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  1. 24 points
    I gave up depression disorder every Tuesday and Thursday. I gave up low self-esteem when I completed each module and passed the tests. I gave up loneliness and isolation every time I participated in discussions, like now. This course has been the best thing in the world for me. I hope they offer another one.
  2. 19 points
    I just wanted to share (I truly apologize if this feels like name dropping) that in the mid 1970s I took tap classes from Gene's Kelly's brother, Fred in Oradell, NJ. One evening, quite to our surprise, Gene showed up at the studio and watched us dance. Talk about intimidating. When we finished - he danced for us. 40+ years later I can still feel the swoon and passion. It was wonderful. He was very generous with not only his time but his feedback and advice.
  3. 15 points
    This class has been fantastic! I have enjoyed every minute of the discussions, film clips, podcasts...you name it. I cannot wait for Mad About Musicals II. So much more to cover....The Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals - South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel, etc. We hardly touched on the Fox Blondes - Alice Faye, Betty Grable, some Marilyn Monroe. The Sound of Music. There is so much more to cover. Please keep it going!
  4. 13 points
    I’m not sure I gave up anything, and I didn’t watch all the films; but I gained a new online community full of friendly people with beautiful insights and a unified spirit of collaboration. It’s been a great month! I’m sorry to arrive at the end of the course. Have a great summer, everyone!
  5. 13 points
    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #12 (FROM AN AMERICAN IN PARIS): “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter. Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade.” (from Funny Girl) 1. All musicals should be more-than-realistic. They should take us where we can’t go ourselves: physically and emotionally. They should leave us wanting to sing and dance through life if only as far as the car in the parking lot. The plot and dialogue should also be heightened and mainly serve to bring us to the next number. The actors should wear their hearts on their sleeves. What was unfortunate about casting Ryan Gosling in La-La-Land is that he’s a subtle, understated actor (and he can’t sing or dance). As Jeff tells Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon, “icebergs only show 1/8—I want 8/8!” We need them to show the emotions that we must suppress to get through our day. Some of us must pass the homeless everyday without making eye contact. Some of us can’t quit our lousy jobs. Some of us never tell our parents or children that we love them. Some of us never really live because we’re too busy facing reality. We need musicals to cry, laugh, sing and dance for us with heightened reality. Musicals remind us that living without heart is no life at all. And maybe it’s impossible to care about every one in the world—but maybe it’s damn worth trying to. 2. I found Gene Kelly's character to be completely likable but then, I'm from New Jersey.
  6. 12 points
    1. It starts off like any backstage musical from the 30's, taking us back to the days of vaudeville and may remind us of so many films that took place at that time. The long shot includes the orchestra pit as well as the stage. Mama Rose even quotes an early Jerome Kern song ("Every little movement has a meaning all its own"). The girl in the balloons hints at where the plot will go and may point out the tension between vaudeville and burlesque. While there are a lot of colors on stage, the colors are more subdued than the bright popping colors of the 40's and 50's, and there is very little glamor, hinting that this story may be a little grittier than earlier musicals. The widescreen hints at epic, but the scene is actually intimate. The camera even backs up when Baby June sings her song, rather than going in for a close up as we are used to. 2. Roz enters from the audience, as Ethel Merman did on Broadway. But while Merman seemed to appear from nowhere, Roz's entrance seems more deliberate and forceful. She has broken into the theatre and brazenly makes her way to the stage. She knows her way around comedy and delivers lines non-stop, like she did in His Girl Friday. Rosalind Russell has said that after Auntie Mame, she played variations on Mame for the rest of her career, and it isn't too hard to see that here. Here she pushes her girls to live, live, live the life she wishes she had lived, lived, lived. 3. It has already been pointed out that there is sexual innuendo in the lyrics, though they seem innocent here in this scene. Louise's lyric, "I will do some tricks... I'm very versatile" here refers to a child's playful hand tricks, but becomes more suggestive when Louise sings the same words in burlesque.
