Linda Spirit

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  1. Linda Spirit

    1776

    I love 1776. Being a history major I've subjected my children to this movie every 4th of July for years. Of course the songs between John and Abigail are from their letters. Abigail said they spent more years of their marriage apart because of his service to his country then together. Some even consider Abigail a greater intellect than John. I also like any play (or movie) that can get that many different people into a room together and interact. I suspect Congress hasn't really changed much. It breaks my heart when Franklin explains they can't abolish slavery in the Declaration. He was so practical. Adams was so idealistic and hard on himself. I love music and this course has been very fun.
  2. 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? She was not "performing" even for Sharif in the scene. Streisand always feels her songs so on a quiet street and no other distractions she goes deeply inward and stays far away from Sharif. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Streisand's character is shy and unused to male suitors but leads the conversation out of embarrassment. Sharif doesn't have a lot of role in this scene. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. The camera follows her down the street and then comes around the other side in order to bring Sharif into the background at the end. By putting her on the stairs she is elevated as the central point. You pointed out that Streisand's portrayal of Fanny Brice is not totally accurate. I've seen one film with Fanny Brice in it and from what I can see Streisand makes more of Fanny by adding herself in the mixture. Growing up I had a collection of 32 Streisand albums so it's hard for me to not sing along. To me that's a musical: to get the audience to want to sign it over and over. And its not bad for the music business either.
  3. 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) Both "Gaslight" and "My Fair Lady" are manipulations by men (Boyer & Harrison) of trusting souls (Bergman and Hepburn) who at the end of the movies wake up to the fact that their love isn't returned (although Harrison later discovers he'll miss her). Both Boyer and Harrison's characters are masterful, in control and always have an explanation for everything. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Hepburn emotes like an accordion: inwardly breaking down one moment, outwardly lashing out the next. She really seizes the scene. Harrison can do little (DOOLITTLE) but stand there in his reasonable saneness. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? There's very little touching but a lot of throwing themselves about. Harrison is out of touch with feeling altogether and doesn't want his inner world disturbed. Eliza never really had any plans except to work in a flower shop and now finds herself in love and unwanted and at the end of the road. When Harrison is sitting at the end and the audience can see a shadow moving on the floor to the right, it's disturbing that the very next thing is Eliza moving into the doorway. It would seem that she already had since we were anticipating her turning off the record. (obviously we've seen it before). I thought, "nice to show a shadow" but then I was disappointed when it didn't seem to match up with her movement.
  4. 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? Gentlemanly manners (Fred Astaire) are replaced by animal magnetism (Elvis Presley) with Gene Kelly being the pivot point. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? In V/V He moves gracefully through and keeps performing at the same volume even though newcomers come in loudly and the audience makes disparaging comments. He has experience all this before and is able to keep his feet when others attack. In the Music Man he does that light-footed prancing around the circle of the crowd. I think the higher center of gravity was the advantage Eleanor Powell had over Ruby Keeler. 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 only seen The Music Man, The Last Starfighter and this clip of V/V. His fingertips resting on the man's shoulder as his goes by and the Liberace smile at the end of the song were very gay but not overdone.
  5. 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? This is set in early 20th century. Also it's reminiscent of some of the auditions in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1938). The tryouts seem to be for a vaudeville show which dates it. Rosalind Russell's character is very aware of all the lighting and sound techniques and communicates like a director with the technicians and musicians who seem to understand perfectly what she is directing. The child is not talented but very rehearsed and coached to be professional. 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. I like Rosalind Russell's humor (especially in Roughly Speaking (1945) the vacuum cleaner salesman scene). She seemed comfortable breaking into the scene and being the center of it although her delivery was somewhat slower than in "His Girl Friday" (1940). She had to make her voice carry from the back of the theatre. She knows her "mark" as she interacts with each of the other performers in rapid succession. 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).  Rosalind Russell makes a comment to the lighting man about Baby June that "every move little movement has a meaning of it's own". I believe that is roughly what Dr. Ament said about Marilyn Monroe in "Heat Wave" from "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954). Having the other girl play a boy counterpart was a little like watching Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon" (1973).
  6. 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? Minnelli shows us a happy Paris of the daytime here. Paris also seems to be filled with Americans. Its a dream everyone has of going to Paris. It feeds our fantasies. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Jerry isn't unlikable, the college student is. He's not unlikable because he says what he thinks and its hard to argue with what he thinks. Nina Foch didn't even look in her purse when she whips out her cigarette case opened and her lighter. She seems so sure of herself (money) that it starts to make Gene look a little less sure of himself. What was the domed building in the background when the car rolls up? Did Minnelli recreate a particular street in Paris, maybe where he saw someone selling their art?
