Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

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My feeling is that Maurice Chevalier is playing the same character he has in every one of his films. The sound bite I found the most intriguing was the french doors rattling, obviously indicating an entrance that was not to have been expected. (Think the loud clearing of ones throat when they want to be seen)

Then theme of affairs, and beautiful apartments and clothes show that the producers are providing the escape audiences want. something far beyond there current situations.

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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)?
    • Lubitsch's style is quite prominent in this clip.  The long look at the garter's on her legs, as well as the reference to the one she found in the room, the slow look at his dresser drawer where many other guns can be seen, Alfred's entrance from a different room (aka the bedroom), and the help she requires with her zipper.  All of these aspects show Lubitsch's style of the sexual aspect, but in a slight comedic form.  This style also helps us learn about Alfred's character as a care-free, joking, playboy. 
  • 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.
    • This scene was almost like watching a previously silent film turned talkie.  The scene is very quiet without any normal background noises.  When she moves, you don't hear anything from her pearls hitting each other, the snap on her purse as she opens it, the footsteps as the husband crosses the room to shoot Alfred, or the sliding of the drawer.  The sound of the door shaking/opening, and of the people outside running after the gun shot are quite apparent, however.  The parts that have clear sound are adding to the story (audible lines being spoken), or by making it more suspenseful (gun shots, the husband trying to break in the room, the background music).
  • What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?
    • The Love Parade is still only 2 years into talkies, so it would make sense that many other Depression-era musicals from eh same time have similar approaches of basing it around more of the Silent Film staging, until they grow more accustom to the use of sound.  Also, these are still in Pre-Code times, so there would still be more risqué aspects (such as garters, guns, etc), with some nods thrown to Vaudeville in some of the comedic aspects.

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Regarding the first question, the drawer that was full of guns was very Lubitsch. I also loved the scene when the husband shot Chevalier. There was great comic timing in that scene.

The thing that most struck me about the sound of the film was the off-camera sounds. The clip opened with the sound of arguing behind the door. Likewise, when the husband arrives on the scene, we first hear him through the door. I found that very effective. 

I'm not sure about the theme. It felt different to me that other movies of the era (though this was in '29 and I am more versed in films later in the 30s). It did feel more sexually overt than later depression-era films and it was very melodramatic.  I want to watch the whole film now!

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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)?

It's pretty obvious that Lubitsch had quite a knack for subtle humor and sensual innuendo as well as sharp visual wit. The way he manipulates the flow of the scene with just a few props and limited dialogue is quite impressive considering this was when sound films were just starting. It's quite apparent he got his start in the silent era because the scene mainly plays out like a silent film normally would with the way the actors still use their slightly exaggerated expressions along with somewhat overt movements and actions to match. The use of props in this scene is also executed very brilliantly. From the introduction of the garter to the use of a gun as one of many now safely locked in a drawer, to a subtle implication of martial woes through a women's stuck zipper, all give way to the fact that the main character is a charming yet some what gilded philanderer who's obviously had some experience. And, Lubitsch executes all of this so properly and precisely that it's quite fantastic to watch. 

2. 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 use of the sound is quite limited but effective for the most part. Especially the way the sound of the gun that female character uses in the scene is manipulated to seem somewhat muffled rather than amplified almost as if to  already indicate the possibility that she might be using a pop gun filled with caps rather than a real gun and that her apparent suicide is actually staged. Of course, we find out that this actually is the case and the rest of the scene plays out quite comically.

 

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

I would expect to see more of the somewhat comical and cynical outlook of poking fun at the rich and elite. After all, morale during the Depression was quite low since it was difficult to find work and money was quite scarce. So, by providing the image of opulence and playful extravagance in light comedic fare, the audience was able to escape from the looming drudgery and into their own fantasies.

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1. The touch is very staged. When it is used it is obvious that they are trying to obey a code and be mindful of it. As for the character and the use of props, staging, and dialogue make Alfred appear to be jealous, loving, and chivalrous all in one scene. 

2. The scene is very selective in it's use of sound. It makes for great dramatic effect. The part of the scene where he walks up to the other man with the gun without saying anything and then shooting the gun is a masterpiece of dramatic flaire. This part of the scene gives a more intense feel then just walking up and firing the gun.

3. It has the thrill of overdramatics in an unrealitic manner that would help the viewer be able to escape reality for a while and be able to see themselves as one of the characters. That was a running theme for most movies of this time.

