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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #1 (From The Great Ziegfeld)

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1.  Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? 

This clip is realistic for those who live the good rich life or work for those who live the rich life. Who doesn't seek to be a bellman at a fancy expensive hotel even today? Who doesn't enjoy going to the theater in your ball gown and jewels? Or sit in the VIP section today? It may be over the top but that's the movies for you it's not a documentary film on the Depression.

2. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals?

The theme is "Get Famous, Get Rich, Get on Follies". I don't blame these young men and especially young women who flocked to be in the movies. Imagine the thoughts after seeing a movie like The Broadway Melody? I want to be a dancer! I want to act! I want to sing! It's better pay than sticking around here in this sad town and who knows maybe I can be a Hollywood Star! And we have all seen the musicals like with Judy Garland and Andy Rooney where the number of people in the cast is numerous! And isn't this theme still relevant in 2018? As a retired high school educator what is the number one career students claim? YouTube Star!

3. Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples.

Miss Held would have worn a skimpy outfit revealing more skin. In the dressing room scene she would have maybe tightened her stockings or garter belt or sat down very cat-like and take off her shoes.

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Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? 

I feel that it does present a brighter perspective, in that these businessmen would obviously have a lot riding on the acquisition of a new leading lady for their shows. However, all that's exhibited is a playful race to see who she'll talk to first, assuming that after one talk, the other guy wouldn't stand a chance.

What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals?

I would certainly expect to see much fancier dresses and suits that would leave everything underneath to the imagination. I would also expect to see a lot more of these dilemmas i.e., competing business ventures and quests for love, played out in a very softened and playful tone.

Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples.

There certainly wouldnt have been as many jokes. For example, when Ziegfeld gives the bellman 5 pounds, I imagine he would have corrected the mistake, and given a lesser amount ("Is that so? Sorry old pal, let me fix that.").

Another certainty, in my opinion, is that Miss Held's outfit would have been much more showy and revealing (bare midriff, lots of sequins, etc.).

Lastly, you would have seen both Mr. Ziegfeld and Mr. Billings race down there with flowers or candy in hand, with perhaps a couple of snarky barbs exchanged between the two.

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1. I would definitely say that it exhibits an unreal bright perspective of life, as many things that would be more negative in tone are either brushed over and laughed off or over-exaggerated to be funny. For example, when she shines the mirror into the audience, personally that would be annoying and possibly painful, but she laughs it off as part of her song. The whole song, in fact, is simply about playing and having fun, like she is a little girl instead of a woman, which we also see in the dressing room with things like the Jr joke that portray her as naïve and indecisive. The competition between the producers is over-played to be humorous, such as when Billings physically reacts to seeing Ziegfeld, and his facial expressions are anything but subtle, and far more dramatic than would actually happen in reality.

2. Themes that I would anticipate in other musicals from this era would be slapstick comedy (like the 5 pound joke), light romance/flirtatiousness, references to childhood and adolescence (Jr joke, song about play, how Anna has a maid who reads to her as wells as helps her dress), and friendly/ridiculous competition between two men (the producers).

3. If this film were made pre-code, there would probably be more revealing costumes on Anna, slightly more adult humor instead of puns, and a touch of realism concerning Anna and the men. If the regulations designed to make films more uplifting did not exist, the film might portray the men as more bitter towards each other and Anna as either more grown up, more manipulative, or both

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1.    Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? 

Not necessarily. Any story that features beautiful sets, costumes and the like is going to be considered "unrealistic" from the drudgery of the Depression going on outside of the movie theatre.  However, those technical elements do not necessarily make the story any less realistic.  The Progressive Era and the Belle Epoch overlapped in this time and there are truthful depictions of them throughout the film.  While simplified, there is even a nod to contract negotiations and other crassnesses of the business side of show business.

2.    What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals?

There are three key themes that will play throughout these films.  Simplification of story elements including: business, backstage drama, and the trials of life in show biz.  Beautification as depicted in: costumes, sets, and (duh!) music.  Above all, however, Comedy is to be an essential element.  Given the daily tragedies that the country (and world) were enduring during the 30s, simple jokes, sight-gags, and juxtapositions are woven into all of these films to provide the much needed laughs.

