Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

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Granted, the Production Code played down the relationship between Ziegfeld and Anna Held because they had a long-standing affair, but I also wonder if there was a secondary motive in that audiences of that time very much viewed William Powell and Myrna Loy (playing Billie Burke) as a team and it might have negatively impacted their other films (the Thin Man series as well as a number of others they made after this one).

The costuming, too, is very much downplayed from the ones originally designed for Ziegfeld's Follies. Pre-Code costuming would have been much closer to the originals.

Bio-pics, in general, can be viewed as a sugar-coated version of the subject's life and The Great Ziegfeld is no exception. For Depression-era audiences, this film provides a glimpse of a man who constantly re-invented himself and, despite set-backs, always found a way to climb back to the top of his field.

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This is in regards to question #1 about the clip from The Great Ziegfeld. 

1. Luise Rainer may have attracted Mr. Ziegfeld with her “mirror” of charm and undertones sexuality on stage in a song but i rather think in that day they would have met backstage and perhaps more would have ensued to sway Flo rather than Mr. Billings. i also don’t think Flo would have really sent her over 1000 franks of flowers! that was all frivolity for the audience. He literally is made out to be an exhuberantly rich man when i think he was just affluent. When he tells the doorman that he just tipped that he needed to lose weight that meant he had so much money he could just give it away. in 1936 a loaf of bread was $.08 and the cost of a ticket for that film was $.25. People seeing this probably would have gasped. i sincerely doubt in that time period these same moviegoers had money to throw away. i rather think the movie intended to give those more meager in the audience an escape from their own lifestyle- a chance to be swooshed away in a dreamland or atleast give some an inkling of Hope!

question #2:

A similar approach would be my idea but not so over the top as in the Ziegfeld film . Maybe the use of seduction and enticement and a roomful of beautiful orchids would not be present. From what i have seen an actor may sing a more simple song to who they are pursuing but more than one occasion. The actress/actor would smile smile and be bright eyed but possibly bring on a more tearful approach of desperation.

question #3:

i feel that the movie would have been filmed with a scanty dressed (no bra and low cut-like Jean Harlow) woman singing a song with even more suggestive lyrics. But to be honest i thought...come play with me...come stay with me was pretty racey .  In addition she also could have met Flo at his home or at a motel and the end of that scene would be doors closing after they walked in together. or even go so far as to have them be together the next morning!

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I think that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective, and that is actually very refreshing. I believe that most movies today miserably fail to uplift the audience. There are few things more enjoyable than escaping to the movie theater for a few hours to see a movie that entertains and inspires, like a big hug! If I want to see violence or other bad news, I can see that on television, etc. Audiences from the clip's era most likely felt the same way.

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The clip shows a naive perspective and "all is well with the world" sort of view. She seems very oblivious and almost going with the flow rather than being concerned that a competitor is trying to compel her. Perhaps because of the time period the movie is playing on the idea if we ignore the problem then it might go away just for a little while. 

I think the film was made so the audience is left with an uplifting feeling by the end, which is basically describes the theme-positivity and "everything is going to be alright." 

It's also very obvious that the Codes gone into affect for this film because everything about her performance is "safe." Her wardrobe completely covers her up and even the type of song she sings and how it's sung wasn't too much of risk. There was only light humor. 

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I agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life. examples are "i'm trying to lose weight" comment after the doorman asked the question 'do you realize that you gave me a five pound'. how she couldn't make up her mind on who to see until she saw the flowers, only then did she make up her mind and even though she didn't know the sender she decided to meat with him. 

the characters can throw away money as seen in the first part of the clip. the tone of her song was happy and comical. other movies made during this time might be worried about money, and songs are sad along with more realistic for the view. 

She would not be covered head to toe, and the relationship would be more obvious to the viewer. 

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I would agree that this clip shows a brighter view of life. It's light and frivolous, and Anna Held, even though she is going to make a huge decision, jokes about it. I enjoyed the clip and am adding this film to my list to watch for sure! I noticed the theme of men fighting over a beautiful woman, also seen in Broadway Melody (and obviously many other films). In this case it was light-hearted. Ziegfield didn't seem that upset at first about missing Anna Held, and the way he smirked at Billings in the audience was pretty funny.