  7. 12 points
    Minnelli's view of life, whether that life is in St Louis (as in "Meet Me In..." 1944, Technicolor), NYC (The Clock, 1945, B&W), the suburbs (Father of the Bride, 1950, B&W) or Paris (AAIP, 1951, Technicolor) was a painterly aspect. Each scene in his films is akin to a genre painting. As stated in a previous essay during this course Minnelli paid meticulous attention to set design, lighting, costumes and shot composition. All of his careful construction of a scene equally inhabits Spencer Tracy's bursting cutaway sequence in FOTB, and the fantasy ballet in AAIP. The problem with AAIP in my view is that the ending does not match the message of the rest of the film. Kelly is a brash American (which I personally love him for) who apparently does not have a great deal of painting talent or success in his profession. His desire to be a kept man by Nina Foch is loathsome. His better nature finds Leslie Caron to be his love interest, but she already has Georges Guetary who can provide for her and be faithful to her, to make up for the sad things which have happened in her life. Kelly is not in a position to do that. The fantasy ballet is triggered by Caron's rejection of him for Guetary. When she leaves him, Kelly expresses his fantastical desire for Caron in the only way he knows how, through paintings, albeit paintings by master artists, not his own work. If the film had ended with Kelly's unfulfilled fantasy, it would have been more consistent with all of the information the audience has up until, inexplicably, Caron returns and chooses Kelly over her French fiance. After all Kelly is a loser and the audience really isn't given any rational explanation for Caron's sudden shift in inclination. The ending is what keeps AAIP from being a masterpiece in my view. Minnelli chickened out of letting the story go in its natural direction by having the wrong man win the girl. 1.Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film? Well, the point of the wildly beautiful and fantastic ballet is just that. It is fantasy, so everything else in the film must look more realistic compared to the finale, but that doesn't mean it has to look like the "kitchen sink" films from Britain in the late 1950's. Minnelli's use of Technicolor, costuming, and lighting to charge up AAIP is really no different than his portrayal of mid-western American life in MMISL. Some of the scenes in that film are highly stylized. For example, an early scene between Garland and Bremer in which they sing MMISL while in their undergarments has some unbelievable camera work which throws their profiles into relief in unison. Its really gorgeous. I never heard anybody suggest that other parts of the film have to display realism to counteract the magnificent musical sequences. No, the point of the ending ballet is that it is a wild artistic dream which comes true in the end. The rest of the film can be breathtaking too, even if it is merely taken up with the plot.  2.What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Kelly himself is a likable actor, who can definitely play a cad. After all he was the original Pal Joey on Broadway, and you can't get more of a caddish role than that. So here Kelly is a more likable cad because the audience feels a little sorry for his lack of success in life, and his humiliation at the hands of a pretentious American college student who wants to criticize his work while he is hungry and out of smokes. When Kelly is impudent to Foch, he doesn't realize he is looking at his meal ticket. Does Foch like his paintings or does she like the cut of his jib so to speak? When Foch's expensive, chauffeur driven car pulls up, the audience realizes that these two can do business. Foch likes Kelly for his body and he likes her for her money. A perfect match.
  8. 12 points
    Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times: “That wonderful talent for satire which Betty Comden and Adolph Green possess, and which was gleefully turned upon the movies in their script for last year’s Singin’ in the Rain, is even more gleefully let loose upon the present-day musical stage in their book for The Band Wagon.” Crowther, who could be a curmudgeonly reviewer liked all of the performances (even Cyd Charisse's rather weak acting) and all of the talent behind the camera too. “This literate and witty combination herein delivers a show that respectfully bids for recognition as one of the best musical films ever made.” Crowther thought "The Band Wagon" was better than SITR! Comden and Green were good at taking a catalogue of songs from a particular songwriter, for example, Arthur Freed of the Freed Unit at MGM, and spinning a plot to make use of those songs in a musical. With respect to SITR, Comden stated that when they got the assignment to write the book, all they knew was that they had to use Freed's songs, and that "someone would be singin' and that it would be rainin'." They took a similar approach to The Band Wagon, by taking an idea for a thin plot, and spinning a book out of the songs. As for Jack Buchanan, he was a well known star of the British music hall. He was an accomplished dancer who had a dance act with his wife. Modern audiences can see a bit of his music hall-type performance in "The Winslow Boy" (1948). 