3.    Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples.

a) Rather than describe her in ethereal and romantic terms, the doorman may have been more lascivious in describing Ms. Held.

b) Her costume may have been more revealing and her performance with the mirror more flirtatious or even sexual.

c) In her discussion with her maid, Held could mention how she could manipulate Ziegfeld.  In addition, she could again play upon her sexuality to work the meeting to her advantage.  And of course, she would be undressing during this entire scene.

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Because so many films like this were made in this stylized fashion during the depression I sometimes get a false sense of what the 30s really must have been like. I think people were desperate for escape and embraced artificiality. Why pay money to think about the problems you face everyday? The entertainments of the day were light as air, full of dapper costumes and sets and move at a brisk pace. I was surprised how much that four-minute clip had crammed in: a quick dialogue establishing Held and Billings location, a musical number, and more a comedic scene where Held is won over by Ziegfield's flowers. There's no pause for reflection, it just moves right along.

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3.    Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might youimagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples

I think one way it may have been different pre-code is that, since she’s backstage, the men would have burst in on her in some state of undress, as you discussed in your video about that being a way to make things a little more risqué. Additionally, the rivalry between Ziegfeld and Billings could possibly have also been scripted with more than just smug/concerned looks and racing each other to get to her. 

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1. I agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life that might be realistic. At the time, most of the population would not have been so wealthy--so beautifully dressed and attending the theater--or so happy and focused on entertainment. They would've been trying to survive.

2. In other Depression Era Musicals, I might expect the theme of "light-hearted" competition in both love and romance. I might also expect the theme of having the woman being the one to have to choose love or her career.

3. If this movie were filmed Pre-Code, it would've been filmed differently. Miss Held probably would be much more "exposed" in a skimpy costume and her suitors may have also appeared near her backstage. I also don't think she would've shined a mirror in everyone's faces during her number on-stage. Her rivals may not have been so kind to each other either. It definitely would not be the same film!

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1. Yes unlike the time it jokes about extravagant tipping and there’s not an inkling that there is a Depression going on. It’s all playful and light. Also the competition to come is only hinted never played up.

2. Light banter, extravagant set design,  big numbers, light romance.

3. Pre-code might have been more explicit but there is certainly sexual undertones. They just worked around th code. Pre-code would have had Rainer in a state of undress in the dressing room. I kind of loved how Rainer teases the audiences with the mirror while she sings her come-on to them.

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   If this were a pre code production, focus might be more on the early years of Anna Held's career. According to Wikipedia, Anna Held's early acts were risqué, flirtatious, and she liked to show a lot of leg. This would allow for more skimpy costumes in any musical numbers. It would then show her growth into the belle of Europe, and her meeting with Flo Ziegfeld, her Price Charming. At this deepest part of the Great Depression, it would give hope to the young, female movie-goers of the time, that they too could reach the "top". Perhaps the movie would have been titled "The Great Held".

 

 

 

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1) Yes, the clip shows a much brighter perspective than it was at the time of the film (1936). The people at the theater are very well dressed; women have gowns, jewelry and the men are in suits. People were not experiencing such great entertainment and clothing expenses at the time because of the Great Depression. In addition, Ziegfeld gives the doorman 5 pounds. The doorman seems surprised and shocked at the large amount and thinks the tip was a mistake. Ziegfeld, however, clarifies that it's all for him, especially since he's trying to "lose some pounds". This gives me the idea that Ziegfeld has pockets full of cash (he's rich) and giving away some would not make much of a difference. He basically has enough money to share it with others. He seemed very happy to know he has enough money to spend, which was not true at the time with the struggles people were experiencing in the 1930s.

2) I anticipate other musicals from the era to be also be optimistic and cheerful as this clip. Money doesn't seem to be an issue, and everyone seems to be very happy and even joke at certain moments. Musicals were an escapism for people and this film was one of them, so other films in the era wanted to provide a world without worries and problems -even if it was for one hour or so.

3) Had the film been pre-code there would have been more skin and less costume on stage, and the scene in the dressing room would have been more precise than implied. She didn't even undress or change costumes and the assistant only pretended to help her undress. The singer is covered completely onstage; not even a sign of ankle or elbow is shown. Theater has always been a place where performers become someone else and dress differently, and the woman on stage was completely covered up. Another thing to to think about if the film was pre-code is that Ziegfeld would not have sent her flowers, instead he would have been waiting backstage to give them in person and possibly be present/watch her as she changed costumes.

