tshawcross

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About tshawcross

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    Delray Beach, Florida
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    Art, writing, travel

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  1. I don't know if posts can be deleted, but I don't suppose it matters, since you have also posted it in the Gypsy thread, which I shall read next. Good post!
  2. Perceptive comments, MsAllieB, but they appear to be about "Gypsy." This is the "American in Paris" thread. You should post this in the Gypsy thread, as it is an excellent post.
  3. I do not know how to post comments to Dr. Ament and Dr. Edwards directly, so I am commenting here: I really enjoyed your June 22 podcast. Great insights! Thanks.
  4. As we have learned, this film was shot primarily in Culver City, California, with only a few "famous landmark" sequences which were actually filmed in Paris. I was shocked to see how dirty the Palais Garnier and the Arc de Triomphe looked in the early 1950's! They were covered in soot. They are much more presentable now.
  5. This is a riveting clip, and I always enjoy watching it. The song is catchy, and the synchronized dancing of Donald and Gene is impressive, but for some reason I am most impressed by Donald's ability to change his facial expressions so completely and swiftly and in perfect synch with when the elocution coach can and cannot see him. For me, that would be more difficult than saying tongue twisters or doing a complicated dance routine (oh wait, I could not do that either).
  6. Insightful comment, ESei! You wrote "Why is Marilyn Monroe so often teamed with men who would fit this course's category of Beta Males? She is opposite Donald O'Connor in There's No Business Like Show Business and Tommy Noonan in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Any ideas on the dynamic here?" Another example that comes to mind is her pairing with Tom Ewell in the Seven Year Itch. The only exception that comes to mind is her pairing with Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot, and even in that movie Tony was a female impersonator, ha ha. Now you have me wondering what the dynamic was . . . if you figure it out, please let me know.
  7. Heather, your comment - the stereotypical “intellectual cannot be athletic or strong” man - prompted me to recall something I have not thought about for many years. When I was young, I saw an episode of "Mr. Peepers." starring Wally Cox, in which Wally won a challenge from a circus strongman. The strongman had squeezed all the juice (or so he thought) from a grapefruit, and he defied any man in the audience to squeeze even one more drop from it. Wally, whose character was a Science teacher, as I recall, used his intellect to determine exactly where to squeeze, and he amazed everyone when he won. That made a strong impression on me! Ironically, I read years later that in real life, Wally had huge biceps, but he was always cast as a meek, unathletic guy. The younger students in this course may remember Wally as the voice of the cartoon character Underdog.
  8. Insightful point, Jon. You wrote: "Gene Kelly is an alpha-male only in classes on musicals."
  9. Thanks, PKayC, for posting the pic where Oscar Levant is scowling and looking like he is trying to hang a picture frame, while everyone else is beaming. I was thinking of this scene when I wrote my comment on this Daily Dose.
  10. 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? Their interaction is that of an ensemble in which everyone is cooperating with each other to brainstorm a new show. Each member of the team has about the same screen time, and no one seems to be trying to upstage the others. This is a departure from early musicals where there is more competitiveness between the stars. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. I am color-challenged, so I am not sure which colors were used for the costumes, but even though the costumes did not match each other, no one costume seemed to stand out from the others. So, they were separate but equal in that regard. Watching just this clip, without seeing the rest of the movie (which was my situation), it is difficult to tell who is "the star" here (perhaps no one is). What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? The lecture video discussed how the music in this movie had been "repurposed" from earlier films. I had the feeling that most, if not all of the interplay between the characters was also "repurposed" from earlier films, Broadway plays, and vaudeville. I suspect that most of these homages flew under my radar, because I have not watched that many early films. Some class members have commented that the interplay of Fred and Jack was repurposed from a Laurel and Hardy routine. That could well be the case, but I suspect that NONE of the skits enacted were breaking new ground (like the long, long ladder which was carried at both ends by - predictably - Oscar Levant, or the scene where Oscar lights Jack's cigarette without being seen, or the scene where the human pyramid is revealed to be a hoax when Oscar walks away from it). However, my comment should not be construed as a complaint. Rather, it is entirely fitting and in keeping with Jack's early comment that a show can be about anything we have seen in life. Hence the references to storylines from famous plays, and the repurposing of slapstick humor scenarios. To introduce something never-before-seen here would have been at odds with the basic premise. As for some of the other interplay, I was struck by Nanette's laughing during her dance number with Fred and Jack - I think that was not scripted, and she was truly having a great time. I also enjoyed watching the subtle differences between the four. At