Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #3 (FROM THE LOVE PARADE)

362 posts in this topic

First, I'd like to make a small observation.  In the scene when the husband struggles with her dress,  it's not a zipper but hooks which take much more dexterity to both hook AND unhook. Zippers don't come into use in women's clothing until the mid to late 1930s.

1. The whole scene suggests an affair and a serial womanizer but we never see a bed or bedroom, nor is there any suggestive double-entendre type of dialogue.  It's all done with props, such as the garter, the husband breaking his way into a locked room, etc.  Maurice Chevalier's character comes from another room and we assume it's a bedroom.  The fact the her dress is incompletely hooked intimates she was getting dressed.   It all points to Chevalier being not just a womanizer but a skilled lover as well.

2. The only part of the scene that has music is when the husband picks up the gun and approaches Count Renard and then shoots him.  The music serves to heighten the suspense and emphasize the shot of the gun. 

3. Love will clearly be a central theme in most musicals, whether it involves star crossed lovers, reluctant lovers, or love lost.   The characters, even those seemingly broke (that comes up in several movies), will be very well-dressed and in beautiful, exotic, wonderfully decorated locales.  The use of sly and witty banter helps us to like even the rogues. 

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When Count Alfred Renard opens the drawer to put the gun away and we see several other guns, we understand this type of scene happens frequently with this character. Many women had pulled the same stunt with an unloaded or fake gun when confronted by a husband. The garter in his hand when trying to defend himself from being sent back to Sylvania is counter to what he is saying. His affairs are plenty and not exaggerated.

The woman's yell when she is off camera as Renard is in the doorway obviously expresses she is upset. We need her to appear and confront him about the garter she found to understand the situation and show why she is jealous as he had just informed the audience.

There is a lot of innuendo, but nothing shown explicitly. Like when Renard buttons the woman's dress when her husband couldn't. It alludes that Renard is good at handling buttons on women's dresses due to his many dalliances. However, we didn't see him undress her or be with any other women. It is a sanitized way to show Renard is a "playboy".

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  1. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

The most compelling element is the use of glances and facial expression to enhance the dialogue. Each character is frozen for just a part of a second allowing audiences to comprehend where the character stands emotionally within the moment. My favorite was when Chevalier zips the dress and she gives him a flash of a smile - breaking her frustration with her husband for just a moment, and further answering the question of why it might be unzipped.

  1. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.

The music added to the "suicide" scene was great and assisted in highly dramatizing the moment. Music ending on the bang of the gun was even more defining.

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

The lush and large apartment, high fashion for all characters and attempted sophisticated mannerisms of the characters all reflect the effort towards providing escapism of the time period.

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Oh the love parade is on
Even against all odds
It'll go on forever
The love parade
Only matinee shows
The love parade

--"The Love Parade" by The Dream Academy

1. Lubitsch adds sooo much glamour and sophistication to his wicked wit. The elegantly dressed characters and the props that suggest something very risque has been going on once the garter is revealed. The French dialogue makes it confusing to anyone who does not speak French, but the tones and body language have no language barrier. Chevalier seems very nonchalant about the whole thing as he breaks the fourth wall briefly...he must be quite the playboy. We expect a duel to occur but the tables are turned when Chevalier has no reaction when the gun is shot point blank at him. We then see the joke's on him when we see there are only blanks in the gun....and get an even bigger surprise when a drawer is opened and there are additional guns inside! But the best part is when he zips up the lady's dress instead of her husband....which probably tells us what kind of a lover her husband is (wink wink)!!

2. The heated dialogue behind the door is not something you would hear in a silent film. We would need title cards to let us know what was going on. We also could not have heard the gun go off either. 

3. This is the beginning of slapstick and screwball comedy in sound films. It also means many more films dealing with well to do people not having to worry about the troubles of the world. It may not sound good to us who are middle and working class, but it offers an escape so we can imagine ourselves living the good life.  

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1. The Lubitsch touch helps to introduce the audience to the character of Alfred and helps to translate the opening scene of the movie.  Even though most of the scene is in French, props such as the garter and the handgun show the audience that the scene is about an affair that has gone wrong.  Another prop in the scene, the drawer filled with small handguns similar to the one the woman uses to shoot herself, show the audience that Alfred has had multiple relationships that have often ended badly.

