peejbuddy79

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  1. 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? If you’ll listen to the Broadway cast album from 1964, you’ll notice Streisand is singing a great deal louder mainly because in the theater you have to project a lot more energy so that the audience members sitting in the very back row of the house can hear you and feel that powerful energy; this was particularly so back then as this show pre-dates individual mics (befoe individual mics came along they had a row of microphones lined up along the perimeter of the stage and the actors had to have a loud, powerful voice so they could be heard all throughout the house). Having said all that, if Streisand had performed “People” (and all the other numbers in the film for that matter) in the same approach she had done on stage, it would’ve come across as overwhelming and maybe even obnoxious. In film, things are much more up close and personal so the actors can emote and convey feelings just as effectively ina quiet, more subdued manner. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Fanny sings about being lonely and needing “one person, one very special person” to feel that sense of completeness when they’ve found their soul mate. This is true of both Fanny and Nick as they both have plenty of connections with members of the opposite sex, but they haven’t really and truly made any significant connection with any of them, until they meet each other. From the moment they first meet backstage at Keeney’s Music Hall, you sense the instant attraction and the palpable electricity between them. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. The song deals with emotions and how everyone needs a significant other in order to find a sense of completeness and happiness in life. The interesting thing is that the blocking in the scene puts Fanny and Nick several feet apart from one another, representing the distance they feel even though their obviously attracted to one another. It’s their insecurity and self-consciousness (particularly Fanny’s) that keeps them apart. But you know that Nick is treading carefully with their situation and doesn’t want to move too fast as he definitely senses Fanny’s naïveté about falling in love.
  2. 1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) I saw GASLIGHT almost twenty years ago and both that and MY FAIR LADY have become two of my all-time favorite films. One theme I’ve noticed about both these films is that both Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn are playing women who have become dependent of the dominant male in their lives, played by Charles Boyer and Rex Harrison, respectively. However, by the end of both films, both ladies have reached the point where they’re no longer dependent and have become fully self-assured and independent, particularly Ingrid Bergman as she confronts Boyer with a passionate venegance in one of the final scenes in GASLIGHT. Audrey Hepburn confronts Harrison with a more subtle yet obvious determination as she wants him to realize that she is her own woman and has always had the ability within her to stand on her own, to which Harrison acknowledges with his words but it isn’t until later when he’s alone that he realizes how much she means to him. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. The scene begins with Audrey being very quiet and introverted. Within thirty seconds she’s goes to the extreme, falling to her knees in an emotional breakdown and then almost immediately throws Harrison’s slippers at him in a violent rage. This is followed by a very passionate exchange of words about wanting to kill him for using and exploiting her all for his own gain and the expansion of his already overwhelming ego. What follows is a brief moment of attempted physical violence and then she breaks down on the couch in deep anxiety and almost despair. She then begins to calm down little by little with a pensive attitude which then ends in a more controlled, ladylike behavior. Audrey conveys this roller-coaster of emotions very effectively within five to eight minutes and is the brilliant, consummate actress she’s become famous and loved for. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Harrison, being another brilliant actor, conveys his character’s coldness and seemingly unattached manner while still trying to console and encourage Eliza with a friendly attitude, but obviously it’s a shallow approach, as Higgins is determined to keep all women emotionally at bay. Audrey shows an Eliza who has obviously matured into not only a grown woman but one who is able to handle herself with more grace and dignity, despite her brief lapse into behaving like a guttersnipe with her physical confrontations at the beginning of the scene. How she behaves later in the parlour scene shows an even more dignified and mature Eliza as she proves once and for all how she has learned not only to behave like a lady but also to show to Higgins how she is no longer a frightened young girl in need of guidance from someone else.