1.As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? The opening of the "That's Entertainment" song reminds me of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies in which they solve one problem or another by "putting on a show!" Those efforts from the late 1930's and 1940's also utilized some ensemble acting, singing and dancing, all within the structure of the actual story, the show within the show, and the backstage drama which forms the plot. The instructor posits the idea that this type of production number is unique to the 1950's musical. What we see in this clip is that, like the earlier musicals, the problem to be solved is Astaire's flagging career, which needs a boost from a good Broadway musical show in which he can star. As did Rooney and Garland, they decide in the context of this song to solve the problem by "putting on a show!" Buchanan's character is the leader of the song. He is a pretentious, somewhat untalented director who is trying to sell the others on his ideas to create a play. Some think he is based on a combination of Orson Welles and Jose Ferrer. The married couple is of course based on the writers Comden and Green (although married, were not married to each other), and the Astaire character is actually based on himself. As such, Buchanan orchestrates the plot ideas, Fabray, who could sing and dance, contributes her talents as the lady of the scene, Levant, a pianist in real life, can carry a tune and supplies some comic bits, and Astaire is the one to whom they must sell all of their ideas to "put on a show!" The characters relate very much this way to each other throughout the scene. 2.What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. The audience expects Astaire to be dressed elegantly, and he is in a dark blue suit and nifty white pocket handkerchief, perfectly squared. After all, he is Astaire, the star of the film, and the star of the show within a show. Levant is dressed in tweeds, just like the audience of the time would expect to see a writer attired. Fabray is costumed in a "new look" style dress, with a suggestion of decollete, and a red flower on one hip. She is the lady in the song and needs to look feminine, but she is also Levant's partner, and a writer, so she can't look too gorgeous. Finally, Buchanan is dressed like a pretentious, artistic type, in a turtleneck and kind of lounge coat, something only an Artist would wear. This is the sort of attention, Minnelli would pay to the way in which his characters are dressed to signal information to the audience. 3.What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? As stated before, Buchanan is the leader, trying to convince Astaire to trust him to revive his career. As the ring leader, he is also the tallest member of the group, and the most masculine looking one in the song. Although he interacts with Astaire on equal footing throughout the production number, he initiates the idea to "put on a show!" and gets the action going toward that goal. Fabray and Levant are trying to cheer Astaire up, as he is discouraged about his career. They run with Buchanan's idea and contribute lots of comic business in order to amuse Astaire and give him hope that he can have more stage success. Although the audience knows Astaire is the star of the film and an amazing dancer, Minnelli has him hold back because of his depression and need to be convinced of the advisability of joining in to "put on a show!" Therefore, the great Astaire does some modest hoofing with the others during the song, and does not really emerge as the dancing star the audience knows he is. His reticence is consistent with the plot.
  9. 11 points
    1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical? Many of its backstage musical elements hearken to the entire history of film musicals: a vaudeville setting, musical numbers performed on a stage to “us” in the audience, someone interrupting the proceedings (so many of the early Warners musicals). The story and acting style, though, reflect the intense 1950s dramatic style of Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando. Karl Malden’s frustration at his work and life situation is as intense as his work in A Streetcar Named Desire or On the Waterfront. The cinema’s move away from a certain fantasy style from the Golden Era was reflected in the musical’s evolution in the 1960s. The gritty film adaptations of West Side Story (1961) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971) wouldn’t seem possible during the Golden Age. 2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress. Mama Rose gets a brash, stage mama entrance. Rosalind Russell’s Rose dominates the audition by boldly advancing down the aisle in her leopard-print coat and honking orders in her commanding voice. When Herbie (Karl Malden) tries to reason with her, she tops him through vocal and verbal energy as Russell did in The Women (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Auntie Mame (1958), and others. Rosalind Russell clearly knew how to “pull focus” and here she uses it to focus the attention on Baby June. 3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not). There is a slightly sexualized slant to Sondheim’s lyrics here, later used as double entendre by the young adult version of Louise – “Let me entertain you/Let me see you smile/I will do some kicks/I will do some tricks” – which are especially uncomfortable coming from little girls. Baby June is dolled up and dances in a way that seems designed to appeal to men, much in the way JonBenet Ramsey (second photo below) was sexualized in real life decades later: mounds of golden curls, makeup, confident grin. There is a sense of Mama Rose pimping her daughters throughout the story, though we're guided to see that it comes from love (and her own failed dreams).
