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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #4 (FROM TOP HAT)

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Top Hat 

1 the clip shows the Ginger Rodgers show Astair that she is his equal first by the way she is dressed in her riding outfit, pants, shirt, boots, and jacket. She is on equal footing with him . When they dance she tried to one up him I her steps.  eventually we see the same as we see in the movie Deliverance with the banjos, they dance the same dances without touch each other.  In sync but separate.

2 Fred goes dressed in a nice suit in the park and Ginger has a proper riding outfit in large gazebo, typical of the depression movies. In films like My Man Godfrey the depression is a better contrast.

3 in this film and films to follow the battle of the sexes will be portrayed through various ways such as clothing, wealth, position reversal.

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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?

They are both in sync with their dancing and finding common ground.  Gingers Rogers plays a female role that is strong, no nonsense, and independent.  She relates to being as an equal to a man.

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

It is captured through the way of dress, more casual, the scenes are more natural.  

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 era and the war brought women in the forefront.  They wanted to become more involved supporting men and the war effort.  They had to survive while their men were away at war.  It goes back to the escapism through comedy, and relatable characters, and situations. In the earlier musicals, it was a lot about social class, and the expectations of men and women roles, suppression and inequality.  

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I would agree with the others saying I don't really see a battle of the sexes here. Astaire challenges Rogers and she matches him step for step, showing she is equal, but he still leads. Either way, it was really neat to see this clip and to see them dance in a different way than their usual.

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1. Aside from the dancing competition between the two, I didn't really see any other aspects that remind me of the battles of the sexes you might see in the movies that pit Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy against each other.

2. Instead of fanciful, large-scale musical numbers, this one is quite intimate since it is just Fred and Ginger dancing with each other. 

3. I think it could have to do with changing attitudes towards women at the tail end of the Depression into the 1940s. Or perhaps the audience was tired of the same old "woman stuck between two men who are vying for her attention" shtick that had been in earlier movie musicals. Another reason could be due to the Production Code - it would be easier to depict a battle of the sexes and still stick to the Code instead of having a man trying to woo a woman.

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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?
  • Dale (Ginger) is not only matching Jerry (Fred) step for step, she is wearing pants. This in itself puts her on a more equal footing, literally and figuratively. If fact, her heel height is lower than his. Her movements are self assured and they are mirroring each other more than following and leading. I love how they dance as partners without touching until the end of the routine. In an earlier film, when they heard the second thunderclap, she might have jumped into his arms. but not this time.
  • How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?
  • Top Hat is not about the theater or fantasy. It is a screwball comedy where the dancing is part of the plot, not part of the show.
  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? Women started wearing pants in terms of clothing and position in the Depression and in many cases, had to be the breadwinner. Unmarried women could be shown as strong and married women could as well. This progressed through WW2 and ended when the GI's returned home.

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Q1) She was wearing what amounted to a suit so they would appear to be on equal footing.  However, you knew in the end somehow she was either going to end up on equal footing or better, because she held the croft in her hand.  While today people might say, "Oh a little kinky fun with that croft," it really was meant to be part of the scene to somehow give her the upper hand.

Q2) It is very similar in that you know in the end the guy gets his girl and life will be grand, which it often wasn't in the Depression.  Also, you see the opulence again that could help people forget their own troubles.

Q3) I think these changes could be due to the Production Code.  By allowing some of these comedic moments you are displaying the romantic/sexual tension on a different level.  You have to keep it light so everyone can see it.  

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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 don’t see a battle of the sexes in this clip.  In general, most if not all, of Fred and Ginger’s movies were about the battle of the sexes in that they featured strong females and the hapless men who fell in love with them.  The same theme plays out in movies like “It Happened One Night”, “Bringing Up Baby”, “The Awful Truth”, “Front Page”, “Nothing Sacred”, “You Can’t Take It with You” among many others.

2.     How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?  It feels more sophisticated than some of the earlier Depression-era films.  The industry was making strides to more seamlessly incorporate songs to advance the plot as they quickly moved away from the backstage musical.  The Astaire/Rogers movies were all very indicative of this advancement.

