Sweet Charity (1969)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Apr 1, 1969 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 157 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Hal Erickson

Most of the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields songs in Sweet Charity remain intact: the best of these include Big Spender, If They Could See Me Now, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, and the rousing I'm a Brass Band, cinematized on an epic scale courtesy of choreographer/director Bob Fosse (who staged the original Broadway production, which starred his then-wife Gwen Verdon). A few curious changes are made in the score, notably a completely new (and not altogether successful) arrangement of the title number. Also, Neil Simon's libretto has been laundered and sentimentalized for the family trade, robbing us of the play's deliciously cynical ending. Otherwise, the film is an underrated gem, wholly undeserving of its bad reputation (though admittedly, its unexpectedly poor box-office take did nearly ruin Universal Pictures). The supporting cast includes Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly as Charity's sarcastic co-workers, Stubby Kaye as dance-hall proprietor Herman (who displays an unexpected lovable streak in the song I Love to Cry at Weddings, Sammy Davis Jr. as phony guru Big Daddy Brubeck (his show-stopping production number Rhythm of Life has no bearing whatsoever on the plot, but who cares?), and a whole slew of stars-to-be among the dancers and singers, including Ben Vereen, Chelsea Brown and Toni Basil.