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January 15, 1983 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-15

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Saturday, January 15, 1983

Page 5

. ..............

Pryor survives broken 'Toy'

By Joshua Bilmes
IF NOTHING else, The Toy is well-
named, and it also drops in at local
movie theatres at an appropriate time.
The film resembles the toys a child gets
for Christmas in so many ways. It is
composed of lots of fabulous things that
did not work two days later in much the
same way that the child gets lots of nice
toys on Christmas that are broken or
otherwise not working on New Year's.
The biggest toy that stopped fun-
ctioning is the film's plot. It resembles
a nice erector set composed of many
nice pieces that a child decides to jam
together into one compact mess.
Richard Pryor portrays a writer who is
working on a novel, but the bank is get-
ting impatient and wants to repossess
his house. It is time to look for a real
- job. The film has a wealthy and ruthless
tycoon (played by Jackie Gleason) who
only gets his son (played by Scott Sch-
wartz) for one week during the year
and tries -to give him everything he
wants in that week. Also present are a
crooked senator and a Grand Dragon of
the KKK. I have yet to figure out what
they were doing in the film. Theresa
Ganzel plays the tycoon's wife. With
her lack-of lines and abundance of ass

and friends, I could see her in Debbie
Goes Dallas much more than The Toy.
But there is still more. Ned Beatty s
an aide to Gleason. There is a
newspaper called "The Toy" that
Pryor puts out with Gleason's son. That
happend after the son decides he wants
Pryor as his toy, which happens after
Pryor manages to mess up a depar-
tment store, and I really do not know
how he wound up in the department
store. Pryor also attempts to get a job
on Gleason's newspaper. But the main
plot theme is, I think, Pryor's getting
hired to be a pal for Gleason's son. But
with everything else stuck in here and
there, I found the plot difficult to
remember a few hours after seeing the
film. It is one fine erector set, and it is
ruined by the film's screenwriter, Carol
Sobieski.
The cast is like a toy truck that a child
tries to run through a mud puddle. The
wheels keep on turning, but they really
can not do much to get the thing
moving. The cast cannot get this film
going. Richard Pryor, Ned Beatty, and
Jackie Gleason are all very good ac-

tors, but when they are stuck in a mud
puddle like The Toy, their talent is used
to no avail. Even Theresa Ganzel's fine
juggling throughout the film does not
manage to redeem it.
The film's director, Richard Donner,
is the toy whose batteries have run out
of juice. Donner came out with two ex-
cellent films in Superman and Inside
Moves. He comes out of this mess with
one big turkey. He can count on my
nomination for Comedown of the Year.
Patrick Williams provides a very
nice sentimental score. That is just
plain misuse of a toy. .The film is sup-
posed to be a comedy. When the film
goes for sentiment, as it does on oc-
casion, it fails. I was particularly un-
convinced by a scene in which Scott
Schwartz and Richard Pryor become
best friends after they had spent the
whole film fighting with one
another. The resolution seemed to come
from no place. Perhaps it was Santa
Claus.
Like all good Christmas toys The Toy
does give a few minutes of good service
on its way to falling apart. One sequen-

ce in particular was when Pryor per-
formed as a maid for a lunch at
Gleason's corporate headquarters prior
(excuse the pun) to getting the job as
his son's pal. And like all good Christ-
mas toys that fall apart, most of this
movie is probably worth the usage or
pleasure it gives. The Toy is one
plaything that should be avoided.
764-0558
764-0558

Ned Beatty passes the buck to Richard Pryor in disappointing new film, 'The
Toy.'