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?  There is a huge difference between Pre-Code films and those that came after the Hays Code gained teeth.  There had to be more innuendo and less overt sexuality.  This forced better, more clever script writing and a more delicate balance between male and female roles.

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1. Other aspects of the battle of the sexes are the fact that she doesn’t take the “woman’s part” in keeping up with Astaire, instead Rogers is further asserting that she is his equal by doing exactly as he is doing. Another interesting facet is the fact that they are never touching and act independently of one another; in fact, she outdoes him initially--she doesn’t wait to be invited to dance with him as is often the case in dance routines; rather, she jumps right in and makes steps either doubles or triples as opposed to Astaire’s version.

2. One difference from some of the other Depression era films that we have watched so far this week is the construction of humor/entertainment in the films. In many screwball comedies, the humor is found in the situations and circumstances of the plot. Top Hat, on the other hand, while still most definitely employing the circumstantial humor also has more witty and clever dialogue/banter than previous films have had. 

3. Some possible reasons for the variance in male/female dynamic are 1) maybe variance in production. So many screwball comedies and musicals were being made that perhaps producers were looking for something a bit different and 2) the world of the depression and eventually WWII is dependent upon many women, both married and single, being sent into the workforce out of necessity. The end goal is no longer just finding a man, more or less (as in Broadway Melody), but finding a man as a "working woman"; we even see this some in Born to Dance that all three ladies have jobs of some sort. Perhaps another reason is that of the depression itself--as it gets worse, film becomes more and more of an escape so humor and competition that the audience knows will be resolved eventually becomes pure entertainment.

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As the Great Depression went on into the mid-thirties, women found themselves breaking the mold and working outside of the home to support their families, becoming more independent and self-assured.  I see in this specific dance routine that Ginger is imitating Fred in dance as women in the work force had to imitate the men.  Ginger showed that anything he could do, she could do ... And even sometimes better!

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First of all, let me say that I love Helen Broderick in these movies. Later comediennes like Eve Arden and Lucille Ball must have taken a lesson from her. In answer to the first question, she always played that strong female character who didn’t take any guff from anyone.  

The earlier musicals were mostly about putting on Broadway shows - Broadway Melody, 42nd Street, Gold Diggers. Now they are starting to break away with different storylines.

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After viewing and commenting on the clip, I was able to view Top Hat  in its entirety this afternoon, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

First of all, understanding that this film is early in the pantheon of movie musicals, Top Hat would not cut it for most musical fans today except for the phenomenal dance/song sequences. The story is incredibly shallow, and there is not a lot of character development. While it is true that the song and dance is fairly seamlessly integrated, the product is rather weak. Does that mean I didn't enjoy watching it? Absolutely not! Like the little girl with the curl, when it is good, it is very, very good.

Second, Ginger Rogers was such an amazing comedienne with such a mobile and expressive face. I thoroughly enjoyed her Dale. But I also was pretty taken with Helen Broderick's Madge. She was a stand-out from her first line. In fact, I felt that her character was the most highly developed in the musical. 

Third, I was interested in the number of caricatured characters, specifically Beddini, Bates,  and, to a degree, Horace. Probably the style of the period.

Fourth, and this was really a surprise to me, because I am pretty much steeped in  the more mature musicals of the late 40's, the 50's and the 60's, nobody sings or dances except for Fred and Ginger. The closest to a second story line is the relationship between Horace and Madge, and it is practically non-existent. 

It sounds like I'm carping, but, since, I'm not as familiar with the musicals of the 30's, these were new learnings for me. What did make me laugh at myself was, I sometimes (cruelly) make fun of the Hallmark movies with their formula stories, weak plots, stock characters, continuous misunderstandings, and far-fetched resolutions. Now I begin to wonder if there is a relationship between the style of the movie musicals during the Great Depression and the made-for-TV movies of the Recession of 2007!

