The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

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The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Lance » Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:50 am

Having "enjoyed" Florence Foster Jenkins unforgettable 'voice' for many years, I finally saw the film of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. It was fascinating in every way. Streep did a great job as did Grant. What surprised me at one of these big IMAX theaters was that this film was the biggest-selling one of all the films showing, no doubt because of Streep's presence, but now more people than ever will know the name of Florence Foster Jenkins! The man who played her accompanist, Cosmé McMoon, also did a spectacular job. Highly entertaining. Anybody else game?
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Donald Isler » Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:56 am

I agree with everything you said, Lance. And I think Meryl Streep's singing was actually more accurate than what I remember of that of the real Florence. It was also interesting because we knew Kathleen, Bayfield's girlfriend in the film, who later became his wife.) I have seen conflicting articles related to the movie, some saying this relationship did not take place while Florence was still alive, others saying the opposite.) Many years later she was a friend of Bruce Hungerford and his mother. I remember being at her house at least once.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:08 pm

Well whaddaya know, it's playing at the the relatively new cinema in downtown Saratoga, and I have to there anyway this week for an appointment with the eye doctor.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Wallingford » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:01 pm

It's been numero uno on my viewing list ever since I saw the ads over two months ago. In my area, however, I'll likely have to rent it out--the local Redbox willing.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by barney » Sat Aug 27, 2016 1:38 am

I enjoyed it very much. I have never particularly admired Grant, who always seems to play slightly ditzy blokes with floppy hair, but this film changed my mind. He was excellent. Streep, of course is all class. I've often wondered what sort of career Cosme McMoon might have had without FFJ, and the answer is probably not much at all, rather like the career he had with her!

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by John F » Sat Aug 27, 2016 4:38 am

Cosme McMoon played a solo recital at Town Hall in 1936 including some of his own music as well as Bach, Schumann, Debussy, Beethoven op. 111, Chopin and Liszt. It was reviewed in the NY Times in a friendly if not enthusiastic way. For more, see this:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cg ... d=45333475

Despite widespread rumors, Florence Foster Jenkins's accompanist in the famous recordings was not the well known pianist and Flagstad protegé Edwin McArthur under a pseudonym. McArthur would not have been so foolish as to adopt the easily recognizable name of a real pianist who was active in the same city. Besides, there's a photo (reportedly, I haven't seen it) of the three of them side by side.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:08 pm

Forget the eye doctor. Around here, the first performance of a movie starts at about 9:00 at night, and you know how I feel about traveling to Saratoga Springs at nighttime. So I saw it this afternoon. Except to say the obvious, which is that I liked it very much, I will only remark that Jenkins was actually worse than Streep in the movie.

School starts late this year, both in the city and upstate, on September 8. After that I will be making that dreary trip several times a month to substitute teach.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by barney » Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:48 am

jbuck919 wrote:Forget the eye doctor. Around here, the first performance of a movie starts at about 9:00 at night, and you know how I feel about traveling to Saratoga Springs at nighttime. So I saw it this afternoon. Except to say the obvious, which is that I liked it very much, I will only remark that Jenkins was actually worse than Streep in the movie.

School starts late this year, both in the city and upstate, on September 8. After that I will be making that dreary trip several times a month to substitute teach.
I feel your pain. Now that I have to commute very rarely, I somehow resent it when I have to do so.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Mon Aug 29, 2016 4:21 pm

jbuck919 wrote: which is that I liked it very much, I will only remark that Jenkins was actually worse than Streep in the movie.
After another miserable hot dry morning in our garden we decided to treat ourselves to this movie today-a delight-great acting-we had screen 10 to ourselves-the only ones who bought tickets for the 2PM showing-we got there at 1:50 but had to endure 25 minutes of commercials and coming attractions before the film got under way but it was worth it! Regards, Len :D

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:50 pm

lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: which is that I liked it very much, I will only remark that Jenkins was actually worse than Streep in the movie.
After another miserable hot dry morning in our garden we decided to treat ourselves to this movie today-a delight-great acting-we had screen 10 to ourselves-the only ones who bought tickets for the 2PM showing-we got there at 1:50 but had to endure 25 minutes of commercials and coming attractions before the film got under way but it was worth it! Regards, Len :D[/quote's]

