chillyfillyinak

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  1. Musical biopics, Sondheim musicals, Rogers and Hart musicals, Bing Crosby, Disney live action musicals,...the possibilities are endless and endlessly entertaining.
  2. Well, before "Mama Mia," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was my least favorite movie musical. Afterwards, you guessed it; "Mama Mia."
  3. Pardon me if I am distracted by the fabulous Omar Sharif. I wish we were analyzing his exciting seduction song "You Are Woman I Am Man." As it is I wonder why the great William Wyler staged the scene with Sharif in it at all; I always feel a bit uncomfortable when one character is singing to another character who gets to stand around watching the performance, with just a reaction shot here and there interrupting a big solo. After all what can Sharif do in this scene but just observe Streisand from afar or in reaction shots, trying hard not to move so as not upstage her? 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? Belting is a specific technique of singing by which a singer brings his or her chest register above its natural break at a loud volume, often described as sustained yelling. If Sharif is in the scene with Streisand, and she is engaging in sustained yelling at him, the audience would be sure that Fanny and Nick are never going to get together. Consequently, Sharif's presence dictates that Streisand sing the song more intimately (even though the two are really not in close proximity to each other). The lyrics of the song, however, make the audience wonder why Streisand and Sharif aren't closer to each other ("People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.") Are we watching two personalities who are so aloof and independent that they are not the lucky people who need people? If that is the case then Streisand's somewhat wistful tone makes sense. Otherwise, Wyler should have placed these two in such a way that they show the audience that they need each other. Or, he could have let Streisand flirt with Sharif, had Sharif exit the scene, and then let her belt her heart out. That would have been a homely girl's plea for a lover and intimacy.  2.Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? I admit I had to watch this scene several times in order to find any way in which these two are relating to each other. In the beginning of the scene, Sharif is warning Streisand that he doesn't like to get too involved, and keeps himself free from amorous attachments. She takes his meaning and wonders if such a singular soul is happy or if he needs intimate friends or lovers in his life to really make him happy. Wyler then has them walk away from the alley, with Streisand leading, not too close to Sharif, and we see their backs for the first few bars of the song. So she is basically rejecting his proposition for singularity. Once they reach the iron fence, Wyler has Streisand in profile and Sharif's back is still to the audience, after all this is Streisand's song. After Streisand starts to walk to the steps we see only her until much later Wyler cuts to a reaction shot of Sharif. Not very interesting, nor does it advance our understanding of what Sharif is thinking of Streisand openly wooing him in this fashion. The only thing we are left to think is that Sharif is not persuaded by her thoughts on how much he should need people, especially her. Streisand then emotes about lovers being very special people alone in the camera's view, until we see her on the steps, and Sharif looks miles away, not moving toward her at all. Streisand would like to get together with him, but she wants love and he likes to be footloose and fancy free. She does not appear to be convincing him otherwise. Once we end with her close up we realize these two aren't getting together anytime soon. 3.How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. In addition to my comments on Wyler's blocking and editing to highlight the remoteness between Streisand and Sharif, Wyler shows us how isolated her character is in her quest to remain an original talent who can't necessarily be pigeon-holed. After all, Brice is not going to make it based on her looks; her talent is really all she has.