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women are starting to take a stand  outside the home. other notable actresses had appeared on screen in trousers as well during this period .Ginger is able to follow Fred's  every step tap to tap without missing a beat. Ginger is going to let him know that any relationship  will be equal.

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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? 

Ginger Rogers can match Fred Astaire step for step, tap for tap in this number. She is his equal not just a trophy dance partner.

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

This musical number serves to advance the plot. It is not just a number inserted with no meaning in relation to the story.

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 role of women was beginning to change in society as well as in the movies. Notice, Ginger wearing riding trousers instead of a female riding habit. Women were beginning to take on more male dominated roles in culture and as we moved toward war, they took on even more.

 

 

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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?  Though it's not completely seen in this clip there is a bit of "Me Tarzan. You Jane." in the male being amused that the female is frightened by the thunder and running into his arms for protection.  Followed by his almost mocking tone, "Are you afraid of thunder? (you silly creature).  "You know what thunder is don't you?"  Her naturally defensive reply is, "Of course".  But then being unable to give a satisfactory explanation the male goes into his "Mr. Know-it-All" routine.  Ginger, for a second is seemingly expecting a genuine scientific answer and she sits down to listen.  But then Fred is less than edifying as he launches into the silly business of a clumsy cloud meeting a fluffy little cloud, who scurries away to escape his advances, but he scuds right up to her and she cries a little ("there you have your shower") eventually they spark ("the lightning) then they kiss ("Thunder).   All the while the actions are played out with Fred billowing towards Ginger and her scooting away as he keeps right on "scudding".  Beyond that the dance is a "battle" with Fred advancing, however Ginger is no longer retreating, as she meets him measure for measure, step by step.  And by the end of the dance, it's a draw, they shake hands as equals, rather than ending with a kiss. 

How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? There is none of the Edwardian sensibility, the courtliness and coquettish interaction exhibited in "The Great Ziegfeld"; or the prim proper approach to love making seen in the Eddy and MacDonald operettas.  Nor is there the sort of cutesy "Aw, shucks" boy-meets-girl playfulness of Jimmy and Eleanor ("Born to Dance) or the backstage innocent flirtation of Dick and Ruby ("42nd Street).  However, there is the air of sophistication and elegance of the Lutitsch picture.  Overall the Astaire and Roger musicals are differentiated by the female being a stronger character and more of an equal than in the other films.  This applies to Helen Broderick's character as well; in "Top Hat" it is implied her husband has been cheating on her, yet she finds it amusing and confronts him in a rather forceful way, instead of crying into her pillow.

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 had gained the right to vote; throughout World War I they kept the home fires burning and became members of the working force.  No longer having to rely on the male as a source of support and income they gained a sense of power and felt no need to retreat behind the powder puff or parasol.  However in some "screwball' comedies the female was still portrayed as a "ditz" or "dizzy blonde" as in "Bringing Up Baby" and "My Man Godfrey".

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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?

From the first note to the last - Ginger and Fred dance as equals. Three is no free flowing feminine submission or balletic moves (like in the other scenes.) Her style and technique is just as good and strong as hers and the costumes assist in furthering the message. I have a mind and will of my own that is not driven by cultural expectations - says Ginger.

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

It is further along is this new technology and everything is much more sophisticated - music, dancing, and singing

 

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Battle of the sexes occurs in her outfit, typical men's sport jacket, pants and hat;

and Fred actually dances backwards in part of the dance (the women's part)

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I think the reason Fred and Ginger's films have aged so well is because of numbers like this one (also "pick yourself up", " let yourself go", and "hard to handle"). When people tell me Ginger wasn't his best partner because she didn't have the best dancing skills (I will concede to Eleanor Powell, praise be) I tell them they are missing the point of Fred and Ginger's movies. I read an interview with Donald O'Connor once where he said that it wasn't Astaire's dancing that set him apart, it was his personality. I have seen most of Fred Astaire's movies and Ginger was the only partner who was able to match him on the level of personality.

