Thursday, October 05, 2006

The History of Modern Warfare

Johnny Mercer and Stubby Kaye have the real low-down on modern military matters:

I've mentioned this before, but I should point out again that great as it is, "Jubilation T. Cornpone" is essentially a knock-off: in subject-matter, tone, and basic joke (a celebration of a military commander who never did anything right), it is the same song as Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Duke of Plaza-Toro."

Also, one of the problems with the movie version of Li'l Abner is that it cut way too much musical material (not only dropping some of the best songs, but slashing out large chunks of some of the songs that remained), and this number, while remaining relatively intact, drops some of Mercer's better lines, like this couplet:

Stonewall Jackson got his name by standing firm in the fray.
Who was known to all his men as "Good Old Papier-Mâché?"
Why, it was Jubilation T. Cornpone,
Completely out-worn-pone,
Jubilation T. Cornpone,
He really saved the day.

And one more addendum: I don't usually do a coulda-woulda-shoulda about who I'd have liked to see involved with a particular movie, but I do always wish that Li'l Abner had been directed by Frank Tashlin. With the comic-strip origins, cartoony humor, satire, splashy color and gorgeous women, it basically is a Tashlin project already, but Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, adapting their own stage play, created what is nothing more or less than a filmed stage play. This material really cried out for the approach Tashlin brought to Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? or Hollywood or Bust.

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