I'm afraid rhat's the rule if one is on time. Also, at 61 I was easily the youngest person in the sparse audience. This s all the more odd, as that I had lunch at an interesting place that serves crepes, and I was the oldest one in the restaurant. In our culture, the young just don't socialize with the old. It is not the same in all cultures. In Hispanic countries, for instance, I have seen (on TV, that is) parents and even grandparents enjoying salsa with the kids, and vice versa. Personally, I feel that Anglo culture is losing out on both sides.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:33 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
I'm afraid rhat's the rule if one is on time. Also, at 61 I was easily the youngest person in the sparse audience. This s all the more odd, as that I had lunch at an interesting place that serves crepes, and I was the oldest one in the restaurant. In our culture, the young just don't socialize with the old. It is not the same in all cultures. In Hispanic countries, for instance, I have seen (on TV, that is) parents and even grandparents enjoying salsa with the kids, and vice versa. Personally, I feel that Anglo culture is losing out on both sides.
Thanks other than HD at the Met we haven't been to a movie in a long time-I always try to arrive on time-the 25 minutes of commercials and coming attractions was awful-as I said worth it for this movie experience-I'd love to know how the camera people put all these shots together-Carnegie Hall for example. Regards, Len

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:45 pm

lennygoran wrote:I'd love to know how the camera people put all these shots together-Carnegie Hall for example. Regards, Len
A follow up-this:

"Principal photography on the film began in May 2015 in London.[10] Pathé released a first-look photo on 22 May, featuring Streep and Grant as Jenkins and Bayfield, respectively.[11] Filming was done in Hoylake and near Liverpool City Centre.[12]

On 15 June, Grant and Ferguson were spotted filming in a resort in New Brighton, Merseyside.[13] Filming had also been done in Liverpool, the city was transformed into the classic New York City, Liverpool's Drury Lane street was transformed into Central Park West, where Streep and Grant were spotted filming in June 2015.[14] Production concluded on July 20, 2015.[15]"

But what about the Carnegie Hall material? Regards, Len

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:49 pm

lennygoran wrote: But what about the Carnegie Hall material? Regards, Len
Anyone can rent Carnegie Hall. It's empty most of the time, you know. When I was in college it was rented by a young man as a graduation present. He received a scathing review from the Times. Apparently they had a policy of reviewing everything that presented itself as a classical music performance in the Hall For all I know, the Hall's policy and/or that of the Times has changed, but I'm sure they are happy to get the fee for using it at a time when no one would be performing.

I too am always hopeful about the coming attractions, and always disappointed. Supposedly they take the snippets most likely to sell the film. If this is the best that Hollywood can offer, what must the movies look like in their entirety?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:12 am

jbuck919 wrote: If this is the best that Hollywood can offer, what must the movies look like in their entirety?
We saw nothing that enticed us-some of the commercials were repeated 2 or 3 times. Regards, Len :(

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by maestrob » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:12 am

Carnegie Hall actually closes for business in July and August, and there are usually lots of vacant dates during June, so that's probably when the filming took place.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by John F » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:49 pm

lennygoran wrote:I'd love to know how the camera people put all these shots together-Carnegie Hall for example. Regards, Len
The producers could have built the Carnegie Hall interiors on a film lot in England and never gone near the real hall or indeed the U.S. It happens. Ingmar Bergman's film of "The Magic Flute" begins with external shots of the Baroque opera house at Drottningholm, and the performance of the opera appears to be happening in its auditorium. But that's an illusion; replicas of the interiors were built and filmed in Swedish TV's studios. The real theatre is unused for most of the year, but the risk of damage from installing lighting, cameras, etc. and making the movie was too great, and even if not, the filming would have been handicapped by a space that was not designed for it.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by barney » Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:23 pm

lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: which is that I liked it very much, I will only remark that Jenkins was actually worse than Streep in the movie.
After another miserable hot dry morning in our garden we decided to treat ourselves to this movie today-a delight-great acting-we had screen 10 to ourselves-the only ones who bought tickets for the 2PM showing-we got there at 1:50 but had to endure 25 minutes of commercials and coming attractions before the film got under way but it was worth it! Regards, Len :D
This is actually a source of discord with Mrs Barney, who can't stand all the ads and likes to arrive just as the main feature is starting - she doesn't mind missing a minute or two to avoid the ads - and Mr Barney, who also hates the ads, but likes the short previews of coming films and hates missing the opening. As Mrs Barney tends to walk out of films she doesn't like, and her tastes are more cerebral, we don't go to so many films together!

