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

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I was very charmed by this clip! It gave off a happy, light & airy feel to it, so if that continues throughout the whole film then I'd say yes, it does have a bright perspective, but I wouldn't call it unrealistic, at least from the perspective of these seemingly extravagant people. If this were pre-code I think Held would be wearing a stage costume with a bit more skin showing, and maybe we'd even get some undressing backstage... but the scene on its own got its message across, and her song "come play with me" doesn't leave much to interpretation! 

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  1. The clip does exhibit a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic.  It portrays that opportunities will land on your doorstep and are to be handled on a whim, without much thought or planning.  In real life getting the same results might take more time and effort.
  2. The theme of giving your all in achieving success.  
  3. If it was pre-code maybe the scene where the singer goes back to the dressing room would reveal more wardrobe changing instead of looking at the mirror/looking at flowers.

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I like the "indifference" to money. Earlier in the film, Zeigfield reveals he is "hard up" for cash, yet he makes a joke of tipping 5 lbs. Making him broke can help him get the audience (most of whom have spent 10 cents to forget about their troubles for a few hours), establish a character trait of enjoying a gamble, and support a general air of bon vivance. The dressing room is classic hollywood fantasy: dressing rooms (even for stars) would have perhaps a third of the space Anna Held enjoys. Hothouse orchids, during a snowy London winter, would have been much worse a strain on Zeigfield's resources the the earlier tip. Perhaps the most artificial of all the things in the clip is Held's use of a hand mirror to highlight her audience members. The only reason for it is to create a reasonable excuse for Billings to notice his rival, Zeigfield. This device of prompting action by having two characters see each other is cliche, but seldom quite a cleverly.

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I like the "indifference" to money. Earlier in the film, Zeigfield reveals he is "hard up" for cash, yet he makes a joke of tipping 5 lbs. Making him broke can help him get the audience (most of whom have spent 10 cents to forget about their troubles for a few hours), establish a character trait of enjoying a gamble, and support a general air of bon vivance. The dressing room is classic hollywood fantasy: dressing rooms (even for stars) would have perhaps a third of the space Anna Held enjoys. Hothouse orchids, during a snowy London winter, would have been much worse a strain on Zeigfield's resources the the earlier tip. Perhaps the most artificial of all the things in the clip is Held's use of a hand mirror to highlight her audience members. The only reason for it is to create a reasonable excuse for Billings to notice his rival, Zeigfield. This device of prompting action by having two characters see each other is cliche, but seldom quite a cleverly.

Had this been made Pre-Hayes office, the 'realities' of stage life would have been visable. Dingy dressing rooms, flimsy, probably suggestive costumes rather than frocks more suited to Ascot, and worn clothing. Nothing  Anna Held wears in the film looks to ever have been worn twice, much less worn to needing repair. 

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1.). Yes, I agree.  Because it's truly unrealistic for the two men to behave so kind & gentlemanly to each other throughout all of their competiveness.  The female singer is just too happy to receive flowers and bases her decision to meet the gentleman who sent them after she originally said she didn't want to meet him. 

 

2.). I might anticipate the same light hearted gaiety even though in the real world, there was not a light hearted mood in the country.  There were many hardships in the real world, and the escape into a world of love, comedy, song & dance to lighten the spirits was very much desired by the public.

 

3.). I think that Anna Held would have been dressed more provocatively.  The competition between the two lead men, might have been more vulgar and ruthless.

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1. My answer is undoubtedly yes. Life is not as cheery as a musical, however, many including myself wish that we could tell someone we are sorry or express other emotions, and at the finish of the song everyone understands how you feel and it all works out at the end. The reason we love films so much is for the escape from reality. We all want a happy ending. 

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1 hour ago, morgan.syd said:

I was very charmed by this clip! It gave off a happy, light & airy feel to it, so if that continues throughout the whole film then I'd say yes, it does have a bright perspective, but I wouldn't call it unrealistic, at least from the perspective of these seemingly extravagant people.

I agree.  The clip is not unrealistic in its depiction of Ziegfeld and his milieu.  I believe this is an early part of the film, and the film covers his life up to his death.  So these scenes would have taken place before the Great Depression.  It would have been more unrealistic to portray the conditions of the depression in these scenes.  Having said all that, I think that to an audience in the depression, these scenes would represent their dream, not their reality.

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2. The theme would stay whimsical and engaging keeping your interests peeked. It would definitely concentrate on the romantic aspect of the storyline while at the same time giving you something more to follow such as the rivalry between William Powell's and Frank Morgan's character. 

3. First of all I believe the outfit for the leading lady may have been a bit more revealing such as a shorter dress or slit skirt perhaps. The competitive banter which I am sure took place between the two leading men could have been watered down, for instance, I know the word jerk was frowned upon and in most cases not allowed.  

