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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 119

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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THE ARTS LEISURE Mf tlA section. Art 9 Antiques Books 14, 15 Bridge Concerts 17 Chess New Records 16, 17 Gardening 9 18 18 17 umz jrniweipraa inquirer arts leisure 1 curry 2 Pets 19 Surroundings 9 Photography- 19 TV Changes 18 StampsCoins 18 Sunday, Nov. 16, 1975, 'Mahogany' and Secrets of the Black Psyche Critics across the nation have panned "Mahogany," a black love story starring Diana Ross (right.) In the article below, Inquirer Staff Bill Thompson provides another viewpoint on the film, which is doing very well in the large-city houses. f- BILL THOMPSON Ticket Business Booming Phila. Entertainment! Enjoys an Upswing By AL HAAS Inquirer Entertainment Writer A There seems to be cause for riotous rejoicing in the Philadelphia area entertainment industry.

Well, at least a few bars of "There's No Business Like Show Business" with feeling. An Inquirer survey shows that local people generally are buying more tickets to movies, concerts, stage productions and nightclub presentations than they did during the previous season or fiscal year. They also are subscribing in greater numbers to the series offered this season by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the-Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Drama Guild and the Ballet. The increases in the number of tickets and subscriptions sold vary In specific cases from modest to substantial. Perhaps the most dramatic is reported by Valley Forge Music Fair, which features big-name nightclub acts.

At the Music Fair, bureeonine attendance is making sellouts increasingly commonplace. During the fiscal year which just ended on Oct. 31, it enjoyed its "best year ever." The gross was up an estimated $1.1 million over the previous period. Profits catapulted an estimated 300 percent. The Latin Casino, which also presents top-notch nightclub reports that attendance so far this year is somewhat ahead of the first 10 months of 1974.

"The general trend at the present time," said president Dallas Gerson, "indicates that 1975 will be about the same as last year, if not an improvement." Center city's more intimate Bijou Cafe, which usually offers contemporary music acts, discloses an increase in attendance and sellouts. 'YentV Sets Records Early indications at the outset of the legitimate-theater season are gratifying. "Yentl" broke Walnut Theater records during its recent engagement under the auspices of the All-Star Forum. The Philadelphia Drama Guild has disclosed a remarkable increase in subscriptions for its imminent season. Guild subscriptions nov stand at close to 17,000, some 6,000 more than last year.

The University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center reports a mixed bag part-way into its season. Attendance has remained at approximately last season's levels, with an increase, in walkups offsetting a decrease in subscriptions. The gross is up because of an increase in ticket prices. At the Forrest, attendance and box-office revenues are running ahead of last year, primarily because of one show, "A Matter of Gravity," starring Katharine Hepburn. The Forrest's first two offerings of the season, "What the Wine Sellers Buy" and "Present Laughter," did "But now we have Hepburn in, and she makes up for a hell of a lot," says Manager Lex Carlin.

"This show is sold out solid for the three weeks." Contemporary music concerts are generally drawing larger audiences this year, reports Electric Factory concerts, which dominates the market. The smaller Midnight Sun operation reports that while ticket sales have dropped off from those of a "tremendous" 1974, they are still "pretty good." Movies Doing Well The 'area's movie industry apparently has done well this year, despite current doldrums. Executives of the major Budco and Sameric chains disclose that their organizations enjoyed "substantial" increases in tickets sales during the first eight months of the year. They have fallen off since, they add, because of a dearth of good films. Budco president Carl Schlanger mirrors the sentiments of the Sameric executive interviewed when he says: "We're dealing with a rotten string of movies right now." The general increased patronage enjoyed by the entertainment industry as (See SUCCESS on 3-G) ficulty understanding that blacks, including those who live in the ghetto, have ambitions and dreams and are willing to sacrifice what's necessary to achieve and realize them.

Concurrently, many whites might have difficulty understanding that blacks realize the dangers of ambition via the white way, and that the journey to success for them is usually extremely lonely and that it often incurs ostracism by both whites and blacks. It is not unrealistic for blacks to have ambitions. It is unrealistic, however, to ignore these ambitions and the willingness of blacks to achieve them. That's exactly what "Mahogany" emphasizes the willingness to pay. the prices of loneliness and ostracism By BILL THOMPSON ImjuinerEnferUiiineiit Writer There's nothing unrealistic, shallow or banal about Berry Gordy's the controversial film at the Midtown that spotlights Diana Ross 'and Billy Dee Williams.

It is a painfully realistic black love story that pulls no punches about the socio-economic factors that often, in real life, make love between black men and women stressful and, in many cases, impossible. The film might "turn off" or elude most white viewers, but it undoubtedly pulls tears and anger from most blacks, especially women, who see it. Many whites are probably the film because they have dif to become successful in a white world. The song of the sound track, sung by Diana Ross, warns: Do you know where you 're going Do you know the thing life is showing you? What are you hoping for? Do you know? The protagonist of "Mahogany" is, Tracy Chambers (played skillfully and realistically by Diana Ross), who lives on the South Side of Chicago. Her "big dream" is to escape the poverty of her environment by becoming a successful fashion designer.

She meets Brian Walker (Billy Dee Williams), whose dream is to stay on the South Side and upgrade the stan-. barks on a prolix and irrelevant question on the attitude to women evinced in their film, Sunshine Boys" a Neil Simon comedy that has nothing to say on the subject. As Matthau stares at her with a squint of incredulity, the woman asks if he fears "The Sunshine Boys" will arouse the ire of feminists. Matthau looks at Burns, who smiles with the wisdom of a richly lived 79 years, and then suddenly contorts his voice. did it that way deliberately," Matthau tells the woman.

