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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #2 (From Rose Marie)

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Hi again. 

I am thrilled with the activity surrounding the first Daily Dose of Delight. Here is the forum for Tuesday's.

 

Recall that you watched two clips from Rose Marie and were directed toward the performances of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Look at the three questions below, as I listed them below the clip on Canvas, and post your thoughts. 

I look forward to reading your responses. Remember, this Daily Dose is a Star Studies perspective.

 

Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

  1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.
  2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.
  3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

 

See you on TCM.

Vanessa

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1. They have an attraction but they are trying to fight the attraction they will look at each other in the second scene but then try not to look at each other and in the first scene they are flirty but she acts irritated but then when he sings she smiles and he tries not to show feelings for her by saying he can put any name into the song.

2. I have seen a few movies with them in school. My perception of them was great acting entertainment and singing. They always end up together in the films i saw.

3 Always a push back in the beginning of the movies they will try to avoid each other but in the end there is always a happy ending for the 2 main characters. This made people cheer up and have hope of a happy ending for themselves.

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In the canoe, it's obvious they're both attracted to each other, but MacDonald plays to usual character as coy and "girlish". Second clip once again they share similar emotions only this time it's embarrassment.  He's embarrassed for her because he knows SHE's embarrassed having to cheapen her performing personality to be hired. And she's embarrassed because he sees her and she knows he knows.  Confusing, yes.  But it makes sense if you follow it.

My sense is that like Astaire & Rogers the studio knew they'd found a winning combo and whether they liked it or not, Eddy & MacDonald were to be tied at the hip for the duration of their audience appeal.  Their musicals were formulaic and predictable, but I doubt depression & post-depression era audiences cared.  They just like to hear them sing.

They were safe, uncomplicated, upright & sexless (w/romantic Victorianesque flirtation &  innocent clinches) examples of Hollywood distancing itself from the immoral 'roar' of the pre-code 20's and dragging itself into the new-Puritanism of the Coded 30's. 

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1.What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

Never having seen the film, I assume that the Eddy/McDonald characters have a love/hate relationship right up until they fall in love (or more accurately until she realizes she is in love with him). Eddy is a straightforward guy who doesn't mind trying to court a gal who is stuck on someone else. His persistence and good nature probably pays off after McDonald flees the pub after her embarrassing performance. Eddy understands her humiliation and obviously wants to comfort her in some way. The fact that he is devastatingly handsome in his mountie uniform (he uses his baritone voice to impress her, but honestly if I were the lady he could be mute and still get my attention). He also doesn't mind letting her know he has courted other women before with his universally appropriate song as long as the lady in question has three syllables in her name. Eddy is just a hardworking, honest, clean-cut guy with nothing to hide. His joke about Maude shows he has a sense of humor. What more could a girl want?

While McDonald is stuck up and wants Eddy to know how unimpressed she is with his looks, uniform and boyish charm, the audience knows that something is going to take her down a peg. When it does, it is obvious that thrifty, brave, clean and reverent Eddy will be there to rescue her. Although they were married to others in real life, the chemistry between the two stars apparently carried over as their relationship lasted until her death. It is all there on the screen.


2.If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

I have seen Eddy in "Knickerbocker Holiday," in which he plays the impulsive young hero with a temper. He is just as likable in that role as in the two clips we just watched. I have seen McDonald in several films, one with Deanna Durbin and in "San Francisco" opposite Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. In the Durbin film she plays a lovely mother. In "San Francisco" she plays a classical singer who must take a job in Gable's saloon. Her skimpy costumes enrage Tracy's priest. McDonald's part in "San Francisco" is reminiscent of her saloon performance in our clip. In both parts she is a fish out of water in anything but a classical music performance.


3.What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

If by "this era" is meant the period in which the Breen office ruled what morality audiences saw, we expect leading ladies to be modest, decent, flirtatious in a ladylike manner, and above all chaste. Leading men are gentlemen, especially when dealing with the opposite sex. Once they fall in love with other, they are supposed to be loyal, true-hearted lovers, respectful of each other in every way. It was said about the Code that "Movies were made by Jews, censored by Catholics, for Protestant audiences." The Judeo-Christian ethic was in force.

