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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

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Top Hat was different for many reasons, I actually think it's one of those movies that makes a "turning point" in the genre and for the decade (1929-1939). While the sets are lavish and reminiscent of previous musicals, Top Hat adds a definitive degree of panache and class. You can tell that Rogers is no shrinking violet to Astaire, which when you put things into perspective (women winning the right to vote in 1919, so their daughters have grown up with mom having "equal rights") is a sharp contrast to previous musicals (and even many future ones!)

Top Hat was one of my first musicals I saw, and it impressed me then and puts a girlish smile on my face now! Also, there was a strong resemblance to Fred Astaire and my father...so that makes it even more special!

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1.  Regarding this scene, for me, the fact that both of them are dressed in pants and a coat indicates that the audience needs to see them as equals, which may have been difficult for men in the 1930s.  The film revolves around Dale Tremont’s mistake that she believes Jerry Travers, Broadway show dancer, is actually Horace Hardwick, the producer of Mr Travers’ Broadway shows.  Her dismay is compounded by two things: she believes she can easily fall in love with Jerry Travers who she thinks is Horace, secondly, she can’t understand why Horace’s wife is so unperturbed by her husband not just flirting but proposing marriage to her.  In that respect she’s functioning under the impression that he and his wife are a more modern couple than is normal for that era which puts her in a battle with her own sex—ie: the wife’s liberal views towards marriage versus her own. (Again, we know she has the characters mixed up, but she doesn’t.)

2.  This may be a screwball/romantic comedy but there is still a huge difference between an Astaire/Rodgers film vs everyone else’s movies of that era.  There is romance, but there isn’t any kissing, any typical displays of affect between Ginger and Fred.  As Katherine Hepburn said, “Astaire gives Rogers class and Rogers gives Astaire sex.”  Astaire didn’t want to kiss Rogers on screen because he felt that the dance routines were the intimacy, the kiss, the ultimate form of making love and I think he was correct.  It has always seemed to me that those who felt the lack of a kiss, a romantic kiss, also fail to understand the metaphor behind these dance routines. 

3.  One of the big reasons for the change in roles between the women and the men is the depression. During the depression everyone who could work did work (or tried to find some kind of work).  The Depression was the great equalizer in that it didn’t care what sex you were, you were struggling and both men and women were looking for ways to make money to bring into their home.  That changes people’s perceptions going into the movie, so the movies had to begin looking at different ways to portray people as well as the battle of the sexes.  And sometimes, despite  our inability to see things through the window of the era, it is still there.  We may not always be able to see the differences between men and women in an era 83 years ago, but it is there.  And the more we learn, the better we can see it.

 

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Daily Dose #4  Top Hat 1935

I like their matching attire...I have not watched the movie so I don't know why she is wearing a riding habit...guess she had been riding

I agree with a few comments on here that Astire/Travers is making an attempt to control this scene situation completely ...they dance tightly together & he holds her for this tight effect so they will move as one..I'm no expert on dance moves ? he is attempting to persuade her & we all know Rodges/Tremont will decide how this situation ends...to me this is absolutely the battle of the sexes...he makes an attempt to persuade her & she will set the agenda & decide... like courting birds...all this to song & dance

The rain comes & goes & that looks nice & I guess this is why they are under a roof yet still outdoors...this makes it look spontaneous ..all of a sudden these dancers start dancing & the singers start singing...guess that is suspension of disbelief although a good way to proceed through life...I'm sure singing & dancing would help get people through times during the depression era & how about now too?  I say yes; playing a violin or piano or harmonica can help save the day for someone...it is better to sing & dance than to die

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Astaire and Rogers at their best,  so can't wait to see the rest of this musical.  I would say that she pretty much knocked that door down between the equality of men and women in this time period.  She matched him move for move without blinking an eye.

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I love the aspect of the screwball comedy coming into play in the movie musical.  It is part of an evolution in the psyche during the Depression.  First there was the overlap of the films already done before the crash; then, there was the the escapist fantasy; and now, we see films that are here to make us laugh and also think. Here the laughter comes into play to make us remember that we are celebrating and finding something special even in the dark times. 

