Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Dance Party: She Needs A Hammer

Oh, Debbie, Debbie, Debbie...
As Molly Brown, Deb earned an Oscar nomination.
I became your admirer pretty late in your career, having somehow avoided seeing your big, breakout role in Singin' in the Rain.  I couldn't get into your Tammy phase, and had little respect for the title song from that series of films, which topped the charts for you in 1957. 

I did enjoy your brassy performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, though I found (and still find) the movie to be a bit bloated. 

A recurring performance as Grace's
mom earned an Emmy nod in 2000.
Your later appearances on television finally convinced me to reconsider my lukewarm feelings about your talent.  Once you hit middle age, and started appearing as everybody's sassy mother, you had me.  I went back and watched some of your very early musical stylings, including one of the goofiest novelty numbers ever, "Abba Dabba Honeymoon".  I found that you had a bit of that sass even then. 
America's Sweetheart had her husband stolen by a sultry siren.
And a brief reading of your personal history made you even more interesting to me.  Three marriages, all of which ended in financial disaster for you, plus a daughter who put her contentious childhood on page and screen for all to see: you were an ingenue made of iron. 
At the 1964 Oscars, Deb had no idea her tablemate Shirley MacLaine
 would one day create a wickedly funny parody of her, in the film version
of Postcards From The Edge.

Daughter Carrie was in full
Mommie Dearest mode when she penned
the autobiographical novel,
Postcards From The Edge.
Then there was your shortlived TV show, which was cancelled when you made waves about accepting cigarette advertising. Your career tanked. 

I've become an admirer, Debbie, evidenced by the fact that you appeared in the one and only Saturday Dance Party, last year when hurricane Irene was roaring up the eastern seaboard.

But Debbie, I'm just not sure you can be forgiven for this week's clip.  Your rendition of this anthem to the counter-culture, while in a ball gown, with a chorus of dancers delivering hilariously incongruous choreography, well, it's almost too much.  But I think you have a healthy sense of humor about such things, or you would still be smarting from the notorious "it twirled up!" sequence in your daughter's tell-all movie.  So please allow us all to hoot and cringe through this week's Dance Party.  And Happy Birthday on Sunday, when you turn a whopping 80 years old!