  10. 10 points
    I watched Rocky Mountain this evening, a solid, spare 1950 Warner Brothers western, the last of eight films of that genre in which Errol Flynn would star. Flynn is the only actor of the Hollywood Golden Age (or beyond it, for that matter) who was a convincing performer in three action genres, costume films, war dramas and westerns. He appeared in some noteworthy efforts of each genre, too. Rocky Mountain was made at a time when the actor's career was in flux. No longer top box office, Warners had reduced the budgets on his films. This particular film, directed by veteran William Keighley, is quite good, a tale of a band of Confederates, led by Flynn, who, in the dying days of the Civil War, are sent by Robert E. Lee to California to try to stir up rebellion and, perhaps, pull some of the Union troops away from the battlefields out East. The film was filmed near Gallup, New Mexico, and benefits from, among other things, its stark black and white photography which is appropriate for its rather somber tale. This is a bit of an odd man out among Flynn westerns, though, certainly for those who remember the bright Technicolor and high spirits of a Dodge City or San Antonio. But also in contrast to those earlier horse operas is the star himself. An older, more weary looking Flynn (who, according to co-star Sheb Woolley spent much of the time off camera drinking heavily) relies not at all upon his patented charismatic charm. This time it's a low key, reflective Flynn, with a touch of sadness about him that I suspect was a reflection of the actor himself at this point in his life. His glory days as a film star were behind him now and his future looked increasingly uncertain, both professionally and, with his alcohol and drug intake, personally. Rocky Mountain has a slightly darker portrayal than the audience is used to from Flynn. At one point he will cold bloodedly shoot down a Union soldier when he pulls out a gun. You could call it self defense, if you like, but it's an action you would never have seen from the youthful, brimming with virtue Flynn of ten years before in Dodge City. That reflective sense of sadness in Flynn works well for his character in this film. It will lead directly to a fateful decision that he will make which will lead to the film's exciting, as well as poignant, ending. Throughout his life Flynn got little credit for his acting ability. He was regarded as a flamboyant playboy actor who made a lot of headlines for his at times yachting, brawling and womanizing lifestyle. But there was more to this complex man than that. He liked to philosophize about God and man's place in the cosmos. He was a man who read all kinds of literature throughout his life, and had, indeed, written two books himself (Beam Ends and Showdown). But his Hollywood lifestyle and self indulgent self destructive behaviour had robbed him of his capacity to sit down and concentrate on writing by this stage in his life. Flynn had always wanted to be a writer but he increasingly lacked the disciple to work at it when there were so many other activities around to easily distract him. Even though he had demonstrated a remarkable ability to live a larger than life adventurous existence, I strongly suspect he regarded himself as a failure for not having worked harder at the writing. This perception of melancholy shows up in his Rocky Mountain performance. I suspect, if the studio had been so inclined, with this minimalist portrayal as a template, that he was an actor who could have prospered in film noir, with darker, more complex characterizations. Certainly Flynn was tired of his heroic screen image and would have probably welcomed the change in screen image. Alas, it was not to be. But his darker portrayal in Rocky Mountain gives hints of what may have been. It's a good little western anyway, with two solid action sequences, with one of them a rather memorable ending, with Flynn in true heroic form. But perhaps it's that haunting sense of melancholy in an understated, world weary Errol Flynn that stays with you as much as anything else and makes you think that his later career could have offered so much more.
  11. 10 points
    1. "Gaslight" (1944) and "My Fair Lady" (1964) are two of my favorite movies, and I think George Cukor did a great job directing both. While the former is a Gothic thriller and the latter an Edwardian-era musical, both take place in London around the turn-of-the-century, both deal with gender politics of the time between men and women, and the idea of personal identity. Cukor uses the production and set design for both in films in similar ways, emphasizing the dark, heavy, cluttered, and heavily-patterned style of the Edwardian era to create a sense of oppressiveness and wealth, though in "Gaslight's"' case the result is much more foreboding than in "My Fair Lady"! 2. There are a lot of emotions going on in this scene, and George Cukor does a great job of letting them flow naturally through his specific use of shots and lack of cuts. While there are a few close-ups of Eliza, the majority of the scene is covered in long tracking shots, almost like a stageplay rather than a movie, that show both characters at once and catch the breaks between lines, which also serve as the emotional transitions. The continuity seems to aid the actors in their performances; there is a cohesiveness and natural flow of the move from one emotion to another, which I don't think would have been as easy to achieve if Cukor had used a more fragmented approach with more cuts and shorter shots. 3. While it is a natural setup given the action going on in the scene, it's interesting to note the way Cukor has Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) continually standing above Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) as she crouches on the sofa, emphasizing the superiority that Higgins is either purposely asserting over her, or that Eliza is merely imagining that she feels. It is also interesting how Eliza has her back to Higgins for most of the scene, which not only allows the audience to see her conflicting emotions, but externalizes her struggle to hide her unspoken feelings for him.
