Saturday, April 6, 2013

there's simply not a more congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering than here in camelot


As I mentioned before, during the past few weeks my mind has been completely flooded with film musicals -- the most recent one to occupy my thoughts is the 1967 Hollywood version of Camelot, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Harris and Franco Nero. Originally a wildly successful Broadway production featuring Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Queen Guinevere and Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot (and thanks to Will Ferrell, it is impossible for me to imagine Goulet in the sex symbol role), the most famous love triangle in English history was adapted into a film version in 1967 to considerably less fanfare. The most criticism came from the singing voices of the film's stars (Harris and Redgrave had vocal ranges that were more limited than their stage counterparts, while Nero's vocals were dubbed for his numbers) that some said ruined the film. According to sources, the reason for not casting the stars of the Broadway version -- who were MEGASTARS on stage and screen -- was because the producers wished to make the film sexier. This issue was aimed at Andrews in particular. Though Andrews hadn't hit it big yet with Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music when she starred in Camelot during the early '60s, she was a stage superstar from her work on My Fair Lady and was the ultimate It-girl by the time of the film adaptation, but she had a very wholesome image. Never in a million years could you imagine Andrews writhing around naked wrapped in sheets while telling her husband breathily that he was the ultimate ruler, as Redgrave does in the film.
The film received very mixed reviews, but nevertheless it's one of my favorites. Why? Because you get to witness the early relationship of Franco Nero and Vaness Redgrave (aka THE BEST COUPLE EVER). Nero and Redgrave famously had a brief but passionate relationship after meeting on the set of Camelot, which resulted in a son born in 1969. In a real-life version of Letters to Juliet (a 2010 film that Redgrave and Nero starred in), the couple re-connected many years later, with Nero even walking Redgrave's daughter Natasha Richardson down the aisle when she married Liam Neeson in 1994. The couple were finally wed in 2006, almost forty years after they first met. Isn't that just the most swoon-worthy story ever? Watching them together as a couple onscreen in Camelot always makes me feel like I have the most delightful secret -- I want to whisper to them through the film and tell them that they end up together. I can't do that (obviously) but it's great fun to watch a young couple who will soon become one of the great love stories of our time. 

Title: from "Camelot"

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