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The first thing that struck me in these two clips is that J.M. Character is really in charge of the pace in the first interaction with N.E.    He is pursuing her, but other than his voice and her professional assessment of it, she is uninterested and unmoved by anyone or anything in her surroundings.  In the second clip, she is utterly vulnerable. She slinks out of the saloon, desperately hoping to be unnoticed.  But N.E. sees everything she is feeling and sees her desperation without yet knowing why she is desperate and willing to try and sell herself in a manner she would not have considered before. 

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I have seen them both before, and I have seen most of the films they made together.  Those films all depict men and woman as having either a noble nature or one who has embraced the earthier side of human nature.  Men are able to be both during the course of the film, raising above themselves by meeting and falling for the good girl.  Women are cast and unable to escape the role of good or bad girl.  

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1.  What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific             examples.

     In the first scene, Marie starts out rather indifferent towards Bruce until he starts tossing and then she lightens up. But when he finishes,she obviously tries to conceal her attraction towards him with a typical hard-to-get attitude while Bruce tries to do the same thing with his admittance to using his song as a kind of “form letter” where he just inserts the girl he’s currently serenading at the moment into the beginning of the tune. In the second scene, Marie is obviously feeling entirely out of place and unable to relate to the class of people she’s around. She runs off feeling hurt and unwanted and Bruce is obviously sensitive towards her plight as he notices all of this and goes after her. He’s gotten over the initial insecurity and awkwardness he was feeling in the previous scene and is now willing to take the relationship to the next level.

 

2.  If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

     I’ve always perceived Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald as byproducts of the early years of the M-G-M musical era. Though I’ve never really been a fan of opera-styled music, I can appreciate their particular quality and how effective their star power was during the Depression. The types of films they did appealed to most audiences of their time in terms of the public wanting to escape their problems and to feel a sense of glamour and sophistication.

 

3.  What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

     I see a lot of clean-cut, classy, respectable norms in this and most of the films from this era. The Production Code was still very recent at this point in film history and virtue and wholesomeness was obviously what it was all about. The relationship between Eddy and MacDonald as well as other major stars of the era were required to exemplify these norms and it was more or less a requirement of their personal lives as well. The studios in those days almost literally owned their stars and if there was any kind of noticeable behavior that was “out of bounds” the studio had every right to take disciplinary action, which could get ugly from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

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In Clip 2, it's hard to believe that the Production Code people allowed Gilda Gray to stand up there in her skin tight dress and shimmy so suggestively.  The only reason I can think of why they would allow her to do that is that someone sold them on the idea that the message is being sent:  "See, this is BAD! This is VERY BAD! Do not try this at home (or anywhere)!  Be a good girl like Jeanette MacDonald and you'll get a nice man (like Nelson Eddy) who will take care of you."  Yeah, that must be it.

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1) What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

Having seen this film many times, there is the underlying fact (spoiler alert) that Marie is seeking her brother, played by a young Jimmy Stewart, who is wanted for killing a mountie. This provides a great degree of drama to the situation for her. The conflict is rooted in her growing attraction to Sgt. Bruce coupled with her fear of what will happen to her brother should Bruce find him. Sgt. Bruce, unbeknownst to Marie, knows who she is and is using her to find her brother, while at the same time becoming attracted to her. This forms the basis for his dramatic conflict. The their relationship vacillates between Marie's attempts at aloofness and Bruce's efforts to break through her shell.

In the canoe scene, Bruce uses humor and their common interest of song to wheedle his way into her confidence. At times she allows herself a moment or two of humorous interaction, but in the end she reminds him to get back to paddling. Their positioning in the boat allows the occasional look back, but for the most part they are avoiding the meeting of eyes.

In the bar scene, frustration builds for Marie as she tries to sing for her supper but falls flat when overshadowed by the local bar floozy who gives the men what they want. In the end, she finds herself unable to stand it any more and is forced to flee the bar. Sgt. Bruce clearly is initially occupied with two young "ladies" at his table, but when he looks over and sees Marie's failing attempt to perform in an alien environment he clearly both admires and feels sympathy for unavailing attempt to entertain. He does the gentlemanly thing and rushes out to comfort her after she flees the bar.