  12. 10 points
    Meredith Willson called "The Music Man" a Valentine to Iowa, and "An Iowan's attempt to pay tribute to his home state." He revealed all of the rivalries, small mindedness, pettiness, meddling, and family interconnectedness of small town, midwestern life in the early part of the last century. It is clear Willson remembered all of his childhood lovingly. This is a very different musical concept from "Victor/Victoria in which Julie Andrews asks: "So, I'm a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman?" The gender bending concept also contains a lead gay male character portrayed by Preston, who also plays the Music Man in the earlier film. 1.As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable? To compare and contrast both roles, Preston is essentially a con artist in each movie, who cheats and tricks others persuading them to believe things that are not true. Based on the time period in which each story was released to the public, and in which each story is set, ("The Music Man" 1962, set in 1912) ("Victor/Victoria" 1982, set in 1934) is determinative of the type of characters which were available for the American public to see. In 1962, a con man could be many things, but not out and out gay, and 20 years later, he could be many things including openly gay. 2.What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? As the "Music Man" Preston sees the character as a cross between a hustler and a revival preacher. In many ways his performance is akin to Burt Lancaster's portrayals of "The Rainmaker" (1956) and "Elmer Gantry" (1960). In both Lancaster performances he dances around gracefully, with well defined movements and speech, invading other characters' personal spaces, while trying to ensnare them in his web of lies. Preston's movements are in the same well-defined mode, his diction is also precise and understandable even though he is speaking rapidly, and he also uses his hands quite gracefully for a man. It makes me wonder if one didn't study the other's performance while crafting each character. Since "The Rainmaker" is the first production, we will have to give the credit to Lancaster. While the Music Man is not a nasty, insulting individual, Preston's character in V/V is. He is particularly disparaging to members of his audience after he delivers his song. Although Preston gives a more subdued performance of his song in our clip, as befits his cabaret singer, he is still Preston and utilizes the same well defined physical movements as in the "Music Man." In fact, I found him to be a bit limp wristed in both portrayals, which might have simply been the manner in which Preston used his hand to express himself. His diction and enunciation, however, is not quite as precise as in "Trouble." 3.Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work? Personally, I always find Preston to be rather charming and seductive. In "Marion," he is very tempting and provocative. Other films in which I have seen him are "Union Pacific" (1939), "Beau Geste" (1939), and "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942). In most of his films, Preston was a secondary leading man, and in two of the films mentioned he is a sort of charmer who goes wrong, betraying the leading man each time. As far as his acting technique, Preston could obviously play a wide variety of parts, including roles requiring triple threat duties. He was a well rounded versatile actor whose greatest success was in the legitimate theater.
  13. 10 points
    1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? While in pre-dance mode, O'Connor continues to play the comic sidekick to Kelly's more serious, alpha male leading man. O'Connor mocks the elocution teacher while Kelly plays it straight and recites the phrases as they are presented to him. It's obvious Kelly's character does not really require speech lessons so off they go into their magnificent dance number. The elocution book is tossed and they literally take control by manhandling the teacher. They move him into position and transition into the dance once the stage is set. In some fashion, they are working together up to this point, but with some slight variations. Once the number starts it's fast pace and high level dynamics at work. For the most part, both Kelly's character and O'Connor's are on equal footing throughout the entire dance number. Kelly always appears just a bit stronger in movement and O'Connor a bit more flexible, but for all intents and purposes this is a mirror dance with two brilliant tap dancers performing at their peak. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. Poor Bobby Watson, I really feel for him here. After all, the guy's just trying to do his job! (Think Margaret Dumont.) In the early part of the clip, Watson is strictly the foil for O'Connor and eventually Kelly as well once the dance setup begins. Watson does a really swell job in this scene. He's not to get irate but to serve as another prop for Kelly and O'Connor to shuffle around while they make full use of the room. He not only has to take abuse from the other two, but at a couple of points actually has to step in time and movement with the dancers when he is being escorted across the room to set up the next part of the number. Note how they place him in a chair facing the desk so that the dancing done on the desk is actually being seen by the audience from a similar angle as the teacher. Watson's acceptance of all the abuse leaves the audience feeling like he didn't really mind what was done to him, allowing the playfulness of the number to come through with no sense of guilt to bring the mood down. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? We are dealing with a trio of personalities in this scene. The dilettante teacher, the Alpha male and the Beta male. On the surface, it is clear Kelly is the Alpha and more masculine male character while O'Connor is the Beta male and loyal sidekick to his Alpha male pal. While we have little to go on regarding the elocution teacher, he is clearly cast and written to be a neutral male character at best and more likely a shy and bookish type. There is one notable place in the number when the Alpha and Beta males are clearly recognizable. This occurs when Kelly gets up on a chair and drapes himself with a curtain like Julius Caesar addressing the Roman Senate. A very masculine and confident pose. O'Connor, on the other hand, is on bent knee with the other side of the curtain wrapped around his head like a woman's scarf and nearly crying.
  14. 9 points
    Jewel Robbery (1932) - This is a delightful Warners pre-code with William Powell and Kay Francis. The quality is definitely Lubitsch-like and uncharacteristically sophisticated for Warners. Kay Francis is a very spoiled and already adulterous socialite and Powell is a charming jewel thief. Plot elements include some interesting cigarettes, which according to Powell's character, make you very relaxed, sleepy, and when you wake up, quite hungry! I don't think weed was ever offered so elegantly. Kay is already unfaithful to her current husband, and her friend Helen Vinson, makes it pretty clear that husbands are for buying nice things, but there are other places to seek one's pleasure. Needless to say, Powell is in line to be the next lover. Kay spends the latter half of the film wearing an off-the-shoulder, low-backed dress that defies gravity. I wasn't aware that something that still had sleeves could be so alluring. I followed this up with Roberta (1933), in which Fred and Ginger steal the picture, despite Irene Dunne's excellent rendition of some of Jerome Kern's most beautiful songs. I would say after watching the styles in both these style-conscious films back-to-back that in the 1930s, a woman's back was considered the most erotic part of her body. (Excuse the pun!)
