for the ironic lovers Georg and Amalia, but for the rueful old shop-owner, an avid delivery boy, a narcissistic Lothario, his self-abnegating paramour, and a frightened, equivocating clerk as well. This panoply provides a nearly obscene amount of possibility for richness, and the team delivers on them in spectacular fashion.

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Barbara Baxley and Barbara Cook performing their sweetly character-driven musical counterpoint, “I Don’t Know His Name.”

There’s a charming, bittersweet, reflective waltz for Mr. Maraczek (“Days Gone By); a cosmic justification of cowardice for Sipos (“Perspective”); an energetic plea for the ambitious young Arpad (“Try Me”); a sardonic, lightly threatening, straw-hat-and-cane farewell for Kodaly (“Grand Knowing You”); and, in addition to a pair of perceptive, self-mocking duets (“Ilona” and “I Don’t Know His Name”), no fewer than two great musical monologues for the hapless Ilona (“I Resolve” and “A Tip to the Library”) that limn the descending and ascending arcs of her romantic aspirations. All that plus a cantata for harried holiday shoppers (“Twelve Days to Christmas”) that is the last word on the madness of the guilt-ridden acquisitiveness of the season, and one hilariously knowing paean to the restaurateur’s pride in everything but the food in his establishment (“A Romantic Atmosphere.”)

And that’s not even mentioning the numbers for Amalia and Georg, each either explicating romantic terrors or celebrating heightened, ecstatic emotion: Georg’s “Tonight at Eight” and Amalia’s “Will He Like Me?” illuminate the shyness and trepidation of epistolary lovers about to meet in the flesh; Amalia’s heart-rending yet emotionally controlled “Dear Friend” and her ambivalent, rapturous “Ice Cream”; Georg’s darkly comic attempt to forestall the girl’s disappointment (the aforementioned “Tango Tragique”) and his exhilarated (and exhilarating) title song; and a finale for both which, for romantic suppleness and tender understatement simply cannot be, and has not been, bettered in the 51 years since She Loves Me debuted.

The sheer variety of the voices on that small stage must also have both constricted and broadened the swath of the team’s options. There was, first, the spectacular range and flexibility of their Amalia in Barbara Cook’s crystalline lyric soprano, surely every Broadway songwriter’s dream voice at the time. Then the less supple but innately musical phrasing of Daniel Massey’s Georg. Next, the big, stunning histrionic sweep of their Kolday, Jack Cassidy. Even those in the cast with more modest abilities, like Barbara Baxley (Ilona) and Nathaniel Frey (Sipos) presented opportunities to express character in surprising and delightful ways, if only as a self-imposed challenge to stretch the voices without breaking them entirely. A cast of more strikingly individual sound would be hard to conjure.

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The primary cast of The Apple Tree: Larry Blyden, Alan Alda and the phenomenal Barbara Harris.

The team’s official successor to Fiddler (as a favor to Hal Prince, they contributed several un-credited songs for the Sherlock Holmes musical Baker Street) was problematic: Three mini-musicals, adapted from short stories (Mark Twain’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” Frank Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger”) and a comic-strip fable (Jules Feiffer’s “Passionella” which, interestingly, also inspired a version by Harnick’s friend Stephen Sondheim, for The World of Jules Feiffer) that, pieced together and directed by Mike Nichols, did not quite equal one wholly satisfying show. Still, the score is splendid, revealing the lyricist in many moods: Satirical, romantic, self-consciously “epic,” whimsical. And, despite its relative disappointment, it still ran longer than She Loves Me.

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Hal Linden in The Rothschilds.

Bock and Harnick’s last show together — and Bock’s last work of consequence — was The Rothschilds. It was a modest success (505 performances… note that even the run still managed to eke past that of She Loves Me!) but the score, taken on its own, is as fine as Fiddler‘s and would be a great score in any season. Of particular brilliance are the observational and historical numbers (“Have You Ever Seen a Prettier Little Congress,” “Stability”) given to Keene Curtis, who deservedly took a Tony for his several performances within the show. Those songs are as rich, and as pointed, as anything the team ever produced: Angry yet witty, expansive, melodically complex, lyrically vast. And with “In My Own Lifetime,” a yearning anthem performed by Hal Linden as the paterfamilias Meyer, Harnick’s gift for gentle, anxious hope in the face of oppression reaches a kind of apogee, the emotional companion-piece to Fiddler‘s “Anatkevka”:

While I’m still here, I want to know
Beyond a doubt,
That no one can lock us in,
Or lock us out…
I want to know I haven’t built on sand
In my own lifetime.

