AcademeWriter

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  1. Oh, yes! I would love this. Fashion from the fabulous 30's gowns, to the 40's Bette Davis tailored clothes to the Audrey 50's Vogue style, down to the Annie Hall look in the 70's.
  2. What s a Musical? I think that a musical is a film that has both song and dance, and at least three to five numbers. The classic musicals we all know, but the sub-genre have to be explored as well: Operetta: - Jeannette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy, and others of that genre Mostly legitimate singing, but there are sporadic dances thrown in each operetta -a waltz, a folk dance, or a specialty number.... =============================== Biopics: (Can be a singer, composer... ) For instance: The Helen Morgan Story Love me, or Leave Me - Doris did some dancing in this one, I believe. =============================== Dramatic films - which contain musical numbers: - Shirley Temple films did this often. For example: The Little Princess: "The Old Kent Road" tapping w/ Arthur Treacher; white ballet dream sequence The Littlest Rebel: "Polly Wally Doodle" The Little Colonel; "My Old Kentucky Home" - tapping with Bill Robinson Heidi: "The Little Wooden Shoes" Bright Eyes: "The Good ShIp, Lollipop". in the words of The Kind and I - etc., etc., etc....." Dramatic Films -that have musical elements - dance Waterloo Bridge with Vivan Leigh The Story of Three Loves - with Leslie Caron and Moira Sherear The Red Shoes -- with Moira Shearer The Secret People - with Audrey Hepburn Invitation to the Dance - with Gene Kelly ======================================== A musical, however, to me ultimately is both song and dance together. What do you think?
  3. Eliza and Henry Higgins have had a love/hate relationship from the beginning. Eliza is more emotional and demonstrative, while Henry Higgins is reserved, understated, using only wit and intellect to interact in an objective fashion. Eliza is an experiment, nothing more. In this scene, however, Eliza's frustration comes into full view. She had worked hard, but they have ignored her efforts in winning their bet. In this clip, Henry Higgins's logical world is cracked, as slippers are "shied" at him. He is forced to deal with emotions now, and realizes that he and his experiment have reached the end, and, that Eliza may indeed leave. Eliza's temper, "cuts him to the quick," and rattles his world. The girl had feedings, and was not just a voice on the Grammaphone after all. Higgins doesn't even realize it yet, but Eliza has, in Freddie's words, "completely done him in."
  4. 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... I first saw Robert Preston in How the West Was Won. My mother took me out of school for the day to go downtown to see the movie because it was historical and showed the struggles of the early settlers in America. Robert Preston was a strong character in that film who pursued Debbie Reynolds throughout the story. I always felt bad that Debbie Reynolds never married him, as he was a good catch, as an able rancher. The problem was that his character did not have romantic words for Debbie. He spoke about her strength and fitness to be a good wife on a ranch, which was a necessity, but Debbie Reynolds's character wanted more romantic wooing, I think. She also was very independent and decided her own path. Robert Preston made a great impression on me that day. Later, I saw him in The Music Man. As the fast-talking con artist salesmen of instruments for a boy's band, he retained that strong, masculine aura. (I did my Masters thesis on song and choreography of three films of traditional Americana, and The Music Man was one of them. Oddly enough, Shirley Jones was in all three, including Oklahoma! and Carousel as well. Therefore, I enjoyed Dr. Aments' side discussion on Shirley Jones quite a bit.). But back to Robert Preston. In every film, he has always spoken his lines forcefully, and sometimes in a staccato fashion - not stiff, but full of emotion and power. In Mame, he was again a tower of strength and power as he played the part of Beauregard. Unfortunately, his part was not around long enough in the film, but it did give us the famous "Mame" song. In Victor/Victoria which I recently saw for the first time, I was surprised to see him in a role that seemed such as departure for him. But, he did a great job, and again, used that strong personality and stacatto manner which drew the audience in once more. I always like to see him in movies. I looked at his filmography on IMDB, and was surprised to see how many films he did as far back as Beau Geste! I will have to keep an eye out for them on TCM.