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The clip did indeed showed a more “funnier” and comedic way of competition between two powerful men. This movie was made during the depression and people needed to get away from the realities of life. The last thing they needed was to be reminded of the competitive mentality and greed that led to the crash. By making it funny, juvenile, and sort of “wink wink” competition between two men, then moviegoers could still route for one person without feeling guilty about supporting a competitive mentality. 

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1. I do believe this clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic. William Powell (Ziegfeld) throws money away on a regular basis as it seems, something that was certainly not going on at the time of the films release.

2. I would anticipate more light-hearted themes and approaches to depression-era musicals. No matter how poor or how rich the main characters are, I would always expect it to still have humour and gayity throughout.

3. If this film had been done pre-code, I would imagine that this clip in particular would have more show girls in it, perhaps a bit like LADIES OF THE CHORUS (1948).

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1.    During a time where the society was facing financial turmoil and the future seemed uncertain, I think that it did well to have a sunny mentality cast on upon the view of everyday life. Ziegfeld exuded wealth and elegance, which was something that was hard to come by during a time of financial distress.  

2.    I expect to see the idealism of lavish and care-free easy living. It was this that had been craved by society at the time, so why not put it as the forefront of all musicals to up appeal? 

3. To avoid being too brash I'll leave it as this- more nudity and more sex appeal. Anna probably would have been dressed in a more risque manner- far more seductive that her "Mary had a Little Lamb" garb she is donning in this clip. 

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I agree with the comments other members have made.

Movies were a great way to spend time that allowed you to forget your troubles and escape the real world around you.  The glitz and glamour of this scene was in direct opposition to what was happening outside the theater in the depression.  Certainly only the wealthy were able to able to spend money like they show. I also feel these movies played to viewers hopes/dreams/aspirations for a better life.

I knew of the "Code" but never really gave it and it's impact on movies any thought until this course.  Certainly nudity was out as well as sexual innuendo.  Not sure how much of the "Code" is still impacting movies today, but I don't think a lot.

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1.  The Depression had been going for seven years.  Things were not all that great.

2.  It presents a world where everything is very light and beautiful.

3.  The costume might have shown more, or they would have shown her changing clothes while she was looking at the flowers and the card. 

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I think the clip shows a scene that we could describe as naive, and for nothing reflects the reality that was lived at the time. If it were before the code, or if it had been filmed at the same time in Europe, surely the actress would receive the visit of his admirer in his dressing room while changing clothes, and the dialogues would have more picaresque tone.

 

 

 

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I do feel this clip let people forget about what was going on. The movies are there for all of us to forget about what's going on outside. I believe jealousy is a theme in this movie, which goes for most other movies in this era. The main singer would have dress differently and maybe scandalously for the number. When she got dressed she would've got dressed in a different room.

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What really struck me the most, and many others also commented on the same, was the 'suggestive nature' of the song. Her coquettish behavior would definitely have been more ramped up pre-code. 

I was also struck by her appearance in her dressing room. She is fully clothed, for sure, but the light shade of the dress fabric and the way it fits her body seems rather risqué for the time (but that might just be me.)

Linda Lewis

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First, The Great Ziegfeld is one of my favorite musicals, with an impressive cast, marvelous sets, wonderful music & songs, and an effective story. Questions posed seem to assume a knowledge of Ziegfeld’s life. Film musicals tended to gloss over actual biographical data and go with scripts that advanced the story without becoming overly critical of the characters like Flo. Unsure if the newspapers of the time did much the same thing, but with all the attention on people like Weinstein, also a producer who worked with women and whose behavior was covered up by media and others, I’d probably assume that a similar stance was used about Flo’s activities (not suggesting that he was anything close to the unsavory individual as Harvey). That plus this is a musical, a traditional form of entertainment that was generally light hearted and fun as opposed to a drama which might and probably would take a more critical look at actual facts. One would, I think, expect Flo Ziegfeld to be affected by being surrounded with so many beautiful women. Hopefully, he was more respectful to these females than those whose mistreatment of women has been dominating the news lately. Can money, and power, and greed affect men in this society? The answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’! I’ve been a Nichiren Buddhist (SGI-USA) for 45 years and our particular philosophy includes our closely examining our lives and behavior based on a theory called The Ten Worlds, which lists 10 life conditions from Hell to Buddhahood that all humans experience on a moment by moment basis. The Three Poisons are grouped with Hell (Hunger, Animality, & Anger) that are at the lower end of life and have the prime characteristic of being self-centered, not caring for anyone but oneself. And in a male dominated society which has always been driven by dominating the competition and winning at all costs, being consumed by the Three Poisons leads to dire consequences for both the victims and the supposed victor. 

