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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

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I see Fred and Ginger as equals in this dance number, as opposed to the traditional Male leading his partner routine. They seem to approach the dance in a playful, joyful experience, each leading and challenging the other through the steps.

The movements are athletic and graceful, as well as sophisticated. It shows how the movie musical has begun to grow and feel more comfortable with itself. 

 

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To me I really didn't see any other battle of the sexes other than the 'mirrored tap dancing' that the pair did. Astaire tries to plead his case with Rogers and he 'tries' to impress her with his dancing. But Rogers shows him that 'anything you can do I can do better...I can do anything better than you (and in heels going backwards). 

 

This particular film to me is different than the others by its usage of sound in dancing. Sound of dancing in this film is more realistic. In the prior movies the sound of tap was dubbed in post production (and didn't always mirror what was being shown) were as in this film the tap dancing sounds are being recorded right there on set (note they probably did do some post production with sound but you have actual tap sounds coming from the dancers feet). Sound recording in movies during this time has come along way since the early days of movies. Microphones have improved and are able to pick up sounds better and are more believable. 

 

The possible changes in the roles of men and women in screwball musicals from the beginning to the 1930's could be that before the Great Depression everything was happy go lucky and men wooed women and it was bright and cheery but when the Depression hit men and women struggled to be happy. Musicals didn't have such dark undertones towards the end of the 30's (as they did in the beginning), things picked up and the movies became lighter and hopeful.

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NOT MUCH OF BATTLE OF SEXES EXCEPT GINGER SHOW SHE WAS A WOMAN BUT ONE WHO CAN KEEP UP WITH ASTAIRE WOULD COME TO SAME TERM OF THEIR RELATION BUT NOT JUST HIS WAY BUT HERS TOO. SCREWBALL COMEDIES MAKES THE MUSICALS BETTER

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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 there is a transformative idea of "battle of the sexes" in this clip.  For one, the dancing choreography features both dancers equally.  Literally in sync, neither dancer (specifically the male dancer) is put into showier or more complicated dance.  They are literally partners.  Also, while he is singing his lovely song to her, she seems to be more interested in the storm than she is in him, holding her own.
  • How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?
    • Not as shiny and glamorous!  Seems much more relatable.
  • 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?
    • Women's rights and the role of women in society, especially in Hollywood, have changed.  Men are no longer the only leading actors and many women are coming into their own.  Ginger Rogers is a star in her own right, apart from her partner.

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It reflects the importance of women's contributions as not just the pretty faces portrayed in, say, Broadway Melody, but as lead characters who were necessary to the success of the rapidly changing film industry. Their skills and talents also were reflected in the larger society as they entered the workforce during World War 2.

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1.  Two things come to mind with this segment. The first is Rogers reaction with Astaire begins to sing to her about his feelings. That wasn’t the typical reaction from the area of the women. The other was the change in the work the role of women especially in the work place.  Rogers has her own career and is basically an equal to Asterire. 

2. In this film the dance segment was just the 2 of them. In other films it was full theater production with more than the stars. 

3. Shows what was happening in the real world where women left the house to help support the family. They were more than wife’s and mothers. It was a time of redefining roles of women. His Girl Friday comes to mind in showing this change as well. It would continue throughout WWII to not only support the family but the country. 

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1) Ginger is wearing riding clothes....pants...men's clothing and a cane...not the usual flowing gown and heals. Thus indicating she is to be perceived as an equal. She matches each step for step of his and they do not touch until it is required for each to complete the same dance step. They prove they are apt as individuals but can work as a team together on par with the other.

2) It is different from the other musicals of the era for that very fact. The woman doesn't need the man to succeed.

3) Screwball comedies are a game of wits between the two principles. Therefore the women in these films retain their femininity but are intellectual and cunning equals to the men and stand on their own two feet as sparing partners.

 

 

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I love Astaire and Rogers, always have done.  In this clip, I believe the whole concept of women 'needing rescuing' is moving to women being stronger and more independent.  Ginger is not needing Fred to dance, she is dancing for her own delight as well.  Women moving into the work force helped to foster this genre.

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I love the graceful fluidity of the choreography in this scene.