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1. I do agree that the clip does exhibit a brighter perspective on life, especially within that time period. As stated before, the Great Depression was a time where many people endured a lot of hardships. By including more comedic moments, such as the lines 'Yes I'm trying to lose weight.' or 'Junior? Is he a little boy?', it allows the viewers of the films to briefly escape their reality.

2. I noticed that many of the characters, specifically Anna Held, were very over-the-top with their actions. For example, in the scene where Held is in her dressing room weighing out the pros and cons of working with both producers, the dialogue between her and the stagehand was slightly more dramatic than a normal conversation. This could be because this film falls into the subgenre that is backstage musicals. Therefore, many of the actors in this film are portraying characters that are also actors or performers. Audiences simply fell in love with the idea of backstage/behind the scenes stories becoming films themselves and it seemed to become a trend for many films at the time.

3. I think that had this film been made precode, the filmmakers wouldn't have lightened the mood so much. The rivalry between Ziegfeld and Billings would have been more straightforward instead of just implied.

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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? 

An afternoon at the movies to watch The Great Zeigfield was a brilliant moment in life for movie goers in this era. Can you imagine the day to day life culturally? To meet your friends, get a soda and popcorn, and dream away the hustle and bustle of trying to survive on peanuts? No pun intended. This is a magical time when people could revive their hopes in faith of a better tomorrow, forget their troubles with a whisper and a giggle. It allowed escape and a time to decompress. 

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

Everything is jolly, easy breezy, no real conflict, and acceptance whatever happens is ok with me....like a rest in the field of poppies. Everything is going so well.

 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.

More voluptuous in dress, and a possible show up of male competitors during a dressing change etc.

 

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I felt the clip was light ( unrealistic for Depression era times ) and the character of Anna Held was also purposefully light both in her acting, singing and dress so that she would be perhaps a light of hope for audiences. Certainly her carefree attitude about the note ( the possibility of a better contract ) was unrealistic but still engaging for an audience that wanted to  escape their problems for a moment. 

 

 

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1)  Yes, definitely, the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life at the time.  Beautiful girls, money seems to be flowing, Ziegfield is extremely popular with the ladies and with his shows, and everything is wonderful.  Outside the movie theatre things weren't that way for most people.  They worked hard, scrimped and saved, and when they could they escaped to the movies.  

2)  Life was gay and full of fun.  It was all escapism, but I think that is why we still go to a movie theatre, rent a movie, or watch it on Amazon Prime or Netflix.  Who wouldn't want to escape the reality of the depression?  The jewelry, costumes, fancy apartments, sporty cars, and so on were in many, if not all, the musicals made in that era.

3.  I think it would have had flimsier and more risqué costumes, innuendoes that could not be misconstrued, and a more provocative feel to it.  

 

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1. Perhaps a brighter perspective on life isn’t quite what we see here. As with most films we see not how the average film goer lives but how those in the glamorous world of the stage live which itself isn’t always that way. By choosing the star rather than the chorus it does depict a brighter perspective ignoring the rest of the stage cast and crew.

 

2. A theme that runs through many of these musicals is that of a positive attitude while ignoring what was going on off screen. A depiction of what glamor the world could hold against the reality of what was happening. Because of this it helped the popularity of the films giving them the ability to remove ticket buyers from their day to day existence and allowing them to escape if only for the short time they spent in the theater. The movies became a morale booster for so many because of this. Because of this one would think that all movies took this as their cue to follow making more movies of an upbeat nature.

 

3. Pre-code might have found the seedier side presented with a focus on all the backstage drama rather than the story of the star. It might also have dealt less directly with the contract battles of the two producers or shown them with less hospitable attitudes toward one another. Rather than a nod of the head or stunned look an actual confrontation between the two complete with threats would be expected. In addition to that the coquettish nature on display by Ranier would have been less playful and more fueled by innuendo. It feels like the pre-code films were more blatant than subtle.

