Brittany Ashley

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  1. Brittany Ashley

    Astaire and Kelly

    I know nothing about dance and I can't dance. This stuck out to me. How and why did Jazz dance become more structured? My only reference point of Jazz dancing is the 1920s and the Charleston, black bottom and those sorts of dances. Idk what you would call them Popular/fad or vernacular (I assume since those dances as well as jazz as a musical form began in black communities). But it seems like you're talking about something technical and professional standard when you say jazz dances.
  2. I have a question. The lecture notes say Minnelli was credited as the person who evolved Judy's image to make her more grown up in Meet Me in St Louis.Yet she plays a teenager in that movie and Judy even complained about it at first and mocked the role. I always was told For Me and My Gal and Presenting Lilly Mars were really her first 'mature' roles which came the year before MMISL. And actually, Ziegfeld Girl was even earlier in 1941 and she doesn't play a high schooler in that. So am I missing something in terms of what Minnelli did for and with Judy on MMISL to make her grown up that wasn't accomplished beforehand even though he had "adult" roles before 1944?
  3. I noticed this too. You would think since there was discussion about race and images of African Americans in the 20s and 40s with Hallelujah and Cabin in the Sky, I am surprised Carmen Jones in particular isn't here. Dr Ament specializes in star images and personae so I would have liked to hear her insight about Dorothy Dandridge. I don't think the entire course has to be about race but when the topic has been involved in lessons up till now, the omission is interesting. I know its only a month and these things are condensed but it is something obvious.
  4. Regarding Judy's looks, I agree with you. It really comes down to general sexist policing and expectations of women's bodies and attractiveness. It wasn't fair then and its not fair now. That said,I don't really see her listed in countdown types of lists of most beautiful women of the golden age of Hollywood or something because I she was...I always thought she was pretty.But you'r right she just had a magnetism and charm that just pulls you to her irregardless of what she looked like. I still don't understand why Mayer called her his little hunchback. That's so mean! She was a little chubby then but she was like 12-14..its just baby fat. NBD. Anyway, I hate to steer into superficial waters but her beauty was and is in some quarters underrated or under-appreciated What you said about her self depreciation really hit it. Its true and I was trying to figure it out. She can feel a song like nobody else and its makes you feel it too since there are emotions and experiences anyone can relate to. But the fact she was able to do this as a child is really incredible. I was thinking of the song "In Between" from Love Finds Andy Hardy. And you "June 21st" point is important...I hadn't thought of it before. But I agree. It was totally a double standard. Fred Astaire. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby still could perform and certainly didn't lose their talent. But they were allowed to age, have their weight fluctuate and as you said, had body types that weren't the romantic masculine ideal. Yet this wasn't an issue and their practicalities did not negatively affect their appeal or star image. For women it did and stiff does matter fact. Very wrong and unfair! It must change but it won't.
  5. 1. I think it does. Having less stylized and fantastical scenes and more down to earth normality and realistic scenes keeps the film balanced. Imagination and stylistic scenes are nice and can work really well in a movie but thats not real life. A movie needs to have some reality and be grounded in real life in order for the movie to not be seen as totally unrealistic which can be unappealing. But the realistic scenes and elements of the story makes the fantasy elements much of a greater pay off for the audience. A movie needs a good balance of both in order for it to work. 2. The environment Mulligan is in and his atmosphere somehow makes you like him even though he says some pretty unlikable things like his comment on the college student. He walks up the street towards his place to put up his paintings. The music is nice and cheerful. It makes you feel good.His paintings are interesting and you can see he is a talented artist. Other paintings on the walkway of what other artists are showing are fun and interesting so his own work seems appropriate to exhibit in that space. Where he is in the middle of a crowded street but it looks like a regular day in Paris. The setting of the scene is one where you can imagine yourself being in and seeing Jerry's paintings. There are children playing, people walking around and talking to each other in the background, everyone seems pleasant. Its bright and sunny. His conversation with the rich woman is more positive and he does know what he is talking about even when he made that disparaging comment to the student. He may have unlikable moments but somehow its not so bad because of where he is located. The location and what he is surrounded by makes up for it.
