Rich Man's Frug
May 21, 2010 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Friday Night Fosse: Rich Man's Frug, The Heavyweight, and The Big Finish from Sweet Charity. Happy weekend!
posted by biddeford (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
fun! laughs! good times!
posted by mintcake! at 11:29 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

don't just do something, stand there!
posted by sexyrobot at 1:59 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh my. A Bob Fosse thread. I might as well stop in to say that he's a great film maker. The cut to the body bag shot in All That Jazz is one of the most powerful things I've seen in movies, and Star 80 is an extremely chilling film. He had more to give. That is all.
posted by Trochanter at 5:37 AM on May 22, 2010

Ahhhh ... some nice satisfying long shots. Note how they show the whole stage and the dancers' whole bodies. That's how you shoot dance. If these dance sequences were shot today, they'd be a confetti of quick cuts, an arm here, a leg here, head, torso -- like the abominable "Chicago", where my "favorite" scene is Richard Gere supposedly tap dancing, but you never see one shot of his whole body at the same time. Clearly, they were cutting from Gere's head to someone else's feet, so Gere wouldn't actually have to leave his comfort zone and learn a few dance steps. In "Sweet Charity"'s day, some people still remembered how Fred Astaire would perform an entire dance sequence in a single take.
posted by Faze at 5:38 AM on May 22, 2010

While we're Fosse-ing: "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar" from Big Deal.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:52 AM on May 22, 2010

Looking through the peripheral videos, I found this. Yipe! The moonwalk's even there! (4:15) News to me, anyway.

Michael Jackson: If this is anyone other than Bob Fosse, YOU'RE STEALING MY BIT!!
posted by Trochanter at 6:18 AM on May 22, 2010

Anything I've ever choreographed has been inspired by Fosse and/or Berkeley. Or at least, I'd like to think so.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2010

According to Rob Marshall, Gere did his own tap dancing. Now that doesn't mean he did it in all one take, or that his body looked elegant while his feet were moving...but it was him.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:26 AM on May 22, 2010

The cut to the body bag shot in All That Jazz is one of the most powerful things I've seen in movies

Bye Bye Life
posted by homunculus at 9:45 AM on May 22, 2010

I saw the end of Sweet Charity on TVO after returning home from a late night out, and I thought "WTF?" It was even stranger when I later rented it and watched it sober. Then I rented All That Jazz and The Little Prince. Then I started to swing my hips when I walked. Then I got a hat and a cane...
posted by ovvl at 11:52 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

That movie has a lot to answer for, not least of which for inspiring me to perform a nearly perfect solo rendition of "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," in which I performed all the roles, including the Paula Kelly bit about wanting to be a hat check girl at one'a them East Side high class restaurants where cigarettes cost sixty cents a pack, and the wrist-snapping horsey dancing parts.

It was middle school, 1981, I wore a lot of brown velour v-necks and was called a dork quite frequently, and I loved that song because there did, in fact, gotta be something better than that, and so when we were assigned the classroom project of each performing something musical, I chose to lip-sync and dance to my tape of the music from Sweet Charity that I made by holding my piano-key cassette recorder up to the speaker on our thirteen inch Trinitron.

I made a lot of similar misjudgments of style and social order back then, but this one—well, it should have been thermonuclear.

I sat through Karen Wassman doing a limp, but serviceable, rendition of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," then stepped up, started the tape, went into that Charity Hope Valentine spot in my soul, and boogied the living hell out of that song. If memory serves, I didn't miss a beat, and I was rightly proud of myself, as I lip-synced perfectly to Paula tellin' it like it 'tis.

"Check your hat sir? Check your coat sir? Check your vest, sir? Check your pants?"

You know, I'm not sure I've ever been as un-self-conscious as that since.

"How about if after hours, I check you and you check meeeeee?"

It was, quite possibly, the gayest thing that ever happened at Hammond Middle School in Scaggsville, Maryland in 1981, and yet, that part, that icky, mean, middle-schooly part of it all, did not even register.

In the end, I skidded on my gum-soled chuckaboots across the dingy white tile floor, right into the center of the classroom, threw out my arms, and coarsely yelled my one actual line from the piece:


I stood there, out of breath from the effort, gangly and almost six feet of dorky teen boy, my arms still cocked in that perfect Shirley swagger, and then, grinning from ear to ear, I let my eyes sweep across the classroom, across the perfectly still, perfectly silent sea of classmates, to my teacher, who sat on the corner of her desk, frozen.

A long, long time passed. If I was James Brown, I'd have had someone bring me a towel, but instead I slowly relaxed, still panting, and wiped my greasy, sweaty forehead against my brown velour JC Penney v-neck pullover, pushed my admittedly stringy hair back in what I hoped would seem like a terribly nonchalant gesture, and swallowed.

My teacher slowly sat up, and chairs began to creak around the room, as if the subtle cue made it clear that no bomb was about to go off in the near vicinity, but it was still silent.

"Well. That was something," she said. "I think it would be okay if we wrapped up class a little early today," she added, and with that, bookbags were loaded and hoisted, papers gathered, sneakers squeaking quietly in the rustling of a room full of kids leaving without a word.

I, of course, was proud of myself. I'd been fucking fabulous, and that's not easy when you've got stringy hair, a zit on your nose with a lifespan comparable to that of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, and a closet full of JC Penney velour v-neck pullovers in a rainbow of fashion-forward hues that were only properly fashion-forward in 1977.

Still panting, I slung my bookbag over my shoulder and followed the group out, albeit with a bit of swagger still in my step.

I was never called "faggot" once in my life until I was 29.

In fact, for some inexplicable reason, no one ever mentioned my performance again, except my teacher, carefully marking one of the few A grades I'd ever receive in middle school in her grade book. It was never mentioned, never discussed, never a new excuse for teasing for an age group that lived for that kind of fodder, and I suspect it wasn't so much that people thought I was a great lip-syncing dancer (I was, you know) as much as it was a reflection of children's deeply-ingrained response to trauma, where a memory of something one wasn't meant to see just overloads the part of the brain that's supposed to make note of such things.

My synthesis of Shirley MacLaine, Paula Kelly, and the lovely Chita Rivera was just too much for the thirteen year-old soul, and the scene just...disappeared, the way these things do. For my classmates, there's just a blank spot on the tape there, of about six minutes, that just went somewhere no one ever wants to look again, for fear of falling into a world that just shouldn't be.

Me, though, well—I remember that breathless moment, right at the end.

Things happened.

There is something better than this.

Now live it.
posted by sonascope at 5:40 PM on May 22, 2010 [8 favorites]

That makes me want to be in shows again... Last time I put on my tap shoes - custom jobs, made just for me - it scared the baby.
posted by Never teh Bride at 6:36 PM on May 22, 2010

That looks so difficult. But beautiful.
posted by gubo at 11:54 PM on May 22, 2010

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