2. The scene mainly uses the sound of the actors talking until the scene where the woman shoots herself.  The addition of music to the background adds intensity to the response of the woman's husband to seeing his wife on the ground and his decision to shoot Alfred out of revenge.

3. Other Depression era musicals may have characters who are wealthy and get into various scrapes to show the audience that having more money will not necessarily make a person happier.

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16 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  • What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?
  • Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.
  • What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

Did anyone notice the dog on the couch curled up like a ball sound asleep?  Alfred a strong, handsome, confident man.  Walking out of the room fighting with a jealous French woman who hadn't a hair out of place.  The woman who clearly showed signs of a good roll in the hay wanting more until she found the evidence of another woman.  Even after the "shootings"  Alfred clearly had the upper hand of the situation.  The woman's husband couldn't even zip her dress up.  Her husband showed no signs of anger that Alfred zipped her up and did it with ease.  She'd be back if she could.

The sound of the fighting in the room traveling to the main room was a smooth transition and I wanted to know what they were fighting about.  The sounds of the street when Alfred opened the patio door and heard the hub bub on the street.  Why didn't he go out and have one last look?

Jealousy between a boy and a girl is always a good bet.

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1.  I looked up some information on the "Lubitsch touch" to help me understand more of what it is.  My interpretation is that he enjoyed adding sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle.visual "clues" to add humor or nuance to a scene.  I like it when Maurice Chevalier addresses the audience briefly.  It was a clever way to draw the audience into the film.

2.  Though the dialogue is in French, I could tell from the actresses that her husband was.coming.  The pounding on the doors to indicate impatience on the husbands part was good.  The Foley artist may have used a real door for the sound.

3.  Basing my observations of this film.alone, I would expect other depression era films to show the kind of frivolity, and decadence.

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The Lubitsch touch is a complete focus on the little things; props, costumes, sets, dialogues. His goal was to have his audience see what the actor would see. For example; opening the desk to put the lady's pistol into a drawer. Lubitsch uses this approach of focusing on the little things to create a complete characterization of Chevalier's character. He is a womanizer but also wants people to go back to the ones they love. He uses the language of love; French. This proves how he is a womanizer since women are attracted to French speakers. Lubitsch's use of a pop instead of a gunshot can illustrate how the director wanted to emphasize that the shot from the pistol was not real. However, at first hearing it a person could accept that it was real. This adds to how Chevalier's character is not a true womanizer but someone who cares about those he chooses to love. Since this film was created pre Code there is use of women's garters. Post Code there would be no mention or showing of women's undergarments or of a woman needing her dress zipped up. 

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Just a thought.  Does Dr. Ament answer any of these questions that she poses?  I'm so curious to hear her thoughts on this.

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Daily Dose #3 Love Parade 1929

1929 is a long time ago & this is the first "talkie" for Lubitsch (wiki) after he appeared in 30 movies as an actor'it looks like he preferred directing to acting. He did escapist comedies & formed his own production company so it worked out for him. 

For this movie I read on wiki that he built two sets w/off camera orchestra & switched back & forth recording simultaneously for editing purposes ...this technique he invented making this movie. Directors & lighting directors & camera operators have to design their own machines to fit their unique imaginations. they can visualize in their minds eye but the equipment doesn't work so they have to build it. We get the benefit from their talent.

This movie made money for Paramount after the Wall Street Crash (wiki)

It is good to laugh your troubles away if it is possible to do that when the stock market ate all your money & the poor had no money there to begin with & no work to be found. Fantasy or escapism comedy musicals...singing your troubles away... lifestyles of the rich & royals in this case may have eased the pain of reality for a few movie goers. 

Lubitsch  in the movie uses clues of an on-going situation for humor...garter...guns & a zipper that will not zip...two men & one woman...a foreign language says dialogue is not as important as visuals. Probably his former days as a silent film movie actor & watcher. He learned fast what worked & did not work.

