Yesterday, I posted a video of Phil Silvers doing a screen test for the movie of The Sunshine Boys. This led to a discussion with reader Douglass Abramson, where I mentioned one of the best things I've heard from Silvers, his final, dramatic number in the musical Do Re Mi.
I thought I'd post that song, but first want to play another one to put it in proper perspective. That's because the final "11 o'clock" number works in powerful contrast to everything setting it up in a pure Phil Silvers-type role. But also, this first number is also probably THE quintessential song there could be for Phil Silvers, and is a joy.
Do Re Mi was a moderate hit, running for 400 performances. It was produced on Broadway in 1960, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph. Usually, they'd also do the book for their shows, but in this case that was done by the great writer Garson Kanin, who also directed. Along with Phil Silvers, the musical starred Nancy Walker, and co-starred a young Nancy Dussault (who years later came to national attention as the mother on the TV series, Too Close for Comfort -- and only enough, just two years of doing this musical, she was hired as a replacement to play 'Maria' in The Sound of Music, which was still running on Broadway...and got to sing the other "Do Re Mi"! ) and John Reardon (who in 1965 joined the Metropolitan Opera for 12 years) .
The story of Do Re Mi concerns a low-level wheeler-dealer con man, played by...oh, you know, always on the lookout for some quick scheme, the best way to a fast-buck, no matter how questionable or risky. He's gotten himself into some money troubles with the mob, but has come up with a plan to talk his way out it. Rather than be involved in illegal gambling with slot machines, he sets out to convince the lug sent after him of a far better scam. In many ways it's the same, but his idea involves the fairly new popularly of jukeboxes. Why is this scheme better? Because -- as I said, this might be the quintessential Phil Silvers song -- "It's Legitimate."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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