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    Hannibal Holiday

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    All across America, celebrants young and old alike will gather today in festive communal commemorations of our nation’s 241st birthday, and traditional and contemporary music will likely play a large part. Movie musicals through the decades would sometimes get into the act with such lively holiday-themed numbers as Fred Astaire’s explosive Let’s Say It with Firecrackers (written by Irving Berlin for 1942’s Holiday Inn), the spirited Harry Warren-Ralph Blane-penned Independence Day (from the underappreciated 1948 Summer Holiday) and Robert Preston’s dynamic seduction of the River City, Iowa, townfolk in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man (1962) that evokes for their July 4th festivities the hallucinatory power of Seventy-Six Trombones. In a couple of weeks, you can relive another jubilant cinematic Independence Day celebration – courtesy of screenwriters/songwriters Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman – with the hi-def Blu-ray arrival of Tom Sawyer (1973), double-billed with their follow-up Mark Twain adaptation Huckleberry Finn (1974). In a wonderfully constructed and splendidly edited Tom Sawyer sequence shaped around the merry and melodic tune Hannibal, Mo (Zouree), the citizens of Twain’s 19th-century riverfront town spontaneously assemble from all sides of the Panavision frame and journey to the local picnic grounds, where they while away the day with homemade food and boisterous game-playing as the multi-voiced soundtrack (thrillingly orchestrated by John Williams) extols the virtues of a day-long lark: “Oh, what a feelin,’ Oh, what a day/Bright as a daisy glow/With a hey and a ho and away we go/On a holiday in Hannibal Mo…Zouree!” Directed by Don Taylor, photographed by Frank Stanley and edited by Marion Rothman, the sequence is a marvelous encapsulation of period Americana, lensed in and around Arrow Rock, Mo, and featuring dozens of extras recruited from the local citizenry. Making spontaneous on-screen activity seem that way is no easy feat, but shooting the sequence remains a favorite memory for Taylor and the Shermans, as they assert on the Audio Commentaries accompanying the musical favorite nominated for Academy Awards® for Art Direction/Set Decoration, Costume Design and Best Music/Scoring: Original Song Score and/or Adaptation. Preorders open tomorrow (Wednesday July 5) at 4 PM EDT/1 PM PDT for those who want to 1) revisit the fun of an old-fashioned July 4th any day of the year, and 2) recover or discover favorite memories of their own via TT’s delightful Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn Double Feature Disc arriving July 18. Happy 4th!