the end, when they are backing up to some steps, Oscar Levant quite obviously looks down (twice) to see where the stairs are, and Nanette is less obvious, but still ends her head down to look for the stairs. Only Fred and Jack have the savvy to look for the stairs without appearing to look for them. One interaction I did not understand is when Oscar left the group prior to their most complicated dance steps and returns with a handkerchief for Fred. Fred just puts it in his pocket, so did Oscar really need to do that? Of course, he probably left because he was not a good enough dancer to do those steps, but I think they could have come up with a more creative reason for why he left than to get a handkerchief. At any rate, although the four were not truly equals in their actual talents, they came across as being equals and having fun working together to create something, and that is perhaps the message Minnelli wanted to give. That was a real challenge with Oscar Levant in this ensemble, as Oscar could not really sing, dance, or even act very well. He was effective when he was playing music or doing comedy, but he was a fish out of water when trying to do anything else. Look at the final scene where Jack, Fred, and Nanette are flashing beaming smiles, with arms outstretched. Oscar has no smile. He is frowning and looks like he is trying to hang an imaginary picture frame on an imaginary wall, all the while making absolutely sure that it is aligned correctly.
  11. This post is about the Fan Panel presentations that were made last Thursday. I really enjoyed them and am looking forward to the Monday Fan Panels. The presenters provided some very interesting insights, as did the audience members who made comments. ​I am still wondering what the "L. B." stood for on Jeff's cast. IMDB says the character played by Jimmy Stewart was named L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies, but it does not say what the initials stood for. In Cornell Woolrich's short story, the character was named Hal "Jeff" Jeffries. I suspect the "L. B." was one of Alfred Hitchcock's inside jokes - one which he did not share with us. The only moviedom L. B. I can think of is L. B. Mayer, the head of MGM, but it seems unlikely that this was whom Hitchcock had in mind. Speaking of inside jokes, I thought the "Miss Torso" thesis was interesting. She was not one of the characters in Woolrich's story, so Hitchcock certainly could have named her anything he wanted. I had not seen the possible inside joke connection to her name. I did see another joke, albeit not necessarily an "inside" one. At the conclusion of the short story, Jeff's doctor tells him “Guess we can take that cast off your leg now. You must be tired of sitting there all day doing nothing.” That in itself was a joke, considering all that Jeff had recently been through, but Hitchcock took it to another level by having Jeff fall from the window and break his other leg (Jeff did not fall out the window in the short story). I think the sight gag of Jeff's second leg cast was even funnier than the joke Cornell Woolrich wrote. By the way, the second leg cast at the end of the film is a good example of the trickiness of attributing meanings to what we see in Hitchcock's films. I suspect some analysts would say the two leg casts are another manifestation of Hitchcock's penchant for "doubling." Maybe so, maybe not?
  12. I do not see a message board topic for August 3, so I am posting about tonight's Fan Panel here: FAN PANEL #1: FRESH LOOKS AT REAR WINDOW DOUG LONG: Rear Window and Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 crime story “It Had to Be Murder” LESLEY M. SARGOY: Hitchcock's Uses Grace Kelly's Wardrobe in Rear Window to Visually Demonstrate the Lisa/Jeff Relationship CHRIS STURHANN: Inside Jokes in Rear Window ​I am looking forward to watching all three presentations, but particularly to Doug Long's presentation, as it appears to be about the differences between the story told in a film versus the story told in the book on which the film was allegedly based. ​I say allegedly based, because it seems that seems that many films are only loosely based on the books that inspired them. In Hitchcock's case, Rebecca very closely resembled the book, but only because David O. Selznick insisted upon it. When John Huston directed The Maltese Falcon, ​he kept the dialogue almost word for word identical to what Dashiell Hammett had written in his book. So, it sometimes happens that films do resemble the books that inspired them. However, when left to his own devices, Hitch deviated significantly from the original stories, as he did in ​Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, and The Birds. He is not the only director to do this. The film ​Deadline at Dawn versus the short story version is another example of how other Directors have also deviated widely from the book versions. What Hitchcock often did reminds me of an experience I had when my daughter was taking a writing course in college. The students were given prompts and asked to write a story based on the prompts. For one assignment, the prompt was "a man, a woman, and a cigarette." My daughter and I decided it would be fun for each of us to write a story based on that prompt and to compare the results. As you might guess, the resulting stories bore little resemblance to each other. For The Birds, ​it is as if Hitch had taken from the original story only the prompt of "birds attack and kill people." For Rear Window, he took only the prompt of "man with broken leg spies on neighbors and suspects a murder." Sometimes, this approach is necessary because the book version is not easily transferred to film, but sometimes, it seems as if the screenplay writer was just indulging his ego. I think the changes Hitch made were for the better.
