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Everything posted by Rose1957

  1. Eliza is a complicated, nuanced character. She was born into poverty and has spent her life as a common flower girl with little if any education, as her idiolect and mannerisms attest to. The beginning of the movie establishes she's clever, self reliant, self deprecating, and often naive. Like many people in her class, she's wary of authority and often combative when she feels someone is trying to hold her down. We also learn she has a code of conduct that she won't ignore, even for a chance to become "a lady in a flower shop." She's also ambitious and isn't afraid to seize the opportunity to improve her station in life. At the same time, she's vulnerable and eager to please her teachers. I say teachers because, while Higgins teaches her standard edited English and proper conduct, it's Pickering who teaches her confidence and shows her kindness. He helps her believe in herself and her abilities: "he treats a flower girl like a duchess." She has an admirable work ethic--just when she thinks she's defeated, she rallies and perseveres--and she shows great courage and strength of character. Even though she's frightened to death of going to the embassy ball, she carries off the charade magnificently. Yet, when the trio returns from the ball, the men take all the credit for her grueling work. (While I expect nothing more from Higgins, I am always disappointed at Pickering's attitude.) As a result, Eliza finds herself deeply hurt and angry. As she tells Higgins, she could have taken physical abuse because she's had to deal with that all her life. She'd have something to fight against. But she's endured Henry's verbal and emotional abuse for months in order to please him as much as to earn a shot at the new job; she can't and won't take the indifference as the men bask in the glow of HER triumph. And she's frightened. As a flower girl, she knew what was expected of her. She no longer fits in with the old crowd. Now Higgins and Pickering seem to be done with her, and she rightly feels even more vulnerable.
  2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? Both characters know how to read a crowd and give them exactly what they want/think they need. He's part con man and part circus barker in THE MUSIC MAN. In VICTOR/VICTORIA, his wit cuts like a knife. He takes no prisoners as he's interacting with the recently seated party. They encroach on his territory and try their best to insult him, but he gives better than he gets. And he can hold his own in a fight! 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've seen him in any number of films and television shows, but I remember him best in HOW THE WEST WAS WON, as the optimistic wagon master, Roger Morgan, who's out to seduce Debbie Reynolds' Lilith. Well, maybe seduce isn't the right word. He wants a strong woman who will birth him a house full of children and help him tend his land claim, and he's matter-of-fact in his propositions. I've seen more romance in horse trading than in Morgan's proposals. At least he's good-natured about her rejections.
  3. Suzanne Cupito now goes by the name Morgan Brittany. Yes, THAT Morgan Brittany!
  4. The original movie ran 3 hours, which meant it cost theaters at least one showing a day. They didn't want to lose the revenue and complained to the studio, which is why the movie was chopped by nearly 30 minutes. The original run time was 182 minutes and was hailed by critics; the re-edit ran 154 minutes and was panned. The re-edit cost Garland her Oscar.
  5. If you want some wonderful background on this film, head over to youtube and search for Diane Sawyer's interview with Stanley Donen and the various clips of Patricia Ward Kelly (Gene Kelly's official biographer and his widow). For one, they both debunk the old story about how the crew put milk in the rainwater in the "Singin' in the Rain" dance so it would show up better on camera. For another, PWK confirms that Gene almost always did his own Foley work.
  6. I love those three movies, along with THAT'S DANCING and INVITATION TO DANCE. TD is a compilation of clips like the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT series, with Kelly and a host of other dancers narrating. Naturally, it looks at MGM films, but it also looks at RKO and Warner Brothers performances. ITD was Kelly's dream project, two hours of dancing to tell the story--no dialogue.
  7. Another fun fact: Stanley Donen was the physical model for the dancing that Jerry the Mouse does, the same way Marge Champion was the physical model for Snow White's movements.