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The clip definitely showed a very bright and playful side of life - an escape for those living through the events leading up to the Depression. The tone and lyrics of the song she sang begged for someone to "come play with me." The use of the mirror was definitely another opportunity to show a large audience well dressed, out on the town, laughing and enjoying themselves, particularly for being "in the spotlight." The mirror was "reflecting" what the actual movie audience was feeling and aspired to be as part of the audience they were sitting in. While the 5 pound tip spoke to wealth and better times, I think the flowers most definitely did. The assistant even commented that flowers like that must have cost 1,000 pounds.

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1.  I believe that the clip portrayed the belief that if you are cunning you can still make it big, even if you have no available resources.

2. Even though we may be down, but we are never completely out of the game.

3.  The language would have been more risque, as well as costumes of the female actors and scenes with females.  

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I have varying opinions on the lighthearted playfulness displayed throughout this clip. First off, the period of time being displayed was of the initial meeting between Flo and Anna. As their relationship began in the early 1900s (1907, I believe), it occurred just as our country was coming out of the Gilded Age, a time of great economic boom, industrialization, technological advances, etc. as well as just prior to the first panic of Wall Street which took place that same year. So, it is understandable to see  certain level of carefree and lighthearted frivolity on display. However, because the film, itself, was released smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression, it is just as likely that the film used this opportunity to remind audiences of the good times, when life was gay and carefree, to allow them the escape from the harsh reality millions were facing while simultaneously giving them that little piece of hope that such days waited around the corner.

 

2. Because this was filmed I the era of Progressivism, I would expect certain reflections of that dominating ideology to be reflected. As noted, this film made light of the competition between these two producers, Billings and Ziegfield. The idea of Progressivism was to rein in big business and end corruption. Therefore, it is only right that we see a lighter more friendly and dare say cooperative side between business adversaries. Repeated throughout this film was Ziegfields ability to rely upon Billings to come to his aid at times of great economic hardship. I have no basis to deny the validity of this occurrence, only that I do not believe it to be standard practice of today, but would definitely expect to see such lighthearted banter and cooperation in other films of the time.

 

3. Prior to watching this film, I was unaware that Flo and Anna enjoyed a common law marriage. In watching the film, although no wedding occurred, it appeared as if they were a traditional man and wife couple. I would expect that in the pre code era more emphasis of this fact may have taken place; likewise Flo's 'fondness' for his girls which precipitated their divorce. 

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1) I do believe that this clip shows that this musical definitely leaned more towards a light-hearted view of life than your average American at the time. A woman debating over 2 contracts would likely not be as frivolous with her decision, based upon how nice a bouquet of flowers were sent over. Likewise, the two men competing for her partnership would likely not be as cordial "in real life," so to speak. Focusing on the high living of a foreign star, rather than your Broadway chorus girl "trying to make it big" also attempts to shift focus away from the struggles more common to the movie-goers of the time.

2) I anticipate a lot of the same mentality - lightness in speech, in struggle, or in living, and shifting focus away from any "real" struggle that could be related to by the general public. This clip is indicative of the other musicals of the time and how they focused their main plot around a romantic theme or one of high-living. The movies seemed to want to give hope to their audiences rather than show them their own reality on screen.

3) Compared to The Broadway Melody, or other pre-code movies, this was definitely tamer. If this movie had been produced in the pre-code era, I'm certain there would have been a few dirtier jokes, a more well-placed innuendo into the song, or perhaps Held to be in another form of "undress" or costuming, whether on-stage or in her dressing room. The costume she performed in, although form-fitting, was not as risque compared to performance costuming in previous films - perhaps more skin would have been shown. The topic of the Ziegfield common-law marriage, and his philandering, maybe would have been made more obvious to the audience, as well.

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I think the disagreement between the 2 men is to be light hearted and her quickly deciding to give Jr Zeigfeld a chance speaks to keeping the statis quo and keeping things light for the audience. 

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I can't help but think that the lyrics to the song are a deliberate stab at the Code. While completely dressed from head to toe, Anna Held coquettishly strides across the stage, using a mirror to shine a light on members of the audience. The light of truth and exposure? The lyrics she sings in the clip include "I want you to come and play with me all day long" which most certainly is a double entendre. While the story line is certainly cleaned up and post-code, it certainly seems like they were trying to slip it by the Code enforcement.

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I  think this era of films are deliberately frothy. Considering the timing so many people were desperate to have adequate food money and housing hence the atomosphere of ease. I do think if there was no review there would be more suggestive interplay between the Stars.

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1.  Yes, because 5 pounds was a lot of money those days.  And the competition going on between the producers is like a game they're playing just like the lyrics of her song.  

2.  That no matter how hard times are it always gets better.  To look for the silver lining.  The public needed this reassurance during the Great Depression.  

