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Monday, September 26, 2016

Sweet Charity (1969)

A good hearted but not too bright dance hall  "hostess" (Shirley MacLaine) is a romantic and gullible when it comes to men who are constantly using her and then dumping her. But when she meets a rather conservative insurance actuary (John McMartin recreating his stage role), things look like they might change for the better. Based on the 1966 Broadway hit musical which in turn was adapted from the Federico Fellini film, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA. Although he had danced in and choreographed movies before, this was Bob Fosse's directorial film debut. While many consider this film Fosse's cinematic trial run for his next film CABARET (1972), that's unfair. While the film is not without its flaws and pretensions (like the overuse of freeze frames), it's a more than decent movie musical. It affords Shirley MacLaine (who started off as a dancer on Broadway) one of the few opportunities she had to show off her dancing skills in film. The songs by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields are wonderful and Fosse's choreography may be the most exciting since Jerome Robbins' WEST SIDE STORY 8 years earlier. If nothing else, we get to see the great Chita Rivera in her only major film role. Some TV versions have been known to show the film with an alternate "happy" ending which is blasphemous! With Ricardo Montalban, Paula Kelly, Barbara Bouchet, Stubby Kaye, Bud Cort and Sammy Davis Jr. as "Big Daddy".

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