GenineSanderScott

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  1. 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? If Streisand would have presented "People" more theatrical, expressive, and belting, it would have felt more like an argument in a debate than the introspective, emotionally revealing song it is in the film. We learn about Fanny through this song and see a real, true vulnerability in her. Nick does too, and it is through this song that he realizes how she feels about him. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Initially, Fanny walks away from Nick initially, and he follows from afar. He is fascinated by her, and wants to learn more about her. As she sings, Fanny glances at Nick, but does not directly look at him. He, on the other hand, not only looks at her, but almost through her, as he tries to figure her out. When Fanny sings the "Lovers are very special people line," she glances again at Nick, almost embarrassed, as she loves him and wants to be lovers with him but doesn't think it is possible because he is so handsome. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. The direction and editing fantastically support Streisand's performance and the emotion of this scene. The camera follows behind her, as Nick is, as she walks. As the camera follows and gets closer, we are drawn in. We must watch her. Initially, both Nick and Fanny are in the frame. However, as she sings, and as we get a closer look at her vulnerability, the camera moves in. She is introspective and revealing, and so is the camera. At the "Lovers are very special people" line, the camera really gets close to her. Then, we see her almost from the side with a wider view as she looks almost embarrassed to think that a girl like her could ever hope to get a man like that. With that view, we also see Nick, looking at her and reacting to her words and to her vulnerability. We realize that he gets what she is feeling. The camera lets Streisand deliver the song and captures all of the subtlety of the emotions. This shows the complete genius of William Wyler and the way he tells a story. Marvelous!
  2. 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 use of shadows and light plays a part in both films, and are used to express the emotions at the time in the films. For instance, in our scene from "My Fair Lady," Eliza is hidden in the shadows -- in the shadow's of Higgins' success. At the same time, Eliza as a lady is just a shadow of her real, true self. The interplay of shadow and light throughout this scene, and throughout the movie, visually represents their relationship. In "Gaslight," shadows and light not only express the emotions (Ingrid Bergman's character feeling as though she is losing her sanity as her husband deceives her), but they also highlight how sinister Charles Boyer is in this film. Darkness seems to surround his character, both in tone and visually, while Joseph Cotton appears lighter and more good. He helps Bergman discover the truth, and both characters are illuminated in the last scene at the end of the movie. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. The camera pulls away to capture both of the actors so that the audience can better see them play off of and react to one another. Cukor gave them many lovely props and carefully thought out costumes for the actors to portray their characters. For instance, Higgins keeps his hands in his pockets initially. He stands diagonally to her, not looking at her as someone truly listening would do. He then reaches out to Eliza -- briefly -- before putting his hands back in his pockets or holding a tray. This visually creates the emotional dance they are having. Even when standing next to Eliza, there is a sofa between them. He can't understand why she is so upset, and he doesn't seem to want to understand. Like the very real sofa that separates them physically and visually, so does Higgins' attitude toward Eliza. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Cukor gave Eliza and Higgins the lighting and props to enhance their relationship and long takes to enhance as the two characters play off of one another and their environment in the scene.
  3. 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? I feel that with the onset of the 60's and beyond, we saw in masculine performances the rise of the Beta male. That is, they were less the "manly man," and often had qualities that we often associate as feminine -- such as being more sensitive. They did not have to be the Alpha male -- athletic, like Gene Kelly, or burly and strong, like Howard Keel. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? I had never noticed this before, but I love the way Robert Preston uses his hands, facial expressions, and his entire body, really, to express emotion. Prior to this course, I loved musicals, but was always so engrossed in the story, songs, and emotions, that I never really thought about the actors and actresses, and their wonderful craft that brought these musicals to life. Preston was a genius whose talent only grew in time. He was always so completely likeable, too. 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? I must admit that this question made me look up his filmography. Other films I have seen with Robert Preston include "Victor/Victoria," "Reap the Wild Wind," "Finnegan Begin Again," "Mame," and "How the West Was Won." However, outside of "Mame" and "Victor/Victoria," both musicals, and "How the West Was Won," I barely recall his performances in the other movies. I first saw Robert Preston in "The Music Man," and fell in love. He was mesmerizing, funny, and fantastic! Preston's approach to acting was real and sensitive. He was performance was honest and human, even when he was playing a con man.