  13. I suppose the first movies that we all think about when considering what Hitchcock might have made if he were alive today are the Sharknado series of films. Right? The horror sci-fi comedy disaster film genre so epitomized by the Sharknados seems to me to be where Hitchcock was going when he made the horror film Psycho in 1960 and sci-fi-ish disaster oeuvre The Birds in 1963. Both films included comedic touches. Last night, I watched Sharknado 2, and when the shark bit off Tara Reid's hand, I was immediately struck by how Hitchcockian that was (an innocent blonde attacked while in a place that was seemingly safe from horror). Then when the two shark-infested water spouts converged on Manhattan, that theme was raised a quantum level! When Judd Hirsch got up that morning to drive his cab, did he really expect that he would be eaten by a hammerhead on Broadway? I bet not.
  14. In my travels, I have noticed that people who live in the deep South tend to emphasize the first syllable in all polysyllabic words.
  15. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. We see that Marnie, like most of us, has created multiple false identities for herself and disguises her appearance accordingly. Just kidding about the "like most of us." But Marnie does appear to have multiple identities, based on her collection of social security cards, and she does appear to change her look with each new identity (in this case, her hair color and her clothing). Her interaction with the clothing used in her old identity indicates it held no emotional attachment for her, as she callously kicks it to the curb when she no longer has a use for it (well, tosses it in a suitcase, as opposed to carefully packing it, as she does with the clothing for her new identity as Margaret Edgar). ​I was a bit puzzled by her social security cards. Certainly, the multiple cards were meant to inform us that she uses multiple aliases or identities, but if she wanted to be careful about concealing her ruses, why does she carry the cards with her? Yes, I understand that they were hidden in her compact, but they would not have been hard to find. Also, why was she using an older card (6-9-59) for her new identity as Margaret Edgar? The identity she was now discarding (Marion Holland) was issued on 4-5-60. Also, based on the area codes on her social security cards (the first three numbers), she applied for her first identity in California, her second in New York, her third in California again, and her fourth in Arkansas! In case, you are wondering by now, I am not obsessed with Social Security cards. I had to look up which area codes were assigned to which states. The point I am really trying to make is that I think we can over-analyze the "clues" that film Directors give us. In this case, I suspect Hitchcock was just trying to show us that Marion, or Margaret, or whatever her name was, was a criminal (based on the sheaves of money that she dumped from her old purse), who used multiple identities and disguises. To try to read more into this might be a fun exercise (such as trying to divine the meaning of his cameos), but we can never be certain what Hitchcock had in mind, can we? For example, we know that he used multiple recurring plot devices (such as a key in Notorious and Marnie, an item falling through a grate in Strangers on a Train and ​Marnie, water going down a drain in Psycho and Marnie​, etc.; even his recurring use of scenes on a train and icy blondes, but did Hitchcock ever discuss the personal meanings these things had for him? ​2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? ​I could not possibly analyze this better than Chris Coombs did (see 8:54 in this thread). 3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? ​This is the first cameo I have seen in which Hitchcock looks directly at the camera. I do not know what that means. Personally, I thought it was a bit distracting. I prefer his other cameos, which are so unobtrusive that they are easy to miss. I like the explanation offered that he was at this point aware that audiences were looking for his often difficult-to-spot cameos, so he put this one in early in the film and made it easy to spot, so that the audience could proceed with just watching the movie.

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