Missed This Part

“I would love to do a musical,” Steven Spielberg said last weekend during a War Horse q & a in Manhattan. “I would love that. I would have to find the right book, the right story, but some day I’m going to make one. I would really like to go off and direct a musical. That’s what I would really like to do when I grow up.”

Does anyone have a suggestions along these lines? What unshot musical plays or potential remakes of old movie musicals would be a good match for Spielberg?

I have one. Spielberg should make a present-day musical based on Carousel but set in suburbia. Update the milieu in the same way that Romeo and Juliet‘s Verona was transformed into the slum nabes of Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1950s.

Key question: Does Spielberg have the character and cojones to deal with a nihilstic, dark-souled character like Billy Bigelow? Has he ever dealt with such a fellow? There’s your answer. (And don’t bring up Leonardo DiCaprio‘s rakishly charming impersonator in Catch Me If You Can.)

Side pocket #1: “You can’t start a movie having the attitude that the script is fined,” Spielberg said on another jag. “To me a movie is fluid…a living organism. A movie script is a living, breathing organism, and it must change, as we change, daily. War Horse probably went through about 25 revisions.”

Side pocket #2: I totally understand and agree with Spielberg’s wide lens comment . “I just shot with wide lenses and that’s not something that’s shot today,” he said. “And some people who see War Horse think it looks old fashioned because I shot it the way a lot of the directors from the ’30s and ’40s shot their movies: by giving the audience the respect of being editors.”

  • Jason S.

    He’s been saying this for 30 years. The “Jitterbug” sequence in 1941 was hist first attempt, then the opening “Anything Goes” sequence of TEMPLE OF DOOM. Wasn’t HOOK originally going to be a musical – with Michael Jackson of all people set to star?

    I would love to see him do it though and sometime before John Williams leaves us. The man will turn 76 this February. Williams takes good care of himself though so he’s probably got another 10 years in him.

    Agree with the poster here from last week – Williams is a God.

    Sorry, Jeff.

  • bobbyperu

    Williams is no god – far from it — in War Horse — he bombastically underlines every single scene to the point where we aren’t able to form our own conclusions about what is going on. He even scores a dah-de-dah piece to a goose that is continually called upon to give reaction shots down on the farm in the first reel. His score in War Horse is obtrusive and over-the-top, like the film.

  • Rashad

    Should added the quote about tv taking that away, which is spot-on.

    I have no clue what kind of musical is right for him. Maybe the feature version of Jersey Boys. I would think something from a nostalgic period would get him going

  • Mr. F.

    I was going to say the same thing… but Jason beat me to it.

    I’d love to see him try it as well… mainly because the “Jitterbug” sequence was one of the only interesting things in 1941. Same with the opening of Temple of Doom, though I like a lot more of that movie than 41.

  • Mark

    He should’ve directed The Producers.

    Over the weekend, I stumbled upon Catch Me If You Can for a brief minute during the scene where Leo catches him mom and Brolin getting cute. 3 minutes later I realize that the scene was still going with no cuts, yet I it wasn’t show-offy or even noticeable. He deserves credit for not using his editor as a crutch.

  • Mr. F.

    “He deserves credit for not using his editor as a crutch.”

    Credit? Uh… what blog are you reading??

  • Michael

    Schindler’s List 2: Step Up 2 the Streets?

  • Jason S.

    E.T. 2: Alien Boogaloo.

  • Eloi Wrath

    I’d like to see Spielberg’s take on the Broadway hit ‘Catch Me if You Can’.

  • jery

    He should have done his aborted “Harvey” remake as a musical. It’s the only way it would have worked.

  • Markj74

    Spielberg would have been a perfect match for Les Miserables. Too bad we’re stuck with the TV guy.

  • JChasse

    Wicked?

  • Reedyb
  • bluefugue

    >3 minutes later I realize that the scene was still going with no cuts, yet I it wasn’t show-offy or even noticeable.

    Spielberg is a master of using blocking and composition to service narrative in the context of a long take. He doesn’t do showoffy bravura single-take shots like De Palma. The scene just plays and then you realize you haven’t seen a cut in a while. Think of the scene in Raiders where Indy and Belloq are talking and Belloq pulls out the watch. One shot, one composition, couple minutes long, you don’t even notice it.

