ladyjessica68

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  1. 1. 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? One of the things that I’ve noticed about early musicals is that the men are not really alpha male type characters. They often are flowery and warbly and don’t have a very strong masculine presence on the screen. Fred Astaire, while being a great performer, was not really an alpha male. Moving on to Gene Kelly and the musicals of the late 40s and 50s, the male characterization changed. I think the war had to do with this partially, as well as the feeling of victory and American superiority as we’ve discussed before. By the time Robert Preston and Harold Hill come on the scene, the masculinity in men’s musical roles is obvious and the alpha is present, but it’s not in your face. Preston is able to exert his masculinity without making it obvious that he was doing so. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? I’ve loved Robert Preston ever since I first saw The Music Man. His performance is phenomenal, a master class in hucksterism, and I don’t think it will ever be matched no matter who plays the role. His role in Victor/Victoria again is masculine, but not obviously so. He is able to find such depth in the character that he portrays a real gay man, not a caricature or a joke. 3. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work? Sadly, I have not seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals. Must get on that.
  2. 1. 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? This scene looks backwards to early musicals first and foremost in the staging. Early musicals were often staged as a live theatre performance would be staged, with the audience looking in on the action. It also hearkens back to classic musicals with the show within a show mentality, but looks forward in the subject matter. Mama Rose is probably one of the most disruptive characters in musical theatre history, and she does not disappoint in this scene as she not only interrupts but takes over in an attempt to make her children win and be seen as the best. 2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress. Like everything she does, Mama Rose’s entrance is one to remember. It’s forceful, unyielding, and Russell truly makes use of and commands the “stage”. Her big, booming voice and stage presence seem to make the others sharing it with her cower in awe of her. Part of this is the character, of course, but she is able to transition the stage and film together in a way that makes her come off as a formidable person who is not to be messed with. 3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not). Ive always enjoyed this song, and often find it stuck in my head. While the song is sung here by June, the lyrics and the performance both foreshadow what is to come for Louise as she grows into what would become Gypsy Rose Lee. The performance and lyrics are questionable for a young girl, but as has been stressed in this course and is so very important, we must view the films as products of their time and also as products of the times they’re depicting.
  3. 1. Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film? I don’t think that the entire film needs to have the same stylized approach throughout. For one, if the entire film was as stylized as the ending ballet, the ballet wouldn’t seem as special because it would be no different or better or worse than the rest of the film. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? For starters, he’s played by Gene Kelly. I don’t find him unlikeable in this scene as much as frustrated. He carries his paintings around and it’s obvious that he is not selling much. When the college student starts criticizing his work, you can tell that this isn’t the first time it’s happened. I think anybody would have reacted the way he did to criticism, and some would have been much more harsh. His frustration carries over into his meeting with Milo and by that point I think he’s thinking to himself, what do I have to lose?
  4. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? They clearly are preparing the audience for something big. O’Connor starts it off and Kelly mirrors his movements, first in how they speak and then in how they move the professor around. Cosmo even starts the dancing while Don tries to maintain his cool, apathetic manner, but then Kelly takes his obvious lead and really gets into it and ratchets up the number. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The Professor does a fabulous job playing the straight man in this scene. He is so excited and happy with himself while demonstrating the tongue twisters, and then by the end he is totally resigned to what is happening. He allows himself to be led around and man handled, and then he sits back resignedly as if saying, “is this seriously happening right now?”. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Kelly is the obvious alpha male in this scene, O’Connor is the beta male, and the professor is the tertiary character foil. You can see in their dress how Gene Kelly is less buttoned up, more relaxed. Donald O’Connor wears a tie and appears a bit more formal. When Kelly takes the lead in the dancing, he asserts his dominance yet also gives O’Connor room to shine. Their dance styles are completely different, Kelly’s being more athletic and forceful, O’Connor’s lighter and more comical, but they complement each other perfectly. The professor is just sitting there waiting and then when they bring him back into the dance, they both are dominant over him and he lets them do what they will.
  5. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Most female characters in the 1950s perpetuated the view that women were soft and feminine and good housewives and mothers. Calamity Jane, while showing a softer side of herself (and only to herself, not to anybody else) in the second clip, stands out because she obviously is not comfortable portraying the soft and feminine woman. I haven’t seen the entire film, but it seems that this character stands apart from the continuum but also follows it at times. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? The only other Doris Day film I’ve seen is Pillow Talk, which she made in 1959 with Rock Hudson. I can’t really speak to her other films, but I’ve always enjoyed Pillow Talk and in it she kind of plays the role of the modern working girl that would become popular in the 1960s. 3. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. I don’t think that her personality adds or detracts from this role, because this iteration of Calamity Jane IS Doris Day. I’m sure the real Calamity Jane was quite a different person than the one portrayed onscreen by Ms. Day, but such is the magic of the movies. Day has the reputation for being bright and sunny, so that part of her personality will come through in almost any role that she did.