  3. 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? The most noticeable point I’ve noticed about men and their performances is that as each new decade comes in there is more self-assurance and security within the man’s performance. This can certainly be said of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in the 30s and 40s but no as much so with Robert Taylor back in the 30s; while he does have a definite likability in his performance he still tends to be somewhat stiff and self conscious. Kelly and Astaire didn’t have this problem although they did play the same type of role over and over again, in general they played their persona and little else. By the 1950s and particularly the 60s, male parts in musicals were slowly but surely becoming more and more well written and fleshed out. Preston gives a very fine example of this in his performance in THE MUSIC MAN and twenty years later in VICTOR / VICTORIA. Two other examples of a great performance in a great role would be Rex Harrison as Prof. Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY as well as Richard Harris as King Arthur in CAMELOT. Both these musicals were written and composed by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Lowe (who had also written and composed the scripts / scores for GIGI, BRIGADOON and PAINT YOUR WAGON and Lerner had won the screenplay Oscars for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and GIGI as well). Lerner and Lowe made a particular point about these two roles of Higgins and Arthur which has become a standard for most of, if not all, subsequent productions of FAIR LADY and CAMELOT... a great singer should never play Higgins or Arthur... only a great actor should play Higgins or Arthur. This standard was becoming more and more apparent with the way that male parts were being written and which actors should play them during the 1960s and onward. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? Preston is really likeable in both these performances, even though there is an underlying irony in both of them. In THE MUSIC MAN he plays a fraud who’s on the run from the law and in VICTOR / VICTORIA he has a sarcastic side that shows itself numerous times throughout the film (from what I remember of it... I saw it almost twenty years ago). Although I didn’t like either this film or THE MUSIC MAN (I enjoyed them both on stage a great deal more) I saw both VICTOR / VICTORIA and CABARET (another film I haven’t seen in 20 years and I’m looking fwd to seeing it again at the end of this week) as two definite examples of the new wave of musicals that were being made in the 70s and 80s (although the genre itself was pretty much dead by the mid 80s with only ANNIE and A CHORUS LINE as qualified musicals). 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? I did see home video footage of Preston in the original Broadway production of THE LION IN WINTER with Rosemary Harris several years ago and after seeing his performance as Henry II in comparison to Peter O’Toole’s incredibly dynamic interpretation in the film, I was disappointed that he didn’t bring as much of a larger-than-life personality to the part of Henry that he did in either MUSIC MAN or VICTOR / VICTORIA. I read some of the reviews for the original stage production of THE LION IN WINTER and they praised Harris for her great portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine (for which she managed to win the Tony award for Best Actress in a play that year) they mercielssly lambasted the play, all unanimously blaming Preston’s performance as the cause of its failure. I’ve yet to see any of Preston’s other non-musical work in film or on stage but I can see why the play ran for only 90-some odd performances... his overall portrayal was a disappiontment. As a side note, an interesting irony is that the play has only been revived on Broadway once (in 1999) since it’s original production, the revival starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing and despite Channing’s great performance as Eleanor (for which she received a Tony nomination) the play did only didn’t fare any better than the original (closing after only 93 performances).
  4. 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 scene looks very similar to the backstage musicals like THE BROADWAY MELODY and SINGIN” IN THE RAIN, as it shows scenes taking place either onstage during auditions or rehearsals where anything can happen as opposed to where everything is prepared and scripted when the show is on in front of an audience. These scenes show the reality of show business and how it reflects the same downsides and disadvantages in all other aspects of reality. The scene looks very different in comparison to the oncoming “new wave” musicals like A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and VIVA LAS VEGAS. GYPSY, like WEST SIDE STORY, THE MUSIC MAN, MY FAIR LADY and THE SOUND OF MUSIC are among the last of the traditional studio-era musicals that have their last big hurrah at the end of the 1960s with OLIVER and FUNNY GIRL before movie musicals more or less become a dead film genre. 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. I first saw GYPSY back in 1997 (I had heard about this film from my mom for years as she has always been a fan of Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. So when I got home from school during finals week in my junior year of high school I sat down and watched the VHS my sister had just bought of the film). My first impression was that this was a terrific, traditional type musical with plenty of great music from Styne and Sondheim and the performance of both Natalie Wood and Karl Malden are easily among the ten best of their careers but the real highlight of the cast is naturally Rosalind Russell as Rose. She makes the kind of entrance that makes the entire audience take immediate notice. She’s tall, elegantly dressed and has an overall presence that almost commands attention. This is not only applicable to Russell but also to the character of Rose. 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). I see the song in this scene as exploitive of Louise and June. It naturally puts you in mind of an upbeat, happy feeling, but once Rose comes on stage and takes over practically everyone else in the scene, you sense the underlying manipulation, which rapidly becomes more and more obvious as the scene progresses as well at the complete story. Rose is the kind of personality that dominates everyone, even her daughters when they’re on stage. She obviously had that “greasepaint-in-her-veins” personality that ate, slept and dreamed show business (I lost track of how many times throughout the film where she says she’s had another dream for the act). This dreaming and Rose’s overwhelming personality ultimately underscores the denial-ridden obsession she has of keeping her girls young and constantly in the act until they’re both old and gray just so Rose can live out the dream she never had the nerve to live out on her own.
