StormChaser

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  1. 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? She would have seemed more worldly, less unsure of herself. When you belt a song you don’t have the luxury of adding all the emotion that Barbara was able to add to the soulful rendition she gave in the movie. I was lucky enough to see her perform this on stage and it was wonderful. And I was younge enough, my teens, to think that was the way to sing it. But in later years, hearing the soulful rendition on LP, the verdict falls to the movie version. The emotion and feeling she pumps into that song is memorable. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? She seems unsure in the beginning. Walking away from him rather than with him. She faces him partially and then turns away again. As she reveals more about her feelings, she turns her back to him or looks down while he stares at her drinking it all in. As she continues, she can look at him and even smile. While he continues to calmly look. She looks conflicted throughout the song. He looks serene. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. Barbara stays well lit thru the whole scene while Omar stays sort of in the shadows like his profession. He is almost always in profile except when the camera goes to him to get his reaction to the words and then it is full front but he is still positioned below her and away while she is higher up, bigger and brighter lit. She’s trying to explain her feelings to a man she doesn’t think will understand. She knows he’s weak and has hopes she can make him stronger. Her being bigger and brighter is meant to draw him to her and convince him to be with her.
  2. 1. 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) Gaslight was another movie about a very manipulative man. In this case he tried to drive his wife insane so he could find the jewels her aunt left her. Prof. Higgins is manipulating Liza so he can win a bet. Both men want something of the women in their lives regardless of how it effects the women. Both sets are detailed, opulent, and in shadow much of the time. I believe Cukor was making the actor’s stand out in all the excess. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. When Liza finally looses her temper with Higgins the camera focuses on her as she throws the slippers. When Higgins is exasperated with Liza as she wonders what is to become of her, the camera focuses on him. Also Higgins took command as Liza was the weak one and it was set up with her sitting as he hovered over her. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? I always thought that Higgins thought he was the one in charge and he was, up until the end, when it was Liza’s turn to take command. When she did she stood up and stayed standing. She gave him back the glittering jewels so she wouldn’t be accused of stealing, and she was now the one empowered to leave. The camera caught the emotions and body twitches as each of them realized she could leave, he would miss her, she was sad and so was he. It was all subtle but it was there.
  3. 1. 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? Preston is much less stuffy than the males of earlier films. He seems a more natural persona on film. He has an infectious enthusiasm that seems terribly real and authentic. Somehow he seems to pull the audience around him in deeper and faster to what he is saying or singing about than previous movies. Part of that is his voice, which is very deep and calming. But it is also his animated facial expressions and hand, and body movements. They cause excitement and engagement. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? He is very suave and debonaire but not sissyish. Even when playing a gay man he doesn’t act like the stereotypical gay. In fact he acts in both movies in similar ways. Looking full on at whoever he is speaking to. He doesn’t avoid eye contact with the person or camera. His voice remains calm even when excited. There are no vague hand or body motions. Everything is deliberate and punctual; masculine not feminine but not in an overbearing or thugish way. 3. 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 am sure I have seen Preston in films that are not musicals, but I can’t remember their names other than How The West Was Won. He was the wagon leader in that film who fell in love with Debbie Reynolds character. She was a dance hall girl going west to claim the mine an old man had left her. Even knowing her ‘jaded’ past Preston noticed how capable she was. How she helped everyone in the train and he proposed in a nice direct come-join-me way. Not with the flowers and wooing that other men might have done. That was the how he played his character. A straight forward, tell it like it is, not flowery man, who sees what he wants and goes after it. He has too much to do to waste time doing anything else but be direct. That’s how he seems to approach his parts. Where are they coming from? How would they act? And that’s what he does. Wait, I do remember him in The Last Starfighter. He made video games to recruit people to kill the bad guys. He was great. In a sort of bumbling, good hearted, he was doing the best for everyone kind of character. It wasn't a big part but important because it set up the movie. He may have played it a tad humorously but still in that direct how would a game designer explain away signing up a kid to fight in a war that isn't his kind of way. You can still see the thinking underneath.
