Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

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Arriving extremely late to this, but whatever...

1. I agree with the DD statement. The whole clip shows a whole "universe" devoid of the hardships of the times. Expensive shows, elegant dresses, huge flowers, valets and maids... like Dr. Ament said in the lecture, the film is probably appealing to the needs or wants of the audience, perhaps trying to help them reflect themselves in this "false" world of richness. In addition, although I haven't seen the film, it is said that the rivalry between the producers is more playful than cutthroat, whereas in true life, given the conditions of the era, I suppose they wouldn't be as friendly about it.

2. I suppose that the themes that are present in most other musicals of the times. Big shows, nice clothes, singing ladies, wealthy men, triangles, "unrequited" love.

3. Considering what I've seen in pre-code musicals like The Broadway Melody, and others that were mentioned, I'm sure that Anna would've been dressed more scantily. Also, the dressing room scene would've involved dressing/undressing of some sort. Finally, perhaps some clever, "spicy" joke would've been inserted during the conversation with the valet.

 

If I were to add something it would be that I loved Rainer's musical performance. Very natural and charming; that chuckle in her voice completely sells the song.

 

 

 

Also, I don't know if we're meant to discuss the video lectures here as well, but since I didn't find any other topic about it, here it is... having seen The Broadway Melody a couple of days ago, I can say it was certainly an interesting, although awkward film. As discussed by our teachers, the gender politics of the film are a mess, from the way our "leading man" behaves to how the women are treated. Plus, I can say that the musical numbers weren't that memorable. But I don't regret watching it. It was more of an educating experience.

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While I do agree that the perspective is lighthearted, flippant really given what was happening in the country, there is still an undercurrent that alludes to improper themes that would not pass code. Yes, this woman is a stage actress (pretty much an inaccessible career for 98% of the population) and she is dressed from head to toe, she even hints at how bold it is to send flowers to her to persuade her to meet with the sender. But actresses were not upright moral people in the public eye, and her clothing is skin-tight so how concealing is it? She should not be finding fault with the sender of the flowers when she just finished a song with lyrics like "come play with me." 

I see this as escapism both from the Depression-era standpoint, as well as the filmmaker escaping some of the confining points of the code.

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I do agree the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might have been realistic for the time. A five pound tip-quite large indicating the money flows freely. ( I don't know if a pun was intended but it struck me as funny. Was he trying to be truthful in saying I'm trying to lose a little...wait...as in wait time...OR...being humorous in tying together pounds for pounds as in...weight...as in physical weight loss? Again, struck me as funny.

Additionally, the settings and costumes were lavish; even the audience was in all it's finery. ( The use of the mirror allowed us to see the audiences reaction to Held's performance. There was enjoyment in the idea of "playtime" and letting themselves be carefree.. The mirror also gave insight (even thought understated) to the rivalry taking place between Ziegfield and Billings. Also, the orchids in the dressing room represent opulence, and a huge expense, yet reaping a huge reward by influencing Held to meet with Ziegfield.

I think we might expect similar approaches to other depression era musicals as what we have seen here. I would expect underlying tones of ideals which build hope, restore faith, and cause one to feel carefree and leave worries behind. I would expect story lines in which dreams come true or, perhaps, true love is realized.

  If the film had been scripted pre-code it may have focused more on:

-the difficulties involved in world travel

-Ziegfield's behavior regarding Held; ie: common law marriage and his unfaithfulness to the relationship

-behind the scenes activities regarding the business and contract relationships (ie: tricking the costume designer in to leaving the costumes without payment...again) What other crooked dealings were there?

-what is was that caused Held in the relationship as long as she did?

Also of filmed pre-code:

-We might have seen the men in Held's dressing room

-Held's costumes may have been more revealing ( or any of the costumes for that matter)

-We may have seen heated arguments or meanness and vindictiveness 

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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?

I agree the clip exhibits a brighter outlook. The great depression was a terrible time in America. Most people could hardly afford the price of a movie ticket never mind the cost of theatre tickets and fancy dress to attend the performance. And the casual "I'm trying to loose weight" comment to the 5 pound tip was also a big example.

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

There would be the theme of the have's and have not's; with the have not's working hard to become one of the have's. There would be rich clothing and set design to set people apart economically.

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.

Pre-code the dance Anna did would have been much more suggestive given the lyrics of "Play with me" that were in the song. I believe her dress would have been shorter so she might be able to do a can-can type of dance. I also think when she was in her dressing room we would have seen her undressing instead of staying dressed.

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1) I do believe this clip makes things appear better than they were back then. I wasn't alive back then. But, I have seen pictures from the Great Depression. The people looked sad, dirty, and hungry. It made me sad thinking about what they went through.

