Broadway: the Golden Age (USA; 111 min.)


directed by: Rick McKay
documentary
Broadway: the Golden Age
 
Michael says: "How delightful it was to take a break from the political docs of recent weeks to take a look at a bit of arts history. BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN YEARS is an entertaining look at the 40's & 50's era American theatre as told by those who were there. This film couldn't have been more timely, as those involved with those "golden years" of Broadway will soon be gone (as was evidenced by the number of people interviewed who have since passed away.)

Even for those who are not already converted to the joys of live theatre, this film should convey the excitement and joy of the theatre community from that era. All the big names were represented: Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Sondheim, Chita Rivera, Elaine Strich, Ann Miller, Hal Prince, Ben Gazarra, Bea Arthur, Carol Burnett, Uta Hagen, Carol Lawrence, Charles Durning... to name just a handful! Director Rick McKay captures the excitement of the time through his interviews, and while it would have been nice to see more clips of the actual performances, the lack just reinforced the necessity for this oral history to exist.

It was also thrilling to have such a large group at our Chlotrudis Monday Night event. As Scot noted, 'It was exciting to have seven Chlotrudis members there to see 'his' movie!' 4 cats"
 
Bruce says: "Had director Rick McKay waited a few years to make this film he would have lost much of his wonderful material, for many of the 100 or so stars died between the time they were interviewed and the present: Hume Cronyn, Fred Ebb, Adolph Green, Kim Hunter, Jerry Orbach, Maureen Stapleton, Uta Hagen, John Raitt, Al Hirschfeld, Ann Miller, and Gwen Verdon.

"The premise of BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN AGE is that New York theatre peaked in mid-twentieth century and will never again be the same. Not one soul in this film puts up much of an argument against that thought. Broadway once had a magic, an aura which has sorely faded as today’s corporate-sponsored productions are turning Broadway into a Las Vegas spectacle. In the days of the Golden Age, actors learned their craft on the stage before venturing into film. Not all. Some were never comfortable in front of a camera and remained on stage their entire careers. Today actors become famous as television or Hollywood film personalities then 'try their hand' on the Broadway stage to lend a big name recognition to the marquee.

"Many wonderful backstage stories are told here. One of my favorites was the story of Gretchen Wyler who became an overnight sensation when, as the understudy for the understudy, she opened in 'Silk Stockings.' Shirley MacLaine, another lucky understudy who became famous, is one star who was not treated so well on Broadway and consequently decided to seek her fortunes on the opposite coast.

"The two actors most stars are in awe of are Laurette Taylor and Kim Stanley. Both actresses led troubled lives. Taylor was noted for her extraordinary natural presence on stage, leaving the audience with the impression that she was not even acting. Many suspect she had a drinking problem. Stanley was well known for pouring her body and soul into her roles. Not surprising, Stanley was also noted for being high strung and frequently depressed.

"Star after star reinforces the idea of Broadway as a close knit community and furnish vignettes describing how supportive the actors were of each other. BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN AGE contains some wonderful archival footage of both Broadway plays and films. If you love the theatre, don’t miss this one. 4 cats"