Carryin’ the Banner

April 16, 2008

In 1992, the director of the wildly popular HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL teamed with the composer of THE LITTLE MERMAID to make a movie musical that would star 3:10 TO YUMA’s Christian Bale, screen legend Ann-Margaret, and Academy Award Winner Robert Duvall. That movie musical was NEWSIES, and with all of the talent in front of and behind the camera, you would have thought that this movie would be a hit with the critics as well as the audience.

That was NOT the case as far as the critics were concerned. Most of the major critics HATED this movie. The negative reviews seemed to have two complaints in common. The first was that NEWSIES was rather violent. OK, I’ll go along with that. I watched it a few nights ago, and I did notice how much violence there was. While I don’t defend the violence, I understand why the writers felt it was necessary. This was New York City at the turn of the century, and Unions back then were more violent than they are now. Still, I think they could have done with less, and I can understand why the critics pounced on that.

The second complaint made me laugh. These critics complained that the lyrics were ungrammatical, and had too much of a New Yawk accent. I would LOVE to ask these critics what they expected from, and I quote, “poor orphans and runaways”, when they opened their mouths to sing? Pavarotti, maybe? Or Josh Groban, perhaps? When poor, uneducated newsboys sing in this movie, I expect them to sing like poor newsboys, and that’s exactly what I got. If Jack Murphy, the lyricist, had done ANYTHING else when the newsies were belting out “King of New York” (one of my favorite songs from the score) or “Seize the Day” (another good one), the movie would have felt false and fallen apart.

Well, it’s no secret that NEWSIES was not box-office gold. Still, when I talk to some young people about this movie, their faces light up, and they start singing a favorite song. When I listen to a couple of radio program on WERS in Boston on Saturdays and Sundays, I can almost guarantee a song from the soundtrack will get airtime. That makes me happy, because it offers young people who may not have heard of NEWSIES the chance to see what HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL’s director (Kenny Ortega) did for Disney before he got “our heads in the game”.


One comment

  1. […] 3:10 TO YUMA??s Christian Bale, screen legend Ann-Margaret, and Academy Award Winner Robert Duvall.?https://andrewlec.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/carryin-the-banner/May 14, 2008 Arts JournalThe nominations for the 62nd annual Tony Awards were announced yesterday […]

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