That’s Entertainment! (1974) Jack Haley, Jr.


That’s Entertainment! (1974)
Written, produced and directed by Jack Haley, Jr.
Cinematography by Russell Metty
Warner Blu-ray (2:14)

For many years, I have hated musicals. My friends and co-workers have known this for years and were understandably shocked and confused when I chose Singin’ in the Rain for inclusion in our library’s Great Movies series last year. I also tell them that the main reason I hate musicals is that I played trumpet in far too many little theater pit orchestras (both out of obligation and necessity) when I was younger. The long hours of never-ending rehearsals can really wear you down, especially when you’re in your early to mid-20s and have the energy to do something besides waiting for one of the actors to find the right key or listen to the director arguing with the conductor over whether or not a certain verse can be cut from a song.

But that’s beginning to change. I still do not enjoy professional-level Broadway musicals performed onstage, but I’m discovering that movie musicals contain a sort of magic you just can’t find anywhere else. That’s why That’s Entertainment! (and no doubt its sequels) should be shown to people like me who think they hate musicals.

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Murder on the Orient Express (1974) Sidney Lumet


Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by John Brabourne, Richard Goodwin
Screenplay by Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Production Design by Tony Walton
Art Direction by Jack Stephens
Costume and Wardrobe by Brenda Dabbs
Music by Richard Rodney Bennett
Paramount DVD – library (2:11)

I haven’t read one in years, but as I recall, most of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels are far more plot-driven than character-driven. The character of her detectives (usually Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot), however, is solidly built and shaped over the course of several novels; we know them well. What the Christie novels often lack (again, if memory serves me correctly) is a consistent atmosphere, which is often easier to pull off visually, especially in plot-driven stories. (Christie fans, please do not send me hate mail. I think she is wonderful and do not mean to imply that she isn’t. But cinema – by its nature – can obviously show and sustain images easily in a way that’s constantly before our eyes.)

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