  4. 1. 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? There is the traditional ‘cattle call’ to decide who is going to be picked as the talent to go on the show. There is a full orchestra to accompany the performers as they try out. But instead of a calm one at a time try-out all is chaos, mostly because of Mama Rose. First there is the promoter who is rigging the show for the balloon girl. Then Rose comes on to push for Baby June. Then Rose heads off to try to pop the balloons on the girls costume. The emcee quits. Everything is a confused mess sort of like the later musicals. 2. 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. She comes in loud and solo on the screen. She is non-stop talking, taking over the whole stage and everyone. All the focus from the moment she appears is centered on her and only her. Just the way the star of a stage performance would come in. 3. 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 As discussed by the curator there is the ‘let me see you smile’ lyric that foreshadows the action at the end of the film when Louise is a stripper. I also found the staging of Louise in boy’s clothes but sucking her thumb to be disruptive. Also the referring to the girl as Baby June. She certainly doesn’t sound like a baby when she belts out that song like a grown woman. Everything is sort of a odds with what it should be. You’d think Rose would be a stage mama but not a tiger eating everyone up including her own kids. Baby June should look cute but with a kids voice. Louise should be tom-boyish but isn’t. Everything is off and out of whack. It took me a long time before I could like this movie because of all the odd things happening in it. The relationship between Rose and her daughters, and her relationship with the rest of the company was always disconcerting. Rose’s need to keep everyone children and not let them grow up was manipulative and abusive. It took me growing up to separate the tale from the movie so I could appreciate the way the movie was written and sung.
  5. 1. 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? Why not? I don’t think it’s a matter of does a movie need to but of does it feel better to carry the same theme through the movie? I’m not an expert at this but this movie changes a lot. It’s a totally different type of movie. I remember watching it for the first time and thinking whoever dreamed it up must have been on serious drugs. But the darn thing worked, worked really great. I think because it had such an unrealistic, fantasy kind of feel to it. My answer is no it doesn’t need to have that approach all the time, but sometimes it needs it, and its genius when you know the difference. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? He never struck me as being ‘pretty darn unlikeable’. He always struck me as being frustrated with where his life was, where his painting wasn’t, where his lack of customers were. I always thought that he had just reached a place where he didn’t want to suffer fools gladly; probably because he had suffered through enough of them or felt enough of a fool himself.
  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? The pre-dance movements are as on-beat as the dance moves are. Each hand, eye, shoulder, etc movement was in time to each syllable spoken. Then the music started and they began to dance and it was a seamless transition because they had been following the beat all along. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. There has to be a straight man to react to the funny man, perhaps not all the time but most of the time, especially for sight gags. The beginning of this sketch was a sight gag with Donald mugging through the words to ‘Moses’. In a longer sketch where the funny man might be trying out material, the straight man’s job is to not react to the duds and to react only to the funny lines. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? All three are obviously men. Gene has always been considered a very athletic dancer and if you look at hs body compared to Donald’s his does look a tad more muscular. despite that Donald easily kept up with Gene step for step. He might have had a slighter build but was no less athletic than Gene. The Professor had about the same build as Gene but he did none of the work of dancing. All of his work was mental. But none of that makes one of the men more masculine than the others. It’s all in if and how we react to the stereotype and what society is driving us to react to.
  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? I think Doris’ character falls at the beginning. She is definitely of the my man is away and I have to take care of everything until he comes back kind of mind. She may not be married but she is helping her community by getting the stage safely through. Towards the end of the movie as she makes the shift to a more feminine version of herself it shifts the movie along the continuum also to a less masculine female to a more feminine female.. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Many of Doris’s roles were of a single, independent female working to take care of someone or something. Her ealier roles were more boisterous and in your face. That gave way to roles that had a more reserved but still tom boyish feeling. The feeling of a woman, not a girl playing at being a woman, who could take care of things and still know that she needed help sometimes. 3. 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 her sunny persona added a lot to the role of Calamity. The bright sunny personality was what lent the strength to the boyishness, and plain strength of purpose and will that Calamity had to face what she saw coming. And the sunniness gave the personality the lightness to be able to transform herself from a huge tom boy into a woman at the end.
  8. 1. 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? They touch each other during the song and frequently change places so no one person takes priority. In earlier musicals the characters were separate from each other or only in two’s. 2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. The four players are all wearing complimentary colors. Astaire is wering a dark, blue pin striped suit. Levant is wearing dark trousers and light tan jacket with a dark blue tie. Buchanan is wearing a lighter blue jacket with dark blue pants and a tan ascot. Fabray is wearing an off-white and tan dress. The colors aren’t matchy matchy but they are cohesive and bring the group together without wearing a uniform. 3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? It’s obvious that Astair is the one who needs the convincing. He is the one placed in the center of the group as they sing about what entertainment is. Astair is the one they look at before they look at each other to check if their message is getting through. Fabray seems to be the cement because she is the one checking in with everyone with looks.
