rross856

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  1. I think that the mood of the song fit perfectly into the scene. It was an intimate scene between the two characters, slightly romantic, and if she had belted the song, it would have completely changed the mood. Though capable, she kept it restrained and appropriate for the scene. The song's rendition kept the scene from almost feeling forced because, as I perceived, there was romantic energy between the two characters. That energy continues despite the space between them growing larger, and I feel this is helped by the song.
  2. The most immediate thing that I think of when comparing Gaslight and My Fair Lady is lighting. The lighting is essential in Gaslight; it makes the movie. As Charles Boyer slowly drives Ingrid Bergman insane, he uses the light to play on her sense of reality. She moves into a room with the lights turned up, but slowly, they drop darkening the room. She doesn't change them herself, and so on and on, until she loses her grip on what's real. Nothing quite so dark takes place in My Fair Lady of course but the lighting again reflects mood and reality. The places that denote Eliza's old life - the street where she sells flowers and Henry Higgin's home - are all darkly lit, while the race as Ascot and the royal ball are all bright and stark compared to the others. It denotes to me a change in her position in life. Her former self and her space of active transition to her arrival.
  3. In the later musicals, male performances present more complex characters, including the character of Toddy by Robert Preston. Compared to characters like Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey, Howard Keel in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Marlon Brandon in Guys and Dolls, Preston in Victor/Victoria is complex. He is a non stereotypical gay character, with a relatively well developed character story. In earlier films, like Pal Joey, Frank Sinatra's character is rather one dimensional. He is an unapologetic womanizer, who has two women fighting over him, despite his noncommittal attitude to both. But he remains the protagonist who everyone else revolves around. Not so in later musicals, where the men are more dimensional, flawed but almost redeemable.
  4. I'm sure Ethel Merman would have been fabulous in Gypsy, but I am partial to Rosalind Russell, and not just because she was so good in Auntie Mame. From her role as Mame and now as Mama Rose, she has experience being the center of the scene without being overpowering. She doesn't overact or dominate to the point where a viewer wants to stop watching, but she pushes it right up to the point. I also notice something that Russell had from her earlier work, her pace and speed with dialogue. From His Girl Friday, she and Cary Grant spoke in rapid fire, and she retained that in Mame and her in Gypsy. She's able to speak over Herbie and the owner, speaking so quickly that they don't dare try to keep up.
  5. The end of An American in Paris is so stylized that it is necessary to have some of that throughout the rest of the film. To be honest, this has always been something I have disliked about the movie. I like the story of the beginning and I love the ballet sequence at the end but there is some dissonance between the two parts, to me. I believe it is because it totally unexpected. You follow the story between the two main characters, you see them fall in love and overcome the obstacle (of the other woman), and then "Wow, really?!?" A bit more stylized set up in the narrative would be good.
  6. Though not as apparent as other parts of the movie, there are some distinctions seen between the three men in the clip. First the distinction between the two dancers - Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor and the professor. The two dancers in the exchange prior to the musical sequence show that they are less serious, more relaxed and easier to engage with. This, of course, can be seen throughout the dance sequence, as they are more modern and of course the preference for the way men should act, according to the film. The difference between Kelly and O'Connor is a bit harder to detect just based on this scene. For one, the dance sequence takes up a large portion of the clip and they spend a lot of the time dancing in sync to one another. Kelly, physically, is larger than O'Connor, and that can be seen in the dancing. Of note, I once read that Kelly preferred to dance in clothing more fitted to his body, and in this scene, you can see it. But what marks Kelly as the Alpha and O'Connor as his opposite is found in the interaction prior to the musical sequence. O'Connor becomes the clown. Because alpha males would never project anything other than confidence, O'Connor shows that he is not the alpha male.
  7. Admittedly, I have never seen Doris Day in this movie, so I'm looking forward to seeing it this month, but I do think that it marks a shift for her career. I have seen her earlier films, specifically her roles with Gordon McRae, and there is quite a bit of lightness and fluff to them. She's a wholesome family girl and the problems she's dealing with seem minor, but after Calamity Jane, her roles are more dramatic and more complex. A movie she does soon after Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney, is still musical but more dramatic and require more of her as an actress. She definitely grows as an actress during the mid-1950s.
  8. The scene is built for the four characters, from the song to the actions they take. Each of the staged gags must involve more than just one person in order for it to be delivered and the actors seamlessly move between each "skit" as the song progresses. They look for each other and maintain their uniformity in the group. Fred Astaire, a star dancer, doesn't mind sharing the stage with two other actors, and it shows. Because I've seen this movie, I know that the four characters work closely together in the film, relying on one another to move the story and the musical forward. They all share the same weight, though their roles are different, but they know that the play can only be successful if everyone participates.