  5. 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? Being a musical, this film doesn’t necessarily have to rely on being too realistic. It needs to maintain a certain degree of realism in order to show the stark differences between the real Paris and the fantasy of the ballet sequence; but in musicals, realism more often than not takes a backseat to stylism and illusion. Hollywood, in general, is famous (or even infamous) for its insistence on glamorizing everything and everyone. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Gene Kelly had developed a persona throughout his career of playing characters who could be likeable one minute and then very critical and even narcissistic the next. This scene shows an interesting example of that persona, but at the same time his criticism of Noel Neil’s character is right on the money (her annihilation of the French language was almost offensive to me, even though most under-educated Americans take a cynical, insecure atttude toward Americans who do pronounce the language with the correct accent, dismissing it as pretentious, when the truth is using an accent in any foreign language is both correct and required). Kelly correctly dismisses her as one who only cares about gettting a good grade in school and not developing a true appreciation for any culture other than her own. When Nina Foch’s character comes on right after Neil leaves, he becomes that likable guy again when he sees her as a woman who not only appreciates art but one who also has high regard for other cultures, other perspectives and for artistic integrity.
  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Just by O’Connor’s facial gags alone, you know that we’re about to head into a dance number; this is even further established by the rhythmic tempo of the elecution exercises Kelly is engaged in reciting. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. Here, the Professor is seen as the “straight man” but he has plenty of off-beat comedic elements as well, mainly by the manner he speaks in and his spirited reaction to Kelly’s progress with the exercises. He comes across as more of a “victim” of O’Connor and Kelly’s ruse but the creative brilliance of the scene makes you easily forgive and forget what a mockery they make of the poor man. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Kelly comes across as the alpha male with his self confidence in both his recitation of the speech exercise and in his brilliant dancing. O’Connor is more the beta male due to his being Kelly’s sidekick all throughout the film but he matches him with every step of the choreography in this sequence. The professor has somewhat less masculinity in comparison to the other two but it’s interesting to point out that he doesn’t have that semi-effeminate quality that so many professorial /academic characters were portrayed as having in those days,which comes across as rather refreshing.
  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Doris Day’s portrayal of Calamity Jane is much like Betty Hutton’s Annie Oakley in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Both are strong, independent women who put me in mind of Jo in LITTLE WOMEN and Scarlett in GONE WITH THE WIND. The only distinct difference between Scarlett and the other three is that like Jo, Jane and Annie are all tomboys who love to be included among all the men, whereas both Scarlett in Margaret Mitchell’s original novel and Vivien Leigh’s flawless interpretation in the film are utterly feminine, even though she also proves time and again that she has the strong business savvy of any man. Ultimately, Jane’s characterization does seem to be categorized as one of a previous era, not necessarily one of the more modernized women depicted in contemporary films of the 1950s. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Doris certainly shows in her films following CALAMITY JANE that she wanted to prove her range as an actress, certainly a comedic one. Her most memorable films are the ones she made in the late 50s and early 60s with Rock Hudson. She plays a strong, independent woman in her professional life but at the same time, to show a comedic dichotomy, she’s as vulnerable and as hilarious with the romantic side of her life as several comedic actresses of the 30s and 40s were like Carole Lombard and Irene Dunne. It’s roles like these as well as CLAMITY JANE and LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME that have endeared her consistently with audiences over the years. I see her as a true film and music icon and I hope that future generations will hold her in the same high regard. 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. Honestly, I think Doris’ persona only adds to the part of Calamity Jane. She’s sweet-natured and infectious when she has to be but she’s also honest and feisty when necessary. Day keeps all these qualities in a solid, equal balance of each other and I’ve never seen her either in this film or any of the other films of hers to be annoying or corny or out of touch with character development. For me, she simply has an effervescent quality that has always won me over and consistently keeps me appreciative of all she has to offer both as an actress and as a recording artist.