  4. A couple of comments on the Daily Dose notes. First, Cukor was called a woman's director because that was code to signal others that he was gay, not that he was better at working with women than men. Second, Cukor was not fired as the first director of GWTW because he was a woman's director. Selznick knew Cukor well as they had worked together quite a few times before and were friends. Selznick knew that Cukor was gay and hired him anyway. The reason Cukor was fired was because he had trouble with the pace and timing of the direction on that particular film. If you watch some of the early scenes directed by Cukor, they drag a bit and the tempo is slow and a bit boring. Although some of those scenes made it into the final film, it fairly easy to tell a Cukor directed scene from those directed by Victor Fleming, or Sam Wood. Also, Cukor was behind schedule. Third, Clark Gable did not like Cukor, and he was a star who had enough clout to demand that a director be replaced. (A bit homophobic perhaps?) Fourth, and this is ironic given this discussion, but Cukor was reassigned to "The Women." I would say he did a bang up job on that movie, wouldn't you? 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)try. Hmmm, I think it is a bit of a stretch to think that "Gaslight" is comparable to "MFL," but I will try. In MFL, we are watching one of the final scenes in which Harrison's grand experiment, which exploited poor Hepburn, is over, and as she points out, he won. Everyone at the ball thought she was of royal descent. The room is dimly lit with gas lamps (stretching, stretching...), and Hepburn is upset because she will be leaving Harrison and the life with him to which she has become accustomed. Harrison seems completely unfazed, and not troubled at all to be losing her company, so Hepburn is angry and lashes out at Harrison for the mistreatment she has suffered at his hands, even though she had agreed to the entire scheme to begin with. She gets in his face and is yelling charges at him in an accusatory tone. Her conduct is irrational and not remotely ladylike. Hepburn is not exercising any self control because she is throwing heavy objects at Harrison with pretty good aim. Through the entire scene Harrison keeps his composure, which further maddens her. He's just not that into her. In "Gaslight," toward the end of the film, Bergman has had a belly full of Boyer too, although for very different reasons. Boyer has been slowly manipulating his wife to believe that she is losing her mind such that she needs to be incarcerated at an asylum. The reason for his torture of her is that he wants the house to himself so he can search for her aunt's jewels which he had to drop the night he killed her because a much younger Bergman interrupted his murderous attack on her aunt. Boyer has purposely sought her out in order to gain access to the house so he can complete the crime he started many years ago. In the scene in which Bergman confronts Boyer, she in not alone as in MFL, but is with trusty leading man and all around do-gooder, Joseph Cotton (actually a favorite of mine). In her verbal assault, Bergman dredges up all of the wrongful conduct in which Boyer has engaged during the course of her very unhappy marriage to him. Bergman conducts the inquisition using Boyer's own words with which he led her to believe she was losing her mind. Bergman, however is a better actress than Hepburn, and doesn't turn melodramatic in her emotional scene. She is tearful, but always displays frustration, not despair, nor does she whine about her disappointments. In Bergman's scene the audience is actually relieved that she has some spine left with which to take the evil Boyer to task for his crimes. In Hepburn's scene she is hysterical because she can't have a man who appears not to want her anyway. That is a bit too melodramatic a motivation for me. Cukor should have given Hepburn some guidance as to how to manage her big scene without descending into melodrama, when the motivation is not really there. She could have played the scene to express an emotional let down after the big party at which she was very much on display, but even that shouldn't lead a grown woman to hysterics. So the award goes to Bergman who knew how to avoid melodrama without the director explaining it to her. At any rate I don't think the two films have much in common at all. 2.Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Hepburn's first transition into hysteria comes after she appears to be alone and upset in the study. She turns out the light, a nice bit of business Cukor gives her to do, while the music grows louder as she walks to the couch and collapses to her knees in tears. Once down, Hepburn shakes and pounds the sofa, but little transition prepares the audience for her throwing slippers at Harrison who has wandered into the room casually looking for them. After accusing him of not caring about her (which is apparently true) she actually states that she wants to kill him. (Bergman doesn't descend to that even though Boyer has killed her aunt). Once Harrison calls her a "creature" (Frankenstein?) she flies at him as if to scratch out his eyes! We really aren't prepared for that either. After Harrison corrects her grammar Hepburn settles down a bit. She then admits that no one has ill-treated her in the house, and reveals that the reason she is so worked up is that she doesn't understand her place in society anymore. Hepburn no longer fits in anywhere. 3.What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Eliza respects her teacher, and his reasoning discussion with her serves to calm her down. Harrison remains her instructor who sees her as an "pretentious insect," who is a "creature," whose grammar he is still correcting. He offers her candy like a child, and tries to have her see that she is now free to do as she pleases, without understanding that such freedom is her problem; she doesn't know what to do with it.