    Apart from Welles, Renoir, and Kurosawa, I think there are very few directors in the history of film who, within the context of conventional narrative, possess as much mastery of blocking and the long take as Spielberg does. His flaws are what they are, but he makes a lot of directors look like amateurs.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    I’d like to see his take on State Fair, but only if it’s remade as a 9/11 allegory.

  • corey3rd

    Johnny Williams was an inventive composer.

    John Williams is overblown.

  • Zach

    A musical about Private Ryan after he returns home from the war. What was it Hanks’ character wanted him to do… cure a disease or invent a longer lasting light bulb? There’s your plot. Ed Burns and Jeremy Davies reprise their roles, and the ghosts of Tom Hanks & Sizemore, Barry Pepper, etc. make appearances as well. Tunes include: “Iowa Blues,” “Where Have All My Brothers Gone?” and “Knock When There’s a Sock, Mom!”

  • ROTC

    I always thought Spielberg should have directed Sweeney Todd. In fact, I wish he still would because it’s one of the all-time most entertaining musicals and Tim Burton’s film adaptation completely botched it.

  • lbeale

    Spielberg should do ‘Show Boat.’ It’s one of the greatest musicals ever, with one of the greatest scores, plays on a broad canvas, and has the kind of tragic sentimentality that is right up his alley.

  • beerbelly burl

    My top 3 choices for the Spielbergian magic touch:

    3. Tommy

    (Ken Russell didn’t go far enough with the Ann Margaret baked bean squeezing boobies sequence.)

    2. Rocky Horror Picture Show

    (” Let’s do the Time War-p Horsey again!”)

    1. Grapes – The Musical

    (A lighthearted romp inspired by The Grapes of Wrath and the Modern Occupy movements)

  • Manitoba

    You would think Spielberg could have his pick of future Broadway hit musicals. I’ve been expecting big things from 2012’s “Rock of Ages” headed by Tom Cruise and featuring classic rock hits of the 1980s. If Spielberg is ever looking for inspiration or proof of the timeless appeal of good popular music on screen, I’d recommend the clip of Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dancing to “Begin the Beguine’ in “Broadway Melody of 1940″ It is introduced by Frank Sinatra in the first MGM compilation “That’s Entertainment.”

  • Kate88

    Fiddler on the Roof… good story, great songs… a version without Topol’s hammy Tevye performance would be a vast improvement.

  • Rashad

    So it’s cool to talk shit about Williams now?

    ROTC: I loved Sweeney Todd, though to be fair, I never heard any of the songs before the movie. I think Burton did a great job, and it’s one of Depp’s best performances.

  • eddie mars attacks

    JAWS the musical.

    Robert Downey, jr. as Matt Hooper. Gerald Mcraney as Martin Brody and Eddie Izzard as Sam Quint.

    Hugh Jackman plays the shark.

  • actionlover

    Who wants to bet that the depressed guy asking that question at the screening was our own LexG?

    Huh?

    DOH!

  • Edward

    Forget a musical. Opera is Spielber’gs forte. Over the top, bombastic.So many choices.

  • ROTC

    Rashad, for all its dark themes, Sweeney Todd is an incredibly buoyant piece of theatre. It’s a thrilling show that is revived regularly, often in different formats ranging from large-scale opera to small chamber piece, and to which audiences return repeatedly.

    Conversely, Burton’s film version is essentially a gloomy exercise in uniformly gray dreariness with occasional bursts of bright crimson blood. When I first saw it, I had some appreciation for Burton’s attempt to put his own idiosyncratic stamp on the material. But I have never had any interest in sitting through it again.

  • LexG

    Hey how come when everybody here is all GUNG HO SPIELBERG (opposite Jeff’s take on the guy), people talk about music and CUTTING STYLE, but they never talk about PERSONAL VISUAL STYLE or SHEEN?

    I’d never say too much again Spielberg because the movies and the box office and his storytelling instincts speak for themselves, but VISUALLY is Spielberg anybody’s most exciting director?