  4. GenineSanderScott

    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

    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? The scene looks backwards to classical musicals by involving the stage, much like "Broadway Melody of 1929. It also includes children auditioning and calls back to the days of Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, and Deanna Durbin. However, this scene is a bit grittier than the classic musicals and the lighting appears a little darker to me. It shows the seedier side of backstage life in a more realistic way than the backstage scenes in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," for example. 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. Russell's entrance is loud and boisterous. She is a character that commands attention and gets what she wants, which is for her daughter's to attain a level of success that she did not achieve. Mama Rose knows the ropes and knows that the stage is not for the shrinking violets of the world. She also seems to know that she must be loud to get the attention of the males running the show. She has to be as strong or stronger than they are to make her point. 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). Oh my, yes. "Let me entertain you, let me make you smile...I'm very versatile." It is interesting that when sung by Baby June as a youngster, the song seems more innocent, as in, "I am here to entertain you -- look at me." (Like if Gene Kelly had had the opportunity to sing it). However, when sung by a grown up Gypsy, the lyrics take on a very sexual meaning, as in "I am here to entertain you, but in an entirely adult, sexual way, and I'm happy to do so."
  5. 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? No. The ballet is Jerry's fantasy. The style and colors reflect this. If a less-than-realistic, stylized approach had been used throughout the entire movie, there would be no contrast for the ballet/fantasy. I love the mixture of the stylized ballet and scenes shot in the outside that are more realistic as it gives the film a wonderful texture. It is a beautiful film. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Jerry is from Jersey. That's just who he is. His demeanor makes him stand out as an outsider. He is not pretentious like the 3rd year student, who is trying to speak French. I also think that his reaction to Milo's offer to buy 2 of his paintings is so sincere. It is obvious that he has not sold anything in quite some time. This makes the audience feel empathy toward him. So, even though he is a bit rude, you forgive him quickly.
  6. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Both O'Connor and Kelly are a bit cocky and very playful in the pre-dance. As they recite the tongue-twister, they begin to bounce along to the rhythm and start to spin the Professor around, even before the music begins. Once it does, there is a seamless transition to the dance; and the dance movements flow from the previous dialogue. Brilliant! I LOVE this number! It has always been one of my favorites. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The Professor is the quintessential straight man, who literally is straight and stiff throughout most of the song. His job is to set up the comedic moments and allow them to be funny (in contrast to his deadpan face). Without the Professor, the dance would not be as playful and fun. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Gene as Don Lockwood is definitely the Alpha male. This is obvious when he dances as he generally stares straight ahead. Although he is in sync with Donald O'Connor (Cosmo), if you placed your hand over Cosmo so that you could not see him, it would seem as though Gene/Don was just dancing independently. Donald as Cosmo is the Beta male. He frequently looks at Gene as he dances in both a supportive and "Good job, Buddy" type of way. The Professor is the elegant, perhaps "old fashioned" type of male, who is stiff and definitely NOT fun. It is an interesting statement made at the end of the dance where he is literally "trashed" and the vowel sign is placed upon him with a "Take this" attitude. This is the old way. Don't be like him. Be young and vital is the message that shines through.
  7. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? I love Calamity Jane's character. She is a tomboy who can handle anything and tackle things that even the other male characters would not (like getting the Lieutenant away from the Indians). The fact that they made her SUCH a tomboy is interesting, but typical of the time period. It would not have been the same movie if Calamity was a strong, capable female who also dressed like a "lady." That would be more like "Dynasty," which this was not. I loved the struggle Calamity had coming to terms with her femininity. Ultimately, her true self wins out, and she still wears pants, but is cleaned up. Her blouse has more of a feminine touch, but with a tie (more masculine). Her face is also softer. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? I think this role, in particular, let us see her versatility. She went from playing the typical female, musical role (like in "Tea for Two") to Calamity to Ruth Etting opposite Cagney in "Love Me or Leave Me," which is definitely more dramatic and darker. Then, we see her evolve to the successful, single, and smart decorator who is paired with Rock Hudson in "Pillow Talk." She grew, both professionally and in the characters she portrayed, to be the well-rounded female who is both successful AND attractive. We, and she, could be both. 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 think Doris Day was the perfect choice for this role. She is so sunny and nice, and this comes out even when acting in this movie. I think this has a positive affect on the character Calamity Jane. Jane is so tomboyish and strong, but Day's sunniness tempers that a bit. Without it, Jane may have been too gritty, and perhaps not as likeable. You just route for Calamity and empathize with her throughout the film.
  8. 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? The characters in this scene relate to one another as more of an ensemble, rather than 1-2 stars (such as Judy and Mickey) standing out in a group. The pyramid move in the "That's Entertainment" number shows this perfectly, as each character depends upon the other for balance and support. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. All of the colors are in dark or neutral colors that coordinate together well. The colors also pair people together. For instance Nanette and Oscar are paired together in the film as husband and wife, and their costumes coordinate in gray (he with a gray jacket, and her with gray in her dress). Fred and Jack are both in blue - not a couple, but in a color that coordinates with the others. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? They play together as an ensemble. However, when they move, Oscar and Nanette typically move as a unit (they are a married couple in the show) and Jack and Fred move with the ensemble, but with more independence than Oscar and Nanette. They are a bit more free to do gags like the latter. Nevertheless, no one character stands out in the staging. The four are centered around center stage.
