WayBack Wednesdays: FAME

Quote of the Day: “I’s young, I’s single, and I loves to mingle!” — Leroy


So you’ve probably heard by now that MGM is re-making one of the classic flicks in classic studio’s vault—the high school musical of musicals Fame. Yes, Fame, as in going to live forever and going to learn how to fly…high! That saga of students singing and dancing and emoting their way through Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts—apparently so durable a brand that it’s been an 80s TV show, a 90s LA-based TV show, a stage musical some years later, and even a variation on a Debbie Allen-hosted reality show—is coming back to a multi-plex near you.

I think Fame would be a hard flick to remake. Because I think you should only remake bad movies with no cultural life—good movies last forever and stay fun to watch even as they grow old—uh, paging The WomenFame still has cultural life (see list of examples above!). I’m not saying that Fame was some sort of masterpiece; it wasn’t, but even with a script that gets vague and choppy sometimes, and some very unrealistic dancing in the streets, it really works. Mainly because of the spot-on city-kid casting, the ace pacing and slick atmosphere-building of underrated, (arguably) soon-to-be-great director Alan Parker, and by golly, the music. And come on, how can you remake that nastily exploitative topless “eh vous, Coco, eh vous” scene between Irene Cara and the slimy “filmmaker” Francois Lafete? Or that fab monologue by the rejected/dejected homegirl who brought Leroy along for moral support: “I’m through? I don’t have to dance anymore? Where you going, Leroy? He’s in and I’m out, right? Fuck you, Leroy! This was my audition, remember? You’re not into high school. We were rehearsing to get me into this school, not you, you fucker! It’s not fair! I didn’t want to come here anyway. This school sucks. You’ve done me a favor, shithead. You saved me four fucking years from this ass-licking school! You looking at one happy lady! Who wants to go to a fucking school to learn to dance, anyway?” Ahhhh, just sublime…

So get into The WayBack Machine and check out  two of my favorite scenes from one of my very favorite movies ever…(For all you die-hards, check out a cute Fame quiz after the jump…)

“I Sing the Body Electric” — Favorite details: The “serenade Venus” harmony of the two black vocalists who lift the song even higher (@ 2:19); Leroy loosening his shoulders, waiting for his entrance (@ 3:01); the ecstatic Twyla Tharp-ish extension of the dancers toward the chorus (@ 3:42); and the reaction shots of Bruno’s dad and Doris Finsecker’s mother with the camera (as well as Doris Finsecker getting old gospel-soulful in the choral singing)…

“Hot Lunch Jam”: Favorite details: The entire loose-limbed cinema-verite style of the scene, but especially, Doris Finsecker’s “through the looking glass” expression as she approaches the door of the cafeteria; Coco’s “this is MY moment”-vibe, slipping on the glamourpuss sunglasses to sing the song (@ 2:47); the cash register lady getting into the groove (@ 3:37); the two drama students trying to have a conversation amid the fray (@ 3:50)…and, for all you show-biz history buffs, various shots of a very pre-New York Undercover Michael DeLorenzo dancing his ass off…
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Filed under flicks, music, WayBack Machine

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