The talented musical comedy star Betty Garrett died this week at the age of 91. She was known for playing brassy, warm-hearted but outspoken roles in musicals like On the Town and My Sister Eileen. She was on television with recurring roles in “Laverne and Shirley” and “All in the Family.” She won me over forever when I happened on her first film appearance in a sweet film 1948 film with Margaret O’Brien called “Big City.” She plays a dancer named Shoo-Shoo who does a nonsense musical number called “Okle Baby Dokle.” In “Neptune’s Daughter,” she helped to introduce “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
I was lucky enough to see her one-woman autobiographical live show, “Betty Garrett and Other Songs,” one of the most purely enjoyable evenings I have ever spent in a theater.
Unpleasant people behave selfishly until it stops, rather than ends, in this latest trifle from Woody Allen, who once again manages to persuade A-list talent to help him make a C-list movie.
It’s another romantic roundelay, with a divorced couple and their unhappily married daughter making a dreary series of bad romantic choices. Anthony Hopkins plays Alfie, a wealthy man who leaves his wife of 40 years because she makes him feel old, and marries a prostitute he’s known for two months (Lucy Punch). The ex-wife, Helena (Gemma Jones), comforts herself by consulting with a cheerful psychic (Pauline Collins) and dropping in uninvited on her unhappy daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts), and her unhappier husband, Roy (Josh Brolin). Roy has struggled to fulfill the promise of his first novel. After a series of failures, he is desperately hoping his latest manuscript will be accepted by the publisher. And he is also hoping to find a way to meet the beautiful neighbor (Freda Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”) he spies on through her window. Sally is smitten with her boss (Antonio Banderas).
The movie has little energy and less sense of purpose. The story is inert and so are the characters. Every one of them is monumentally self-absorbed and not one of them is meaningfully different at the end of the movie than he or she is at the beginning. Or if they are, we don’t know as we have long since lost interest in anything other than seeing some of the finest actors in the English-speaking world struggle to make something out of these underwritten roles.
Ayn Rand’s last novel, Atlas Shrugged, was published in 1957 and has had strong annual sales ever since. It is the story of a strike by the country’s leading industrialists and innovators as a protest of too much control by government. It is finally being filmed and the first glimpses of what is expected to be a trilogy to cover the entire book was shown at last week’s Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in Washington, DC.
“Snow White” has appeared on screen many times, perhaps most memorably in the very first feature-length animated film. I’m also fond of the “Faerie Tale Theatre” version starring Elizabeth McGovern.
Two new high profile Snow White projects are in the works. Julia Roberts has been signed to play the wicked queen in a film directed by Tarsem Singh, the man behind the visually sumptuous (if narratively less than coherent) “The Fall.” And “Twilight’s” Kristen Stewart is reportedly playing Snow White opposite Viggo Mortensen in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” with Charlize Theron as the Queen.
Which queen, which Snow White — and which movie — will be the fairest of them all?