Ted Haxton

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Apologies for the late reply...

1.Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not?  

I agree...this clip does depict a brighter perspective of life at this time. From Ziegfeld leaving the attendant a more generous tip to the flowers awaiting Held in her dressing room. No one had extra money to waste on tips or flowers during that era. And the audience at her performance was packed...standing room only and ALL the attendants were dressed in their Sunday best. Even folks who were more well off than the average person were feeling the pinch and I don't believe they would have spared a penny to go see a show.

 

2. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals?

In other musicals....for example ones where there's a mob aspect....there would have been a detectable sinister angle to Ziegfeld trying to get information about his competitor. Instead of offering a tip, he would have threatened physical harm in order to get the information he wanted. And there would have been no smiles during the exchange.

 

3.Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples.

 

Hmm...I imagine we would have seen Held changing from her "costume" to whatever personal/civilian clothing she would have worn to meet the man who sent the flowers. Instead of walking from spot to spot seemingly not accomplishing anything important, we would have seen her take off her dress and walk over to wherever she would hang it...in her undergarments. Then we would have seen her take a bench...perhaps switch hoisiery or jewelry...and put on a new outfit to meet her admirer.

 

Side note....Louise Rainer puts me in the mind of Marion Cotillard.

marion-cotillard.jpg

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I agree that this movie does show a much rosier view of life than would be realistic. Held comes off as very naive about the flowers and the decision she has to make. If this movie had been made pre-code, Held's outfit during the musical number would have been much different. In real life, Held was known to be very flamboyant and gave very playful performances. The song performed in the clip gives a hint of that with Held repeating "come play with me" to the audience as she points the light's reflection off the mirror in the audience's face, but in a pre-code movie her dress probably would have been much more suggestive. 

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 This clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life by portraying an overjoyed approach to each other, exaggerating interactions and bleeding good will between characters.

 

I would anticipate from this clip that I would find upbeat and promising attitudes in all the lead characters in other Depression era musicals. Perhaps attempting to overwhelm the audience with optimism. 

 

If this picture had been before the code was being enforced I would expect that she would be much more scantily dressed during he performance as well as in her dressing room. It would have provided the opportunity the show her in different stages of undress with perhaps with a barging in male to add to the risqué.

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I definitely think this depicts a brighter perspective of life at that time. But that was part of the purpose of these films...any film, really. They helped people take their minds off reality and transported them into a different setting and different circumstances. This clip, in particular, shows a very light-hearted, if not absent-minded character in Miss Held. Her song was very cutesy, she had a gimmick (the mirror), and then she was struggling with which man to spend time with. 

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1) I do agree that the clip has brighter perspective than life was at the time for the movie going audience. Ziegfeld displayed wealth and not at all worried about extravagance, from to the tip for the attendant, or the flowers for Held in her dressing room. The audience at the theater performance appears to be wealthy, dressed in elegant gowns, suits, jewelry etc.

2) An optimistic, hopeful, fun and lighthearted theme would be expected in other depression era films from viewing this clip. The approach of life being happy and carefree with frivolity and extravagant lavish spending.

3) Precode I would have expected the costume to be more risqué, the song would have probably been a little more provocative and a little less playful in lyric. She would have been more overt with regard flowers and their meaning from a man she didn’t know but was intrigued by the gesture.

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1) The tone of this scene is very light. Anna's world is as bright as the sun. Compared to what is really going on in the world. The only decision she makes is which man she is going to meet after the show.

2) Compared to other movies, you have general public trying to figure out where their next meal will be or employment. The musical number was lighthearted and entertaining to the crowd. Who like everyone, who could afford to go to a show, was there to flaunt ones wealth and escape.

3) With the new codes enforced. More of the backstage scenes are basically, showing the ladies already dressed and ready to hit the town, than what you would normally experience with them dressing down with multi people in the room. She has her own personal attendant. The room was overly staged, very neat. She had the big bundle of flowers. Something you would expect prior to her arrival to the hall.  

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