  5. That was fun! I would love to do annotation of more musicals!
  6. I liked the question about the comparison of Gypsy, sandwiched between classic musicals of the past and the disruptive style of the 60's First, the film, Gypsy, begins as a backstage musical, much like the old musicals. It is an audition for a theater piece - in this case, vaudeville. There were many backstage musicals of the 30s and 40's. In the old films of the 30's though,the performers were mostly or all adults. Here, we have children vying in a very competitive atmosphere. In the backstage musicals of the 30's, the musical auditions may have made the auditionees nervous, anxious, or even jealous, but there was camaraderie overall beneath the bickering. Here, children are being peddled as commodities - acts - with favoritism, pay-backs to higher-ups, and corralled in cattle call style, without sensitivity to their youth, and practically given the "gong." The Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930's presented lovely numbers that emphasized grace, femininity, and elaborate designs of choreography and sets. Head Busby Berkley girl, Toby Wing, exemplified the bevy of blonde-wigged beauties in the flow of dance and song. The musicals of the 30s, 40s and 50s lifted people up. The studios ushered in glorious musicals of Judy Garland and others who also inspired, and created joy. These musicals inspired people with the heights of civilization in what creative people could do. From the technicolor masterpieces of the 50s back to the Busby Berkeley girls to the 30's, audiences went to the movies to be entertained and feel happy when they left the theater. In Gypsy however, there is an intended crassness of individual, chaotic acts that vie to appear on the vaudeville stage. Theater auditions are usually organized. I have been to many, and have never seen disorder like this. In this clip, however, the order was broken not only by Mama Rose, but by the inside squabbles of Jocko (Karl Malden) and the stage manger/producer. The fact that Mama Rose (Rosiland Russell) would go so far, as to pop the balloons of the little girl in order to advance the chances of her own children, demonstrated not camaraderie, but dangerous, cut-throat ambition. This was left out of the older musicals of the past, or at least glossed overs s they were musicals that showcased visual optimism and joy. Gypsy's lack of camaraderie, however, may have been more realistic (although theater people are usually known to be one big family) but the film's grittiness and seediness created a "dramatic" musical - something new.....? "West Side Story" was also a gritty, dramatic musical voice. Social issues were starting to emerge (West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, 1776 (government and slavery), etc., so the changing landscape of putting social problems into song and dance seemed a parallel to an ever-changing society. The reverse, however, was true for The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins, where happiness reigned once again. Therefore, there was a duel between movies of social realism (gang-ridden schoolyards, decadent Berlin) and joy (that danced with around an Austrian fountain, or sold flowers in Covent Garden). In summary, Gypsy was a brash, loud musical that had some nice quiet moments reflective of the old musicals. Songs, such as, ("Little Lamb," "You'll Never Get Away from Me," "All I Really Need is the Girl" - Tulsa's fabulous song and dance with "top hat and white tie") were wonderful, and reminiscent. The new grittiness, however, in Gypsy, offered numbers that were "in your face," loud and brassy, or ambition voiced, "Rose's Turn." where sense of humor, or lightness and joy were absent.. It was a conflict between the "old school" and the "new." ================================================ An addendum: I wanted to comment that social issues were first brought to musical film with Showboat ('29, '36, '51 - (gambling, racial prejudice), and again in A Star is Born (alcoholism) as well as in the 1960's - Funny Girl in which Fanny Brice's husband, Nick Arnstein, shared Showboat's - gambling addiction and loss. ... And, don't forget, the play/film, Stage Door... While technically not a fully-fleshed musical, it did showcase musical numbers spotlighting Ginger Rogers and Ann Miler, etc. and also embrace the drama of an actress committing suicide. The film was happy, glittering musical numbers in the midst of ambitious, chatty, bickering women who underneath connected by theatrical camaraderie.