  6. 1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? The characters in this scene truly seem to be working as a group, without any one of them being the focus. This is different from earlier musicals in that early musicals usually had one person in the numbers who was the focus and the rest of the performers were in the background. The earlier Astaire films that were discussed showed him as the star and highlighted his dancing with Ginger, and everyone else was just set decoration. 2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. All of the men are dressed in suits of varying hues of blue and gray, and Ms. Fabray is dressed in monochromatic tones as well with just the tiny pop of red at her waist. This also works to show them as a group rather than singling out anyone as the “lead”. 3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? All of the characters come across as equals, but all are playful in their own ways.
  7. 1.What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song? This scene begins in shadow, and Petunia is despondent. Once Joe calls her, the entire mood of the scene changes. The scene is lighter, both in feel and in actual light, as Petunia goes through her song. She sings like a giddy school girl, happy in the knowledge that, for all his faults, her Joe is going to be okay. This tells us that Joe is her world, and to her life is not worth living without him. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? If a woman were singing this song about her child, the mood would shift entirely. I don’t think it would be such a lighthearted and flirtatious song, but would be sung more gravely and with reverence. I don’t think the cultural meaning would necessarily change. The song would always be about “Joe” making the singer happy, but the unconditional love of a child and the happiness that child brings to its mother is inherently different than the love of a husband. 3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? i can see how this film would have been meant to bridge the gap in race relations and in acceptance towards African Americans, but it still is very much a product of its time based on the stereotypes that are perpetuated. However, even taking that into account, I think that this film may have given the 1940s viewer an important insight into the lives of African Americans that may not have been known or even considered at the time.
  8. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. This scene starts off small and grows to use this entire section of the ballpark. To me, this highlights how Betty is willing to go to any lengths to get what she wants. Frank literally running away from her and her chasing him up those wide bleachers turn the tables on traditional male/female roles and put her in the driver’s seat. She is aggressive and has no qualms about going after her man. Frank is submissive and eventually caves to her advances. 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? This scene starts with a lighthearted toss of the baseball, and then the dance begins. The way that Garrett and Sinatra dance with each other as she is backing him up starts to set the rhythm of the piece, and then he speeds up and begins running. This foreshadows the subject of the song and how she will chase him around the ballpark. Once she finally backs him into a corner, then she can begin singing and stating her case.
  9. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? The first Judy Garland I recall seeing is The Wizard of Oz. I was very young, probably 5 or 6, and I was just totally and completely enthralled by her. I became obsessed with the film and watched it over and over and over. Even then I think I recognized how special she was, and how she showed you her heart in every note. The love that I found for her with that film has never wavered.  2.How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? If anything, I love her even more because while I’ve seen Easter Parade, I had never seen For Me and My Gal, and I can see even in that short time how her talent grew. 3. What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric? Its not her later career, but her delivery of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Meet Me in St. Louis (I also say Louee) is just absolutely heartbreaking. It never fails to make me cry, even when I just hear it on the radio. Her voice and rendition bring up memories of those who have been lost like no other. Also, her performance in A Star Is Born is masterful. I’m really looking forward to watching that one again. Even her TV performances were wonderful, such as her duet with Barbra Streisand. It’s hard to describe what made her quintessentially Judy, but there will never be another like her.
  10. 1. From Cohan’s flag pin, to the portraits of American presidents, even down to the paintings and models of ships in the Oval Office, this clip oozes patriotism. This continues with all of the flags waving and the musical selection played during the parade scene. The idea that a regular American immigrant, or son of an immigrant, can work his way up to greatness and meet the president is also one that reflects American values. 2. The dialogue in this clip almost makes it seem like a war promotion reel that would be shown before the film. The butler saying that Teddy Roosevelt sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” in the bathtub, Cohan and Roosevelt both saying they wish they knew all the answers, Cohan making a better president than Roosevelt himself, reminiscing about old times and Cohan being a regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, talking about Irish-Americans carrying their love of country out in the open like a flag, and Americans being optimistic and expectant - all of this would have served to comfort and reassure the folks watching the film that even though the way ahead during war time was unsure, America would fight and prevail. 3. I think if the film had started at the parade, it would have lost something in the telling. The idea of Cohan looking back and reflecting on his life certainly adds to the autobiographical element, but it also gives it a certain gravitas that I don’t feel it would have had otherwise. Beginning with the parade and going into the scene with Cohan’s father immediately would have made it feel more lighthearted, whereas adding the scene looking back with the president shows how far Cohan, and America itself, has come and adds a dramatic element of reserve and nostalgia that would have been well regarded at the beginning of a war.