Ginger is so easy to like from a modern perspective. She's smart, she's funny, and she doesn't let herself get pushed around or patronized. Right before this number, Fred asks "can I rescue you?", and she responds "no, I prefer being in distress". I love this as a lead in to a challenge number called "Isn't this a lovely day to be caught in the rain?". Ginger basically rejects the patriarchal trope of the night on the white horse (literal horse in this case) and instead issues a challenge to brave the rain together. What I love about Fred Astaire in all of these movies is that he becomes more drawn to her as she proves herself equal to him and capable of taking care of herself (this is essentially the entire plot of Follow the Fleet). 

This scene also has one of my favourite jokes of the Production code era when Ginger says "I don't know you from Adam" and Fred responds "Maybe it's the way I'm dressed". It took a few viewings of this film for me to clue into the innuendo. Some of the cleverest jokes I've ever heard come from code films. I think there is something to be said for creative limitations.

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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?
    - A little in the attitude of Ginger with Fred at first, trying to maintain the "I'm too clever for this" persona between Ginger's character and Fred's character.  
  2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?
    -  This film has way more playful banter between the two stars and the talent is amazing and mesmerizing in Top Hat!  The dancing and wonderful music really makes for a great escape away from the woes of the year.  
  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?
    -  they show women as more of a equal in the story as opposed to being the damsel needing saving or protecting.  

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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 do have to say I never saw this scene as a battle of the sexes. This is one of my favorite Fred and Ginger movies and I've watched is so many times and to me this has been a more boy meets girl, girl plays hard to get and eventually boy and girl get together once the mistaken identity thing was resolved of course. I think I can see why this could be a battle of the sexes because the actress herself Ginger Rogers was a woman ahead of her time and it may have come across in her characters. Ginger has always been a different type of ingenue in that she's not so innocent but smart and nobody's wallflower. That's just how I see it.

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

This musical flows much better than the others because where the other musicals get clumsy when the dialog meets the singing, this one segues the dialog in a way that it looks like it is part of the song. Even the dancing seems to make sense. It's like the musical numbers are their own Character in the movie instead of something that just popped up all of a sudden like you see in the other musicals where they're kind of announcing "Ok here comes the song!"

Not to mention the sound started to not be so tinny and distracting but better equalized and a delight to hear. 

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 the depression changed everything. Before women were living the lives that they were designed for them, Not having to live outside of the sheltered existence of being a wife and mother. The depression I would say grew women up. Because they have had to fight for their survival and the survival of their families, women became stronger and smarter. Even though Hollywood still saw women in that sheltered existence, the woman playing these characters were anything but and it showed in their performances. Although the end result in these love stories is falling in love and eventually getting married, the approach is different. Strong women in strong performances kind of leveled the playing field as opposed to before when the male characters seemed to overpower the women. 

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1. The formula in most of the pictures with Astaire and Rogers has been that he chases and she resists. In this clip we get surprised by Rogers. She does not give in or resist, she initiates herself as an equal and begins to show interest towards Astaire by matching him in a dance of one-upmanship. The fact that they shook hands at the end showed their mutual respect and understanding for one another.

2. One thing that makes it different from the other clips is the wonderful dancing routines and the equality shown between males and females in this particular motion picture. This film was different from other depression era movies simplify because Astaire and Roger pictures had their own elegant style that was very distinguishable from all others.     

3. The reason could be that some of the directors wanted equality between both sexes and tried to take steps in that direction. Another reason may have been that they were tired of doing the same thing and wanted to try something new and original, so that the films would be more entertaining by displaying different concepts of women and men. 

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Such a lovely scene to watch. I actually found it relaxing watching them dance. Fred Astaire always looks like he is floating on air. Aside from matching each other in their dance routine I can't of think of anything else that would indicate a battle of the sexes. I know a few others commented that Rodgers was wearing a very masculine outfit but to me it looked like a typical ladies riding outfit. I actually would have loved to see her wear an actual mens suit but fitted for her figure but they probably put her in that riding outfit because it was the closest to a masculine costume they could think up for her character.