3.  They would have shown the people backstage changing like in Broadway Melody.  And the song and dance would have been more tantalizing.  I'm not sure about the dialogue because those were different times anyway and I don't know if the doorman would have mentioned her eyes instead of saying something about her figure.

 

 

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Even though I am not able to watch the clip (when you hit play,  it is a black screen-but I can listen to what was going on)  I can certainly hear the upbeat and pleasantries of that moment.   I'm assuming this was not only to make the film lighthearted,  but to maybe help the audience forget about that moment of unrest, unemployment and hard times.  You really couldn't help but smile,  hearing the women's voices (as like I started earlier,  I only could hear, no video played-just voices) could definitely made that movie-goers day better. 

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1. I agree the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than was realistic at the time of the release of "the Great Ziegfeld". In 1936, America was still struggling to climb out of the Great Depression.   The film studios were still working to stay solvent by brightening the lives of moviegoers with escapism, and perhaps hope, generated by depictions of opulence, gayety and employment for everyone.  Hence, the audience had a reason to return to theaters with their spare change for more infusions of affordable Hollywood optimism.  

 

2.  I discovered the themes and approaches in this clip and "The Great Ziegfeld", in its entirety, to be predictable.  Despite the fact that this picture was produced later than many other depression era movies, most social norms had not changed much between 1929 and 1936.

As in other depression period musicals, "The Great Ziegfeld" reminds us that "a woman's got to have a man". ("Gold Diggers of 1933")  Despite the independence and determination of the character, Anna Held, to control her own life and career, she is manipulated by Ziegfeld, as are nearly all females in the production.  In the end, by choosing to divorce her philandering, common-law husband, Held is viewed as broken-hearted and regretful.  There is a reference, at the end of the story, to Ziegfeld's embarrassment due to his last wife, Billie Burke, having to return to work. The message is that Burke should be relying on him, because she is legitimately his wife.

Even though it is less exploited through humor, costuming and movement in "The Great Ziegfeld" than in earlier depression era musicals, female sexuality as a commodity is still a dominant theme throughout the picture.  At the beginning of the film, Ziegfeld seems more intrigued by the doorman's description of Anna Held's eyes and how they make a man feel when she looks at him from the stage, than the quality of her performance.  There is a clear double entendre in the lyrics to Held's song "Won't You Come and Play With Me". Later, women in the picture are not as scantily dressed as in earlier musicals, but they are ogled anyway, as when the title character is seen glancing at held's bottom as she leans over a desk.  Other female characters in the story, such as his secretary, recognize that Ziggy takes liberties with them or their peers, but they do not protest or intervene; they're grateful to be employed. The studios were perpetuating this kind of male behavior in the workplace of the 1930's as normal and expected, if not complimentary.

 

3.  It's evident that "The Great Ziegfeld" was produced under the Motion Picture Production Code.  Visually and verbally some subject matter is downplayed or softened.

Costuming in this work is modest compared to earlier depression era musicals.  Women's dance routines are less bawdy.  Instead of female characters in earlier musicals who are commonly seen becoming intoxicated, this picture implies that drinking women performers are fired by Ziegfeld.  

The treatment of the "marriage" between Held and Ziegfeld in the picture is interesting and reflective of pictures made under the code. The characters refer to each other as husband and wife.  Held conspicuously wears a wedding band.  I seem to recall Held being referred to as "Mrs. Ziegfeld" once. 

Finally, I find it fascinating that he subject of Marilyn Miller as one of Ziegfeld's mistresses is ignored. I wonder if anyone in the audience who was unaware of Ziegfeld's supposed relationship with the adult Miller would have guessed anything from the scene between Mary Ellen and the theatrical producer in his office.  What may have been edited?  Was this omission just a matter of satisfying the reviewers, or was the subject avoided because Miller died around the time the film was released?

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Daily Dose #1

  • Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? Yes! It was the Great Depression. During that time, people were yearning to get away from the drudgery of real lives. The solution is simple: Movies! It is from there that they receive intrinsic delight.                                                               
  • What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals? The colorful sets, vibrant performances, gaily showgirls etc.                                                                                                                                                        
  • 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. If this film was made at the Pre-code times, then we could view scenes like the heroine undressing herself. There is a possibility that Mr. Ziegfeld Jr. and Mr Billings would have arrived in time to greet the heroine in her dressing room.

                                                                           2416625946545012983.jpg

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Yes, the clip shows upscale surroundings and classily dressed people both on stage and in the audience to carry the viewer away from the sad and desperate times they were living in.  I anticipate other future depression era films I plan to watch will do more of the same showing wealthy people living in ridiculously huge homes and dressed in gowns and tuxedos in their everyday life.  Love the way this carries you away and puts you dancing with Fred Astaire or whoever.  With the movie code in tact at this time, it is apparent that the singer's dress was very demure.  Prior to the movie code, there would have probably been much less of it.  They even went so far as to have her where a hat and also cover up with a parasol.  Interesting that on stage she was telling the men (she only shined the mirror reflection on men) to come play with her but when she went into her dressing room, she was such a sweet, innocent thing just totally overwhelmed by the orchids that were sent to her.  This made me feel like she had a well-rounded character and makes me look forward to seeing the entire movie. 

