LillianAM

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  1. 1. I think a more theatrical and expressive performance would imbue the scene with a brash confidence and intensity that would have completely disrupted the nuanced emotions Streisand brings to the scene - her shyness, the hesitation, her isolation - and robbed the scene of the beauty expressed in these small details. 2. Sharif starts out close and trails behind Streisand as she sings, but as the song nears the end, he is at a noticeable distance from her, a gap between them that has not been bridged yet. Streisand, on the other hand, while walking ahead, constantly looks back at him, shyly and with an apprehensive smile. Her body language tends inward and when she reaches the stairs (with railing, a kind of barrier) she makes that space her own and floats around it, allowing the song to reach higher heights, but still turned a little bit away from Sharif, looking forward. The sequence seems to be a melancholic longing for something like love, but also shifts to her facing front towards her future, with Sharif present, but at a distance and easily out of sight. 3. The filming of the scene bolsters the emotions imbued in Streisand's performance, allowing us to experience it alongside her. The way the camera trails after her, keeping Sharif right at the periphery, the slow zoom in towards her when she reaches the stairs and clings to the railing, the framing of the shot so that she is in the foreground, facing forward (not towards us but towards her future) and Sharif is in the background, still visible but at a considerable distance and not the focus. The camerawork and framing of the setting play so much into Streisand's inner conflict she's expressing through her body language and singing; the emotion in this scene wouldn't be as effective if she was just singing in front of a bland backdrop with flat framing.
  2. 1. I'd like to compare and contrast the themes and filmmaking techniques in this scene of My Fair Lady with those used in another 1960s musical, The Music Man. Both feature relationship dynamics that focus on power imbalance and lacking communication between the two and use the costuming to display feelings (Eliza feels highly visible on the outside but her real self is hidden, shown through the white dress covered by the bright cloak; Marian wears muted colors when she ignores Harold and wears a soft pink when she realizes she loves him) as well as using lighting as a method of displaying enlightenment/knowledge (Eliza turns the light off when she realizes how little she means to Henry even after all this time; in the scene where Harold and Marian trade lyrics from "Goodnight My Someone" and "76 Trombones" between each other and Marian is silhouetted above Harold while he stands exposed in the light). However, the films differ in mood, with the lighting in My Fair Lady appearing harsh and depressive, whereas even the darkest lighting in The Music Man still has a softness to it that helps carry a light tone throughout the musical; in the way the actors are staged in each scene: so many of the scenes in My Fair Lady, this one being an excellent example, showcase the power imbalance between Henry and Eliza as upsetting, veering towards menacing at times, whereas in The Music Man, while there is a power imbalance between the leads (mostly in regards to the knowledge they have of each other) it's always playful with neither ever gaining or maintaining the upper hand consistently. The filmmaking techniques in My Fair Lady constantly paint the relationship between Henry and Eliza as uncomfortable and, to me, gross; you're always aching for Eliza and her feelings towards the situation and Henry, who really doesn't ever come off as sympathetic, even near the end. The Music Man, however, splits our loyalties between Marian and Harold; we see her ache and steel herself against the world and even though Harold's dialogue says differently, we are always privy to his kind and helpful actions in a way he isn't, which makes his epiphany at the end all the more powerful. Watching Harold slowly fall in love with River City without realizing it is charming, but watching Henry realize he cares about Eliza really only feels like watching someone miss their favorite toy after it's taken away from him. 2. Something I find amazing about the emotional transitions in this scene is how Harrison has none; they all belong to Hepburn. Watching her hope extinguish like the light switching off, falling to the ground in desolation, fire back in unleashed anger (reaching out with the slippers and her hands to channel it), to collapsing on the couch in despair (where she then slips back to her real self), and then rising back up away from Harrison and putting the mask back on as she accepts hopelessness. The fact that Hepburn manages all these emotional transitions in such a short time frame and with only the few props and natural setting of the scene is stunning and a testament to her tremendous acting skill. 3. The relationship between Eliza and Higgins is one of constant domination of him over her and Cukor enhances that through so many details in the directing - the emotional outpouring from Hepburn to Harrison's indifference, the way the scene is staged to constantly have Harrison towering over Hepburn in some way, the camera being closer to Hepburn and always keeping Harrison at a distance (or even having his back to the camera whereas we always see Hepburn's face and emotional state front and center). It's a haunting scene not just because of the dialogue and brilliant acting, but because everything is staged in such a way for our hearts to ache with Hepburn and her crisis and (in my case, at least) feel unmitigated anger at Harrison for his cruel indifference.