I thought she (MacDonald) might really be dead & that is bad...this could be a tragic situation but this is not tat type of movie. The scene in the film clip was ridiculous & made fun by  "Her husband" line  spoken  by Chevalier (Renard)   while looking directly at the camera...we are invited in for a bit of fun this says to the audience...double blinks &  smile & a dress that is better zipped by the younger lover...this says so much w/ just a little...two men & one woman...one man old & the other young ...looks like bored rich royals with too much time on their hands

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The garter, the drawer full of guns, and the ease with which he zips Paulette's dress tell us exactly what kind of rake Alfred is.  Even the ease of his stance when the husband walks up to him with the gun tell us that he has done this many times before.

The sound of the arguing behind the closed doors, then the contrast with Alfred's demeanor as he calmly speaks to us about what Paulette is angry about conveys to us the kind of sophistication we can anticipate from the dialogue in the rest of the movie.

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3 hours ago, Ashley Lynn said:

I haven't watched a Lubitsch picture before, so this was my first encounter, and at first glance the Lubitsch Touch reminded me of modern director Wes Anderson, whom I adore. The subtle and sly glances, the close ups held on small objects, and the lingering hold of an emotion or facial expression to emote a comedic reaction to what potentially could be a very serious situation all are used in Wes Anderson pictures today, which I now see that the Lubitsch Touch is being used in his films. I will have to find and watch more of Lubitsch's work in the future.

The props, dialogue, and staging all assist with progressing the story and character development in this scene. Everything is well thought out and utilized to further the overall story, everything we see has a purpose for being there. Through this careful placement of props, dialogue, and staging, even in this short scene, we are able to infer a great deal about Maurice Chevalier's character and where this story is headed.

Lubitsch made some wonderful films.  The Lubitsch Touch is less apparent in some of the later ones like Ninotchka or The Shop Around the Corner (both of which were made into musicals, by the way), but even in those films it does show up occasionally.  My favorite example of the Lubitsch Touch occurs at the very beginning of Trouble in Paradise.  When the title appears, it says "Trouble in" and a picture of a bed, implying trouble in bed.  Then the word "Paradise" appears.  

 

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Watching the opening scene I got the feeling of watching a melodrama on a vaudeville or show boat stage rather than a movie. You heard them speaking before the door was opened, and then later, the crowd outside talking  about the shooting, as you would hear them off stage in a theatrical production just before the entered "stage right." 

I was a little confused about what she was asking when she accusingly held out the empty box for him to see. Was she asking where the garters had gone? Maybe, but then when she proceeds to display the garters on her own legs, surely she would know about it. In that one instance I saw the French dialogue as a barrier, but for the most part it served to make the audience interact, in a manner of speaking, by having to interpret what they were saying based on their actions, the few words that most people recognize (voila, and s'il vous plait), and Maurice Chevalier bridging the gaps with a few lines spoken in English.

I got more of the "watching a melodrama" feeling when the woman held the gun to her breast, pulled the trigger, and fell to the floor. No blood or destroyed clothing, obviously, but that just added to the sense of watching a cheesy stage melodrama. However, when the husband aims the same gun at Chavalier and he feels around for a wound then shakes his head and shrugs, we realize that the gun was shooting blanks. 

There were quite a few suggestive touches in the scene, starting with the display of the garters and then the zipping of the dress, which was suggestive on two levels. First, she is asking her husband to zip up her dress, which was obviously unzipped outside of his presence. Then when she went to Chavalier to do the honors it seems like she is telling her husband "well, if you can't do it, I know someone else who can." Sort of a dare or warning that he wasn't the only game in town.

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29 minutes ago, ZaZa said:

The Lubitsch touch is a complete focus on the little things; props, costumes, sets, dialogues. His goal was to have his audience see what the actor would see. For example; opening the desk to put the lady's pistol into a drawer. Lubitsch uses this approach of focusing on the little things to create a complete characterization of Chevalier's character. He is a womanizer but also wants people to go back to the ones they love. He uses the language of love; French. This proves how he is a womanizer since women are attracted to French speakers. Lubitsch's use of a pop instead of a gunshot can illustrate how the director wanted to emphasize that the shot from the pistol was not real. However, at first hearing it a person could accept that it was real. This adds to how Chevalier's character is not a true womanizer but someone who cares about those he chooses to love. Since this film was created pre Code there is use of women's garters. Post Code there would be no mention or showing of women's undergarments or of a woman needing her dress zipped up. 

