Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Dentist!" by Steve Martin

Since the definitive video record of Steve Martin's only charted pop hit King Tut was on Saturday Night Live (and is therefore being zealously kept off of YouTube by Lorne Michaels' web-crawling minions) I've decided to go with my second choice of Steve Martin's best performances to fill this video slot; still, as these things go, this is a pretty sensational number to have to settle for.

Dentist! is just one of the many entertaining, Fifties-esque numbers in the 1986 musical Little Shop of Horrors; as funny as the song is, though, Martin's even funnier subsequent scene with Bill Murray is just showing off. In the film Martin plays a sadomasochistic dentist* named Orin Scrivello DDS, whose torment of his girlfriend Audrey (Ellen Greene) spurs Seymour (Rick Moranis) to try to kill him; in the end of course...

Well, I'd hate to ruin the ending for you by providing the spoiler in case you're one of the unlucky few who have yet to see the film, but suffice it to say, the phrase 'die laughing' is entirely apropo on several levels.

*Or is that a rhetorical tautology?

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Happy Birthday Steve Martin


If ever a guest host of Saturday Night Live was in danger of becoming an honorary cast member Steve Martin would be; he's hosted a record 15 times, tied with Alec Baldwin and three times more than John Goodman. Unlike his two rivals, though - who both entered the Five-Timers Club in 1994 - Martin passed that landmark during the show's third season, as long ago as 1978.

Yet for all his success as an actor and stand-up comedian, Martin considers himself a writer first, as evidenced by his recent work, including several high-profile pieces for The New Yorker and the novels Shopgirl (2001) and The Pleasure of My Company (2003).

(For the record, I have no idea who Wendell is; I just liked the photo, and thought the odd inscription added a touch of whimsy. Because if there's one thing this proceeding needs, it's
more whimsy... ~ MSM)

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In Memoriam: Alice Ghostley

One of the most distinct faces (not to mention voices) in the history of television belonged to Alice Ghostley, a veteran character actress whose career spanned the first fifty years of the medium; from her early appearances on shows like Bewitched and Mayberry R.F.D. to the defining role of her career - that of Bernice Clifton on Designing Women - Ghostley was less an actor than a brand, and if one had a role which called for a slightly befuddled older lady with a tart tongue she was your go-to gal...

PhotobucketNaturally enough, Ghostley's talent was too large to remain confined to such a small screen; she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 1965 for her role as Mavis Parodus Bryson in Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, and in 1978 replaced Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway run of Annie. Among her many movie roles was a memorable turn in Mike Nichols' 1967 film The Graduate, in which she appeared with Marion Lorne, the actress she was hired to replace in Bewitched following Lorne's death in May 1968. She was also in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - playing Stephanie Crawford, the fussy aunt of Dill Harris - and had a small but funny part as Mrs. Murdock (the shop teacher) in Grease. Ghostley even got the chance to accept an Academy Award - albeit on behalf of her friend Maggie Smith, who was awarded Oscar gold in 1970 for her performance of the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Ghostley's reward for years of yeoman service on sitcoms - including Good Times, Maude, One Day at a Time, The Odd Couple, What's Happening!!, The Golden Girls, and Evening Shade among many others - was the coveted feature role on Designing Women, an opportunity rife with potential for hit-and-run wisecracking previously filled by Meshach Taylor's Anthony Bouvier . She took to it with her usual elan, earning herself an Emmy nomination in 1992.

Alice Ghostley - born on this day in 1923 - finally fulfilled the promise of her surname in September 2007, four years after the death of her husband of fifty years, Felice Orlandi.

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"Filthy/Gorgeous" by Scissor Sisters

Birthday wishes go out today to Ana Matronic, the female component of Scissor Sisters; here she's given more to do than usual, with amazing results. While the accompanying video doesn't clearly show whether or not she's filthy, it definitely does show how gorgeous she is!

Filthy/Gorgeous originally appeared on the band's eponymous debut album, released in 2004*; the track was the fourth and final single from the album, and released in January 2005. Two videos were made by pseudo-pornographer John Cameron Mitchell - a raunchy one and a tame one; thanks to the heroic quantities of porno I've watched, I can't tell which one this is. I suspect even his raunchy version would leave me as nonplussed as though I were watching a soap opera. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it for what it was, even though it bears a better resemblance to sci-fi than porno.

Alas, this version eliminates Ana Matronic's spoken monologue in the middle of the song, which has always been my favourite bit of it; try though I might, I've been unable to find a video with it in...

All of which leaves me wondering: Is there a plot to silence Ana Matronic?

*February 2nd in the UK, July 27th in the US...
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