Sheldon Harnick is very much with us still, crafting new lyrics (and occasionally composing as well), even preforming a bit, his distinctive and remarkably fluid vocal style scarcely dimmed by time. (Listen to his beautiful renditions of “Precious Little,” “The Pears of Anjou” and, especially, the glorious “We’re a Family” on the Harbinger set.) If you want to be charmed, tickled, becalmed and moved in equal measure, you’ve only to turn to his best work which, I suspect, will prove as resilient and enduring as the man who created it. Perhaps even — dare I say it? — eternal.

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One master looks at another: Harnick by Hirschfeld.

Lyric copyrights by Sheldon Harnick

All other text copyright 2014 by Scott Ross

I wish I was in Hell with my back broken: “New Faces” (1954)

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By Scott Ross

I finally sat down this week with the Critics’ Choice DVD of New Faces, the 1954 CinemaScope movie of the popular Leonard Sillman revue New Faces of 1952.

I may never recover.

To paraphrase Churchill rather horribly, seldom have so many done so much to so little effect.

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Hirschfeld captures New Faces. Looks like a fun show, doesn’t it? Well, looks can be deceiving.

Jimmy Thiem in

Jimmy Thiem in The Little Foxes at Raleigh Little Theatre in 1952. He looked very much the same when I knew him, between 1979 and 1990.

I was introduced to the cast recording in my late teens or early 20s by my friend Jimmy Thiem, who has, I am sorry to say, since joined the majority. Jimmy, who before I met him owned a much-loved record shop (ask your grandparents) in Raleigh, NC, was my guide to many of the older Broadway musicals. I knew the big ones, of course, or at least knew of them. Jimmy filled in the gaps. (I owe him especially for sharing Finian’s Rainbow, thus making me a lifelong convert to The Church of Yip Harburg and Burton Lane, and for The Most Happy Fella.) He was mad about New Faces, so I dutifully picked up a copy. I wish I could have told Jimmy I liked it as much as he did, but the fact is I was not so much underwhelmed as barely whelmed.

I loved one of the songs, was mildly impressed with others, indifferent to most, and loathed more than a couple. It may have been one of those cases of “You had to be there,” but the talent behind the show, and on the stage (and the LP) was in many ways remarkable for their collective staying power, and for what they would achieve in the future: Sheldon Harnick, Mel(vin) Brooks, Paul Lynde, Alice Ghostley, Carol Lawrence, Ronny Graham and (there’s no other word for her, sorry) the fabulous Eartha Kitt.

Oh, yeah: And Robert Clary. More on him anon.

Eartha KittMany of the songs must have seemed old hat to a lot of people even then. Some of them have pretty tunes, especially those by Arthur Siegel, later known to a generation of musical aficionados for his collaborations with the very strange Ben Bagley on the latter’s sometimes useful, often risible, Revisited LP series. But the lyrics nearly always let you down. Siegel’s “Love is a Simple Thing” (lyrics by June Carroll) has, initially, a pleasing rhyme-scheme, perhaps a little too reminiscent of Hugh Martin’s “Love” for comfort, but the words, like the tune, trail off into nothingness. “Time for Tea” contains a nice idea — two elderly spinsters caution the listener not to miss the opportunity for happiness — and then galumphs along in a seemingly endless flashback until you’re ready to cry, “Enough!” Or take “Penny Candy”: Again, a plangent idea (the little ache of longing we feel for childhood pleasures) and an interesting composition, both of which get mired in ennui, especially when the hopelessly trivial dialogue interrupts. Only Siegel’s “Monotonous,” performed with exquisitely bored eroticism by Kitt, really works. Not that its lyrics are as clever as they might be, nor the music as ineluctably soignée as it thinks it is. It all begins to sound too much like cast-off Cole Porter, although he’s far from a bad target at which to aim your artistic sights. Michael Brown’s hoedown “Lizzie Borden” likewise exudes a whiff of must; Tom Lehrer would do this sort of thing much better, and with infinitely greater wit, a couple of years later.

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The great Alice Ghostley in full cry.