2) If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

I've seen both actors perform on their own and obviously Ms. MacDonald has the more expansive acting chops. However, I believe Eddy's acting in his films sans MacDonald was underrated. He played each role like Nelson Eddy, much as John Wayne always played John Wayne, regardless of his character in each film. Among my favorites are Balalaika, Rosalie and The Chocolate Soldier.

MacDonald was better able to adapt to more dramatic films than Eddy. While she did have successes with Girl of the Golden West and Merry Widow, she also was more than able to hold her own in dramatic parts such as in San Francisco with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy'

3) What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? 

The canoe scene, for all it's romantic underpinnings, involved no physical contact between the characters and very little in the way of eye contact. The era of hands off love making was becoming the norm. Eddy remained the perfect gentleman and MacDonald the perfect lady, despite being out on a romantic moonlit night.

The bar scene reflected the hero being sensitive and protective of the emotionally challenged heroine. Stereotypes that were prevalent in the aftermath of the code transition.

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  1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

They were very guarded in the first scene.  Both were clearly enjoying the flirtation that was going on between them, but neither wanted the other to know that they were enjoying it.   In the second scene, he was clearly enjoying watching her performance and he seemed to me to be clearly disturbed by her being on display and her discomfort at being in the position she was in.

  1. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

No I have never seen either of them in anything other than clips of their performances.  That I recall anyway. 

  1. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

They were less obviously showing their attraction to one another.  More formal I guess is what I'm trying to say. 

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I've mostly seen these two in period pieces where the dress was more stately and restricting. It probably went a long way towards conveniently avoiding code issues. In this film, the Saloon singer was portrayed as cheap and tawdry, her dress was probably pushing the code as it was very tight and showed quite a bit of the outline of her breast which I'm surprised was allowed. I noticed it didn't penalize him for being in a Saloon and with "those" kind of girls but she was very obviously lowering herself by being there. Quite the double standard.

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All I ever knew of these two was their famous duet: "When I'm calling You (oooh hoo hoo, oooh hoo hoo)" and was so turned off I avoided all of their cinematic collaborations. These clips were great. They truly exemplified your point about JM and NE being so much more than stiff operatic purveyors. 

Their jousting repartee in the first scene was well written nascent love-making. Incorporating character developing dialogue, believably delivered, into the performance disarmed what might otherwise have played as a forced, absurd serenade. 

In the second clip, the "regular" is JM's comic foil. Her skirt skirts the floor! Her cleavage is masked by ruffles. Her gyrations in this context are more scenic exposition than sexual adventure. Though averse to vulgarity, The Production Code was more concerned with message than manners.  

 

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1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

Clip 1:

  • Light touch of humor/sarcasm
  • Very comfortable with each other
  • It ends with her being “indignant” with his remark

Clip 2:

  • No real “interaction,” just “glancing” at each other
  • He shows interest, caring, concern.
  • She tries to ignore seeing him, she’s embarrassed, then ends indignant, as in the first clip.

 

2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

  • In my opinion, there are the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby of the light, operetta musical—what you see if what you get. And, as with Hope and Crosby, people like watching the two of them together, no matter the story; just fun to watch!

 

3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

  • With all due respect, the Hollywood Film Code, in my opinion, has always been overrated as having been able to wield so much power over the “norms” of the male/female relationship. Before the Code, Shaw wrote Pygmalion; decades before that, Gilbert & Sullivan wrote operettas exhibiting the same male/female relationships as in these clips. And, centuries before that, Shakespeare wrote, and played, the same “norms.”
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I HAVE BEEN TIMID ABOUT NAVIGATING AROUND IN DISCUSSION BOARDS.  PLEASE EXCUSE MY LACK OF EXPERTISE.

Regarding the three questions for Monday's DAILY Dose:

1.  The clip shows brighter than normal life expression because in my opinion in the present day the songs and dialog would have segments where the words and emotions would be more heart wrenching.

2.  The approach or thematic significance of other musicals could be to encourage people to have hope for the future.  Example song : "Hi hopes".

3. As far as what film might be like before the "Motion Picture Production Code", Women, for example, might be a bit more outspoken in regards to their dislike of the significant others womanizing.