  5. 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.
  6. Just received an email "announcement" from Dr Edwards, however, there was no "announcement" contained in the email. Can any of my fellow film critics enlighten me? It would be nice to know what he is trying to communicate to his students. Thanks.
  7. chillyfillyinak

    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

    Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for the original Broadway production of "Gypsy" said of the film, "...it was one of the worst movies ever made. Rosalind Russell in black-and-white shoes is all I remember. " According to Samantha Ellis, Laurents wasn't even sure he wanted to write the book for "Gypsy:" "Arthur Laurents wasn't sure - he was, he thought, "too grand for any of that trash." What changed Laurents' mind was a girl at a cocktail party. "Everybody was getting smashed," he said later. 'We all got to talking about our first loves, and one girl said, 'My first lover was Gypsy Rose Lee's mother.' That interested me." He remembered another story, relayed by the same girl: "Rose had a big fight with a hotel manager ... So she pushed him out the window and killed him. How can you resist doing a musical based on a woman like that?" So Laurents was only excited about Rose, not Gypsy, which is the reason "Gypsy" is all about Rose. But why did he think the film of his book was so bad? I think I know part of the reason. When we first see Rose, she does not remind me of the dangerous, lesbian who so interested Laurents at the cocktail party. No, Russell plays her like a private girls' school field hockey coach. Her speech is slightly upper class, she is sure of herself like ladies of that status and experience are, she can chat up a storm with anybody in a polite way, but like a hockey coach (and I had a few of them during my school days) she can do a little menacing trash talking as well. I think Laurents saw Russell's performance much the way Russell acted in many of her 1940's comedies. In fact her performance in "Gypsy" brings to mind her role in "The Women." There she is also funny, enthusiastically loud and not terribly nice. For both characters Russell can deliver comedy lines with good timing and facial expressions, and also make use of her long limbs and slim form in a comic way. The class notes suggest that Russell is sexier than was Ethel Merman, the original Rose. I do not find Russell to have a tremendous amount of sex appeal. In her youth she was pretty and clothes hung well on her tall slim frame. I never thought she was sexy and I can't think of many film roles in which she starred, which required that trait. Russell was occasionally cast in a dramatic part, but sex appeal was not necessarily called for dramatically either. Russell was a good comedienne, (especially in screwball comedies) with a slightly upper class manner, which befitted her background. Playing a dangerous lesbian stage mother was probably out of her range, and it shows in "Gypsy." 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? "Gypsy" is a film version of a Broadway musical, so that is a conventional way in which to bring musical entertainment to the big screen. Although a previous book written by Gypsy Rose Lee ("The G-String Murders") was made into a film about a burlesque entertainer ("First Lady of Burlesque") starring the great Barbara Stanwyck, not many films, musical or otherwise, were made about out and out strippers. So the subject matter is "disruptive" of the Code, which was slowly but surely being eroded on all film fronts. This was especially true about directors such as Otto Preminger, who loved to flout the Code's proscriptions and didn't care if his films were accepted by the censors or not. 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. In addition to my previous observations about Russell's performance in "Gypsy," I would say that irrespective of any training she had, Russell was out of depth as an actress in any kind of nuanced part, and the part of Rose takes nuance. She certainly didn't impress the author of the musical's book. For example Rose has a mean side to her, but Russell buys into the idea that Rose is just working her heart out for her girls. Rose is using her girls to make a living and a name for herself. Rose is exploiting her girls, which is a terrible thing for a mother to do. 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). We have to admire a prodigious talent like Sondheim, even at the very beginning of his career. His internal rhyming in some of his compositions is brilliant. For example, in "A Little Priest" ("Sweeney Todd," talk about a "disrupter"...) pretty much introduces the entire plot of the story (baking people into pies) It contains a whole rhyme sequence in which the baker suggests pies and the barber responds: "Tinker? Something pinker. Tailor? Something paler. Potter? Something hotter. Butler? Something subtler." In "Let Me Entertain You," in this particular scene, analyzing the lyrics is next to impossible because Rose, Uncle Jocko, and the theater owner are all talking over Baby June and Louise. The audience can scarcely hear the lyrics. So perhaps the staging is disruptive in that the audience can't hear the first song in this movie musical.
