Very very predictable, including the post credit scene !!!
Don't listen to the negative reviews
A great movie, one of the best of this year. There was a bit of confusion at one point in the plot, but nothing serious.
Shirley MacLaine is excellent in this underrated, brassy musical based on the Italian classic film, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA.MacLaine plays Charity Hope Valentine, a sweet but rather clueless woman who works in a dance hall but yearns for love. She's constantly linking up with men who use her, take her money, dump her. The film opens with Charity in Central Park with her "boyfriend." Sitting on a bridge, she chirps about making a wish and throwing something off the bridge. The creep shoves her into the water.She has two wiser-but-cynical pals, played by Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly. They seem resigned to their fates as dance hall girls but there's still an ember of hope for a better life.Charity meets an Italian film star (Ricardo Montalban) and spend the night with him ... in his closet. She then meets a repressed man (John McMartin) in a stalled elevator and seems to have found happiness at last..... But is happiness in the cards for Charity? MacLaine seems to channel Gwen Verdon (who starred in the show on Broadway and who worked with MacLaine on the dance numbers) and excels in the many productions numbers, especially "If They Could See Me Now" and "Somebody Loves Me at Last." MacLaine also has a spirited rooftop dance number with Rivera and Kelly as they opine "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This." The show-stopper is probably the "Big Spender" number which features MacLaine, Rivera, and Kelly with a line of dance hall girls who try to lure men to be their partners. It's a sensational number that shows Bob Fosse's choreographic skills and also demonstrates the cynical life of a dance hall girl.Other great numbers include MacLaine and Montalban's visit to the Pompeii Club where the dancers go through a series of landmark Fosse dances. The lead dancer here is the sensational Suzanne Charny. Among the dancers are also Ben Vereen, Lee Roy Reams, and Chelsea Brown.Sammy Davis turns up the heat with the "River of Life" number which shows Charity and Oscar (McMartin)seeking meaning and discovering the 60s counter culture. Then there's Stubby Kaye as the dance hall manager who throws Charity a wedding party and sings "I Love to Cry at Weddings." This is a hugely underrated musical filled with great music and production numbers. Big, bright, brassy, and brazen, what's not to love? MacLaine won a Golden Globe nomination.
Sweet Charity from a personal point of view wasn't a great film as such. The pace does ramble at times, John McMartin has moments where he is amusing but on the most part he's rather bland and the non-musical scenes are dull and gaudy. However it is a good film, a promising start in film for Bob Fosse and it didn't deserve to bomb the way it did. Some of the non-musical scenes do show signs of directorial inexperience, but in the musical numbers his direction does come to life and even very early on we see signs of his distinctive style. Even better is his choreography, it is full of energy and fun and was quite daring for its time, at its absolute best in There's Got to be Something Better Than This. The songs are justifiably famous, Hey Big Spender and Rhythm of Life are the biggest hits and are still iconic. If They Could See Me Now is also very well done. The production values are very colourful and vibrant too. The writing on the most part is sharp and sophisticated, if not quite as much as the stage show, while the somewhat bittersweet ending is very moving. The performances are fine. Shirley MacLaine gives a charming and energetic lead performance, allowing us to root for her character Charity later on by bringing some much needed subtlety in the latter parts of the film. Riccardo Montalban is very funny even when chewing the scenery, Paula Kelly and underseen Chita Rivera are electrifying and Sammy Davis Jnr absolutely mesmorises in the Rhythm of Life number. All in all, a good film that was undeserving of its bomb status but Bob Fosse did go on to better things. 7/10 Bethany Cox
