Fred & Ginger

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  1. This is a beautiful song and I think Streisand does it so well here. If it was "belted out" I'd say it would lose a lot of what you see. The intimacy, the vulnerability would be gone and so would the softness of her character. And I like how there's a distance between them here as she sings the song as well. You see the chasm that is widening between them, that they both want different things. The fact that Fanny is off on her own, on the stairs, seems to say that she knows she could lose him. Yet the song still has her yearning to be w/him and to be close to him. It's a very interesting dynamic.
  2. I saw Gaslight about a year or two ago so I'll give it a go on comparing them. The idea of the male controlling the female is definitely predominant in both films just in different ways. In Gaslight, Charles Boyer as the husband is trying to make his wife go mad, and here in My Fair Lady we have Rex Harrison trying to mold Audrey Hepburn's Eliza into someone she's not. The idea of light and shadow I believe was also showcased in Gaslight, as Ingrid Bergman's character was continuing her descent into madness. Eliza herself seems absolutely despondent here as the scene opens. Her grief is apparent at the loss of her true self and her rage is directed at Higgins as he comes to the door, hurling those slippers at him one by one. Her despair continues and Higgins seems to ignore it completely, not caring at all about her feelings. It's truly a devastating scene and extremely well done. I feel like in this scene we see how far apart Eliza and Higgins are emotionally. The close-ups on Eliza's face and the tighter shots of the two of them together w/the distance between them showcase where they are at. Only nearer the end, do we see them come a little closer as Higgins attempts to calm her somewhat.
  3. I think that as time went on into the 1960s we began to see that there were different types of masculinity across the spectrum. The idea of "alpha" and "beta" were not the only types to be considered. Audiences began to see more layers to a man than had ever been seen before. Man was now more complex and multi-faceted and so was their masculinity. Robert Preston is truly fantastic. I hope to see him in other films as I've only ever seen The Music Man and always thought he was stupendous in it. He is a very articulate performer who pulls you in to the point that you don't want to let go. All of his movements and gestures have specific meaning. And in The Music Man I always thought that though Harold Hill was a con artist through and through, Robert Preston managed to showcase his vulnerabilities (especially in the case of Marion and her little brother) in a way that I don't think anyone else could.
  4. I feel like we are looking back here to the time of the "backstage" musical where we are putting a show but the idea seems quite different. We have Mama Rose, who wants her child to be the star (obvious nepotism at play) and wants to see only her succeed whether she's talented or not. The choice of song for the child is also rather suspect and seems more like a novelty than a true performance. Mama Rose is quite forward and basically takes over the direction the minute she steps into the theater. She is bold and brazen basically walking all over the director. It's evident who is in charge from the second she comes onscreen.
  5. I would say yes, mainly because if there was realism throughout the film and then you dive into a fantasy sequence it appears jarring, out of place. Now mixing a little realism into the fantasy wouldn't make it so bad and the transition itself would feel more seamless and smooth. I feel like there is more fantasy in this film due to the main idea of Jerry's relationship w/Lise. The very idea of their relationship feels like a fantasy as Lise is engaged more or less to Henri. Now once we get to the party, we see little bits of reality thrown in at the break-up of the two relationships. Then at the end we really see the reality, as Lise and Jerry are reunited after the ballet with Henri taking off alone. Yet what do they really know about each other? I think what keeps Jerry Mulligan from being unlikeable has to do w/Gene Kelly and his acting choices. First as he walks up into Montmartre he is happy and invigorated. His short conversation w/the woman across the way is friendly. His guard only goes up when the young lady comes up talking in broken French, the first clue (besides her appearance) that she is a young college girl from America. Then she talks and her conversation makes it even more evident. Jerry is quite blunt, but he is also honest. What I find interesting however, is what happens when Nina Foch enters the picture as Milo. At first Jerry is confident, yet once Milo wants to buy his paintings he appears stunned and a bit out of his element. Which is quite a change from his earlier demeanor.
