[sigh] This most be the most anticipated and ultimately the most aggravating book I’ve read in a long time. I loved going to these movies. And I worke[sigh] This most be the most anticipated and ultimately the most aggravating book I’ve read in a long time. I loved going to these movies. And I worked at a theatre in downtown Seattle during the early seventies when many of these films played their first-run roadshow/hard ticket releases. This is not my memory of the era.
One would think that an exclamation point after the word ‘roadshow’ in the title might indicate enthusiasm. But in this case it must instead indicate irony, because the author seems not to like any of these films except perhaps Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret. In a depressing litany concerning some 20 films released between 1965 and 1972 he just goes on and on about all the perceived short-comings of each and everyone of them. He liberally quotes both Rex Reed--who nobody ever took seriously then or now as a film critic--and Pauline Kael who, while a fabled writer, never was a champion for main stream Hollywood cinema. He also delights in long lists of how many kegs of nails and board feet of lumber and lengths and types of fabric were used in all these films. And for some reason he chooses to ignore the more than two dozen non-musical films that were released as roadshow engagements in this relatively brief seven-year period. They certainly had a bearing on the disappearance of the roadshow exhibition model as well.
Many have commented on his glaring Sondheim error re. Funny Girl. While early on it does call into questions his musical theatre chops, I’ll give him a begrudging pass as Sondheim & Jule Styne did collaborate on the score for another showbiz biography, Gypsy, a few years earlier. The chronology of the book is a mess. I understand that he wanted to indicate a continuum of the events described. However there are many times that without a skipped line between paragraphs he starts talking about another film. Wait wasn’t I just reading about Finian's Rainbow? How’d we get to Oliver!? And not devoting a chapter to each film makes it difficult to impossible to review what was said about any specific film. He also seems to believe that we were all waiting for the big Hollywood film to go away so we could have more films like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate and Easy Rider (his favorite go-to hip references). Can’t I enjoy the most recent Disney or Pixar release and still enjoy the latest Richard Linklater offering too? Since when was movie going ever an either or proposition?
And yet for all of this he ends with the observation: “We’ve been herded into Cineplex boxes and subjected to ads for breath mints and the United States Marine Corps ever since. Movies turned digital, got smaller, not bigger, and are now made on computers compatible with laptops and cell phones. We who love real movies lit from behind through celluloid would rather be sitting in the Rivoli as the house lights dim and the overture begins on something big and beautiful in 70-millimeter.” Yes, Mr. Kennedy, yes....more