To transfer the Broadway musical of "Sweet Charity" to the screen is a difficult task because this strange period of American history is automatically going to date itself. A lot happened in America (especially New York City) between 1966 (when this opened on Broadway) and 1969 (when the film was released), so the result is an almost completely different feeling. The leading heroine is a cheery dance hall hostess (if there is such a thing), her friends at the dance hall are all tough broads with a typically cynical attitude (hiding hearts of gold) and the men in her life have treated her with much disrespect. At the very beginning, her current lover grabs her money-filled handbag and tosses her off the bow bridge in Central Park. She is so naive, she thinks he ran off to get help. Charity's pals quickly set her straight. Will her next lover(s) treat her better? Not if the fickle finger of fate steps in! That sparking redhead Shirley MacLaine gives one of her most identifiable performances in the role originated on the stage by Gwen Verdon, who generously coached MacLaine for the film, directed by Verdon's husband, Bob Fosse. MacLaine's sassy pals are the talented Paula Kelly and Chita Rivera (still on Broadway as I write this in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"), while lovable Stubby Kaye originally appears not-so-lovable as the dance hall manager who barks at the girls to get their keesters on stage. MacLaine's suitors include Ricardo Montalban as an Italian movie star who subs her for his date when his highly dramatic girlfriend runs out on him, and original Broadway cast member John McMartin as the shy bookkeeper who becomes the first man ever to tell Charity that he loves her.Cy Coleman's splashy musical score is transfered almost complete with Dorothy Fields' saucy lyrics. The most famous is of course "Big Spender", a number that indicates that these dance hall girls will do more than just dance, if the offer (and $) are right. MacLaine, Rivera and Kelly brighten up the screen with their anthem of hope, "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This", while MacLaine's big solo, "If My Friends Could See Me Now!" is as triumphant for her as Barbra Streisand's "Don't Rain on My Parade" was in "Funny Girl". And speaking of parades, there's a big fantasy moment with "I'm a Brass Band" where MacLaine is joined by (in her mind, a la "Chicago") a marching band as she parades down Wall Street. Sammy Davis Jr. takes over briefly for a spoof of street religions ("Rhythm of Life"), and Fosse's choreographic genius is never more noticeable as in the "Rich Man's Frug", a fun look at the underground nightclub scene of the late '60's. Deborah Cotton and Ben Vereen are the stand-out dancers in this camp treasure.Ultimately, this is a movie musical that depends entirely on its leading lady, and MacLaine is thrilling as the eternal optimist (there are those existing in New York, believe it or not...) who won't give up on finding love even if she does come out a bit battered.
The strengths of this movie are obvious to anyone who watches it. First are the marvelous song and dance routines that are full of energy and beautifully performed. My only criticism is that a few of them went on a little bit too long which made the movie itself a bit too long - but for the most part they were very entertaining. The movie also featured very strong performances. The primary star, of course, was Shirley MacLaine as the lead character, Charity Hope Valentine a "dance club hostess" (actually, I was not entirely clear if her duties might have included prostitution; it was never explicitly stated, although it was suggested). Good male performances (in lesser roles) were offered by John McMartin as Oscar, who falls madly in love with her but in the end can't marry her, and Ricardo Montalban as Vittorio, an Italian movie star she meets by accident and is smitten with, although there is obviously no future for her in the relationship. In an even lesser, but quite funny, turn was Sammy Davis, Jr. as "Big Daddy" the leader of some sort of hippy-style religious group.The story itself left me with mixed emotions. Adapted from a stageplay, I personally thought it still felt too much like stageplay to me, the medium of the big screen wasn't used well enough. The story began by telling us in an opening caption that Charity is a girl who desperately wants to be loved. It proceeds through some of her adventures as she seeks love. To be honest, it took me a while to get into this, and it wasn't until the appearance of Montalban's Vittorio that I really started to get interested in the story. Once the story grabbed me, though, I found myself rooting for Charity. She was a truly sweet character who deserved love. I had an interesting reaction to her search for love. I'm usually put off by the needlessly romanticized endings Hollywood often offers us in such movies. Here, though, I really wanted that happy ending for Charity, and I felt a little deflated when Oscar dumped her. I got the point of the ending. Finally, Charity found love she learned to love herself; she didn't need a man. The message fit the tenor of the times (1969) in which the movie was made. The woman who once needed a man to feel good about herself finally becomes self-sufficient. Yes I get it. It's a different kind of fairy tale ending, as the closing caption tells us that Charity lived "hopefully ever after" rather than happily ever after. I was still rooting for her and Oscar, though! All things considered, I'd give this a 7/10 for pure entertainment value.