  3. 1. I think there are three pretty big changes in male representation in movie musicals from 1930s-1970s: the demure, sophisticated man who was sweet/sensitive and unassuming, graceful dancing and tender crooning, what would be known as a "beta male" type, (Dick Powell, Fred Astaire); the manly, "alpha male" type who took charge and whose presence/swagger filled every room he was in (which also shone through in their confident dancing and bold voices), this was the man's man who could be a soldier or just a good old American stud (Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby); then we have a new type of masculine performance that falls somewhere in the middle, or rather, isn't particularly bound by such rigid gender expectations, the men who run the gamut of emotions in their performances (both in acting and dancing/singing), appearing both sensitive and confident they show there's more than one way for a "man" to be, their appeal may seem niche in some cases but because of their depth and vulnerability they have a wide range of fans and create a place for themselves outside of the "norm" (Robert Preston, Elvis Presley). 2. I noticed that Robert Preston (in both clips) has such graceful control over his motions that even though he doesn't seem to move as fluidly as say, Gene Kelly, he has perfect command in every movement (i.e. when he jumps up on the statue and imitates it in Music Man and when he skillfully avoids the fighting at the end of the Victor/Victoria clip). He also has such a mastery over his voice that just with a few inflections in his singing he can convey the subtlest changes in emotion or add subtext to lyrics that might fall flat with other singers. I was really impressed by how much he alluded to and addressed emotionally in the Victor/Victoria clip; there are several layers to that song (which was undoubtedly necessary given his character and subject matter) that would be worth exploring. 3. Unfortunately, I have not, but after viewing these two clips, not only will I purposefully seek out The Music Man and Victor/Victoria for viewing, I'll search for other works in his filmography to see how much he brings to all of his film roles now that I know how dedicated he was to his craft.
  4. 1. The staging of the scene and its overall presentation are reminiscent of the way old-school musicals were done, particularly the types of musicals known as "backstage musicals" that were all about putting on a show. However, Gypsy really seems to be looking ahead to the disruptions to come with its dialogue, characters, and costuming; this is a vaudeville performance, not the glamorous shows of Broadway or put on in early movie musicals where wealth and privilege were obvious in every aspect. All of the characters are presented as a collection of "lower class" individuals and far from the typical gender presentations we're used to; no gentle, demure women or strong, valorous leading men. 2. Here, we have the introduction of a character who is a loud, take charge woman who is far from the prim and proper stereotypes of musical performers we're used to. She marches right in and insinuates herself into the production, basically taking over for the man in charge and, considering that she is a traditionally trained stage and film actress, the kind of rough and coarse character that Mama Rose is completely clashes with what seemed to be expected of "traditional" actresses. I think it's hilariously entertaining how she just commandeers the stage and performances, but it's definitely a far cry from the female performances we've seen in musicals leading up to this decade. 3. I think the most sly and edgy aspect to the lyrics, aside from the suggestive nature of the words "let me" and "make," is how they're performed and sung by a young girl. I mean, the implications from that alone would be enough to make this film unfit for the Code era of Hollywood! I can see the subversiveness in that though, especially when Mama Rose shows up to encourage Baby June's performance; so many musicals rely on nubile young women (even though most are stunning performers) to "sell" that youthfulness as an appeal to the male gaze who is both shaping and watching these musicals. Having a young child doing the same seems like a poke at that pervasive habit of presenting the young female form for public (male) consumption.
  5. 1. The ballet ending is a lengthy fantasy from Jerry about his relationship with Lisa and so it's stylized nature, with the gorgeous eye-popping colors, magnificent costumes and elaborate dance numbers is made all the more effective by being prefaced with a setting that's placed more in reality (though Vincente Minelli always manages to make every setting stand out in some way). One of the ingenious ways he prepares us for the ballet sequence is by having most of the preceding scene (the ball) filled with only black and white costumes and mise en scene so the colors pop even more, adding to the fantastical nature of the ballet. 2. It is 100% Gene Kelly's natural charisma and charm that keeps Jerry Mulligan likable, not only in that scene specifically, but throughout the rest of the movie where he pursues Lisa in pretty alarming ways. It's the power in Gene Kelly's acting and stage presence that his character is still incredibly likable despite his words and actions.
