Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bad Movies that Can Be Loved

On August 16th The Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles showed a reported pristine print of a film that was reviled by critics in 1973. The film is Lost Horizon, a musical version of the James Hilton novel that was filmed once before in 1937 by Frank Capra, but at that time, it was done as a straight drama. Hollywood producer Ross Hunter had the grand idea of taking the story and adding an entire musical score to sing and dance to ... and he chose actors who were not known to sing and/or dance. Peter Finch, Liv Ullman, George Kennedy, Michael York, John Gielgud and Sally Kellerman were the principal actors and the sole song and dance veteran was Bobby Van (featured once in an earlier post). Mr. Hunter wanted a lush romantic Broadway type of score, but the studio was wary due to the fact that the musical motion picture was nearing extinction and would cost a fortune to mount a production. The studio suggested that the score be hipper and more pop-ish to entice a new audience. They selected Burt Bacharach and Hal David to write the score. The movie did cost a fortune and was highly anticipated ... and then it crashed and burst into flames much like the plane that strands the passengers in the Tibetan mountains outside of Shangri-La in the original story.

Below you will find a video that an audience member took during the August 16th showing at The Egyptian. The section of the film shown is of Olivia Hussey and Sally Kellerman each expressing their desire to lead the other's life. Olivia wishing to live in the modern outside world and Sally wanting to stay in Shangri-La. The song is The List of the Things I Will Not Miss. You will see evidence of the production's mis-steps in casting and odd choreography. Keep your eyes peeled for the clumsy footwork, the cute point of view to audience head shots that were quaint in old MGM musicals, and the climb up the library shelf ladder.

What THE FUTURIST! loves about this video is the laughter and joy exuded by the theater audience. They are reveling in the pure unintended camp of the film. THE FUTURIST! read that the film was enjoyed thoroughly by the packed audience and was applauded at its finale. Interesting. They loved this failed film. And truth be told THE FUTURIST! has heard the soundtrack and doesn't think all the music is that bad ... but the voices singing? ouch (!) .... oh, if only THE FUTURIST! could have been there with friends to see this! A Burt Bacharach oddity on that massive screen with all that audience mojo going on! Movies can provide strange magic for the soul. That's what THE FUTURIST! calls Shangri-La!