Marianne

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About Marianne

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    Greater Boston area
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    Freelance editor and blogger. I've been reading mystery and detective stories since I was a child. I read every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on when I was young. Since taking Richard Edwards's "Summer of Darkness" course in the summer of 2015 and watching noir faithfully ever since, I think I can say that I am no longer new to film noir and neo-noir.

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  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? I don’t think so. The stylized approach is a great cue to let the viewers know that they’re watching a dream or memory sequence. Maybe such a transition takes some getting used to on the part of viewers, but once they’ve started watching musicals and get used to the technique, it’s easier to see why it’s done. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikable? I thought Jerry Mulligan was unlikable in this particular clip, but he’s unlikable (defensive) about his art. He’s friendly otherwise. He could be saying the very same things to critics of his (Gene Kelly’s) dancing, acting, singing, and choreography. But he’s still snotty about it: He doesn’t want to hear any opinions from “third-year girls” because he doesn’t care what they think and he thinks they don’t know what they’re talking about. He does admit to being hurt by people who do know what they’re talking about. I have a feeling that Gene Kelly is still carrying around a chip on his shoulder from his days as a boy and having to fight other boys who thought his dancing lessons made him a sissy. (Psychoanalysis! Grace Kelly got away with some of it in High Society!)
  2. Marianne

    ClassiCategories

    Sleepers West (1941) starring Lloyd Nolan, one of seven in the Michael Shayne detective series, which I love. And let me add another film noir: The Narrow Margin (1952) starring Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor. I guess we can include the remake starring Gene Hackman.
  3. Your post has made me rethink Gene Kelly's screen persona a bit. Although I don't think he comes off quite as badly as you state here, he does border on aggressive. What redeems him is that we know that he is Gene Kelly and we know that An American in Paris is a musical meant to be fun and escapist. Without that knowledge, Leslie Caron's character has every reason to want to avoid him, and you might be right about Kelly's behavior being menacing. In many of Kelly's films, he starts out as a cad and is redeemed by his love for a good woman. He just might be his most disagreeable to start when it comes to An American in Paris. Thank you for your post. I still love most Gene Kelly films (just can't like Brigadoon, no matter what I know about its background and production!), but I'll have to watch many of them again with a slightly different perspective.
  4. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Singin’ in the Rain is one of my all-time favorite films. I used to set my alarm so that I could get up and watch Gene Kelly movies when they were shown on late-night television when I was in . . . but why should I date myself, right?! Let’s just say that my love for movies started many years ago, I don’t want to count years instead of watching Gene Kelly! In the Daily Dose clip, O’Connor and Kelly are very tightly synchronized before and during their dance. O’Connor especially has to time his facial contortions so the diction coach doesn’t see what he is doing. Watch the professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The straight man: This takes me back to TCM/Canvas’s Ouch! A Salute to Slapstick (slapstick = exaggeration, ritual, physicality, make-believe, violence) because this clip is slapstick with song and dance. O’Connor and Kelly get to be silly in comparison to the diction coach (the straight man). The way they are dressed, in slacks and sweaters, made me think of college kids. They start making fun of the diction coach and can’t seem to stop themselves, although the diction coach wants them to stop. The difference between the “college kids” and the “professor” is all part of the humor. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Kelly and O’Connor are young, exuberant, sure of themselves, full of energy, and dressed casually and colorfully. The diction coach comes across as a snob and as out of touch, and he is dressed mostly in black. His phrasebook may be great for elocution, but he has Kelly saying the most ridiculous things. O’Connor comes in for diversion and to help Kelly make fun of his coach. I wonder if we already have hints about youthful rebellion in Singin’ in the Rain!
  5. The next time that I watch An American in Paris (because I know I will see it again!), I would like to use your notes here to sharpen my appreciation of the film. It's hard for me to believe that I could appreciate the film even more, but that is the wonder and beauty of this collaborative course. Many thanks!
  6. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Doris Day may be cracking a whip and riding on top of stagecoach, but she’s doing these stunts with bleached blond hair and in a cowboy outfit that leaves no doubt she is a woman. And the process shot in the background doesn’t help any. I understand that up until the 1960s, women weren’t supposed to be wearing pants on screen (Carl Reiner had a difficult time getting censors to approve Laura Petrie in her now-trademark capri slacks on The Dick Van Dyke Show), but it doesn’t seem like much of a victory. Talk about small baby steps! How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? I don’t really know enough about Day’s performances to answer this question. But I already miss the combined singing and dancing talents of performers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. I always feel like I am watching Doris Day being Doris Day, to be honest. It’s very hard for me to believe that she really inhabits a character. But again, I haven’t seen a whole lot of her performances.
  7. Marianne

    ClassiCategories

    And Montalban was so versatile. He was in at least two noirs that I can think of: Mystery Street and Border Incident.
  8. Do please post what you learn about the Lerner/Lowe connection because I didn't even hear a peep about it in the lecture today. Today was the first time I had trouble hearing the conversation. Maybe Dr. Ament and Mr. Rydstrom are pulling a Lamont/Lockwood-move-into-talkies on us (just a joke!!!). I felt like they weren't always talking into their mikes.
  9. 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? All four actors spend most of the time in formation: They dance with the same steps and moves. None is separated and showcased as a single performer, as the star. When they split up, they are still dancing or acting in pairs. For example, there’s one part where Jack Buchanan is on the stage for a moment and getting out a cigarette, and Oscar Levant appears out of the set to light it for him; the bit becomes about both of them. And once that brief bit is done, they rejoin the others. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. They’re all wearing rather neutral shades. Nanette Fabray wears a red rose at her waist, but that’s the only real bright spot of color. I noticed that they are staged to alternate light and dark with their costumes a good part of the time. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? I think I answered this in the first two questions.
  10. Marianne

    ClassiCategories

    It wasn't well-known to me! I had no idea Ida Lupino suffered from polio as a child. Thanks for passing along the information.
  11. Do you mean the Dick York character, Ted Loomis? I honestly don't recall this detail, but it never hurts to have an excuse to see My Sister Eileen again!
  12. I am curious about the total number of students, and U.S. versus foreign enrollment, too. But it might be hard to tell until the course is over: I imagine many are joining midway and catching up as they can.
  13. Betty Garrett is also wonderful in My Sister Eileen, which is one of my favorite musicals and not on TCM's schedule of musicals, alas.
  14. With a screenplay by Steve Fisher, one of my favorites. I have to see it again; it's been a while. (How am I going to keep up with it all?!?!)
  15. Glad I could help. (And to think I know nothing about computers, to be honest!)

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