Amy W

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  1. Given up? Sadly I’m an Orioles fan, so I gave up watching extra inning losses to EVERYONE. So I feel ok! I did get back my TV from my family in the name of “Momma has homework to do.” What story can I come up with for July!?
  2. 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? "People" is Fanny's realization that she can't keep pushing potential suitors away. There's no way the song would have so much resonance if she had been belting it full force a'la Ethel Merman. The song itself is more a soliloquy, meant for her and the audience, than a loud monologue meant to be heard by the entire stage, backstage, and audience. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Nicky, finally realizing that he is more interested in Fanny than making money, follows her through her performance through the alley and around the back of the building. She leads him with her words and he is fine to follow. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. As with many structured shots, this performance is all about balance of power: who is in charge? who is only along for the ride. Fanny is center "stage" on the screen for the performance of "People" and Nicky is in the margins traveling as she moves (and the camera goes along). He is on the edges of the performance while Fanny maintains the center of the balance of power. A similar feeling is when Nicky comes back to the house for the final time: Fanny is seated on a divan with only her head in the center of the frame, outstretched hand with a lit cigarette. She holds the center balance of power where Nicky is an off center tiny man in the corner. (if anyone can find a screen cap of it, that'd help)
  3. I made a checklist for keeping track of which musicals I watched this month. Thought I'd share Musicals.pdf
  4. Explore any common themes and filmmaking 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 theme of changing social station/power plays out in this scene. The Newly formed Lady Eliza should be the tallest point in the frame, but she's at the bottom of the camera on the floor. As her social standing rises, so does Eliza, into the top portion of the frame. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? I like to see My Fair Lady as the rise of Eliza, from her circumstances and from under the thumb of Higgins. She begins the scene on the floor weeping. Once Higgins stumbles into the parlor, their fight brings Eliza to her feet. During their argument, Eliza stands taller than Higgins in the frames and back down again, to finally stand tall as she walks out. Ultimately, Eliza gains the power in the frame at the end of their musical battle. By the time Eliza returns at the end of the movie, we find her standing elegantly tall (maintaining all the power) with Higgins slumped smaller in the desk chair.
  5. 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? As we enter the 1960s, the deep bass and baritones of Howard Keel and Gordon MacRae as lusty, confident, masculine leads are replaced with older, limited range singers. Preston in The Music Man reminds me vocally of Rex Harrison, talk-singing his way through My Fair Lady. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? In both films Preston is charismatic enough to pull of both performances. He has enough smarmy charm to woo Shirley Jones but I don't find him especially swoon-worthy as a male lead. It's bold irony that Preston barely carries a tune in The Music Man, but his character of Harold Hill teaches the Buffalo Bills to harmonize? duets with lovely librarian Marian? Starts the band? Preston doesn't carry a tune but hands off the music to all of the other musically inclined characters. In Victor/Victoria, the confirmed heterosexual Preston performs as a stereotypically swishy Carole Todd. Once again, he's faking his way through what's needed for the definition of his character. 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? Unfortunately, I've never seen Preston in any other feature films other than these two and have no frame of reference to respond.
  6. 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? In the early musicals, the camera was the audience's eye on the stage. There is a full frame, end-to-end shot of the stage as a whole, and we get to watch the performance. However, there's going to be a shift. Just as the filming of musicals historically have shifted, the stage performance is loudly interrupted by Rosalind Russell's Mama trying to "backseat drive" the performance of her daughters. Our wide eyed view is then gone, and we are left to focus on the center of attention: Mama. 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. There is no smooth transition to introduce Mama Rose. Her brash, intrusive persona bursts into the scene with a clean cut, thus disrupting the "kiddy show" we were already watching. The camera follows her to and fro across the stage as our most necessary focal point. Russell is then after the center of ea 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). Perhaps I'm jaded, I didn't hear anything edgy while the children were singing but if you juxtapose the same song to Gypsy's burlesque performance, the words take on new, suggestive meanings.