  7. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? I don't think that Jerry Mulligan is unlikeable at all. He was very friendly to his fellow artists on the street, as he set up his paintings. Jerry was in his element in the artist's colony in Montmartre, and only became annoyed with the "third year girl" because she was a phony, acting knowledgeable when she really wasn't (using comments she may have "overheard"). To afford a 'third year' in Paris takes money, so the college junior was not poor. On the other hand, Jerry Mulligan was a struggling artist. The girl in red tried to patronize him, as a subordinate, There were issues of power there, as she looked down on his lower social status, and then offered unwanted art criticism. Jerry dismissed her with the brash direct style of an unsophsticated American - a regular guy. Nina Foch's character, Milo, on the other hand, was at the other extreme - overly sophisticated. She was well- dressed, and a more mature lady. With age usually comes wisdom; therefore, Jerry was more open to her comments. An Aside: I have to say that I love the way Leslie Caron's character, Lise, pronounces his name in the film. Instead of putting the stress on the first syllable in "Mul- ligan," she placed it on the last - "Mulligan-gan," giving the Irish moniker a French twist. It is a charming bit.
  8. Retyping - I put the comment in the wrong place. I was privledged to see William Warfield (51) sing live at the 1976 Bi-Centennial Celebration in Central Park in NYC. Leonard Bernstein led the concert, and Warfield recited and sang, "The Lincoln Memorial." Great voice, both speaking and singing!
  9. I was privledged to see William Warfield (51) sing live at the 1976 Bi-Centennial Celebration in Central Park. Leonard Bernstein led the concert, and Warfield recited and sang, "The Lincoln Memorial." Great voice, both speaking and singing!
  10. An American in Paris is my favorite musical. It was placed at the end of the first That's Entertainment movie as MGM's "masterpiece," and well-deserved. The actors, dancers (Gene) singers, and actors were sterling. The production was the culmination of movie musicals in perforamnce, choreography, costume, set design. We know the performers were great, but I wanted to discuss some other creative talent as well, although Gene was "a given," and the best! Choreography The seventeen minute ballet at the end of the film is incredible in its use of ballet, tap, jazz and overall ensemble choreography. Gene Kelly created a magical Paris, causing the paintings of the famous French artists to come alive (I wonder if this was the origin of the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA.) To make art come alive in more ways than one was a feat, only enhanced by Gene Kelly's wonderful interpretation of the music. I love Gershwin's use of the everyday (car horns) and musical pulses of the city, which Gene Kelly again interpreted so well. Costumes The costume by Vincent Minelli (and I read Irene Sharif?) were straight out of Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir, and other Impressionist painters. To recreate art with dancers, as posed models of the painting that then come alive was a visual feast. The Furies especially were outstanding, as the ones in red playfully menaced, and the ones in white spun joyfully. The costumes also represented people from all walks of Parisian society - the schoolgirls (similar to Gigi) the French girls who dance around the fountain, alongside the African King who promenades. An Aside: I always like the dancer with the red hat, as she dances round the famous fountain, and envision myself doing that part. : ) The costumes represented not only French society, but also American military men on leave, who don their straw hats and striped suits. It is panacea of costume, and whirling furies that power this ballet of intense color. Direction / Set The synchronization of music to choreography to costume change and set design and editing was incredible. As sets revolved, and new sets in new dances appeared, they leapt from one painting to another. The four straw-hatted dancers rise from below to join the schoolgirls, a fabulous entry into the colorful smoke begins a sensual dance, Leslie, at a flower stand does beautiful pointe and disappears into the mist, the jazz dancer in the cafe with Leslie Caron again as Can Can dancer,, representative of the Moulin Rouge... There is a choreography of set movement