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:24 pm

John F wrote: The producers could have built the Carnegie Hall interiors on a film lot in England and never gone near the real hall or indeed the U.S. It happens. Ingmar Bergman's film of "The Magic Flute" begins with external shots of the Baroque opera house at Drottningholm, and the performance of the opera appears to be happening in its auditorium.
Thanks, that's interesting-don't know how I can find out more but maybe I'll do some googling? Regards, Len

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:28 pm

barney wrote:
This is actually a source of discord with Mrs Barney, who can't stand all the ads and likes to arrive just as the main feature is starting - she doesn't mind missing a minute or two to avoid the ads - and Mr Barney, who also hates the ads, but likes the short previews of coming films and hates missing the opening. As Mrs Barney tends to walk out of films she doesn't like, and her tastes are more cerebral, we don't go to so many films together!
Barney both Sue and I hated the 25 minutes of ads and coming attractions but we both hate missing any of the movie--gotta see it from the start. We've never walked out on anything we ever bought tickets for-gotta get my money`s worth! Regards, Len :lol:

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by slofstra » Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:15 pm

Finally, finally saw this movie at a matinee here in Waterloo. It's been playing for almost a month, and there were 20 or 30 patrons for the showing.

I was wondering how interesting a feature length movie about a novelty act would be. The script and acting were superb and maintained interest throughout. And it was a great deal of fun. As much as audiences of the day were laughing (into their shirts) at her, they were also laughing at themselves.

And if anyone is still on this thread, I have a few questions.

1) How long was Jenkins' singing and performance career outside of the 'Verdi Society'? Hollywood tends to compress events for the sake of narrative flow.

2) At what point in her career did she realize that her appeal was primarily as a comic performer?

3) She did die in 1944. Did her demise really come hard on the heels of her first major public performance?

4) Did she actually utter that great closing line "People can say that I can't sing, but they'll never say that I didn't sing" on her deathbed, or at any other point in her life?

Any other comments on the plot embellishments of the movie are appreciated.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by John F » Sat Sep 24, 2016 6:49 pm

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Lance » Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:26 pm

John Francis gives you the link to Wikipedia's take on Florence Foster Jenkins and most likely will provide some answers to some of your questions. I respond in red, best as I can, but also call your attention to a VAI DVD with interviews with folks who knew or have seen FFJ, plus at least two or three books on Mme. Jenkins, all of which I have. No doubt much or all of this material was gone through by the film makers to make the FFJ story as realistic as possible.
slofstra wrote:Finally, finally saw this movie at a matinee here in Waterloo. It's been playing for almost a month, and there were 20 or 30 patrons for the showing.

I was wondering how interesting a feature length movie about a novelty act would be. The script and acting were superb and maintained interest throughout. And it was a great deal of fun. As much as audiences of the day were laughing (into their shirts) at her, they were also laughing at themselves.

And if anyone is still on this thread, I have a few questions.

1) How long was Jenkins' singing and performance career outside of the 'Verdi Society'? Hollywood tends to compress events for the sake of narrative flow. It was largely these "society" type events where she sang the most. Her Carnegie Hall recital was her first (and last) big venture in a major concert hall.

2) At what point in her career did she realize that her appeal was primarily as a comic performer? There has been a lot of conjecture about this. After discussing this with my own voice teacher years ago, who knew people who attended her Carnegie Hall concert, it appears she held her own voice in high esteem and really thought she could sing. Since she made and paid for her own recordings to be made that found their way to RCA Victor's label, her "legend" continued to grow, with the Streep and Grant film now making her name and career, such as it was, even more international.

