Saturday, December 4, 2021

Sondheim in REDS

 1981. I saw this epic historical drama/love story, written and directed by and starring Warren Beatty, at a preview in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was a film reviewer and entertainment contributor on the city's ABC affiliate, WISN TV. I was able to take a guest to the preview and invited a buddy to join me. At the film's intermission, we both gasped "Wow." REDS, also starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, had that great an impact on us. It was one of the best films I'd seen that year. In fact, I paid to see it again more than once during its theatrical release.

Diane Keaton won her Best Actress Oscar for her lead role in Woody Allen's classic screwball romantic comedy, ANNIE HALL (1977). But don't forget she also showed her impressive dramatic talent in films such as LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, Woody Allen's INTERIORS, SHOOT THE MOON and REDS which brought her another Best Actress Oscar nomination.

My dear Twitter friend and film historian, Andres Quiroga, recently posted my favorite scene from REDS. It's a train reunion scene. There's much gravity to the scene. Keaton has little dialogue but I am always devastated by all the emotions that wash over her face in it. The lilting and melancholy music in the background was composed by Stephen Sondheim. Here's the scene Andres posted. Keaton's character has endured a grueling journey from America to Russia in the early 1900s. She fears the American journalist she loves may have been killed in a revolt while trying to document the politics.


That hug. That scene. It puts tears in my eyes every single time. And I have seen this film several times thanks to cable TV. As for the Sondheim music, the song is called "Goodbye For Now." Here's a rendition of it with lyrics sung by Liz Callaway.


There will never, ever be another Stephen Sondheim. He was an American genius.

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