"I cleave the heavens, and soar to the infinite. What others see from afar, I leave far behind me." Giordano Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Puttin' on the Ritz" in Vienna - Street Art Stencils

Street Art - Stencils found in Gersthof - 2013
Fred Astaire - Puttin' On The Ritz
YouTube Source - fred l
A Paramount Pictures promotional photo-montage 
 "Puttin' on the Ritz" in ''Blue Skies'' (1946). 
Source: Wikipeadia

"I'm puttin'on my top hat Tyin'up my white tie Brushin'off my tails"
Irving Berlin
Fred Astaire - Top Hat, White Tie and Tails
I have become rather fascinated by the Street Art since living in Europe. In particular the form of Street Art delivered via the medium of stencils, some of which can be found in the area of Gersthof, located in Vienna, where I live. Every time I come across a stencil I haven’t seen or an improved image of one, (or a coal chutes for that matter), I just can’t help snapping them. 
Poor graffiti and Street Art does nothing for me, less than nothing when it defaces a building. Most of the stencil art in Vienna has been neatly applied to boring removable features of buildings, hydrants and telephone or electric junction boxes, that could do with a little uplift and can be easily cleaned. I do suspect the local council’s may not agree, but then again I haven’t witnessed a rush to clean any of them away, in this hyper maintained and very clean city.
My featured snaps remind me of "Puttin' on the Ritz" from "Blue Skies" (1946), (or maybe perhaps the 1929 movie "Phantom of the Opera") and the Golden Years of Hollywood. The montage of photos included here are two that were taken last year on different walks and for record I just couldn’t help thinking of Fred Astaire in that great movie scene from "Blue Skies" . The number was also performed in earlier and later movies, firstly by Harry Richman, with original lyrics, in  the 1930's movie "Puttin on the Ritz" then by Clark Gable in the 1939 film "Idiot's Delight" and who could forget the comic version performed by Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in Mel Brooks' 1974 film "Young Frankenstein". I also couldn't get past adding Irving Berlin’s “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”, sung by Astaire and which he also performed in the 1935 movie “Top Hat”. 
I have gone over the top in examples and YouTube links here. This was after chatting to some very young friends here in Vienna, discovering that most do not know who Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Irving Berlin, even Gene Wilder (in a rare few cases) are or about the Golden Years of Hollywood. There have been countless other versions of “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, however I can’t get past the Golden Years of Hollywood examples. The version used in "Blue Skies", is my favourite. They have a magic about them. A magic that sadly no longer to be seen or appreciated by most of the current generation. Needless to say the stencils revived my interest of the old era, leading me I suspect to combine not one but two topics here - old cinema and new art forms.
Graffiti or Street Art is something you either love or hate. Images and art of any form speak to each person with a different voice. For me the two stencil examples of Street Art, that have sparked this post, speak of "Puttin' on the Ritz". Gersthof, in Vienna, is probably the type of suburb well suited to that and quite appropriate for these two examples :) – aged, elegant, vibrant and debonair.
Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle 
Young Frankenstein (1974) - Puttin' on the Ritz 
YouTube Source - M-113

"Have you seen the well-to-do, 
up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare, 
with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrowed collars, 
white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime, 
for a wonderful time
If you're blue and you
 don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits, 
Puttin' on the Ritz.

Different types who wear a daycoat, 
pants with stripes
And cut away coat, perfect fits, 
Puttin' on the Ritz.

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper 
(super duper)
Come let's mix where Rockefellers 
walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz

Tips his hat just like an English chappie
To a lady with a wealthy pappy (very snappy)
You'll declare it's simply topping to be there
And hear them swapping smart titbits
Puttin' on the ritz!"
Puttin' on the Ritz lyrics from Blue Skies
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