  9. 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? The scene begins with Petunia waiting outside the door, clearly worrying about Little Joe. She rushes to his side and is relieved to see that he is better. She cares for him much as a mother does for a child, in a sense. However, that was the traditional role of the wife in marriage at the time. What I found particularly interesting was the lighting. When at his bedside, there is a warm glow around Petunia that almost illuminates Little Joe. How reflective of the emotions! Petunia's love and devotion to her husband gives her a glow and illuminates him, as well. When the scene shifts to outside with Petunia hanging laundry, the scene brightens and reflects her happiness that Joe is alright. If Joe had died, she would not have had his laundry to do; so taking down his laundry (and caring for him in this way) bathed in beautiful light also reflects her love and devotion. I also enjoyed the way the two characters "entered" the scene as Petunia pulls the sheet across the line. Brilliant directing there! How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? If Petunia were singing about her child, the lines, "Does he love me? That's all I need to know," would not fit. A mother doesn't really worry about whether or not her children love her. Mothers typically have this incredible way of loving their children despite whether or not their children love them. It's unconditional. But, in the line referenced, Petunia shows that love between a man and woman is more fragile. She can do anything and conquer all as long as she knows "her man" loves her. If Petunia were singing about a child, the cultural meaning would definitely have changed. Again, mothers love their children unconditionally. However, the fragility of love between a woman and a man parallels the fragility of freedom in our country and the world; and it takes our absolute, unwavering love and devotion, along with prayer to protect it. Loving Little Joe also shows Petunia's depth of devotion. This man has behaved badly and she still loves him. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? I had not seen this film in many, many years; and I was simply delighted by it when watching it again. It is a great exemplification of loyalty, love, and patience -- qualities that needed to be promoted and honored during such a difficult time in history. In addition, I think it showcased many wonderfully talented actors and actresses, although it does involve some stereotypical themes. However, the choice of good choices versus bad choices universally occurs in all humans lives.
  10. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. Frank Sinatra bounds out of the locker room with Betty Garrett waiting for him. To escape, he has no place to go but to the bleachers. This leaves many places for Betty to "trap" Frank and have him squirm away. Each place of "entrapment" gives Betty another chance to get physically and sexually flirtatious with Frank. The music is very light-hearted and playful and underscores the lyrics beautifully. I also enjoyed the chase up the bleachers as the music reflected the upward movement and the downward movement as he slides down the railing. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? As Frank enters the scene, Betty is there waiting for him. The music reflects the movement as Frank moves one way and another only to be met by Betty at each point. Frank has no where to go but to the bleachers, which then leads to the chase. The music becomes increasingly frantic (to reflect Frank's feelings) until Betty stops it by saying, "Wait!" This sets up the perfect segue to allow her to say what she wants to in song. It is a segue that is well-thought out and wonderfully orchestrated in music, action, and words.
  11. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? I believe that the first Judy Garland film I recall watching was "The Wizard of Oz" when I was about 4-years-old. I fell in love with Judy, and she was my childhood (and beyond) idol! I then saw her as Betsy Booth in the "Andy Hardy" film series and then in "Babes in Arms." With each film, I grew to love her and her talent more and more. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I don't view her differently. However, these clips remind me of the tremendous respect I have for her as a performer. Her maturation and adaptation in her performances with two of the greatest male dancers of all time (along with the Nicholas Brothers) is incredible. Her interpretation of the lyrics is spot on -- so believable. You feel the songs and get a personal glimpse of her human experience along the way. 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 order, I would say that "Sunday Morning," "The Wizard of Oz," "Strike Up the Band," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Easter Parade," and of course, "A Star is Born" show her maturation. She is absolutely incredible in "A Star is Born," and her interpretation of "The Man I Love" is spell-binding! I feel every word of the lyrics. Such an amazing talent!