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I think it is interesting that the lady in demand is French, which would be quite exotic and enticing for a depression era audience. Yet because of the enforced code, the character is very virginal in her appearance and manner.  Pre-code, she might have been a bit naughtier.

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I think that this film definitely takes the audience away from their current circumstances.  The most obvious is the indulgences that money is spent on.  For example, theater, fancy clothing, bell hop, a huge boquet of orchids, etc.  During the depression, spending money on these things would have been unheard of, and people were worried about their financial situations.  Therefore, being transported to a world where finances are of no consequence would be a welcome relief to the viewers of the time.

I imagine some of the themes would be money, lavish lifestyles, romance, jealousy, etc.

If this movie had been made pre-code, I'm sure it would have been more risque.  Her musical number may have even more burlesque-like.  The man would have come to her dressing room, and she would have been more scantily dressed.

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1. Yes, the use of comedy throughout the clip (the doorman, the competitive glances between Ziegfeld and Billings, Held's back and forth over the pretty flowers) depicts a carefree life in what we know to be a turbulent society at that time. 

2. I think what was mentioned in the Daily Dose summary is more of what we would see in other musicals including the friendly competition over a pretty starlet. The familiar comedic relief of a bumbling doorman or other small role also springs to mind. 

3. After listening to the lecture and reading the summary I would expect to see more skin and scantily clad women in a behind the scenes/backstage/dressing room scenario. And the star of the show would more than likely be singing lyrics full of innuendo. 

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Louise Rainer gives the scene it's credibility-her facial expressions during entire movie is acting ahead of it's time.

It's less theatrical/stage acting and more genuine emotional expression.  Most acting in these early films seemed over the top -because it was theater based.

Rainer is a natural.

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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? 

Its show a life that is not the normal but we can dream about and think that this must be what a theater stars life is.

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

I would guess that everyone wants to forget and likes to see romance an singing and dancing, nothing too tough on screen.

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.  I am guessing that the code had lots to do with what you could and couldn't show, clothing and language.  

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1. I agree! People could look out their windows to see the real world, but attending a movie like this they saw the beautiful clothes and glamorous, carefree lifestyles of people they could only read about. Here they are! Live on screen! I would also say that this is Hollywood showing itself in a far better light than reality. Philandering and desperate situations could be hidden for a time, but the gossip eventually got out. Here it white washes it and leaves people thinking that maybe what they read in the magazines really wasn't accurate.

2. I'd expect to see strong male characters and flighty female character. The wealthy displaying a careless attitude toward money. Easily defined roles: who is the "good" guy? who is the "bad" guy? who will win the girl?

3. I think the roles wouldn't have been softened. The men could have been shown more conniving and manipulative. The woman more mercenary. But these changes would have made this a completely different film - much darker. Or they could keep the levity, but add skimpier clothes, changes in the language, give the film a more casual attitude towards the social mores of the day.

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The clip showcases people who don’t seem to have cares about money or any worries of life.  The viewer is introduced to Ziegfeld as he gives his hotel doorman a hefty tip for providing pertinent info. Cut to an opulent music hall full of ladies and gentlemen in black tie attire. Ziegfeld and his nemesis Billings are each seated in their own private box enjoying the show.  Musical star Anna Held is performing in a luxurious costume, singing a bright, cheerful tune as she moves across the stage with a light-hearted energy.  The viewer cannot help but marvel at Anna’s beauty and how she has captured the affection of the entire audience, particularly the two gentlemen.  Anna finishes her song and heads to a lavish dressing room, complete with a female assistant to help her undress.  To Anna’s surprise there’s a huge arrangement of orchids (costing thousands of francs) waiting for her from Ziegfeld.  Anna is flattered by the gesture, yet coyly tries to suppress her excitement over such a gift.

In the clip, the viewer is transported to a world of frivolity, with few concerns other than which rich gentleman should win the attention of the lovely lady.