3) She did die in 1944. Did her demise really come hard on the heels of her first major public performance? Yes, her death occurred after her Carnegie Hall recital. At least she had her own good fortune in her mind to sing in that venue, providing tickets for soldiers at no cost. Her health was in a deterioration mode and she died thereafter, but it is believed she died happily.

4) Did she actually utter that great closing line "People can say that I can't sing, but they'll never say that I didn't sing" on her deathbed, or at any other point in her life? That I cannot answer at the moment, but it certainly sounds like something she would say.

Any other comments on the plot embellishments of the movie are appreciated.
I have the new Decca CD recording where Meryl Streep actually uses her own voice in emulating FFJ. It is amazing that she could tackle that job! And she sure looks the part! As has been indicated elsewhere in this thread, the actors did a superlative job. This is the type of film that will one day have a cult status if it doesn't have one already. And did I mention her father's name included the name "Dorrance," a town of less than 2,500 persons, which is named in his honour near Wilkes-Barre, PA directly on Interestate Route 81 South. I have often passed through that area.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by slofstra » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:44 pm

Those answers make the movie, and its subject, all the more fascinating, Lance. It still seems incredible that, like the Emperor with his "new clothes", Jenkins did not know how bad her voice actually was. And yet, the movie made it entirely believable. I'd like to believe that people back then had a little more grace towards the feelings and wishes of others, and that must be a part of it. But there's also the fun in just playing along, as did Kathleen's friends. Recall the one man yelling "bravo".

Why have you been interested in this figure? That is, enough to read a couple of books and acquire the DVD. Is it just that she was a curiousity or more than that.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Lance » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:38 pm

Henry, your question, at the end of your response below, is an excellent one. Why have I been interested in FFJ? The best answer would be: when I heard her so young as a studying pianist, trumpeter, and baritone, I heard the recordings and even way back then could NOT believe my ears. It was fascinating to me that a patrician record company like RCA Victor would even release her recordings on their label. And yet, they have released other material that might be "questionable" to listeners in terms of professionalism. I have been "taken" ever since and wanted to know more, much more about her. She was born only 75 miles from whence I live. I think FFJ would be exceedingly pleased to know that she has become such a "hit," kind of like Mrs. Miller who did almost the same kind of thing with popular music (for Capitol Records). If you haven't heard her yet, check YouTube for Mrs. Miller and listen to a song entitled "Downtown." Both of these "artists" will live in infamy! Please let me know you have heard Mrs. Miller. I would like your take on it. There are many cuts with Mrs. Miller. You may want to hear several. In closing, I am not positively sure I could do a broadcast on Florence Foster Jenkins and get away with it to my listeners. What do you think?
slofstra wrote:Those answers make the movie, and its subject, all the more fascinating, Lance. It still seems incredible that, like the Emperor with his "new clothes", Jenkins did not know how bad her voice actually was. And yet, the movie made it entirely believable. I'd like to believe that people back then had a little more grace towards the feelings and wishes of others, and that must be a part of it. But there's also the fun in just playing along, as did Kathleen's friends. Recall the one man yelling "bravo".

Why have you been interested in this figure? That is, enough to read a couple of books and acquire the DVD. Is it just that she was a curiousity or more than that.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by slofstra » Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:01 pm

You could do a show on people who couldn't really sing. Yes, I do remember Mrs. Miller and have looked at a few clips on youtube. But, no doubt, she was in the know. I think her first cover, at least the first I remember, was "A Lover's Concerto" originally performed by the Toys. That song's melody was lifted from "Minuet in G major" (BWV Anh. 114) from J.S. Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. And no, I didn't remember; I looked it up.

Another great off-pitch song was Tim-Tay-Shun by Jo Stafford. And then there are covers that I remember by people like Leonard Nimoy, Slim Pickens and others who couldn't carry a tune.