  6. Throughout the number the one thing that stood out was how each character here is represented: Don is the student learning dutifully from the teacher, the Professor himself is the straight man, and Cosmo is the comic relief. Before the dancing starts Don is the one learning this difficult rhyme while the Professor tries to listen and Cosmo is clowning in the background. This seems to translate into the number as Cosmo really seems to be having a ball, Don is a touch more serious while still having fun, and the Professor is watching off to the side. I've always thought of the straight man as the one who is in on the action but stays out of the way of the fun. They are mostly window dressing to keep the plot moving. Not always the easiest job or the most rewarding, though I think they usually have it the hardest. When it comes to masculinity, Don is top dog. He has more strength and athleticism compared to the other two. Cosmo is the lesser male here. He is more for comic relief and fun, Don's partner and foil. The Professor I feel kind of falls in the middle. He is there to keep them out of trouble so is masculine but not exactly.
  7. I think that Calamity Jane seems to fall somewhere in between when talking about female representation. She's trying in ways to become more feminine and attractive but at the same time continues to retain those stronger characteristics of independence and energy. Doris Day does a fabulous job of blending these two ideals together which is evident in "Secret Love". Jane is a touch softer now and sweet while still keeping the vitality and passion at the forefront. As I have only seen a few of Day's films I can't quite comment on how she grows as an actress during the 1950s. The films that I've seen her in I believe were from the 60's. I personally believe that Day was an excellent choice for this role. She brings a believability and likeability to this character that makes you want to root for her and see her get that happy ending. I think there's also a little vulnerability that she brings to the character.
  8. In this clip, it truly felt like the four of them were making a collaborative effort in this number. Not one person stood out, and everybody each got there own time to shine in form or another. They were all equals in figuring out how to create a show. The costumes even showed it, as each person was wearing something that didn't stand out. The colors all seemed much more neutral, like Lily's gray dress and Jeffrey's blue jacket. I found it rather interesting that though this was a collaborative effort, Fred Astaire seemed to hang back for most of this number and the others were at the forefront. And at this point in his career, Astaire was the more well-known one.
  9. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is definitely on my list. He was without a doubt the best tap dancer of his time, if not all time. It's amazing for me to think now that I'm older that this man was doing amazing work like this in his 60s and he's just as nimble, quick, and graceful as someone half his age, perhaps more so! And I loved seeing his work w/Shirley Temple. They were so sweet and charming together. Donald O'Connor is another good one. He easily matched Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain from Fit as a Fiddle to the Moses Number. Plus Make 'Em Laugh was really a tour de force of his comedic training. Fabulous.
  10. You can definitely see the love and the intimacy between Petunia and Little Joe when she sings this number. The focus is entirely on them. I love how her hand is gently resting right below Little Joe's chin throughout the first part of the number and how eventually his hand comes up to meet hers. There is a change in how Ethel Waters handles the number. In the first part her love and devotion to Little Joe is on full display along with her gratitude that he is okay. Then when the shot switches to her folding laundry it seems more lighthearted and carefree. She seems more relaxed and happy. But, her love for Joe is evident throughout. To me, that's the most important part of the number. If this number were sung to a child I think it would have a completely different feel to it. It would be very gentle and the focus would always be on the child, everything would be on the child's level. I don't think the first part of the number would have had that serious quality to it, as the child would have been shielded from that. This film was astoundingly important to this era, as it was one of the very few depicting an all African-American cast that was shown in those days. It give many African-Americans a chance to see themselves reflected onscreen, something that was a rarity unless it was a stereotyped role or a bit part. Unfortunately, especially in those days, stereotypes were still thrown around which are in this film. As an aside, Ethel Waters is absolutely beautiful in this clip and her voice is just so authentic.
  11. I feel like with each shot we see exactly what we need to see of the action throughout the musical number. The camera pans out so we can see long shots like the tossing of the baseball, them running up the bleachers, and the slide down the railing at the end of the number. Then we have close-ups where there's touching, the knocking on the bleachers, the finger that Betty points back and forth between them, etc. And the number is also seamlessly put together by the editing so there are no cuts, no jumping and we feel each moment smoothly transition into the next. The soundtrack to me kind of sets up the idea of this musical number by the heightened frenzy of the tempo. You feel that something is about to go down and that it will be intense. Betty chasing Frank up into the bleachers of the ballpark also gives us the feeling that she has something she wants to say and won't give up until he surrenders. Which he does by throwing that baseball and kicking off the number.
