The Set of 400: #386 – My Favorite Harlequin Messiah

Today! Because old now is Earth and none may count her days (da dah da dah dah) –

Godspell (1973)

Directed by David Greene

Starring Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, David Haskell, Jerry Sroka, Katie Hanley, Merrell Jackson, Joanne Jonas, Gilmer McCormick, Jeffrey Mylett, Robin Lamont

I do love me some live action musicals. We’re finally broaching one of the genres I take pretty guilty pleasure in – sure, there are some great big screen musicals, but even something like, say, the second best Jesus based musical film of the early 1970’s manages to sneak onto the list. And why not? Godspell has got a lot of pretty good songs from the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Disney’s Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame). So what if it doesn’t make a particularly easy transition to screen? The modern, unpopulated New York City setting of 1973 is cool to look at, but it somehow tends to take the air out of the proceedings, like they’re all kids performing for their stuffed animals or something. Sure, you get to see a full blown musical number atop the just completed World Trade Center, but the visuals never quite jibe with the story. Godspell was always tricky that way – even on stage it’s a bit too improv-y, too freeform to really pack an emotional punch in the end. And it didn’t help that it arrived right after Jesus Christ Superstar, a considerably better movie, and a downright masterpiece on stage. But hey, if you’ve never seen it – and it’s not a particularly popular movie, from what I can gather – Godspell is worth checking out. Lots of talented actors and singers, lots of fun songs.

Oh, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty weird

And while it was in the running for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Godspell was pretty woefully under-rewarded in its day. No longer! Not to spoil the ending, but I have to hand over the Best Chain Link Fence Crucifixion award. And while the Brooklyn Bridge may feature more obviously and prominently in the film, it has appeared in hundreds of movies, so I’m going with Best Hell Gate Bridge Cameo, throwing some love toward Queens.

Coming tomorrow! We’re not made of Jell-O, we get behind a fellow!

2 Comments

Filed under Movies

2 responses to “The Set of 400: #386 – My Favorite Harlequin Messiah

  1. shortgirlnation

    Both Godspell and JCS pale in comparison to Jeepers Creepers, Semistar. It doesn’t fit in with this blog, but everyone should check that shit out.

    • He just walked away without saying goodbye! If I ever get around to my Set of 400 Television Variety Show Sketches, you better believe that slacker guy will find a place on that list.

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