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About Catherine.g.ens

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  1. This is a topic I could discuss all day. My father first sat me in front of Meet Me in St Louis when I was very young, and told me that Judy Garland was in it. I don't know how old I was, but I was young enough to not understand the difference between Judy Garland and the character she played. I was looking for Dorothy in the movie, and I didn't believe my dad when he told me Esther Smith was played by the same person. She was so much more grown up, so much more elegant and beautiful. Nevertheless, I was captivated. Judy made such an impression on me that as a little girl, I just wanted to be Esther. I acted out that part with my little sister in the part of Tootie. We sang and danced and watched that film repeatedly all through my childhood. I have never been able to get enough of Judy. If I'm having a bad day, all I need to do is watch one of her performances and it's an instant mood lifter. It doesn't matter if I'm watching older Judy, such as in A Star is Born, or younger Judy, such as in Strike Up the Band. She brought that honest, true quality to every performance. I really enjoyed the two professors discussion of Meet Me in St Louis from the lecture today. I can tell Professor Ament shares my admiration and love for Judy Garland. One thing she pointed out in the notes for today's Daily Dose is that Judy is a great scene sharer. That is something I haven't really considered before but it's so true. Whether she's singing and dancing with Margaret O'Brien, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, or Ethel Merman (as she did once on her television show), Judy is so generous and more than happy to share the spotlight. She truly seems to enjoy performing with others. I encourage anyone to look up her duets from the later part of her career on television. Fabulous viewing! Judy is well known for her ability to tell a story with her lyrics. I love listening to the early Decca recordings from when she was just a teenager. Songs like Dear Mr Gable, Sweet Sixteen, Nobody's Baby, Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, and of course, Over the Rainbow, all exemplify this quality. Later in her career, I love to listen to Judy at the Palace - a medley written especially for her by Roger Edens. In terms of her later films, I think A Star is Born stands out the most. It's tragic that Judy's bright light burned out far too quickly. She will always be remembered.
  2. Hello everyone. I am several days behind due to work and life commitments. But trying to squeeze this class in whenever I get the chance, and enjoying it very much! Yankee Doodle Dandy is one of my absolute favorites, as is James Cagney. Everything about his performance in this film touches me very deeply. I feel that Cagney is trying with every fiber of his being to do justice to George M. Cohan's remarkable life and career. But there is more in his performance - a quality of wanting to boost American morale during World War II. Cagney is so true and joyous in his portrayal of Cohan and his exhuberance and optimism completely elevate the film. I watch it every Fourth of July and it's a favorite of my husband as well. The film starts with Cagney and the White House butler climbing the tall staircase to meet Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Oval Office. As they do so, they pass many portraits of past presidents, calling to mind the history of America in one fast moment. The very fact that they are ascending the stairs has a feeling of optimism. We are elevated by the fast paced story and the wonderful performances of the film and never really come down from that until the end of the film. In this way, the film makes the audience feel swept up in a feeling of joy and patriotism. In the Fourth of July scene that follows the White House meeting, we are taken back in time to 1878 - a more innocent and peaceful time for Americans. The American flags are everywhere. The film works so well because Americans were experiencing World War II and it reminds the audience of American values and spirit. When Cohan (Cagney) meets with the president, their conversation is full of references to American patriotism. Cohan reminisces that he was "always carrying a flag in a parade or following one", to which the president replies "you carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open." The fact that this conversation is taking place between the president and someone who considers himself a regular American is a very powerful message to all Americans in World War II. It says that each of them is important, that their love of country will make a difference, and that it is needed now more than ever.
  3. Good evening everyone. I noticed in the first clip that Jeanette MacDonald is positioned in the boat facing away from Nelson Eddy. In the first part of the scene, she is unconvinced by him and even mocks him. But when he begins to sing, we see from her expressions that she is impressed. This is something that we see in many musicals; the song functions to further the courtship. By the end of his song, she feels differently about him. In this way, the music actually moves the plot along by furthering their relationship. The tone of the scene is lighthearted as well as romantic. The fact that Eddy's character can substitute different girls' names into his song is his way of teasing her as part of the courtship. The song is the characters' way of exploring their feelings for one another. I have not seen many of the MacDonald-Eddy musicals. For some reason, I am not particularly drawn to either of them. I think their appeal for audiences at the time, however, must have been the fact they they were elegant and regal, providing escapism during the hard times of the Depression. Their style of music is classical yet accessible enough for mainstream audiences. I don't think they age particularly well today, but that might just be my personal taste... not sure!