In recent memory, the young guys I work with followed William Hung, a failed contestant on one of the talent shows, who was "so bad he was good", enough to earn quite a following. Again, he didn't really seem to know how bad he was, and people genuinely liked him because, while he had no ability, he put his all into it. I think there's always empathy for people who try their very best, and that also accounted somewhat for Jenkins' success.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by John F » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:10 pm

If you're talking about entertainers who deliberately sang off pitch, the greatest were Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, actually Paul Weston and his wife Jo Stafford. They made a couple of LPs for Columbia which connoisseurs of the vocal art should have, especially "Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris." The thing about Mrs. Jenkins is that she couldn't help it and probably didn't realize it.
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Wallingford » Fri Sep 30, 2016 4:43 pm

Disc jockey Barret Hansen ("Dr. Demento") often played Mrs. Miller cuts on his radio show. Her versions of "Strangers In The Night" and "Yellow Submarine" are ever green in the memory.

I never could motivate myself to hear other of her tracks, however.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Lance » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:34 am

Henry, comments noted. I might also "think" about doing orchestral music with the "infamous" Telemann Society and Richard Schulze. Some of the worst things I ever heard on records. Near as I know, nothing of theirs has ever appeared on CD, not that it would interest me.
slofstra wrote:You could do a show on people who couldn't really sing. Yes, I do remember Mrs. Miller and have looked at a few clips on youtube. But, no doubt, she was in the know. I think her first cover, at least the first I remember, was "A Lover's Concerto" originally performed by the Toys. That song's melody was lifted from "Minuet in G major" (BWV Anh. 114) from J.S. Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. And no, I didn't remember; I looked it up.

Another great off-pitch song was Tim-Tay-Shun by Jo Stafford. And then there are covers that I remember by people like Leonard Nimoy, Slim Pickens and others who couldn't carry a tune.

In recent memory, the young guys I work with followed William Hung, a failed contestant on one of the talent shows, who was "so bad he was good", enough to earn quite a following. Again, he didn't really seem to know how bad he was, and people genuinely liked him because, while he had no ability, he put his all into it. I think there's always empathy for people who try their very best, and that also accounted somewhat for Jenkins' success.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by slofstra » Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:11 pm

Lance wrote:Henry, comments noted. I might also "think" about doing orchestral music with the "infamous" Telemann Society and Richard Schulze. Some of the worst things I ever heard on records. Near as I know, nothing of theirs has ever appeared on CD, not that it would interest me.
slofstra wrote:You could do a show on people who couldn't really sing. Yes, I do remember Mrs. Miller and have looked at a few clips on youtube. But, no doubt, she was in the know. I think her first cover, at least the first I remember, was "A Lover's Concerto" originally performed by the Toys. That song's melody was lifted from "Minuet in G major" (BWV Anh. 114) from J.S. Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. And no, I didn't remember; I looked it up.

Another great off-pitch song was Tim-Tay-Shun by Jo Stafford. And then there are covers that I remember by people like Leonard Nimoy, Slim Pickens and others who couldn't carry a tune.

In recent memory, the young guys I work with followed William Hung, a failed contestant on one of the talent shows, who was "so bad he was good", enough to earn quite a following. Again, he didn't really seem to know how bad he was, and people genuinely liked him because, while he had no ability, he put his all into it. I think there's always empathy for people who try their very best, and that also accounted somewhat for Jenkins' success.
Well, if you're going orchestral, you could throw P.D.Q. Bach into the mix, and with the others we've mentioned it would be quite a program.

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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by Lance » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:20 pm

[/quote]Well, if you're going orchestral, you could throw P.D.Q. Bach into the mix, and with the others we've mentioned it would be quite a program.[/quote]

Funny you should mention PDQ Bach. I prepared a piano for Peter Schickele some years ago for a live concert. If I played anything of his, it would be his cantata, "Blaues Grass" {Blue Grass Cantata}. Ever hear that one?
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by John F » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:30 pm

That would be changing the subject, which is incompetent performers, not supposedly incompetent composers, especially imaginary ones. (The real Peter Schickele is a very competent composer indeed.)

The most incompetent orchestra I've heard was far and away the Portsmouth Sinfonia, which was open to one and all, especially those without musical training.

John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: The film: "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Post by lennygoran » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:51 am

Just back from 2 days down the Jersey Shore-that clip made my day! Regards, Len [bursting with laughter!]

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