Puttin’ On The Ritz

May has arrived and for a lot of teenagers that means just one thing — prom night is rapidly approaching and plans need to be made. I’m certainly not an authority of how it’s done these days, but I know that everything up to and including stretch limos is pretty much the standard now.

promIt was quite a bit simpler in my day. My memory of those times is a little spotty, but I happened to run across an old picture of myself in a dinner jacket, and I’m pretty sure it was for a big dance of some sort.

Truthfully, the first thing that occurred to me when I saw it was that I was trying to look cool, sort of like James Bond. But since the picture was taken before Ian Fleming’s superspy became popular, that couldn’t have been what was going through my mind at the time. Since I wasn’t exactly Joe Smooth in those days (and never have been, come to think of it), and given my well-known ineptitude as a dancer, it’s more likely that I was feeling like a dressed-up version of Frankenstein’s creature.

And that inevitably leads to thoughts of Mel Brooks’ hilarious movie, Young Frankenstein. Peter Boyle created a new kind of monster in that film — one that was a little scary, but mostly sympathetic and very, very funny. I’ve seenyf his scene with Gene Hackman (as the blind man) a dozen times, and it still makes me roar with laughter.

When Brooks closed the movie with Gene Wilder introducing the creature as a dancing and singing performer, it was a stroke of genius. But even though it a was memorable moment, Boyle’s moaning vocal fell a little short of high quality — musically, at least — so here’s an alternative.

Benny Goodman – “Puttin’ On The Ritz”


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