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FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was

PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 11:48am
In 1972, Sondheim and Prince proposed a film version of FOLLIES to MGM Studio Chief Daniel Melnick, "featuring dozens of faded stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age congregating on a studio backlot about to be torn down."

Prince's press agent John Springer envisioned his own perfect cast of still-alive movie stars from the Golden Age:

Buddy: GENE KELLY

Sally: DEBBIE REYNOLDS

Ben: RICHARD BURTON (also: FRED ASTAIRE)

Phyllis: ELIZABETH TAYLOR (also: GINGER ROGERS)

Carlotta: BETTE DAVIS

Hattie: JOAN CRAWFORD

Solange: LESLIE CARON

Heidi: GLORIA SWANSON

Stella: LENA HORNE



The only main character this wonderful article--from the Paris Review, of all places!--miscasts is Lena Horne as Stella, so I will offer up the 1972 ETHEL MERMAN, since hearing her sing those final notes of "Who's That Woman" would have made my life complete: "Lord, Lord, lord! That woman is ME! That woman is ME! That woman is ME!"


The Paris Review: Loveland
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 11/30/13 at 11:48 AM
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:19pm
It sounds like a bizarre, oddly captivating hybrid of "That's Entertainment," "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," and "The Shining."

Follies has always sort of defied any genre pinnings- is it drama? Comedy? Does it have an element of ghost story, mystery, horror? No one is entirely sure.
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:32pm
It's a musical ghost story.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
jv92 Profile Photo
jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:36pm
I still don't think any of the Sondheim musicals would make good movies (or at least good American movies), since they rely so heavily on theatricality. Bergman or Fellini might have done COMPANY, FOLLIES, NIGHT MUSIC (wouldn't it be weird if Bergman made that movie LOL?), or SUNDAY... justice on screen, but I fear that any American director (even the ones INFLUENCED by Fellini, Bergman and the like) would and will butcher them entirely. USA A-OK!



Updated On: 11/30/13 at 12:36 PM
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best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:43pm
That cast is a mixture of brilliant and train wreck.

If Minnelli had directed, it might have worked. But Hal Prince ... no. God no.

And I would have loved someone like Ingmar Bergman directing, with Kelly and Donen doing the staging. Bergman knew how to walk the line between charm, humor, maudlin, and self-absorbed, and keep it from tipping too far in any one direction.

And Astaire and Rogers over Burton and Taylor, please. Oy!

And I've always seen Donald O'Connor as a perfect screen "Buddy."

EDIT: jv92--I was thinking Bergman, but Fellini would have been great, too.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
Updated On: 11/30/13 at 12:43 PM
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:49pm
Too artsy. It shoulda been Stanley Donen and Chuck Walters.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
jv92 Profile Photo
jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 12:52pm
Donald O'Connor would have be a great Buddy! Astaire and Rogers as the Stones would have been as bad as Liz Taylor as Desiree.

Hal Prince, for all his tremendous theatrical gifts, cannot direct a movie for his life. And I don't think Vincente Minnelli could have done it. I really think if any director could have pulled off FOLLIES it would have had to have been one of the European greats. Call me a snob.

But anyway, wasn't FOLLIES kind of a movie onstage the way it used lighting and cinema-type techniques? (Don't take my use of the term movie onstage too literally, BTW. Of course it was theatrical!)
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themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 01:00pm

Bergman would have been brilliant. I love Fellini to death, but I could imagine his excesses taking over something like FOLLIES.

I've always felt he was essentially a technical filmmaker. Granted, “La Strada” was a great film. Great in its use of negative imagery more than anything else, but that simple, cohesive core…

Like all that “Juliet of the Spirits” or “Satyricon” -- I found it incredibly indulgent, you know? He really is. He's one of the most indulgent filmmakers. He really is. It's like Samuel Beckett. I admire the technique, but it doesn't hit me on a gut level. Weltanschauung is what it is. It's the influence of television. Now, Marshall McLuhan deals with it in terms of it being a high-intensity -- you understand? -- a hot medium.
CHURCH DOOR TOUCAN GAY MARKETING PUPPIES MUSICAL THEATER STAPLES PERIOD CUM OIL BITCHY SNARK HOLES
best12bars Profile Photo
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 01:23pm
The way he handled 8 1/2 makes me think Fellini could have walked the same tightrope with Follies. I think just about any American director you could name would have tipped it way too far into self-absorbed pity. Donen and Kelly tried with their own "reunion" picture, a thinly disguised sequel to On the Town, called "It's Always Fair Weather." It was too heavy-handed and sluggish.

