Linjo

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  1. Explore any common themes and film making techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course). The set designs are similar - heavy, over-done and oppressive rooms with very little natural light. Both women are dominated by men who are manipulating their lives for their own purposes. Cukor plays with the shadows to underline the women are living in shadows. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. For the most part we see both actors sharing the scene so we can gauge their reactions to each other. She feels betrayed and used and he is clueless about why. He won the bet not her devotion to her lessons or her desire to better herself. There is no camaraderie here - maybe she thought there was (the Rain in Spain sequence). Her anger teeters between her Cockney responses (throwing the shoes) and the more genteel aura she has taken on. He does not see her as a person just an object part of an experiment that is over. She is a person between two worlds and cannot see herself in either one past the evening. Her life is at a crossroad and his goes on like nothing happened. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Eliza's anger has put them on an equal level not experienced by either before. We are seeing raw emotion for the first time from both.
  2. 1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more? Belting would not have matched the scene to me (I never saw the play just the movie). The way it is performed is much more intimate, like a soliloquy - Fanny is revealing her true feelings to the audience and Nicky. I think she reveals far more in little gestures and glances - the lover lyrics - than if she was in full performance gear. You understand the complexity of their relationship in the few minutes of this lovely performance. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Nicky says focused on her throughout the song which tells me he is interested and intrigued by this funny girl even though commitment is not in his character. He's listening to her as she reveals her heart. Fanny is retrospective and glances at him throughout the song - not too much because she is a little shy about letting him know how she feels. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. The camera begins showing both - being flirty and casual. As she begins the song in earnest, the camera stays on her - not close up but medium shot I guess - most of the time with frequent cuts to Nicky so we know he is paying attention to what she is saying. Keeping both actors in view most of the time supports the fact that this is a romance between two people just beginning - two people with a lot of challenges facing their relationship because of differing outlooks and character. She is hopeful; he is intrigued. Do these people need each other enough to make a go of it? Stick with the movie, folks.
  3. 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? The vaudeville setting is the standby scene from classical musicals as is the kids auditioning to put on a show. The producer is there as well as the on-stage presenter. It's a little seedier looking than most classic musicals which more fondly remembered vaudeville. Usually the main actor(s) showed some talent but the two little girls are not that great with one (Louise) pretty bad indeed. The entrance of Rose is a disruption in itself as she tries to take over the entire proceedings. This is a different kind of mother figure than what we have seen before - pushy, loud mouthed and not to be ignored. The burst balloon offstage - an act against a child - is an element I don't think we would have seen in earlier musicals (by an adult and a mother-figure). 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. Russell's entrance is disruptive and the action quickly focuses on her actions and words. She portrays a force of nature determined to push her kids to the spotlight. She is quick-witted (as most of Russell's characterizations always were) and ready to do battle. 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). The lyrics have double meanings depending on who is singing, where they are singing it, and how they are attired. Child to hopeful vaudevillians to young stripper to professional.
  4. I think it depends on the story and how the director chooses to interpret that story as to whether the entire movie has the same artistic style or not. A change makes a point. I like that the ballet scene is different because it is in the character's imagination and all of his experiences in Paris - the people, the market places, his desire to be a painter inspired by the great French impressionists, nd of course his love for this young French woman. The stylistic difference reminds me of the sepia sequence in Wizard and how that is used to contrast Dorothy's ordinary life in Kansas as opposed to the wildly different life in Oz. Jerry's interaction with fellow artists and people along the streets of Montemarte show he is liked and considered a member of the neighborhood. In this scene he is only rude to the third-year girl who wants to critique his paintings - a college student who thinks she knows it all based on her studies and not life. He's a little rude to Milo but treats her better because she asks if she can look at his paintings and she obviously loos more sophisticated. Have to say though his character is unlikeable to me because of the way he treats Milo and stalks Leslie Caron. Kelly often played a cad and there are times I really dislike that persona he creates in films.