  6. Great responses. I think about this often. Not necessarily about Judy but what the studio system was truly like to work in and under it. The period is largely called the Golden Age in reality it wasn't. When people go on a nostalgia trip, I remind them of stories like Judy's. People go got exploited and abused by the system. I don't dwell on it but when I watch her films-particularly the MGM era ones-I think about what was likely going on behind the scenes. I also think of how she was often stereotyped in her movies-someone who was constantly compared to/looked over other girls in terms of attractiveness, but her singing talent makes up for what she lacked in the 'allure' dept. Or as in the Mickey Rooney movies the best friend but not good enough as his girlfriend. I know this had to have weighed on her personal self image and self esteem and I have read that it did. At the same time, I've read how the studio forced her into carrying a good, girl next door persona for a long time which also bothered her too (she referred to is as "Dorothy Adorable"). The thing is, I feel conflicted because I know about the truth of things in how she was treated by MGM and how Mr Mayer sexually assaulted her. How, why and when her problems with drugs started and the general negative things she experienced then. But I really do enjoy her movies and that period of her career. I even really like her good girl image. And the fact MGM gave her a platform for her gifts and opportunity for her to become a star.
  7. I noticed this too. They like her as a pal ( I guess) because she does contribute to the community in bringing them stuff from Chicago and wherever. She is likeable and charming so they don't hate her. But their respect for her stops there as we saw in the saloon scene. She tripped and they laughed at her. They don't really see her as a little sister and certainly not one of the boys but she is there with them. But I don't see much in the way of real friendship or socializing with Calamity outside of work.
  8. Have you seen The Gay Divorcee? That one only has one real big production number and and another number but not as large
  9. I think this is my problem with 50s musicals as a group. I like a few individually but many of them had too many big dance numbers and choreography, set pieces and huge ensembles. The Technicolor is nice and a positive asset but theres a feeling of spectacle that sometimes crowds out the story. I'm a fan of a good, strong and interesting story first and foremost. In the 30s, there obviously were large ensembles and large productions- I'm thinking of the work Busby Berkeley. But for some reason, this doesn't feel as distracting to me. Maybe its the color. Great point!
  10. 1. The pre dance movements speak to their characters and their friendship and how they usually interact with each other. In the dance scenes they still have natural camaraderie and chemistry but they're doing the same dances together and the same steps. In the pre-dance parts, Cosmo makes Don laugh by mocking the professor with his funny faces. Don thinks its funny but keeps it professional. When they dance together they can both have fun. 2. The professor is there to help Don with his enuciation so he can be ready for work in talking pictures. He is an important character and takes his job seriously. So when Cosmo mocks him/makes funny faces to DOn while they're practicing its more humorous because he isn't in on the joke. It amplifies Don and Cosmo's playful relationship. The actual "Moses Supposes" song continues the sort of mocking and playfulness of the earlier scene and the professor remaining the uptight professional makes a great foil for Don and Cosmo to play off of. It keeps the number interesting and more entertaining. 3. I look at it in terms of why the three men are in the room together. Don Lockwood is the leading man, a big star. Outside circumstances (the technological change of talkies) has forced him to work on his diction and enunciation. He needs and wants his successful career to continue so he had to take lessons. He is a bit wary of it because its new but he handles it well because he knows that his public wants to hear their stars talk. He also knows he needs to get his vocals right because poor speech could affect his good image of a romantic hero. Cosmo Brown isn;t a star but works in the industry. His career isn't public facing but he is there to support his friend not just because he is a star, but because they've always had a close relationship since childhood. Cosmo has a behind the scenes career so he approaches the industry from that perspective but he also wants Don to do well with the vocal lessons because it could impact his career if he doesn't. The professor seems to have a passion for language and speech. He is an authority figure and an expert. Because of the rise of the talkies, new professions (like speech therapy) would become important to the film industry and he was hired by the studio. He is an important man in that business now and his manner lets Cosmo and Don know it.