The 1930s does see a rise of patriotism and love of country to counter the expansion of the Communist thought; yet, it is also a celebration that the New Deal is providing opportunities for others. It is interesting that the Code era films from Hollywood are in contrast to several things happening on the stage.  The idea of shows in NYC like Porgy and BessAmericana (a revue); and The Cradle Will Rock are very different than the glitz of the movie musicals.  The idea that all of these films and stage shows come along at the same time is utterly fascinating. 

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1. I do not see it as a "Battle of the Sexes". Each dancer is talented. I don't think they are in competition with one another.

2. Roger's character is the first I have seen this week who wasn't in need of "rescuing." She is a strong person on her own and doesn't need a man to complete of "save" her.

3. Roles for women in America were changing at this time. They had to enter the workforce in order to help support their families.  

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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?

     I see Ginger’s character playing hard to get but also she’s proving to Fred’s character that she can keep up with his dancing as easily as any male dancer. I watched this film last night and this scene really does set the tone for the theme of the film and several of the other films they did together in the future.

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

     TOP HAT is even more sophisticated in comparison to BROADWAY MELODY, ROSALIE or THE LOVE PARADE, mainly because of its production values (better cinematography, bigger, more glamorous sets and beautiful costumes). I think a great deal of this is because RKO realized that Fred and Ginger had what it took to make it big at the box office and so this I believe encouraged RKO to go all out and make this film a big budget production with almost nothing held back, if anything at all.

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?

     I think because women infilm wanted to be depicted as equal with men and could easily prove themselves as such with their determination, independent spirit and their tough personalities. This type of depiction only helped women both in later years as well as in reality with their staunch determination to show men that they could be just as strong and successful as they were. Future examples include Doris Day opposite Rock Hudson in PILLOW TALK, Deborah Kerr opposite Yul Brynner in THE KING & I and Audrey Hepburn opposite Rex Harrison in MY FAIR LADY.

 

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  1. Most middle and upper class women didn't wear pants so the fact that she had pants, jacket, and a more masculine hat in the clip seemed to be challenging the gender mores of the day. She was also there with him alone. I didn't think that many middle or upper class women were allowed to be unescorted if they were single. At times she seemed to challenge him in the dance moves but I could be wrong about that.
  2. It makes fun of the middle and upper classes which other films we looked at this week did not seem to do. It made being wealthy look frivolous. Making the man-servant the more intelligent and key could have made working and lower middle class people feel like they were of value because they worked hard even though they had no real money to compare to the wealthy.
  3. The first wave of the women's movement was in full force. The right to vote for women was new and women were finding their voices. 

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Ginger at the beginning of the scene tries not to show her fear of thunder, when in earlier films the woman would have been in his harms quickly,or expressing her fear and need of the man to make her feel protected. Ginger's clothes are still upper class but not all the glitz and glamour.  I think the battle of the sexes is stemming from the battle raging from women and their suffrage movement,long hard fight to get the right to vote and now a little over ten years into that victory they are gaining more and more rights and getting more vocal, this is going to play into film making too.

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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?

As it begins, she walks away from him, trying to show him that she's not impressed with his singing and is attempting to resist him or convince him that she's not interested. Had it not been raining, maybe she'd have walked away entirely. The dance battle is brilliant. I don't see it as her following him or him in control. I see it as her rising to meet the challenge of his steps. She shows she's just as good as he is by duplicating the steps perfectly. It actually reminds me of the barn dance scene from Summer Stock where Gene Kelly and Judy Garland essentially do the same thing, except Fred and Ginger do most of the steps together instead of one after the other. She shows him how strong of a dancer she is also. Ginger's attitude when she gets up to follow him also seems like she's mimicking and almost making fun of him. She has this look on her face. 

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

I feel like Ginger's character is stronger in a way. She's more independent and this dance shows her as an equal. She also doesn't need a man to take care of her. She has an established job.