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1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

The Nelson Eddy character is trying his best to start a relationship with the Jeanette McDonald character. As in many films of that era, the “proper” lady plays hard to get. Then the hero usually has to rescue her.  I feel that the overacting in the close-ups made the scenes more comical than romantic. I do like the way he changes the lyrics to his song to make her think there are other women his life. Then in the saloon clip when she becomes the fish out of water, he runs to her rescue when she fails. 

2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

I have seen Jeanette McDonald in San Francisco playing the same type of role as this lady who has to come down in society. Gable tricks her into singing in his “joint”. Spencer Tracy helps her out of that bad situation and she becomes an opera singer. By the end of the film they find each after the big earthquake. At the end she leads the people in song. Not conviced that they ever consummate their relationship. Then in Three Daring Daughters she plays the love interest of Jose Iturbi. I never thought of either actor as romantic leads. The acting was stiff from the adult leads. Jane Powell and a young Elinor Donahue made that film palatable. I only have seen films of Nelson Eddy when he played opposite Jeanette. 

3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

I think the relationship of McDonald and Eddy totally fit into the Hollywood Film Code. There didn’t seem to be much sexual tension between the two of them. In many of their scenes her back is to him and they don’t seem to be singing to each other.

I did like the scene in San Francisco when she jazzed up the song San Francisco to help Clark Gable save his nightclub. She is moving a lot like the saloon singer in Rose Marie. Her movements are a little awkward, but she sings a wonderful rendition of San Francisco. According to some historians, Jeanette really wanted to work with Clark. He thought she was too much of a diva and she became underwhelmed with his talents. I think it affected their chemistry on screen.

Check out this radio clip of Jeanette singing San Francisco. At about 1:20 you can hear her getting her jazz on. 

 

 

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DAILY DOSE #2

Not a more congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering than: Courtly Love.

 

1. Scene #1: Courtly, campy, canoe-crooning courting.

Scene #2: Unlike Durbin in Every Sunday, MacDonald endearingly haplessly mimics her swinging partner.

2. I've only seen clips of them singing Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.

3.  Courtly Love Stages:

  • Attraction to the lady, via glances
  • Worship of the lady from afar
  • Declaration of passionate devotion
  • Virtuous rejection by the lady
  • Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty
  • Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of lovesickness)
  • Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady's heart
  • Consummation of the secret love
  • Live happily ever after

From A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman (via Wikipedia).

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I have seen several films of theirs. They are all fairly similar in concept with different characters and settings. Even though they are repetitive I still enjoy them. My favorite for some reason is Naughty Marietta. Perhaps because of the era and the way she surprises him with her singing ability. The concept of the woman always being the one to be “won over” of course is now outdated but with these two it just seems to have worked every time. I had heard somewhere that they did not really get along that well, but they did a great job of not showing it!

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  1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

      Both of these characters are in competition with one another to one up the other. This competition though is playful and romantic rather then malicious. This competition helps to create a sexual tension between them that will later lead to there love and chemistry.  For example, in the first scene Nelson Eddy first wins her over with the song but then purposely lets it slip that he uses this song on other girls by changing out the name. By doing this he first draws her in then makes her jealous in a tactic to win her over later on. Then in the second scene Marie loses her head strong nature and shows her humanity which gains Nelson sympathy. 

  1. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

    I have seen Nelson Eddy before in other films. When I first heard him I found it almost comical the way he was singing because it was so different compared to his acting. Now being aware of the production codes that were being placed this makes sense for him to sing so classical because it stays within the conservative nature the studio was trying to create for themselves.   

  1. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

These clips show that in films the man is always right and the women is wrong which matches the views back then. While this is outdated today, the studios back then wanted to establish that women are inferior and thus while they can be manipulative they are human and can be hurt and need to be saved by a man. Also I find it interesting that the women conflict is almost always present in shows back then and still today.  

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1. In the first scene, Bruce is trying to woo Marie, but without much success.  Bruce starts with some small talk and eventually begins to sing a song declaring his love.  Although Marie is impressed by Bruce's advances, she does not express her feelings.  Instead, Marie responds very demurely by primarily staring straight ahead and only periodically looking back to see Bruce.  In the second scene, Marie tries to avoid contact with Bruce altogether out of embarrassment for being seen performing in a bar.  Even though Bruce is not upset with seeing Marie at the bar, Marie feels that she has tarnished her image as a respectable woman and is not worthy of Bruce's love.

