Friday, April 20, 2012

Hooray for "Hooray for Hollywood"

I love the opening of Hollywood Hotel and I love the song Hooray for Hollywood (watching The Long Goodbye again recently, it was on my mind). The version I listen to all the time comes from 50 Years of Film Music (1923 to 1973), an album released in June that I highly recommend. It's got scores and songs, all from the original soundtracks with dialogue from the films as well. In some cases, like As Time Goes By, we hear Dooley Wilson and Ingrid Bergman talking about the song from the movie but when the song starts, it's a full recording Wilson did for the soundtrack. As we all know, in the movie Rick breaks up the song before it's finished so the switch is necessary.

But back to Hooray for Hollywood. What a great song. With music by Richard A. Whiting and perfectly biting lyrics by Johnny Mercer, it's a joy to take in. Mercer wrote so many verses that couldn't all fit in the movie that alternate versions have been recorded for years. Below are the original lyrics from the opening number. Below that, some alternates. Enjoy and HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD!

Hooray for Hollywood
That screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood!
Where any office boy
Or young mechanic
can be a panic
With just a good-looking pan
And any shop girl
Can be a top girl
If she pleases the tired business man

Hooray for Hollywood!
You may be homely in your neighborhood.
To be an actor
See Mister Factor
He'll make your kisser look good!
Go out and try your luck
You could be Donald Duck
Hooray for Hollywood!
Hooray for Hollywood!

Hooray for Hollywood
That bully, wild and woolly Hollywood
They hire cowboys then they hang their chaps up
And doll their maps up
And give them all that they lack
Now ain't it funny
They pay them money?
Shows what you can do if your horse can act

Hooray for Hollywood
They hire fellas whose physiques are good
And then they tell them they're the perfect shape, man
To act like apemen
And they convince them they should
They make them grunt and yell
And people think they're swell
Hooray for Hollywood

Now for some alternate lyrics. In some versions, for the "shop girl" part, the lines are:

And any barmaid
Can be a star maid
If she dances with or without a fan

But mostly, it's just whole other verses added on at the beginning, middle or end, depending on the recording. Some of my favorites:

Hooray for Hollywood!
Where you're terrific
if you're even good!
Where anyone at all from Shirley Temple
to Aimee Semple
is equally understood.

Hooray for Hollywood!
That phony, super Coney, Hollywood
They come from Chilicothes and Padukahs
with their bazookas
To see their names up in lights
All armed with photos
From local rotos
With their hair in curlers
and legs in tights

And an alternate on the Mister Factor line in the opening:

Hooray for Hollywood!
You may be homely in your neighborhood.
Still, if you think that you can be an actor
See Mister Factor
He'd make a monkey look good!
Within a half an hour
You'll look like Tyrone Power

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Called Murder, Hitchy - Part II

Part I of this post, that is, a wholly different post discussing the film itself, is up at the Movie Morlocks here.

 I watched this video recently of the set of Rear Window taken from all existing shots in the film and stitched together using video software. The result is a pretty cool one, allowing the viewer to see the entire apartment complex together, in one long shot. The action within the apartments even follows along the timeline of the film. Give it a look, it's pretty good.

That got me thinking about shots I love that don't exist, which is to say, long tracking or panning shots that I'd love to see a panorama of but can't because it's a movie camera tracking along, not a still camera taken an extreme wide angle shot.  From time to time I put together a shot to use as a banner or wallpaper and the urge struck me again recently when I watched Alfred Hitchcock's 1930 Murder!

The movie begins with a scream signalling something awful has occurred.  As characters rush to the house where the scream was heard, a murder scene is already being attended to inside.  Hitchcock takes us in to view the scene.

We can see a crowd at the back of the room on the left of the screen looking down towards the fireplace.  Sitting in the forefront, the only not looking down, is a still woman with a bloodied poker at her feet.  We can assume she is the murderer.  The gentleman standing in the direct center of the image draws in our eye and will become the hero of the film.  Another man kneels down over the victim and a policeman stands along the fireplace wall, contemplating the scene below.  And the victim?  Brilliantly, Hitchcock put her in the mirror. It's difficult to see here but click the photo to enlarge it for a better look.

After this master shot, the camera focuses in on the policeman, zooms out to the presumed murderer and then pans across to the victim, like so:

It's that final shot, the pan over to the victim that I wanted to capture.  With a tracking shot, where the camera moves in a parallel line to the action, I could just take a snapshot of each section of the track and stitch them together but this one was tougher:  It's a pan, not a track.  The camera simply pivots from killer to victim so putting them together requires some complicated reorientation work because when the camera pivots, the action is taking place before the camera at a slightly different angle than it was when it started the pan.  Nonetheless, I was determined. The result seen below. Click to enlarge.