Sunday, February 20, 2011

Double Stop, the movie

I saw a really interesting movie today.  It's called "Double Stop".

The movie was shot entirely in Cleveland in 1967, just after the Hough race riots. It deals with school desegregation, busing and a cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra!

The cellist's best friend is a bassoonist who subs with the Orchestra.  The bassoonist gets the best lines in the movie as the comic foil and reality check for the idealistic cellist.

There is a couple minute scene of reedmaking accurately portrayed! The cellist arrives at his friend's house and finds him upstairs in the bathroom.  The bathtub is filled with water and soaking tube cane.  The bassoonist takes the tubes downstairs and splits, gouges, profiles (by hand!), shapes and forms a reed.  He ties the reed, cuts and trims it and tries it rejecting it.  Very true to life!

In another scene, the bassoonist is playing 3rd bassoon in the REAL Cleveland Orchestra rehearsing with the real Cleveland Orchestra Chorus in Severance Hall. They rehearse a Bach Cantata. The conductor, Michael Charry (then an assistant conductor), rehearses the basses, celli and bassoons alone.  He isn't satisfied because the bass line is too loud.  They try it again, and you can hear Goslee and Laksar playing a little too loudly to push the scene to its end when the conductor tells the bassoons to try the passage with just two and says to the third bassoonist, "Streggor, thanks you can go!"  He walks offstage dejected and joins the card game going on in the musicians' lounge. You can see Goslee looking over as Don Streggor goes offstage as if to say, "Sorry!".

Streggor has a girlfriend in the chorus who meets a violent end in the movie across the street in the grass near the Wade Lagoon. He jokes with her onstage by sticking a bassoon reed in his ear which she can see from her vantage point in the chorus.

We see Severance Hall, Wade Oval, Euclid Avenue, MLK and the Cultural Gardens, and lots of other places in Cleveland.  Shots of the men's locker room and backstage, too.

The movie is quirky, though. The cellist lives in a beautiful arts and crafts house that was probably well beyond the reach of most of the Orchestra at the time.  Most of them had second jobs to pay the bills back then.  He drives a British sports car, a Morgan -- also a luxury for the musicians then.

He argues with his wife, a ceramist and photographer, about busing their son to Cleveland for school.  They live in Cleveland Heights.  This issue is handled very awkwardly in the movie to say the least.

It was rarely shown after its release and just last month restored in a digital format.  A DVD is forthcoming.

This ranks as one of the few movies that features an actor playing a bassoonist with speaking and playing roles.  The other two I know of are "Never Cry Wolf" and "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands".

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