Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Singing and Dancing on an Airplane

Last night I switched over to TCM after the movie TEN THOUSAND BEDROOMS had been on for a while. I seemed to recall that this movie was reviled as one of the crummiest movies ever committed to film, so I watched a little of it. When I came in, Dean Martin and Anna Maria Alberghetti were drinking wine and lounging around on a long couch on Dean Martin's lavishly appointed private jet while another Dean - Dean Jones, to be specific (see also) - was doing some kind of strange peeping tom action from the cockpit. And I was like, "What's wrong with this? Nothing!" I was like, "Why, this movie has everything!" I was like my friend Leslie watching CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: "I don't understand why this movie is 'bad.'" Then Dean Martin got up and put on the radio (or a record player? on an airplane!) and started singing to Anna Maria Alberghetti and then they started dancing and singing to one another and I was going with it. So I decided to look up TEN THOUSAND BEDROOMS in my copy of the book DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS by Nick Tosches to check my vague memory of how much TEN THOUSAND BEDROOMS was (and is) hated. "The picture almost killed Dean's acting career in one fell swoop," writes Tosches. And, "The picture was a stiff." I will say this: it could not hold my attention, the picture couldn't. I ignored it as I kept reading more passages from DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS - much more captivating. Wow, I love that book (which I first encountered when Phil Oppenheim loaned me his chunky, tattered mass market paperback)! I remember teaching it in a grad class and this one dude was like, "This book is terrible. Why are we reading about Dean Martin? He's just a jerk." I paraphrase. But anyway, it was as if I had been stabbed in the heart, and if I am recalling correctly, I never recovered and we couldn't really talk about Dean Martin anymore for the rest of the semester due to my trauma. I lost the ability to speak and reason! Say, will the abbreviated remainder of my life be spent nursing festering grudges against students who briefly rubbed me the wrong way? Apparently! So (back to last night) over an hour later I put aside DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS and glanced at the screen, on which I was startled to discover a slowly revolving platform (seen above) with all these women in pink ball gowns (I guess) playing mandolins (last night I couldn't think of the word "mandolin" and kept mentally calling them "lutes" - like, "Why are all those ladies playing lutes?" A sign of incipient dementia!) and as you can plainly see there were some accordions involved as well. Next thing you know Dean Martin is singing a duet with his butler, all about how hard it is to be a millionaire. His butler sings skeptically in reply. Or replies skeptically in song. Which made me question something Dean Martin said about TEN THOUSAND BEDROOMS, as quoted in DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS: "I may sing one or two songs in it, but it's definitely not a musical." Here's the thing. Okay, if you sing on an airplane along to prerecorded music, that is arguably diegetic sound (as the film scholars say)... but if you start a conversation with your butler that suddenly turns into a duet, you are in a musical, no doubt about it, sorry, Dean Martin. And the butler song was pretty terrible. Yes, things were sagging. Anyway, I have been listening to Dean Martin records all morning, and I listened to him sing a lyric that goes "I'm just a face without a name, walking in the rain," and he sounds jolly about it, like, "Wheee!" Like, "Ha ha, I'm a face without a name, just kidding." And I couldn't help but think of how Frank Sinatra would sing that lyric ("click" here and extrapolate). But sometimes you can't take all those Sinatra mental breakdowns and you just want to hang out with Dean Martin.