Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Review of Cinderella (1965)// My childhood heroine

As I mentioned in this post, where I almost picked this movie for Celebrate Musicals Week, I got this movie for my fifth birthday. I think I must have seen it before, or I just loved Cinderella naturally, because I remember being excited to get it. And throughout my childhood, the picture I got in my head when I thought of Cinderella was Leslie Ann Warren, singing Ten Minutes Ago with the prince (Stuart Damon, whoever he is).
Well, now that I've explained my bias, let's be more organized in stating the reasons why I love this movie:

Cinderella (1965): A Review

The story:
The story is basically the same. Cinderella lives with her stepsisters and stepmother. Her stepsisters, in this one, are not "ugly" or even evil. Her stepmother is cruel, but the stepsisters are willing enough to converse with Cinderella (I love the part where they're all gushing about the prince together in When You're Driving Through the Moonlight). Then the stepmother will just ignore her and they all follow suit. And they're quite amusing — Prunella (Pat Caroll) has a knee that creaks and Esmerelda is always batting her eyelashes, and the stepmother tries to get them to "better themselves". Prunella is hilarious the way she's always kind of laughing like she's so confident. Esmerelda practically falls over during a curtsy, so Prunella laughs and curtsies and her knee creaks. Just watch it. It's funny.

The characters:
I love how sweet Leslie Ann Warren is. She has the childlike innocence and delight at everything– which, to someone who's never seen anything grander than a market square, makes sense. Her character is not what I'd call clever or exactly bright but she's very sweet and a perfect Cinderella.
These three (below) are very good. I like the additions/changes Rodger & Hammerstein did with them.

The stepsister's names, for instance, are Esmerelda and Prunella, which I've not heard in any other adaption. 
The stepmother is hilarious. The way she carries herself and walks is so affected, somewhat like a donkey walking, where they sort of stalk/waddle forward. 

And does she not have the best expressions?

The prince, as usual, has no name. I'm going to be honest, that he looks a little stupid sometimes. I don't mean his outfit is stupid, I mean he'll say something with great feeling but the expression on his face looks so unintelligent and blank.

I really like the king and queen too (Ginger Rodgers and Walter Pidgeon). They both fit the part very well — the queen is kind of sweet and perceptive and the king is very.... kingly. (great description, right?) I like when they dance together (I appreciate movies that show the romance between older characters as well as younger) and the orchestra reprises Ten Minutes Ago.

The songs:
Let's just give an example.

This song makes me... melt. It's one of the sweetest romantic duo songs I've heard. And it shows a lot that I like it, because I often don't like romantic songs. Any hint of mushiness, sappiness, sadness, and I'm outa there. ("So This Is Love" from the animated Cinderella is an excellent example of how NOT to do a romance song).

A fun one is The Prince is Giving A Ball.

I honestly always think of this when I read/watch any Cinderella retelling and someone mentions that the prince is giving a ball (when I wrote my own Cinderella retelling a few years ago I could barely restrain myself from writing in quotes from this song ;-P).

And of course, A Lovely Night.

Apparently when I was small I knew all the words and sang this quite a lot. And I have been known to sing it when coming home from Regency dances (it's rather perfect for that)... or whenever I go outside at night at all... Okay, I still know the words and sing this rather a lot. ;-P
Other good songs from this musical include In My Own Little Corner, Impossible, The Stepsister's Lament, and I Could Have Danced All Night  When You're Driving Through the Moonlight. I must say I was never much for The Loneliness of Evening or Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful (not because it was sappy, but because they were both too slow). I've always loved the Gavotte piece at the ball as well.

For me, the costumes of a film can make or break it. Seriously, I spend about half the time watching people's faces and the other half watching their clothes, so it better be something worth looking at. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of Cinderella's clothes.
I think she looks prettier in her "rags" but I don't like the orange and browny-green together, naturally (she kind of looks like a pumpkin). I like the white ball dress (below), but the fur along the neck looks a little wrong to me. And I prefer her hair down, too (her hair is so pretty!) Both of her dresses, though, have super full pretty skirts.

The queen wears the fur better:

It looks more natural on a surcoat than a sleeveless evening gown. The queen's other outfit is a weird lime-green thing (this was made in the 1960s, guys, so the costumes are half 1960s and half 1460s...)

I do like the fairy godmother's attire (for a fairy godmother, of course). Celeste Holm makes a good fairy.

The not fun part where I criticize this movie:
Okay, so you've got to understand this was made in 1965. The filming is sometimes rather fuzzy. Everyone has only two outfits or less. The outdoor sets are sooooo fake.

A really blurry picture to show the fakeness of the background.

I think the tree is made of styrofoam covered in construction paper, but I'm not quite sure.
At times the acting and the costumes are a little odd.

But on the whole, I really like this movie, and not just because I grew up with it. In my opinion, it's OK for Cinderella stories to be simple, as this one is. I love the sweet ending, where she offers the prince a drink of water, even though she believes he will ride off and she'll never see him again. Of course you know what happens next — the shoe fits. And they all live happily ever after.

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  1. Interesting analysis! You're right--that tree does look SO fake XD

  2. Lovely. You are a clever writer.

  3. Lovely review, Awdur! :D

    I haven't seen this version, but I do love the Rogers and Hammersteins musical (I've seen the newest one with Brandy). Looks like a lot of fun!

  4. Beautiful review, Awdur -- such a truly excellent job!! ;D

    And I'm so very glad you could share... Thank you so much!!! :)

  5. Whoa -- I would love to see this for Ginger Rogers, Walter Pigeon, and Celeste Holm!

    1. Yes! They're the best actors in the film. ;)


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