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I find it interesting that the director choose to have the actors actually speak French as opposed to the technique used subsequently in movies of having the characters speak English with accents. Given the timing of this movie - right after the silent era - I wonder if the director's choice was intentional so as to be authentic or is a reflection of the fact that dialogue in movies was not as important as facial expressions and visuals (showing the garter,guns,etc).  Between all the expressions on the actors' faces and prop closeups, the audience can follow this scene without knowing any French.  

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Lubitsch brings many things from his silent film experiences. The setting, exaggerated body language and visual ques all help to assess the character of Alfred. Sound is still in second position compared to the visual language being spoken. The sound is used effectively when a character is off screen to introduce them before they are seen. Still showing a very rosy outlook on life. Even in dire circumstances the happiness and comedy win the day.

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1) From the very beginning you see that the Count is confident and a lady's man - he is not uncomfortable holding a woman's garter, he easily zips up the woman's dress - and adds a 'voila'. Later, when he opens his drawer and puts the gun in you see he's actually adding to his 'collection'  - this isn't the first time he's been in this situation.

2) From the very beginning of the scene sound is used in an interesting way. We're looking at a closed door, but the voices start quietly and get louder as they get closer to the door and after the door is opened. The same thing happens as the husband is trying to get into the room. It gives the viewer (who cannot see where they actually are) a cue as to how close we are to seeing the characters.

When they show the people outside running towards the building you hear the chatter and the feet running.

He even uses silence effectively - after the Count is shot by the husband - as he feels his body checking for a wound - no words, no sounds, just simply the actions. 

3) Once again, despite the Depression, he appears to be living in opulence. As with other movies - I think we're going to see a man who has to 'win' the girl - earn her respect, prove he really loves her. The woman will likely be a 'good girl' - someone who doesn't fool around. 

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The garter belts, gun, and unzipped dress were the props of "The Lubitsch Touch". The dialogue between Alfred and Paulette was intriguing to find out what they were arguing about.  When we seen the items close up, it reminded me of Hitchcock, even though he didn't do musicals. 

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Oh there are so many things I loved about this clip. What a great choice btw. I loved the close ups-they were like little clues and insights to the bigger picture. I loved, loved, loved the breaking of the 4th wall-that right there was setting everything up to be fun and unusual. I also loved the use of both the French and English languages-I had never seen that in a 1920's film before and that was enjoyable to see. Lastly, I loved the comedy element-it was off beat.  Every moment kept me guessing and not once did I feel like I knew what was going to happen next. 

About the use of sounds, I noticed that the bang of the gun was particularly loud. Was that to create the effect of the intensity of what had just happened? I also noticed when he opened the door and heard the sounds of people in a crowd. It gave the impression that people took notice of the drama that ensued in that room and were clamoring to know what exactly happened.

I really enjoyed this clip!

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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 unzipped dress and the garter belt were part of the Lubitsch touch.  Alfred's character is conveyed via his costume, the tux, suggesting money and sophistication.  He knows how to zip his paramour's dress, indicating that he has a great deal of experience in this department.  His vast collection of guns in the drawer shows that the situation has occurred several times before.
  2. 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.  I enjoyed the gunshot sounds that sounded like blanks.  The audience could tell this, whereas the husband could not (perhaps because he was too distraught over the situation with his wife).  I also noted that the beginning dialogue behind closed doors when the scene opens is very distorted.  The ambassador's dialogue toward the end of the scene mentions that this "is the last scandal" in which Alfred would be involved.  This adds to Alfred's character and provides information about Alfred's background (the fact that he is from Sylvania). 
  3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?  It is stage-like, as though you were watching a play.  It is a comedy, and the central theme involves a playboy, or a man not interested in love or marriage, who meets someone he initially dislikes (or she dislikes him), until something that draws them together happens; then they fall in love.

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I enjoyed the fact that Alfred is aware that her death is faked, and now has another gun to add to his collection

The staging and costume certainly show wealth.

The gunshot was surprising, or at least that she shot herself and not him.

I'm expecting more excess and escapism.

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The Lubitsch touch is in the details of the garter, the woman's purse, the gun that is used along with the drawer full of other guns, and the close-ups of Alfred, the woman, and her husband.  Yet, it is the short strokes of sound from the violin as the husband picks up the gun and approaches Alfred that brings a tension that is negated when Alfred is shot, but then he raises his shoulders and tilts his head from side to side and smiles that really show Lubitsch's use of irony.  Then the camera pans to the wife lifted up on her elbows with her head tilted in boredom.  The comedy of the situation extends to when the husband cannot do his manly job of zipping up his wife's dress that Alfred has to step in to finish the task.  It is so suggestive of the reason why the woman took up with Alfred--he has the potential to fulfill her needs--dressing as well as the hint of undressing.  The set shows a sense of Alfred's life is one of leisure--time to spare on rendezvous with lovely damsels.  Maurice Chevalier's portrayal of playboy Alfred Renard looks like an early and younger version of his role in Gigi as Honore Lachaille, the older playboy who can still catch the eyes of young femmes.  That smile of Chevalier says, "Ah, well, on to another romance!"