2. I have only seen Jeanette MacDonald in San Francisco.  San Francisco and Earthquake are probably the only two movies with the most terrifying and accurate depictions of what happens during a major earthquake.

3. Relationships depicted in films during this era, were portrayed as very innocent and limited intimacy between the characters to long looks at each other and brief kissing scenes.  In accordance with the film code, women were supposed to be angelic and not show interest in men.  Women who defied the norms of the film code, were portrayed as "loose women" and were often punished at the end of the movies.

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1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

In the first scene it's clear that Marie isn't interested in Bruce, or at least pretends not to be. She seems a little annoyed by his contast questioning and Bruce clearly thinks (or knows) she only dates men of wealthier and more sophisticated status since he keeps asking what her cavalier does for a living. Is he a big banker? A poet? A polo player? No, he's an Italian tenor. It isn't until Bruce starts to sing that she seems to relax. That's when she truly starts to pay attention to him. Once the song comes to an end, it seems like she tries to cover up her interest by going back to playing hard to get. In the second scene, Marie simply doesn't fit in. She isn't used to that sort of a crowd. She doesn't belong there. While Bruce is clearly in his element, he knows everybody and everybody knows him. He's comfortable there. She has stepped into his world Marie doesn't give up right away when she fails to catch the crowd's attention, she keeps trying until she seems to realize she can't do it and is embarrassed that Bruce has seen her. He on the other hand seems even more taken with her in a way, he seems to admire her guts while at the same time feeling sympathy toward her.

2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

I have not seen them in any other films so I cannot share my perceptions of them.

3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code?

First of all there is no physical contact between these two characters in either of the clips. Even the eye contact was kept to a minimum. They're the good, modest, decent lady and the gentleman. It's the typical story of two people that try to avoid one another only to end up together in the end. Despite the struggles of the woman, the man still wants her and despite the man not being a poet or a banker, the woman still falls for him. Then there is the bar floozy that takes over when Marie is singing - it sends a message that a good man goes after a good girl like Marie instead of paying attention to the vulgar woman that lures all the other men to fall for her.

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The interactions between the two characters in the two scenes are not ones that depict reciprocated affection, as in Nelson Eddy is the one who portrays affection and attraction for Jeanette MacDonald, who seems extremely unimpressed by his "Casanova" ways after he serenades her. In the second scene, Eddy's admiration for MacDonald is far less about simply being attracted to a pretty girl, but rather about her being brave and willing to suffer humiliation in order to maintain some kind of economic independence. The fact that he feels upset over the way she is treated by the other patrons is clear, as he firstly looks at her with a pained expression while she tries to imitate the more seasoned female performer, and then leaves rather abruptly, and almost angrily, once she exits the saloon feeling humiliated and silly. 

 

I've seen quite a few of Jeanette MacDonald's performances, and I've always felt that she had a good sense of being able to balance the dramatic and the comedic. In her performance with Clark Gable in "San Francisco", she displays spunkiness and fragility, and that's how I've always thought of her, as being a performer who was able to play both the suffering woman as well as the woman who's tired of suffering, and is able to pull herself out of that situation through humour and charisma. I'm not terribly familiar with Nelson Eddy's work, but I do remember him as having a magnificent voice, as shown in the first scene from "Rose Marie", but perhaps not as adroit as MacDonald in terms of naturalism and humour. 

 

I think the male/female interactions in these films are ones that focus largely on courtship, a courtship which is largely chaste, but suggests some of the more mature elements of human romantic relationships. While there is never any onscreen lovemaking, only rather chaste kissing and touching, there is definitely never a shortage of passion, and the banter between love interests in these films is often the most enjoyable part of the film as it is witty, well timed and always memorable. 

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1.  In both clips, there is a "distance" between MacDonald and Eddy.  While rowing the boat, MacDonald keeps her back to Eddy throughout the scene, despite the fact he is trying to gauge her interest in him.  In the bar scene, Eddy remains seated at the table while MacDonald is singing in front of the rowdy crowd.