2) I would expect that other Depression Era movies painted a brighter picture of life; to give people hope.

3) The film could have shown flashbacks of Florenz childhood. The child is seen crying after being punished. The film could have also shown scenes of Florenz and Held arguing over his philandering.

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I was unfortunately out of town with little Internet access, so I am just "joining" the course. Doing a little back peddling to catch up. LOL. 

The Great Ziegfeld

1. The film definitely exhibits a lighter side of life. For example, the way Powell and Morgan take notice of one another during Luise Rainer's performance. True rivals in the industry would probably have not even acknowledged one another and would have done everything possible to make the competition feel small. I also especially liked how the doorman was so generous with the information he shared prior to even receiving the 5-pound note. How often do we see the hand out prior to giving up any info? Payment seems to be expected if any information is to be shared. Yet, he is happy to tell Powell everything he knows without any compensation whatsoever.

3. Regarding the code issue, I think that several items would have possibly been "played up" if the film was made pre-code. For example, Ms. Rainer's discussion with her assistant about the flowers would probably have taken place while she was undressing after her act. I also think that there would have been a little more "play" with the junior aspect. She does mention, "why the junior, is he a little boy?" - pretty sure that a lot more emphasis would have been given on that topic.

 

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This clip certainly portrays Anna as frivolous and materialistic. Billings hasn't got a chance!

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At that time and perhaps today, movies gave a moment of escape from the reality of life.  Personally, I enjoy the brighter perspective.  I would expect a happier tone from films because life was difficult and people need something to hope and dream for.

Since this movie was post-code costumes were more elegant and the women were left with a little more clothing on at the end of a number.

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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?

I feel that this scene gives the audience a getaway from their daily struggles connected to the great depression. the perspective definitely isn't realistic for the majority, but enough to give the audience the escape they need for the time being. I don't find it realistic because most men and women were without income or a place to live.  Receiving flowers from wealthy men were not in the stars for most women.

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

I would anticipate the theme of a secret admirer or vague romance in other depression era musicals. I say this because I'm sure many people dreamed of someone coming to save them from their despair caused by the depression. a fantasy that would've sold many tickets.

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.

If this was a pre-code film, i would imagine it to be more like the film BabyFace with the actress driving the men to become corrupt in order to win the affection of the women.

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I've come late to the party, but have a different take on if this is showing "a brighter side to life." This clip, at least, is showing the life of the "haves." Even the doorman is a "have" of a certain level. He has a nicely tailored livery provided by his employer. He probably makes good tips from the very fortunate people who can dress and attend the theatre. These people did exist during the Depression. And their lives went on, for the most part, unchanged.

As for "The Code" you've all missed something they got past the censor - the fact that the little mirror on the chain bangs our tightly clothed singer in the crotch with every step she takes across the stage. After playing with her little mirror, and flashing the audience in the eyes, combined with the lyrics of the song, and where it ends up, continuing to flash in the lights, she's the tease of the theatre. Remember, the costume department could have made that chain any length.

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Daily Dose #1

1.       Yes. I think the brighter perspective is shown here vs. how things were in the nation as people were coming out of the depression. The audience was filled with high society people dressed in expensive clothing in an expensive theatre and probably prior to that, out for dinner and drinks.

2.       I see a theme where life was carefree and money was not a concern.

3.       If this was pre-code, I think the language and costumes would have been more provocative.

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1.I agree that it shows a brighter perspective than is realistic. (I wish it were true.) But it's a fairy tale.Almost all of the first responders have hit the nail on the head.

2.Always a woman in the middle of two guys who are trying to"catch" her  attention but in a very stylized way. It seems very artificial- not the way it really would happen.

3.The clothing would be quite different- not so covered up and the performance seems quite stiff. 

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Absolutely the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than is realistic.  People did not come to the movies to see realism.  Filmmakers produced films about life as they thought it should be, or what people expected it to be.  The actors and actresses are perfectly dressed and coiffed.  Interior rooms are always clean and tidy.  Foreigners are portrayed as caricatures.  I doubt that the real Anna Held was as silly as she is portrayed here.  A star would have experience and savvy.  Additionally, no woman who has been with a man as long as she, would have so passively stood by while her man was cheating on her with the frequency that Ziegfeld was reported to have done.

Themes I would anticipate in other musicals of this decade follow suit.  Never a hair out of place, no portrayal of genuine suffering, no hunger, no pain, etc.  Also, musical numbers seen on film, though they were suppose to be occurring on a theater stage, could never have been accomplished on a stage.  They were just too huge and the technical aspects of the numbers would have been much simpler.

