starryeyzze

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  1. starryeyzze

    Spotlight: The Black Experience in Film

    Did any watch Ann Lucasta last week? I was blown away by the performance of Eartha Kitt! She is stunning. Tonight I watched Claudine for the first time in like 20 years, I forgot how raw that movie is. Glad to see these movies being played instead of languishing somewhere and forgotten.
  2. starryeyzze

    Spotlight: The Black Experience in Film

    No doubt, four different movies, all very well acted. A Soldiers Story really hits home for me, my father served and was wounded in combat during WWll. To fight for this country and almost lose your life, but to be separated and treated less than equal is a bitter pill to swallow.
  3. starryeyzze

    Spotlight: The Black Experience in Film

    I am confused, who gets to decide and what is considered “believable” for African Americans? We lived through the Jim Crow years depicted in Sounder, many people understand and lived Cooley High, Sparkle is like a fictional telling of the Supremes, we also have been present in the military since the Revolutionary War, so what is not realistic about A Soldiers Story? I could go on, perhap this isn’t relatable to you, but many of these movies are very relatable to me and my community.
  4. starryeyzze

    Spotlight: The Black Experience in Film

    TCM has a great lineup of African American movies playing this month, some, like Pinky, I’ve never seen before. After viewing Pinky, I felt it was bold for its time, a black woman goes up against the system and wins. On one hand, the movie was trying to be progressive, but at the same time, the decision to cast Jeanne Crain, a white actress, seemed as timid as MGM doing the same thing with Show Boat. I guess it was just too much to cast a black actress such as Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge to play Pink.
  5. I gave up time that I should have been walking in the park and some sleep!
  6. 1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more? If this song was presented as theatrical, and over the top, it would have undermined Fannie’s character and the mood of the scene. Fanny is shy and awkward and she is in the company of this handsome, worldly, debonair man. She is attracted to him, but she has no confidence that he would be interested in her. Streisand portrays Fannie's inexperience by singing with nuanced highs and lows, and she barely looks directly into the camera and also looks away from Arnstein. This was the perfect way to present a powerful song without overt or brash. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Fannie is initially using her comedy and self-depreciating humor to block Arnstein’s attention and as a cover for her insecurity, but when she sings her guard goes down and she is vulnerable. Arnstein begins to see beneath Fannie’s jokes and he sees how special Fannie is. Also, I think it is interesting that Wyler allows Streisand to move about and explore the set, as she sings soulfully and maintains a physical distance from Omar Sharif (who is very still). 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. I think by taking the two characters away from the others and putting them on a deserted street, this is a way of bringing them together emotionally. Also, the shots of Fannie in the forefront with Arnstein standing on the side allows him to give Fannie space. This supports that she is uncertain about herself, she’s self-conscious about being with Arnstein and we see the character at her most vulnerable. The worldlier Arnstein recognizes that Fannie cannot handle a full-on romantic approach and he wisely hangs back and does not push her. All of these things help to establish who these characters are and gives us a hint of a budding romance developing. The direction supports Streisand's acting performance, and gives her credibility.
  7. 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). A common theme that I see in My Fair Lady, and Gaslight both directed by George Cukor is the beautiful and detailed Victorian era set, which supports the actors and the story. The meticulous placement of furniture and paintings, represent tradition and control. Both Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight) are straining under these controls that are being placed upon them. In contrast, Cukor seems to direct the male actors, Charles Boyer (Gaslight) and Rex Harrison to coolly and blandly rise above the control of the setting, thus creating a tension that drives Bergman to the brink of madness and drives Hepburn into spilling over into rage. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. As mentioned earlier, Higgins is bland and in control, he is even smug, his mood transitions to indignation only after Eliza’s anger boils over and she is screaming at him. In contrast, Eliza is struggling to maintain her composure until she can no longer hold her temper in check. It is masterful that Cukor directs both actors who are coming from totally different viewpoints and as their emotions transition, they mesh and the scene is very effective. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? The relationship between Eliza and Higgins is one of mutual admiration and need. However, the tension between them does not allow either to truly express how they feel, until their relationship is on the brink on collapse.
  8. MJ said that he loved old movies and admired Fred Astaire. He does a nod to Astaire in the Smooth Criminal video. He also wears the white sock, similar to Astaire is another routine. Everything is new again.
  9. I really enjoyed all of the performances in Gypsy, Natalie is so beautiful and the costumes are great. I did some outside reading and it seems that Baby June and Gypsy Rose Lee had different accounts of their childhood. A lot of people don't know that Baby June went on the be the actress June Haver (pictured below):