  8. 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 overall theme of this number is one of comeraderie and friendship. Not only are Astaire, Fabray and Levant’s characters old friends but along with Buchanan’s character they all team up to do a show that celebrates both friendship and their individual entertainment skills, all of which more or less depend on complimenting each other. You can’t help but feel a sense of fun and enjoyment in watching this scene. 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. Asatire, Levant and Buchanan are all dressed in suits which make them all visually relatable and complimentary while Fabray is dressed in a classy, 1950s-style blouse/skirt ensemble that not only compliments her three male counterparts but also blends in beautifully with their costuming as well. 3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? The staging is very show-business driven and even has a strong feeling of classic Vaudeville of the 1920s, where there was plenty of humorous gags, playful choreography and some acrobatics and definite sense of joy both for all the performers (with the possible exception of Buchanan who has a certain stiffness to his performance, but that’s just me) as well as the audience. FOr those of us who really enjoy musicals,I’m sure I can speak for everyone that it makes you smile and chuckle out loud at least once or twice during this terrific number.
  9. 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? I think the transition of Petunia at Joe’s bedside to hanging the laundry halfway through the song shows both the passage of time and also the happy, almost idyllic, simplicity of their lives, particularly Petunias as she’s a housewife who’s happy and content to keep house for her man. Her one conflict of concern is being assured that in spite of Joe’s attraction to gambling and noticing other women, he loves first and her above all others. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? Before seeing this film, I had identified “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe” since I was about seven or eight years old as one made popular by Judy Garland. I had first seen her sing it to her son, also called Joe, on her variety show from the mid-1960s, with the same lyrics in both Waters’ and Garland’s versions. Therefore, the transition from husband to child would be a very easy one for Petuinia as both roles of wife and mother in this case convey deep love and devotion. 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 definitely appreciate this great film for its great sensitivity towards giving black performers the opportunity to portray characters of a non-stereotype and to even go as far as making the character of Petunia a woman unafraid of being independent if necessary (the scene towards the end of the film when she confronts Joe about his buying Georgia all the finery and not considering her first). The importance of the film during the WWII era was of considerable significance as it had a consistent theme of loyalty and a relatable element of good vs. evil. Both can be perceived as patriotism and as an encouragement towards fighting the enemy.
  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. One example of key actions would be to show a full length shot of Sinatra and Garrett as he slides down the railing at the end of the number and the need to so again as Garrett runs after him up to the top of the bleachers as Sinatra tries to get away from her, all to no avail. Garrett had a genius for playing gutsy, determined women who went after the man she wanted and as exepmlified both her and one year later in ON THE TOWN. 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? The most effective way to seque from dialogue into a musical number is the type of music leading up to the start of the number. You can tell here in this clip by the comedic arrangement of the music and the way Garrett is coming after Sinatra with all her comedic determination.
