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The incompatible duality between Francine and Jimmy is so clearly laid out that the film might as well come with a diagram. What interests Scorsese is not how this couple is divided but what happens when they collide.
If the visual style of was derived from directors such as Minnelli, Curtiz and Cukor, the acting style came from Cassavetes.
(I'm deliberately skipping over exactly how this happens.) Jimmy begins performing at a club in Harlem, where jazz is more welcome.
(The band's leader, Cecil Powell, is played by "The Big Man", Clarence Clemons, who passed away only days before this review's publication.) Tensions between Jimmy and Francine reach the breaking point over two issues: the impending birth of their child, about which Jimmy has always been ambivalent, and the prestigious record contract with Decca Records that Tony has landed for Francine. The last section of , which starts as a movie-within-a-movie, then becomes a Broadway play-within-a-movie-within-a-movie.
The production is so gorgeous and so elaborate that no one cares.
Six years after leaving New York, Francine returns in triumph.
It's clear that her disciplined, "big band" style of singing is a draw for audiences.
In 1981, a 2 hour, 43 minute version was released, restoring the full sequence commonly referred to as "Happy Endings".Just as she's on the verge of succumbing to Jimmy's relentless advances, Francine's agent, Tony (Lionel Stander), gets her a good job on the road with the Frankie Harte Orchestra (Frankie is played by a world-weary Georgie Auld).But Jimmy tracks her down, auditions for Harte and joins the band.I've had both reactions, sometimes during the same viewing.As Scorsese explains in the "Introduction" created for the 2005 DVD release and included on the Blu-ray, he was trying to meld the contemporary style of emotionally charged acting he'd employed in with the artificial studio style that had enchanted him as a boy, with its sound stages and backlots, its painted backgrounds and obvious rear projection, its stylized make-up and lighting, even its 1.37:1 aspect ratio (which Scorsese tried and quickly abandoned).
These were the first sequences Scorsese shot, using the same MGM soundstages where Vincente Minnelli shot his classic musicals, and they're the most enjoyable part of old Hollywood.