juldahl

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About juldahl

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  1. 2. Watch the professor and consider the role of the straight man. This scene always cracks me up because Kelly and O’Connor are clowning with the draperies that look like Jewish prayer shawls when they sing “Moooooooo-ses.” Since our professor mentioned that the actor playing the professor was best known for portraying Hitler, I can see that postwar audiences, especially if Jewish, would have picked up on the Hitler-bashing subtext. Also if you imagine this guy as a fervent, dictatorial Hitler, you can see how meek he is acting here. He does a lot with his eyes, and he keeps his voice and mannerisms fussy and twee. All that just adds a layer to how amazing this scene is in every way.
  2. I'm watching Woodward and Newman in View from the Terrace on Netflix, and I think I see what he means about that process making women's faces look dirty:
  3. I kind of want to open this up to discussing the rest of the film and not just this scene. I am so sad that I don't have TCM and can't watch one of my all-time favorite movies tonight. In this scene, I agree with everyone that color film makes Lucy look really beautiful, and at the table, when she tells "Nicky" about how she fell in love with him, she just glows because she really did love Desi Arnaz. But if you take the movie as a whole, there are a lot of location shots of some beautiful mountain and desert areas, and the colorful trailer-court life, that just really open up vistas that were not possible with television. 2. Minnelli plays with the tight sense of scale inside the trailer and later contrasts it with the (for that time) giant length of the trailer (40 feet!) and wide open Western landscapes. There is another scene in this movie where "Nicky" tries to take a shower in this dinky little space with a drooping shower head that is really funny--Desi could do slapstick, too. Then later they maneuver the trailer around some very tight and dangerous curving mountain roads, and the dizzying heights and loose rocks all give the viewer vertigo. 3. In this clip, Lucy is showing the sweet relationship she and Desi shared--she's trying to have a nice romantic candlelight moment. But the whole set is slanted and that makes it funny, which she plays into by taping down the wine glasses and getting out straws. It recalls the Keaton "One Week" movie about the crooked house. Then she tries to jump into bed and bounces right onto the floor, then tries again, then the door opens violently and she is thrown out into the mud, which comes as a real shock since the viewer is prepared for a nice comfy, if slanted, bedtime. Actually in this movie, I think her most memorable bit of clowning, besides the "turn right here left" wordplay, is where she tries to cook dinner in the moving trailer. As I recall that scene, it is very physical, or Chaplinesque, and could have been part of a silent film-- like Tillie's Punctured Romance. The use of color makes the food mess look even crazier. Could that be the Daily Dose of Doozy #10A? Lucy and Desi are truly amazing icons of American television AND cinema. I never get tired of watching them. And the more I learn about classic slapstick, the more I realize how they learned from, and paid homage to, the Golden Era slapstick comedians.
  4. A couple of other things, maybe under Question 3 -- I was impressed with the timing of the milk bottle booth gag. That man had to enter at just the right time to get smacked in the face, and then when he threw, he had to hit the bottles. I wonder how many takes that took. The rest of the clip seemed to be less staged, just people playing on the rides. This is later in the 1920s, but I don't remember seeing a girl's dress ride up that high in earlier films. She is showing an awful lot of leg and undies. I wonder if that was daring for the day, or had the flapper era really come that far? Some of the action seemed designed just to get her dress to go up, so it seems a little less innocent than Chaplin & Keaton's work.
  5. I just want to say that I LOVE the SportsCenter format! Besides looking and sounding great, it serves to emphasize the physical, athletic aspects of great slapstick. I love how you guys can analyze the sight gag the way you analyze a great sports play. I love how impressed Cellini is. Maybe you should have filmed the Noir course lectures in a detective's office in the basement of the Los Angeles City Hall. The last door on the right.
  6. I agree that the silent comedy era was A golden age, but maybe not THE greatest age of comedy. The people who took cinema into its adolescence were fearless geniuses, doing their own stunts and figuring out how to take visual comedy beyond what was possible in theatres and circuses of the day. The Doozy film clip showed how they used a giant revolving backdrop and a mechanical horse as crude but effective special effects. This was only the beginning of what would later be possible with special effects, but it all goes back to people like Mack Sennett and even Georges Melies working out how to create these cinematic illusions. Silent, visual comedy is universal because it usually does not require a cultural context or language to understand. It is a universal human trait to laugh at others' misfortunes and be momentarily glad it wasn't us who slipped on the banana peel. This goes back to Aristotle, I think. Most emphatically this type of comedy has not disappeared. Great artists still pay homage to their masters. Lucille Ball learned the art of slapstick from Buster Keaton and Harpo Marx, and "I Love Lucy" frequently incorporated clowning and great clowns from vaudeville and the silent era ("Slowly I turn...."). Mel Brooks, as someone else noted, brought slapstick brilliantly into the modern era, and he even inserted shoutouts to the greats: in Blazing Saddles the sheriff is welcomed to town with a "laurel -- and hearty handshake." In "HIstory of the World Part I" (? I think. Maybe Spaceballs) he has a scene in which a church leader processes in, and people are saying, "Good morning, Abbot. Good morning, Your Grace," and someone yells, "Hey A--botttt!" Johnny Depp did Keaton routines in "Benny and Joon." The 2001 movie "Rat Race" carried forward the slapstick tradition (a whole bus full of Lucys!) and was a sort of remake of "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)," which was itself a masterpiece of physical comedy. Today we have the heirs of this tradition still going at it. Take Ben Stiller, for example, who is himself the child of two comedians of the previous generation, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller. He totally gets the importance of the sight gag and of perfect timing, and it is obvious that he has done his homework and loves the movies. I just watched "Zoolander 2," and laughed so hard at Benedict Cumberbatch's character, called "All." I'm not even sure how to analyze that. It is a very clever commentary on arty pretentiousness, and Cumberbatch uses his face and body hilariously, but you have to hear the phrase "hot dog, or bun?" and hear him/her intone, "All is done." And then of course Zoolander's trademark is his Blue Steel Look--reminiscent of one of Chaplin's more searing Tramp expressions. Also a lot could be said about Scorsese's "Hugo (2011)," which is an homage to Melies, but mostly that the director brilliantly uses the set piece of the Paris train station to show little silent vignettes--the lady with the dachshund, the flower seller, the policeman with the mechanical leg, Hugo hanging on the giant clock--classic stuff from this silent golden age for millennial chldren. So I kind of think that even if the scholars get it wrong, there are plenty of fillmmakers--Brooks, Stiller, Scorsese, and many others--who carry on the great tradition and get it right, even today.

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