  8. *I agree with other posters that Peter Lorre was a delight in SILK STOCKINGS. Who knew he could sing and dance! *Janice Page is a hoot in this movie, especially when she tries to shake the water out of her ears. Her character is obviously a parody of Esther Williams. *"Stereophonic Sound" is probably my favorite number, followed very closely by "The Red Blues." Cyd Charisse--nothing more needs to be said. *While I like the dancing that goes along with "All of You," I can't get past the cringe-worthy lyric of "I'd love to gain complete control of you/And handle even the heart and soul of you." And I don't understand the logic of changing Cyd's skirt to culottes. Censors--gotta laugh I suppose. *Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn did a comedic take off of the NINOTCHKA story in THE IRON PETTICOAT. Or maybe it's supposed to be an homage. *Reslyn, if you think Astaire's dancing was forced in this movie, try to watch FUNNY FACE. Both movies were released in 1957, and Astaire had intended to retire after the release of SILK STOCKINGS. Some say that's why he destroys the top hat at the end of "Ritz Roll and Rock."
  9. I like the musical numbers in HIGH SOCIETY, but that's about it. I especially like "That's Jazz" and the meta-filled "Well Did You Evah". I love THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and watch it virtually every time TCM airs it. The entire cast is sublime--not a false acting note anywhere. Hepburn and Grant are perfectly matched and much easier to root for than Kelly and the too-old-for-her Crosby. We fully believe Hepburn's Tracy as she transforms from brittle, angry, and judgmental to warm and loving when she's finally willing to admit nobody's perfect. She's haughty, defensive, and angry at Dex when he confronts her about why their marriage failed; when George and her father confirm Dex's assertion that she acts like some kind of cold, untouchable goddess, she's devastated. Dex says it bitterly, George says it worshipfully, and her father says it bluntly and matter-of-factly; but Tracy takes all their words as condemnation of her womanhood. While I find the acting superb, I find it downright creepy that a father would tell his adult daughter it's HER fault that he's cheating on his wife. That's just so wrong on so many levels. I'm also troubled by how quickly and easily Elizabeth takes Macaulay back after he's proposed to Tracy on the spur of the moment to save her reputation. Come on girl, have a little self-respect! (I feel the same way about Tracy's mother.)
  10. 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? Absolutely not. It's like the contrast between Kansas and Oz in THE WIZARD OF OZ. The often dull realistic settings are for the real world. The stylized setting is for the fantasy, where anything's possible. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? For one, when we first see Jerry, he's walking from his rented flat to his regular spot on Montmartre. He walks with confidence and ease; he smiles and cheerfully interacts with everyone he meets. We see his reaction to the work on the older fellow's easel, and we wish we could see what startles and tickles him so. He's already won us over at least a little. For another, he's right on the nose about the pretentious college student. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, blunt but honest. He's older, wiser, and much more experienced, and he just doesn't care about her shallow observations as she talks down to him. He's seen countless other college girls just like her, and as he points out to Milo, she's just trying "to lap up a little culture"; he's trying to hone his craft and find a spark of inspiration. She's the rude American tourist who speaks terrible French in a comic, robotic fashion; he's an ex-patriot who speaks fluent French and has become a welcomed part of the artist community. Finally, he recovers at least part of his good cheer when he interacts with Milo. And that car? Anybody ever read the children's poem about the spider and the fly?
  11. "Does Betty Hutton in this movie remind you of Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown?" To an extent she does, especially in the beginning of the movie. Indeed, Reynolds goes full out for 90% of the movie, but the big differences between the two performances: Reynolds was much more graceful (and therefore more natural), and she did a better job at showing genuine character development.
  12. I've seen the clips of Judy's songs featured in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT III. She does a good job and seems to have fun with the role, but she seems so fragile, both physically and emotionally; I think her take on the role would have been very different from Betty Hutton's. For one, while Hutton was a successful recording star, Garland was a far superior singer. Oh, Judy could belt out a song, but she also could successfully dial back the delivery and show true emotion. She would have been magnificent in the two slow ballads. Garland also was a fairly good physical match for the real Annie Oakley and would have done a much better job giving us more character development, vulnerability, and subtlety. Hutton is about as subtle as a bulldozer in most of her roles, and this one is no different. The "aw, shucks, t'weren't nothin'" only gets you so far (see a couple of her singing performances on youtube--"Murder, He Says" and "Old Man Moses"--and notice the almost frenetic movements and facial expressions--always mugging, always full out). For the life of me, I don't understand the staging and choreography for "I Got the Sun in the Mornin'". By this time in Oakley's career, she was a polished performer who always was impeccably groomed. A great part of her appeal was that she didn't appear to be competing with men even when she out shot them. She didn't just dress like a lady, she became a lady despite her impoverished, sometimes miserable upbringing. You can dress up Hutton's Annie, but apparently you can't take the yokel out of the sharpshooter. And those herky-jerky arm movements completely ruin the performance. What Hutton does get right is the physicality of the part. She's strong and healthy, and we can believe she's been huntin' and trappin' since she was eight years old. We also can believe she's capable of the horseback riding and that she's a match for Keel's Frank Butler. (And don't get me started on how Frank Butler is written and portrayed in this movie. Oy!)
