Musical Monday: Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) – Musical #366

Universal Pictures

George Roy Hill

Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, John Gavin, Jack Soo, Pat Morita, Beatrice Lillie, Lisabeth Hush, Mae Clarke (uncredited)

Set in 1922 New York, Millie Dillmount (Andrews) strives to be a modern woman; dressing as a flapper, becoming a stenographer and marrying her boss. She becomes friends with sweet, naive Miss Dorothy (Moore), who is also new to New York. Millie encounters many adventures along the way, including eccentric millionairess Muzzy Van Hossmere (Channing). She also uncovers a white slavery ring, which kidnaps orphans.

-The 2002 Broadway musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was based on the 1967 film.
-Last film of actress Beatrice Lillie
-Director George Roy Hill’s first musical film
-Director George Roy Hill and producer Ross Hunter butt heads. Hill was removed from the film in post-production and the film ended up being 2 hours and 18 minutes. Some things that Hill would have edited out, like the Jewish wedding scene, were left in. Hunter also added an intermission and brought in Andre Previn, according to the book The Films of George Roy Hill by Andrew Horton
-Music by Elmer Bernstein

Actress Beatrice Lillie in her last film role.

-The first few minutes of the film where Julie Andrews transforms into a flapper
-Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews dancing in the elevator
-When two of the actors see each other for the first time and “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life” starts playing
-Silent film jokes where Julie Andrews looks at the camera and a silent film card with her thoughts pop up
-When Julie Andrews meets her boss and the Hallelujah choir

Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews dancing in an elevator to make it go up and down.

Notable Songs:
-“Thoroughly Modern Millie” performed by Julie Andrews
-“The Tapioca” performed by James Fox
-“Do It Again” performed by Carol Channing
-“Jazz Baby” performed by Carol Channing
-“Baby Face” performed by Julie Andrews

James Fox and Julie Andrews dancing the Tapioca

My review:
By the time “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was released in 1967, musicals had mostly lost their popularity in Hollywood. But while “Millie” comes at the end of the bright musical era, it still serves up the same breezy good time like a 1951 MGM Technicolor.

While it’s hilarious and fun, director George Roy Hill said the film was meant to be a farce, according to The Films of George Roy Hill by Andrew Horton. He said he wanted to be a light film, “I wanted it to be a souffle.”

I knew of the play, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but was surprised to learn that it was based on the film, since generally films are inspired by the stage play. Admittedly, it’s an odd little plot with the “white slavery” aspect, but it is still extremely entertaining.

Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie

Julie Andrews plays Millie hilariously, trying to be a modern flapper. She uses words like “terrif” or “stenog” (for stenographer), rouges her knees, and marvels at the glamour and independence of free women, like Muzzy (Carol Channing).

Mary Tyler Moore plays Miss Dorothy, a demur, naive young woman. Moore looks lovely in her costumes and with long curls. Moore dances, but it is disappointing though, that Mary Tyler Moore doesn’t get to sing her own song. She actually has very few lines.

Filling out the supporting cast is Carol Channing, John Gavin, James Fox and Beatrice Lillie. Channing is entertaining to watch, as always, James Fox is a likable leading man and John Gavin is as handsome as ever. This is 1930s’ actress Beatrice Lillie’s last film. Lillie focused more on the stage than on film and she’s always a delight. It’s a real treat to see her here.

The songs are fun. There are only a few large dance numbers, like “The Tapioca,” which are very entertaining. A running joke throughout the film is that everyone has to tap dance to make the elevator go up and down. It’s fun to see what sort of dance steps they will do each time they get on the elevator. The highlight is Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrew’s dance on the elevator going up to the 12th floor.

This film runs at 2 hours and 18 minutes, which is rather long. Director George Roy Hill wanted to cut the Jewish wedding dance and song, which is an unnecessary scene. Regardless, this lengthy musical moves quickly and I never found myself bored or distracted.

This is one of Julie Andrews’ last major films of the 1960s, and I think it’s one you should definitely give a chance.

The cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie: John Gavin, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, Beatrice Lillie

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Travels with My Parents: TCMFF Through New Eyes

I returned to Hollywood by way of North Carolina last week for my third Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). I was excited to visit with my fellow film lovers and bloggers, hear classic film stars discuss their careers, and watch films on the big screen- the way they should be seen.

But this year had a new layer of excitement: My parents were joining me for their first ever TCMFF. After going to the festival on my own for two years, my travel buddies were the people who originally introduced me to classic film when I was a baby.

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

This wasn’t Mom and Dad’s first time in Hollywood. My family took a trip to Los Angeles in 2006, so they were familiar with the craziness of Hollywood Boulevard complete with people dressed in disheveled Spongebob costumes or impersonating Prince’s singing.