  10. 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? Masculine performances in musicals change over the decades. If we start with Maurice Chevalier, Fred Astaire and Dick Powell from the 1930’s they represent the Beta leading man, they are charming, romantic, sophisticated and smooth in their tuxedos and top hats. The women tend to swoon for them and they win the woman by their wit and cleverness. By the post war 1940’s and early 1950’s we have actors like Gene Kelly (On the Town) or Howard Keel (Kiss me Kate), he’s the alpha male, he athletic, physically imposing and aggressive. He might be fresh out of the military or rough around the edges, but he is confident, and his can-do attitude wins the girl. Around the mid 1950’s, Elvis (Viva Las Vegas) or Marlon Brando (Guys and Dolls) enters the picture, not only are they alpha males, but they are young and they have a raw sexuality that jumps off the screen. This is leading man might be a rascal, playboy or thug and the women still want him. Frank Sinatra starts in the 1940’s as a Beta male but by the 1950’s (Pal Joey, Robin and Seven Hoods) he an Alpha male, with a slightly dangerous persona and this never leaves him. By the 1960’s and beyond we have a mixture of everything. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? He grabs the attention in both scenes with his presence, his voice and his every move dominate everything around him. In Victor Victoria he effortlessly holds the scene and then at will, he allows it to give way to chaos. The other thing about Robert Preston is how he handles song lyrics, the songs couldn’t be more different, but Preston’s ability to use the lyrics to communicate panic in the first scene and inuendo in the 2nd scene is very effective and he makes it look easy. 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? In “How the West was Won”, I particularly remember the scene when Robert Preston’s character proposes to Debbie Reynolds. His approach is very head-on, straight forward and honest. It is apparent that he has training in method acting techniques. His acting is not physical as much as it his control of his voice and his ability to make you believe his character
  11. You missed it. "A Star is Born" played last Thursday and it was discussed in the class-notes.
  12. Another way that this movie is disruptive is because it is telling the backstory of show business as it really was. Because of the code, we only saw a sanitized glimpse of the seediness of low end vaudeville and burlesque portrayed in past movies. The stage mother had been is alluded to for years, but Russell's portrayal of Mama Rose puts her in your face. This version of the stage mother is not pretty, she's cunning, manipulative and fiercely fighting for her kids to make it. We can see that this is also a vicarious way for her to be in show business via her children. Reportedly Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers and some other notable stars had stage moms. I can see the necessity for a stage mom, but there is a good and the bad side of this. We all know that show business had a seedy and dark underside, what do you think really happened to those young actresses (like Keeler, Crawford, Stanwyck, etc.) that we have read about & who were on Broadway or in the movies in their teens and they were fending for themselves and didn't have a pushy or protective mom to look out for them??? Wouldn't we all like to know what those early days were like? If we look to the not to distant past, we only have to look at what happened to Drew Barrymore, Tatum O'Neal, Macaulay Caulkin, or even Brittany Spears to recognize that the entertainment business can corrupt and endanger even the most youngest stars and their parents too.
  13. 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? This scene looks back to the back-stage musicals of the pre-code 1930’s when you had Ruby Keller or Joan Blondell trying to get a break in a show. In the pre-code 1930’s musicals, there was backstage hanky-panky and characters such as Ginger Roger’s Anytime Annie who were not hiding their willingness to sleep their way into a part or stardom. However, this film looks ahead because these characters are more overt with their sleaziness and the children are witnessing it. The little balloon girl’s mom has “favored” the manager in order for her daughter to win the contest and Mama Rose calls this out in front of everyone! 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. Rosalind Russell had played in some on the best screwball comedies in the 1930’s. Russell enters the scene is fast paced, fast talking, and in a chaotic manner very reminiscent of her work in “The Front Page” with Cary Grant. Russell also played in a lot of strong female parts in the 1940’s. All of Russell’s vast experience is on display as she enters the scene and takes over the scene, she overpowers and intimidates the men, the children - everyone, she’s a force! 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). A little girl dressed like Shirley Temple singing a song like “Let me Entertain you” is certainly subversive and edgy. You know, little June is innocent, but at the same time the song is suggestive. This is disruptive because, the people here are more knowing, we can feel this is the low end of show business and anything goes on, so there’s a feeling that not only shouldn’t June be singing this song and you also wonder about her safety among this group. This is very disruptive as opposed to the whitewashed backstage scenes that many people were used to from older musicals.
  14. STAR!, VICTOR VICTORIA, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, THE RED SHOES. I love this from STAR!
  15. YOU said: "But the Bernstein centennial doesn't get a mention. I really don't care about Rita Moren's EGOT. The Bernstein centennial should have been mentioned." I get it about the Bernstein centennial, but that's no reason to knock the achievements of Miss Moreno. Being a EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winner is a big deal.

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