Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|On the Riviera|
Actors: Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet, Marcel Dalio, Jean Murat
Director: Walter Lang
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
When a famous French aviator is unable to attend a social gathering, his business partners hire an entertainer who closely resembles him to take his place. — Genre: Musicals — Rating: NR — Release Date: 22-MAY-2007 — Media Typ... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
Good reasons: Danny Kaye, Gwen Verdon and Jack Cole!
Dance Veteran | The Old World | 06/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Warner set a standard with a string of well-produced DVDs of MGM musicals and 20th Century Fox are up for the challenge: A lot of love and care went into the making of this DVD. It comes in a slipcase and contains four b/w lobby cards. Picture and sound were superbly restored. The format is full screen - not widescreen (an error in the above product details). The extras section includes the trailer, a still gallery and three comprehensive featurettes:
"The Riviera Story - A Remarkable Impersonation" (10 minutes) is about the theatrical origins of the storyline and compares its three screen incarnations: "Folies Bergère" (1936), "That Night in Rio" (1941) and "On The Riviera" (1951).
"A Portrait of Danny Kaye" (26 minutes) is a biographical look at Kaye's impressive life, featuring, amongst others, his daughter Dena Kaye.
"The Jack of Clubs - Choreographer Jack Cole" (10 minutes) is an appreciation of Cole's work (that's been long overdue). It could've been more in-depth and the footage isn't necessarily well chosen, but it's better than nothing. (Jack Cole (1911-1974) is regarded as the father of jazz dance and influenced many choreographers. The dynamic and often sexual energy in his work was combined with a passion for ethnic dances and an excellent sense for aesthetic movement, creating an unmistakable style that demanded tremendous power and precision.)
First of all, don't expect a great comedy. Danny Kaye does a fine job considering the weak plot. Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet contribute absolutely nothing except their lovely looks. (If you want to see Kaye at his best (with a wonderful supporting cast) get "The Court Jester".)
Director Walter Lang's style is, as always, invisible. Lang was responsible for a couple of major Fox musicals, most importantly "The King and I". He never got in the way of all the talent he was working with - which was probably his biggest achievement as a director...
However, the big plus points (besides Kaye's performance) are the catchy songs by Kaye's wife Sylvia Fine and Jack Cole's choreography featuring the future Broadway star Gwen Verdon.
(Gwen Verdon (1925-2000) was a brilliant dancer in a class of her own (and certainly not just a "Fosse hoofer" as stated above). Yet she also belongs to the group of outstanding and multi-talented dancers who received too little attention from Hollywood (like Carol Haney or Tom Rall).
She started out as a Hollywood chorus dancer during the mid-Forties. (I recall reading in a book by John Mueller that her name appears on the list of chorus girls for the Fred Astaire classic "Steppin' Out With My Baby".) Seeing Jack Cole's nightclub act changed her life. She became Cole's left hand in 1947 and worked with him on two Broadway shows, "Magdalena" and "Alive and Kicking".
In 1951 Cole signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. He had previously been under contract with Columbia, where he helped shaping the star image of Rita Hayworth. Verdon followed him as his assistant, teaching steps to Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and other stars. Cole knew that Verdon was perfect to showcase his choreography, so he featured her in a number of films, usually in solo or centre stage spots.
In 1953 Verdon was asked to dance on Broadway in a new Cole Porter musical called "Can-Can". The show, which was choreographed by Michael Kidd, made her a star overnight. Her collaboration with Jack Cole ultimately ended in 1955. She went on to have a very successful career on Broadway. With Bob Fosse at her side, she starred in "Damn Yankees", "New Girl in Town", "Redhead", "Sweet Charity" and "Chicago".
During the Eighties and Nineties she enjoyed a "second" career as a supporting actress - appearing in films like "The Cotton Club", the "Cocoon" series, Woody Allen's "Alice" and "Marvin's Room". She also had a few appearances in "Magnum P.I." as Tom Selleck's mother. Her final work turned out to be the artistic supervision of "Fosse", a celebration of her late husband's choreography.
Gwen Verdon's enormous contribution to the world of dance and her unique talent should be acknowledged by dance students and musical theatre fans alike. Here's a list of films that show her as a dancer and information on availability: "David and Bathsheba" (Fox 1951, non-musical, available on DVD or VHS), "Meet Me After the Show" (Fox 1951, not available on DVD or VHS), "The Merry Widow" (MGM 1952, available on VHS - Verdon's can-can is also included in the MGM clip compilation "That's Dancing!"), "The I-Don't-Care-Girl" (Fox 1953, not available on DVD or VHS), "The Mississippi Gambler" (Fox 1953, non-musical, not available on DVD or VHS) "The Farmer Takes a Wife" (Fox 1953, available on VHS), "Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" (Fox 1955, not available on DVD or VHS - Verdon's two big dance numbers were erased from the final cut, she appears only briefly in the charleston sequence) and "Damn Yankees" (Warner 1958, available on DVD or VHS - Verdon's finest moment in Hollywood and her only starring role in a film musical). Interesting footage of Verdon is included on the following DVDs: "Broadway's Lost Treasures, Vol. 1 & Vol. 3", "The Ed Sullivan Show - The Best of Broadway Musicals", "The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show, Vol. 2", "Broadway - The Golden Age" and the recently released special edition of "Can-Can". Also check for clips on youtube.)