  5. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Kelly and O'Connor's back and forth on the Moses Supposes lesson then their syncopation on the words rhythmically sets up the dance. The two mirror each other near perfectly throughout the sequence with only brief solos by each. The Foley Tap matches their dancing on the nose to me. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. He's in control (or believes he is) briefly then loses it to the antics of Kelly and O'Connor. I don't think he knows what to make of these crazy guys running amok in his classroom but then he simply sits and observes their entire dance routine. Maybe like the audience? Perhaps we and the professor are straight men reacting to the two dancers. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Donald is the adorable class clown Beta - complete with funny facial contortions. He is the sidekick and partner in crime to Kelly. Kelly as always is the Alpha. He's the reason they are at the elacution classroom because he is the money-making leading man whose speech concerns the studio (to keep making profitable sound movies) not Donald. Even is the scene where the characters are draping themselves with the curtains, Kelly is the higher position (Caesar) while O;Connor is kneeling and feigning weeping like a woman. The professor is the neutral, reactor. Very scholarly, precise and dull - which movies then seem to view academics. He's gray while Kelly and O'Connor are full technicolor metaphorically speaking.
  6. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Middle of the pack. Calamity is a tomboy and happy to be who she is. For the most part, it seems the community outwardly likes her and appreciates her work yet when she really tries to be "one of the boys" in the saloon scene the men push her aside and ignore her. Until she shoots off her gun. They get the last laugh (and enjoy it) on her when she fumbles at the bar and falls on her ****. Maybe that's a statement about a woman pushing too hard against society for equality. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? She certainly does. In her early films with Carson she is the sweet but very talented new singing star at Warners. Acting is OK but not too much beyond her own personality I'm thinking. In the 50s, she was dong musicals and dramatic parts so she learned to combine the singing and the acting more smoothly and plays people different from herself (Love Me or Leave Me for example). She became a triple threat like Judy Garland but Judy was the superior actress. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. If the movie depicted the character of Calamity Jane and the time more true to life it would have distracted for sure. However, most musicals were still going for the all out optimism so no it doesn't.
  7. 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? They respond listen and respond to each other as a group. No single character is doing all the talking or performing. Each is on is contributing a "bit". Previous musicals tended to feature one - or two - stand out performers possibly supported by a chorus line or numerous extra dancers. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. Astaire and Levant are in suits - Astaire more polished than the sports-jacketed Levant. Buchanan is a more arts-fartsy theater guy so he is in a glorified leisure suit with a cravat no less. Fabray is in a traditional feminine wide-skirted dress. So, each is represented a particular character the 50s audience is familiar with - yet they are all getting along and working together. Color-wise - I see grey, white, blue, black and a touch of red (in Fabray's rose pinned at her waist). SO the group is dressing as individuals but linked. Levant and Fabray are in grays, white and black (and are the married pair), Their white accents match Astaire's white shirt and his navy pinstripe suit and blue tie blends with Buchanan's shades of blue leisure suit. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? They touch each other a lot and do simple dance steps in unison. They support each other (the acrobatic scene), They share ideas. The even light each other's cigarette (Levant and Buchanan). No one is left out of the fun.
  8. Report post Posted 9 hours ago 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? The focus is totally on Waters and the emotional and genuine feeling she is infusing into the lyrics of the song. This man means everything to her and her life is content as long as he loves her. I think the cut to her hanging clothes while Joe watches her from his wheelchair shows time has passed in his recuperation and also that simple ordinary acts like taking down the laundry is a joy to this woman if it is for her man and her home. The cut to the General (good force) shows that the almighty totally blesses this woman's feelings about her man and home. Likewise, at the end, the evil tem enters like storm clouds threatening her wash and her joy. It's a touching sequence. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? Could be very similar except some modifications to the song's lyrics. Mother love is as strong - maybe stronger - than love between a man and woman. 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 enjoyed the film even though it is packed with stereotypes people believed about black Americans at that time (right until the present sad to say). It's good some in Hollywood were trying to be more inclusive but I don't think it changed much for black Americans. Still - it is a very enjoyable film and I totally appreciated the talents of Ethel Waters.