"We belts anyone. My children, who are 8 and 6, love it. I've caught them nodding solemnly in agreement when Mentor says things like, "Fighting never solves anything." I say, "It solves who's the best fighter, Grandpa," and they look at me with patient pity. "That old turkey should stop preaching and get a job," I say. "Oh, Daddy," my daughter sighs.

Shazam starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. It is preceded by a long morning of children's programming which, despite what the critics have been saying, has a relatively low level of The level of idiocy is high, however. (See KIDS on 6-G), It What evokes anger in black viewers is the reality of white men being able to use power to control and possess black women. For example, Sean has the power to transform Tracy's dream into reality.

She finds this more realistic than Brian's world of pickets and political philosophy. In Sean's Rome studio, he refers to'a tnodel as "it." Tracy wants to know why. always refer to my creations as inanimate objects," he says. "What are you going to call me?" Tracy wants to know. "I think I'll call you concludes Sean.

Another anger-evoking fact to me about is the suggestion that black women in Tracy's situation (See MAHOGANY on 7-G) team. They were together for 43 years and then split up the middle of my career," says Matthau, who plays the irascible Willy Clark). Al Lewis (Burns) retired to his daughter's home in Jersey and the feud festered. The film pivots on the efforts of Wiily Clark's agent (engagingly done by Richard Benjamin) to bring Lewis and Clark back together for a television special a one-shot appearance (See SUNSHINE on 3-G) Burns and Matthau Make Masterpiece Of 'Sunshine Boys' GEORGE BURNS (left) and Walter Mat-thau, as the aging and feuding members of a vaudeville team, achieve a tour de force of comedy acting in one of Neil Simon's weaker plays. dards of living there by running for Congress.

He tells Tracy that she should think about political change for the blacks who live on the South Side, not about her personal ambitions. Thus begins the conflict between Tracy and Brian, who succeeds temporarily in convincing her that she should help him realize his dream. But the persistence of her ambition is stronger than Brian's effort to keep her in his world of politics. Along comes Sean (Anthony Perkins), a successful fashion photographer who lives in Rome. He sees the modeling potential of Tracy.

He convinces her to join him in Rome where she is to become his mistress and a top model and fashion designer. hate women. We're fags." It was an offhand line delivered with an exquisite sense of timing that, deserved its uproarious reception. It also goes a long way to explaining how Matthau and Burns have managed to transpose one of Simon's weaker plays into the best of his screen comedies since "The Odd Couple." "The Sunshine Boys" is a sometimes uneasy mixture of comedy and pathos that deals with a fud between Lewis and Clark, of the ancient vaudeville CBS' CAPTAIN MARVEL played by John Davey J. ranmiM By DESMOND RYAN inquirer Movie Critic Scene One: More than five decades ago, a young George Burns, a member' of the ill-starred vaudeville skating team of Brown and Williams, is sitting outside an agent's office and praying for work.

He overhears the agent begging for an act with dogs. "I heard him say he wanted two (performing) dogs, so I tell him Brown Williams have the dogs." The agent accepts and the fearless skating ivvu new i occur Made for Their Stars tiven Captain Marvel's a Sissy On the Saturday Morning Shows duo rushed into the street and seized the two nearest canines. "We put on the skates and just held on," recalled Burns through the fog of cigar smoke that remains his trademark. Scene Two: The paneled masculinity of New York's Friars Club. Walter looking like a beagle whose feelings have been hurt, and Burns field questions and tell hilarious sto-' ries to a gathering of the press and a smattering of cineastes.

A woman in the latter group em Billy Batson travels around in a trailer with some old bird called Mentor, who looks like the roue of the geriatric ward. Every week, the elders give him a message like "parental authority is founded on love." On each show, some teenagers get in trouble through ignorance of that particular week's moral imperative and are saved by Captain Marvel, who appears when Billy Batson yells "Sha-" zam!" Those who remember Captain Marvel comic books will scarcely recognize the hero. This one LOOKS like Captain Marvel but he ACTS like Captain Noah. He never. picks up a baddie and throws him into a wall.

He never even laini Lee or Michael Sacks of "Kennedy's Children" but they are certainly as much his as Kennedy's because they lift his editorial drama to a plane of humanity that must have existed in his mind all along. "Travesties" might not have happened without John Wood, for whom Stoppard wrote the part of Henry Carr, minor consular official and addled memoirist who is the play. Wright's agent of mischief in making i mad, surrealistic jumble of historical circumstances. There actually was a Henry' Carr and Stoppard discovered him in a biography of James Joyce. Carr and the novelist were in Zurich during the First World War when they came together in an amateur production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." The encounter was bi- Bv WILLIAM B.

COLLINS Inquirer Tneater Chuc NEW YORK-There are times when you could almost believe that a playwright has invented not only his characters but also the actors who play them. This eerie impression has been reinforced by two new Broadway productions that owe their impact fully as much to the interpreters as to the plays. We know for a fact that playwright Tom Stoppard did not invent John Wood because we saw John Wood last year in the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Sherlock Holmes." But, in Stop-pard's brainstorm of a farce called "Travesties," actor Wood seems to have sprung full-grown out of the author's coruscating imagination. Likewise, writer Robert Patrick did not dream up Shirley Knieht, Kaiu- ByJOHNP.CORR Inquirer SUll Writer "Oh elders, fleet and strong and wise, appear before my questing eyes." And, son of a gun, they do! Mercury and Zeus and the whole pagan pack have a message for Billy Batson aka Captain Marvel. "Human energies may be used for or evil.

You can't resolve differences through physical conflict." That's the lesson for this week on "Shazam," one of new breed of children's television shows that eschew violence and are heavy, heavy on moralizing. It's enough to make you nostalgic about violence..

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