Here is another fun example of The Lubitsch Touch.  "Weeks... months... years...."  

 

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1) Clearly, Alfred is a suave playboy who doesn't take things too seriously.  His broad grin to the lover's husband reveals a character to whom these little scenes of domestic discord are par for the course.  They may sometimes take him on a bumpy ride, but in general, things turn out okay in the end.  He has a roguish charm that allows him to talk his way out of just about anything - like a gentrified Han Solo, perhaps.   ?  He has pat answers to questions or challenges; for example, he tells Paulette that the garter is hers, not really expecting her to believe him - as she lifts her skirt to reveal that her garters are right where she put them.  One has the sense that this is all part of an elaborate game for him.  The settings and the props all present an air of sumptuous wealth and frivolity.  He has an entire drawer filled with effete little revolvers nestled amongst some sort of frilly little bit of foofaraw. 

2) The English dialogue was spare and effective.  There was a preponderance of French dialogue - none of it terribly necessary to the story.  We know what's going on without it through Chevalier's translations directly to his audience and through the acting, the props, and the scene itself.  The idea of an illicit interlude being interrupted by a spouse is certainly not new to us, and wouldn't have been new to audiences of the time, either. 

  • The sound of the revolver going off gave me a bit of a start, and I assume contemporary audiences would have felt the same. 
  • I also thought the use of off screen sound was effective.  We hear the husband trying to get in the door (and see the doorknob shimmying) before he is actually in the room. 

3) Musicals yet to come to audiences of the 30s will feature fun and relatively inconsequential plots set against exotic or luxe and lavish backdrops, all designed to help audiences escape their very real woes. (Cf. Lina Lamont: "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as if our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'.")  That said, this definitely felt pre-Code - not so much in what it showed but in what it suggested more obviously than later films would. 

chevalier grin.JPG

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Alfred is a "Don Juan," isn't he?  Paulette and him arguing, the other garter that appears and the entrance of the husband!  Paulette decides to kill herself and the husband want to rid the world of Alfred, alas...blanks!  The brief scene of the drawer with pistols from other lovers.  And when the ambassador enters and relates that this is the last scandal, we can only imagine the life he has led and will lead.

The use of music before the husband shoots Alfred adds to a buildup; this was clever.  The sounds of crowds or people on the other side of a closed door helps in the tenseness of the scene.  Overall, the use of music, albeit short, was wonderful in setting up the shooting scene.

The helpful and comedic butler...a theme in many films and they're the ones who offer a comic relief or even an "equal" to the main character.  The overly dramatic death of Paulette- love the scene with her eyes and her face says "Oh brother!"  The camera focuses on facial reactions with really helps to understand the dos and don'ts of a character.

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16 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

For the next Daily Dose Forum, recall that you watched The clip from The Love Parade. As you think about the clip curated by Richard Edwards, and you do your close reading of the film text (visual analysis) think about his questions that begin discussion.

Post your responses here.

 

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

  1. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

I loved the drawer with all the little pistols. Evidently, women have pretended to shoot themselves before in Chevalier's house. He continues to hold on to the garter, and puts it behind his back while the official  is telling him he has to return to Silvania because of his escapades.  Interesting use of both French and English, plus a brief shot of what appears to be a Parisian street. The idea of a married woman playing around on a tolerant husband is very European.

  1. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.

Love it when her husband can't figure out how to do up her dress and she flounces over to Maurice and says "S'il vous plais". Then "voila", when Chevalier easily fixes it, followed by her look of scorn at her husband. That clearly shows how much better Chevalier understands women as a lothario.

Although much of the dialog is in French, it is easy to tell the woman is angry, even while unseen behind a bedroom door, from the speed of her words and the tone of voice.

On other thing, that actress looks amazing like a young Shirley McClain, even acts like her.

16 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  1. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

Feckless bachelor playing around with many women. He will find a good woman to settle him down and allow him to become Prime Minister. The woman will have something to do with show biz ambition.

 

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I loved his use of language in this scene; only a few things are translated for us directly, and the rest is left up to interpretation through the action. Lubitsch does rely on troupes at the beginning: the French couple having an affair fighting about another affair, the woman who threatens (and does) shoot herself in the name of love. But then Lubitsch upsets these troupes immediately, with the husband's inability to shoot Alfred. I'm wondering if other films of his were influenced by ethnic troupes, and if so, how he flipped them like he does in this scene.

