Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Orphan and the Billionaire

I find there are two ways to appreciate 1982's Annie--to repress thoughts about the events unfolding or to read much more into the events than they truly warrant. The musical can be at turns charming, annoying, and an oddly cosy dive into a very '70s vision of the 1930s.

I know, it came out in 1982, but it's based on a 1977 stage musical. There's also something very 70s about the frequent panty flashing.

Nowadays, people would call this "male gaze" and stop thinking about it. And maybe some of it is for the viewer's sexual gratification (male or female) but mostly it doesn't feel at all sexual, just like watching kids having fun with their skirts, which they do tend to do. Watching it doesn't make me think, "Dear god, the harlots," as much as it makes think, "Dear god, we've become so repressed."

This was the first and last musical directed by the great John Huston, and certainly this movie is nowhere near the greatness of his best films (The Misfits, The Asphalt Jungle, The Maltese Falcon). It's kind of unendurable until Albert Finney shows up as Daddy Warbucks.

Finney plays the character with vocal mannerisms suspiciously similar to John Huston himself. In any case, it's a magnetic and delightful performance, whether it's seeing him bark at the Bolshevik trying to assassinate him or pontificating to Annie (Aileen Quinn) on his life of struggle. It's also nice seeing him having a friendly dinner with a Democrat, FDR himself (Edward Herrmann). That's a scene that made me think, "Dear god, we've become so regressed."

Aileen Quinn is notorious for her performance. She strongly reminds me of Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace in that I sense most of her facial expressions are forced imitations of those modelled by the director. Her costumes are nice, though.

Supporting performances from Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters as the villains are terrific. Burnett in particular succeeds so thoroughly at being thoroughly repulsive, heaping abuse on the orphans while drinking herself into a masturbatory stupor. The way she forces the children to say they love her was a brilliant choice by the writers--by turning "love" into something rote and forced, she diminishes even the possibility of real love. Come to think of it, that makes her a perfect Leftist villain for Warbucks' Republican hero--demanding love as a basic right instead of earning it.

But the movie certainly isn't biased towards one political side considering how positively it portrays FDR's New Deal. Though, again, Roosevelt's dialogue has him putting emphasis on giving people an opportunity to earn a living.

Annie is available on Netflix in Japan.

Twitter Sonnet #1451

The fourth of three retained the pilot boy.
Between the red and blue decision shook.
Maternal blue was waiting 'neath the toy.
Combustive red retains an eye to look.
A diving board supports a fleeting foot.
Discreetly lettuce swapped a leafy splash.
The knowledge ghost is haunting heavy soot.
A roller skate assists the mile dash.
The scutcheon fades across a naked arm.
A paper house regards the wasted hill.
A planet pulled the health in wooden harm.
A shaking light revealed the shaded will.
A vibrant red was wanted out of house.
The curly hair ensnared a rooster louse.

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