Some of you might be old enough to remember "Double Features" at the theater. Back then you'd buy a ticket to see not only two movies, but newsreels, cartoons, and other special features. My allusion to this is because my post today has to do with movies. And as I frequently do, I've combined two blogging events into a double feature of the Backstage Blogathon and Battle of the Bands. Read on for more explanations of each event as well as my take on the film Idiot's Delight...
In the Backstage Blogathon (click on the link for more info and the list of participating blogs) participants pick a film made before 1970 that has something to do with the workings of show biz. This is a blog hop that definitely fits my interests in show business. In this post I'll be also presenting a Battle of the Bands between two songs from the film I've chosen. But more on that later. First the film...
When this film came on TCM this past November I was compelled to watch it and I'm glad I did. I'd never heard of the film prior to that night, but after watching it I knew that I had my film for the Backstage Blogathon.
What was not to draw me into watching this film? It's a Clark Gable film made in 1939, the same year the actor starred in Gone With The Wind. It's a film about vaudeville which is a subject that I'm very fond of. And what about this: Clark Gable plays the role of a vaudevillian song and dance man. To my knowledge this is the only film where Gable can be seen singing and dancing and he does a pretty nice job of carrying it off.
Based on an award-winning stage play, the film version of Idiot's Delight plays heavily on the comedic talents of Clark Gable. The story is a fun romp that begins in the early days of vaudeville then spans World War One, the Great Depression, and the onset of the Nazi Occupation of Europe prior to the Second World War. Gable's character goes from a relatively successful vaudeville act then through the decline of that entertainment era to the drudgery of touring small venues in Europe with a female back-up group called "Les Blondes".
While passing through the Alps, Gable and the girls get stranded in a resort with an assortment of other travelers. This is when things get interesting as we become aware that the Nazis have arrived and life as these travelers have known it is about to undergo some drastic change.
No spoilers from me--you'll have to watch this film yourself if you're interested in the outcome. Besides Gable's performance in the film, I enjoyed seeing another favorite actor, a young Burgess Meredith, playing the role of a peace activist. He gives an impassioned antiwar speech that seems like a message from the scriptwriter--a unique interjection into the story. Most of all I like the way show business and life on the road is depicted. We see that all is not glitz and glamour as we see the reality of a typical performer's lifestyle.
I found Idiot's Delight to be funny with fascinating political commentary and sexual suggestiveness without being overly lascivious or crude. Nothing like we'd see in similar films in current times. There is a smart subtlety to the dialogue. There are also more serious and darker undertones that are not overbearing, but they exist as a matter of fact.
Idiot's Delight is a show business film that I look forward to seeing again. If you're a Clark Gable fan you've got to see this film if for no other reason than to see his song and dance performances. I never knew he had that side to his talent.
Battle of the Bands
Battle of the Bands is the blogging event first introduced by our friends at Far Away Series and StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands. This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th. The premise is simple: Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it. Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.
I'm doing things a bit differently this time around in order to continue with my overview of the film Idiot's Delight. In this Battle you don't have to necessarily judge according to the song versions presented here. Vote instead on the song you like the best. One song you undoubtedly know while the other is likely new to you. Both songs appear in the film.
Clark Gable "Puttin' On The Ritz" (1939)
I'm sure most of you have heard this song. "Puttin' on the Ritz" was written in 1927 by Irving Berlin. Over the years the song has been heard in numerous movies and television shows. In 1983 the song was revived to hit status by German synth-pop star Taco. Whatever happened to that guy anyway?
Here's "Puttin' on the Ritz" as performed by Clark Gable and Les Blondes in the 1939 film Idiot's Delight. Don't necessarily judge the performance, but how much you like the song itself.
Ted Fio Rito "How Strange" (1939)
This version isn't from the film. However the song not only is part of the film soundtrack, but is also mentioned in the stage play by the original Russian name "Kak Stranna," originally a song by composer B.A. Prozorovsky and later adapted to English. This song is quite different from "Puttin' on the Ritz", but maybe this style is more to your liking.
Time to Vote!
This is nothing new to most of you, but if you're visiting a Battle of the Band post for the first time then let me briefly explain. Please give each song version a fair listen to decide which one you prefer over the other. If you don't like either then at least tell us which recording was least innocuous to you. This comes down to your preference and it's as easy as that.
Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours
Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:
‘FAR AWAY SERIES’
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’
'Curious as a Cathy'
Sound of One Hand Typing
DC Relief Battle of the Bands
The Doglady's Den
Cherdo on the Flipside
Jingle, Jangle, Jungle
Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
J. A. Scott
Holli's Hoots and Hollers
Results on Friday January 22nd
You've got a week to cast your vote, but try to do it soon so you don't forget! I've got more planned for January including the opening of the A to Z Challenge Sign-Up List. For information about the April A to Z Blog Challenge visit the official A to Z Blog.
My memoir blog Wrote By Rote is also participating in the Backstage Blogathon so I hope you'll visit that post as well.
And if you've not yet signed up for the Lost & Found: Valentine's Blog Hop be sure to click the preceding link to read all about it.
Have you seen the film Idiot's Delight? Have you read or seen the play? Did you know that Clark Gable could sing and dance? What are some films that took you by surprise?