  6. 1. Even before they start dancing, the movements of Kelly and O'Connor are fluid, graceful, and so in sync with one another that it isn't jarring for them to segue into the dance number. In a way, their pre-dance movements have a "loose" kind of feel to them, reminding me of how an athlete stretches before a game; in this way, the pre-dance movements are in preparation for the precise and complex dance work ahead. 2. The role of the straight man is to be the lone figure of sanity, normality in the face of bizarre behavior; he's the standard the rest of the cast in the scene is measured up to. He's also an observer who rarely takes part in the strange events he's somehow involved in, yet winds up affected by them all the same (probably the most famous example of the straight man character in media is Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth from Arrested Development). In this scene, the Professor displays all of these characters, quite literally watching the strangeness of an abrupt dance number unfold before him, even physically moved around the room by O'Connor and Kelly. The ending of the scene, where Kelly and O'Connor bury the Professor under a bunch of random objects sends the clear message that the normalcy and rationality represented by the straight man is overturned by the chaos and playfulness of the two zany leading men. 3. All three men represent different types of masculinity that intersect, supersede, and clash with one another during the scene: Gene Kelly is our leading man, the alpha male type who is constantly the focus, always leading, always in control who is followed by O'Connor and eventually "triumphs" over the stifling intellectual (straight man) and proves he is superior (there's more than a few troubling connotations to the notion of an alpha male type beating out the personification of intellectualism, though I really love this scene); Donald O'Connor is the mischievous sidekick, the type of guy who plays second fiddle to the classically handsome leading man, always willing to follow said leading man and (as indicated right from the beginning) dedicates time to being anything but serious for the benefit of the leading man, a follower who neatly fits in with and supports the alpha male type which is showcased by how Donald O'Connor follows Gene Kelly's lead in the dance and other movements; the Professor of course represents the straight man in authority, representing the way things "should be" from his vantage point of superior intellect and adherence to order and the system which is disrupted and tossed aside by the leading man's new way of doing things.
  7. 1. I think the character of Calamity Jane falls somewhere in the middle of the continuum for female representation, inching a bit closer to the more feminist side of it because while Calamity Jane does experience a love story and her relationship with a man takes up some of the story of the film, it is ultimately a story about her and her relationships with the townsfolk, her profession, her friends/rivals, and herself. The concept of changing any part of herself for a man is an issue, especially as there isn't anything really wrong with her beforehand and I like her exuberant, rough and tumble attitude before, but the fact that she retains many key aspects of her personality that could be deemed "too masculine" is still pretty revolutionary for the time. 2. Just based on these two clips, Doris Day strikes me as the type of actress who grows to encompass the typical elements of femininity based on her appearance but is more than capable of playing complex women with more going on underneath the surface and balances the preferred gender roles of the 1950s with her own spunky personality. 3. I think Doris Day's bright and sunny persona adds to the role of Calamity Jane because it makes her a more well-rounded character who has multiple dimensions and isn't trapped in the wooden role of the stoic that besieges many other "tough" female characters. You feel her exuberance in all of her dialogue, movement, and interactions with others and it gives the character a charming dimension that grabs you and doesn't let go. I find her to be an altogether more compelling character with that bright and sunny persona, a woman who is her own person with her own brand of femininity that still sets her apart from other female performers of the 1950s.
  8. 1. Throughout the scene, dialogue/lyrics and choreography are used to illustrate the messages of unity, cohesion, and conformity (especially when Fred Astaire joins in the singing partway through) conveyed in the ways they include or relate to each other - they each start singing where the other leaves off, they're constantly in step, move fluidly with and around each other, and make every small interaction (lighting a cigarette, removing hats, etc) look like complementary motions. It's different than previous musicals because no single person is taking center stage and is "putting on a show" (like Eleanor Powell's first tap number in Born to Dance) for the others and it isn't about funneling the themes through one person's performance, like many of the solo song/dance numbers from the 1930s and 1940s. 2. The colors of the costumes are more muted than in some of the other musicals in previous years (and definitely less vibrant than other musicals in the 1950s, like An American in Paris or Singin' in the Rain) and all four of the characters are wearing clothes that aren't too flashy and all more or less match with each other in a combination of blue, brown, white, and black/gray. There's conformity and unity in their costuming so that no one, even Nanette Fabray in her dress, is in the spotlight above the others. 3. There are a few moments in the scene that help define the relationships between the characters in the song such as, in the very beginning, when Nanette Fabray is caught in the middle of the dance and has to elbow her way between the two men (indicating her fighting to be seen on the same playing field with them) or when Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan are miming a disagreement and they both knock over each other's hats (showing that the two have very different ideas and methods) or three moments when Oscar Levant plays some kind of "trick" on the others - lighting the cigarette without being seen, running with the ladder at its beginning and end, and seemingly being a crucial part of the pyramid and then walking away from it to reveal the illusion) - which shows that he's a bit of a trouble making character, a wild card in the group.
