Bride and Prejudice, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,

National Catholic Register
July 17-23, 2005
Bride and Prejudice (2005)

Due to the cultural and religious context in which they flourish, Indian films tend to be refreshingly free of unchaste behavior, explicit violence and other objectionable content. Instead, Indian filmmakers focus on other ways of spicing up their pictures.

The typical “Bollywood” film is a gonzo blend of song and dance, romance and humor, melodrama and action. Most are musicals, full of swirling silk and flowing colors, characters bursting into song and bystanders joining in. Most are also romances featuring beautiful, chaste heroines (sexy attire and dance are permitted, but even onscreen kisses and implied immorality are taboo). Starring reigning “Bollywood” queen Aishwarya Rai in her first English-speaking role, Bride loosely follows Austin’s story of first impressions and romantic intrigue.

There are flaws. The plot relies too much on contrived misunderstandings, and the second half drags somewhat. While the romance is chaste, one sequence — a music-video style stage number featuring half-naked hip-hop star Ashanti — is out of place and overly provocative.

Content advisory: Some sexual references, crude language and mostly minor profanity; a provocative dance sequence; a brief fisticuff. Teens and up.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1965)

Forget the Disney cartoon with the singing mice. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s made-for-TV Cinderella is the classic musical version of the timeless fairy tale set in stone by Charles Perrault, and the best way to introduce children to the story. I’ll take R&H’s fairy godmother singing “Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foddle” over “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” any time. The best-known version of R&H’s Cinderella, and in some ways the best, is the classic 1965 version starring Lesley Ann Warren — though the long-neglected 1957 original starring Julie Andrews (newly available on home video, see below) is also well worthwhile.

Though the songs are the same, the scripts differ in the two versions, and each has its charms. I like the prologue in this version, featuring the first, anonymous interaction between Cinderella and the Prince, which adds depth to their relationship. And there’s no substitute for the classic final scene in Cinderella’s home.

Content advisory: Nothing objectionable.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957)

Despite the formidable star power of no less than Julie Andrews, this original version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s made-for-TV musical Cinderella has been astonishingly neglected until now, but is finally available on DVD and VHS for the first time.

Julie Andrews as Cinderella is a no-brainer, and the 1957 version is worth seeing for her alone. At the same time, as a 22-year-old star Andrews lacks the wide-eyed ingénue quality the 19-year-old Warren brought to her debut role in the 1965 version.

Other virtues of the 1957 version include charming material involving the Prince’s family cut from later versions. On the other hand, Edie Adams’ baton-twirling fairy-godmother-as-cheerleader dates poorly, and moving the glass-slipper scene from Cinderella’s house to the palace was a bad idea. But I like the way the climax softens Cinderella’s stepfamily and their ultimate fate.

Content advisory: Nothing objectionable.

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