Of the ballads, only Murray Grand’s gently sardonic “Guess Who I Saw Today?” stands out. But the show’s best number, by far, is Harnick’s deliciously wry “Boston Beguine.” My affection for the song, a riotously, rapturously absurd paean to doomed romance, is not mere 20/20 hindsight. Here, composer/lyricist and performer meet in one of those rare confluences of enormous talent, even — dare I say? — genius that both promises a golden future and is giddily superb on its own. What makes the number treasurable, aside from Ghostley’s unerring comic touch and sparkling lyric soprano, is Harnick’s playful intelligence. He alone saw something potentially funny in the very nature of the beguine itself, and his juxtaposition of that slightly studied passion with a set of lyrics bemoaning the incongruously hilarious setting (“We went to the Casbah/That’s an Irish bar there/The underground hideout/Of the D.A.R. there…”) is, even this early in his career, masterly. I’d hate to have to been the poor schmucks in the show who had to follow that one.

Now to the movie. And abandon hope, all ye who enter there.

New Faces poster

I won’t dignify the alleged director of this indigestible mulligatawny by mentioning his name. Trust me, you’ve never heard of him. Although New Faces is essentially a filmed performance, albeit sans audience, someone had the (to him, I presume, brilliant, but actually thrice-baked) notion of setting off the numbers with a loathsome, idiotic “backstage” framing story and, having had it, resolutely stuck to the damn thing. Perhaps it was felt that a movie audience wouldn’t accept a filmed revue without some narrative, however tenuous or anemic. That’s no excuse. But there is worse, far worse, to come: He, or they, also built up Robert Clary as if he was France’s answer to Sinatra and Jerry Lewis, all in one foul, diminutive package.

June Carroll’s restrained and knowing rendition of “Guess Who I Saw Today” got the ax, but considering the overall cloddish conception and the inept manner in which the movie was shot, that may have been a blessing for her, and for her composer. Infinitely more appalling is the way Ghostley’s “Boston Beguine” is utterly ruined by long cutaway shots to Clary, made up as a teenager (or perhaps a little boy, who can tell?) lying on the grass of what I assume is Boston Common and making a complete cul of himself. I can’t begin to imagine how Ghostley felt when she saw the results, but for me, it is one of the gravest crimes against decency, wit, and performance in the entire history of the movie musical. And that includes the Village People. And El Brendel.

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Ghostley and Clary at the cast album recording session. Presumably she’s picking nits; Lord knows he behaves as if he’s feral.

Clary is nearly beyond human endurance throughout. He mugs to the furthest balcony, hurls every over-sold emotion and steel-belted note like a berserk Al Jolson, scampers and grimaces and poses and flits about with juvenile abandon until you want to throttle him, and generally shows off what we have to assume is his thorough (and utterly misguided) inner conviction of his own adorableness. God knows the French did themselves no favors by embracing Lewis, but even they did not deserve Robert Clary. Ronny Graham is almost as obnoxious, especially in his inane and lugubrious commingling of Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote (whose surname Virginia De Luce mangles — deliberately? — as “Ka-pote.”) Graham just skirts parity with Clary in the insufferability sweepstakes, but only because he gets less screen time.

Blessedly, Kitt gets to perform “C’est si bon” and Francis Lemarque’s “Bal Petit Bal,” and to commit her ineffable rendition of Phil Springer’s “Santa Baby” (added to the show late in its run) to celluloid. But her delectable version of “Monotonous” is, like “Beguine,” sabotaged, this time by an abrupt cut to that leaden backstage story, just as the song builds to its climax. When your director is intent on killing your performance, not even the most brilliant singer/comedian can triumph.

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Even an inveterate one-time Paul Lynde fan such as myself finds slim (or is it overfed?) pickings here. Lynde’s African monologue was familiar to me from his early live album of uniformly gruesome, would-be black-comic sketches that, taken on their own, make me wonder how the hell he ever got to be a household name. The nasty tone toward, and the xenophobic ugliness about, Africans makes this one of those artifacts one watches with a numbing dread, and the Brooks-written spoof of Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller, unfunny in itself, is made fully unpalatable by Lynde’s staggeringly inapt over-acting. Brooks himself might have actually been subtler. (Although I doubt even he could have made this particular joke funny.)

New Faces DVD

The print on the Critics’ Choice disc is as atrocious as the content, the color faded and, occasionally, flashing from a saturated yellow to a weird pea green every few seconds. I gather the later VCI Entertainment DVD’s print is no better. But even if it were, it would take a desperation for entertainment bordering on the suicidal for me to sit through this mélange of witless excess — in which even the redoubtable Richard Barstow contributes dances of yawn-inducing, style-less obviousness and for which Raoul Pene Du Bois could not conjure up more than a series of threadbare and moldy “sets” — ever, ever again.

I don’t know the precise answer to the ages-old question of what killed the musical revue, but this movie surely had a hand in its demise.

I wouldn’t be surprised to discover it carried Plague.


Text copyright 2014 by Scott Ross