Friday, December 26, 2014

The Great Lady Has an Interview

The Friday Night Spotlights on MGM choreographer/director Charles Walter have been continuing into Saturday mornings, albeit without the films being introduced by Robert Osborne and Brent Phillips. Not thaty were going to be introducing a short anyhow, but the lineup for this final Friday night in December includes a short that I always found bizarre: The Great Lady Gives an Interview, tomorrow morning at 8:21 AM, or just following Ziegfeld Follies (6:30 AM, 110 min).

The short has no titles and an unnamed Lana Turner doing a mock interview talking about pencils and how she's become a pencil magnate and that made her the great lady. (I think it's pencils; it's been some time since I've seen the piece.) The only thing is, she accompanied by a bunch of men in formal wear who do a dance with her with the whole thing set to music. The Nicholas Ray version of the film King of Kings was on earlier this week, which gave TCM the opportunity to run a Word of Mouth piece that they always show for that film. Screenwriter Philip Yordan talks about how he was called in by the producer, Samuel Bronston, to help with the script. When Yordan sees the "script", he says, "This is insane!" Except, Yordan in his retelling says it in a much better tone that I can reproduce on the printed page. But when I've seen this short, Yordan's "This is insane!" always springs to mind because I've always found the short so baffling.

Since it's on again, I finally decided to do a bit of research. The TCMDb page for the short has no synopsis, and there is no IMDb page for it. More research, however, reveals that Turner is actually performing a number called "Madame Crematante". That number had originally been performed by Judy Garland in the aforementioned Ziegfeld Follies, in brilliant Technicolor. Garland's version is currently on Youtube if you don't want to watch the whole movie. As for Turner's version, it's in black and white, which is because it's apparently a kinescope from an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, from 1954 and honoring MGM's 30th anniversary. That would explain why there are no titles on this short, and why there's scant information on TCMDb and IMDb about this short. Turner's page at IMDb has her listed under "Soundtrack" for a 1954 episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as under "Self".

As I said, I find the musical number bizarre, but it's one you should probably watch for yourself. If anybody has better information and wants to correct me, feel free to do so in the comments.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Thanks for the info. I just saw this and was totally baffled. I actually didn't recognize Lana Turner at first, but I did recognize Steve Forest, John Ericson, and Richard Anderson (I think) as the singing reporters at the beginning.