  8. This is an interesting modern take on AAIP. Irrespective of that, anyone who can work Lucy into film criticism of AAIP deserves recognition.
  9. 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.
  10. Gosh. I must have seen this scene two dozen times since I first viewed the film in a high school course on the history of cinema. It is never old or boring. I always get sucked right in to the multi faceted satire of the film. The song and dance reflect the slapstick of the silent era from which Kelly and O'Connor are emerging to the sound era in which the studios thought that their stars had to have weirdly cultured imitations of upper class speech. (Listen to Joan Crawford in some of her early sound films, the audience is challenged to divine from what country she hails). While Jean Hagen struggles to lower her voice and round out her tones with Kathleen Freeman, Comden and Green give Kelly and O'Connor the chance to shine by dancing their way through a wild slapstick dance. The two approaches to vocal coaching demonstrate the necessity for some stars to work on their speech, (think Clara Bow who had a thick New York accent she couldn't lose) and the ridiculousness for others to try to adopt such posh accents (Cary Grant didn't need to work on his speech). Comden's and Green's talent is stratospheric. 1.How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? From the start, O'Connor makes it clear that he is not taking his lesson seriously. He darts his eyes back and forth across the pages of the instructor's text, moves his rubbery lips in mock imitation of the teacher, and folds his arms in a defiant position - the audience is ready for him to be outrageous. By the time the poor instructor catches O'Connor mocking him, Kelly is ready to join in the fun. He and O'Connor say the twister in cadence, and begin to use their arms in unison. When the music begins the audience is expecting the two to start singing and dancing. O'Connor and Kelly have such different styles of dance, yet they manage to give the impression that they are in sync. O'Connor dances high and is from the arm waving school of tap. Kelly dances low, and only uses his arms when the choreography calls for it. Kelly is full of athleticism, and has a muscular control over his movements, while O'Connor dances with abandon and is as fluid and relaxed as a rag doll. They are both highly entertaining. 2.Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. A straight man's role is described as "when a comedian misbehaves with eccentricity, the straight man is expected to maintain his composure. The ability to maintain a serious demeanor in the face of even the most preposterous comedy is crucial to a successful straight man. Whatever direct contribution to the comedy a straight man provides usually comes in the form of deadpan." Our vocal coach serves as the straight man, but also becomes a source of amusement for the audience himself, so he is a little more than an straight man.. In the beginning of the scene, the coach takes his job seriously and has the expectation that his students will also pay respectful attention. For a while he thinks they do. O'Connor mocks him by pretending to pay rapt attention, leading the teacher to preen a bit with his success. As such the straight man himself becomes a figure of fun since the audience is laughing at him just like O'Connor is. As the two dancers engage in musical hi jinx, all the coach can do is watch and be used as a prop for the end of the scene when O'Connor and Kelly sing "AAAAA!" 3.How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? The vocal coach is the prissy teacher (sometimes a type of character that was a sort of code signaling the audience that the character is gay; I don't think that is necessarily the message here). The coach is a silly, prissy, pedant who is the natural object of ridicule. O'Connor is literally the class clown who starts the merriment and leads Kelly astray. Kelly is the virile leading man who knows how to join in the fun and reject a ridiculous proposition such as speech lessons.
  11. Agreed. You named two my favorite Day films in which she didn't sing in the context of the movie, but would watch the film over and over again ("Teacher's Pet" (1958) and "Midnight lace" (1960) - I guess I just like "Doris being Doris!"
  12. 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.
  13. Yes, I thought they were competing to see who could look and act more like Stan Laurel.
  14. 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.

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