A pre-code version of this musical might have Anna Held showing more skin on stage as she performs.  Her dancing would entice viewers with sensual moves, as she sings a flirtatious tune.  Ziegfeld appears in person back stage to hand deliver the orchids to Anna, who will have already undressed from her costume into a robe and lingerie.  Ziegfeld would profess his attraction to Held, face to face, and urge her to sign with him.  Swoon.

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I did courses before with this same platform and now i love it more, because I’m not under pressure with times and schedules. 

The depression era gave the opportunity to create genious things, like something that born from ashes. 

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Based on the era I didn't feel this was "Depression Era" rather Pre-Depression Era. While the two men Ziegfeld and his competitor were after this woman for her singing talent.  She gave the impression that she viewed them as "Stage Door Johnnies."  She was depicted as a little flighty and not to concerned about her career which was not unusual for the early musicals.  You're either the wise cracking girl or the naive deer in the headlights chorine.  Regarding the post code movies...she definitely would have had less clothing or the material would have probably been much more sheer/revealing. 

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Certainly all things looks bright on film, it's a movie right? The directors job is to tell a story of whatever angle he's going for and if it calls for happy so be it.

For Depression era musicals or any type of this era I expect an escape from the real world, beautiful people, great opulence, stuff that would **** off the poor of whoever cannot afford to go to the picture shows 

Pre-code was great. Sex sold, scum and villainy ruled. When the code was enforced the taboo subjects were assumed by tricky scripting which is no fun because I can't take the hint and need to have it explained to me

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1. I absolutely agree that the clip from "The Great Ziegfeld," as well as the film overall, shows a brighter, more idealized perspective than what is realistic, and the reason for it is pretty simple: then, as now, people go to the movies to be entertained and forget their troubles for a few hours. While this doesn't imply that every movie has to be entirely light and frothy with no real drama or substance, it does require taking a lighter touch with the more serious or unpleasant subjects, and giving more emphasis to the more optimistic aspects of the story wherever possible.

2. I would anticipate that the "The Great Ziegfeld" is a fairly typical example of Depression-era musicals: Visually extravagant worlds full of rich, glamorous people singing and dancing their hearts out in fun, romantic-comedy storylines. The larger-than-life, almost fairy-tale aspects would definitely make it easier for Depression-era audiences to forget their own lives for a little while and just enjoy themselves.

3. If "The Great Ziegfeld" had been a Pre-Code film, I imagine it would have been quite a bit different than the 1936 film we know today. Most likely, the more unpleasant aspects of Flo Ziegfeld's life, such as his common-law marriage with Anna Held and his philandering, would have been more openly discussed, and Anna herself would have had a larger role. Also, the scene in Anna's dressing-room, as well as later scenes of her and other women in private, would likely have shown them in a partial states of undress, something almost unthinkable after the code was enforced.

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I do feel that this musical portrays a much happier, gayer time as opposed to life on the streets at that time. People were struggling, but at the movies they could escape into these starlets’ And actors’ lives for a brief spell.

it would seem natural that other musicals of this era would also capitalize on the “everything is lovely and we’re so cheerful” feeling of this one.

Had this been made before implementation of the Code, this scene would most likely have played out much differently. Her dress probably would have been more revealing, and I’m think that the lyrics might have been a touch more racy. This reminds me of “Lily Von Schupp” from “Blazing Saddles”, in some way. The foreign singer struggling with her English and talking about asking the boys to “come play with me”. 

 

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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? 

Yes, I agree.  A bouquet of orchids that size would be extravagant today let alone during the depression! In addition, two employers vying for someone's services during the Depression would have received a lot more serious attention than wondering if "Jr." was a little boy!

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

As already noted, Depression era movies were made to take people's minds off their troubles. The goal was to help people forget about the economy and struggles of everyday life and send them to a fantasy world where such anxieties did not exist.

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.

One example would be that one or both of the men would have barged into her dressing room while she was changing (and the outfit would have been a lot more revealing). Swearing, yelling, and the like would have gone on.  Physical violence would take place with at least a fist fight between the 2 male characters.

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