  9. Cabin in the Sky is extremely important to this history of American film, especially during World War II because it shows African American life in the most authentic way up to that point in history. Yes, it relies on some stereotypes and misconceptions and paints an entire group of people with a wide brush, but it shows the characters as multidimensional and complex. They have good days and good intentions, but good things don't always happen. Since it was made by a major director and studio, it allowed the rest of the country to see lives and stories they might not have otherwise seen.
  10. The musical scene was set up so similarly to other movies. For one, there is an absence of dialogue between the two characters. As Frank Sinatra's characters enter the scene he doesn't acknowledge Betty Garrett's character, in part because he doesn't see her but also because it allows the music to swell, which is the second element. Once he sees her, there is still no dialogue and the music begins to grow and fills the scene as the two begin the musical sequence. Before Betty Garrett begins to sing the song, she only says one word, "Hey!," and the music drives the action as she chases him around the bleachers. In a way, the absence of dialogue and the music prepares the audience for the song to come.
  11. I think the first film I saw starring Judy Garland was "The Wizard of Oz," and of course, I saw an amazing film with imaginative characters, songs and plots. But it was her voice that struck me, how powerful and distinct it was. She uses it in every song she sings and it is amazing. I cared about her acting in the movie but it was her singing that I fell in love with. Some of the later films that I think of in her singing career include the remake of "A Star is Born" and "Summer Stock," which I think doesn't get discussed as much as it should. She is a force in "A Star is Born," especially in her first song in the bar; I can't describe hearing it for the first time. And she is able to share her voice even though the movie requires her to be more of an actress since the movie's theme is serious. "Summer Stock" partners her with Gene Kelly again, and I think she is still strong as a singer, dancer and actress. I have to admit that my favorite Judy Garland movie is not a musical - she doesn't sing one song. It's "The Clock" with Robert Walker. It's made during World War II, and has a lot of patriotism, and even made by Vincente Minnelli. But I love it because it is just a beautiful movie, with the right amount of everything.
  12. The opening of today's film clip, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," does a good job of looking for universal symbols of America during the time period. First, what can be more American than the White House? To have the movie begin here is to set up the rest of the film for a call back to this setting, especially when you see James Cagney's character drive the film, at least the clip, through his memories from this place. He is also speaking directly to the President, another way to symbolize America quickly and easily. The first stop in this memory sequence is a revue show years ago, which for those alive during the time period, may also be a universal memory. Lots of people know that entertainment prior to film was perform on vaudeville and revue shows that featured lots of various acts. This universal Americana orients viewers easily.
  13. "Top Hat" differs from the other film clips we've looked at this week in one fundamental way, the clip does not bump up against the Film Code in a significant way. In the other films we've looked at, the women take on very specific positions - in "Rose Marie," the woman lead falls in love reluctantly or unwittingly; in "The Great Ziegfield," the clip shows a fluffy version of a fight over the female lead; and in "The Love Parade," the woman fake kills herself after she is caught in an extramarital affair. In "Top Hat," in the clip we see, Ginger Rogers is relatively equal to Fred Astaire, in more than just the way she is dressed. This touches on the fact that "Top Hat" is not just a musical but also a screwball comedy. In these comedies, men and women are equally important to the plot and play off one another. They cannot do this effectively if there is too great a disparity. Rogers and Astaire are equal as dance partners but also as characters when they aren't dancing.
  14. The staging of the scene in "The Love Parade" is wonderfully suggestive in its delivery. The audience never receives any information directly through dialogue and yet we know everything about the scene - that Alfred is having an affair with a married woman who accuses him of cheating on her, only to have her husband discover them. It is through the props, the staging and the camera angles that we gather all of the information. From this clip, I would assume that Depression-era musicals, especially under the Film Code had to use a lot of insinuation in order to let audiences on in the situation. Audiences could never see the two characters in an embrace but we could see all of the evidence of an affair, in a way to get around the morality rules.
  15. Male and female romantic relationships, as depicted in Depression-era musicals, seem to prioritize innocence and chastity over what may have been the reality of times. Couples do very little touching or kissing, and much of the falling in love is done through their dialogue and singing. In the two clips we saw from "Rose Marie," the emotion or feeling that the two express is seen through their eyes and faces, and in the words they say to each other. Thinking of the strictness of the Film Code, this was likely the plan, that love was kept between only married couples and that outside of that, men and women would be chaste until then.

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