Since my first year at TCMFF, I knew they needed to come. After two years of care giving for my grandmother and her estate, my parents took a much needed vacation to what like to call “The Disney World of Classic Film.”

We pretty much stuck together the whole festival, because we shared similar interests in the films that we watched. These are their post festival reactions:

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before "Sound of Music." (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before “Sound of Music.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Mom (Lisa):
I really had a good time. I enjoyed seeing a lot of the movies and meeting all of the bloggers of websites that I have been reading for so long. My favorite was the Disney film “So Dear to My Heart,” because it was such a sweet, simple story and I really enjoyed it. It would be nice if Disney would put it out on DVD. My other favorite was “Why Be Good?” with Colleen Moore. It’s almost 90 years old and it raised a lot of the same concerns that you see now, which I thought was interesting. I also really liked “Reign of Terror.” We were one of the last people in the theater and by pure accident we were on the front row, five feet away from where Norman Lloyd was going to be interviewed. Errol Flynn’s family sat beside us during “The Sea Hawk,” which was also really cool. I loved hearing Jane Withers speak during the Hollywood Homes Movies at the Roosevelt because she was a hoot. I also loved seeing Sophia Loren. We were two rows away and she looked fantastic. The overall festival was a great experience. It was very well done and everybody there was very friendly and helpful. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy, except I wish I could have seen even more films. We will definitely have to go back another year to see Robert Osborne. I hope he’s feeling better so he can be there. I would love to hear his interviews.

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before "Marriage Italian Style" (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before “Marriage Italian Style” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Dad (Bill):
The two movies I enjoyed the most were “Why Be Good?” and “Don’t Bet on Women.” I liked the earlier movies, because it was interesting to see that many of the ideas between then and now are relatively the same. Cinematically, my favorite was “Psycho.” It was really worked well on the big screen. It’s one of my favorite films, and I have never seen it on the big screen. The way it was presented was very impactful. I enjoyed all of the interviews we saw. Norman Lloyd was interesting because he is 100 years old and has amazing commentary with all of his stories. He has worked with so many different people! I enjoyed seeing Sophia Loren, because she is truly an icon. I have heard about her since I was a kid and it was amazing seeing her in person. The whole film festival was very organized. My only disappointment was there were several movies that I wanted to see all scheduled at the same time and I couldn’t see them all.

I always love meeting and visiting with readers, film fans and fellow blogger friends. My favorite film of the whole trip was “Reign of Terror,” a new-to-me film. It was my top pick of the festival and I was thrilled that I was able to see it; I was actually the last person who got into the theater before they filled up. The cinematography by John Alton under the direction of Anthony Mann was breathtaking and innovative. I enjoy Robert Cummings as an actor and loved having the opportunity to see him in darker role. “Reign of Terror” is unique, because it is a mix of film noir set during the French Revolution with some humor mixed in; not something you come across very often. Character actor Arnold Moss was probably my favorite character in the film as the delicious snake-in-the-grass Fouché. He had all the best lines.

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in "Reign of Terror."

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in “Reign of Terror.”

Another notable feature about TCMFF is you have the opportunity to see several films that either haven’t been seen in many years, because they were lost or in a restoration process, or it’s a screening of the restoration’s debut. It’s always a special experience to watch a silent film with a live accompaniment, but it was extra special to be there for Carl Davis’s premiere of the new score for “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Live accompaniments may not be anything new for some people but that is something you seldom (or never) experience in many areas of the southeast.

Along with my parents joining, this year was a little different, because I had a few new experiences. We got into Los Angeles a little earlier and had the opportunity to do a little sight seeing. It was also my first year in the bleachers watching the red carpet events. It was fun cheering for Julie Andrews, Shirley Jones, and even the passholders, as they entered Gruaman’s Chinese Theater. I also took some time to see the handprint ceremony with Christopher Plummer, who seemed like a gentleman. It was a hilarious coincidence that I ended up sitting beside Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean, in “The Sea Hawk.”

The 2015 TCMFF may be my favorite year so far, because nine of the 14 films I saw were new-to-me. The only downside was that TCM host Robert Osborne was unable to attend. Along with all of his other fans, I send warm wishes for a speedy recovery.

