Masscommmike

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  1. This scene is reminiscent of a Martin and Lewis routine. On the one hand, you have the comic relief (Donald O'Connor/Jerry Lewis). Then you have the smooth masculine type (Gene Kelly/Dean Martin). The straight man (the stuffy, out-of-touch professor) provides the opportunity for O'Connor/Lewis and Kelly/Martin to showcase their individual talents. In this case, O'Connor provides the humor with his facial contortions and frenetic movements. Kelly remains smooth during the conversational portions of the scene but displays his athleticism and grace during the dance sequence. Each character compliments each other and blends humor, song, dance, and sex appeal into one cohesive scene.
  2. I think the contrast between the elegance and opulence of the musicals in the 1930s vs. the "That's Entertainment" clip stands out. Compare the extravagant settings and costuming of a Busby Berkeley sequence or a dance scene from Top Hat with the "That's Entertainment" clip and you'll see quite a difference. Berkeley's numbers has elaborate sets with waterfalls and staircases. This number is on a stage with a couch, some ladders, and hand-painted scenery. Top Hat has Astaire in coat and tails while this clip has a nice suit. Berkeley's numbers has the female performers wearing all types of extravagant costumes. The lady is the clip is wearing a dress that any woman could wear.
  3. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. There seems to be two types of shots. One shot relies on a medium closeup of the actors while singing, focusing on their facial expressions while singing. The other type of shot is a wide shot that focusing on the full body, displaying the choreography of the scene. If I remember correctly, I think I read where Fred Astaire wanted a wide shot of his dance scenes that displayed the movement of his body movement with minimal cutaways to closeups. On a side note, I suspect a stunt double replaced Sinatra at the closing shot of his character sliding down the rail. Shot from the back with his hat obscuring the stunt man's face. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? In this scene, the actor's movement is edited to the opening music of the song.
  4. Like most people, the Wizard of Oz was the first time I saw Judy Garland perform on film. My first impression was that she was extremely talented singer and performer. These clips confirmed her talent as a singer and performer. It also highlighted her range as an actress. This is not a film but in the Sixties, Judy Garland had a TV show that once again showcased her talents as a singer and performer. Here is a clip. You may want to fast forward through the opening graphic.
  5. The paintings along the staircase feature iconic presidents in American history (Washington, Jefferson, Grant). FDR's office is filled with ships and paintings of ships. I suppose this is to emphasize his service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The dialogue between Cohan and FDR is full of references that touches on key elements of America's greatness. A nation that welcomes immigrants/assimilation - "That's one thing I've always admired about you Irish-Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag. Right out in the open." Patriotism/American Exceptionalism - "You spent your life telling the other 47 states what a a great country this is." Community/Nationalism - "A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy. Always carry a flag in a parade or following one." The opening scene in the Oval Office establishes a sense of nation/national unity. The White House is considered the "People's House," where anyone (like Cohan) can come in a have a chat with the President of the United States. In a sense, FDR is speaking to the nation personified by Cohan. It is a Fireside Chat on film. Without the opening scene in the Oval Office, the film would be just another biography about a famous entertainer who was patriotic instead of call to action for all Americans to display their patriotism.
  6. One of the differences between the Astaire/Rogers dance scene and other dance scenes from the early Depression era movies is the objectification of women in films like 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933. Through various dance scenes in early film, dancers are elaborate set pieces and kaleidoscopic spectacles that are visually appealing in their presentation. In Gold Diggers, women are clad in strategically placed coins that metaphorically connect sex and money. Compare Ginger Rogers costume in Gold Diggers when singing "We're in the Money" with her outfit she wears while dancing with Fred Astaire. It's modest and sophisticated. In this film, Rogers can compete and succeed with a male like Astaire using her talents without being overtly sexual. The other difference I see in the Astaire/Rogers clip is the sanitized opulence of the sets. As mentioned in one of the video, the settings are unbelievable in their size, glamour, and extravagance. Compare this with the gritty realism of the streets of New York and cramped and shabby apartments where theater performers live during the early Depression era films. The early Depression era musical seemed to focus on struggle...struggle of the dancers to succeed on Broadway...a director struggling to overcome hard times. Contrast this with the Astaire/Rogers clip, and struggle seems to be a million miles away.
  7. Two things I noticed about the Love Parade clip was 1) The residue of silent filmmaking that permeated this clip and 2) how much Lubitsch relied on visuals instead of dialogue to make his comedic points. Regarding the first point, I could imagine a title card used in silent filmmaking announcing the arrival of the "Husband" into the scene. Instead, of a title card, Chevalier looks straight into the camera to announce the unexpected guest. Regarding the second point, there were several visual gags (reminiscent of silent filmmaking) that added to the comedic flare of the clip. When the husband shoots Chevalier with blanks, Chevalier is deadpan in response. In fact, the comedy is heightened when Chevalier helps the husband (his potential killer) with the gun. Apparently, this has happened before when Chevalier places the gun in a desk drawer full of guns (another visual pun).
  8. 1. In both clips, there is a "distance" between MacDonald and Eddy. While rowing the boat, MacDonald keeps her back to Eddy throughout the scene, despite the fact he is trying to gauge her interest in him. In the bar scene, Eddy remains seated at the table while MacDonald is singing in front of the rowdy crowd. 2. I've seen MacDonald in San Francisco with Clark Gable. According to a TCM article, Gable and MacDonald did not get along during the film. See article link. http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/288495|0/Behind-the-Camera-San-Francisco.html 3. As mentioned in the first point, there was a distance between MacDonald and Eddy. I suppose this distance provided a sense of respectability (considering Eddy and MacDonald were alone in a row boat.) Even when the two women of questionable virtue were clinging to Eddy in the bar, he seemed to keep his emotional distance from them. However, when MacDonald was distressed in the bar scene, Eddy seemed to emotionally connect with his eyes (though still physically distant). Contrast their behavior with the crowd's behavior in response to the blonde who interrupted MacDonald's song. I guess according to Hollywood Code, those pure of heart like MacDonald connect with the upright and moral gentlemen like Nelson Eddy while the blond in the skin-tight dress only attracts drunken slobs in a bar.
  9. 1. In the clip, everyone seems to be prosperous. Everyone from the audience in the theater watching the singer, her attendant, and the doorman seems to be well-to-do despite their position in life. Even the doorman attempts to return five pounds given to him by Ziegfield. By watching the clip, all economic worries are non-existent. 2. Filmmakers during this era used pure entertainment for escapism. The costumes, the music, the performances were pure entertainment, allowing Depression era audiences to escape the hardships of their daily existence if only for a few hours. Additionally, the interaction between Ziegfield and the doorman and the musical performer and her attendant does not stress any class divisions. The "servants" seem very comfortable interacting with the "aristocrats." 3. I think the singer could have easily performed her routine as a bubble dancer in a burlesque house instead of an upscale theater. Not sure if that would have passed the code.
  10. There are so many great musicals to choose from. For me, two musicals stick out. Yankee Doodle Dandy and A Hard Day's Night. Both have great music. But just as important, they are a reflection of their time period. Obviously, Yankee Doodle Dandy reflects WWII patriotism, Hollywood's support of the war effort, and the government. By contrast, A Hard Day's Night reflects the post war generation's rebelliousness. There are scenes in the film poke fun at the older generation who fought the war. It's an interesting contrast. Regardless, it's the music that stands out in both films.

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