  13. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? In the pre-dance set up, Donald is the cooperative, yet dubious student, while Cosmo is the class clown. Once the professor catches Cosmo in the act of mocking him, the two friends revert to their childhood: two naughty little boys who like to create mayhem. They dance with the same exuberance as they always have, full of athleticism and precision, and end the dance by delightfully trashing the joint. The dance is one of my favorites. I'm a Kelly fan and usually have eyes for him only in a routine, but O'Connor matches him so well here that I find myself concentrating on HIM rather than Kelly. Youtube is a wonderful thing. I found an audio recording where O'Connor talks about SINGING IN THE RAIN in general and this number in particular. He credited Kelly with changing/expanding/improving his dance style by getting him to add more balletic movement/extension to his upper body. He was also relieved to learn that he and Kelly both turned to the left when dancing, which made this number a bit easier to perform. (I also discovered thanks to an interview of Stanley Donen and a presentation given by Kelly's widow and official biographer, Patricia Ward Kelly, that the crew did NOT put anything--milk or otherwise--in the water in the "Singin' in the Rain" dance number to make it show up better on film. It was all meticulous cinematography.) Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The straight man, of course, has to set up and be the target of the punch line without being in on the joke. In the beginning of the scene, the stuffy professor is in charge and drills Don with the tongue twisters to better develop his elocution. There's a lot riding on Don's ability to transition from the dashing lover in silent movies into the sophisticated star who talks on film ("Well, of course we talk! Don't everybody?"), so he's feeling the pressure and at least trying to take it all seriously. The professor amuses himself with his cleverness, and he's comic in his enthusiastic gestures and speech without meaning to. It's easy for Cosmo, who doesn't take anything too seriously, to mock his facial expressions and idiolect. The professor tries unsuccessfully to escape the lunacy, and he quickly becomes little more than a prop for the dancers as they let off steam. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Don is the alpha male and leading man. He's muscular, athletic, and suave. Cosmo is the beta male and comic relief. He's the sidekick and Don's foil in some aspects. He's there to make sure Don doesn't get too big for his proverbial britches. For example, Don laments that he's been feeling insecure ever since Kathy told him he's "just a shadow on film" and that he can't forget her. Cosmo cracks, "How could you? She's the first dame that hasn't fallen for your line since you were four!" The professor is--what DO we call someone like him? A gamma male? His outward trappings aren't effete/effeminate, but his masculinity derives from his authoritarian position as a scholar more than anything else. He's almost asexual.