  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? Like most people, the first Judy Garland film I ever saw was THE WIZARD OF OZ, which was actually the first movie I ever saw (certainly that I can remember). Naturally, my first impression of her was someone who I liked from the very first. I certainly identified with her wanting to be somewhere other than the arid, colorless, dry location of Kansas and going somewhere new and exciting. I could also identify with her fears and her desire to ultimately go home. The realizations she makes by the end of the film (realizing “there’s no place like home”), along with those fears and her longing to be elsewhere are, I think, the primary reasons why generation after generation identify with this film as well as Judy’s overall performance of Dorothy. The financial success of this great film as well as it’s enduring appeal is ultimately due to her brilliant gift as an entertainer. 2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I’ve been watching Miss Garland for years, as a matter of fact, there’s not a time in my memory where I didn’t know who she was or what an amazingly brilliant entertainer she was. These clips have only added to my appreciation of her talent and her generous spirit with her co-stars. My family and I have seen quite a few of her films and the complete season of her brilliant and tragically short-lived variety show from 1963-64 and I think mainly due to the fact that we lost her at such an incredibly young age of only 47 is why we enjoy her as much as we do and almost can’t get enough of her. I remember running across John Fricke’s collector’s book JUDY GARLAND: WORLD’S GREATEST ENTERTAINER years ago in my local library and I couldn’t come up with a more perfect superlative for her than that one.  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? In terms of her career as a singer, I can’t think of any other more perfect examples than her scene in 1954’s A STAR IS BORN when she sings “The Man That Got Away,” which I identify as her signature tune equal to “Over the Rainbow”. The second example is when she gave the most incredible rendition I’ve ever heard of “Old Man River” on an episode from her variety show (the pilot episode with Mickey Rooney as her guest star). I’ve never heard a more perfect rendering of this great song (from SHOWBOAT) than here. Her voice is so perfect and powerful that it gave me the chillls, as I get them anytime I hear a great music performance and Judy Garland is certainly the greatest entertainer I’ve ever seen/heard. It’s truly a shame that she couldn’t have lived at least four more decades and enjoyed more success than she did.
  12. 1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer. At the start of the clip, Cohan and the butler go up the staircase to the Oval Office. The portraits of former presidents are hung on the wall and in the flashback scene that follows shortly after is bathed in patriotic fervor with flags galore as it’s an Independence Day parade. 2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. The butler praising Cohan and his family for their past efforts and what a contribution they made towards the US. Also, when FDR compliments how the Irish Americans have a gift for “carrying their patriotism right out in the open”. 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. It was a very good idea to start the film in the present and lead up to the flashback. This allows for more clarity into identifying Cohan’s personality and his background as an entertainer (he refers to himself at one point in the opening scene as “a regular Yankee Doodle always waving a flag” when he was a young kid). This makes the viewer think of Cohan as a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.
  13. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? I see Ginger’s character playing hard to get but also she’s proving to Fred’s character that she can keep up with his dancing as easily as any male dancer. I watched this film last night and this scene really does set the tone for the theme of the film and several of the other films they did together in the future. 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? TOP HAT is even more sophisticated in comparison to BROADWAY MELODY, ROSALIE or THE LOVE PARADE, mainly because of its production values (better cinematography, bigger, more glamorous sets and beautiful costumes). I think a great deal of this is because RKO realized that Fred and Ginger had what it took to make it big at the box office and so this I believe encouraged RKO to go all out and make this film a big budget production with almost nothing held back, if anything at all. 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? I think because women infilm wanted to be depicted as equal with men and could easily prove themselves as such with their determination, independent spirit and their tough personalities. This type of depiction only helped women both in later years as well as in reality with their staunch determination to show men that they could be just as strong and successful as they were. Future examples include Doris Day opposite Rock Hudson in PILLOW TALK, Deborah Kerr opposite Yul Brynner in THE KING & I and Audrey Hepburn opposite Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY.
  14. 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)? I noticed, first the pre-code elements (the garter belt and particularly the subject matter). Being pre-code, Lubitsch could get away with exploring such a theme and using the devices found in this scene. From the very beginning of the scene, you know that Alfred is a philanderer/womanizer with little, if any, convictions about his sexual habits. 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. Based on the sound, the first thing I notice about it is the fact that the gunshot is so quiet and yet it brings the people in the street to gather in front of the house. Obviously, the sound techniques had need of developement. I also appreciate how Alfred speaks English to the audience and to the inspector (and vice-versa) but but both he and the married couple speak French to one another. 3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? I like how the theme here is one of considerable conflict which draws me in from the very beginning. What I’ve noticed about several musicals (both from this era and from the subsequent eras as well) is that they rarely have a truly engaging conflict that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go until the very end of the film. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of musicals out there that I love dearly, but others have momentary conflicts that hold one’s interest but then lose that momentum as the film progresses.

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