  12. Like everyone I'm sure has already mentioned, the first film that ever exposed me to the wonderfully talented Judy Garland was The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes I think it was simply an unwritten law that you had to see The Wizard of Oz as a child. Anyway, I remember as a young child even being captivated by Judy's beauty, youth, and innocence in this film. I don't believe that I truly began to appreciate her dazzling talent though until I saw Meet Me in St. Louis somewhere in my teenage years I believe. There I just fell in love w/her charming personality, though we also saw a feisty side to her when she confronted the boy next door John after she thought he hurt Tootie. Which is really the whole point as I think you saw different sides to Judy in this film. She was feisty, charming, vulnerable, sad, and in that scene performing w/Tootie at the party you saw her capacity for love and passion (which were also on display in other parts of the film.) I've seen Easter Parade now at least a half-dozen times as I try to watch it every Easter when TCM plays it, but as I watched this clip I did notice as Dr. Ament mentioned that my eye was continually drawn back to Judy though I did try to watch Fred Astaire at different moments throughout the number. And I believe as well that it just has to do w/Judy's tremendous talent and just sheer screen presence that you can't take your eyes off of her. Her timing is impeccable, the humor gets you laughing out loud, and the simple pleasure of watching her sing and dance is just breathtaking. Watching them together is simply a delight. You understand why Fred Astaire was so eager to work w/her and realize how sad it was that this was their only film together. Now as For Me and My Gal, I've only seen this film once before so I was watching the number as closely as possible. Judy really is the consummate performer as you watch her sing and act at the same time all while keeping her eyes on the music, "playing" the piano, and keeping that contact w/Gene Kelly's character as Dr. Ament mentioned. You really see the beginning of that relationship play out in this number too. The spark is there and continues to build throughout the number, heightened by the dancing. I feel that Judy takes the believability here to the next level. When talking about songs that really made you feel that Judy was telling a story w/them though it's not exactly later years I've always felt that the Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis has a powerful and beautiful feeling to it. Every time I hear it I feel this amazing rush like I'm right there with Judy feeling everything that she's feeling in that moment. I've also felt that Get Happy from Summer Stock gives you this incredible feeling of happiness and relaxation. And I recently saw A Star is Born which was pretty amazing, especially The Man that Got Away. It just haunts you and stays with you long after the number is over. Forgot to add Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as well though it too is not exactly later years. There's something about the way Judy sings it that nobody else can match. I think it's the sadness, the vulnerability, and there is a little bit of a haunting quality to it as well. I actually refuse to listen basically to any other version of this song, because in my opinion nobody can do it like Judy did. NOBODY.
  13. In the first few minutes of this film, the ideas of patriotism loom large from the portraits of former Presidents on the stairs to the flags in the Oval Office, to the parade on July 4th in the flashback. The dialogue also promotes it, showing Cohan's love and pride of his country, Cohan's mention of "always carrying a flag" stands out the most. Opening with the July 4th Parade I think would change and/or dampen the message of patriotism coming from the film. Seeing Cohan coming to the Oval Office means something and shows how important the love of his country is to him. His talking to the valet also promotes how beloved a figure Cohan was, a true beacon of patriotism himself.
  14. I'd say Cyd Charisse without a doubt. The number "Dancing In The Dark" from The Band Wagon was absolutely fantastic. And Judy Garland as well. They only worked together in Easter Parade but the impact is obvious.
  15. As you can see by my name, I'm naturally a huge fan of Fred and Ginger. And this film in particular is a favorite of mine. I like how it shows them both on a more equal footing, something that really wasn't seen in other musical films prior to this. In the first part of this clip, I noticed for the first time Ginger's facial expressions as Fred is singing to her. She has this look of like 'Oh really, you think you can charm me? Think again.' But, Fred is persistent and begins to dance. The surprise I think here is how well she can match him, step for step. It's fascinating. I love how they seem to feel each other out, see how far the other can go as well. Watching her hold her own against him is also what makes this number so great. They're equals. This film seems different from other films of the time because of the independence of the woman, being able to take care of herself. The music itself also feels like part of the story rather than being thrown in to create a number. The woman appears to be on more equal footing with the man than in earlier musicals. This gives her more independence and security than before.

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