John_Simpson

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About John_Simpson

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  1. John_Simpson

    OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick -- The Films of the 1970s

    Nonsense. Mel Brooks used the same props provided by Ken Strickfaden. The 1931 Frankenstein was filmed on the Universal backlot and soundstages (Stage 12 for the lab set) http://www.thestudiotour.com/movies.php?movie_id=801 and http://www.thestudiotour.com/ush/frontlot/stage12.php Young Frankenstein was filmed on the old MGM backlot while that castle set was built in 20th Century Fox's stage 5 as detailed in the production notes http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=55238 In fact, there's a plaque on Fox's Stage 5 listing the productions made there (this one is from 2008) So no, Mel Brooks didn't use the original sets "actually" or otherwise. In fact the Universal exterior "Little Europe" set used in 1931's Frankenstein burned down in 1967 so that original set didn't even exist when Young Frankenstein was filmed. Props not sets.
  2. 1. In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick comedy and as parody? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this scene operates as neither. I'd argue that this is more surrealist or absurdist comedy than what anything that falls within the definition we've established for slapstick. As mentioned previously the counterman doesn't bat an eye and the cantina's staff, kitchen and pantry are able to fill this order. The whole scene is underplayed and I would point out that an underplayed performance and something called "slapstick". (This shouldn't be confused with Buster Keaton's underplaying his facial expressions since he would usually be running, jumping, falling or riding a tree in a hurricane at any given moment.) As to the other, there has to be an object for parody. I'm at a loss to think of what this scene could be parodying. The closest example I can think of as a target is Pontecorvo's 1966 The Battle of Algiers but that was about urban guerrillas. Slapstick within a Woody Allen conceptual performance for me is better represented by the Life and Death scene in his 1986 Hannah and Her Sisters See how the carbine spontaneously starts going off on its own as neighbors start showing up at his door ringing his doorbell and so on. This is even an example of how the ensuing slapstick gags are superfluous to the plot at this point. 2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? Even if you haven't seen either film, you can base your analysis on today's Daily Dose vs. last week's Daily Dose from The Great Race. I disagree with Mast. Bearing in mind I don't think that this week's Doozy is in fact slapstick, I can prove my point by asking you to turn off the sound while you watch the two clips again to where we can find Sennet's style. mast is welcome to his perception but I'll need more than his say so to see it for myself. Look at this clip from Bananas where we see a lot of absurd situations, but basically no slapstick until around 3:30 in the clip I still don't see the "dizzy symphony" that Mast told us to look out for.
  3. Still no email and nothing here either https://learn.canvas.net/courses/1163/pages/daily-dose-of-doozy?module_item_id=172582
  4. John_Simpson

    OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick -- The Films of the 1960s

    One of the things missing from Mad, Mad World is developing sympathy for the creator of the mayhem. Look at this clip below from actually one of my favorite scenes with Jonathan Winters: Now look at this clip from A Night at the Opera. I believe it was Groucho who said that producer Irving Thalberg at MGM came up with the formula to make them more sympathetic. After watching their future target whip Harpo then ANYTHING the boys did to him would be enthusiastically cheered on by the audience. With Winters, he's righteously attacking Phil Silvers but he starts destroying their new gas pump with Phil's head. The scene is slapstick and funny as heck but then you ask, what did these guys do to deserve this? Also, thanks to what I've learned in this course I can now contrast the scene with Ray and Irwin rolling under the garage door with Chaplin and the fence in the #1 episode of Breakdown of a Gag. Contrast of course because Chaplin was rolling to get away from the antagonistic cop and Jonathan Winters was doing it to pursue the garage owners and further antagonize them.
  5. John_Simpson

    OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick -- The Films of the 1960s

