It may come as a surprise to most people who follow my column, but I actually really like musicals. Really. Not just any musical mind you, I do have some minimum standards. First of all, it has to make at least a little bit of sense. Failing that, it should look really, really cool. And just forget it all together if it’s got that Andrew Lloyd what’s his face’s name attached to it.
As most people know, American film musicals hit their peak in the ‘30’s & ‘40’s, a time when people needed a really solid, uplifting diversion. And I guess that’s what I like about movie musicals. As much as mindless popcorn entertainment has been derided lately, it too has a time and a place. Being able to watch the pretty boys and girls dance and sing is oddly comforting to me.
Sadly, musicals have fallen sharply out of fashion over the last couple of decades. Sure, there was an attempt at a revival a few years ago with films like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (based on an off-Broadway show popular enough to warrant its own conventions) and “Moulin Rouge” all coming out around the same time. However, with all the fuss about how these films would usher in a new kind of musical, what did we get? The only two recent American musicals of any note are Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera, adaptations of two Broadway standards already way overdue for cinematic translation.
However, there was another film musical released in 2001: “The American Astronaut” and it really is a new kind of musical. It got some good buzz at Sundance and I was lucky enough to catch it when it played the local film fest. When I heard it was being released earlier this year, I knew I had to program it. But what would make up the other half of our double bill? Another musical would be great, but where could I find one that would suit the tastes of the Peanut Gallery? For the answer we had to look no further than our friends in Amsterdam and an absolutely charming movie called “Yes Nurse, No Nurse.”
Not too surprisingly, turnout was slightly thinner than it had been in past weeks with only 7 people in attendance initially. I was a little disappointed since I was really excited about actually programming something people wouldn’t normally see. To be honest, I think the hubby and I had been getting a little lazy with our film choices, so I really wanted to shake things up and watch something happy for a change.
While we waited for people to arrive, I played yet another Prince concert, which really confused my sister and caused Karl to have really bad Catholic school flashbacks. As it was July 4th, Karl had brought along a Forty of malt liquor, a novelty for us Canadians as usual we don’t have to resort to such drastic measures. Damon was showing us the other side of his dual citizenship by getting “uppity.”
Since it was so sunny outside, we decided to start with what could possibly be one of the loveliest movies of all time: “Yes Nurse, No Nurse,” which apparently was based on a popular Dutch children’s show from the ‘60’s. The first thing of note was a very odd announcement apologizing, basically, for any misrepresentation of the Red Cross committed by the film. Apparently there had been quite a bit of controversy, and the cross that appears on the main character’s hat on the front cover had been changed from red to blue. However, for anyone who actually watches the film, I dare you to figure out what the controversy is, because we don’t get it.
The film concerns one Sister Klivia, the nurse of the title, and the motley crew of misfits who populate her “rest home.” There’s the cute but clumsy Jet, an inventor/scientist who looks kind of like Mr. Bean called The Engineer, a danger sensing parrot and a fat guy and a skinny guy whose names escape me. And there is also an evil neighbor who’s always trying to get Sister Klivia and the other residents in trouble so he can take over the rest home and make lots of money.
Right from the get go, the Peanut Gallery was hooked. My husband was dancing in his chair to the infectious Busby Berkley style opening number. Karl and Graeme were bobbing in time with the music. And by the time it was also done, we were all singing along, “something, something Dutch… Ya Zuster, Nei Zuster… something, something Dutch… Ya Zuster, Nei Zuster…” My husband commented on the appropriateness of the film due to the prevalence of red, white and blue, but Nick and Graeme had to point out that those were also the colours of the Dutch flag. Damon was impressed with the fact that the subtitles for the songs managed to rhyme in English as well as Dutch and Karl had pretty much polished off that Forty.
The next thing I had to point out was that the only reason I had heard of the film was that it had done very well on the gay film festival circuit. This would explain the drag queen chorus and the fact that our “hero” got to sing an entire number in some rather full looking tightie-whities. Oh, and let’s not forget the subplot involving the Nasty Neighbor’s hair dresser “friend” from his days in the “Traveling Society,” which I guess was the Dutch equivalent to the YMCA, or something.
Half an hour in, Karl passed out. Nick and Graeme sang him lullabies and Nick suggested we keep a K.O. count each night to keep track of who falls asleep the most. Damon pointed out that Karl was still clutching his Forty. Twenty minutes later Karl was up again, and my husband had to answer the door. It was Corinne and Brendan, and the first thing Corinne needed to know was, “is that Elton John? No, seriously.” She was of course referring to the hair dresser “friend.” Other possibilities included Greg Proops and the designer guy from “Beetlejuice.”
About five minutes after showing up, Corinne was loving it. “Do they make more movies like this,” she demanded to know. Graeme commented again on the fact that it was “SUPER gay, and I mean that like homosexual.” Brendan was in awe. Damon developed a big crush on our “hero” Gerrit as he courteously walked up the stairs at an angle to provide the audience the best possible view of his posterior. Graeme meanwhile was pining away for Jet, who he described as “cute in a Bjork-ish kind of way.” And everyone else was won over by Sister Klivia, a woman so awesome it was difficult to describe.
The plot of the film, like most old fashioned musicals, is sort of irrelevant as it all just serves as a way to get from one musical number to the next. And that’s just fine. Apparently all of the songs in the film were from the original TV show, which could explain why more than usual they seem to come out of nowhere. It was suggested that this was in fact the first Den of Sin sing-a-long, but someone reminded us about the “Invader Zim” sing-a-long a the Xmassacre and I’m pretty sure there was a sing-a-long somewhere in “Happiness of the Katakuris.”
The evening continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: THE IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT>>>