  7. 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? I get the impression that since the studio had insisted that the film not get made on location, there was no choice but to stylize the set design. The Toulouse Lautrec-esque set design in the final ballet had to stand in STARK contrast to the rest of the film to lend the dreamy nature to the sequence. I suspect that had the majority of the film been shot on location around the actual Seine, Montmartre, etc, the final ballet would have looked remarkable. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? I feel that Jerry's cocksure-ness is meant as a presentation as "the ugly American"; the American ExPat after the war, confident of his fairly bland abilities (he's an artist in Paris, why are his pictures so boring), overly confident in his skills wooing women (I have to believe his behavior toward Lise in 2018 would be considered stalking worthy of a protection order!) His big smiley grin makes him appealing to Milo, so we are drawn to like him as well.
  8. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Since Kelly is the alpha male in the sequence, it is he who begins to taunt the Professor through the readings of the tongue twisters to have O'Connor follow. Once the dance begins, Kelly starts the dance off with O'Connor, who mimics Kelly's movements all the way to the conclusion of the clip. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. I'm quite certain the professor's expressions mirror that of "awed amazement" from the rest of the audience watching Kelly and O'Connor dance with each other. The sequence doesn't really advance the narrative any. It's not there to bring in alternate character development. Moses Supposes by itself, is just there to showcase the immeasurable talents of both men. The Professor is just there to be our reactions. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? It looks like the whole pyramid of masculine stereotype are fully represented: Kelly, the athletic, grinning, Alpha Male, O'Conner, the slightly goofy second-in-command, and The Professor, the older establishment man, confused by the happenings in front of him.
  9. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Things are starting to change for female performers in the 50s. Ten years prior to Friedan's Feminine Mystique, Day's Jane is starting the revolution of portraying a woman in roles other than mother/wife/starlet. Jane has a job frequently occupied by a man; she gets dirty and is outwardly unfeminine. Even after thoughtful reflection, Jane decides to be her true self and ditch the dresses for britches. The closer we get to the end of the decade, more powerful assertive women will appear on film. Yay! How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. I have to admit that Doris Day does seem a bit too sunny to be Calamity Jane. In the first clip as she rides the stagecoach into town, she's dirty and road-worn, but her gloriously bright smile breaks through the dirt. Similarly, in a job so fraught with danger, Jane seems remarkably happy and cheerful to bring the stagecoach home. Weren't people potentially shooting at her on the voyage?
  10. 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? In the earlier musicals, a dance performance was either going to be a long solo or pas de deux for the audience to focus on. In the post-war era, to try to mimic the concept of cooperation and sharing, the groups start to get larger. In the "That's Entertainment" segment from The Bandwagon there is a balancing act of three dancers at a time from the group of four on the screen at any one time. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. There is not one actor/actress who is costumed in order to stand out in the ensemble. In contrast, in On the Town, when Ann Miller dances in the brilliant emerald green dress, she consumes the focus of the performance. You aren't meant to look anywhere else but at her swirling dress and legs that go on forever. Because everyone in the That's Entertainment clip is in shades of grey so as not to pull focus off of any one performer. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? In the staging of the performance, there is balance on either side of the screen. When the ladder slides from left to right or when the dancers make a balanced pyramid as the focal point of the performance, there isn't one off-center dancer to pull the viewer's focus. It's all for one, and one for all!
  11. 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've observed the "heavenly" light that glows from behind Ethel Waters; the room is significantly dark as she sings in full closeup, but her shoulders and back are lit. I interpret this as the "divine" presence that brought Joe back to Petunia alive and mostly unharmed. When the director cuts the outdoors scene, Waters is filmed in a full shot and is fully lit from the sun as she sings around the clean laundry. She's happy and we can see her whole body exude that happiness. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? Ethel Waters smile completely illuminates her face showing the love that she has for her husband in the opening of the clip. It is a romantic song; I don't think the performance would be the same were she singing to a child. I supposed her loving gaze would have to be softer if she sang to her son. Clearly a worried mother would express her loving concern for her child in a less romantic fashion once she knew he was home and safe. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? It's significantly important that there's even one attempt at an honest representation of Black America at ANY time, but more so while the country is at war. The feelings that "we are all Americans" is a powerful message especially while the American Way of Life is under attack from foreign powers. Representation matters aside, I still get the vibe from the performance is a little more "Porgy and Bess" to satisfy white audiences. I was good right up to the arrival of Butterfly McQueen (House Servant Prissy from GOTW) and her unforgettable mouse-squeaky voice for her derivative performance. It's the same type of caricature of black domestic (maid, butler, porter) that filled the margins of the movies in the 40s and 50s. It's at least another 20 years for Black performers to bust out of that stereotype.
