ChicoDianeHeaven

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  1. ChicoDianeHeaven

    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

    1. The beginning of the clip, as an audition scene, reminded me of the backstage musicals from the 1930s, like “42nd Street” and the “Broadway Melody” movies – except, in this case, it was children, and the audition was for a part in a show less glamorous and polished than one that would be going on the Broadway stage. 2. The way Ms. Russell plays the character, we know that she’s one who knows what she wants – and she’s going to get it. She commands the attention of the entire crew, and the audience. She’s also wearing clothing with leopard print, which reflects some of her boldness and ferocity – like a leopard’s – as a character. 3. The song is coming from a child at first, so it’s safe to assume that “let me entertain you” is referring simply to song and dance and anything else that may be part of the show. However, if the song was being sung from a different, more grown-up point of view, the lyrics would take on a new meaning, slightly suggestive.
  2. 1. I like that the movie moves back and forth from the "ordinary" scenes (a struggling artist trying to sell his paintings, meeting a girl and being shot down, etc.) to the more fantastical ones like the ballet at the end. Using more than one approach like that gave the movie variety and a good balance of escapism and realism. 2. I don't think that Jerry was an unlikeable guy. If he was being a bit unfriendly in this scene, it was because of frustration. He was working to sell his paintings and no one had been interested. Then, he met a girl who was a bit of a know-it-all and all too ready to criticize, and she pushed his buttons. We know that he's a struggling artist, and we sympathize with him - we know that his character isn't mean, but that he just didn't want to put up with unnecessary trouble.
  3. 1. Even before they start dancing, Kelly and O'Connor are already in sync with each other - all it takes is a look between the two to get the song started. And from the beginning of the scene, the two are moving very relaxedly. They hold onto that air of ease even as they launch into an incredibly complicated dance number. 2. The professor is understandably startled when Kelly and O'Connor start to sing and dance, but he doesn't really do much to stop them. He watches them in confusion, seeming to think, "Wow, these guys are nuts." But he lets the scene play out anyway. His baffled reactions add to the comedy of the scene. 3. Gene's character seems to be the leader, the Alpha male, while Donald's is the comedic sidekick. Don Lockwood is out in front of the cameras all the time, the one who is in the public eye, while Cosmo works behind the scenes. That seems to have affected the way that they act even when they're not working. While it's implied that Gene is the more... influential of the two, however, they blend together well as a team and neither dominates over the other during the dance. You get the impression that they're used to causing some trouble together... and that the professor is not used to seeing it.
  4. 1. Even as a tomboy, Jane still has a certain quality of femininity; she may not be the most refined, high-society type of lady, but she's a lady nonetheless. What sets her apart from the usual female character in 1950s musicals is that, by the end, she's a balance of two personalities - though becoming softer and more ladylike in a few ways, she still holds onto the gumption and assertiveness that she had before. To me, it often seems like women in these musicals were either one or the other - a tomboy or a girly girl - but Jane is a special case because she shows that you could be both. 2. Something that's remarkable to me about Doris Day is her ability to adapt to her roles. This movie is a great example of that because, at this point in her career, she's already learned how to play tomboyish characters ("On Moonlight Bay," for example) and sweet, delicate characters ("Romance on the High Seas"). In "Calamity Jane," she gets to do a little of both, which shows that she was a capable actress in addition to a great singer and dancer - and she continues to get better over time. In her later movies, she expands her repertoire to include dramas, straight comedies, and more sophisticated roles. 3. When I think of this movie, I really couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part but Doris. Her onscreen persona is what made the character who she was, and it's part of what makes the movie so memorable. What I like best is that Doris applies her optimistic, "can-do" attitude, that she brought to her other characters, to Jane - and it pays off! I think she was perfect for the part, and her sunny personality does much more to add to the character than it does to take away from it.