  11. I was getting caught up on Good News this morning. I've never seen or heard of this movie before this class and I really enjoyed it.I was on the look out for the themes and ideals we learned about this week and how it relates to the post war optimistic spirit. What a movie centered around college/youth, friendship and romance says about what American culture was feeling at the time. The war was over, the US won and people were feeling good and happy and had bright futures ahead of them. I also thought about the other post war phenomenon film noir and what those themes and stories dealing with murder/crime, corruption, sour relationships between and men,violence, angst, anger, hopelessness etc also said about what American culture and society was and apparently was feeling at the time. And since both Good News and my second favorite film noir after Double Indemnity is Out of the Past were released in the same year 1947, I couldn't but contrast what either film "said about" or spoke to people that year. I also remember something I heard Eddie Mueller say on Noir Alley last year that the year 1947 had an explosion of psychological/mental illness and murder themed plots. Symbolizing what soldiers felt upon returning home after the war- the fact they killed people and wanted to forget that fact (High Wall with Robert Taylor). So- Where OOTP is cynical GN is hopeful Where OOTP shows death GN shoes life Where OOTP is literally dark and filmed in black and white, GN is filmed in glorious and beautiful Technicolor Where OOTP involves detectives getting reeled back into a seedy underworld of corruption and greed, GN involves attractive college students singing and dancing in the malt shop and being positive about their relationships Where OOTP has lines about about gutters and guns GN has lines about school dances and football games Where OOTP has illicit affairs and an implied by the Code sex scene GN features wholesome couples and chaste romantic kissing And so forth. Film noir tells me there was social disruption, cold heartedness and unease following the Second World War but the musicals tell me there was hope and excitement about living and that "people have more fun than anyone" (Rita Hayworth in Down to Earth also from 1947). American cities could be sites of isolation and confusion (Joan Crawford's early scenes in Possessed, again from '47) but they could also be sites of wonder and amusement (the whole plot of On the Town). Its so fascinating to me to reflect on the stark differences and contrasts of the types of movies Hollywood made after WW2. The fact that there were so many different elements and how they processed the war that went into people's feelings about where society/the culture was at present and where it could be headed in the future. Its a very nuanced thing to consider when analyzing the different genres that were popular at this specific time in history.
  12. 1. I saw the Calamity Jane as someone who had the potential to be traditionally feminine and has the potential to be molded into a more "girly girl".. Her character at first (in the first clip) presents herself as a spunky tomboy type which seems to be excused considering where she was raised and where they live. She is fun and likable and contributes to the community which were positive female traits even though she dressed masculine. She has a bright personality and is a good looking woman despite what she wears. Looks and an affable personality may fit her in the middle because of the way she dresses don't put her into the entirely feminine side of the spectrum. 2. I've only seen Doris Day in this movie so I am unfamiliar with her career trajectory before and after Calamity Jane 3. Her sunny personality and persona definitely adds to her Calamity Jane character. Calamity is likable and charming and Doris Day was known for having that persona. Another actress behaving and dressing the way Doris did in the movie might not have gone over so well if she were not talented at singing as well as spunky and charming. Those personality traits also belong to her character in this movie. But again, I am only familiar with Doris Day in this movie and what I have read/heard about her persona.
  13. Upon reviewing lecture notes from yesterdays 1920s lesson, I have a couple of questions about the so-called race films. A ) If films made and marketed to the black audience were called race films, what about other minority groups like Asians and Latinos? Were there films created with these groups in mind (like Hallelujah for African Americans) and if there were, what were they called? It seems like anything related to black people was labelled "race" but what about other non-white groups? I doubt -what we would call in 2018- non black people of color (NBPOC) were considered part of the "white market" since technically they were not white. Also, why was the word "race" just applied to black people instead of other non white groups? B ) who first coined the term "race films" white creators or black? Was it a marketing term on the part of white studio heads/directors (like King Vidor) or black directors? I watched the Oscar Micheaux film Swing (1938) yesterday and that was referred to as a race film. Micheaux was black.
  14. Its interesting that Hollywood and the movies wanted to create and emphasize a sense of unity and inclusion. The goal of which to get all groups of people united and ready to fight for the American cause. Of realizing we are all part of the larger American family, and have a stake in winning the war. We all rally round the flag because we all care about that flag and our country. I realize and recognize this was pure propaganda as all movies during the war was. But I can't tell if this was an entirely cynical scheme on the part of executives and film makers to bring in (to an extent) racial diversity and warm and fuzzy messages of unity and national identity. Or, these executives/film makers were genuine about these messages and diversity. Or a little bit of both. But reading the lecture notes and thinking back on these movies of cinematic unity ring false and hollow. The nation was still entrenched in segregation and racism and the military was deeply segregated with no plans of integration. Depictions and representations of black people improved some but there was still stereotypes and a lot of erasure of non-white people. Scenes with black and whites dancing together were cut from films to placate white audiences in the Jim Crow south. Japanese Americans were interned even though they were citizens and many (if not most) were loyal to the United States. I don't really understand why film makers put out this vision of the country and society when it was truly not the case. I know the government intervened in cinema content and there was censorship of negative truths or images or messages about the US. I get that. But beyond that, was there also a sense of wishing for a truly more inclusive and unified society on the part of those decision makers and creators? The intro to this week's lesson says something to the extent that even though Yankee Doodle Dandy gets criticized today for obvious nationalistic propaganda, that was the appeal and charm of that movie. I agree and that's how I feel about the war/patriotism themed movies made during that period. They present a form and vision of a rah-rah patriotism and symbolism that doesn't exist anymore in the culture and would not find in contemporary media. From my 2018 eyes, its curious and perched somewhere between naivete(?) and clear manipulation of the public. But what what I read and understand, people really did feel this way and really rallied around the country and each other (to an extend re segregation) for one singular cause. Victory. Even for marginalized and oppressed people they shared (on film at least) the same patriotic sensibility and doing your part to win. This is something I don't understand and recognize looking at these movies from modern eyes. I know you can't project modern attitudes, mores, and perceptions onto history and culture of the past. Its quaint but calculating. Its really in the movies, specifically musicals that the stark difference between the 1940s and 60s was and how much the latter decade changed the way the culture people accepted and understood propagandist messages and patriotic imagery.