  14. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? She's a nice balance between Betty Garrett's aggressive man eater in ON THE TOWN and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME and the traditional female role we see in so many other musicals. Women in WWII had to do men's jobs to support the war effort and keep the country running, and they did so willingly and admirably. Yet, once the war was over, men expected women to return to their traditional roles as housewives and mothers. Jane is a comic figure for half of the film because she tries to do a man's job and live in a man's world. She's all spit and vinegar and bravado. When her soldier boy, Danny, shows interest in the lovely, feminine Katie, she tries to model herself after her new friend and fails miserably because she isn't being true to herself. (Part of the problem is that Danny can never get over the fact that Jane has to rescue him, which makes him look weak) It's only when Jane realizes she can't be what Danny wants in a woman that she sees she really doesn't want him after all--and probably never did. Once she lets her fantasy of Danny go (much like Scarlett O'Hara does with Ashley at the end of GWTW), she realizes she really loves Bill. She somehow manages to strike a balance with her masculine and feminine sides. BTW, this isn't the first time that Day played such a character. In 1951's ON MOONLIGHT BAY and 1953's BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON, she plays Marjorie, a tom boy who's more interested in tinkering with cars than with snagging the neighbor boy, Bill. She moves with the same energy and has many of the same notions about womanhood that she has in CALAMITY JANE. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? I think CALAMITY JANE is one of her best films, and it's mostly because of the score. She's not singing just to be singing. She's advancing the story line and we can see real character development. After CJ, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH are two of my favorite Day movies. Both movies show her range as a serious actress, and LMOLM again uses the score to show character development. After those two films, she seems to be typecast mostly in frothy rom coms. They're entertaining enough, but they're pretty cookie cutter. 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 it adds to the role. Without that persona, Calamity Jane isn't a particularly sympathetic character. She's braggadocious, she bristles at every perceived slight, she lies outrageously, and she's aggressive. Day makes Calamity's transformation at the end of the movie believable.
  15. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? The staging reflects Tony's insecurities. He's a has-been according to Hollywood, and he hasn't performed live/on stage in years. He feels out of his element, thanks to the prospect of working with the hot shot Jeffrey Cordova. Tony has a pretty close relationship with Lester and Lily, but he can't connect even with them because he's feeling a bit sorry for himself. Lester and Lily have sung Jeffrey's praises since the moment Tony arrived in New York--how innovative he is as an actor, director, producer, writer, etc. As Jeffry begins his sales pitch, Tony glances furtively at Lester as if to say, "You've got to be kidding me! I am NOT buying what this guy is selling." The other characters try to cheer him up and convince him he's part of the ensemble, no longer a solo act. He can depend on them, and this project will be a grand adventure! It doesn't take Tony long to enthusiastically join in the fun. Part of their routine feels straight out of Vaudeville with the (little bit) hokey but funny visual jokes and the witty lyrics.
  16. I really wish Ethel Waters had been able to work more in movies. She was a natural, gifted actress. For me, the scene is about relief and her abiding love for her deeply flawed husband. As the angel stands watch over the couple, she sings about her relief that Joe's still alive; later, in the sunny yard, as she takes down the laundry, the song becomes a celebration. The sun is shining, Joe is smiling (and close by), and her heart is bursting with love and happiness. There's no scolding or holding back her feelings. She has forgiven his philandering and gambling. She admits he isn't perfect and that their lives are hard at times, but as long as she can endure it with Joe, she knows they'll be okay. Life goes on.
  17. This scene may not be considered a proper dance by some measures, but this is a comic courtship dance nonetheless (albeit an unnatural one for a 1940s audience because the woman relentlessly pursues the man). She advances, he retreats; she thrusts, he parries. Every move is synchronized and mirrored to building music, which leads into Shirley's song where she pleads her case for Denny's attention. Motomom, at that point in Sinatra's career, he often played the skinny, weak guy who went far beyond naive when it came to women. He was downright dense--lol. In the three movies he starred in with Gene Kelly, he and Kelly essentially played the same parts: he was always the poor virginal **** who didn't have a clue about women, while Kelly was always the older, far more experienced horn dog. Garrett starred in two of the three, playing essentially the same role: an aggressive woman who won't take no for an answer.
  18. The first Judy Garland movie I saw was, of course, THE WIZARD OF OZ. And I saw it every year for most of my childhood. The movie was in turn funny and frightening, and Garland's performance was just magic. I admit that at some point I started to look for crazy things, like the wire holding up the lion's tail and Dorothy's changing hair length. These days, I watch it with fondness. I still look for the silly stuff, but I adore Garland's performance. I can't imagine anybody else in that role. As for her later work, of course her tour de force is A STAR IS BORN. This movie shows her fantastic range as a singer and an actor. I'm reminded of a story I've heard/seen on TCM about her work ethic. Garland would prerecord her songs, but when it was time to film a scene, she would instruct the crew to crank the playback recording as high as it would go. Then she would actually sing along with the soundtrack. Garland didn't just sing, she interpreted a song masterfully. Who isn't a puddle of tears after listening to her rendition of "The Man That Got Away"? Her performance in ASIB is all the more poignant, if not heartbreaking, because it is essentially HER story we see played out through Norman Maine. She should have won an Oscar. Fun fact: Gene Kelly starred with Judy in his first film, FOR ME AND MY GAL. Judy starred with Gene in her last film at MGM, SUMMER STOCK.