  7. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? They use only their hands (fingers) and a book for a prop. In the dance they use everything, especially the Professor. It's very presentational. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. His movement was to turn his head and look at one of the dancers. He seemed helpless in all the activity. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? O'Connor and Kelly try to outdo each other in saying the tongue twisters. The professor is proficient at it but starts to realize O'Connor is making fun of him. I noticed in the first half of the dance Kelly kept his mouth closed. I'm amazed that dancers can actually smile while doing difficult dances like this. I imagine it's part of the training to learn how to breathe without appearing to pant.
  8. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Jane is trying to be rough and tough and loud like a man. Bill treats her like a joke or tomboy little sister. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? This role is so much better than her 1949 role in "It's a Great Feeling" with Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan. That seemed so one-dimensional. Here she gets to expand a role. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. Doris Day is Doris Day. She does a proper amount of frowning when she is determined to be taken seriously. For someone who has never she her before the dazzling smile may be a bit overwhelming but she doesn't overdo it. What really amazes me is her physicality. The precise way she lands on the bar (both times) is like a dancer. I'm use to "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" but here I admire her ability and gymnastics in this clip.
  9. "NeverGonnaDance" was talking above about color or the lack of it in the costumes. I noticed the stage was this bright, disturbing red color as they did two steps and an incline at one point. Perhaps this song could have been done in a real world situation making the scenery a character and highlighting the scenery with bold colors.
  10. 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 dance is very interrelated with all the characters coming and going and taking turns. The pace never gets to a fever pitch. The tempo builds slightly as the four ascend the stage in the last half of the song. I assume they never really go at it because Buchanan and Levant aren't big dancers. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. Buchanan's costume looks like a director. Astaire looks like Astaire. The other two look like street clothes of the fifties. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? Levant lights Buchanan's cigarette. Buchanan acts like the director or top man. At the first Buchanan, Levant and Fabray are teaching or "convincing" Astaire and having him sit down. They look like they are trying out ideas during the song and it's very casual and unresolved.
  11. 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? This shows us their real life, how it was before and how it will continue to be. Petunia loves Joe and almost lost him and now is living on the happiness of his presence. Petunia is an indefatigable optimist. She is willing Joe to be good. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? Frankly, her care for Joe (moving him out of the sun) and her looming stature compared to Joe makes one feel as though she is a mother type in this scene especially since Joe doesn't have any lines. He is very passive in this scene. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? Just seeing Ethel Waters smile (and then to hear her sing!) is possibly more uplifting and important to the national feeling than was Shirley Temple during the Depression.
  12. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. After they climb the stairs and start running the music picks up to keep up with their steps. Every action is to the rhythm of the music much like Matchmaker, Matchmaker is in Fiddler on the Roof. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? It comes up to a slight pause and the music begins. I see comments comparing Betty to Mary Wicks who physically reminds me of Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons (who sound like ZaSu Pitts). Betty acts more like Doris Day in Annie Get Your Gun.
  13. 1.What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? The Wizard of Oz. She seemed like an ordinary girl, but then I'm from Kansas too. 2.How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I've seen and enjoyed both clips before. It occurs to me that when you are good and perform with excellent partners you become better. I think that goes for Judy, Fred & Gene. 3. 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? I haven't actually seen her later films but her performance of "Get Happy" was so all out. Your attention couldn't be aware else during that song.
  14. 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. Nothing makes you feel American like being in the White House. FDR was elected four times and many watching the movie had no recollection of any other president so FDR was the embodiment of that office. 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. Cohan talks about his father joining up at age 13 during the Civil War. They talk about pride. They don't say it but it's assumed that we came through the Civil War and WWI and we'll come through this one. 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. It's more natural to watch Cohan reminiscing and telling the story to FDR, rather than him telling the story to the viewers. It also give a direction to the story that Cohan will tell it up to the present (1942). We think we are going to come back to FDR's office at the end. It gives us the scope of the movie. Casting the lovable Walter Huston as Cohan's father was interesting since Walter played Abe Lincoln in 1930. Further Americanizing the film. I didn't realize Walter could dance, but I guess they did everything back then.

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