Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Movie Review ~ Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957) with Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher


Ted Chapin, the president of the R&H Organization, said that when he arrived at the R&H offices, everyone there was receiving a steadily ongoing stream of requests for this (the original TV version of Cinderella) to be made available.

There are so many wild details behind this production (like not having any understudies, etc!) that we could stay chatting for a couple hours, but I’ll confine myself to sharing just a few. :)


Originally, it was intended to be ‘as much like a stage show as possible’ and was accordingly filmed and aired live on March 31, 1957 for one night only (as with the recent production of Sound of Music). It was broadcast over most of the US in color and also shown in US affiliates like Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the territories of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. (We’ll get to just how many people that was in a minute.)

It gets even more interesting. The West Coast was somehow delayed a little and ended up seeing it in black-and-white via the newly invented videotape and – incredibly – the only recording of that live telecast today is a black-and-white kinescope version, from which it seems they formatted the current release.


Now here’s where it gets really interesting. The broadcast was seen by the largest audience in the history of television: 107 million people in the US -- about 60% of the population at the time -- and roughly another 10 million outside the country. Rodgers later recounted that “a Broadway run of Cinderella could only have equaled its initial TV audience if it played 8 sold-out performances a week, every week, for 140 years.”

It’s mind-boggling

(A rehearsal still with Cinderella and her fairy godmother -- not in costume.)

Personally, I’ve seen this version quite a few times and it’s actually my favorite film wherein I’ve seen Julie Andrews (i.e. when we’re specifically talking about her role), topping both Mary Poppins AND Sound of Music. (And no one can render the Cinderella songs quite as much like a skylark as Julie Andrews. ;))

The rest of the singing is excellent: Cinderella’s fairy godmother, her stepmother, stepsisters, the prince, the chorus in the town square… etc, etc., etc. All most lovely.


Overall, this rendition has a wonderful feel of clean simplicity, and -- with its streamlined, traditional retelling and cast of famous figures -- I would argue is definitely both a fascinating piece of history and the classic version of R&H’s musical Cinderella. Definitely worth seeing!

Tell me! Have you seen this version? And what are your thoughts on it?



25 comments:

  1. Never seen or heard of it... But I would love to!

    Julie Andrews?! As Cinderella?! That sounds like a great movie! She sings so beautifully...

    Thanks for sharing! :D

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    Replies
    1. Fawnabelle Baggins,
      Yes, Julie Andrews is just lovely in the part... And oh, you're most welcome -- thank you so much for commenting! :)

      Delete
  2. Oh my goodness...I know that actor from a TV show made in the 80's. That is so funny.

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    Replies
    1. Emma Jane,
      I love when that happens! ;) Is it Jon Cypher as the prince that you were noticing?

      Delete
  3. So glad you wrote about this! I only recently discovered that Julie Andrews acted as Cinderella. I have not had time to watch it yet, but am looking forward to it! And thank you for the history; that was quite interesting!

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    Replies
    1. Marjo B,
      You're very welcome and I hope you can see it soon. :) Also, thanks so much for the follow!

      Delete
  4. Wow. I knew about this version but had no idea the level of popularity it reached in its day. Pretty amazing. The Rogers and Hammersteins songs are brilliant though; I sing them all the time. :D

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    Replies
    1. Faith,
      The popularity level it reached is incredible, isn't it? And I know -- they're so beautiful and catchy! :)

      Delete
  5. I've watched clips of this on YouTube, and I really, really enjoyed it. I definitely agree with you--Julie Andrews was even better as Cinderella than she was as Maria from SOM. The role of Cinderella just fit her character so much better--Julie Andrews was really an elegant, classy, "princess-y" sort of lady and she gets to use all those qualities to their fullest extent in this story. Whereas, Maria is more of a tomboy, more hot-tempered and exuberant and all that sort of thing . . . and I just feel like that type of character wasn't reeeeeeeeeeaaallly Julie's strong suit. Like, she can DO it, but it's not the role I would ideally cast her in.

    Julie's version of "In My Own Little Corner" makes me sooooooooooo happy :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jessica,
      YES, EXACTLY!!! I'm SO happy you agree! :D

      And yes indeed-y on her rendition of IMOLC... it's sooo sweet! :)

      Delete
  6. Wow, this was really interesting to read! I would really love to watch this version of Cinderella; Julie Andrews as Cinderella just sounds sooooo beautiful!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Blessing,
      I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And yes, she's so sweet and elegant in the part. :)

      Delete
  7. Wow, I had no idea this version was so popular! That many viewers is incredible!
    Fascinating post, Heidi!
    I remember I tried this version a long time ago but I couldn't get into it. Maybe I should give it another shot. :)

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    Replies
    1. Cordy,
      Isn't it amazing? And thank you!!

      Delete
  8. I LOVE Julie Andrews (her voice is SO goals) but I haven't seen this! I should. :-) Do you know if it's avaliable on Youtube?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naomi,
      Her singing is just beautiful in here and yes, you SHOULD sometime! ;D

      And... I just checked Youtube. It looks like they miiiiight have the whole thing broken up into sections, but I can't tell for sure. Also, I'm not sure about the quality. :/ But you could probably see some of the major songs anyway. :)

      Delete
  9. This version sounds lovely :) You wouldn't expect those live broadcast things to to work so well, but I loved the live Sound of Music this year too.

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    Replies
    1. Catherine,
      I know. It's amazing how well they work. And I loved the live SoM, too! (I think almost better than the film, but that's kind of a top secret. ;))

      Delete
  10. I haven't seen this, but I've really been wanting to since I first heard of it a while back. I mean. Julie Andrews ;)

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    Replies
    1. Olivia,
      Oh, I hope you can see it sometime soon! And yes, most definitely. :)

      Delete
  11. Wow, those "fun facts" are so amazing and staggering!!
    I've only seen this movie once, a long time ago. I didn't particularly care for it the first time, but maybe on a re-watch I'd like it better. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Natalie,
      Aren't they fascinating?! And yes, you don't have to fall head-over-heels for it (I'm not entirely ;)), but altogether -- and especially thinking of what things were like at the time -- it's pretty lovely and incredible.

      Delete
  12. I saw this once, long ago, and didn't love it, but I did enjoy it :-)

    (Can you tell I'm catching up on all the Cinderella Week posts a bit here and there? Trying not to overdose!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (Uh, and by "long ago" I mean like 7 years ago. That feels like a long time some days.)

      Delete
    2. Hamlette,
      Yes, I'd say it falls somewhere in my "enjoy watching periodically, but not a raving favorite" category. "Sweetly charming" might be an applicable description. I think it's definitely worth watching at least once, though, if only for interesting historical and educational reasons.

      (*And grinning* Can you tell I am, too? ;))

      Delete

Oh, you're thinking of leaving a comment! How entirely lovely -- thank you and please do!! :) I just ask that all comments be God-honoring and edifying. (And btw, I LOVE comments on old posts! ;))

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