Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eddie Cantor and "Boardwalk Empire"

We hope you caught Episode 1 of HBO's 1920's Atlantic City-set gangster drama Boardwalk Empire, which premiered last Sunday night. It was a stylish -- how could it not be, with the participation and direction by Martin Scorcese -- and multi-layered evocation of the beginning of America's failed experiment of Prohibition, with a bravura performance by the always interesting Steve Buscemi. He carries the show on his shoulders, giving us a wonderful interpretation of a complicated character -- part gangster, part businessman, part human being -- and it's wonderful to see him headlining a series.

We also loved the use of period music in the show (good article about it by Ann Powers from the L.A. Times here) , and I was particularly thrilled to see one of my favorite performers, the comedian Eddie Cantor, used generously in the episode. I'm not sure you would have gotten the impression that Eddie was particularly funny given the part of his vaudeville act they re-created, with the able assistance of Stephen DeRosa who did a great Cantor. Cantor was very funny, particularly in the movies he made for Samuel Goldwyn in the early 1930s. Highly recommended, particularly Roman Scandals.

But here's some very early sound footage from 1923 -- about the same time period as Boardwalk Empire -- with the real Eddie Cantor doing some of his act. It's fascinating at the very least. Then, another YouTube user found and posted I Never Knew I Had a Wonderful Wife (Until the Town Went Dry, the Cantor song that was used during Boardwalk Empire. Thanks to both these YT users who brought Eddie Cantor into the 21st Century!

Don't forget to watch Episode 2 of Boardwalk Empire tomorrow night on HBO! Check out the official Boardwalk Empire site for more information and view the entire schedule when you can watch this terrific series, undoubtedly the most accomplished of this new season.

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