  19. In "42nd Street," Ruby Keeler was a very pretty young woman who looked good on camera. She played the doe-eyed ingenue so well because she WAS a show biz ingenue. Her voice was thin and reedy, she wasn't a particularly gifted actress, and she was so flat footed and slow when she tapped that I can rarely sit through a performance. But, she was an improvement over actresses in previous musicals, her sincerity really appealed to her audiences, and she was fortunate enough to work with Busby Berkeley. By her 1937 performance in "Ready, Willing, and Able," she had picked up speed and wasn't quite so flat footed, but she never displayed anywhere near the same caliber of talent as Eleanor Powell. Powell was just as pretty and had the same fresh-faced girl-next-door quality as Keeler while still being sexy and powerful; and she couldn't sing or act any better than Keeler. But OMG she could tap! In "Broadway Melody of 1940," she even out danced Fred Astaire and George Murphy. Don't get me wrong: Astaire did a wonderful job, but compared to Powell, he looked almost gangly and disconnected. Powell brought her extensive ballet training into her tap dancing, and the result was poetry in motion. She was mature, comfortable in her skin, grounded/centered, and sooo graceful. Legend has it that Astaire (the consummate gentleman) once told choreographer Hermes Pan that he would never dance with Powell again for that very reason. He felt she made him look like a rank amateur. I think it's a shame he didn't give it another go because he definitely did improve his tapping style. And I so would have loved to see Powell and Gene Kelly perform together.
  20. People could connect with Judy, who displayed her vulnerability and enthusiasm in every performance. She didn't just sing something, she put her heart (heartbreak) and soul into it--and we believed her. She had the great good fortune to be teamed with Micky Rooney for several years in the fluffy, funny, patriotic "backyard musicals." Dorothy cemented her place in musical history forever. She was magic. I get so angry thinking about how Louis B. Mayer treated her like a disposable commodity.
  21. The shots of the garter (then garters) and the gun leave little chance for ambiguity. Alfred's a cad--an urbane, suave, adorable cad--lol. This character, along with his asides, is pretty much Chevalier's stock and trade for most of his career, and he's masterful at it. We can't stay mad at him for very long, and neither can the various women who try (and fail) to resist his charms. Yes, there will be at least one woman who spurns his advances, but she's finally wooed and won. In the end, we believe she's managed to change him just enough that we can believe he'll be faithful for at least a day or two. Oh, who am I kidding? We know he's going to cheat on the heroine, too, but we still root for him. I love the comic touches in this scene: the shot of her garters to show us this first one is NOT hers, the melodramatic pseudo-suicide followed by the men's realization that the gun shoots blanks, the drawer full of garters and guns, the way the husband doesn't know her clothing and body well enough to zip up the dress while Alfred is a pro at it, Alfred's pursed lips and twinkling eyes trying to reassure the cuckolded husband, etc.
  22. The interaction between the characters in the first clip: Eddy's character tries to be suave and seduce the pretty lady, but she's having none of it. She's more sophisticated and wittier, and she's wise enough to catch onto his game pretty quickly; she gives better than she gets. He may be paddling the canoe, but she's in control. The interaction among the characters in the second clip: Here, MacDonald's character loses her confidence because she's completely out of her element. She's the awkward outsider who can't connect. This time, when she sees Eddy's character interact seamlessly with the locals, she realizes sophistication isn't a substitute for raw sexuality.
  23. Most early musicals seemed to be morale boosters. A large swath of the audience went to the cinema to escape the stress and poverty of their lives, so seeing realism would be a turnoff. Oh, sure, there were plenty of adventures and tragedies and gangster films available, but the musical's aim was to cheer you up. The women were beautiful, the men handsome, the costumes lavish and elegant, the songs full of hope and flirtation. Everything was idealized and stylized. Everybody was funny, and the guy got the girl by the last reel.

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