  4. I agree, I dislike "Heavenly Music" and "Triplets" too. Now both are in my head!!
  5. Glad you will find it helpful. I’m a teacher, so these things come naturally to me! Haha
  6. I made this for myself as I watch the TCM programming and learn more about musicals this month. Feel free to use it, too! Enjoy! Catherine Movie Musicals Viewing Form.pdf
  7. As others have said, the snappy dialogue, fast paced and upbeat conversations, and the way decisions are made in a very quick fashion are characteristic of lighthearted musicals. The enthusiasm of the characters is definitely larger than life. The backstage story, emphasis on the stage and the musical performance, are themes that are familiar in Depression era musicals. The lavish sets and costumes reflect style of Ziegfeld himself. I can understand why the film was such a hit with audiences, coming in the middle of the Great Depression. Ziegfeld's extravagance must have been a welcome change from reality. Not sure about the pre code question. I am so used to musicals being squeaky clean that I find it hard to imagine this film being scripted in a less innocent way!
  8. I also love both these films and I have been to Salzburg and done the SOM tour too! So much fun!
  9. Hello everyone! I'm so excited to start this course. I've always been obsessed with musicals. It's hard to choose just one that stands out to me, because there are many that I have watched repeatedly. I'll go with the musical that I loved most as a child, Calamity Jane. I absolutely adored Doris Day in that part. The whole thing was appealing to me as a kid because of the lively songs and dances, the fun storyline, the romance between Calamity and Bill, and the setting of the Black Hills of Dakota with the show business element. I have loved Doris Day ever since! Even though it's not the most perfect movie musical, it's very close to my heart.
  10. The opening scenes of Frenzy and The Lodger involve the same dramatic event; the public discovery of a dead body. However, Hitchcock deals with the subject differently in these two opening scenes. In The Lodger, we first see a close up of a woman, open mouthed, screaming in terror. This is followed by a shot of the body, and a woman who witnessed the murder telling the police what she saw. In contrast, Frenzy begins with a very long aerial shot of London. The discovery of the body is delayed, as we see a crowd gathered by the river listening to a political speech about pollution. While The Lodger, as a silent film, depicts the information visually with the witness pointing, in Frenzy we get an actual shout of Look! The body floating in the river is just as disturbing, but through different cinematic means. In The Lodger, there is terror from the very first shot. Here, the sight of the body is surprising and unexpected given that we have just been watching a fairly normal scene. In both films, Hitchcock maximizes our feelings of shock and horror. It seems that location is very important to Hitchcock when creating opening scenes. For example, in the opening of Frenzy, the location of London is emphasized through the long aerial shot. Many of his films also begin with crowds, whether, as in Frenzy, they are listening to a speech, or, as in other films, they are attending a performance or sporting event. I feel that Hitchcock saw these moments as the optimum time to reveal something horrific or shocking. Maybe the reason is because we all have experience as part of such crowds or audiences. Therefore, we can easily picture ourselves being caught up in such a scene. Finally, I feel Hitchcock used his opening scenes to "hook" or grab the audience. They often evoke strong feelings of suspicion, shock, or intrigue. For example, the appearance of a body is a common occurrence in Hitchcock's openings. We are immediately invested in the story and want to find out more.
  11. Like the opening scene of Strangers on a Train, this first scene of Marnie shows us the main character without revealing her face. The famous opening of Strangers on a Train focuses in the shoes of the two men just before they meet; here, we see Marnie from behind and then simply her arms and hands as she interacts with various objects. The effect is that we as an audience are forced to pay attention to what she is doing and make inferences about her as a character. Marnie is methodically dumping items from one suitcase to another, many of them new and still in their packaging. She takes a purse and turns it upside down, revealing several wads of cash. We are already wondering where she got the money, where she is going, and why it seems she is concealing her identity. When she washes her hair, we finally see Tippi Hedren's face. She changes from a brunette to a blond. Music swells as she does so. This reminds me a lot of Vertigo and Kim Novak's physical transformation. The Hitchcock cameo is notable as he actually briefly looks at the camera. This may be significant considering that we have not yet seen Marnies face.