  9. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. The whole sequence is a reversal of a man stalking a woman he is obsessed with. She confronts him in the hallway, chases him up te stairs that lead to the bleachers - so we go from a confined area to a more open yet constricted area (lined the seating) so Sinatra only has one clear direction to go until she corners him at an opposite stairway exit. The music has been building to this moment when she speaks her mine quite plainly and challenges him to play ball with her because its fate, baby - she even begins to carry him away like a caveman! Garret is the male predator and Sinatra the female prey in this entire piece which is funny considering Sinatra's reputation. MGM set Sinatra up as the innocent guy shy around the ladies in Anchors Aweigh as well. Such irony. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? The choreography, and I mean the way the characters are moving and interacting not dancing, builds to the beginning of the song. Cat and mouse then confrontation.
  10. It has to be The Wizard of Oz as a child. Every year (for a time) they played it on TV and it was a ritual (one my mom got tired of viewing as we only had the one TV). She was so likeable and appealing and you truly felt her emotions throughout the film. You shared the journey with her. And what an incredible voice for a petite, teenaged girl! I think Meet Me in St. Louis was the next one I remember - still love the film and Judy's performance of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is memorable and no one has every topped her delivery in my opinion (it's also my favorite holiday song). The clips didn't change my view of Judy just enriched them. The more films you see with Judy the more you appreciate how extraordinary a performer she was. She really could multi-task so naturally on film that it seemed effortless. It's hard for me to believe how MGM misused, overused and eventually tossed out such a unique and rare artist. If she had been handled differently we could all have enjoyed her on film for so many more years. I think The Man That Got Away from A Star Is Born is the best example of the more mature Judy's expressive way of delivering a song. Again, you feel all of her emotions in the delivery powered by that magnificent voice and stellar acting skills. Again, I cannot believe this artist couldn't get another film role after that performance.
  11. 1. The flag in the oval office, the portraits of past presidents lining the walls of the stairway, the flag pin on Cohan's lapel, the paintings of naval ships (FDR was the Secretary of the Navy in WW1) in the oval office and the presence of FDR, recounting the Providence 4th of July parade (and when Cohan was born) - all of these visuals emphasize American history and presence and the FDR makes it current to the audience. 2. This line - That's one thing I always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It's a great quality. - illustrates the importance of patriotism to a country built on immigrants from many countries (and my mom's parents were Irish Americans and they were extremely proud to be citizens of the US especially during WW2). Cohan and FDR also hit on family (his as vaudevillians and FDR's as attending shows), and Cohan's dad enlisting for the Civil War (tying in to past wars). I also noted the African-American butler referencing Teddy R on the stairs - reinforcing the history of the US. 3. I think opening the movie with the scene with FDR sets up the film as a memoir rather than a biography and allows Cohan (Cagney) to comment on events that formed his legacy. If we started with the parade and chronologically followed his life the film would be more static. I think this touch makes It more personal. Also, the oval office scene presented another way to reinforce patriotism and love of country because FDR and Cohan are talking about how much it means to Cohan (and FDR in a more visual way then Cohan).
  12. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? It shows that a confident woman can always match the man. The similar outfits keep equalize them as well as the matching steps, swaggers, jumps, and twirls. It is the beginning of the courtship and they don't touch until well into the number; they've gotten to know each, assessed the situation and like what they see. Only then do they touch n dance as a couple with the music and thunder emphasizing the strength of the attraction. The dancing speeds up and slows just as a relationship has its highs and lows. Great routine. 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? There is a lovely flow to the scene and Fred and Ginger move into the song and dance more naturally. The song and dance are telling a story about the people. I'm seeing this approach as a departure from the music and dance being part of a show (42nd Street/Golddiggers) and more public. This is more intimate. 3. 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? More women were working outside of the home and developing more confidence in themselves and their place in society. WW2 would open it up even further. In screwball comedies, a majority of the characters are as daffy as can be but the caricatures were making a point about society and leading lives that had more of a purpose than spending money and drinking martinis all day. Often the women in the comedies were smart chicks who were manipulating situations to meet their purposes rather than just looking lovely and waiting for the man to make the move.