2.  I've seen MacDonald in San Francisco with Clark Gable.  According to a TCM article, Gable and MacDonald did not get along during the film.  See article link. http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/288495|0/Behind-the-Camera-San-Francisco.html

3.  As mentioned in the first point, there was a distance between MacDonald and Eddy.  I suppose this distance provided a sense of respectability (considering Eddy and MacDonald were alone in a row boat.)  Even when the two women of questionable virtue were clinging to Eddy in the bar, he seemed to keep his emotional distance from them.  However, when MacDonald was distressed in the bar scene, Eddy seemed to emotionally connect with his eyes (though still physically distant).  Contrast their behavior with the crowd's behavior in response to the blonde who interrupted MacDonald's song.  I guess according to Hollywood Code, those pure of heart like MacDonald connect with the upright and moral gentlemen like Nelson Eddy while the blond in the skin-tight dress only attracts drunken slobs in a bar.

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My parents named me after this musical so it has special personal meaning!

1. The attraction is obvious if you watch their eyes, the tilt of their heads and their facial expressions. There is a feeling that they are both fighting this attraction but can't help but connect anyway. In the scene in the canoe, he cannot see her facial expressions as he sings "Rose Marie." We see her reactions which show interest, amusement and even agreement. Her objections to his singing other names confirms that the song feels right for both of them. In the bar room scene, it is obvious that she is a fish out of water. Her distress and embarrassment is clear in her facial reactions and body language. She can't do this. The close up of our brave Canadian Mounty is one of distress on her behalf. We see subtle shakes of his head and movements of his eyes as if he is feeling her pain. There is a definite connection between them. 

2. In their "Maytime"  I see the elements of falling for someone you never expected to and having other forces intervene that prevents a portion of their lives from being fulfilled for a number of years. Other commitments and priorities conspire against them and yet they know they should be together.  

3. It's clear from their roles that he is the good guy - the Mounty out to get his man. She is a woman who is hiding motives, perhaps a past, and shielding a criminal. He wonders why and who she wants to help. He is conflicted. She doesn't want her brother to be captured and feels conflicted as well. Even though they are attracted to each other, their motives have to keep them apart until these conflicts are resolved. In the production code era moral order has to be maintained. Good has to triumph and all characters must make amends before we can have a happy ending. No different here. She suffers as she should under the production code.

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1.       What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. In the first scene, they’re both facing the right side of the frame most of the time. They’re in a canoe, but their movement is mostly formal. She breaks the formality by calling him out on his love song, which he adapts to the names of different women. In the second, once she sees him with two women hanging on him at a table, she tries to pretend not to see him. She’s embarrassed at his behavior and once she’s “lost” in the performing “contest,” she’s embarrassed at her own and leaves. Their relationship in these scenes is formal, but with courtship on their minds.

2.      If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. Jeanette MacDonald had already shown her comic side in the Lubitsch Paramount musicals of the late ‘20s/early ‘30s and in MGM’s San Francisco (1934) with Gable and Tracy, where her singing style contrasted with that of the rustic locals. Both scenes here represent that sense of fun, in the canoe and especially in trying to ape Gilda Gray’s shimmying.

3.       What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? The first clip clearly shows that the male is the pursuer and the female is the one to be pursued. A man paddling a woman in a canoe was a standard courtship film scenario since the earliest silent days. In this case, Nelson Eddy is in control of the canoe and Jeanette MacDonald is in control of the relationship. Being the Production Code era, there is no overt sexuality, either in language or physically. In the second scene, we get good girl (Jeanette) vs. bad girl (Gilda Gray) in their renditions of Sophie Tucker’s “Some of These Days.” Gilda’s is more fun and apt to the song, but Jeanette’s is more ladylike and the film guides us to respect her more.

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6 hours ago, GeezerNoir said:

In Clip 2, it's hard to believe that the Production Code people allowed Gilda Gray to stand up there in her skin tight dress and shimmy so suggestively.  The only reason I can think of why they would allow her to do that is that someone sold them on the idea that the message is being sent:  "See, this is BAD! This is VERY BAD! To not try this at home (or anywhere)!  Be a good girl like Jeanette MacDonald and you'll get a nice man (like Nelson Eddy) who will take care of you."  Yeah, that must be it.

I like your humor.

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