MJCB

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  1. I gave up the anger and discord of today’s world for the happier, hopeful world of the musical. Thanks for the respite.
  2. I agree that Celeste Holm was undervalued. As for her teaming with Sinatra, evidently, someone thought they had chemistry because she also plays a love interest in The Tender Trap. As I rewatched it, I couldn't help wondering who made the decision to put her in the film. Did Sinatra have enough clout to get her in? Was there more there? I never could see her interest in his character as probable despite the explanation that he was the only one left for her woman of a certain age. In the same respect, even though Crosbly is older than Kelly, I just could not believe her character would go with Sinatra. Which brings me to another point. Rewatching these musicals, I was struck by the older man/younger woman pairing. I know that was/is standard for movies to go with the younger actress, but when I was younger, the age difference did not stand out as much to me. I've been trying to decide if this is because I am older now and more sensitive, or it is another reflection of how society's acceptance of it has changed.
  3. MJCB

    1776

    This is one of my favorite films of any genre. I, too, watch it every July 4th. The first time I saw it was with the Starlight Musicals summer touring company. Great on stage and on film.
  4. The staging of the song compliments her quieter rendition. She walks away from Shariff and sings the song. She is being reflective of her feelings. Although Shariff is there, she is singing more for herself than for him. This calmer version emphasizes the change in a character who we have seen as brash and comedic.
  5. It has been a long since I’ve seen Gaslight, but my memory of it is of dark shadowy sets and a husband manipulating his wife for his own gain. So there is a similarity in set and lighting. Higgins is definitely manipulating Eliza for his own reward. However, Higgins has none of the malevolence of the husband in Gaslight despite Higgins’ tones and word choice. While Eliza is truly hurt by all that has happened to her, Higgins seems totally surprised that she is so angry/upset. Both characters react strongly, but neither character has understood the force behind the others’ action.
  6. These two clips highligh differences in the male characters in musicals. Gone is the dapper Fred Astaire. While the character of Toddy has a debonair quality, he is much more human than Fred's top hat and tails characters. Neither Harold Hill or Toddy are the macho/alpha male we see in Gene Kelly's movies or in Frank Sinatra's Pal Joey, played by Gene Kelly on Broadway. Hill and Toddy can manipulate the people around them, but underneath there is a real human, not the celuloid stereotypes we have seen before. My favorite Robert Preston film is Victor/Victoria, but I also enjoyed him in How the West Was Won. His character was a solid male, but with a tenderness not often seen in a Western. While his interest in Debbie Reynolds is not reciprocated, he is still there, understanding and protective, much as he is with Julie Andrews' Victoria.
  7. The stage scene harkens back to earlier backstage musicals. However, instead of a curvacious ingenue, we have a stage full of children and an overbearing mother who is really the one vying for the main role. The audience's attention is completely on the mother, so much so that the words to the song are hardly distinct. It is only later when Gypsy takes over the song that we realize the childish rendition actually foreshadowed a very different attention getter.
  8. The whole point of the end ballet sequence is that it is a “dream”. It has to be stylized...unreal looking. The rest of the movie needs to be realistic to make this contrast. Kelly’s character bounces along to the music, dressed in his white outfit...sure sign of a good guy. While he is short with the third year girl, his interactions with the locals are pleasant and familiar.
  9. This is one of my favorite scenes from this movie. One of the reasons the scene is such a success is the rythmic language feeding into the desk drumming and into the final dance. The roles of the men are all variations of different sterotypes. The professor is the older, staid academic, O'Connor is the young, funny guy, and Gene Kelly is the alpha male of the scene. Usually I just enjoy the dance, but this time I noticed how much O'Connor glances over at Kelly during the number. I am sure it was one way of toning down his higher center of gravity and more rambunctious style to that of Kelly. This adds to his being the secondary male in the movie, but also to his being the secondary star to director Kelly. Kelly's style made everything seem effortless and easy even in this frenetic number.
  10. Calamity Jane brings a humor to the role of women that differs from the humor Judy Garland brings to The Pirate or Easter Parade. This is a humor backed by self assurance. She may end up the laughing stock, but she doesn't just slink away. I see this as one of the best movies of Doris Day's career. She is not the bright eyed wanna be in her early musicals, or the sad woman putting up with a partner unworthy of her a la Young at Heart, nor is she the 60's sterotype of a working woman who is really just waiting for the right man to sweep her off her feet. As Calamity, she is not being propped up by a man. She is independent. Although she ends up "disgraced" by her behavior at the dance, she pulls out of the situation by her determination to make things right. She realizes her true love, but doesn't totally subjugate herself as noted by her clothing and demeanor in the song, Secret Love.
  11. Although I have seen this number many times, I did not focus on how seamlessly they work together until now. That is the mark of a good craftsman when the details blend so well. Although the clothing is different for each character, there is a cohesiveness about them that doesn’t draw attention to the fact that they are all different. Costuming is sometimes the attention-getter, but not here. Muted colors and collared necklines are used on “regular” clothes to add to the working roles of each character—the flamboyant director, the dapper star, and the married composer pitch team. The characters work together with an interaction-response round robin. I love how Oscar Levantine is worked into the dance and comedy of the number. On one level you are aware is he not the hoofer the others are so that is why he is not with them, but his comedy bits work so well that they seem to be a natural reason he is not.
  12. The shift in this clip from the bedside to the laundry emphasizes the role she has. She loves her husband and the role of "house"wife. Clearly, she is starry eyed and in love and her "duties" as a wife add to her happiness in this role. While it may be stereotypical to depict a black woman doing laundry, her joy in being married to the man she loves would be the way many film wives of this time would be portrayed. If she were singing about a child, the emphasis would be love of a different nature--motherly..less giddy. I have been out-of-town, so I was not able to watch the movie Cabin in the Sky, but it is DVRed. Having seen this clip I am anxious to watch the whole film.
  13. I think setting up this scene the director/editor was thinking like a conductor. Overall, what is the piece about and how do I use the "instruments" to bring about my vision? The music not only punctuates the characters' actions, but I think it dictates those actions.
  14. As someone said earlier, it is hard to remember my first Judy Garland film. I just grew up with her as part of the musicals I watched. I think her Andy Hardy movies always stuck with me because she was the overlooked gal pal who suddenly becomes the focus of his attention, a theme adolescent girls would relate to. Wizard of Oz was never a favorite, so I avoided that one for many years. Watching it now with her more mature roles, I have a real appreciation for her body of work. I think Meet Me in St. Louis is my real favorite. It is easy to see why she fell for Vincent Minnelli after seeing how lovely he makes her character in this film. As for Easter Parade, she is the standout in A Couple of Swells partly because the dapper Fred Astaire is so out of character in his garb. I seem to remember Gene Kelly was originally supposed to star in the film. I would imagine that number was really for him a la the Be A Clown number in The Pirate. Overall, the focus on her films in this module has made me a real Judy Garland fan.
  15. Even without knowing the title or plot of the film, you would know it’s intent. From the presidential pictures lining the staircase, to the ships on the wall..spotlight on the battleship above the mantle...to the parade flags, to the father anxious to be with his family, everything promotes patriotism and love of home—key ingredients for a 40s musical. Underscore that with Cagney characterizing himself to the POTUS as a “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the movie is set.

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