  13. 1. 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) Ah, the humor of the Lubitsch touch! I see the sleeping dog on the couch - he obviously has been through many evenings like this and is used to it. The multiple pistols and garters in the Count's secretary - again this situation has happened numerous times before. The graphic of the scantily clad lady above the secretary. The shooting that isn't a shooting and the Count's checking his body for a gunshot that never touched him - and the quick shift to show the lady is unharmed as well. The rattling of the door that surprises the quarreling lovers. The music that builds when the cuckolded husband is preparing to shoot the Count. The flow of the scene and the inclusion of the outside (the street scene and the noise of the outside crowd that we hear briefly when the Count opens and closes his window. Sophistication and wit. 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. The rattling of the door surprising the lovers and then the build up of the music when the husband picks up the gun and approaches the Count - it enhances the drama and anticipation of what we think is going to happen. And then nothing really does because the gun shoots blanks! 3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Beautiful people with nothing but the pursuit of pleasure on their minds (work? what work?). Beautifully designed apartments and elegant clothes. A fairy tale world
  14. 1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. In the canoe clip, it's playful, teasing and lightly suggestive enough to be fun but not upset the code. He obviously likes her and she's pretending not to but she does (a typical scenario in movies of the era). The bit about changing the name in the song to suit the current flame is amusing and shows both have a sense of humor. The humor also shows he may flirt but he's not a bad guy and she gets it. The second clip further demonstrates the two have feelings for one another. He shows concern over her embarrassment and situation - compassion for the tough spot she is in - while we can see she is upset that he sees her in this embarrassing moment (if she didn't care it wouldn't matter so much) and out of there as quickly as possible to end that uncomfortable episode. By manner and singing style we see she is not the type of girl (good girl) that frequents a place like that even though she tries to gamely mimic the saloon singer (bad girl) to salvage her unappreciated performance (two different moral worlds - see we are upholding the code!). 2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. In her Paramount musicals with Chevalier, we see a much more risqué teasing manner in MacDonald and the dialogue was much more suggestive and sexual (or to the point). She handled that style well - again with a touch of humor - so that ability has carried over to the more morally upstanding vehicles at MGM post code.Non-musically speaking, she delivers the good girl triumphing and reforming her love interest in a morally free and corrupt setting in San Francisco. Her bit in Rose Marie in the saloon is a minor replay of her start in San Francisco where her singing style doesn't go over until she peps and sexes it up (successfully in Frisco). However she returns to the cultured morally higher road of an opera star in the latter part of the film. Have not seen that many Eddy performances minus MacDonald but he always appears to be - at heart - a regular guy that is trustworthy and loyal not a slimely character. 3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? Courtships between the main leads were to be conducted on a higher level - very proper and no excess pawing. Good girls didn't easily succumb to charm and good boys ultimately respected a lady (sometimes after a game try to get to first base and realizing the error in their approach). The leads were chaste until marriage. Foreplay was though words or music or dance. The love-hate thing seesaws through misunderstandings, separations etc. and, having weathered all the storms, morally true love triumphs in the end. Code perfect.
  15. 1. Depression-era musicals were pure escapism - I can't think of any offhand that portrayed life as really experienced by the majority of the filmgoers. I think the filmgoers wanted to dive into a beautiful, happier place inhabited by beautiful people in gorgeous clothes living sumptuously without a serious care in the world. Two hours of relief from reality - and the studios delivered that relief. Five pound tips, exotic, expensive flowers to impress a lady and business decisions made on a whim - its another world. Who wouldn't want to live in that world? 2. I would anticipate the same approach in this time period. Musicals were being used to uplift a nation with a lot of headaches not reinforce the ugly world folks were dealing with. Also the dream of many young people was to make it on Broadway and the musicals fed on that dream - making it a bright, exciting, carefree world - no warts at all. 3. For this particular clip - in a pre-code situation - that costume would have been more revealing (considering this depicted a theater in Europe in the early 1900s which probably was more free-spirited than an American stage show). The song is fairly explicit - come play with me - so that would stay but maybe her singing, facial expressions and gestures would be underlining the double-meaning of the song much more. Finally, when she returns to her dressing room - in pre-code she would have removed more than just her hat for sure.

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