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1.  The gunshots don't sound very real.  A legitimate gunshot would, I think, be louder and sharper.

2.  The schtick with the garters. It feels like he's playing with the audience.

3.  The rich living life far differently than the regular people, especially where romance is concerned.

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1. The Lubitsch touch is characterized by subtly "sexy" humor and visuals.  In this scene, we see a close-up of a garter, a revolver, and a dress that needs zipping up.  The garter (that most certainly doesn't belong to Alfred's current arm candy) as well as the dress, immediately provide us with the knowledge that Alfred is a philanderer/playboy who doesn't take life or relationships too seriously. The closeup of the revolver gives us the clue that at some point soon, it will be fired and play a critical role in the scene. The effect of having most of the dialogue in French as opposed to English makes the audience have to infer what is going on in the scene based on context clues.

2.  The main thing I noticed about the scene's use of sound was that the majority of the dialogue in the clip was spoken solely in French.  Even though there were no subtitles, the body language, tone of voice, and actions of the characters made it easy to infer what was going on.  I specifically noticed the muffled yelling in French behind the door as Paulette is yelling at Alfred in the opening scene.  This muffled, angry-sounding French sets the tone of the scene well and gives us a good idea of what is going to happen next (someone is in big trouble).

3.  Like most Depression-era musicals, this film provides the audience an escape from the reality of economic crisis by depicting comical scenes.  In this era of films, there is hardly ever any serious conflict, and any arguments are typically depicted as humorous. For a brief moment, the scene appears to be taking a serious tone when Paulette shoots herself with a revolver and her husband subsequently shoots Alfred.  However, the scene takes an immediately comical turn when we come to find out that the gun is fake, and no one is actually hurt.  The fancy costumes and ritzy setting provide the audience an opportunity to dream of wealth while also making fun of the rich and their petty issues depicted in the film.

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One very quick comment:  when Maurice Chevalier comments "the husband", I couldn't help but think of the subtitles so common to silent films to help orient an audience and wondered if Lubitsch used this being influenced by the previous style of filming.

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The Lubitsch touch seems to be very much about subtle suggestion. It's never expressly said (well not in English anyway) that Alfred is an utter philanderer, but his being confronted by his lover, who is a married woman, with a garter who belongs to yet another woman, communicates this very clearly. Also the fact that he can zip up her dress, while the husband fumbles with it, reinforces that he's very experienced with helping women dress and undress. The entire scene plays out very melodramatically, but there is also much humour, and this shows that while Alfred is a lover to many women, he doesn't take it very seriously. And although it seems that his married lover does, even she turns out to be as flippant attitude towards the entire affair by filling her gun with blanks. 

The use of sound is very clever. Firstly we are introduced to the characters purely through the sound of their heated argument. Although their actions convey much of their intentions, it is dialogue that helps the viewer understand what exactly is happening in regards Alfred's lover, by having Chevalier state that she is married. The sound of the gun is, of course, very striking, and convinces the viewer that the situation is serious, even though it transpires that it is mere theatre. Sound also helps enforce that this is quite a scandal, with the sound of the gathered crowd below, which swells and falls into silence just before Alfred is sternly reprimanded by his superior. 

Love affairs, perhaps love affairs that reform the main roguish main character, could be a main theme in other Depression era musicals. Glamorous settings and storylines that involve wealthy, "upper class" characters feature in other Depression era musicals, rather than settings and characters that are experiencing the depression or any kind of economic downturn. 

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The Lubitsch "touch" was exhibited throughout the entire clip...heated dialog in French when the coup;e was together in the bedroom, her dress was not zipped the entire way & when her husband could not zip up the dress, she asked her lover to zip her up (& he did), jealousy of woman towards Chevalier with another garter that was not either of hers, the jealousy of the husband of finding his wife with another man & finally the man's drawer filled with guns & other items from previous lovers. That drawer said it all..he was a philanderer involved in many embarrassing scandals that his government was recalling him back to his country. The sound I found intriguing here was the gin shot. She appears to kill herself when she doesn't move after the fact. He husband goes to shoot Chevalier, the gin goes off & Chevalier is standing there & shows that it was all a fake. They turn toward the wife & find her with her eyes open & starting to sit up. The theme here also brightens up life than what was actually happening during the Great Depression, including Chevalier's extravagant lifestyle while representing his government in another country.

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1. The tongue in cheek humor of the scene was apparent in the cache of guns in the drawer, the bit where Maurice Chevalier is successful in fastening her dress (indicating he didn’t have trouble unfastening it earlier), and the way she was up on her elbow after her “suicide”.

2. The sound was noticeably absent in some spots. It made the sound of the crowd all that more apparent when Maurice Chevalier opened the window.  I wonder if most of the French in the scene was a stumbling block for people going to the movie when it came out. French was a language that was taught to lots of Americans in that day and age so they may have had some idea of what was being said. Regardless, the French adds to the comedy of the scene because you can tell what’s going on even if you can’t understand what’s being said. 

3.  It’s clear that this movie was a form of escape for most modern moviegoing audiences of the day. Practically no one would have lived in that opulence or sexual freedom. So it was fun to watch it on the screen. I think this movie relates to later musicals in that it shows the very rich and unrealistic lifestyles of the characters. 

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I notice that the Lubitsch touch is critical to the scene. The touch gives us a hint of things to come.  I also have noticed that there is French spoken so you have to use some inferencing skills in order to figure out what is going on in the scene.  It allows the viewer to figure out what is going on based on the actions, inflections of the voices, etc.    The theme that one might anticipate is that you have to laugh at times; the scene has a small amount of comedy, and it is probably a hint of other funny parts in the musical.

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I like the wit of this particular scene. The character is definitely in trouble, but doesn't seem to mind. All the props and the placement of the props adds to the comedic drama of the event unfolding. However, it was predictable that the gun was only a prop.

The gunshot did not sound like a gunshot, but a book being slammed on a table. It was very difficult in that era to make sounds that were real. All of the dialogue in French added to the frenetic chaos of the scene-Alfred getting caught, etc. And the French had a reputation at that time of being overly romantic. 

The themes expected would be those that were not close to everyday life at that time. Getting away from the depressing era was what the goal was. 

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Lubitsch touch: The close up of the garter, the picture on the wall above the desk of a woman lying in a suggestive position and scantily clad, the many "Lady Pistols" located in the desk drawer suggesting this scene has happened many times before.

The fact that the scene is primarily in French, a language only the upper echelon were educated to understand, suggests the depravity of the upper class. Amazingly, the way it is staged, we understand every word even though it is not English.

In order to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, there is music added when the husband takes the gun and goes after Chevalier. It crescendos and climaxes as the gun is shot and then there is silence as we watch Chevalier's understated then over stated reaction. There is no other music in the scene which makes it all the more effective. 

When the Ambassador enters, his entire speech is done in monotone. This is in complete contrast to Chevalier's musical and whimsical way of speaking. By having the dialogue delivered in this manner, it signifies that Chevalier is light hearted and fun whereas the Ambassador is a strict rule follower and boring. 

The themes that will be repeated in the movies to come are: cockolded husband, loose moraled upperclass, use of music as technique to emphasize ideas or moods, opulent sets and gorgeous costumes. Also, there was a fascination with Europe- the fashion, language, idea that European meant total sophistication. Many of the movies take place in Europe or on a luxury liner with a European flair. 

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On 6/5/2018 at 10:43 PM, 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)?  "The Touch" could be considered as cheesy by today's standards, however, in 1929, it seems to be the conduit of pulling the scene together.

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 sound of the gun going off, both times, insures the attention of the viewer.  We know she is not dead, but a gun discharging captures everyone's attention.  The simple  "s'il vous plait" of Chevalier's partner emphasizes the gist of the scene. 

What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?  Extravagant sets and clothing, as well as man vs. woman apply to other Depression-era musicals  

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This scene seems very staged and set up to show everything explicitly. It almost feels like you are watching a slide show when you see the blatant still camera shots of the revolver, or the drawer of revolvers, or the garter for example. The director has filmed it in a way to inform the audience about every detail of the story in precise order.

Sound plays a huge part in maintaining the fast pace of the story and building adrenaline.  You hear the pulling and tugging of the door when the husband arrives and the hustling feet and chattering crowd moving hurriedly up the street. It’s over the top and melodramatic.

It is an interesting directorial decision to have the camera focused on the closed doors initially and just hear talking and arguing behind the closed doors.  The doors open and Renard breaks the fourth wall, which suggests that his character may be a socialite and quite confident in relating to others.  This opening is very theatrical – instead of the curtains opening, the doors open!

The presentational techniques we see in this scene were used in many other motion pictures during the 1920s and 1930s.

 

 

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