Had the film been made pre-code, perhaps there would have been some honesty and realism in the costumes, makeup, sets, and performances of the actors portraying real people.  

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I do agree that this clip shows a brighter perspective of life during that time period. The audience are all dressed in very nice attire that was probably unaffordable for most people then. The set was also elaborate, as were the flowers that were sent to her. Another example is that they make the competition between Ziegfeld and Billings light-hearted. The film also doesn't show the true difficulties of Anna Held's childhood or the troubled common-law marriage between her and Ziegfeld. 

The themes that I would anticipate in other depression era musicals are making light of hard situations, entertaining people with song and dance to take their minds off of their problems, and flashy sets and costumes. There would be no true business competition and a brighter outlook on life. 

If this movie would have been filmed precode, they would have shown a lot more of the actress. For example, her dress would have shown a lot more skin. They would have also shown her getting undressed in her dressing room with perhaps even one of her gentlemen competitors walking in on her.   

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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? 

I think that the movie sugar-coated reality of the times to draw people out of there miseries for a few minutes and think about the what-ifs.  If it had been more serious the decision she was faced with would have been more thought provoking.

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

I think any light-hearted romantic comedy,  oddball and maybe unrealistic in daily life maybe a great distraction and......fun!!

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

Like modern movies, the confrontation and the painstaking decision process may have been drawn out to gain interest and poplularity.  We may have seen an actual fight between Ziegfield and Billings.  Or she may have gone through her daily struggles while pondering her decision.  The climax would build and the tension would try the outcome.

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I agree that this clip shows a brighter side of life during the time it was made than is realistic. I doubt during the depression era folks were gifting extravagantly or too big. Even taking in a show might not have been possible. The audience may have been much smaller realistically.

a major theme going forward is going to be romance. Being entangled in the love can make a bleak life tolerable.

If this film were filmed prior to motion picture code being enforced we may have see more skin. Held’s costumes may have been skimpier.

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1.Definitely a safer perspective of life and Held is a true female, indecisive, or in need of a man. That women could not think on their own, yet she is a star. He is a gambler, and not financially competent. Because he is smooth he influences her into a relationship, which is marriage in the movie. He did not marry her in real life.

2. Moral during this time period, no common law wife. As per depression era times,  the musical was beautiful, entertaining and positive or a relief from the normal hard life that people lived in. It was a get away. 

3. If it had been precode, I think that the costumes would of been more bare, especially that Held is French. In the dressing room she would not have the maid know more than her, reading the note. She would of changed into a robe and received him, to be ready for the next performance or even less clothing. They made it more paletable to watch by cleaning up the theater in France, or England.

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

Very much a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic. Much of society was not living the "good life" that entailed time for entertainment leisure as frivolous as the musical show presented in the clip. A lavish set with ornate furnishings and plants, a beautiful performer dressed in ruffles and carrying a parasol were not exactly what the everyday person was accustomed to enjoying or even being exposed to, although the purpose of entertainment was to provide an escape from the depressive reality of that era, not very many of the working class could afford to escape to that dream world portrayed in the clip.

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

Escapism was probably the approach that Depression era musicals intended to provide for the public, although it was only momentary, it probably satisfied some people until they left the theater, went home and faced the reality of how their lives actually were.

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.

Costuming might have been skimpier, revealing more female flesh, and the relationship between Mr. Ziegfeld and Anna Held would not have been as sanitized.

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Here are my general random thoughts that may or may not be related to the questions:

The clip does show a brighter side, as someone (probably many) mentioned before, the woman has a choice and the freedom to choose what her future could be, whereas maybe at that time it wasn't quite the case. In addition, we as viewers-in the time of release-are viewing a more affluent audience, yet we are the audience also, so maybe by association that is the form of escape in that we then become the affluent audience since we are able to view the production, associating/aligning ourselves with the more affluent.

Also in relation to the 'brighter' side, could the choice of dress for the scene and the character also be helping the audience create the feeling of nostalgia and yesteryear, of how things used to be?

 

In reference to the pre-code/post code era, people were mentioning the costuming on stage and how it would be different, which makes me wonder, if the two men could be representative of the pre-code/post code era themselves - Ziegfeld the more seductive one (pre-code) and the other being (post code)- though this is based on a true story i thought- in thinking about this, what does it mean/say about her as an actress or a woman in the biz that she chooses Ziegfeld aka pre-code vs post code? 

