The reviews of “The Solid Gold Cadillac” at the Studio Theatre in Washington were not overwhelmingly positive. Although the reviewer complemented Nancy Robinette, who starred as Laura Partridge, the show itself was found to be dated, silly, and somewhat shallow. Surprisingly, perhaps, the review of the play, when it first opened in New York in 1953, was very similar. Just substitute Josephine Hull for Nancy Robinette.
Two years after the play opened, a movie was made, transforming the Laura Partridge character from a woman in her, say 50s, to a woman in her mid-30s, and Judy Holliday played the role. As readers know, we rented the VHS (I have been told you can’t find it on DVD) of the film, and watched it, thinking it dated, silly and somewhat shallow. Today, we saw the stage performance at the Studio.
It is a somewhat silly play. Corporate executives hold a scripted stockholders’ meeting at which an unexpected series of rather naive questions from a small stockholder, mainly about the large increases in director salaries, causes some havoc. The meeting is adjourned, the stockholder is hired in a make-work position (in order to get her on the side of the company), but she continues to stir up a number of things, including retrieving the long term CEO from Washington, where he had resigned to take a government position,and allying herself with him in a battle to take the company back from current management. It is dated, silly an shallow, but the cast did a wonderful job, (especially, but not exclusively Ms. Robinette) and turned it into a very entertaining two hours.
Before the performance, I was talking to one of the understudies, and told him we had seen the film (he had not). He asked me at intermission how they compared, and I told him that the story line seemed to hold pretty true. Had he asked me the question at the end of the second act, however, I would have had a different answer, because the second half of the movie and the second half of the play were very different. Some of this had to do with the age of Ms. Partridge. In the movie, Judy Holliday and the former CEO/government official have a romance ending in matrimony. In the play, no such thing; they are simply business partners trying to take over the business. In the play, Partridge relies for much of her decision making on astrology; I don’t remember any mention of astrology in the film.
In fact, both the film and the play were weaker in their second halves, I thought. A lot happens and much of what happens requires more time and dialogue than the stage allows.
Would I recommend it? Yes, with a few reservations. But I would suggest seeing the movie before you go. It helps the context quite a bit.
Last night, we went to see the new Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin comedy, “It’s Complicated”. The movie really isn’t complicated, but it also isn’t comfortable. Baldwin and Streep have been divorced for about 8 years; Baldwin is remarried. The couple had had three children; Baldwin’s wife has a son by a previous relationship and would like another. Baldwin decides that he is still in love with Streep (who has been man-less since the divorce, half-regretting it, and half-feeling liberated. She meets nerdy architect Steve Martin, who had just gone through a divorce of his own, so all of a sudden there are two men in her life – her former husband whom she hate/loves, and her newly found architect friend. What happens? Well, it’s complicated. Let’s just say that getting divorced, getting remarried and eight years later deciding you want to start up things with your ex-wife is just not a very healthy idea.
We also saw, on DVD, a new Serbian film called (in English), “The Trap”. It was not perfect, but surprisingly good — A ordinary Serbian couple with a young son learns that their son has a serious heart defect and requires specialized surgery, not available in Belgrade. He will have to go to Berlin, and pay an estimated $26,000 euros out of pocket. Where will they get this money? They put an ad in the paper and get a response. He will be given a total of $30,000 euros if he simply kills the donors business rival. And he does. And things don’t work out as hoped for, or as expected. And I am not going to give it away, but suggest that if you want to see a good film that most of your friends won’t see, this would be a good choice.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an interesting Philippino-American film involving a young California teenager returning to Manila for his father’s funeral, learning that terrorists of the separatist party of the island of Mindinao have kidnapped his mother and sister and are holding them as security for him performing a task for them (in this case, a terrorist task). The movie, Cavite, posed the same question as The Trap. Would you do something awful in order to save your family?
One more dilemma to avoid.
The foods in the title speak for themselves. But they are my treats so far for the new year.