If I had to cast Follies from a list of available older stars in 1972, I would go with:

Buddy: Donald O'Connor

Sally: Doris Day

Ben: Frank Sinatra

Phyllis: Dolores Gray

Carlotta: Yvonne De Carlo (the one OBC member)

Hattie: Ruby Keeler

Solange: Leslie Caron

Heidi: Deanna Durbin (lured out of retirement)

Stella: Betty Garrett
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
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Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 01:28pm
You can read these scripts at the Billy rose collection (NYPL). They are of course fascinating--
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nmartin
Broadway Legend
joined:6/3/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 01:38pm
In Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud Shirley MacLaine and Henry Fonda were listed as Sally and Ben. June Allyson and Joan Blondell were also listed but no character names were given.
I love the thought of Frank Sinatra as Ben.
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Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 01:38pm
The part about Mickey Rooney talking to archival footage of Lewis Stone is kind of grotesquely beautiful.
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 02:15pm
I love that, but the Hiroshima-again ending in Hal's script notes is an indication of how badly a director--whether American or European--could have tipped the show into pretentiousness.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 02:31pm
I like best12bars casting.

I never understood wanting Bette Davis to play Carlotta. Were they going to dub her "I'm Still Here"? Plus I've always thought that Carlotta should have a bit of sexiness or mystique which Davis never really had. It would be like Katherine Hepburn playing Cleopatra, she could probably act the role but there would be a coldness there that shouldn't be there.

And Elizabeth Taylor was not a singer as was demonstrated in the movie version of A Little Night Music.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 03:31pm
Bette Davis singing "I'm Still Here" would have sounded something like this


BETTE DAVIS SINGS WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 11/30/13 at 03:31 PM
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bwayboy22
Featured Actor
joined:5/9/12
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 05:22pm
Who would be some good contemporary actors in this if they made it now?
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Sally Durant Plummer
Featured Actor
joined:8/15/13
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 05:29pm
Patti would be a great Carlotta.
"I know what a show-stopping song is. I know what you get a Tony for. Neither of those songs were it. And Sheryl Lee Ralph didn't even get nominated. Even with the new material. You know as an artist when somebody's giving you material that will stop a show. Give me the material. I know how to stop a show." - Tonya Pinkins Blocked: mjohnson2
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SweeneyLovett
Understudy
joined:8/16/13
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 06:39pm
I've often wondered about a film version of Follies. Could it really work or would it feel too theatrical and episodic? After all, there really isn't a plot to speak of. A surreal European director might be the way to go.

Has anyone read the original scripts for the proposed film? I'd love to hear more info about them.

As for a modern cast...
I've always thought Michelle Pfeiffer would be a terrific Phyllis. Kathy Bates or Bette Midler would be great as Stella.

Updated On: 11/30/13 at 06:39 PM
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 07:03pm
If you do a search, there are several informative threads over the past few years that have discussed contemporary casts for film versions of Follies, and several of the posters have made suggestions similar to yours.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Legend
joined:4/28/13
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 10:14pm
On one hand, I'm glad the 1972 film version didn't happen, that way, why would we be still mystified of the legendary Brodaway production today? But on the other, a film version with a surrelistic approach would be the way to go on a ghost story musical like this.

If a film version does happen today, I hope that the original set design by the legendary Boris Aronson could be a strong reference point for the new version of the sets for the film. Hey, a Follies fan like myself can dream can't he?
jv92 Profile Photo
jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 10:31pm
Most people in movie-land would go, "Boris...who?" and Rob Marshall would think he knows how to recapture Aronson but would just f*ck it up.

Personally, I'm a little sick of movie musicals. Bring back when they were passe. I liked it better.
Broadway Legend
joined:12/31/69
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 11/30/13 at 11:08pm
Oh my gosh, Ethel Merman singing "Who's That Woman" would be the perfection! It's like it was destined to be sung by her. However, although she did appear in several memorable films, she was much more of a stage personality than many of the others mentioned.

Also, I love the idea of Doris Day as Sally, her "Losing My Mind" and "Don't Look At Me" would be lovely.
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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 12/1/13 at 12:35am
Follies (1972)

Directed by Ken Russell

Buddy: Dick Van Dyke

Sally: Betty White

Ben: John Raitt

Phyllis: Jean Simmons

Carlotta: Yvonne de Carlo

Stella: Eartha Kitt

Hattie: Dorothy Loudon

Heidi: irene Dunne

Solange; Melina Mercouri

The Whitmans; The Champions
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 12/1/13 at 02:58am
I made a cast list for this sitting in class one day but I've lost it. I remember getting really excited about my list of potential directors but don't really recall who was on there. Fincher? Aronofsky? Ah well....

I really do hope the stars align for this someday. It could be the quintessential theater movie if given to the right people and handled the right way.
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 12/1/13 at 03:10am
I believe Fincher was top of mind because of his working relationship with Aaron Sorkin. I know Sorkin has been attached to a Follies screenplay as far back as 07. Does anyone know if he has completely abandoned the project or if it is a case of circumstances/timing not working out?
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CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
FOLLIES: The 1972 Film That Never Was
Posted: 12/1/13 at 08:39am
Some plays/musicals were just meant for the stage and not film. I believe FOLLIES is one of them.
"I was raised to be charming, not sincere"

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