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

One aspect of the battle of the sexes that I detect at the beginning of the scene is Rogers’ reaction to the storm.  Astair compares aspects of the storm to parts of a courting ritual.  And it is assumed to be a man’s role to comfort a woman during a storm.  The lightning is the spark; their kiss, the thunder.  He makes the latter comparison after seeing how Rogers reacts somewhat negatively to that suggestion, showing that she insists on being an equal.  Nonetheless, Rogers appears to be frightened by the thunder, and it is Astair’s job to comfort her—this stereotype being one aspect of the battle of the sexes?  As Astair begins singing, you can see the playful expressions on Rogers’ face.  She smiles to show that she is interested, but she will not simply acquiesce to him.  As was the case with the canoe scene in Rose Marie, the male lead will have to work to win the girl.  However, as the scene and dance progress, Astair and Rogers do become more equal, as she gradually joins him in the dance, matching his moves and challenging him with moves of her own.  At one point, they come close to dancing while embracing and holding hands, merely simulating those motions instead.  However, eventually they do embrace each other, but when they do, they dance as equals without either of them taking and refusing to relinquish the lead, “flinging” each other as they twirl towards the end of the dance.  Their equality also seems to become complete when the lightning strikes a second time.  Rogers is no longer frightened by the thunder and lightning, smiling instead and embracing the energy that the storm brings to the dance number.

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

Compared solely to the other clips and films I have seen this week, this dance number contributes more to developing the story, the characters, and their interactions.  True, Eddy’s song to Rose Marie while she merely sits and reacts does help to reveal the characters’ traits and develop their relationship, but this number from Top Hat seems to develop these aspects more fully.  It seems to more fully develop their relationship, display their equality, and advance the story.  It is a much more elaborate song-and-dance number than in other films we have discussed, perhaps setting the stage for even bigger production numbers in future films.  This is a far cry from the folk songs and spiritual songs from Hallelujah, for example, some of which did advance the plot within the context, but many of which seem to be there for the sake of being there, simply as a reflection of the given era and culture.

3.     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?

One theory—which is mere speculation, considering the double standards of other films from this era—is that this movement might have been a carryover from the women’s movement of the 1920s?  Women sought independence and an equal voice then, along with equality in the work force.  I believe there was also a brief spike in divorces at one point in the 20s as women chose not to live under a man’s thumb?  Perhaps during the era of the Depression, women also wanted to see more equality, especially if they were using films as a means of escaping their real lives.  Why would they want to see submissive women on screen, especially if they perceived themselves to be strong matriarchs in their own homes?  Audience members went to laugh and be entertained, not to be reminded of the bleak times outside in the harsh sunlight.

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1. To this day, I have yet to see a better "battle of the sexes" number than "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun. The dance depicted in this clip is almost like a visual representation of that number; the "yes I can" "no you can't" back-and-forth banter being illustrated in the dance steps between Fred and Ginger.

2. The most distinguishing feature that I can glean from this clip is the fact that Fred and Ginger are, indeed, presented as equals. The man is not down on one knee confessing his undying love while the woman faints into his arms. Instead, the two performers stroll out onto the dance floor (gazebo floor, whatever) and strut their stuff, trying to match what the other is doing. In that instance, they are not man and woman, but two magnificent dancers. They are not trying to court each other, but show each other up in the art of tap. And in the end, they don't share a passionate kiss, but a handshake of good sportsmanship. It's a platonic exchange rarely seen between two people who are almost certainly love interests; rarer still in a time where a guy and a girl on screen at the same time meant kismet.

3. The main goal for any comedy is, of course, to make people laugh. People don't go to screwball comedies to see deep romance and overdramatic, adoration-filled monologues; they come to see people make funny jokes and get hit on the head every so often. To this end, the male/female dynamic was changed to suit the tone. Where a lady might swoon at a man's advances in other pictures, in the screwball comedy she'll bop him in the nose. When a movie calls for hilarity, the characters and their relationships have to be hilarious as well.

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Battle of the sexes evident in Top Hat include, of course, the competition between the pair.  Besides that, we have a female character who is not simpering and waiting for the male to act, but being a strong person in her own right.  We see the push-pull interaction of two confident people who are getting to know one another; they each try out an action and wait to see if it is accepted by the other.  This film also allows Rogers to wear pants, so we can really zero in on her dance steps without being distracted by all that chiffon!

The film differs from earlier Depression era fare in more believable characters and musical scenes that are naturally integrated into the story.

The changing gender roles in society as the country geared up for war forced Hollywood to take note.  Women were leaving their kitchens for the factories and were raising families on their own as men left for the military.  Indeed, women were following them into the military as well.

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From the few comments I read it would seem that a strong number of people argue that this scene doesn't present a battle of the sexes. While I am not ready to agree with that point, the battle is very subtle and miniscule. To me, it appears as mimicry on Rogers' part in the early stages of the dance and progresses to even the slightest of tap additions on Ginger's as they are walking away from the camera. Also, if you look at Roger's eyes they are sizing Astaire's character up for size and the battle is engaged by the fact that he appears to be sizing up not only her beauty but her talent. 