  9. 1. The seamless, faded transition from bedside to hanging laundry outside is not only a way of illustrating the passage of time, but also of creating a direct connection between Petunia's devoted love to Little Joe and her devotion to the wifely duties of household chores. The camera's focus is constantly on Petunia, highlighting the scene and song as a prime example of what is considered "good" behavior for women and wives that the audience can take home with them. 2. The relationship between a woman and her child is one that is rooted more in protection and almost single-minded devotion as opposed to the one between a woman and her husband. This scene paints the ideal relationship between a woman and her husband as one where she stands by him and cares for him no matter what kind of trouble he gets into. It's meant to be a metaphor for a citizen's devotion to country during the good and bad times (bad specifically because of the many sacrifices Americans were expected to make for the war effort). But shifting focus to the relationship between a woman and her child would make the song less about devotion in regards to the concept of "standing by my man" but rather in regards to protecting and loving the child above all others, which would make it seem, as crude and bizarre as this may sound, selfish (I wonder if this line of thinking is one of the reasons why single motherhood was shunned, and still is, in some cases throughout society). 3. I think it's important to view this film (and many others) as a cultural artifact and acknowledging the good intentions behind it even though there are troubling dimensions to the concept of linking unfettered devotion to one's spouse to nationalism, which has always been a dangerous idea, but is nowadays so much worse. A film like Cabin in the Sky should absolutely be noted for its widespread inclusion of Black Americans onscreen, but this can't (and of course wasn't) the extent to which they are portrayed on film. It's not just important for Black Americans to be seen onscreen but also to be working behind the scenes on film in the capacities of directing, writing, producing, editing and so on to create more nuanced and intimate stories of Black Americans, not ones that are funneled through white eyes.
  10. 1. Every shot in the scene utilizes the location and framing to have Sinatra constantly cornered by Garrett - against the walls, bleachers, railings, etc. It's a credit to the directing and editing that such a wide open space is made to seem so confining. By setting up each shot so that Garrett can use the setting to gain the upper hand, a fluid connection between the actress and the location is creatively used to conveying a kind of courtship "dance" with no actual dancing. 2. Even though the musical portion of this scene doesn't actually contain any dancing, there is still a fair amount of choreographed movement (the moment they meet face to face outside of the locker room and they step back and forth together) that preludes the singing and alerts us that a musical number is coming.
  11. 1. The first Judy Garland movie I can remember watching is The Wizard of Oz, which probably comes as no surprise. From that first viewing (what I can accurately remember of it) and subsequent viewings afterwards, I was enamored with Judy Garland's portrayal of Dorothy and loved (still do) the skillful way she weaves spunk, naivete, kindness, and ingenuity into the character. Not to mention the singing and dancing; I still can't look away when she performs Somewhere over the Rainbow. 2. After viewing those two clips, the only part of my viewpoint that's changed is I now admire her more not only for her incredible dancing and singing skills, but also for her versatility in those arenas. I was particularly taken by the clip of her performance in Easter Parade, the way she skillfully dances around the stage in fluid movements while still infusing the act with a goofy playfulness is extraordinary. 3. One film of hers that immediately comes to mind as an example of her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric (aside from the Wizard of Oz) is her version of A Star is Born. Nearly very performance of hers in that film has the ability to engage the audience's attention and follow the emotions underlying the story; one that I love for this very reason is her performance of The Man That Got Away.
  12. 1. The scenes in this Daily Dose promote American values by having patriotic props in abundance and in clear view (American flags dominate nearly bit of space captured by the camera), providing two specifically American settings through the White House and a lively small town. Additionally, the set design for both these places even further contributes to the spirit of patriotism in that the White House is designed in a serious manner, with an air of grandeur whereas the small town is designed in such a way that it invokes a homey, relaxed, and joyful feeling many Americans could probably relate to in their own towns. 2. The amount of dialogue describing or praising Cohan, coming from the president no less, seeks to boost American morale, with lines like "a regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one," "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. It's a great quality." Lines like these immediately endear the audience to Cohan and build him up a shining example of American patriotism to follow. 3. By opening the film with FDR in the Oval Office, this biographical musical is lent an air of seriousness and authenticity. To be sure, there's a liveliness to the parade scene that I'm sure is infused throughout the rest of the picture, but starting off with that scene would've set a more playful tone that would have belied the example of American patriotism that this film was intended to seriously convey to the audience; beginning with the president himself made audiences sit up and pay attention to this important patriot who earned FDR's respect and made the film more successful in its aims to be a shining example to people.