  15. Excellents points! I know Communism was perceived as Anti-American because (they believed) Communism doesn't allow for people's freedom and is anti Capitalism. It was seen as something against or opposite of "the American way of life". Which examples were you thinking about for celebration of the individual? I thought maybe rock n roll or the Beat literary movement which criticized the conformity they believed was affecting mainstream society.
  16. Interesting and great observation. I remember Dr Ament saying something about darker or more adult themes of the Broadway production either getting cut, altered or sanitized in the movie version (she was talking about On the Town). But if "dark" elements were part of the story then they were probably kept in because they were relevant to the plot/story.
  17. I would remind you as I reminded @TopBilled that just because you don't see anything offensive about it from your perspective in 2018 doesn't mean that there wasn't criticism lobbed at the movie in 1946 because there certainly was by African Americans. There is a post on the first page showing a picture of black picketers protesting in front of the movie theater that is showing it. They must have found something offensive and I would recommend you research their concerns and POV for some deeper insight. What they were and may have found insulting or offensive then might not register or be obvious to you now. You're entitled to your own opinion and POV certainly but just because you don't see something as offensive doesn't mean that there wasn't something offensive in it for some audiences. Sometimes, its not just about you and your own opinions as to what makes something offensive, especially if you cannot recognize or understand why it was, or could be deemed offensive to different groups of people then or now for that matter.
  18. 1. First off, their chemistry is so natural that they can't help but perform as one and express a sense of good feeling and camaraderie among themselves. Throughout the song, each actor gets a line celebrating an aspect of entertainment. They always move in tandem to each others movements and to the rhythm of the song. Even when one person is alone (like one of the characters who stands front of a door for his line) they're not alone for long. Their dances and movements of their hands and steps are all tightly coordinated. They walk and sing together and genuinely appear to enjoy each other's company. There have been group numbers before but I havne't seem one where a small group of people come off as friends and equal partners. They're a tight knot group that moves together as one and not a large group of dancers with no other connection or chemistry. 2. All the costumes match in color even if the types of clothes (pinstripe suit v solid). They're wearing their own clothing but the color schemes all seem to match. Gray, blue, dark blue and white are the colors. Even Nanette Fabray is wearing a skirt that still matches and compliments the outfits of the men. There is clear masculinity and femininity but with the color schemes, what everyone is wearing makes sense as a group but within that, each character is able to express their individuality. 3. There are set pieces which allow them to move around each other but also makes the scene interesting. At one point, Fred Astaire sits in a chair and the other circle around him and move their hands in unision and eventually he gets up to continue dancing together. In another there is a set piece that looks like a big fire hydrant. The actors somehow are able to link arms outside of it on the sides and create a sort of diamond formation. It is showing that no matter what is around them physically, they are able to come and be together.
  19. I have not seen any criticism about the stage show, so I can't really answer that
  20. I haven't seen the movie in a while but I guess its the whole fact that there is a white woman singing about "becoming" Native American when actual Native Americans were marginalized in real life and weren't fully or legitimately represented in popculture/media without being stereotyped or were totally ignored.
  21. I have heard many people cite Annie Get Your Gun for the number where Betty Hutton sings about becoming a Native American.
  22. Exactly. Which is why I never understood when people label or paint the entire decade and the culture as one of conformity and repression. Granted, those elements did exist in society but there are many examples from music to film to art to literature that contradicts this. That challenged the culture or people's assumptions of what the decade was like.

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