between and amongst the dancers as well. We end in an ultimate frenzy of whirling characters... to the finale where we end up with the red rose that began the entire artistic fantasy. One note: In the podcast, Dr. Ament and Gary Rydstrom spoke of the black and white ball - The Beaux Arts Ball, an annual event for art students which was a visual contrast to the hue of the smoke filled set and colorful, whirling fabric. All in all is is a masterpiece, using art. It is art, recreating art on film (another medium). As I wrote in my own separate article, The Philosophy of The Red Shoes, a ballet film, film is a medium where art can be created, recreated, with life imitating art, imitating life, and all on a two dimensional piece of celluloid. Here, in An American in Paris, we have an ultimate art of embracing existing art, adding living beings to the artistic equation, making painted Parisian wear come alive (period costumes) and move about in another art - dance on film. Incredible! A Second Note: I saw the recent Broadway production of Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris. Due to copyight/trademark, I am sure, Gene Kelly's choreography was not recreated, some songs were dropped, others were added. Unlike the Broadway revival of On the Town, which was originally a theater show, then filmed, An American in Paris I believe was written originally for the screen; therefore, this was the first attempt to create a triumph on Broadway from the film. It is interesting that in the Broadway production, Leslie Caron's part of Lise, was played by Leanne Cope, very reminiscent of Leslie Caron. The part of Adam (Oscar Levant's character) was not as comedically gruff, but had a deeper, reflective tone. Robert Fairchild (NYCB) played Jerry. Mulligan. The end ballet was rechoregraphed by Christopher Wheeldon and was excellent, but of course we love the film original as it has imprinted on our psyches so well. A military backstory was added at the beginning for Jerry Mulligan also. Musical choices were slightly different here as well. There were only five movie Gershwin songs and musical isntrumental -the musical tone poem (ballet); however, there were various songs used instead on Broadway - all from the Gerwshin songbook - still a win-win situation with Gershwin. The Concerto in F began the theatrical first act (iConcerto - in the film), and the Cuban Overture ended the theatrical first act (not in the film). I thought you might like to know some creative choices made for the 2016 Broadway production, which had its previews -where else? Paris! It was interesting to compare the two. All in all, An American in Paris - the film is a love song to Paris, and also to all dancers, singers, performers, and viewers. Thank you, to MGM!
  11. I'd vote for an Ann Miller Star of the Month on TCM, or at least an evening of her films.
  12. This is a famous clip from The Bandwagon and was used as the springboard theme for the retrospective movie, and its sequels, That's Entertainment! What I find interesting here is that the scripted characters represent different elements of the musical. Jack: The Shakespearean or classic actor. - acting Fred: The dancer Nanette: The singer Oscar: The musician/songwriter Note: We have heard a lot about techs, producers, and directors in the course, but not much about songwriters so far. They are as vital as the performers! Songwriters, such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, (all uncovered) and George M. Cohan (partially covered) created a majority of song content. One star omission in the above number though was Cyd Charisse, important as well; however, she would have been an extra in the dance category, if they were striving for different pathways. It is interesting how they chose the elements of the representation for the viewer. The fact that acting, singing, dancing and songwriting/musician are the four elements of this iconic song represents that it is a collaborative effort in front of the camera, as much as behind it.
  13. I really like Alice Faye and love her movies. She did a number of films in the thirties and several with Shirley Temple, including Stowaway, Poor Little Rich Girl. Alice Faye appeared with Jack Haley and Robert Young in the Temple films, but also in many others. I love Alexander's Ragtime Band as well. Thank you for including her. I know that it is impossible to mention all, but there are some who should be spotlighted, including Alice Faye.