    You know like Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or Steven Soderbergh or Robert Altman or Woody Allen or Lars Von Trier or Tony Scott or David Lynch have a TOTAL LOOK that, if you like their movies, you’re in ecstasy just looking at any single frame, because of the colors and the lighting and how it makes things look EXCITING or interesting or whatnot?

    Spielberg’s style sorta changed from clear-blue Duel and Jaws to hazy soft-focus CE and 1941 to brown-ass Raiders to blurry suburban Kick the Can/ET to late-80s Straightforward Vision to Handsomely Cundey Jurassic Park to Scotch-Guard Marble Vaseline Kaminski… His “look” has changed so many times, it’s not like an AHA! style like Lynch’s or exciting like say ’80s Mann or the Tony Scott of The Hunger. I’m just talking about sheer SHEEN, other guys make NIGHTLIFE and CARS and LIGHTS and BIG CITIES look sleek and foreboding and dark and daring and electric…

    Spielberg kind of makes everything look like a powder-blue library.

  • Rashad

    Lex, Spielberg himself said that is one of his strengths: that he doesn’t really have one particular style and adapts to the material. I don’t agree exactly with him, but I love the desaturated, heavy lighting work he’s done with Kaminski so there’s that.

  • royalonemn

    Both “Parade” and “Ragtime” would be good fits for him. “Parade” is about a northern Jew who is accused of raping and murdering a 13 year old girl in 1913 by the southern community, and “Ragtime”…well it’s about a lot of things.

    But the stories are epic and the scores are really sweeping and integral to the story telling.

  • bluefugue

    >John Williams is overblown.

    I don’t even know what this means, really. He’s not subtle, but neither is Wagner, y’know. I’m not saying Williams is a tenth the composer Wagner is, but I do think he is absolutely perfect for certain films, from Jaws to Star Wars to Superman to Raiders. Your response to others of his scores (Schindler’s List, Private Ryan, etc.) may vary, and he may not always succeed in other modes. But for lifting popcorn movies with high heroism and intoxicating bombast? He’s absolutely the man.

  • bluefugue

    >VISUALLY is Spielberg anybody’s most exciting director?

    He’s far subtler than Bay, but some of us don’t think that’s a bad thing. For Spielberg, story always comes first. He doesn’t do shots that jump off the screen and shout “look at me!!” He does shots that draw you deeper into the story. It’s what Kurosawa did, it’s what Curtiz did, it’s what Ford did, it’s what John Huston did. And if you think it’s easy to do that without falling into the blandness of TV-style coverage, then you have never tried to shoot a film. I have made lots of films, and I have enormous respect for what Spielberg does.

  • cdvilla

    I, too, like the fact that Spielberg’s style maps to the material not the other way around.

    I think that he should try something akin to what Branaugh tried with “Love’s Labour Lost” but then again… cheese is kinda my thing.

  • adorian

    The Sunset Boulevard musical. Lots of opportunities for Hollywood homages and nostalgia.

    Streisand? Midler? Minnelli? Close? Streep?

    With Hugh Jackman and Ben Kingsley.

  • AnnaZed

    Maybe he should do ‘Wicked’, all that Ratner talk earlier was scaring me.

  • Frank O’File

    Follies

  • Mr. F.

    Bluefugue wrote: “Apart from Welles, Renoir, and Kurosawa, I think there are very few directors in the history of film who, within the context of conventional narrative, possess as much mastery of blocking and the long take as Spielberg does. His flaws are what they are, but he makes a lot of directors look like amateurs.”

    Careful — Duluoz is on his way to accuse you of “sucking dick.” It may not be an intelligent counter-argument… but that’s the best he can ever do.

  • bluefugue

    >Careful — Duluoz is on his way to accuse you of “sucking dick.” It may not be an intelligent counter-argument… but that’s the best he can ever do.

    I’ll try not to cry myself to sleep. ;)

  • MAGGA

    >VISUALLY is Spielberg anybody’s most exciting director?

    Yes, by FAR! He is the Mozart of intuitive staging, knowing exactly when to move things in and out of frame, editing at just the right pace and finding iconic shots in all his stories, from E.T passing the moon to the mothership landing to the legendary Indy entrance to the clothes falling from the sky in WOTW.