  5. 1. As each of them is different as a performer, the song is designed to let each of them play to their strengths. They support each other, and allow each other to contribute. They are featured equally, with none of the four seeming to dominate over any of the others. 2. None of the costumes were very flashy, and they go together color-wise. 3. The way that they interact suggests that they respect each other as professionals - even as they poke fun at each other's careers. They're also inspiring each other and having fun together, bonding as they prepare to create their show.
  6. 1. The way the scene is directed implies that Petunia has been taking care of Joe for a period of time, willing to comfort and care for him. The scene shows that she's devoted to the relationship. 2. The nurturing mood of the song wouldn't change at all, but it would reflect a more motherly type of love rather than the one that Petunia and Joe share as a couple. 3. I haven't been able to see the whole movie yet, but it does put a spotlight on African American performers at the time, from what I've seen.
  7. 1. The first Judy Garland film I remember seeing is "For Me and My Gal" (and coincidentally, it's been my favorite ever since). Now that I've learned more about her, I can put the movie in context as one of her first grown-up roles. In the film, she gets some opportunities for both dancing and singing, and for both comedy and drama. Watching the movie for the first time, that was what I remember thinking: she can do it all! Before I knew that she was only twenty at the time, I could have sworn she was older - in a good way, based on her level of maturity and charm, and of course, her skill as a performer. She struck me as a very versatile actress, who could be innocent and kind and hopeful, while still being realistic and not overly naive. 2. I don't think I see her particularly differently, but watching these clips just reminds me all over again what a beautiful, magnetic, and talented lady she was! Also, it reminds me that she could keep up with the best of 'em; in one scene, she's dancing with Fred Astaire, and in the other, it's Gene Kelly. 3. When I read the word "storyteller," there was one clip that I knew I had to bring up! It was a segment from the movie Ziegfeld Follies (1945), called "A Great Lady Has an Interview." For me, this is Judy at her best. The performance is over ten minutes long, and she finds a way to keep the audience engaged the whole time. She looks beautiful and she sings beautifully, and the comedic side of it is wonderful. I'll attach the video below!
  8. 1. During most of the singing parts, the camera is up close to the characters' faces, so that we can see their reactions to each other's behavior. In sequences like the one where Sinatra's character is running away from Garrett up the bleachers, the camera pulls back, so that we can see all of the action, adjusting to fit each distance. Later, for example, when Garrett catches Sinatra at the top of the bleachers and tries to sit him down, the camera comes closer again, but is still far enough away that we can see all of their movements and observe their body language. 2. I think the biggest indication that we're about to hear a song is Betty Garrett's determined face when she sees Mr. Sinatra at the beginning of the clip. We know for sure, just from those few seconds, that she's not going to let him get away easily - and what other tactic would she use to try and sway him but a song? In musicals, when a characters wants something (or someone), they tend to make their feelings clear to an audience by singing about them. And right from the start, we know that Miss Garrett has got somebody on her mind.
  9. 1. As far as props go, there was one thing that really jumped out at me in this scene - flags! And, of course, being in the White House, there are model ships and portraits of former presidents scattered about. Also, the way Cohan and FDR are talking - the warm way they speak about the country - gives us an idea that what we're listening to is a cause well worth supporting. 2. The president comments on Cohan's Irish-American sense of patriotism, and Cohan is quick to mention that he owes it to his father. As young boys tend to look up to their fathers and what they stand for, this tells the audience that pride in being an American was not only something passed down through generations, but also that it was a quality deemed respectable. 3. Starting in the White House would let us know right away that we're dealing with an important man, that he must have done something so big that it would lead to his being a guest in the president's home and the nation's capitol. It also gives the movie a more reflective mood, knowing that we're looking at something in retrospect, instead of watching it happen in real time.
  10. ChicoDianeHeaven