The difference I can see from this film and the others we have seen is this one is less glitzy and the production isn't as over the top as the others. 

The beauty of film is that is often reflects the exact times we are living in. The moving images on the screen are like a piece of life and history at the time. During the Depression women had to become more assertive and learn more survival techniques and in many ways begin to learn to take the lead and match the men in their lives. We see that perfectly in that clip of Astaire and Rodgers in Top Hat (1935).

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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 did notice Ginger Rogers expression changes throughout the dance. In the beginning of the scene her and Fred Astaire are sitting on the bench. Fred's posture isn't the best and Ginger's back is sitting straight up. When they start dancing she does these facial expressions to make her seem like she is boss. Ex. putting her hands in her pocket, straight face, and little things like that. 
    1. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?  This film showed 2 strong people. A female and a male. This film shows the compassion, love, comedy, and fun all in one. Thats what makes it different. Fred and Ginger bring something else to the screen. They bring chemistry the screen.
      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? During the 1930s the audience wanted something funny. They wanted to go to the movies and whether it was Fred or Ginger or Elenor Powell but the audience needed someone new. People needed a new pair so Fred and Ginger made many films together. Then Fred Astaire and Elenor Powell made a film. 

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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 scene would show how the couple come together, thru dance. You see initially, how they would match each other but come to enjoy each others presence. Astaire and Rogers always have good chemistry on film. Even when they dislike each other it is believable.

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

This film was more of a comedic movie that did not focus much on the "big show" but more on the couple in a realistic setting. With movies like Broadway Melody where the show was the focus and the characters were secondary.

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?

This movie would show the changing times, where gender roles are changing. Females are taking charge and not looking for the "Rich Man" to marry. They have to seek jobs and work as hard as men.

 

 

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1. The costumes worn by Fred and Ginger also serve as another salvo in "the battle of the sexes." Ginger is wearing a snappy and sporty riding outfit , complete with jodphurs and riding crop. She seems mush more casual and athletic compared to Fred, who is wearing a standard (and impeccably tailored) suit. They look like they have come from two different worlds! Also,Ginger at times has to assume a more masculine stance (for example, hands in pockets) to compete with Fred.

2. The earlier musicals revolved around a theatrical backdrop. The songs and musical numbers were part of the theatrical production and did not really move the plot along. In "Top Hat," the songs and dance numbers are vital to the plot.

3. I think the audiences were becoming more educated. Instead of just musical spectacles, they were looking for plots and engaging characters (with lots of great singing and dancing!)

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1. I notice that during the dance, Ginger is more involved. She proves she can do just as much as he can do, even though he’s leading the dance. I once heard in a documentary on TOP HAT that one of the oddest things about the dance is that after he twirls her, she twirls him. It showed equality, and was a quite unusual way of demonstrating it back then. 

2. This film distinguishes itself from other depression-era musicals through its setting, characters, and plot. It’s setting is one of the most beautiful fairy-lands ever seen in musicals, although it was actually a Fascist Italy at the time. The characters have unique personalities, particularly your character actors. Erik Rhodes is wonderful as Beddini, Blore was hilarious as the rather stuffy valet Bates, and Horton and Broderick were a marvelously funny couple. The plot is an odd mix though, of stereotypical musical and screwball comedy, which we discussed in yesterdays lecture. If you removed the musical numbers, you would still have a funny and charming film, and with some tweaks, it could’ve been another MY MAN GODFREY or BRINGING UP BABY. Overall I find this film to be very unique up to this point, and Fred and Ginger both shine in their parts.

3. I think there were changes in roles of male and female in these 1930s musicals because women were just starting to establish themselves. We had the vote, so now we wanted and needed the workforce. Men were out of jobs, so the women had to go and make money for themselves. Although we’ve studied other depression-era musicals, the depression hadn’t really reached its height until 1935/1936, which is when people were truly desperate for money.

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