Monday, May 23, 2011

Flappers, Banjos, White Slavers...Oh My!

Well, isn't it lovely outside?  Summer is in the air and I can't help but feel infected by it.  I'm beginning to get hyper and anxious for school to be let out, and I have some super plans for passing the time.  There will be some trips, I'm starring in a local musical, and I have the annual summer Zelda Playthrough to look forward too hehe.  Gotta love it.  Anyway, in celebration of my mood and the choice of next year's spring musical at school, I decided to look at one of my favorite Julie Andrews musicals.  No, its not Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music but rather one of her lesser known films that is famous only for the Tony-award winning show that is based on it.  It is a madcap adventure about a small town girl who comes to the big city with hopes of marrying for money instead of love (preferably the boss she works as a stenographer for) and her brushes with the wealthy and the white slavers of the 1920...and its funny too.  So let's get ready to Charleston with Julie and the gang as we revisit Thoroughly Modern Millie.

It's 1922 and Millie Dillmont has come to New York City to find a rich man to marry which, afterall, is the modern way.  She does away with her curls and dons beads and a flapper dress faster than you can say 'boop-boop-a-doop' and immediately runs into Miss Dorothy Brown, a wealthy and lovely girl who has come to the city to live with the poor and middle classes and to discover 'how the other half lives'.  They live in the Priscilla Hotel (for Single Young Ladies) where the fiendish Mrs. Meers kidnaps all the young girls who have no family and sells them into white slavery, and somehow they keep accidentally thwarting her evil plans through dumb luck.  Soon Millie meets Jimmy Smith, a devil-may-care dreamer who doesn't work and doesn't have much money (making him out of the question as a suitor)...and she finds herself falling for him.  At the same time she finds employment for the rich and attractive Mr. Trevor Graydon, a manager at the Sincere Trust bank.  Also in Millie's circle of friends is Muzzy Van Hossmere, a wealthy and crazed party gal who used to work in Vaudiville and now holds fabulous parties at her stately mansion.  Romance, suspense, laughs, and surprises all wait in the wings as Millie makes her way through the crazy and madcap 'modern' world.

If there was ever a film that was tricky to summarize and cover all the bases, this is the one.  There isn't really a set story in this film so much as it is a chronicle of Millie's adventures in and around New York City in the 1920s...which allows for plenty of references to 20s films and comic opportunities.  Millie's continual silent-movie-esque mental comments to the screen are laugh out loud funny at times, and Mary Tyler Moore's characterization of the self-centered yet sweet Miss Dorothy is a true highlight performance...and what can one say about Carol Channing as Muzzy, except that there isn't enough of her.  Its a little long for the story its trying to tell, but one expects that from Roadshow musicals...this one has an Overture, Intermission, and Exit Music which add to its 2 hour and 30 minute run time.  And of course, if we didn't have this film, we wouldn't have the smash hit stage musical version (that our school will be performing this time next year) I can forgive it for its little foibles.  If you've never seen Millie, I definitely recommend it for a quiet evening (or a lazy afternoon)...its sure to put a smile on your face....OH! and those only familiar with the show should enter with no expectations...this is not that show, its its own animal.

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