  1. 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 that because of the Depression, women were now starting to work a bit more and needed to help build security for their families. Ginger is definitely her own woman. The worries in society were overwhelming at the time and people saw musicals as an escape. The fact that Ginger's character is secure and doesn't need to worry about those problems is something that people would have been able to escape into.

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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?

In this clip, we see a physical interpretation of the battle of the sexes as they are essentially engaging in a dance battle while waiting out the storm. Jerry was perhaps hoping he could use the weather to his best advantage, trapped alone with Dale in quite a romantic setting; however, Dale uses this time to remind him that she isn't wooed easily, and would in fact much prefer to be seen as an equal partner than a romantic conquest - the hand shake at the end is a great example of this. Throughout the film, we see the battle play out through song and dance, with Jerry's attempts to traditionally romance Dale being met with her reluctant, and somewhat feisty, rebuttal. As an audience, it is interesting to note that we only feel moments of true connection between the two when they have engaged as equals and both have had their say in the situation at hand. Anything he can do, she can do, and she lets him know that. This battle going on only adds to their individual likeability as characters, and our desire to see them end up together in the end.

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

I think the most notable differences between this film and other Depression Era musicals are its truly comedic and somewhat more relatable focus, its depiction of the male/female relationship, and its usage of song and dance to help tell the story rather than to showcase a tune. This film is not so heavily oriented around traditional or formal romantic courtship rules as depicted in other musicals we have seen, rather opting to focus on having the two leads interact with one another more as friendly rivals than anything else. It mixes musical with screwball comedy in order to poke some fun at what has come before, and to introduce the audience to a new way of depicting couples and stories on screen. This almost makes the characters seem more relatable and believable. There are still big, fancy, elegant, elaborate sets and costumes but the people seem to us more every-day, modern type of folk. 

The way in which song and dance is incorporated into Top Hat also distinguishes it from other musicals we have seen in this era. There are still some numbers, such as the title number, which have us looking onward as we might if we were watching the show on Broadway or in a theatre, but for the most part the tunes are always appropriate to the situation the characters find themselves in. Rather than having a showtune inserted for mere entertainment's sake, the characters break into song when they are feeling a particular way, and use dance to physically express themselves in the moment. In this way, we see song and dance as more interwoven with the personal stories of the players involved. 

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?

During the Depression and leading into the Second World War, roles were changing and both men and women found themselves having to break from what they would have known in order to get by. Studios had to take it upon themselves to capitalise on the sentiments of the time, and this would have involved catering to how women in particular were starting to view themselves and their changing place within society in general. To have big stars like Ginger Rogers dancing in pants would have been a welcome change, but we get to see her in beautiful, elegant dresses too, and that still allows us to have this fantasy and escape. So as to keep with this escapism and to allow audiences the satisfaction of seeing romances unfold, the playfulness and wordplay between couples hasn't gone away, and the guy still gets the girl, albeit in perhaps a different way than before. With a little more personality and flair and with the ability to see feistiness, intelligence, and confidence as romantic and endearing qualities too.

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1. Ginger Rogers is copying Fred Astaire and is just as active as he is in the dance routine. She also isn't letting him lead or take charge she challenges him by either copying whatever move he makes or by making her own move. They are both equal. 

2. This film is different in many ways. One thing is that this is a screwball comedy mixed into a musical.But the main reason could be that this film does not show the characters to be extremely glamorous or wealthy. Even though they do show wealth and glamour in the film it is not the main focus. The characters can be both glamorous and unglamorous. Ginger Rogers can dance and woo the audience in both a dress and a pair of pants. 

3. There are changes in the roles of men and women in screwball comedies because the men and women were now working together in a team. They are a team and the two of them are the main attraction. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers worked as a team. And both of their characters are important to the films plot and success. 

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In this movie you see the man and the woman more or less dancing in competition with one another. What ever Astaire does Rogers does in reverse. It seems that they are trying to show each other that they can do anything that the other one can do.