  13. 1. Other aspects of battle of the sexes indicated in this clip extend not only to the clothes they wear, a metaphor for equal standing with men women were fighting for and granted in some aspects of society, and the dancing, competitive to prove women and men could perform the same tasks, but also in the smaller details, like Rogers rebuffing Astaire until he invites a playing field for her to be a part of or the handshake at the end or how they are constantly staged in such a way that they are right beside each other and always in step, even jumping off the gazebo together, a demonstration of a move towards equality. 2. Just based off this clip, Top Hat is a different kind of Depression-era musical in that it isn't focused on escapism the way Love Parade or other costume dramas were. The characters are not part of the wealthy and privileged and wear clothes of the day (Rogers' outfit is more modern than anything worn by women in other musicals) instead of lavish outfits. Their concerns are on their professional standings, not merely the relationships they have with others. 3. The Depression changed society's view of women almost completely out of necessity: having so little space, money, and, well, anything, to go around meant that women took on far more responsibility and even worked to bring money/food into the household. It was a social upheaval that everyone had to deal with and by examining those changes in a comedic format, allowed audiences a lighter venue to deal with such changes head-on.
  14. 1. What I noticed about the Lubitsch touch is how it utilizes what would otherwise be characterized as static images/close-ups to convey the plot (useful since most of the dialogue in this scene is not in English) and to make implications that wouldn't be appropriate to voice aloud to audiences watching the film. The character of Alfred is a roguish man who seems to think on his feet and behave confidently around everyone and in the face of whatever problem he has. This understanding is aided by the props in how he carries them (the garter being hidden and also tossed around, the gun stored with all the others) and how he reacts to them (how he pats himself after being shot at); the dialogue in how he tries to backpedal in the face of his superior and the playful tone he uses in relaying information to the audience; the staging in how moves in junction with the other performers, fluidly with his lady love and always placed in a position that affords him the best vantage point for getting himself out of trouble. 2. The scene's use of sound is jarring and deliberate, meant to refocus attention back to a specific person or plot point. Examples I noticed are the first gunshot, which brings attention to the dire (at least, what we believe to be) situation for the woman, an element of surprise that is intended to capture the rapt attention of the audience who will want to know what happens next and the dialogue at the end by Alfred's superior, the most amount of English spoken in the scene, conveying a sense of authority and making it so the audience will understand that his word is meant to be the final one. 3. A theme I noticed that I anticipate is used in other Depression-era musicals is the focus on the lifestyle of the wealthy and privileged, with beautiful costumes and frivolous worries that allow for those in the audience suffering from the Depression to leave those worries behind and escape into a lifestyle and story far beyond their reality.
  15. 1. In both scenes, there is noticeable distance and formality with the interactions between the men and women, but in order to convey courtship and love, both the camera and editing are used to great effect. In the first clip, even though both are together on the boat, there is still a slight barrier between them, creating a respectable distance that conveys to the audience their closeness without there being any suggestion of impropriety. In the second scene, they're further apart and the camera cuts back and forth between them to convey not only their interest in one another but also their increased distance that has now become a hindrance to their courting, as opposed to earlier. That the second scene ends with the man leaving after she does, pursuing her as the camera captures all the movement, indicates that the distance will finally be crossed, but not in any improper way. 2. I have not seen either of these actors in other film/television shows before, but just based on the two clips I watched, there's a sense of fun in their banter that overcomes the physical distance most likely enforced by the Code. Both of them have beautiful singing voices and without using the accompanying dancing popular in the Pre-Code films of the 1930s, the two actors are able to convey personality and feelings just through the music, an admirable skill. 3. Based on these clips, the male/female relationships in Code films were distant, marked by an overemphasis on "proper" behavior towards one another, nothing that could be seen as sexualized. Unless of course, they were trying to draw a contrast between two women and one of them behaved inappropriately as a way of categorizing her as a "loose" or "undesirable" as the second clip does with Gilda Gray. The Hollywood Code wanted "pure" relationships between its male and female characters to dictate to audiences how those interactions should be, help construct a moral code that could be translated from screen to reality.

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