 

I would have to argue that it begins to distinguish itself from other musicals of the period in just the portrayal of Rogers' character in men's dress. I mean, this is same type of wardrobe that caused an uproar in Katherine Hepburn's case and would later be so chic when Diane Keaton participates in the fashion years later in Annie Hall. And while we have seen women play hard to get before in such films, I think the major difference here is that it presents itself as a one-upsmanship (sic?) between the two sexes, not as a situation where the woman needs saving or even needs affection from the male counterpart. The possible reasons for these changes can be attributed to the ever-changing need for women to have credibility and strength inside and outside of the movies. The movie is released 15 years after women are allowed the right to vote and the dynamic continues to shift although the issues is still relevant today. 

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They are dressed the same, they both show that they can match each other, and they are showing that neither one of them is leading.

It’s less about romantic intrigue and more about the characters having fun and enjoying their wealth and time

Women were gaining more economic and political traction and thus the stories were being written about people matching themselves in things other than romance.

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The first thing I noticed is that they dance separately and not touching from the beginning until towards the end when it begins to rain and they go into a ballroom position.  He also dances around her during the middle like a mating dance from nature.  He gives her what she wants gradually, to be seen as a equal in the relationship.  Then they come together as partners in the dance and the relationship.

During the Depression, women were emerging into the workplace as well as being at home.  Times were changing.  I think this theme is in all their movies.

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I don't think that the dance represents a battle of the sexes so much as a demonstration of mutual strength. It's a traditional tap challenge dance where two performers throw out difficult steps and the other dancer tries to match and go one better. It's a dance for equals. It's true, as many have already mentioned, that Astaire takes the lead and that Ginger caves when the thunder rolls. All the same, they are both strong presences and they dance separately most of the time, not in the usual ballroom pairing. Also, Ginger is wearing jodhpurs--so both dancers are wearing the pants in the relationship. Part of the thrill of Astaire and Rogers is that they are equals, so their ultimate romantic dances mean so much more than just traditional role playing. Though our current perspective may see male dominance in their relationship, I think it's revelatory to contrast the spirit of their scenes together with the slimy and cringe-worthy behavior of Randolph Scott towards Harriet Hilliard in Follow the Fleet.              

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1. I do not believe this a battle of the sexes. Both partners are excellent dancers and equally match each other throughout the dance.

2. The film is different from other Depression Era films because Ginger Rogers isn't portrayed as the same as other females during this time. The dances are more natural looking instead of having intense choreography.

3. Woman are starting to find more employment during this time, they are able to stand up for themselves more as well.

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

The first thing that stands out is Ginger’s outfit. She’s not wearing a dress, she’s wearing pants which was highly unusual back then and once Fred starts to dance, she shows him up by proving that she isn’t easily impressed by his skill because she’s a dancer, too. He decides to test her dance abilities by busting a few moves and she challenges him by easily mimicking him. Although it can be viewed in a way that Fred leads the scene and Ginger is simply following, I believe it’s actually the other way around. She leads by challenging him – he wants her and she knows it. Another thing is that the number is equal in terms of showcasing their skills. Fred’s number is in no way more complicated than Ginger’s – anything he can do, she can as well. She doesn’t need to be rescued, she is no damsel in distress.

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

This film is toned down a little in terms of flashy details. There is still wealthy people present with so much money the audiences could only dream about but they’re not throwing it all around as much. The characters are slightly more believable and ‘human’.

3. 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?

It reflects the importance of women. They contributed a lot and was needed in not only the films, but in the real world as well. During WWII the women couldn’t just stay home, they were needed in various fields of work. The struggles during the Depression wasn’t reserved only for the men but women suffered as well and needed an escape – female actresses provided that escape by playing strong women on screen. It gave women a sense of security.

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Another great clip for the Daily Dose!  Fred and Ginger at their best showing off their command of dance and an excellent vehicle for the "battle of the sexes".  Here we see Fred Astaire quite smitten and Ginger measuring him up.  They are equal partners in this dance.  Gender neutral costumes to level the playing field as they demonstrate their skill at the dance and also the nuances of their blossoming relationship.  

The big difference I see in this movie compared to the other depression era movies I've watched thus far is the role of the woman as an equal partner rather than the typical themes of the woman being the shrinking violet or at least having to pretend to be. In this case I would even say she has the upper hand.  I havent seen the whole movie, looking forward to it tonight, so I am basing my comment on this short clip.  Ginger Rogers in the The Golddiggers of 1933 and Broadway Melody also played women who were able to look after themselves.  

The Depression era was such a challenging time for families struggling to survive, put food on the table.  These movies through song and dance attempted to provide an escape and the suggestion that better times were around the corner. Movies did attempt to showcase qualities in both male and female characters that demonstrated perseverence, humor, and ingenuity.