  15. 9 points
    Now that you've brought her up, I won't rag on her party and tell her that she can't dress up for a film, or invite guests to do the same but I do take umbrage at the bit where she says something about "movies are made to share or bring people together" or whatever, as if one cannot watch a movie alone or they are not made to be watched in solitary. That's bunk! Though it's fun to watch in a group, movies also can be enjoyable watched alone and sometimes better, since one does not have others talking, chowing down making noise with their popcorn, or snuggling up under the blanket, and getting fuzz balls all over one's white chenille couch. If you have to have a group to watch some movie, then you're not a real movie fan. Yes...I went there! I'll say it again, if a movie came out I wanted to see, and no one else did..I'd go by myself, and I don't need a group to attend with me, since I'm not a baby who needs affirmation. Any condemnation I get from spitting this out, I'm sure I deserve but it's still the truth. And I doubt I'd invite a group over to my house to watch Pasolini's "Salo" and serve that popcorn or offer a group blanket to the spectators for fear of what might occur under the covers.
  16. 9 points
    For those who are looking for Noir Alley -type films during Eddie's Summer Under the Stars hiatus, I made a list of some of those coming up that might qualify: Monday, August 6 - AUDREY TOTTER (she is the "Queen of Noir" this month) Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) Man in the Dark (1953) Sellout, The (1951) Set-Up, The (1949) Tension (1950) High Wall (1947) Lady in the Lake (1947) Unsuspected, The (1947) Friday, August 10 - DOROTHY MALONE Convicted (1950) Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957) Tuesday, August 21 - ANITA LOUISE Shadowed (1946) Wednesday, August 22 - DANA ANDREWS Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) While the City Sleeps (1956) Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Fallen Angel (1945) Thursday, August 23 - VIRGINIA MAYO Flaxy Martin (1949) Backfire (1950) Friday, August 24 - PETER LORRE Face Behind the Mask, The (1941) M (1931) Crime and Punishment (1935) Mask of Dimitrios, The (1944) Verdict, The (1946) Monday, August 27 - AGNES MOOREHEAD Caged (1950) Journey Into Fear (1942) Tuesday, August 28 - LEW AYRES Unfaithful, The (1947) No Escape (1953) Fingers at the Window (1942) Wednesday, August 29 - LAUREN BACALL Dark Passage (1947) Big Sleep, The (1946) Friday, August 31 - JOAN CRAWFORD Sudden Fear (1952) (Of course some of these have already been shown on Noir Alley.) If you want to get a head start and have access to other sources, here's what's coming up on Noir Alley in September: 9-02 The Locket (1946) Robert Mitchum, Laraine Day 9-09 Desperate (1953) Steve Brodie, Audrey Long 9-16 Angel Face (1952) Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons 9-23 The Stranger (1946) Orson Welles, Loretta Young 9-30 The Gangster (1947) Barry Sullivan I hope nobody strongly objects to any of my suggestions. I used the IMDB descriptions to pick out the crime dramas and film-noir category films.
  17. 9 points
    This was discussed in the 6/28 lecture, so I'll bite. Here are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. (I've excluded concert films and musical bios.) There are surely a bunch I have missed: 1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 2. The Graduate 3. Forrest Gump 4. A Mighty Wind (might even be considered a musical) 5. Saturday Night Fever 6. American Graffiti 7. Pulp Fiction 8. Easy Rider 9. Shaft 10. O Brother Where Art Thou
  18. 9 points
    So, in watching the discussion of High Society today, I found it difficult to agree that High Society's musical numbers give more depth to the characters. I would argue it has less dimension than the non-musical Philadelphia Story. I see just as much psychoanalysis of Tracy in the original as the father tells her a daughter's love is what keeps a father young, and his affairs are her fault. I've always felt that that aspect of the tale was a "Just, wow!" moment that is hard for contemporary women to swallow. They cut her down to size quite deftly in the original with the same complaints about her expectations of others. Hepburn's Tracy is far more transformed from ice queen to a woman who embraces people and herself as they are and she is. I don't see a convincing change in Kelly's Tracy. I do love the music in High Society. Any Louis Armstrong is good music. Likewise Cole Porter. I agree that the most delightful couple is Bing and Louis. This is what I watch an otherwise watered down movie. Grace is stunningly beautiful, but Hepburn outacts her by miles. Cary and Jimmy are also leagues ahead of Crosby and Sinatra in depth of character, nuance in performance, and bringing issues of class to the front. I found it interesting in comparing this movie's exploration of class and how the "mighty have fallen" as a bit out of place in the prosperous for white-America 50s where it was right in line with the original Philadelphia Story's 1940 preference of the average Joe, deflation of the rich as America had not yet come out of the Depression. What do others feel about High Society?