    The spiders shot through the roof in that one-take in Minority Report? The dollar bill dancing through the air in Catch Me If You Can? The friggin’ 20-minute D-day scene i SPR, which is the before/after moment in modern battle scenes? The insanely inventive E.T opening where we feel something even though we see neither our protagonist nor the humans? The non-plot based last half hour of CE3K? The flashbacks in Tintin, or the INSANE chase sequence? Or, for that matter, the first ten minutes of Amistad, which echoes the storytelling of silent cinema better than any meta-throwback has done? All unbelievable.

    And because his camerawork is more subtle, like watching a ballerina rather than a drunk club chick tumbling around in strobe lights, it rewards repeat viewings regardless of content. He simply IS cinema.

  • LexG

    “He simply IS cinema.”

    Eh, Tony Scott has a better eye and depicts a more exciting milieu. I guess it’s all about what pushes your buttons, but suburban wonder and Americana and grand-scale mythmaking isn’t as exciting as hookers, guns, bounty hunters, beard stubble, blowing blinds, skyscrapers, neon, Aviator glasses and greasy mobsters driving Cadillac limos. Spielberg’s stuff is like movies made by a guy who doesn’t have a lecherous or sleazy bone in his body.

  • cinefan

    “Does Spielberg have the character and cojones to deal with a nihilstic, dark-souled character like Billy Bigelow? Has he ever dealt with such a fellow?”

    Umm, Amon Goth in Schindler’s List is pretty darn nihilistic and dark-souled.

  • DukeSavoy

    Empire of the Sun 2: That Kabuki Soft Shoe

  • Dan Revill

    Holy crap. Remotely dissing Spielberg’s visual style is not really comprehensible. Pick any one of his films and it’s obvious he’s more adept at visual storytelling than almost any other director out there. Sure sometimes the films themselves are weak, but if you muted the sound, the story comes through (I’d say Scorsese, PTA, Ridley and Soderbergh are also up there).

    If I muted a Tony Scott movie, I may be impressed at his flash, but I doubt I’d know what the hell is going on. Ditto Bay.

    I think that the list of iconic shots in his supposedly lacking visual style is quite excessive…some of which have already been listed. A persona fave of mine is the shot of the Japanese Zero fighter, silhouetted against the sun before it is unceremoniously blown from the sky. Just perfect.

  • Dan Revill

    (That Japanese Zero being in Empire of the Sun)

  • markj

    Spielberg would have been a perfect match for Les Miserables. Too bad we’re stuck with the TV guy.

  • Super Soul

    Springtime for Hitler

  • moviesquad

    Spielberg has already done a musical. He has Smash coming out as a mid-season replacement on NBC. If it is anything like the pilot episode, a Spielberg musical isn’t something to get excited about.

  • Rashad

    He mentioned he produced it, but that’s nto the same

  • LexG

    You haven’t lived til you’ve seen camp-hag Debra Messing declaring that she NEEDS to direct some wack Broadway show about Marilyn because of “the way they treated her.”

    Even MCPHEVER HOTNESS allowed for, it’s the worst hour that will EVER air on American television…. MESSING DOES THE SHOW OUT OF PERSONAL AFFINITY FOR MARILYN.

    It’ll be canceled within three episodes.

  • The Word

    THE COLOR PURPLE should have been a musical.

  • Alexander

    Spielberg should make that Moses epic “Gods and Kings” into a musical.

    “I’m Big Bad Mo, sharp as a whip, a real straight arrow

    This story’s hero, don’t gimme no lip, I stand up to the Pharaoh”

  • bluefugue

    >Spielberg’s stuff is like movies made by a guy who doesn’t have a lecherous or sleazy bone in his body.

    I think this is a fair point, and I can see why that would make it hard for you to relate to his films, but I also think it’s a separate question from his technical skill as a filmmaker, which is IMO unimpeachable.

    And though Spielberg isn’t sexy (he usually seems uncomfortable with sex, as in that yucky scene in Munich), he can be *brutally*, *brutally* violent. He definitely has a dark side; he isn’t all glowy reaction shots and sweeping suburban townscapes.