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On 6/4/2018 at 11:26 AM, chillyfillyinak said:

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 example

From the little I know of Ziegfeld's story, I imagine that a pre code look at his life would show his lack of probity in business, womanizing, and unconventional living arrangements with Held. From a cursory look at Held's sad existence, we could expect more of her struggles to overcome anti-semitism in Europe to be shown. The 3 hour film could also look at the fact that she had very little talent and was not well-received by critics at the time. Although the film might have been trying to convey this.

A look at Rainer's performance shows either that she is portraying Held as having just a modicum of talent, or that she herself has a small amount of appeal. The first time I saw this film I as surprised at how unappealing Rainer was in a role for which she won an Academy Award. Not only is her part small, in my view she is not at all charming, nor does she sing and dance with any ability. So, I assume Rainer either was trying to show Held in this manner, or Rainer was simply miscast in the role. 

I'm only now getting started on watching the films, but I'm intrigued with the idea of Luise Rainer being "miscast" in this role, and in general how much "talent" these women had. Rainer's Academy Award for "The Good Earth" is more unsettling to me, in the notion of whites cast to play Asians. That might be beside the point, but I think it speaks to how ideas of star power work against true-to-type casting (her French accent is equally put-on and stereotyped). But Broadway Melody of 1929 seems similarly thin to me on female "talent" -- I honestly didn't realize that Anita Page was the star (the most beautiful face in Hollywood?) until I looked at the TCM movie database comments. We can still accept male crooners as having talent, so the men's performance in these films translates better. The females seem to be required to strike poses, engage in coquettish gestures, and sing in a much thinner way than we prefer.  I personally find Rainer's performance very appealing, and think she gives personality to the role. I'm not sure what the choices were to the directors of the time, but I'm finding it intriguing to see these odd female characters and voices in these early musicals (Tuesday night) and rather than labeling them mis-cast, I'm wondering what casting criteria are actually in place. 

Thanks for the comment that got me thinking about this.

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

Of course the movie presents a brighter side of life.  Filmmakers knew that audiences craved escapist entertainment rather than realistic views of the world (See Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels).  Beautiful costumes, bright music, light witty banter all helped relieve day-to-day woes.  In The Great Ziegfeld, however, we do get the sorrow of Anna Held when she realizes Flo isn't ever coming back to her.  

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

One major theme of the day was "local boy makes good"--someone from lesser means becoming rich and famous.  It's pleasant to imagine that with good old honest American ingenuity, you can rise to the top.

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.

Anna Held was known for risque songs and poses, while her performances in the film are much more demure.  Image result for anna held

She was known for her tiny waist, too, but the film has Rainer more in keeping with body norms of the 30s.

I found this article on Held, which describes more details about Held and Ziegfeld's real life, which was certainly white-washed in the film.

http://www.musicals101.com/ziegheld.htm

 

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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, the clip is definitely depicting a brighter perspective. The clip shows rich people, dressed to the nines, enjoying a night in (what I would call) a fancy theater  most people watching this film would not have had the resources to do the same. Even though it takes place in a city, everything is clean and there’s no sign of the desperation the majority of the population would have felt at this time. 

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

i anticipate that other films would also focus on people whose main problems involved love and shallow rivalries, as opposed to the more realistic problems like hunger, bankruptcy, and family strife  I think movie makers wanted to give people a short vacation from their everyday struggles.

  1. 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

Pre-code, the song would have been delivered in a far skimpier costume, and the character would have sung it suggestively rather than naively.

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Aside from insights already discussed by others, one common theme in many movies (including musicals) is the lovely, talented female with (at least) two dashing men competing for her favor. Rather a psychological ploy to appeal to the female audience and their desire to be living this role.

As side note, notice the Wizard of Oz tie-ins, three years before that movie was released. Here, we have Frank Morgan and Ray Bolger...and Myrna Loy playing Billie Burke.

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1.  I agree that not only but other films of the era presents a brighter and happier aspect of life. It was in a way for much of the country to escape the hardships of the Depression. 

2.  What I’ve seen in most of the Depreeion Era musicals is that it doesn’t show the hardships or struggles of daily life. The actors were typically gay and lighthearted. 

3.  If this was done pre-code the women would have been,scantily dressed, instead of fully clothed head to toe. There would have been more of Zeifields relationships outside of his marriages. An example is bathtub scene where you can’t tell that she is nude as you can in some of the earlier films m

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