  19. 9 points
    1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) In both Gaslight (1944) and My Fair Lady (1964), a man attempts to control a woman for selfish reasons. In Gaslight, it’s for money, and in My Fair Lady, it’s for professional pride. In both cases, the woman’s well being is a price he’s willing to pay, and in both cases, the woman is worn down and angry at the end of the process. In both cases, Cukor at certain point frames the woman as if she is a subject to be studied, a guinea pig on which to be tested. The scenes with Ingrid Bergman in the center of the frame, in the room alone feeling she’s going crazy, are a little like the scenes with Audrey Hepburn centered in the frame trying to learn correct pronunciation and manners. In both cases, the truth gradually dawns on the woman. In this Daily Dose scene, Hepburn’s Eliza finally articulates her frustration at being used by Higgins (Rex Harrison) just as Paula (Bergman) finally confronts Gregory (Charles Boyer). 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Cukor keeps the camera focused on where the emotion is happening. When Eliza suddenly drops to the ground (:29) giving in to her frustration, the camera knows to pan down with her. As mentioned in Gary Rydstrom’s Curator’s Note, shadow is used throughout this scene to suggest that we are not only seeing Higgins’ prize version of Eliza, but the private Eliza who now doesn’t know what to do with the elegant version of herself. In the early part of the scene, Hepburn walks around the dim room with eyes mostly closed, suggesting Eliza’s introspection at this point. We are allowed to see Eliza trying to regain her dignity when Higgins offers her a chocolate. We cut to Eliza and “sit up” with her as she transitions immediately from a belligerent “NO” to a polite “thank you.” 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? We see the relationship shifting in the scene, with Eliza starting to take back control of her life. When Eliza throws Higgins’ slippers at him, the editing picks up this energy by showing Eliza throwing them and cutting immediately to them nearly hitting Higgins in the head. In this scene, Higgins attempts to control the situation by being unflappable in his response to Eliza’s outburst, retaining the parent-child relationship he established during their lessons. As the scene begins, she is even on the floor (the camera tilted slightly downward) and he is standing (his head at the top of the frame). He taunts her (“Oh, so the creature’s nervous after all”) and she responds by screaming and moving as if to strangle him. He grabs her wrists and pushes her onto the sofa as she bursts into tears. Cukor often focuses on their faces, sometimes when the other is talking to catch the reactions. We get a two-shot when we need to see both at the same time, such as “them slippers/those slippers!”
  20. 9 points
    Too much outrage in the real world for me to get terrribly worked up over a 60+ year old movie.
  21. 9 points
    Let's just get out of the way that Donald O'Connor is a delight. He's absolute mischief in human form in this film, but he's self-effacing that it isn't destructive or counter-productive. Again, the clown, as traditional character plays his part perfectly to deflate positions of power. Gene Kelly is a hunk a hunk a burning greatness in taps, but for my money Donald O'Connor, although not the lead, almost steals the show from Gene. Now, to the three gents. The direction of movement is seamless into the dance number. Breaking into song almost seems the most natural thing to do the way it lead into it. At least, that's the excuse I give when I break into song or dance in daily life. At least here, it's in the script. I'd like to address the anti-intellectual streak in America that we see play in the treatment of the professor. It is highly traditional in Western culture to undercut the intellectual. That is the manly thing done here by O' Connor and Kelly. As much as I love the number -- and, boy, do I -- it depends upon undermining and making a buffoon of the professor. The lead and support are manly in their making fun of the intellectual. As the support, O'Connor is the sillier and more colorful of the two males while Kelly is smoothly dismissive of the same. He is in more subdued color. His dance is just a tick under the animated facial and physical gestures of O'Connor -- making him "the cool guy" alpha. Hearing that Levant was Freed's preference over O' Connor, I am glad they went with O'Connor as this is a masterful performance. Levant was an intellectual himself and would be hard pressed to fit into the character of as we know it. One of my frustrations with Hollywood (and the ticket purchasers) is the inability to embrace a Levant as the male lead type. The anti-intellectual bent we are seeing at a fevered pitch in our current decade can look to the history of its depiction here. It is all in good fun, but it feeds the view of intelligence as buffoonish and out of touch. As I go for the brainy type (which Kelly and O'Connor most certainly were but played the character of the causal average Joe), I really hate this trope and how it feeds culture's embrace or rejection of intellect in politics, business -- in everything. I know we have geek chic going on, but present-day America is most assuredly anti-intellectual, so the depictions of the three male characters here, as funny as it is, depresses me this week.