  12. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. This sequence is all about the chase. Overly enthusiastic Betty Garrett wants to catch, and hopefully, keep the amorous attention of Frank Sinatra (I have to wonder why the studio matches them up here and again in On the Town. Frankie couldn't get a girl? For real?) As Betty chases Frank across the stadium and up the stairs, they are filmed equally balanced in the frame moving from right to left. The camera moves as they move, but always keeping the two of them in the shot together. Mostly one continuous shot, there aren't close ups or single shots to highlight either actor; they are matched as romantic partners and remain in frame together. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? I feel this is why so many people have troubles with musicals as a narrative vehicle. Music seems to spontaneously come out of nowhere with full orchestration. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a movie soundtrack following us around day to day? At the bank? at the DMV? to the post office? This sequence begins with the string-filled orchestrations of the incidental score music. As the actors begin the chase, the music speeds up and blends completely into the "number" that begins in the bleachers.
  13. 1.What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? My very first Judy Garland film would have to have been The Wizard of Oz. As a young girl, playing a teenaged Dorothy Gale, I would wonder as how such a big voice came out of such a small frame. Dancing with Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley, athletic Judy was able to keep up with the stamina of much more seasoned performers. As a kid, I identified with young Judy with her dark hair and eyes; where my early exposure to musicals was with the lithe, fair-haired Ginger Rogers 2.How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I'm glad to say that Judy's talent grew up as she did. Performing with Astaire and Kelly, she becomes more of a love interest. Although I still struggle with seeing Astaire as a leading man. I do not question his ability to tear up a dance floor. However, he does not inspire romantic feeling watching him with his partners, be it Judy or Ginger. I keep ending up wondering, "why is that old man making eyes at the teenager?" I enjoy seeing her paired with Gene Kelly. They seem equally matched. On a completely unrelated note: my great-grandmother and my great-aunt owned a diner in Atlantic City that was mainly decorated with large portraits of Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, and Marilyn Monroe. Right off the BoardWalk, the diner was a frequent haunt of the performers in the casino shows. Somewhere in the family archives are all of those beautiful old pictures. 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 Meet me in St. Louis and Me and My Gal, Judy's adult powerful voice makes us believe in the power of her performance to prove she's in love, broken hearted, or disappointed. I believe I prefer her later years performances when she's a much more mature presence.
  14. 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. In the opening sequence, as the two characters ascend the White House staircase, you can see the historical portraits lining the stairs; the portraits are lit, where the stairs are not...it pulls your visual focus to America's founding fathers 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. If trying to reinforce the idea of "The Great American Melting Pot", The President says, "That's what I love about 'You Irish' you wear your love for your country out in the open." as if he's trying to encourage the audience to feel more nostalgic about their own roots. The flashback to the Fourth of July parade is a giant love-fest for America. There's not a corner of the screen that DOESN'T hold a flag 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. So, as a biographical film, it would make logical sense to begin in chronological order. However, as this still follows the formula of a musical, the sequence that flashes back to the past inserts an element of the "fantastical" into the historical framework presented on screen. It's almost a blending of the "fantasy" musical and the "backstage" musicals of the early 20s. If the film had been edited in chronological order, the musical itself would feel more like a drama with the occasional musical number tossed in.
  15. The Wizard of Oz makes fond childhood memories for me. Every year when it was on, my mom would serve us dinner in the family room on little trays so we could sit in front of the screen and watch (you can tell my age...we had ONE family TV and 5 channels...begin guessing...now) I remember that film being sooooooooo very long only to find out as an adult it's only 1:42 without commercials!! I used to cry like a baby when Dorothy would claim: there's no place like home.

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