Records
Jerry Lee Lewis-'My
Fingers Do the Talkin' "
(MCA)
Bonnevilles at Rick's, Steve Nardella
around town, hey wow those Stray Cats,
rockabilly is where it's at, now my oh
my we got kinghell rockabilly dad
Jerry Lee the Killer hisself, hasn't
made an album in years, gosh hope he's
diggin out of self dug country music
grave-show these boys what it is,
Jerry Lee.
Woulda been nice.
But-when the man says, "So you've
all some out here to see the Killer.
Ladies I'm glad you're here tonight,"
he isn't talking to fuzzy little rock kit-
tens, pony tailed and hanging on a,
tatooed arm. He's talking to jaded
divorcees, hair piled and dyed high,
hanging on the edge of the bar. Yeah,
sad. Looks like he can't get out of his
plea-bargained country scene;- "honky
tonk" takes up the space where "rock
and roll" used to be.
To stress the point, there's thirty
people, at least twenty five too many,
bloating up "My Fingers Do the
Talkin"' with country obesities like
women's choir backgrounds, string
symphonies, and horn sections (we'll
keep the fiddle and mandolin for now.)
Country boys from Faraday, Louisiana
shouldn't be allowed that much
money-see the cheesy stuff they buy
with it?
The lamentations wouldn't be so loud
if the album was completely worthless.
Underneath the smothering dreck
Holly Beth Vincent -
'Holly and the Italians'
(Virgin/Epic)
First of all, let's get one thing
straight: this is the second album from
Holly Vincent, former lead vocalist
with Holly and the Italians. But as the
"'former" should tell you, her Sicilian
cohorts appear on only one track of
Holly and the Italians, where they con-
tribute naught but backing vocals. The
rest of Holly and the Italians belongs to
Vincent, who sings, plays all the
guitars, some percussion and syn-
thesizer, and wrote all the songs.
Aided and abetted by Kevin Wilkin-
son (formerly with Robert Fripp's of-
fshoot dance quartet, the League -of
Gentlemen) on drums, Bobby Collins on
,bass, and Bobby Valentino (late of the
Fabulous Poodles) on violin, plus a few
other guests on individual tracks, Vin-
cent's album is one of the most pleasant
surprises of recent memory. Her debut
album with the Italians was a disc of
solid, polished pop songs, engaging
enough, but hardly the kind of stuff that
really grabs you and holds on. In
almost extreme opposition, Holly and
the Italians is a difficult, sophisticated
-album whose music takes a little longer
to set in; once it does, however, it
lingers in the listener's mind, holding
up to repeated listenings and continuing
'to satisfy with each one.
-. Producer Mike Thorne is part of the
reason why. His past work with
:ninimalist-experimental bands like
Wire (whose sound he practically
'shaped over the course of their three
studio albums) and the adroitly-
pretentious Urban Verbs, John Cale,

Daily Photo by DEBORAH LEWIS

Jerry Lee has a real solid core of still
competent piano playing and even
more importantly vocals as strong as
ever. Enthusiastic too, but lord they
lose a lot of punch when vapid
sopranoes echo every word.
The songs are there-"Circumstan-
tial Evidence" has some fine lines, and
it's fast too. Finding another woman's
undergarments in your car is no reason
for your baby to dump you, because I
know from watching all that Perry
Mason, that that's just circumstantial
evidence. Great rock and roll subject.
"Better Not Look Down", could be truly
nice if they got rid of everything but
Jerry Lee, guitars, and drums. The
Killer is as arrogant as ever when he
tells the Queen of England (whom he'd
meet on the street asking for his ad-
vice) to "keep hangin' in like Gunga
Din."
them-ish "Honalu," to the dreamy
melancholia of "Uptown," to the- up-
beat "Cool Love (Is Spreading
Around)" and "We Danced" (the latter
with Joey Ramone on barely-audible
back-up vocals), to sombre reflection in
"Just Like Me." And when it comes to
bizarreness, Vincent dishes it up with
vigor, as in her mutant re-do of Buffalo
Springfield's "For What It's Worth,"
the lyrics of "Unoriginal Sin," and in
the album's closer, "Samurai and
Courtesan."
Holly and the Italians is, without a
doubt, one of the finest albums released
this year, but that still won't save it
from being overlooked. The music she
has crafted for this album will appeal to
a limited audience, mostly those
tolerant enough to sit down and really
listen for the sincerity and dedication
she has put into it. Those who do give
Vincent that much credit will be greatly
rewarded, though; as she sings in
"Samurai and Courtesan":
There's not much more one could ask
for. -Larry Dean

The pure country he does isn't that
bad, either, but still needs cleaning up
(that's where fiddle and mandolin come
in.) "She Sings Amazing Grace" and
"Come as You Were" are real fine cry-
in-your-beer schmaltz.
Get lean, Jerry Lee. The Killer needs
that lean and hungry look like on the
album cover - but we're talking sound
here. We'll forget the 14 year old, come
back to rock and roll.
-Joe Hoppe

P I

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