Edmonton Film Society kicks off with musical series

From home recording studios and Vube videos popping up to barroom karaoke and TV competitions churning out the next Paul Potts, popular singing’s gone local and small-screen in the past two decades. But little more than a half-century ago, singing was a glamorous, big-screen spectacle, wrapped by the studios—led by MGM’s Freed Unit in the ’40s and ’50s—into a bow-tied package for an audience to unwrap on an evening at the cinema.

Continuing its tradition of melodic summer fare, the Edmonton Film Society kicks off the song-and-dance routine with 1957’s Silk Stockings (June 30), a Freed-produced picture. It’s a Cold War reworking of 1939’s Ninotchka, about a severe envoy (Cyd Charisse), sent from the gray Soviet Union to bring three commissars back from sunny Paris, who falls for an American movie producer (Fred Astaire) … or, as Ninotchka puts it, “The arrangement of your features is not entirely repulsive to me.”

Gender war’s at the heart of swing-era musical Orchestra Wives (1942; July 7), the second and last film to feature Glenn Miller and his famous band—it’s a story of band members’ wives acting catty and petty. Small Town Girl (1953; July 14), starring Jane Powell and Farley Granger, features the peppy “Jumping Song.”

It Started with Eve (1941; July 21) stars Deanna Durbin in one of her most acclaimed roles, as a hat-check girl posing as a young man’s fiancée for his dying father. Sidestepping out to the frontier, Red Garters (1954; July 28) is a send-up of Westerns, sparing and suggestive in its sets but full of costumes.

The seventh in the decalogue of Astaire-Rogers musicals, Shall We Dance? (1937; August 11) sees an American dancer in Paris getting his jazz on for a famous toe-tapper. Still touring the City of Lights, Lovely to Look At (1952; August 18) sees Al Marsh (Red Skelton), searching with his partners for backers for their Broadway show, suddenly discover that he’s part owner of a dress salon in France’s capital. And Young at Heart (1954; August 25) stars Frank Sinatra, influential enough in Hollywood by then that he could change the ending for his black-mood character to a happily-ever-after.

Jun 30 – Aug 25 (Mondays, 8 pm)
Royal Alberta Museum, $5 – $6, $30 series pass

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