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1. Watching the clip you can see some sort of battle, it reminds me when you see two guys trying to one-up each other. I have always loved watching them dance together, but i have never seen them do something like this and I found it very cool.

2. I did not see the lavish costumes and sets that we saw in the other clips. We saw a simple scene outdoors and it was raining, which is often very gloomy. 

3. I think we see the changes in roles between men and women is showing the change over time. Women did go out and get job, wore "the pants" in the family. It depicted that changes going on in society.

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1) You see the "battle" in the way they interact even before the dance begins. He is giving his very best lines, things that have probably worked for him in the past with other women, but he comes across a woman who won't fall for his line. She on the other hand, will not allow his wiles to get the best of her.

2) Where as so many of the Astaire and Rogers dance numbers have the elaborate sets and costumes, where as this one, is out in an everyday location that could be anywhere and their costumes are simple.

3) Woman were becoming just as big of stars as the men were, so they were be given bigger roles and parts. It also added to the story when both parts were strong.

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"Top Hat" differs from the other film clips we've looked at this week in one fundamental way, the clip does not bump up against the Film Code in a significant way. In the other films we've looked at, the women take on very specific positions - in "Rose Marie," the woman lead falls in love reluctantly or unwittingly; in "The Great Ziegfield," the clip shows a fluffy version of a fight over the female lead; and in "The Love Parade," the woman fake kills herself after she is caught in an extramarital affair. In "Top Hat," in the clip we see, Ginger Rogers is relatively equal to Fred Astaire, in more than just the way she is dressed. This touches on the fact that "Top Hat" is not just a musical but also a screwball comedy. In these comedies, men and women are equally important to the plot and play off one another. They cannot do this effectively if there is too great a disparity. Rogers and Astaire are equal as dance partners but also as characters when they aren't dancing. 

 

 

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1. Astaire is quite reticent when he approaches her at the beginning, as if he knows the usual male social role is being challenged, not only by her clothing and attitude, but perhaps by that riding crop she is holding. :) He treads carefully, not sure how she will react.

2. The rain confines them to the gazebo, forcing them to deal with the situation.  He is a bit uncomfortable, but trapped. Any recognition that women might claim equality to men is pretty rare in films of the era, so this an unusual departure from the norm. And she gets to dance in flats, not in limiting high heels (bet she loved that).

3.The Production Code forced filmmakers to get creative, since any blatant leering by male characters assuming sexual dominance wouldn't make it past the censors. They couldn't sell sex, so they turned to humor. This opened a door for female characters to match the males, joke for joke. Also, the society had changed. The earlier war and ongoing depression had forced women in the country into roles previously denied to them, as need and absent men pushed them to work outside the home and find new independence.

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     Ginger is equal to Fred in this clip.  He may start it out, but she decides to go along and stays with him.  This is not a time of war between the sexes and "Battle of the Sexes" need not imply that, some have taken that too literally, especially as a culture change.  They take turns leading, they are equal partners in this clip.

     In the Depression, men were lost, they were supposed to supply and care for the family and they could not.  So the woman stepped in and got the money needed by getting a job, trying to keep the family fed and together.  The children who could work did, as well, those who couldn't many left, went on the road so as not to burden their families.  The role of women is changing...but not for a reason that they would have wanted, and they would have done anything for things to go back.  (And they did for most after World War II).

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I don't know that's it's the battle of the sexes as much as she is an independent woman who doesn't "need" a man. In a lot of the movies the woman has a problem or situation where she needs help or has an angle. This film she is his equal. We see that in this scene when they choose her costume as pants instead of a dress. She also mocks him at first by copying his moves with the flip of her jacket and putting her hand in her pocket. The rest of the number she isn't necessarily "keeping up" with him, but matching him step by step with her own flare. As always they are delightful to watch. My 10 year old daughter joined me today in watching this clip and was enthralled with it. She also wanted to find Born to Dance so we could watch all of it. I think Dad might have to get us TCM on cable so we can watch more! :) 

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I think I enjoyed watching this dance scene more than some others b cause you actually get to watch GR dance!  She's usually hidden under long flowing gowns.  Her movements, in matching FA are less feminine, showing her equal abity.  I'm guess he agreed T the end because he offered his hand.  Women were becoming ng a bit more outspoken, less likely to sit at home and do the man's bidding and, of course, this will increase as WW II comes on.  So many of the earlier musicals were or included lavish stage productions where the women were of the "chorus girl" type, dependent on men, looking for love and often helpless.  There's more room for the comedic aspect when the woman has some "gumption".

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