Locus Focus: Take Ninety-Three!
Yes, we're still doing movie musicals--my affirmative answer to my own question of May I Have Some Music?
I remember reading somewhere that most directors think of the music last, if only in the sense that they give it the smallest slice of the budget. Putting the music first, so that everything else is built on it, is much tougher: a director of a musical would benefit from an experienced crew who know their stuff. This is probably why the best musicals come out of the same studios all the time, like M-G-M and Disney. Today's featured film is an exception, although it's cute to note (with Wikipedia) that it is "jokingly regarded as the first (and only) M-G-M musical made at Paramount Studios."
"I want to step out down the Champs Elysee/ From the Arch of Triumph to the Petit Palais/ That's for me/ Bonjour, Paris!"
Now this is artistry: transmuting one's love of a place into a melody as charming and catchy as what we hear in Bonjour Paris!
I don't know how anyone could listen to this showstopper and not want to travel to Paris at once--and upon getting there, start ticking off all the locations listed in the lyrics. Not mechanically, of course, but with a sense of joyful discovery. Like our characters.
The best part is that Bonjour Paris is just an "overture" to what comes next: a series of fashion shoots in various locations around the capital. It may or may not dawn on the viewer that while the characters of Funny Face are turning Paris into a backdrop for their magazine spread (not to mention their musical numbers), everything in the foreground was deliberately manipulated so that no other city in the world would do for the setting.
The very premise of finding a new kind of model--one who is as intellectual as she is beautiful--is the perfect excuse to film something in a city that is as famous for its philosophy as it is for its fashion. Even the expected romantic subplot is less about falling in love in Paris than it is about falling in love with Paris. Yet this appreciation--in music and in direction--is not French, but "strictly tourist" and unmistakably American.
In general, isn't it true that we are often surprised by what foreigners end up loving (or hating) about the city we call home? I'd love to watch Funny Face with a lifelong Parisian someday, just for his reaction to Bonjour Paris.
Question of the Week: What do visitors to your city usually go crazy over? (And do they ever sing about it???)