  9. 1. 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? Petunia rushes to Joe’s side to care for him when she knows he is okay and when she is outside taking in the wash Joe is in a wheel chair near her. She pushes it back into the shade to make him more comfortable, taking care of him again. Her care for him, him being dependent on her tell me that he is everything to her and vice versa because “happiness is just a name called Joe”. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I’m not sure the song would change that much if it was sung about a child. I had a son who was a severe asthmatic and I was always rushing him to the hospital. I know when he did better things were much more light hearted in the house than when he wasn’t. I was a single mom the husband I’d be compareing the feeling to wasn’t there. And I’m also not so sure if cultually the meaning would change. Love of husband or child I think is the same in any culture How we show it might change but how we feel it doest’1 3. 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’m commenting on the issues of black Americans in WWII with hind sight. We needed men to fight in the war, all of our men. If that meant that for once we needed to seem to be inclusive in films to encourage black men to sign up to fight and black women to sign up to work in the factories then that’s the way we’d look. Too bad we really weren’t inclusive but they found that out once they were in the war and in segregated units not allowed to fight with white soldiers. But the fact that there were films about black lives at all was a miracle.
  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. When Frank stops running the two are high-lighted by the lighter exit box in the darker-shaded bleachers. The exit box acts like a frame for the action. Later their light colored clothes stand out against the darker shade of the bleachers. Then they get framed again against the baack wall at the top of the seats. 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? Betty is waiting, stalking really, frank in the hallway. The music is playful as Frank moves to the side to avoid Betty. She playfully jumps to the side to block him. He backs up, she runs after him and the music speeds up, faster and faster causing the audience to race to think what’s coming next. Then Betty suddenly speaks, stopping the music but starting the singing. This happens a lot in musical comedies. The music will swell before the singing breaks out.
  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? The first time I recall watching Judy was on a TV special. It must have been around 1960, give or take a few years. I was just hitting my early teens and here was this woman with a magnificent voice dressed not just in the gowns the other women wore but in a black jacket, top hat and black tap pants and hose. I thought she was the most wonderful woman on two dancing feet! Her voice soared, her body moved to the music like a violin string plucked by the musician, and her face moved to the lyrics so the viewer experienced each nuance of the song. I was lucky; my mother used to sing and she wuld sit and explain why someone was good or not. She thought Judy was the best. I know I must have seen movies of her before that special but that is the image that coems to mind. The movies I have seen so many times over the years they all blend together. That special was just that, on TV once and very special. 2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I don’t really view her differently since I am very familiar with this scene. What did strike me when watching it was the difference in handling between this song and the one in Yankee Doddle Dandy “Forthy Five Minutes from Broadway”. They both deal with the haves and have nots between the posh and not posh parts of NYC. Yankeee Doodle kept it refined when sung because of the singer. In Easter Parade with Judy’s range and comic ability what might have been sung straight became a wonderful comic song. 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? One film is “A Star is Born”. When I was younger I didn’t like this is film very much. It waas the music and the feeling that Judy put into music that helped me to understand the story that I was too young to understand. But as I got older and had more experience, I understood the story on its own rights. It was then that the songs sung by Judy took on even more meaning. Her voice could paint such pictures in your mind. With one adjustment to another you felt sad, happy, worried,etc. I don’t remember the names of the songs in that movie. I just remember her magic
  12. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? The rainy weather with the thunder and lightning is another aspect of the battle, along with the crop in her hand. Then there is her little dance step alone after their first steps together, a challenge to say see I can start one too. The clothing that both are wearing, pants and tailored jackets. What is amusing is that she is wearing the hat in an age when men always wore hats. 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? This doesn’t have the amount of grand costumes and thousands of back-up dancers in huge halls. 3. 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? One reason is the code board cleaning up what they thought of aas racy films. As we headed into the late 30s the news from Europe wasn’t good. The world knew of the rise of Hitler and the things he was promoting. They weren’t always paying heed but they knew. America may have wanted to stay out of a war if one started but many Americans still had close family in Europe and there was fear for the future. This also was a reason to depict a stronger rols for women who might soon have to carry on while their men were at war.