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  • What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?
    • For someone who hadn't seen or heard of this show, this clip is quite shocking in the sense that it isn't filled with as much of the light hearted and comical aspects we expect in musicals from this era.  However, the close up shots of the props and some of the dialogue add the comedic elements, especially the big drawer filled with many little guns.
  • Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness.
    • Actually, the opening dialogue from behind the door is quite new and effective.  You can tell that the people talking are at a distance and moving closer, as this is reflected in the sound, going from quiet and muffled to clear and loud.  Very effective.
  • What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?
    • Like we learned in the lecture notes, the indulgent and opulent apartment and lives of these people must have been mental vacations for many Americans suffering during the Depression.

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1. I noticed that the scene from Ernst Lubitsch's "The Love Parade" (1929, with Maurice Chevalier) would have an elegant touch; in terms of the set design, characters (Chevalier's Count Renard) and wardrobe.  As with many early full-length feature sound films, the opening moments to "The Love Parade" are almost in the style of a stage play.  This is where Chevalier's stage and vaudeville talents come in to play.  

2. Since sound-on-film technology was still new to the industry around 1929 ("The Love Parade" being a Paramount production), you can mostly hear dialogue between Chevalier and the characters; the arguments between Chevalier's character and his love interest in French, Chevalier explaining to the audience what is going on in English, the blank gunshot coming from the pistol of Chevalier's love interest when was pretending to shoot herself and the orchestral stinger when the actual husband of Chevalier's love interest takes the pistol and tries to shoot blanks at Chevalier's character.

3. I feel that this scene might be reminiscent of the apartment scenes in MGM's "The Broadway Melody" (1929), with that similar "stage play" style of direction. 

 

Not sure if this would apply, I feel that Chevalier breaking the fourth wall might have inspired George Burns to do the same "fourth wall" for his 1950-58 television series with Gracie Allen, "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show;" which may have also inspired segments of the 1982-92 BBC wartime sitcom "Allo, Allo;" where French cafe owner Rene Artois (portrayed by Gorden Kaye) breaks the fourth wall in each opening episode.

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This opening scene from Love Parade reminds me of an opening to a film noir.  This scene would also still play out well as a silent film as you can see the techniques used here to convey their message is definitely reminiscent of the silent film era.  For example the  close up to the actress's face and her shock but no sound really.  Also, closeup to the gun reminds me as well of a shot in a film noir

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13 minutes ago, CHambyClassicFilm said:

 

Not sure if this would apply, I feel that Chevalier breaking the fourth wall might have inspired George Burns to do the same "fourth wall" for his 1950-58 television series with Gracie Allen, "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show;" which may have also inspired segments of the 1982-92 BBC wartime sitcom "Allo, Allo;" where French cafe owner Rene Artois (portrayed by Gorden Kaye) breaks the fourth wall in each opening episode.

Off topic, but my favorite 'fourth wall breaker' is Oliver Hardy.  He and Stan were on screen together before this film was released, so it's possible that Chevalier was borrowing from him. 

ollie 4th wall.jpg

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I really enjoyed the clever use of props here: the garter belt, the zipper, the drawer full of guns with blanks. It just shows how much can be said without dialogue. Yet, it is also so effective when the character directly addresses the audience. This is so much more entertaining than the computer-created aspect of so many of today's movies.

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1) Everything about the way the scene is set-up and directed gives the impression of extravagance. Even the way the Chevalier flippantly plays  the character and provides translation to the viewers, shows his own extravagance as a character, which is only proven at the end of the clip when he is told that he has had one scandal too many. 

2) Allowing us to hear the sounds of the gun and the rattling of the doors adds to the spirit of the scene. It gives a moment of seriousness before allowing us to realize the comedy that goes along with it. 

3) In so many musicals in this era, we have the playboy who is reformed of his ways falling in love with a woman who at first turned off to his lifestyle (Astaire and Rogers films). We also see that type of screw-ball comedy come into play in many musicals in the depression era. The extravagant and larger-than-life way that they are filmed also provide a level of escapism for people suffering during the 1930's. 

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