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Queen Christina (1933)
Sea Hawk (1940)
Reign of Terror (1949)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Why Be Good? (1929)
So Dear to My Heart (1948)
Air Mail (1932)
The Loved One (1965)
Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
Don’t Bet On Women (1931)
Psycho (1960)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman's Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman’s Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Special Guests:
Robert Morse- red carpet and “The Loved One”
Shirley Jones- red carpet
Marty Ingles- red carpet
Diane Baker- red carpet
Norman Lloyd- red carpet and “Reign of Terror”
Film editor, Anne V. Coates- red carpet
Julie Andrews- red carpet
Christopher Plummer- red carpet and his handprint ceremony
William Shatner – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Shirley MacLaine – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Alex Trebek – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Errol Flynn’s daughter, Rory Flynn- “The Sea Hawk”
Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean Flynn (Sean and Rory sat next to me in The Sea Hawk)
Peter Fonda- “Young Mr. Lincoln”
Film Historian, Leonard Maltin
Composer Carl Davis – “Steamboat Bill Jr.
George Lazenby- “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Director Tom Schiller- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Zach Galligan- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Director Edgar Wright- “Psycho”
Sophia Loren – “Marriage Italian Style”


Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

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Classic film in music videos: Wind it Up by Gwen Stefani

This is March’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

Lead singer of No Doubt, Gwen Stefani made two solo albums after the band’s split- Love.Angel.Music.Baby (2004) and Sweet Escape (2006). Personally, I was a big fan of both and disappointed Gwen hasn’t made another, but that’s beside the point.

“Wind it Up” is the first single released from the Sweet Escape album and it loops part of the Rogers and Hammerstein song “Lonely Goatherd” throughout the song.

Still from the 1965 film "Sound of Music" starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker.

In the music video Stefani recreates several scenes from the 1965 film version of “Sound of Music” including:
-Dressing up in a (rather short) nun costume
-Dancers in blond wigs and plaid uniforms dressed to look like the Von Trap children
-Recreating the “My Favorite Things” scene by singing in bed to the dancing Von Trap children
-Gwen looks at curtains and makes them into outfits, like Maria does in “Sound of Music”
-Playing a giant key like a guitar, much like the “Do Re Mi” scene

What do you think?

Before the video was released in 2007, Gwen Stefani got Julie Andrews’ approval to recreate her iconic role in the video.

“She actually called and asked if I would mind if she used it,” Julie Andrews said in 2007.  “She does a lot of good yodelling. She’s great. She yodels better than I do. It’s a wonderful video too.”

Check back in April for the next classic film reference in music videos.

Contest info coming soon!

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The hills are alive in D.C.

I met Eddie Scarry in Media Writing, MCOM 241, in the Fall of 2008 at Winthrop University. We bonded over conversations about how GAP clothes were now boring and how we liked Gwen Stefani’s album “Sweet Escape.”

Scarry was the opinion editor for “The Johnsonian.” He made students and professors angry, but also got them thinking, while writing about topics such as “professors get paid a lot so don’t complain about four unpaid furlough days.”

Photo of Julie Andrews at the Lincoln Medal ceremony. (Washington Examiner)

As I read Eddie Scarry’s work and became closer friends with him I knew he was going to do great things. But I never imagined he would reach the level of success that he has, but not saying I didn’t think he couldn’t.

 Last weekend, Scarry met Julie Andrews, one of the loveliest voices to ever grace classic and contemporary film. Andrews was awarded a Lincoln Medal in Washington D.C. and Scarry was one of the reporters covering it. Scarry said she was exactly the way that we would all expect her to be.

“She’s everything you’d imagine from watching her in movies,” He said. “She smiles a lot and is so classically English.”

Scarry interviewed Andrews asking which younger actors and singers illustrated what the Lincoln Medal stood for.

“She didn’t name anyone specifically,” Scarry said. “A lot of times celebrities don’t like to speak positively or negatively on any specific person, because they fear that person will either get angry or other people will get angry that they weren’t mentioned.”

After graduating from Winthrop University, Scarry got a job in D.C. and also interns as a reporter for the Washington Examiner’s Yeas and Nays, D.C’s social and gossip column.

Scarry has met several other celebrities such as James Franco, James McAvoy and Jason Biggs.

James Franco and Eddie Scarry

“The only hard thing about interviewing any of them is that they usually don’t want to talk politics, and of course that’s what a lot of people in DC want to know their opinions on,” Scarry said.

“Sometimes there are weird surprises, like David Arquette smells like cigarettes or Angus T. Jones from ‘Two and a Half Men’ wants to go to school to major in still photography. Rising star James McAvoy has strange eyes and he was super nice to fans that were yelling for him at the premier of The Conspirator.”

His favorite interview so far has been with Franco, though sort of awkward, but he has found surprising things about different celebrities.

Though Eddie Scarry is rubbing elbows with celebrities, he still is the fun, friendly, Michael Jackson-loving guy I became close friends with.

Hopefully once he gets becomes a famous political journalist (which I know he will) he will remember back to those days when we all ate pizza in The Johnsonian office, those days I bought him Subway as I tried to use up $500 worth of café cash and listening to Destiny’s Child’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  🙂

Also, be sure to check out Scarry’s humorous but insightful blog on how to live cheaply in the D.C. area at Red Line Items.

Myself and Mr. Scarry in Dec. 2009

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