Dorian’s Pick: Can’t Stop the Music (1980)
I was first introduced to The Village People’s first and last musical Can’t Stop the Music (CStM) by my delightful Fordham University chum Barbara Prisco in the mid-1980s. At first I was just plain gobsmacked by its garish ineptitude, but somehow upon subsequent viewings, it became more compelling and — dare I say it? — endearing, especially when our pals and fellow movie mavens/writers Michael Gingold and Matthew Kiernan scored us a mint copy of the DVD. This time, the glittery opening titles sequence dazzled me like a magpie faced with a shiny object, and I won’t deny that its engaging anthem, David London's “Sound of the City,” had me smiling and nostalgic for the way Manhattan was when our family lived there. Life has never been quite the same for us (or NYC, for that matter) since. CStM is a textbook example of two different breeds of Bad Movies:
- The “So Bad It’s Good” Movie.
- The “Cash in On a Fad While It’s Hot” Movie.
|Baskin-Robbins Can't Stop the Nuts ice cream|
|Supermodel Sam’s having a dry(ing) spell.|
Ron: “Let’s put it this way: your friends are a little far-out for me.”
Sam: “What do you mean?”
Ron: “I don’t understand why a good-looking girl like you is down here in the Village with a bunch of…I don’t know what!”
Sam: “Do you know something? I don’t judge people, I accept them. There isn’t a person who breathes who doesn’t have certain peculiarities, and as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, it’s all right with me.”
Ron: “Yeah, but where do you draw the line?”
Sam: “With uptight squares like you! (She slams the door on him.) Really!”
|Panic at the Disco? Nah, just Neon Maniacs!|
|This is the sexiest scene in CStM — too bad it's not even in the film!|
Hot girl, hot lasagna, 1st-degree burns; that’s comedy!
|Will Tammy Grimes’ purple reign make Marilyn Sokol turn yellow?|
|Watch for the remake: Dario Argento's Can't Stop the Music!|
|Eat your heart out, Busby Berkeley!|
|When you got it, milk it, baby, milk it!|
Get your toes tapping and have a disco ball with these links to CStM musical numbers:
Magic Night: http://youtu.be/X_khn1_16kE
David Hodo, CStM: “I Love You to Death”
Vinnie's Pick: The Apple (1980)What was it about the year 1980? Was it the glee of watching the numbers flip? The promise of a brand spanking new decade? We'll never know, but somehow this one year brought us not only the masterpiece The Wife has presented you, but also the musical burr in your boot that is The Apple.
The film takes place in the "distant future" of 1994, a miraculous world where everyone is wearing...basically what they wear in the most embarrassingly popular disco, only more so. Shoulder pads are bigger, fabric is vinylier, and apparently it's now legally required too look like either a whore, a pimp, or just a damn fool. The outfits are a distinct visual shorthand - the bad guys wear the flashy duds, and the good guys dress like people. Cars all resemble late-model station wagons with crazy fins and spoilers welded on. Apparently they only manufacture about six models of automobile now, because no matter how many places you look, that's all you see on the road. It's hilarious to watch the wealthy and powerful baddies of the film pile into the SAME car, over and over.
|Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) faces down Bob Pitman (George S. Clinton)|
Boogalow wants to sign the pair; Bibi is all for it, but Alphie smells a rat. Not to mention when they visit Boogalow's office, he starts having visions - he imagines an earthquake rocks the building, and envisions a massive production number in Hell, featuring the titular prop. Alphie runs from the deal like he was prodded with a pitchfork, but Bibi's head is turned, she signs, and is world-famous before he can bottom out in his cheap tenement. At the behest of his landlady (the delightful character actress Miriam Margolyes, playing a Jewish stereotype worthy of Judd Hirsch in Independence Day), he keeps trying to sell songs, but naturally, his work "isn't what they're looking for".
|Another example of the stark realism that permeates this film|
Bibi finds Alphie via the sage advice of his Very Jewish Ex-Landlady, and their reunion in the commune is brief and melodic. Suddenly it's a year later; the pair have had a baby and everything, and Boogalow have only JUST tracked them down, never mind that their secret hiding place is a public park walking distance from his offices. They arrive with a small militia and battery of attorneys, claiming that Bibi owes Boogalow International Music the sum of ten million dollars - it's not made clear if that represents lost wages or the security deposit on her corporate apartment.
The BIM-army lead the hippies away, and it's only at THIS point that the film gets weird. While Bibi wonders what will happen to them, Alphie begins talking about a mysterious "Mister Topps" who he is sure will arrive. And arrive he does, via a golden Lincoln Continental in the sky. Mister Topps is, apparently, God, and is ALSO played by Joss Ackland, with no explanation whatsoever. He and Boogalow know each other, and in spite of the the producer's protests, he guides Alphie, Bibi, their child, and the rest of the commune away, and off into the sky. He plans to take them to another world, one "free of the pollution" of Boogalow.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Chuck DeNomolos saves the world by Rapturing the hippies. Never before has there been a filmic world I so seriously want to live in.
Judging from the trailer, a great deal more time was apparently intended to be spent with the hippies, but was left on the proverbial cutting room floor. So for all we know there's some vital expository dialogue sitting in a can (film, or trash...if indeed there's a difference) somewhere that explains the mysterious connection between the Two Josses, a line that would reduce the mad left turn the film takes. But we don't see it, and so a film that was only blatantly allegorical becomes outrageously so in the final minutes.
It's the first film score of George S. Clinton...no, not the man behind Funkadelic, but the composer and music producer of things like Red Shoe Diaries and Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure. His music is technically impressive, but it's all utterly soulless. He goes for obvious rhymes and scansion, as if he read the best books available about how to write music, and followed the rules to the letter. He hits a bunch of genres: power ballad, wall of sound, disco and even rudimentary heavy metal. They're all perfectly good songs, and the cast perform them very well - Catherine Mary Stewart's got some serious pipes. But it's all like so much dietary fiber, it goes right through you. One song, "I'm Coming", is the single most blatantly sexual disco songs I've ever heard, and if it had even a NOTE or satire or irony in it, could be the single best parody of a disco song ever. But there isn't - it's played utterly straight. He also has no idea how to stop a song. Too many of them end with incessant repetition of the tune's hook, well past its welcome has run out.
|“They Call me Mister Topps” – Not a funny caption – ACTUAL line from movie|