5/15/09

CITY ISLAND: GEORGE RAFT EDITION?

georgie

Below dig the superb mention of our movie on comingsoon.net. I decided to cut and paste it below since the sentiments it expresses make me absurdly proud and happy. Less you doubt the veracity of the below rave (in other words, it reads like something I--or my mother--might have concocted on my own behalf) you can click here to read the whole article.



"One of the films that we think has the best chance at breaking out from this year's festival is Raymond DeFelitta's City Island. It's the closest Tribeca Film Festival has come to a crowd-pleasing comedy on par with Little Miss Sunshine, and it's absolutely no surprise that it won the Audience Award this year. It revolves around a dysfunctional family living on City Island, the isolated community off the coast of the Bronx, the head of the household being Vincent Rizzo, a prison guard played by Andy Garcia, who learns that one of his prisoners (played by Steven Strait) is actually his illegitimate son from a previous relationship. Vincent's dreams of being an actor also brings him closer to a fellow acting student, played by Emily Mortimer, much to the frustration of Vincent's neglected wife, played by Julianna Margulies. When Vincent takes charge of the prisoner, not telling him that they're related, he brings him home to help him and keep him out of the trouble, and that's when sparks start to fly. It's a great comedy of errors about keeping secrets from your family that really covers a lot of ground. While I've never been a fan of Strait, he's great in this movie by becoming the in for the audience to try to understand this crazy family's dynamics. It also features a very funny breakout performance by Ezra Miller, as Vincent's teen son with an affinity for fat women. The movie is just a joyous celebration of life and family, one that the right distributor could certainly turn into a hit just by showing it to a lot of people."

And now for something completely different. In my earliest youtube wanderings, I found a marvelous clip of famed gangster actor George Raft doing a marvelous dance--a kind of shimmy I suppose--from an old RKO movie called "Side Street" shot in 1929, a good five or so years before he hit the big-time. Shortly after I discovered the clip, it disappeared. And now it reappeared. Or perhaps it was simply sidelined in Youtube limbo--a place that must be vast, chaotic and lonely as hell to be resigned to. Anyway, I've found it again so happy days. One of the things I dig most about this clip--aside from Raft's mean hoofing--is the notional setting; an art deco penthouse where a few bored, wealthy men sit about while a gaggle of chorines wander about in their underwear, awaiting instructions to dance on command. I suppose one needs to see the full film (which I haven't) to make better sense of this. On the other hand, perhaps it's not truly necessary or even desirable too.

Raft, as you may or may not know, began his career as a hoofer--back when men dancing was a true sign of their virility. Indeed the Raft legend, as promoted in various B-level biographies and a C (or D?) level biopic inventively titled "The George Raft Story", is one of womanizing, fisticuffs and gangster befriending (Raft was close with Bugsy Siegal and Meyer Lansky among others). Personally I think the whole thing was trumped up a bit by the studios to bolster his tough guy image--he was, after all, a nance dancer to start with. Raft was never much of an actor--and was, apparently, illiterate enough to not bother reading scripts that didn't sound worthy of him, hence his having turned down the two roles that elevated Humphrey Bogart from second-tier status to top-flight stardom; Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon" and Mad Dog Earle in "High Sierra". Raft also passed (fortunately for us) on the role Fred MacMurray played in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity". So in a sense, what is left to us of Raft's time on earth that is actually of any real worth is the below dance number--he really does do a hell of a shimmy. As a bonus I've posted the trailer for the aforementioned "George Raft Story" starring the ludicrous Ray Danton and featuring Jayne Mansfield--she's the one who Raft/Danton threatens to beat up, causing her to melt dreamily into his arms--in a role apparently based on one of Raft's real life girl toys Betty Grable. Enjoy...






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4 comments:

  1. AHHHHHHH the dancing girls that was
    before woman started wearing
    slacks a lot but when they did
    they sure looked sexy...Hollywood
    Hollywood.Hollywood. Men should start
    cleaning up also.Some actors make
    TV appearances like they are dressed
    to work in the garden.Raymond a great
    clip.thanks ciao

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  2. Only problem with that review is when they said they'd never been Steven Strait fans.

    Say WHA?
    :)

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  3. Hi Raymond,
    Thanks for answering my question. It is too bad that Cannes did not choose City Island for the competition. I think Cannes film festvial has weird choices. I am sure many other film festivals will screen City Island.

    JC

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  4. Did you ever even read one of the three biography's of George Raft before you decided to write this? Number one Georges Mother taught him how to dance and then he learned dancing from going up to Harlem and Roseland. He danced in Night Clubs on Broadway. Talking about being illiterate did you ever look up the meaning of "nance dancer"? Believe you me George Raft was no nance dancer. he was the sexiest male dancer I have ever seen. Watch "Bolero" with Carole Lombard whom he had a love affair with during the filming of Bolero and Rumba. The other remark about him turning down movies is totally incorrect. He wanted to do High Sierra but Humphrey Bogart talked him out of it saying it was not good enough for a star like him. George and Paul Muni both refused the Maltese Falcon because it had already been done twice before and was unsuccessful. Contrary to popular belief George nor Ronald Regan were ever considered for Casablanca it was being written for Bogart. The rumor was started as a publicity campaign to get interest in the movie. I'm so tired of people copying pasting the same old wrong story just to put up a Blog about Mr. George Raft. Wake up and smell the coffee!

    ReplyDelete