  22. 9 points
    Doris Day is a favorite of mine, but I always avoided this film because it is a poor man's Annie Oakley. Day's voice is lovely, and her appearance is beautiful as well - she looks great in trousers. It is amusing that Howard Keel thought Day would have been a better Oakley than Betty Hutton. In an interview with Robert Osborne I remember Hutton stating that when she replaced the fired Judy Garland on the Oakley film, the entire cast resented her and was unpleasant about Garland's termination and Hutton's casting in the lead role. I wonder if Keel would have accepted anyone as Garland's replacement at the time, including Day. It is doubtful that Day would have turned in a much different performance than Hutton. Both were somewhat manic actresses, who tended to overact in dramatic scenes as well as slapstick scenes. Day's voice is smoother than Hutton's and much richer, but there is no denying that Hutton could put over a song. At any rate, when watching the few scenes that Garland shot as Oakley it is clear that she would have been wonderful in the part despite the fact that she had to deal with Busby Berkley as the original director of the Oakley film. It is apparent that Garland just didn't enjoy working for him, and both were substance abusers making matters worse. 1.As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? If we are comparing Calamity Jane with Annie Oakley in the two films, and accepting the lecture notes as reflective of the Calamity Jane film, which I have not seen, the two characters are women who are fish out of water. They favor manly pursuits, dress like men, and enjoy jousting with men, both verbally and literally. Annie's transformation to a feminine woman is complete when she dons dresses which are custom made costumes, wears polish on her nails, and throws the shooting contest she has with her love interest Frank Butler. Her friend and mentor Chief Sitting Bull assures her "you can get man with THIS gun!" In contrast It appears that Calamity Jane accepts that she is different than the other young ladies and embraces her trousers and manly pursuits, despite the fact that she too is in love with a man. Calamity Jane doesn't feel she has to sublimate her basic nature to pursue her man as Annie does. So, we would have to recognize that Calamity Jane is the more fully evolved woman. 2.How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Day had the makings of a good dramatic actress as well as a musical comedy star. She had a tendency to overact in dramatic roles and become melodramatic and somewhat annoying ("The Man Who Knew Too Much," 1956). Alfred Hitchcock said he did not like having to 'police' her. In her best performance (in my view) she definitely learned something from acting with James Cagney in "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955). Although in some scenes Day is shrill and melodramatic, she gives a much more nuanced performance which matches Cagney's well. As with all performers, the better the role and co stars, the better the performance, no matter where on the timeline of the career it falls. In fact, "Calamity Jane" (1953) appears to be right in the prime of Day's career. 3.Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. Without viewing the whole film this is a difficult question to answer, however, Jack Warner probably had the role written for Day, persona and all, which means it was tailor made to her talents so her personality didn't detract from her performance. The lecture notes make clear that Warner saw the film as a consolation prize for Day losing out twice for the Oakley part, so this bolsters the idea that he had the part custom made for Day. As such, her personality was perfect for the part.
  23. 8 points
    Criss Cross (1949) - Noir crime drama from Universal Pictures and director Robert Siodmak. Burt Lancaster stars as Steve Thompson, who has just returned to L.A. after an extended absence. He meets up with his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne De Carlo), and while the spark quickly reignites between them, she's now married to criminal creep Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). How far will Steve go to get Anna back? Also featuring Stephen McNally, Richard Long, Meg Randall, Joan Miller, Edna Holland, John Doucette, Tom Pedi, Percy Helton, Gene Evans, Tony Curtis, and Alan Napier. This was one of the best noirs that I've seen in a long time. I'm a fan of Lancaster, so seeing one of the few of his films that I haven't seen before was a bonus. It helps that he's very good in the lead. De Carlo is also noteworthy, gorgeous and believable as the type of gal that a guy loses his cool over. Duryea doesn't have to do much, as his screen persona and well-tailored look spells out his character as a groomed snake. The score by Miklos Rozsa is excellent, and the direction is exemplary, particularly during a smoke-obscured robbery. The ending is a nihilistic treat. (8/10) Source: Universal DVD.
  24. 8 points
    And I kiiint stand 'im. Caaahn't Kiiiint.
  25. 8 points
    It would be useful to either have as part of the course materials a downloadable glossary of film terms or in lieu of that, a link to an online glossary. Here are a few: http://www.filmsite.org/filmterms.html https://community.dur.ac.uk/m.p.thompson/filmterms.htm https://reelrundown.com/film-industry/Glossary-of-Film-Terms

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