    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

    1. I don't see this dance as as much of a competition as it is two people getting to know each other. Ginger's face while Fred is singing to her suggests that she thinks he's a little crazy, but she's growing more amused by his constant attempts to speak with her. At this point in the movie, he's already used her annoyance with him as an opportunity for dance-flirting ("There's only one thing that'll stop me... my nurses always used to put their arms around me") and conned his way into driving her carriage. And each time, he hasn't seen his efforts pay off, exactly. But now, through this dance, we see Ginger is ready to find out what this guy is all about. In turn, Fred leads her into a fun, breezy dance, much more casual than some of their later grand numbers, like "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Piccolino". The dance seems to be on a personal basis, just two people enjoying each other's company and the lovely (albeit rainy) day outside. 2. The movie was made to please an audience who really needed something to smile about, and even today it does its job! It's wonderful, witty, dance-filled escapist entertainment. Eric Blore and Everett Howard Horton are especially memorable to me in this movie. I love the way they banter and interact with each other; I still smile every time the line pops into my head, "We are Bates." Part of what makes the Fred and Ginger movies so great is the humor in them, and Fred and Ginger themselves go back and forth comedically in such a way that you can't help but love them as a couple. And their dances... The movie finds something to dance about even during the hard times in which it was made. And who better to pull off those tricky numbers than (as Bob Hope once said) the undisputed King and Queen of Hollywood musicals? I can't even say what makes this movie so special. It speaks for itself - in every charming, hilarious, heart-warming second of it. 3. Honestly, I think the change was due in part to the number of extraordinary comediennes who became stars in Hollywood in the 1930s - including Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert and, our topic of discussion, Ginger Rogers! America in the '30s was a country desperately in need of comedy, and Hollywood, thinking the more the merrier, extended opportunities in comedy to actresses as well as actors. If anybody in the cast could get a grin out of the audience, more often than not, they gave it a shot. Usually, that resulted in a comedic "competition" between the male star and the female star - which became an element of the popular Screwball style of comedy.
  11. 1. We can tell that Alfred is familiar with this kind of situation by how calmly he reacts to it. In the beginning, he walks out of the room smiling, even as he's being shouted at from offscreen. From the little remarks he makes, the way he continues to smile throughout the scene, and the collection of guns he adds the empty one to, the audience can pin him as a carefree playboy type. 2. Sound comes in handy here with Maurice Chevalier's little asides. As much as I love silent movies, I think that in this case, it added more to the humor of the lines, how Lubitsch had Maurice read them quickly rather than have the audience wait for the title card. The fast pace of the scene did a lot to build it up, and the shock of the lines gave them a boost comedically! 3. Audiences in the Depression probably appreciated the comedic edge that most musicals had, and the way that hopeless situations were resolved and everything worked out in the end, just like in this clip. Just as the man is processing that his wife has been having an affair, she shoots herself... and then, we learn that the gun had been empty, and the couple reconciles and goes away together.
  12. 1. A lot of their interaction, I thought, came from the looks they would give. Their expressions told you just about all you needed to know. Jeanette's little smiles and eyebrow raises in the first clip told you she was interested in Nelson - and that she was rather enjoying the serenade. However, you also learned from her composure and teasing air of aloofness that she wasn't ready to give in to him. But... the idea was starting to look not so bad after all. In the second clip, Nelson is sitting at a distance from Jeanette while she struggles to sing along to the barroom music that she is clearly unaccustomed to. He watches while she tries to get ahold of the crowd's attention and awkwardly mimics the singer who steps up after her. His eyes sort of soften while he's watching, and you can see his sympathy for her. When she catches him looking, he gives her a small smile. And through all this, the audience understands that he cares about her - and her embarrassment at the fact that he had seen her suggests that the feeling may be mutual. 2. This is the only Eddy-MacDonald movie I've seen so far, but I have also seen Jeanette in "Love Me Tonight" with Maurice Chevalier, which I liked, too. Usually, it seems, she played sophisticated characters - princesses, famous opera singers, etc. And even when her character wasn't high-society by circumstances, she always seemed to have an air of dignity. I can't say that much about Nelson's characters, since I've only seen him in one movie, but I did like what I saw of him in "Rose-Marie". I think the studio used him as their "pursuer" - going after a girl he's interested in and using song to help him out, but all from a respectable distance. 3. The relationship norm in post-Code movies? Let's go back to that last bit: "all from a respectable distance." Audiences enjoyed seeing romance on the screen and ultimately the Code didn't prevent the making of some incredible romantic movies, but it ensured that it was used in moderation. For example: Kissing? Sure. But not too often, and nothing risque. I think that there were some advantages to having the Code around, too, since the actors and screenwriters had to rely more on the use of subtlety when showing characters' feelings for each other, and because of that, some romances seem to have more depth and sincerity than they did in pre-Code movies. The romances had to have more to them than just... physical attraction, so there was surely a more emotional quality to most. However, the Code was also limiting in possibility.
  13. 1. I do think that this clip shows a brighter perspective of life – more than what we’re used to in today’s world, and certainly more for audiences in the middle of the Depression. But by no means is that a bad thing. Scenes like this may be considered unrealistic by some, but they also seem to say that wasn’t impossible for people to put their lives back together. The happiness and hope in these musicals helped inspire people to keep trying! 2. Most of the Depression-era musicals I’ve seen have had a happy ending. There was some sort of success in the lives of the characters, whether romantically or in their careers – or, for a few lucky souls, in both. Also, often, the characters who wound up being successful were the underdog type. Again, moviegoers at this time needed hope. So it seems that many musicals from that time were aimed towards success and happy endings; they were “unrealistically” happy for a reason! :) 3. That was one massive bouquet of flowers. Before the Code, characters in movies were mostly... ahem... free to express their interest in another character however they wanted. But, with the restrictions that the Code put in place, they had to find ways to show romantic interest between characters without being overly blatant or suggestive. Case in point, the flowers. It’s a very sweet gesture, and the time and money that would have gone into it lets our lady know that she’s got a serious admirer on her hands. If the movie had been made before the Code, perhaps the writers wouldn’t have felt the need to leave that detail in – or if they had, they would have put a different spin on it, or put less of an emphasis.

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