fongovea715

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  1. This scene would have been so different if it was made today. There would have been close-ups aplenty to emphasize the ACTING that is going on. There would have been swells in the music to underscore the emotional beats. Instead, the scene is sparse, without a score, and with very few cuts and absolutely no closeups. In a way, the medium shots help to emphasize the acting in a more holistic way than close-ups, as we get the whole body - Eliza's prone, defeated posture speaks volumes.
  2. 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? Between the two clips, masculinity softened quite a bit. Harold Hill is loud, bombastic, in your face. Toddy is similarly the center of attention, but everything is simply much softer, from the actual volume of his singing but also in reference to his movements and language. Toddy's movements are smoother, more fluid, significantly less aggressive. Similarly, though his interactions with the guests are quite confrontational, his words are not, whereas Harold Hill would have been equally as confrontational.
  3. 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? It looks backwards by being in the tried and true form of the backstage musical - like so many of the films we've discussed previously, the scene involves a rehearsal of a show. Nothing new here. However, basically everything else is a disruption. We catch glimpses of the seemy underbelly of the business - the whole thing is fixed, they've already determined the winner before the competition. Then you have the strong female figure who comes in and quite literally disrupts the whole operation by her mere presence.
  4. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? It's really Jerry's interactions with Milo that keep him from just seeming like an ugly American in this scene. Part of it is Milo's reaction to him: If she had, like the student, been put off and disgusted by him, we would have followed suite. But she is instantly charmed, and we react in kind. Additionally, we see Jerry cowed a little bit by Milo, especially when she offers to buy his paintings, which adds some humanity to him and takes off the edge. A truly smug guy would've been prepared and probably had a ridiculous amount in mind when she offered to buy his paintings. Instead, he's not quite humbled, but he's certainly at a loss - he "never expected" this to happen. We all can identify with that feeling of not being good enough, and that gives us an entry point to empathizing with Jerry.
  5. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The dancing in the scene wouldn't have been any less impressive without the professor, but the straight man is essential to making the scene funny. He's the setup for the gags and provides a baseline by which to gauge the outlandish activity by Kelly and O'Connor - you can't tell dark unless you have some light, right? The straight man often goes un-thanked in comedies. He (or she) provides the base off which the star can play and, therefore, shine.
  6. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. Doris Day's bright and sunny persona is perfect for the role of Calamity Jane. Bright and sunny = enthusiastic, all-in, confident, all of which are adjectives that describe Calamity Jane. A more demure persona or a darker persona or a more introverted persona would have been at odds with Calamity Jane, but this role required the enthusiasm and vivacity that Doris Day exuded as a person.
  7. 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 costumes are all complementary to each other. The men seem to be wearing variations of the same suit. Of all of them, I suppose Buchanan's stands out the most for being the lightest color, but the palette is nonetheless limited to blues, whites, and blacks. Fabray's dress stands out for, well, being a dress, but even this remains in the aforementioned color spectrum (gray, after all, is a mixture of white and black).
  8. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I had not considered this as a potential interpretation of the song until seeing this question, but especially after looking at the lyrics, it is completely possibly to interpret the song this way. Context is everything. Even the scene that appears in the film could easily have been transferred from a husband to a child, given the characterization of Petunia as a matronly caregiver vs. a sensual lover. A child could easily have been in the bed and later staring adoringly at Petunia taking down the laundry.
  9. 2.It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? It's a little harder to tell with the clip being isolated from what came before it, but it's a rather subtle segue. When Sinatra enters the scene, there is non-diegetic sound. You assume it's just standard background music, the kind that normally fades away once the dialogue picks up again, but then the music "reacts" to Garrett's movements onscreen, and then we're suddenly in a song.
  10. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? Like so many people, Wizard of Oz was my first experience of Judy Garland. My first impression was that this is a master at work. What is there to say about Judy Garland that hasn't already been said? Her ability to wring every bit of emotion out of a song, her charisma - she made me fall in love with musicals.
  11. 3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. Opening the film with Cohan's visit to the Oval Office sets expectations for the film/Cohan's life. Audiences in 1942 likely didn't need an introduction to who George Cohan was, but luckily for modern audiences, who probably never realized the cheesy flag-waving songs we hear every Fourth of July and Memorial Day were once totally-not-ironically popular hits, Curtiz had the foresight to begin the film like this. Not just anybody gets to have a one-on-one session with the President, so right off the bat we establish that Cohan is Big Time Stuff not just on Broadway, but for the country.
  12. What is striking to me about the dancing in this clip is the narrative function it serves. I contrast it with Broadway Melody of 1929, which I finally caught up on last night. Both films feature singing and dancing "as part of the narrative." But BM is your typical backstage musical; they're singing and dancing because it's part of the literal show they are putting on as part of the movie. Every song is motivated as a performance within the narrative as well as without. In contrast, most of the musical bits - particularly the dancing - in Top Hat are not framed as performances, but as expressions of personal feelings or character development. In addition to being just a beautiful display of dancing, what a perfect and wonderfully visual way to exemplify the turn in Dale and Jerry's relationship!
  13. 2. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. What is striking about the scene's use of sound is how unnecessary it seems at first. You could easily imagine this scene done silently. The majority of the dialogue is in French, which the average American can't understand, and certainly not at the rapid-fire pace of the scene. Similarly, Chevalier's direct addresses in English to the camera could have easily been intertitles. Yet while the dialogue wasn't necessarily useful as far as adding content to the scene, it helped to set the ambience: The rantings of a jilted lover. Sound was also key in the misdirect - the scene would not have played as effectively without the sound of the gunshot.
  14. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. What is striking about the interactions between the two leads in these clips is how little they actually interact. The second clip does not involve any direct interactions at all, merely significant looks from across the room. Obviously in the first clip the two share more of a physical space, yet their interactions remain distanced because of their body language. Eddy sings basically an entire love song to his beloved's back. MacDonald turns around to face him a few times, but the majority of the scene is spent with her face turned away making faces he can't see.
  15. 3. Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples. A pre-Code version of this scene would have likely featured Louise Rainer in some state of undress while she was backstage. Her performance would also likely have been more playful and physical: a more revealing or suggestive outfit, a song filled with double-entendres, winks and nudges a la Mae West vs. the prim and proper buttoned up song we saw.

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