Monday, March 14, 2011

Music Monday ~ Re-makes, Footloose, Dean Pitchford, Kenny Wormald

Hollywood loves re-makes. I often complain. Still, though, there are some old movies in which the directors/cast/whoever didn't quite capture the essence, and a re-make wouldn't be too bad an idea. A couple of examples I've seen recently spring to mind - one a western the other a musical. The western, Cimarron, has already been made twice - adapted from Edna Ferber's 1929 novel. I've seen both versions. It's an interesting story, with factual basis, that I feel hasn't yet caught exactly the right "feel", especially in the casting. It's set in Oklahoma, after the big landrush of 1893.

The musical movie, Footloose, focus of this post, was made in 1984, written by Dean Pitchford (right), starred Kevin Bacon. The stage musical has been performed probably thousands of times by amateur theatrical societies, high school drama students, etc. We saw one such stage version locally, a few weeks ago, and shortly after viewed a tape of the 1984 movie. There's a re-make of Footloose due for release later this year, with young dancer Kenny Wormald in the leading part. Coincidentally, as in Cimarron there's an Oklahoma connection to Footloose too. The plotline is based on a true story.

From an interview with Pitchford (HERE)

I was approached about writing a song about a girl who's going to be a pop artist or a girl who wants to go to Broadway or a guy who wants to go on the road and I thought, 'well, those are really kind of dull.' One way to make it more interesting is to forbid it, to outlaw it. That was in the back of my head and I had read this story in the news in 1979 about a small town in Oklahoma"Elmore City"that banned dancing. The law had been on the books for 90 some odd years and that year, the high school class, which numbered about 11 kids, wanted to have a dance and the town elders decided they had a problem with that. They got very dogmatic about it, though no one could remember why they had instituted that interdiction, and they dug their heels in. A fight ensued and families split. People took sides and neighbors weren't talking to neighbors and the minister there put his foot down [and dancing was banned]. I kept thinking, because my background was Broadway, where no one really calls themselves a songwriter unless you do a score in a show, I always felt like a bit of a pretender; I had a song on this television show, in that movie, on that album, so I wanted to put a bunch of songs in a movie. And the only way I could make that work is if I know what the movie is, so I had better sit down and write a movie.

We've been in Elmore City a few times, eaten at a decent little hometown diner there. It's not hard to imagine how the above story might happen in such a town.

Footloose threw up three memorable songs, all lyrics by Pitchford: Footloose itself, Holding Out For a Hero, Let's Hear It For the Boy. The dancing is front and center though. And that's probably where locally produced stage versions are going to fall down a bit on the original intention.

Brilliant dancers are few and far between, especially in small towns, suburban areas, high schools etc. Good singers are more easily found. Although Kevin Bacon did a good job in Footloose, it was gymnastic rather than true brilliant dancing, and, according to my husband much of it was done by a stand-in anyway. I suspect Kenny Wormald is going to fill those dancing shoes properly, and more nearly in line with the storyteller's intent.

Wormald (right) wasn't first choice for the part. Zac Efron and Chace Crawford both dropped out of the running for one reason or another. Everything happens for a reason, they say.

It's interesting that Dean Pitchford was born on 29 July 1951, in Hawaii and Kenny Wormald, the dancer eventually cast in the lead was born on 27 July 1984, in Boston MA. So Wormald was born the year the original Footloose was released, he has Sun and Mercury within a degree of Sun and Mercury of the movie's writer, Pitchford. He might yet prove to be the definitive Ren McCormack!
Footloose 1984 trailer HERE


Wisewebwoman said...

But boy am I so happy they didn't remake Gone With The Wind!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ They got that one just about right didn't they?