  11. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? I can see very subtle hints. Most women in film at this time would have been easily wooed by Fred’s singing and romanticizing to her, but Ginger is having none of it. Early in his song, you can see her almost rolling her eyes and thinking about how she’s going to get out of this. Gradually, though, she puts herself on the same level as him, indicating an equal partnership instead of him leading the way. I can also see kind of the “will they or won’t they?” question in this dance. They start apart from each other, and gradually get closer and closer and you can tell they want to touch but don’t. Finally, Fred grabs her and they dance together, but then they both let go. I have seen this in other screwball comedies when the men and women are drawn together in an embrace or kiss but then pull away. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? This film is much less theatrical in nature, and the songs and dances fit into and advance the plot rather than just being like a scene for the audience to watch. The dances also are more graceful and less clunky, and they really become beautiful pieces of art in their own right. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? The roles were changing during the Depression because women often had to do more then just cook and raise the children. These were hard scrabble times and women were often called upon to be more of an Equal to men and to do whatever it took to help the family survive. It’s interesting To me to consider how much films were changed by what was going on in the world at any given time, but also in how much society was changed by what was depicted on film. You can see through these musicals, and through other films of the time, how the role of women is progressing just in 4 or 5 short years. I’m anxious to see how this continues as this class goes on.
  12. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? The gun, the garters, the muffled and slightly secretive dialogue all work to let us know that Alfred is something of a lothario, and that this is not his first time being in this type of situation. Personally, I loved Alfred’s grin while the husband was trying to zip up his wife’s dress. Alfred knows he’s a lech and he seems to revel in it. 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. There was quite a lot of sound going on in this clip and it seemed to crescendo from the muffled dialogue before we meet the characters to the climactic sounds of the two gunshots. The dialogue between the married couple got even louder still, and then the sound decrescendoed. I also noticed sound that wasn’t there. For example, when the wife seemingly shoots herself, you hear the shot but not her hitting the floor. You also don’t hear the entrance of Alfred’s superior. 3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? The screwball comedy tropes of the rich being mocked and viewed as vapid and silly, the wealth and fancy clothing and lavish apartments, all adding to the feeling of escape for the audience. I don’t know when in 1929 this film was released, but if it was before the stock market crash I can truly see how this was a primary example of Depression-era filmmaking without even realizing it, and how it would sort of shape the entire genre in that era.
  13. 1. In both clips, it strikes me that the interaction between the two characters seems to be mostly at arm’s length. They are close in the canoe, but they barely look at each other and Marie acts cool and disinterested. In the second clip, she clearly has fallen in stature and is embarrassed, yet Sgt. Bruce treats her no differently. However, in the first clip Marie clearly is in control of the situation whereas in clip 2 she is not in control at all. 2. I have not seen these actors in any film or on tv, but I have my dvr set to record tomorrow. 3. Again, I bring up the distance between the characters. There is no physical closeness between them other than their proximity to one another. The closeness comes in their interactions, in their eyes and in the way they act with each other. Musicals of this era usually feature similar plots where either there is a misunderstanding or the men and women start off on the wrong foot and then fall in love, ending up together after hinjinks or shenanigans. The men usually pursue the women and the women resist until finally they cave. I would expect these to be the types of norms that were acceptable under the code because it would be a way to keep the characters apart until the very end when they would embrace and MAYBE kiss. Such suggestive behavior would have been frowned upon! ?
  14. 1. Yes, I do agree that the clip exhibits a much brighter perspective of life. The Depression was, for lack of a better word, depressing, and if people scrimped and saved their pennies to be able to afford to see a movie, they didn't want it to depict the harsh realities of their everyday life. The movies really saved people during this time by giving them a way to escape, even for an hour or two, from their downtrodden lives, and this clip depicts that escape. The costumes, the frivolity in Ms. Rainer's performance, the lighthearted music and score, the comedy - it all adds to the escape from reality. The way Ziegfeld throws his money around and the crowded theatre with people dressed in their finery add to this as well. 2. I would anticipate seeing the same lighthearted mood in other musicals of this era, going back to the idea of escapism. The opulence, the fancy costumes, the idea that money is no object and everyone has everything their hearts desire are other themes that I might expect to see. I would also anticipate seeing the same attitude of women as ornaments for the men. I have not seen the entire film, but going by this clip Anna seems to be portrayed as more of a toy to be fought over by the men rather than a real and fleshed out character in her own right. 3. If this film had been made before the code, I would expect to see less clothing on the women, and especially on Anna during her performance. There might also be more of a backstory for Anna, or more truthfulness as to the reality of her relationship with Ziegfeld, rather than everything being so happy go lucky. On another topic, does anybody know if this is actually Louise Rainer singing the song or if someone else may have dubbed her singing? I'd be curious to know that seeing as how Hollywood has a long history of using stand-in singers to record the tracks for musicals.
  15. My love for musicals started when I was about 5 or 6 with Annie. My dad would get me the video and I would watch it over and over and over and pretend I was Annie. I then became obsessed with The Wizard of Oz, and that helped develop my love for Judy Garland. Both of these films were integral to my childhood, and to my never-ending love for musicals, both movie and live theatre. As I got older, I learned to appreciate them even more. I can't pick one favorite, but my top choices include the two already mentioned as well as The Music Man, Singin' in the Rain, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady. Meet Me in St. Louis, Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, and Grease. These are films that I will always stop to watch if I see them on TV, and ones that I know the scores and the lyrics to most of the songs. They led to me wanting to learn how to play piano, how to sing, and then to teach others to sing and to share my love of musicals. To say that musicals have been an integral part of my life is an understatement, and I'm so glad to share in this class and interact with other people who love them as much as I do.

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