  14. If we talk about movie musicals of the 1940's, we have to include Vera Ellen! She not only danced in the 40's but sequeyed into big films of the 1950s as well. Vera Ellen danced as Ivy Smith in On the Town pairing up with Gene Kelly*, as well as in other musical films, such as Words and Music (1948), Wonder Man (1945) and The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) the last two with Danny Kaye. As we head into the 1950's next week, she will appear in 1950's White Christmas, Three Little Words, and The Belle of New York, etc. Vera Ellen was an amazing dancer who could embrace tap, ballet and jazz very skillfully. She had a mean nerve tap as well to rival Ann Miller and Eleanor Powell, but also had an athletic style, vivacious and full of energy. As "Miss Turnstiles" she was the one sought after throughout the film, On the Town, and got to show off her abilities. In White Christmas, she dazzled again with many great dance numbers - classics - and showed off her acting as well. Thee were many dancers of the era in the 40s and the upcoming 50's as well, including Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, Carol Haney and of course, Leslie Caron. I hope that we go into all of their films and careers, but let's not forget, Vera Ellen! What do you think about Vera? ----------------------------------------------------- *Quiz #2 was a bit vague in its question about who Gene Kelly paired up with. Vera Ellen was not in the multiple choice list of answers; therefore, Betty Garrett was the one I chose because she was in the film, On the Town, but Vera was the actual dancing partner.
  15. I know that this is a Daily Dose board for #8; however there is never an official board where we can post about the Daily Lecture/Video. In this case, I would like to request a "sin license" (permission) to do just that - and comment on the video about On the Town. I liked the comment made about Gene Kelly's quote, that all are important in musicals. I had recently posted in the Ruby Keeler / Eleanor Powell board (but now cannot find it to repeat my own quote here); therefore, I paraphrase myself.... Since Gene Kelly said that every performer/tech person is important, I wanted to repeat the quote from my other post about ballet master, George Balanchine. The quote attributed to Balanchine is that, "Everyone contributes to the painting." This is what Gene Kelly was saying. Every performer from the extra to the star, costume and set designers, tech people - they all created art. This is even more true later on in Gene Kelly's own masterpiece, An American in Paris, where he connotatively and literally created "art." In On the Town Gene Kelly's insistence on location shooting did make this such an incredible musical. If filmed on a sound stage, it still would have been wonderful; however, the backdrop of New York - in which New York becomes a character - really propelled the idea of Americana and its values. Viewers who were unable to see this landmarks in person, witnessed them as part of the American Dream. New York was the land of opportunity for the Ellis Island immigrants, and still calls people to achieve their dreams on Broadway, or in the arts. The lively, busy streets of New York with its people from the elite to the working class, set the pace for a fast action musical film, full of the vitality and pulse of the city. It almost is an homage as well to that "Forty-Second Street" Busby Berkley number - "...where the underworld meets the elite....." New York contains people of all types and from all walks of life. Two years ago, I saw the revival of On the Town on Broadway, with Broadway veterean, Tony Yazbek as Gabey and Megan Fairchild (NYCB dancer) as Ivy. I didn't recognize most of the songs, including, "I Can Cook, Too!" and realized that the songs must have been mostly rewritten for the movie. The opening (construction worker / "New York, New York" was the same, as well as a similar introduction to Miss Turnstiles. It gave a thrill and a nod to the film version. It was difficult, however, accepting someone other than Gene Kelly playing the role, but because it was vastly different in songs, it worked. Nothing, however, could match Gene Kelly's performance. It is ingrained in our psyches, and we reference it in memory as the ultimate performance of the musical part. The team of actors in the film was incredible, and it makes me admire not only Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, and Jules Munchin, but also Frank Sinatra. He humbly took on a series of comic roles where he was not the romantic lead. Good for him! He played a comic character; whereas in fact, he was the heartthrob of the era. I love it when actors play against type, and/or parody. His willingness to be the lesser endeared him, to audiences even further, I think, and don't forget that he had two or three fabulous solos for all of his adoring fans! Gene Kelly, however, is the ultimate and consummate performer, with his song and dance, but also for his inclusion of ballet. I write a lot about ballet, so this is important to me. In the recent revival of On The Town on Broadway, they cast a NYCB ballet company dancer for Ivy, as well as NYCB company dancers for the recent Broadway production of An American in Paris, to which I could address many of the above comments. The "Paris" production handled things a bit differently as well. In summary, I wanted to know if we could have a message board for the videos. I always have something to say about them, and if you will forgive my "sin license" (to deviate from the norm) I wanted to express my comments

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