    You really ought to watch the movie again. They didn't keep calling him Captain Culpepper as a nickname. And "Erma Bombeck"?
  6. The audience can feel whatever it wants but seeing as how Hulot does get home it doesn't rise to the level of futility. Futility would be him almost at the top but surrealistically coming out back on the street after a wrong turn. This of course would be a contradiction with everything that Hulot stands for. He's comfortable in Old France and most befuddled in the New France. I would argue that M. Hulot not only doesn't mind the walk up his building but even enjoys the journey
  7. 1. As you carefully watch the scene, what do you learn about the character of Hulot (Jacques Tati) as he walks up to his apartment? He's a remnant of a France that was rapidly disappearing even as he filmed it. Tati rebelled against the post-war France as illustrated in the rest of Mon Oncle where he contrasts village life with city life and the change represented by scenes of urban development. As to his character we see him neighborly and always slightly befuddled but with a good heart. 2. How is the building used to support Tati's physical comedy? The building is a prop allowing us to see M. Hulot taking a round about way to get home with many changes of direction. All this being said I kind of object to this scene as representing slapstick. To me Tati was always a satirist who used elements of slapstick. Personally, I think a better representation of slapstick is to be found in M. Hulot's Holiday since Hulot walking to his home is humorous but doesn't quite strike me as slapstick. If we wish to stay with Mon Oncle however, this clip will hopefully prove my point that Tati is making social commentary like Chaplin while using slapstick. Here we see exaggeration, violence and ritual at work as Hulot demonstrates his befuddlement and inability to use modern "conveniences". Still staying with Mon Oncle we can really see what Tati was about in this opening scene where we see the contrast between the France that was with the France that it was becoming. Pay particular attention to the transition at around 1:45 A touching scene that establishes Tati's context but again, no slapstick humor in evidence.
  8. The main thing I had to add was how much I disagree with Mast's characterization of Fields' onscreen persona: But Fields frequently finds himself with a wife, a daughter, or both, who depend on him for support. Confined by this domestic prison, Fields never keeps his opinion of his captors a secret: first, he comments about them under his breath; second, he escapes to the masculine freedom of the local tavern; and third, he resorts to direct assault. Where the Marx Brothers films comment on the grand social institutions, the Fields films usually confine themselves to the family, where Fields himself is confined." It's almost like he was asked to come up with it while standing on one foot. W.C. always had two main screen characters (excluding Macawber and Humpty Dumpty, of course): the put upon henpecked husband who manages to win in the end (The Bank Dick, It's A Gift & Man On The Flying Trapeze) and the skilled, unscrupulous conman/hustler as in The Old Fashioned Way, Six of a Kind, My Little Chickadee (granted that character met his match in Mae West) and Million Dollar Legs for example. Look at this clip from Million Dollar Legs where W.C. confirms he's still President of Klopstokia at the morning cabinet meeting And Honest John in Six of a Kind is hardly confined in a domestic prison So at the very least Mast paints an incomplete picture of WC Fields on the screen.
  9. You're on point but I can't agree that Lloyd brought warmth to comedy. At least not in any universe that includes Charlie Chaplin. His Tramp had an appeal beyond being a thief as seen at the climax of City Lights
  10. 1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? He uses them as him being sort of the "Everyman" of slapstick. The vast majority of viewers could never hope to emulate Keaton or Chaplin's adventures but I can't help but notice that Lloyd's adventures take place with a lot of people experiencing the same circumstances albeit without a crab in their pockets. 2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? I agree. One thing that stood out for me is that Lloyd seems less in control of his environment than Keaton or Chaplin. As I said in #1 above the fact that there's a bunch of people on the spinning disc places Lloyd more in the normal or human realm. We may wish we could be Buster or Chaplin onscreen but we can see ourselves as Lloyd. 3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy? I saw a two level approach to the audience. First, we know that there's a crab in his pocket when his character doesn't so we know why the people are being pinched. We see him hit the guy at the bottle toss and know better than the operator how the bottles fell down. Then we're no longer in his confidence with the eating montage because we initially think he's being sick and then he reveals in his own good time that he's OK, we were wrong and he's on a Test Your Breath machine. Through scene blocking he's setting us to know what's going on and then surprises us. Compare this to Chaplin's lunch wagon where we see all as it happens and long time Chaplin fans can even predict the cop gets clobbered. Back to Lloyd in this clip in the gags we first know more than he does, we know as much as he does which is more than the operator and finally we know less than he does thinking he's being sick when he isn't. This is using the medium of film to alter our perception rather than just recording a performance.
  11. In reference to today's questions: 1. Obviously what's missing is the need to use visual cues to let the viewer know what's going on since. If we accept that scene is perfect as is then an addition of dialogue, street noise, etc. would be extraneous. 2. As pointed out previously, the window in the back of the cart if even noticed at first is probably for ventilation. It's then conveniently in place for the cop to see what's going on. 3. I think that this is a textbook case for the ritualistic aspect of slapstick. It's The Tramp's job to steal the cakes and it's the owner's job to protect them, but as part of the ritual, (even though he knows that cakes are disappearing) unless he can figure out where they are going he can move the platter but he can't remove it from the counter. We also see Chaplin's anti-authoritarian philosophy well displayed. We root for the Tramp who is stealing and when the cop tries to intervene on the owner's behalf he gets hit by accident for his efforts.
  12. One difference between Keaton and Chaplin highlighted in this clip is that there is more of a suspension of disbelief or violations of the laws of physics with Buster than Chaplin. The stretching ceiling in this clip as well as the Flying Buster scene in Steam Boat Bill, Jr are as unrealistic as they are funny. Because the rest of the cyclone sequence in Steamboat Bill Jr takes place after the falling facade gag often overlooked is what I call the Flying Buster gag. It doesn't detract at all in my opinion, that the tree he's riding is swinging back and forth as though it's swinging from a cable. Contrast that with how Chaplin lives within the environment in the shipboard dining sequence in The Immigrant The ship is rocking and funny things are happening but it's all realistic or at least arguably more realistic than Buster's cyclone sequence.
  13. The thing I always liked about Keaton's productions was that even as a vaudevillian he embraced the new media and set up gags like this one that never could have graced a stage on the Orpheum Circuit. Compare the silent Steamboat Bill, Jr to the "talkie" Animal Crackers with the Marx Brothers. The early Marx Bros films for Paramount were essentially their stage shows filmed with a static camera. I think that when sound came in a lot of the dialogue intensive gags from vaudeville and burlesque took the place of physical performances like Keaton's and Chaplin's.
  14. Thanks, that was one of the points that I was clumsily trying to express. You did it a lot better! Your comment got me thinking in another direction that gags, like musical numbers may advance or "stop" the plot but may also establish a character. One example that came to mind was Jerry Lewis in the opening of The Patsy. A slapstick routine integral to the plot because it also establishes the main character from the point of view of the folks looking for a "Patsy".
  15. One point I noticed in the discussion is that I can't agree with Dr Edward's comment that a gag always stops the plot of a film. I realize that's an option but I maintain that gags can also serve to advance the plot of a film. This of course presupposes that there is a plot. In the case of the first video we reviewed the gag IS the plot.

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