Friday, December 2, 2016

How Broadway Can Mess Up a Good Film (A Bronx Tale)

Aren’t you holding your breath until Broadway makes a musical from Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather chronicles?  Can’t wait to see some faux Marlon Brando dancing across the stage as Don Corleone? Then you might like what the easy money hucksters on the Great White Way are doing to ‘A Bronx Tale.”

You’ve heard of it? A while back there was this little movie called “A Bronx Tale” made by Robert De Niro and Chazz Palmentiri about a bus driver trying to raise a family in a Bronx neighborhood run by the mob.  The mobster is the local big shot, revered and/or feared by the locals.  A slick guy with a smooth line and plenty of cash. Great movie.

Anyway, the bus driver has a young boy who is fascinated by “Sonny’s (the mob boss) activities.  He’s a cute kid, Colagero is, and Sonny adopts him first as a kind of mascot and then as a runner and soon the kid is making a little bit of money at the periphery of this larger criminal enterprise.  Meanwhile, Colagero’s dad, a straight up hardworking type wants his son to grow up with traditional values – hard work, honesty, the straight and narrow.

The Italian neighborhood factored heavily in the film but it could have been any neighborhood group. In neighborhoods where African-Americans are heavily concentrated, adolescents and even young kids emulate former drug dealers covered with bling most of whom do not quit the game to become rappers.  Or maybe it could be some young, adolescent admirers of Irish gangs like the Westies? 

Anyway, the phenomenon is universal, but is this the stuff of musical?  The obvious argument for making it so is West Side Story, but in spite of the plagiarized or parallel universe of the 1950’s drama modeled loosely on the Puerto Rican ‘Capeman’ murders, this idea just does not work.  

I didn’t see it. I’m not going to. Not unless they resurrect Joey Ramone and put it to a soundtrack of his.  Can’t you hear it:  Twenty, twenty, twenty four hours to go, I wanna’ be a bus driver. . .

The public  is tired of remakes and sequels whose only purpose is to have a guaranteed audience without risk to the bottom line. Why not create something new and original, something that might replenish the artistic soul of the country?

I’m sure there are a lot of unknown talented people who have written smart musicals and plays who need the money and attention more than Robert De Niro.  But even as I write, I have heard a rumor that Broadway investment bankers are working on a rock opera about the Neopolitan Camorrah.
There is a brilliant Italian TV series they can rip off for that one. It's called "Gomorrah" -- don't you love the poetry?

No comments: