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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

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I'm not sure if I would call it a battle of the sexes, it was more like women can do anything as well as men. Not a battle but a challenge that ends with a symbol of equality. I love this scene, I've watched it many times and it always makes me smile. It starts out as a dance challenge and ends with them dancing together as one instead of trying to top each other's dance moves. Shaking hands at the end is symbolic of coming together as a team instead of as rivals.

I think this film is more screwball than the other films we watched this week. It takes a giant step deeper into comedy. I also feel the dancing is more stylized and sophisticated mixed with a splash of being hip and trendy.     

In the earlier films, we didn't see a woman tap dancing in an outfit as casual as riding pants. Of course, in the rest of the movie Ginger is wearing fabulous gowns--including the one with all of the hand-sewn feathers on it that unfortunately, kept flying off the dress when they danced. 

I think the reason why we see changes in roles between men and women in this movie is because that was what was happening in the real world. As we get closer to WWII, women played a major role outside of the home, working in factories, being WACCs, etc. The world was changing.            

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I'm not sure there's much of a battle of the sexes exactly, but there is a sense of a challenge. Travers does initiate the dance sequence as he sings and walks around, looking at Tremont each time he comes around,

but she doesn't join in the way he wanted or expected her to. He was looking for her to join as a partner, "I want to dance with you, so come and dance with me." type of thing. Let us dance as a couple, the usual

way a man and a woman dance, the man is the lead and the woman follows. When she decides to join him, she doesn't join in the typical couples dancing way, instead she takes the "I lead, you follow" to the extreme

by copying his every step. So she joins him, but on her terms, the way she wants.

The difference in this clip from the other ones we've looked at, as some have mentioned, is the presentation of them as "equals." They challenge each other, first her challenging him by copying then him challenging

back by doing more difficult steps. She's even "matching" him in what they're wearing, she's in pants and a jacket just like him. This is also an example of the changes in the roles of men and women in the screwball

comedies. We see this in these musicals as opposed to the earlier musicals because it's more likely to be "accepted" in this manner. It's easier to make a point, or challenge something in a comedy because the whole

film is more lighthearted, allowing the audience to let their guard down. In a more serious film, something like this would not be as accepted, take for example the film Some Like It Hot, I'm aware that it's not a musical, but

can you imagine how differently the movie would be viewed if it didn't have that comedic aspect to it? Just the men dressing in drag as a form of hiding is something to laugh at. When pushing issues, comedy is one of

the best ways to go about it.

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What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?

As mentioned, Ginger's outfit is already a "battle", no more flowy feminine dress, but pants and a suit jacket. When Fred is singing to Ginger, her back is to him and her face is neutral, which I believe is a big deal, because even today we have men telling women to smile or men getting mad at women for not "accepting the compliment", Ginger isn't giving Fred anything. When it came to dancing, there were a few moments I noticed where Ginger did a little extra tapping move after Fred and there was that moment when fred kind of swung Ginger through the air, And then Ginger swung Fred, matching his strength. She went beyond just copying Fred Astaire, she added her own flair.

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The dance reminded me of the song "Anything you can do, I can do better"... Fred did his, Ginger matched him back- with flair!  The outfits and dance were matched perfectly,  probably to give the impression of his vs hers... but by then,  I'm sure the audience already knew this pair,  was a match on any dance floor :)

Ginger & Fred seems to be on equal plateaus per se... the woman isn't as objectified and it showed a regular life setting ~wasn't for a "show", just the natural pleasure of dance

I think that the film made light of people with money, during the time when people probably thought money would solve all of the problems, ....it just showed even wealthy people had issues too

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Hello everyone! My name's Ashley, I've been keeping up with the lectures but haven't had time to do a Daily Dose until now! What better way to dive into it than with Fred and Ginger?? I love classic movies as you all do, i've seen many musicals and grew up watching them with my mom and aunties, and I would have to say they are my favorite onscreen pairing. Now with my reflection,

Like many of you have stated, the battle of the sexes is clearly shown through Ginger's dress and the style of this particular dance. There are so many wonderful dances that Fred and Ginger engage in (if you are anything like me, i've sure you've swooned at them many times) where Ginger is in a beautiful gown and Fred is in his top hat and tails and it's pure fantasy escapism. If I was a cartoon, my eyes would have little hearts in the pupils watching these dances every time. However,this one is markedly different because Ginger is wearing pants! In the 1930's no less, and when Katharine Hepburn was scrutinized in her daily life for wearing slacks. How dare a WOMAN literally and figuratively wear the pants and assert herself as an equal?? This is exactly what Ginger's character does in this scene where she is visibly bored with Fred's song and begins to be excited and engaged when they go toe to toe with one another. He sees that he has met his match, and they shake hands at the end. The romantic wooing will come later, the audience is sure of it, but for now they know that their budding relationship is built on a foundation of mutual admiration and respect.

 


 

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Goofy or not - typical musical plot or whatever - "Top Hat" is leaps and bounds over "Born to Dance".  I like Eleanor Powell - she is an amazing tap dancer.  I love Jimmy Stewart - a great actor.  But they don't "sell me" in that endeavor and there is never a doubt that you believe that Fred and Ginger just HAVE to be together!  Love just about everything in this particular clip - including that Ginger can dance and NOT in heels too!!

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I love Fred and Ginger movies.  Top Hat is so entertaining.  There's a very funny scene that makes me laugh every time when her friend is cheering for her (right before "Cheek to Cheek") and Dale is shocked because she thinks is her husband.  Both females in this film are strong independent and sure of themselves.  

In the clip of "Isn't it a Lovely Day" she is not very willing to let him in but then when they are dancing in harmony she likes him.  

There's a little detail I noticed this time that probably makes it different from other movies.  Some scenes end with the beginning of a tune or rhythm that continues on the next scene.  That's a smooth transition that keeps the audience interested.  And the Picolino number with the ribbons reminds me of a number in The Great Ziegfeld.

Is that Lucille Ball? (The florist girl)

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

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 We see the battle played out in many forms: the attire-Ginger is dressed in pants and not a flowing gown; the dance-we see each lead or follow at various points and playfully trying to out do or match the other.

While we see the clothes, characters and scenery to give the audience an escape from reality, this offers the tension of love - we see it's impact on the characters and it's evolution. While still remaining true to the code.

Screwball comedy musical sets the tone for what to expect - at this time women were becoming more independent, free and in control. This was not entirely on their own, if I remember correctly it was during this time that men, due to the depression, were abandoning their families and women were in the workforce and found themselves as the head of household. Also, women had just been granted the right to vote just years before-this also I'm sure had an impact on film portrayals.

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I don't necessarily see the Top Hat scene as a battle of the sexes.  I see it more as a major "getting to know you" flirtation scene. The similarity in costume was as a result of her planning to go riding.  So you could read the scene in more than one way.  After making herself out to be unavailable, she suddenly caves while they are trapped in the bandstand as the result of a downpour.  What better way to flirt with one another than to dance, especially, if the dancers are Fred and Ginger. Comparing the mores of the 1930s to those of the 21st century, makes one mindful of the definite chane in the moral code but also the change in music and the impact on the changes in  current, popular musicals reflecting current lifestyles.  The  beauty, grace and style of the musicals in the 30s will never be revisited. 

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Dale Tremont is portrayed as a strong, feisty and independent young woman who will not be messed with or controlled by men. She avoids flirting with Jerry Travers and shuts off the idea of being emotionally vulnerable. When Travers comes to “rescue” her from being caught in the rain she says “I prefer being in distress”, conveying her need to be in control of the situation. Furthermore, we see Tremont not wanting to mix business with pleasure when she resists Beddini’s advances. She does not want the terms to be dictated to her by a man but instead wants to stand her own ground.

This film shows the woman being strong and independent and capable of making her own decisions. Other films released prior to Top Hat have shown the woman in a more vulnerable position and able be manipulated by men.

When the Production Code was enforced, on-screen relationships needed to be depicted with more dignity and respect. Hence, the change.

 

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1. In the setup for the clip, it's described as he leads, she follows. Yet, that's not always true. Even when she first stands up and they pace around the room, it's Ginger who he seems to be following. So I find that interesting, the way that she is in charge of this situation. And he really does need to work to woo her. 

2. It feels a bit more personal. Many of these films are on such grand or fantastical scale. And while there are moments of that in Top Hat, the scenes like this, which take place not on some backstage (although still on a stage!) but in a intimate space. Circumstances (the rain) drive these two people together. And we're shown an intimate moment where music and dance tell a story of romancing blossoming. 

3. Sometimes restrictions enable creative solutions. With the production code really coming into play as the 30s goes on, the things that used to work (more overt sexual references, non-marital relations, etc.) would not. So there's a shift to prolonging the courtship. And not everything could be about a virginal woman simply being afraid (or contrarily, ready to be wed) to marry. The idea of balancing the male and female leads gave more ways for storytelling, and allowed for more interesting narratives. 

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What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?

I think as it was stated, Ginger was shown as meeting Fred as an equal in the dance routine. She also showed her independence in the scene where Fred was protesting outside her door. She showed no mercy for him because he stood her up. She did however finally gave in and allowed him entry to her apartment. I believe Ginger held her own through out the movie. She resisted when she wanted to and gave in when she wanted.

How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?

This film shows through Fred Astaire's character the meaning of not having money and earning money through gambling instead of working. Ginger Rogers' character was a working girl earning her own money and being independent. The scene where there is the argument over a quarter shows how important money is during a time when earning money is difficult. The previous films this week did not show the Depression era but portrayed a lavish lifestyle that was opposite of the actual times.

What possible reasons might there be for the changes in how the roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s?

Men and women in the screwball comedy musicals portrayed a realistic picture of life during the Depression Era. Women were seen as strong and independent. Women were shown as equal to men.  Women were not submissive and coy as shown in the earlier musicals.

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1) I honestly don't see much of a "battle of the sexes" during this scene. I only really see it when Fred initially starts dancing but it's only for just a sec as Ginger and him fall into sync.

2) I believe Ginger Rodgers is in a more prominent/important role than most women were in during the era. She was a strong, empowered character that Fred had to listen to and follow. 

3) Women were starting to become more independent during the depression era which lead to more empowered women in film; showing how valuable they really were. Not only could they stand on their own but surpass their male costars.

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1. My favorite part every time of this clip is the flip of the jacket done by Ginger (Dale). I love the attitude with the flick and lack of attention to Astaire (Jerry) while she does it. His jacket flick is more casual and less defined. Beyond the clip provided, it is Dale's attitude and willingness to stand up to him that initially draws Jerry to her. And her looks in her bathrobe of course. At the beginning of the clip, she still does not really like him, he just kidnapped her after stalking her after all. And you can see a bit of her showing off and trying to outdo him at the beginning of this dance. There is a bit of "Anything you can do, I can do better" in her actions. She adds extra steps and more gumption to her actions where he is playing it suave; trying to keep up but not trying to outdo her. Somewhere in the middle, the contest becomes enjoyable and they are actually dancing together instead of at war. I do love that they found a way to have her in a pantsuit instead of a dress for this number. It does a lot to level the playing field between the two of them.

2. I feel that Top Hat does a better job of seeing and dancing within the plot helping to move the story along than some of the others this week. In Top Hat the song and dance are not forced to be related to a separate show, audition, or writing a new number. Breaking out into song to express your feelings becomes the norm for musicals in the future, but it is new here. Vaudeville and the Follies had skit after skit of music and dance. Broadway Melody tied almost every song back to the show that was being produced. Here we don't have to leave the plot to enjoy a musical number.

3. I'm not sure how to answer this one exactly. I've skimmed over some other comments already made but I don't feel strong enough toward an answer to put it into my own words.

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What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?  Don't see this as a battle of the sexes, it's a girl letting a boy know that they are equals.  Their relationship took a turn for the better, as the boy now knows the girl is no pushover.  

How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?   The story line, dancing and musical numbers in Top Hat move from utter fantasy to a more realistic view of life as it was being lived.  Still glitzy, but much more in touch with life in the mid-1930s.  It also moves away from the vaudeville and Broadway stage setting of many of the other movies of the same era. 

   What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s?  The depression took a horrible toll on many families.  Many women had to pick up the pieces of a shattered lifestyle and begin to carry the weight of supplementing income.  This provided a window on what women were capable of.  Another point might have been that some of Hollywood's women were tired of roles portraying them as incapable of living life without a dominant man.   

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What struck me in this "battle of the sexes" is how much fun both Astaire and Rogers are having! If it's a competition, then it's certainly a friendly one.

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In this scene, we have to remember that Dale doesn't know Jerry's name, even. It is afterward that they have the mistaken identity confusion. However, we see that as a prelude to the love to come, Dale warms to Jerry. She won't look at him while he is singing, but she will dance with him, almost as friends in a tap-off. There is one small bit where Dale initiates the dance and Jerry just looks at her with his hand on his chin. He's not willing to follow her dance. She has to follow his, and so we see that it is still a man's prerogative to chase. Dale is determined not to be caught, at first, but she does dance in his arms for a few turns. I like the handshake at the end. friends do that and it always bodes well when lovers begin as friends.

First of all, we have a couple dancing, not together like ballroom dancers, but side by side. I've always bristled at the comment that Ginger did everything Fred did but backward and in high heels. Ginger did many of the things in their movies together beside Fred in low heels. In the ballroom scenes where Ginger is backward and in high heels, there is always a portion of the dance that was equal between the two. Also, there is the element of comedy in this routine. Ginger acts in some masculine ways with her arms crossed and hands in pockets that is certainly not the feminine pose. She isn't like Eleanor Powell, in that she's not on the stage dancing. She, they, are in a naturalistic setting and she is wearing jodhpurs. No spangles here.

Dale is an independent woman modeling clothes by Bedini to make money. At one point, she threatens to go back to America and live off the dole if Bedini doesn't behave. I think this is a fantasized depiction of the independence that women had to assume in Depression America. I don't know, but I think women were willing to take jobs for wages that men wouldn't or couldn't because of responsibilities. Families needed money and women had to work if they could find work. I think the female character has to be equal in a screwball comedy if the comedy is to work. Otherwise, she is a foil to the male character and passive. I can never see Ginger Rogers as passive. 

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Even reading only part of the answers, it's intriguing that there is so much discussion on the board about "the Battle of the Sexes." Not all of us see this dance as part of that "Battle," and I have a hunch that we aren't all working with the same definitions of that Battle, either.  There are such strong gender roles here -- he is the aggressor, she is being pursued. Is it an example of her dominance that she starts off by saying No?  I don't really think so. 

Is the Battle about which sex is smarter and more capable? If so, the dance is a nice contest, showing them to be equal, not just at matching what the other offers, but at coming up with new bits to perform, and both enjoying what they're doing. The parallel dress and the ending handshake establishes them as partners, and that's some of what I sense in this new cultural context, as well. Both men and women needed to work in the Depression, and both need to take responsibility for the dancing. A wonderful clip!

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1) I like at the very beginning Ginger seems scared of the storm but isn't about to let Fred "comfort her".  They also hold their own with each other through the dance and even going so far as Ginger taking the lead. 

2) The production value has improved.  So has the chemistry of the two leads.

3) One factor that may have played into this is more women entering the workforce.

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We see Fred Astaire trying to woo  ginger Rogers and at first she is resistant but as the scene progresses she slowly warms to his charm and matches his moves step for step it's almost like they are trying to one up each other and she is saying I can match each one of your steps and they both end up enjoying the competition. Its light-hearted and we enjoy the the competetiness of the two

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I agree that this doesn't really apply as a battle of the sexes, but it does establish Ginger as someone who won't simply let Fred have his own way. She has to agree to participate. In a way, it is the same in The Great Ziegfeld, where Anna Held has to decide she wants to meet Ziegfeld. Simply getting flowers wasn't going to change her mind. In this clip, just because there was a man there to comfort her when in thundered didn't mean that Ginger was going to give in.She had to check him out, as she did in the dance. As for dominance, I think this showed that there wasn't going to be male, or female dominance. They would be friends or not at all.

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1. In the clip, Ginger is dressed for horse riding and appears more masculine in appearance.  When the thunder first claps, she jumps and grabs Fred, but steps away and tries to be stoic.  The next thunderbolt will jar her, but she hopes he hasn’t noticed this as a weakness in her.  The third clap brings no reaction from her. When they dance, it becomes a competition.  When she puts her hands in her pockets imitating Fred, she looks to be comfortable and strong.  And she can do every step that Fred executes, so it a dance of equals.

     In the film, Ginger is a very strong, dominant, and authoritative force in her world.  Her wealth and position allow her to be so, but she would be strong if things were otherwise.  When she believes Fred to be the husband of her friend, she arranges a way to avoid any complications.  She’s very direct in communicating the situation, and though the wife finds it amusing, Ginger still tries to avoid causing hurt.  She will manage her own life.

2.  This film is about relationships not set in a stage show, but still confined to a certain setting – a hotel, in this case.  There is still the screwball mix up over who’s who, and the fact that one of the characters is trying to avoid a sticky situation.  But here, no one is aware of the real situation, unlike Anita Page in “The Broadway Melody”.  Both Ginger and Anita use another man as a focus of their attentions to allow their true love to remain in their proper relationship.  There is more elegance in this film, and certainly more clothing on the female characters. 

3.  Instead of competing with other women on the dance floor, as in backstage films, the female lead competes with the male.  But this is a dance of courtship, not employment.  The butler was smarter than the main characters, as in the previous films, but here he resolves the entire dilemma. In this film, there was no sense of the depression being present.

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I'm not sure I would call this dance a battle of the sexes per se but rather women feeling much more comfortable in their roles of the era. War is looming & women have to be much more self-reliant in all aspects of their lives to be successful.What I did notice is that Rogers was comfortable wearing more masculine clothes & in matching Astaire step for step throughout the number. She was showing him "I can do what you do equally (or even better...in her mind)." Again, during the Depression & into the World War 2 era, women had to become more self sufficient & reliant as the men went off to war. They had to take on jobs in the workplace that was generally done by men. Women already had the right to vote. They wanted more, especially during hard times. They wanted well-paying jobs & a place in society that was out of the kitchen & home & into the workplace, war or no war. Women were evolving from these protected, weak personas into much stronger individuals as the times dictated. They were tough time & then there was war time. Time for women to get out of their weak shell & put on their strong battle clothes.

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What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?

  • I can see the battle of the sexes in this clip even though he takes the lead.  She matches him step for step.  To me, it was like her saying oh yeah I can do that too. Big deal.  She is very unimpressed by his show. Even though he is seeming to lead, she is making him escalate the dance to impress her. So maybe she is the winner.  

How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?

  • The other musicals seem to have a large cast of extras.  This scene is just two people.  It is more personal. They are extraordinary dancers.  It makes me wonder how long they rehearsed together to get that good. 

What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s?

  • I think women had to take on a larger role after World War II.  Many of the men were at war. The women had to take over and run their households.  Many started working outside the home to earn money so their families could eat.  I think the movies realized that women were more than just the vixen and started giving them roles that portrayed that.  

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What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?

As noted in the lecture notes, Rogers is wearing pants (something we have never seen before and rarely afterwards), but she is also mimicking his stance, his walk, and his hands (putting one or both of them in her pockets as he does). Yes, he challenges her, but when he issues the first “challenge,” she actually out-performs his original step, adding additional taps and flourishes. When they finally do come together (i.e., actually touch since in the majority of the dance they maintain a certain distance), they seem to alternate who is actually leading the dance to illustrate they are on equal footing.

How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?

As mentioned in the lecture video, musicals such as Top Hat now feature music that is original and written for the screen as opposed to taking music from other sources. And, because they are using some established composers (here, Cole Porter), the individual songs were often popular outside of the film itself – available to the public as sheet music as well as recordings and being presented on radio programs (either by the original film stars or sung by other artists). Because so many of the songs from these musicals made the top Billboard lists, it helped to promote the film. I don’t know if the composer’s contract with the studio for these compositions would cover these kinds of after-market promotions, but it they did, it could also bring added revenue to the studios.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences created separate categories for Scoring and Song at the 7th annual award ceremony covering 1934 films. In that year, only 3 films were nominated in each category; By 1936, dramas as well as musicals were nominated for Scoring but all six nominated songs were from musicals (which would increase to 10 songs in 1938 and 13 songs in 1939), including “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from Born to Dance.

Also, because the music is original to the film itself, you now have songs that help to advance the plot rather than having a musical number inserted for the sake of inserting music.

A brief mention in the lecture video referred to Georges and Jalna. Ballroom dancers were often inserted into musicals. Veloz and Yolanda, who first began appearing in nightclubs in the early 1930s were extremely popular and imitations are constantly used in musical films. I believe the inclusion of these specialty dancers, even if it doesn’t advance the film’s plot, add to the glamor of the film since patrons would typically have to go to a nightclub or supper club, something that would not be readily available to average filmgoers or Depression audiences.

What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s?

In some of the original musicals after the introduction of sound, filmmakers relied on actors from the stage for their voices because silent films relied primarily on faces and body images. As sound technology progressed, we begin to see more characterization coming from the singing and dancing. James Stewart, who has a nice but certainly not professionally trained voice, can get away with singing the songs because his personality comes through. Because the technology has improved, scenes between men and women become more intimate (rather than playing to the balcony of stage actors) and the audience sees the development of the relationship.

RE: Keeler and Powell:

In the lecture notes, the question was posed to compare the styles of Ruby Keeler (Warner Brothers) and Eleanor Powell (MGM). I’ve always considered Eleanor Powell the female equivalent of Fred Astaire because she made her dancing appear totally effortless, as if you or anyone else walking down the street could suddenly burst into a dance and be as graceful. Keeler, on the other hand, was very heavy-footed (pun intended) and always appeared as if she were counting the musical timing. Years ago, I met Ethan Mordden, author of numerous books on film and Broadway musicals, including The Hollywood Musical (1982) and he mentioned that Keeler’s background was not in tap, but in clog dancing which emphasizes heel first. In clog dancing, the dancer wears wooden-soled shoes and basically stamps the foot on the floor. Powell, on the other hand because of her ballet training, appeared to be much lighter on her feet.

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