  12. In the opening scene of The Birds, Hitchcock is playing with the genre of romantic comedy. When Melanie and Mitch meet in the pet shop, it is a typical "meet cute" moment; Mitch assumes Melanie works at the store, and she plays along. He is looking for "love birds", which is an innuendo for the two of them finding one another attractive. However, the humor for the audience is that Melanie does not seem to know the first thing about birds. There is nothing sinister about this pet shop scene, but the fact that Hitchcock precedes the scene with the gulls flying overhead creates an interesting and ironic juxtaposition. While Melanie and Mitch both come into the store in search of birds to buy, and both have difficulty getting what they are looking for, the gulls are already descending on them just outside, of their own accord and uninvited. Therefore, Hitchcock introduces a darkness into the film from the very beginning. He seems to be trying to portray the unpredictability of life; things happen which are beyond our control. Sound design is also used in a remarkable way in this opening scene. There is no music soundtrack, only bird sounds. The gull sounds we hear as Melanie enters the pet shop are quickly replaced by the less sinister chirping of the caged birds. This immediately shifts the mood, so Hitchcock is again playing with the genres of horror and romantic comedy in the same scene. His cameo happens early in the film, as he can be seen leaving the pet shop with two small dogs on leashes. This plays into the comedic nature of the scene, and yet the dogs are walking in front of him, almost taking him for a walk, suggesting perhaps that animals/nature will prevail in the film.
  13. Saul Bass' title design and Bernard Herrmann's music come together in the opening of Psycho to create a mood that is stark, forceful, relentless and disturbing. The black background is dark and sinister, while the letters being slashed in half remind me of a knife. Like the title sequence for Vertigo, this is successful in establishing the themes of the film. This has a harsher feeling overall than the spirals we saw in Vertigo, which I think is a good fit for Psycho. The fact that we are shown a very specific date and time (Friday, December the Eleventh at Two Forty-Three P.M) gives the feeling of a crime documentary -- the time is bound to be important to the story. It sets the atmosphere and gives the viewer the thought that something dark is bound to happen. As we enter the hotel room through semi closed blinds, I am reminded of Rear Window. Hitchcock moves us from the exterior to the privacy of the characters sharing an intimate moment. It has the same effect as Rear Window, in that we feel we probably should not be witnessing these lovers.
  14. From the start of the dialogue in this scene, Cary Grant's tongue in cheek remarks "well, here we are again" and "I know, I look vaguely familiar" establish in the back of our minds the idea that the two stars themselves are flirting. By now, Grant was one of Hollywood's most established and recognizable leading men. The references to his face being familiar are a nod to this, while Eva Marie Saint's quiet seductiveness is the perfect match for Grant. When Grant says the line "The moment I meet an attractive woman, I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her" it is in line with the playboy character who wins the hearts of practically every woman, a character that he has become known for. But Saint's question "What makes you think you have to conceal it?" is intriguing to him. Their dialogue is like a game of tennis; we listen to the back and forth.
  15. In this early scene from Notorious, Hitchcock is choosing to show a contrast between his two characters, played by Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Bergman's face is shown in close up, and she is lying on a bed, while Grant is standing upright framed by a door and we see his whole body. Hitchcock then uses the camera to playfully tilt our view of Grant until he is upside down. The two actors are not shown together in the same frame, thereby emphasizing the fact that they do not see eye to eye. The way Hitchcock chooses to photograph these two stars is not accidental, as each had their own persona known to the public. While Bergman was relatable for women, and therefore shown in a natural position and in close-up, Grant was the epitome of a debonair leading man, so it makes sense for him to presented as "the whole package" dressed "like Cary Grant". In this scene, Hitchcock is capitalizing on the special appeal of each of the two stars.

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