  12. 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. The movie begins in the White House with America's President at the time, FDR. As Cohan ascends the stairs, there are pictures of several past presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. All the while, the gentleman who is the White House butler tells Cohan that he remembers him 30 years ago when he played George Washington, Jr. After speaking with FDR, who mentions that he loves the way that you Irish Americans "carry your love of country" out just like a flag, the scene shifts to an Independence Day parade in 1878 with a plethora of flag-waving people and marching Union soldiers from the Civil War. All are symbols or references to freedom and our foundation as an independent country. You can't get more American than that! 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. FDR's speech about the Irish-American people carrying "your love of country out in the open like waving a flag. I like that" talks about the joys of love of country. Mention of the Grand Old Flag also reinforces love of country and boosts morale. In addition, FDR recalls when he first saw the Cohan family perform, saying that he "remembered them well." This reinforces the warmth and unification of family, pride in family and hard work, and further promotes love of country. 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. Opening the movie as George enters the White House and ending the movie as he leaves the White House brings continuity to the film and clearly establishes it as a biography as told by the main character. It allows George to tell his own American success story to whom better than the President of the United States. Had the movie just started with a parade in Providence, I don't think it would have been as effective. To whom would George be re-telling his memories? Mary already knew his stories. FDR grounds the story/biography in Americanism and allows the story come full circle.
  13. GenineSanderScott

    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

    Before I comment on the Top Hat questions, I wanted to comment on the dance sequences featuring Eleanor Powell and Ruby Keeler from the Lecture Notes. Eleanor Powell's body carriage is entirely different than Ruby Keeler's. Powell has a much more **** posture and seems to move from the waist down. Her arms are out-stretched, but more rigid. Powell performs several notable high kicks, acrobatic moves, and a myriad of turns (and I don't know how she didn't fall down at the end of the finale in "Born to Dance!" After watching the Lecture Video, I now know that Eleanor Powell began as a ballet dancer before learning tap. She is absolutely astounding!! Ruby Keeler is delightful, but has an entirely different delivery. She has a tendency to move her whole body (arms included -- although they were outstretched, as well); and her movements were more fluid. Keeler seemed to be more of a hoofer, at least in this number. Also, I noted that her shoes were more flat than those that Powell wore in "Born to Dance." What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? In the clip, Ginger Rogers is every bit the equal of Fred Astaire in this "anything you can do" type of number. I noted that Ginger imitates Fred's moves but turns in the opposite direction several times, perhaps indicating that she will not be content to merely follow her partner (in dance and in life). She has her own direction to go that is independent, yet compliments Fred's movements. Also, in the fabulous "Piccolino" number, the costumes are in strong contrast to one another. That is, Ginger's dress, which appears to be white, is in contrast to Fred's black tuxedo. Yet, though equally strong in contrast, they compliment one another beautifully! How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? Not that the other musicals have not been "smart" or funny, but this one truly is. The sound quality is better. The sharpness of the black and white is beautiful and well defined. Also, the two main characters are more equals and very strong characters. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? I think women were coming into their own, within limitations. Also, the mention of divorce, lust, etc. are touched upon, but are woven into comic lines (Rogers: "Your husband wants to divorce you and marry me." Crawford: "Then he wants to do right by both of us."). These themes are treated much differently than had they been made in pre-code times.
  14. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier). The unzipped dress and the garter belt were part of the Lubitsch touch. Alfred's character is conveyed via his costume, the tux, suggesting money and sophistication. He knows how to zip his paramour's dress, indicating that he has a great deal of experience in this department. His vast collection of guns in the drawer shows that the situation has occurred several times before. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. I enjoyed the gunshot sounds that sounded like blanks. The audience could tell this, whereas the husband could not (perhaps because he was too distraught over the situation with his wife). I also noted that the beginning dialogue behind closed doors when the scene opens is very distorted. The ambassador's dialogue toward the end of the scene mentions that this "is the last scandal" in which Alfred would be involved. This adds to Alfred's character and provides information about Alfred's background (the fact that he is from Sylvania). What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? It is stage-like, as though you were watching a play. It is a comedy, and the central theme involves a playboy, or a man not interested in love or marriage, who meets someone he initially dislikes (or she dislikes him), until something that draws them together happens; then they fall in love.
  15. 1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. In the first scene, they barely look at one another, yet are flirtatious. I think they play off of one another marvelously. Nelson Eddy is rather stiff, but endearingly so, in this scene. Jeannette McDonald, on the other hand, is a bit more relaxed and funny and sets up Eddy's joke delivery perfectly. 2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. OK. If you can't tell from my first answer, I am a huge fan of Nelson Eddy and Jeannette McDonald. My favorite of their movies is "Maytime" which reduces me to tears at the end every time. I am a bit of an incurable romantic. To me, their chemistry jumps off the screen. Yes, they are prim and proper. However, while you don't necessarily see them being overtly physical with one another, you hear it. They are funny together, endearing, and altogether delightful! 3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? It is clear that they show a dichotomy of women. 1) You can be prim and proper, wear a high neckline, and get the good guy in the end. 2) Or, you can shimmy and wear skin-tight clothing. You may be popular, and people may throw money at you, but you won't get the good guy in the end. You choose. Also, it seemed clear that they were suggesting that you can try to change your style to fit in with the crowd, but you'll only be embarrassed in the end.

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