Further in pre-code, the men be more suggestive than they are in post code, so what does it mean/how is it okay that the woman can be more suggestive in post code than the men? Could the use of the mirror also be a tool to create the suggestion of a reflection of yourself (furthering the association of affluence, i stated above) or the idea of voyeurism especially in the timing of her usage of it-her singing such a suggestive song might make the audience think her scandalous and having the mirror to reflect back to the audience the realization that they are part of the 'scandal' too because they are the viewers? 

Randoms:

Looking into the meaning/symbolism behind the use of the orchid, it said that if was suggestive of fertility and sexuality and seen (obviously) as exotic -which she herself might have been seen as with her accent, etc and the flower being representative of Ziegfeld's feeling for her. In addition - assuming the flowers are white that was to represent innocence and purity as well as elegance and reverence.

Does the designation of Jr on the bouquet used to show a signal of age of the Ziegfeld, hoping it would make him more appealing to her? or does it backfire when she pokes fun noting 'what is he a child?' maybe defeating the purpose leading to an idea that maybe she is looking for someone older or more 'established'?

Also what does it say that the maid is able to read and referencing that maybe the actress can not or maybe doesn't want to like a luxury that she wants to hear it be said to her? Or is it that the actress is beautiful-getting by on her looks and doesn't have to be smart to 'make it', where as the maid needs the education to get anywhere to make up for what she might be lacking in looks?

 

 

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Yes, I would imagine the film being scripted differently if it were made in pre code era, because the scene with the performance on stage with the mirror, probably could be more promiscuous.

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1. The clip shows a much more optimistic view of life than what was actually taking place at the time.  The lavish theater (no doubt, full of wealthy patrons), the large flower arrangement, the 5-pound tip, given without a second thought would not have been normal actions during the depression. 

2. I believe musicals during the Depression Era were designed to entertain and make people forget about their problems.  They could live vicariously through the wealthy characters.  

3. If this movie were made pre-code, I'm sure the dress would have been more revealing.  

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

  • To some degree. What can only be described as the traditionally cut throat competition for a coveted performer is portrayed as friendly and charming and seemingly harmless. The rivals exchange knowing glances and a basket of lovely flowers seems to be enough to win over Held.

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

  • Well, even in the 30s, I would expect each production to be unique in its approach. But perhaps the concept of keeping the "reality" light and entertaining might be something all of these musicals might have in common.

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 Held might have been dressed more provocatively and Ziegfeld might have been more overtly smitten with her. For example, in "42nd Street," we see BeBe Daniels character in the same room with Guy Kibbe and   he is telling her there is "something she can DO for him." It more directly implies a "Sugar Daddy" type of relationship than we see in the coy, fluttery Anna Held sequence.

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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 definitely shows a brighter perspective of life over the reality of the time (depression-era).  Ziegfeld is shown giving a very substantial tip t the doorman and acting like it is nothing.  The costumes and sets are elaborate with the audience looking happy, expensively dressed, and well-to-do.  That is also the goal of most f the movies I love - to make people feel good and happy, getting away from what could be a hard life or unhappy time. 

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

The competition between the Producers (Ziegfeld & Billings) who are watching the performance is an important theme - both for Anna Held as a performer and as a love interest. The competition does seem to be approached with a lighter hand than might be reality.  Also the clip does not shown any of the misery of the time - just the glitz and glamour.  

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.

Pre-code, the film could have shown Ziegfeld for the philanderer he was known to be and it could also refer to their "un-married" state  that became common law relationship.  More skin could have been shown during the dressing room scene pre-code, but this approach alluded to the actress being helped out of her clothes without showing it.   

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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 shows happiness and gay people. But in reality people were still going through hardships from the Depression that hit America. People did not have much money to go see play and shows. The economy was very bad and people struggle still during this time frame yet the clip didn’t show any of that.

 

2.       What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals? I think in most movies in the Depression era tried to make the audience forget about how bad real life was even if it was for just a little while. Tried to make it happy and fun.

 

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. This movie might not have been as happy and gay liked it showed. Maybe it would of shown some darkness to it. It would have shown some different sides to some of the characters. Maybe some of the characters would have been dressed differently in the audience.

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 I’m late to the game but here goes:

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

Agreed. The clip has a life in grand perspective. The flowers she received only duplicate those that were depicted on the set and eluded to in her costuming. Flowers that bloomed due to the brightness.

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

One could anticipate themes that ask you to lighten up about your reality. I thought it clever of the writer that the woman helping her dress was the more educated in that she could read the note. This would lend to an approach of the story from both sides of the track, per se.

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.

The reaction from her to the flowers would have been different. The interaction of the Doorman and Ziegfeld may also be more on the slide as hush hush versus so open and nonchalant.

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