It has a more separation of the female and the male. They don't have a lot of touching in the clip. It is more like they are completing with one another rather than being lovers.

I think that the Code had a lot to do with the change that films were made. There was more formal wear in the film and there wasn't much skin being shown as in earlier films.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ruby Keeler seems less graceful than Eleanor Powell, Keeler is rather clunky and heavy-footed compared to Powell. Every movement of Keeler, arms, body, legs, feet is rather lumbering in comparison to Powell who is smooth and elegant.  Powell is also more balletic, moving smoothly across the floor gracefully swinging her arms and legs.  On the other hand, Keeler is cute  and smiles in a friendly, happy manner; whereas Powell fixes a smile and does not change expression throughout her dance, she could be an elegant robot for all the personality she projects.

The story and production of Top Hat are a more intimate, less stagey than the plot and production of earlier musicals. The presence of Astaire automatically produces a more elegant, breezy and fun loving atmosphere. Rogers is more assertive and self assured and she expects to be treated as an equal.

 

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Ginger can certainly lead the dance and "one up" Fred from time to time. She and women in general are comfortable in their own skin. An emerging independence is present for sure as starting in these types of musicals. The code is evident here in that the flirtations are done in dance. It is also pure escape for those burdened by the effects of the depression.

 

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1.  In this scene, you can see aspects of the battle of the sexes in the similar way that the two characters are dressed.  They are on equal footing with their attire.  It is in the back and forth competitive dance moves that it really shows.

2. Ginger Rogers' character is a much stronger woman than we have seen in some of the previous clips.  This is seen in her dress and how she goes head-to-head with Fred Astaire's character.

3. Culturally during this time period, the woman's movement had taken a backseat once the Depression happened.  Women's priorities were on their family during this time, and many places would not hire women because they did not want to take jobs from men, who were the main breadwinners.  But women were still looking to follow strong women, and First Wave Feminism was not that far back in the past.  Eleanor Roosevelt, a very strong woman, was in the White House, and even in the midst of the Depression, I think women did not want to lose the strides that they had already gained.  Also, once again, in these Depression-era musicals, the focus was taken off the dire times that most people were facing.  It was a place to escape, and what a nicer escape it is when everyone is treated like an equal.

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I see there costumes are more everyday apparel and would be easy for the movie goers to copy. The early costumes are not someone one would wear out to market. They are repetitious ( every one looks the same) and some look uncomfortable even embarrassing, but in top hat Ginger and Fred look comfortable just situations are absurd and funny.

 

 

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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?

This clip is the dance equivalent of Anything You Can Do from Annie, Get Your Gun except that Jerry has spent some time and effort (singing) in order to spark some kind of positive response from Dale. While I'll be watching the rest of the movie tonight (cannot believe I have never seen it before!), in this clip, Dale appears to be in control of her own life. The startled response to the thunder at first seems to be a little out-of-character; is she using her "feminine wiles" to keep him going? Toward the end of the clip, the thunder doesn't seem to bother her any more than it does him. When Jerry dances a challenge, Dale is up to it and sometimes adds a twist of her own, such as extra taps or mirroring (surely it is more difficult mirror!). Jerry's recognition of her ability and her acknowledgement of his recognition in the final handshake indicates that they have reached an understanding. 

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?

During the 20s, women would have achieved a level of freedom that they had not previously experienced. In the U.S., women gained the right to vote in 1920, more women were attaining higher education that in the 19th century, and during the Depression, women were more likely to work outside the home to help support their families. As a result, it became more acceptable for women to have their own opinions and be more independent. A woman could be charming but also witty, and, while screwball comedies may be romances without sex, the wit could often add the necessary spice to a comedy.

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I have this film in queue to watch, so I am only going by the clip.

1. The Battle of tge Sexes is played out by their dancing in the clip. At one point, Ginger does a shuffle when Fred wasn't paying attention, he looked at her and kind of shrugged it off. Then they went back to their dancing banter. So, she did a one-up and he let her. 