  13. DAILY DOSE 3 1)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 first thing I noticed when the couple burst through the door arguing was that Alfred just stood, at the door jamb, perfectly composed, smiling even, as if this sort of thing happened to him all the time. Then the woman came out still agitated and he still stayed calm. He was not at all discomposed when she shoved the garter at him as other men may have, again reinforcing that he had plenty of experience dealing with this. Then her husband arrives and he still remains calm. She on the other hand fakes shooting herself, wherin the husband shoots Alfred. Again he just stands there and doesn’t try to run away. I have to wonder how many times husbands have shot at him. At the end when her husband couldn’t do up her dress she exasperatedly turns to Alfred who does it in a second. I could only understand a tiny bit of the French dialog but the expression in the voices told the story of a woman who was having an affair, a husband who just found out but loves his wife and doesn't want her dead. He just wants the man dead. With all this excitement and turmoil Alfred stays calm in manner, actions, and speaech. Between his calmness and accepting of the situation you know he has dallied with many married women before and will again. 2) 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. Actually what I noticed was a lack of sound, except for the voices and the gun shots. SInce this was an early talkie that made the dialog very effective. Your concentration was totally on the movements of the actors and the dialog, nothing else. There were no traffic noises, no music playing in the background. When the gun appeared and was shot the sound was all the more glaring because it was so alone and made it very effective. 3) What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? There certainly was the approach of opulence in this clip that was in subsequent depression movies. There seemed to be a restraint of sound in this movie that I haven’t noticed in other movies except for when they wanted to emphasize particular dialog they decrease music or if they want to emphsize the music and dance they decrease the dialog.
  14. 1) What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. In the first clip McDonald keeps her back to Eddy during most of the song but smiling as if enjoying a private joke. Eddy spends a lot of the time looking outwardly stiff but he also smiles a small smaile as if enjoying a secret. Towards the end of the clip they face each other and tease vocally. In the second clip McDonald is nervous and does not sing the song well when Eddy arrives. When Eddy enters the room and sits with two floozies she seems upsets. One of the women gets up to sing the song McDonald is killing. When that happens Eddy sees how McDonald is trying to capture the audience back and he smiles as if to applaud her for trying to fight against a stronger tide. 2) If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. I have seen them both in other films with each other. They are not my favorite films. Both of them have good operetta voices and do decent justice to the music they sing in the films. As actors I think of Eddy as a stiff, except for when he smiles. Smiling brings his whole face to life and makes me believe there is a personality under the acting face. The acting face however does him no good and leaves me cold. McDonald appears to be a warmer person. I don’t think her acting ability is fantastic but at least I feel like I get to see a personality in her roles. Good or bad, the personality helps in the playing of the role, I feel, and without it the role gets tossed away. 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 strikes me that the role of the male is to pursue, however ineptly and the females role is to evade no matter how much she may wish to jump into his arms. He is to woo to win her; she is to tease and torment to see if he is willing to do battle to win her. Taking all that into account I would expect that the Code would support a chastely intimate relationship leading to marriage. By chastely intimate I mean the wooing and teasing that is seen in thses clips. The discrete clothing, nothing too revealing. Music that might speak to the heart and of the heart but only in poetic terms of classical love.
  15. 1) 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 set couldn’t be grander, the White House itself, with its grand halls and tall ceilings. Even better on the way up the wide staircase were portraits of some of the past presidents hanging on the wall. When the camera brings us into the Oval Office you see paintings of sailings ships, which I assume are of America’s sailing battleships of the past, as well as models of ships. Of course there were flags on staffs flanking the hearth. The room was darkened promote an atmosphere of the seriousness of the times even though the task at hand was a pleasant one, awarding a Medal of Honor. 2) 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. 3) The opening parade with all of the flags waving as the marchers go by is designed to stir patriotic feelings. The doorman mentioning the song “It’s a Grand Old Flag” and saying Teddy sang it in the bath tub; then they both agreed that ‘it was a good song then and now’. The current President saying that ‘he always admired the ability of the Irish Americans to carry their love of flag and country out in the open’. Then Cohan followed up saying ‘his father had joined the Civil war when he was only 13 and then told everyone what a great state Massachusettes was’ and George had been ‘telling the other 48 since then what a great country it is’. 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. If it had opened with the parade it would have still been a great film. The music would have been loved and celebrated but the man himself and his music was given much more importance by opening the film in the White House with the President than would have been felt if that was all handled at the end. I remember when I first saw this film. I had come home from school near the end of June and it was playing on the 3pm TV movie show as an early 4th of July movie. Most of Rhode Island closed down and went on vacation when I was a kid so the 4th was pretty big to us. I remember wondering why he was called to see the President and why didn’t they tell us. And I kept asking that question during the movie. The wondering kept my attention in the plot. I liked the music and the story but I wanted to know what the President wanted with him. It made an impact on me that I don’t think would have been there if the movie had just started off with the parade.

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