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A Movie A Day: Quint on CAN-CAN (1960)
I think all conversations ought to be sung. It’s hard to quarrel with a melody.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Frank Sinatra bridges us from yesterday’s VON RYAN’S EXPRESS to today’s musical based on Cole Porter’s CAN-CAN. The flick starts out as a standard good artists pushing the envelope against an uptight society picture, but quickly turns into a love triangle. Basically you have Sinatra as the boyfriend and lawyer for Shirley MacLaine who runs a risqué dance club in Montmartre that always has to step in and defend MacLaine and her dancers whenever they’re caught doing the Can-Can, a dance too sexual, apparently, and one that is banned. Louis Jourdan plays a new judge who is trying to get the place shut down. If you’re a musical fan you’ll know him from GIGI or if you’re a genre nerd like me you’ll probably know Jourdan best as Dr. Arcane from SWAMP THING. So, it was quite a surprise when the story of a new judge trying to shut down this nightclub morphed into new judge falls in love with dance hall owner and tries to woo her away from Sinatra.

I found it hard to connect with this movie. It doesn’t have the charm or successful musicals of this time period, like THE SOUND OF MUSIC or WEST SIDE STORY, although I enjoyed watching Sinatra, MacLaine, Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier in eye-popping Technicolor. The problem isn’t the actors or the writing… or even the musical numbers. I quite liked “Live and Let Live” and “Let’s Do It,” actually. But even those didn’t feel staged in a memorable way. There’s a trippy as hell ballet dance sequence at the end, set in the Garden of Eden with dancers wearing animal heads… Apparently bunnies and wolves danced together while Unicorns watched before Eve bit into the apple… It’s a long sequence that had me captivated, but I don’t know if it was in a good way. “What the fuck am I a watching” was going through my head, although I loved the lady as the snake slinking down the tree. Anyway, for whatever reason I found it difficult to connect on a personal level with the film despite how beautiful it looked in scope Technicolor and the great charisma of all the leads. Maybe it was the story itself. The love triangle is played for most of the 2 hours and 20 minute runtime, but when the ending comes they just drop the loser without any fanfare. It just kind of happens. (Spoiler) And what can I say? Sinatra’s great, but I liked Jourdan more, so when MacLaine picks Sinatra at the end and Jourdan just kind disappears I was a little disappointed. Jourdan is a nicer guy, truly in love with MacLaine, his career and reputation be damned. Sinatra’s smooth, but less interesting. He doesn’t want to commit to marriage, he wants to fuck around… He even has a great line to MacLaine where he says something like “I’d rather love you than marry you,” which is obviously what MacLaine wants. Now I can be cool with characters making a backwards wrong-ass decision in movies like this (Duckie getting dumped for Andrew McCarthy still pisses me off, though), but I guess I just don’t like how they handled it here. MacLaine just seems to feel bad for him and Jourdan disappears from the picture. Final Thoughts: The film is too long, but has some charm. I’m afraid it’s not a very memorable movie, but while watching it I didn’t find myself squirming or checking my watch. It plays light and there’s some really fun innuendo (including a great subtle bit when Sinatra is asking MacLaine where exactly Jourdan kissed her and she says, “My lips” but her hands go down to her lap, covering her crotch for a second… maybe I’m just a filthy-minded bastard, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t intentional), but I think it’s a movie that’ll probably dissolve out of my memory by the end of the week. I always felt like an observer while watching, not invested emotionally in any of the characters.

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Monday, August 4th: DESPERATE CHARACTERS (1971) Tuesday, August 5th: THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY (1972) Wednesday, August 6th: QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX (1970) Thursday, August 7th: START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1970) Friday, August 8th: HELL IS A CITY (1960) Saturday, August 9th: THE PIED PIPER (1972) Sunday, August 10th: PARTNERS (1982) Tomorrow we jump some 11 years up in MacLaine’s filmography to a little seen drama called DESPERATE CHARACTERS from 1971. See you folks then! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express

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