Back to "On the Riviera" - Let's take a look at the five musical numbers:
The lively title number shows Kaye impersonating Maurice Chevalier. A tip of the hat to the man who created the role in 1936.
"Rhythm of a New Romance" is particularly interesting for the opening can-can which introduced Gwen Verdon to movie audiences and the East Indian Dance sequence featuring Verdon and Cole (wearing a Kathakali mask). (Cole studied authentic traditional East Indian dances like Bharata Natyam. He seldomly received the opportunity to use them in movies, but they were an essential ingredient of his nightclub act.)
"Ballin' the Jack" was a regular part of Danny Kaye's early stage repertoire. You could call it a trademark number.
Sylvia Fine's droll "Popo, the Puppet" received an Oscar nomination for best song. The number was entirely conceived by Cole and features Kaye, Verdon, Ellen Ray and Ethel Martin in Commedia dell'Arte costumes. (Foreign cultural history was another favorite of Cole and he was especially fond of the Commedia dell'Arte. Unlike many other choreographers he influenced the overall look of his numbers by having a say on colors, costumes, scenery, lighting, props and camera angles. By the way, look for the similarities between the tambourine players and the tambourine playing doctors in the "Some of These Days" sequence from Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz". Fosse admired Jack Cole. He auditioned for him in 1950 for "Alive and Kicking" when he was starting out as a dancer on Broadway. He didn't get the job - Bobby Van did.)
"A Happy Ending" is one of Cole's best works - and it's a shame an editor shortened it. (Notice the shot with Kaye and Tierney in the middle of the trio - putting in an audience shot was a common method to take something out of a musical sequence.) The number features Cole, Verdon, Ellen Ray, Buzz Miller (an excellent jazz dancer and companion of Broadway legend Jerome Robbins. He's now best remembered for dancing the Fosse classic "Steam Heat" in both the stage and movie version of "The Pajama Game") plus George and Ethel Martin (certainly the most loyal of Cole's dancers. In fact, Ethel danced in the very first musical Cole choreographed on Broadway, "Something For the Boys" in 1943, and in his penultimate show, "Foxy" in 1964. Her husband George danced in all of Cole's Columbia musicals (usually partnered with Rod Alexander) and in most of his Broadway shows. In 1966 they re-created Cole's original choreography for Richard Lester's film version of "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum". George Martin continued to work on Broadway as a choreographer, assistant and stage manager. The Martins retired in 2004 after a career spanning more than sixty years.)
Two deleted musical numbers from "On the Riviera" can be found on the DVD "Hidden Hollywood 2" - a hilarious version of "Begin the Beguine" and "The German Concert Singer", both are performed solo by Kaye. I don't know why 20th Century Fox didn't include them on this DVD...
For more information about Jack Cole I recommend to get a copy of Glenn Loney's great book "The Unsung Genius - The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole" (it's out-of-print, but I'm sure your local library can help). You'll find a list of his films at the internet movie database (imdb).
Unfortunately there isn't a Gwen Verdon biography available. Extensive information can be found in books about Bob Fosse (look for Kevin Boyd Grubb, Margery Beddow and Martin Gottfried - who also published a Danny Kaye biography called "Nobody's Fool").
Thank you, 20th Century Fox, for helping to keep the legends alive. I hope there's more to come!
On the Riviera 1951
John W . Ford | Los Angeles , California . U.S.A | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's double the fun and laughter as Danny Kaye (1913-1987) gives a dual-role Performance in the uproarios musical comedy , ON THE RIVERA, costarring Gene Tierney (1920-1991) and Corine Calvert (1925-2001). When celebrated French aviator and Ladies'man , Capitaine Henri Durant (Kaye) is unable to attend an all-important social soiree , his business partners hire an American nightclub entertainer , Jack Martin (Kaye , again) to take his place . Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the world famou-flier , Martin becomes the hit of the party , especially with Duran's long-suffering wife , Lili (Thierney), an amorous young woman who can't quit tell the two apart . A madcap tour de farce , those songs , dances and laughts sparkle as brightly as its Technicolor . High Quality Transfer . Recommended ."
Patricia A. Fischetti | Yuba City, CA, USA | 06/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great movie. A fun remake of "That Night in Rio with Don Ameche. Danny Kaye is a very verstile entertainer who can sing, dance and act. He really pulls off the double role he plays as an entertainer and a wealthy man who has a reputation as a ladies man. A couple of the songs in this movie harken back to my childhood and enhances the enjoyment of this movie. A must see!"
Bonus track a real bonus
Barbi Lee | Minnetonka Mn | 09/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Besides enjoying a really fun movie, "On The Riviera", I was so happy to get the bonus track special on Jack Cole. He is the "father of jazz" and to get his story was amazing. Thank you."