2. This film os different in that they appear to be equals,  and he never made any suggestive gestures or comments like I saw in 42nd Street (especially by Guy Kibbe's character). 

3. The changes in men's and women's roles, in part, was due to the war. The men were going off to fight and the women were becoming the Heads of Households, Rosie the Riveters and holding down the fort. They were taking on the male roles at home. Also, the Right To Vote for women was in the fairly near past too. For the first time in America, women were gaining a more equal footing. 

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It is important that Ginger Rogers is wearing an English riding habit.  Class is certainly overt.  The sexual symbolism is overt.  This gal does not ride side-saddle.  Like a knight, she is in command of a 1000 pound horse.  I remember once my mother got advice from the police about how to handle vicious dogs on her walk when she was a senior.  "Carry a quirt," they said.  A quirt is a steel rod covered in leather with a few loops of leather at the tip to whip the horse's flank to speed up the pace. You can crack a skull with it rather easily. She matches Fred's "pacing."  It is a dance of coordinated pace, like a fine trotter.  If you can command the pace, you win the race with grace.  But make no mistake about it, this is an archetypal goddess, a "virgin" goddess, like Athena, independent of man.  She needs no man to defend her.  She is a warrior goddess.

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8 hours ago, Heather Redfern said:

Unlike other films, the woman is not a “damsel in distress”. She wears pants, can keep up with the dancing of the male counterpart and isn’t falling for his romance cliches (caught in the rain, he will keep her dry, etc). When he is “wooing” her, her facial expressions imply that she is bored with his act. 

 

During the Great Dpression, women needed to find ways to support themselves and their families- they were becoming more independent than before. Ginger Rogers’ character demonstrates this societal shift. 

This reminds me of when Katharine Hepburn wore pants and was considered shocking.

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One of my favorite Fred/Ginger dance routines! As far as battle of the sexes are concerned, I see this clip as more of an 'anything you can do, I can do too' rather than an 'anything you can do, I can do better'. There is a definite sense of a different type of wooing going on in this dance number. Traditional techniques aren't going to work here to get the girl, she wants to be treated as an equal and Astaire has to come to that realization to get his girl. In this same manner this particular film distinguishes itself from the other Depression Era musicals we have watched thus far, because previously we saw the man in some degree of or almost complete control, but in this picture we see a strong, independent female character who has her own mind and will not let a man, even one she may be interested in, take complete control. A possible reason for this role reversal is in relation to the current events of the times, women were taking on a more active role outside of the home and taking on new challenges, and thus wanting to be treated in a more equal manner. Ginger's performance in this clip shows just that type of modern woman.

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

The sets aren't as opulent in this clip (Top Hat) as in some of the other films. Also, with Ginger Rogers in pants, we lose some of that grandeur and "upper crust-ness" that we see in other films.

I wanted to address the Ruby Keeler/Eleanor Powell clips. I think Eleanor Powell has it all over Ruby Keeler. As a woman, I see women's thighs in two ways "Thunder Thighs" or "Pencil Legs" and Ruby is a Pencil Leg. Her thighs aren't as powerful. In fact, she seems much smaller physically than Eleanor Powell. I like Eleanor Powell's control and power, but I also noticed that she favored the left leg over the right for many of her moves. Whether this was due to injury or training, I don't know. I know I can tell the difference in training between the women.

 

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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?  I see that she tries to do things better than him.  He whistles she whistles, he dances she tries to do better.
  2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? The music here tells the story while in previous musicals it was part of the scenery.
  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?  I think women are growing into their own.  They have a future not just a husband.  

 

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1.  The only indication of the "battle of the sexes" which I see is that Fred Astaire initiates each move the Ginger Rogers follows.  She gave as good as she got and it seems as though by the end of the number they were equal partners.

2.This film distinguishes itself from other musicals at the time by showing Ginger Rogers in what at first glance look like mens clothes.  The quality of the filming and the sound is better than movies of the same age.

3.  The screwball comedies of this era showing changes in the sexes is reflecting the change in the workforce where women had to work as well.  

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