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MotherofZeus

Club Sizes and Apartment Sizes in Astaire/Rodgers Films

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So "Shall We Dance" is on now to be followed by "Swing Time" (my personal favorite of their pairings).  Our wonderful instructor keeps alluding to the outsized size of the clubs and apartments, and she isn't kidding.  I think this is an essential element of the musical....space. Sets are spectacular and impossible in reality for these films.  I adore it all, and I wonder what folks make of the device of impossible spaces in musicals. This goes beyond Astaire and Rodgers straight through to the musical dream sequences in The Big Lebowski.  Is it because it's all just a little to fantastic?  What say you all?

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MoZ-- Just finished watching the lecture and those brief remarks got my attention as well, but for a different reason.

I wanted to challenge the assertion that the spaces were unbelievably large and opulent. Setting aside the escapism aspect (and your point, the correlation between the activity and the space needed in which to perform it). Large interior spaces have always been associated with wealth. (McMansions are today's version.) While to someone living on a farm or small city apartment or shotgun house on the edge of town may not have that space, the landed gentry, penthouse owner, and "richest guy in town" probably did. 

That said-- the barn space in White Christmas always struck me as impossible. Until I saw the size of the barns where they keep the cotton picking equipment in the Delta! 🙂  

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Marica said:

MoZ-- Just finished watching the lecture and those brief remarks got my attention as well, but for a different reason.

I wanted to challenge the assertion that the spaces were unbelievably large and opulent. Setting aside the escapism aspect (and your point, the correlation between the activity and the space needed in which to perform it). Large interior spaces have always been associated with wealth. (McMansions are today's version.) While to someone living on a farm or small city apartment or shotgun house on the edge of town may not have that space, the landed gentry, penthouse owner, and "richest guy in town" probably did. 

That said-- the barn space in White Christmas always struck me as impossible. Until I saw the size of the barns where they keep the cotton picking equipment in the Delta! 🙂  

I get what you are saying about large spaces for the rich, but I simply think the clubs where performers do their thing in most of the movies (ceiling height, depth of room, and square footage) just doesn't pay off for club owners.  It's an illusion to think such spaces exist.  We want to see clubs and numbers like this, but proprietors would simply put more tables in for paying customers and tromp l'oeils effect for the illusion of space.  I get the M cMansions thing. I loathe them as they pop up all around my home in rural Maryland. I get the Vanderbilt and Getty and Belmont and Rockefeller thing. I've been to Newport. You are correct that these places are huge. 

However, if we look at the movie that just played or is about to play, Swing Time, or Top Hat. Interiors do not play to reality of what the set designers, costume artists and choreographers require.  Gene Kelly, alone, explodes possibility with American in Paris.  The club scenes have stages that simply don't work. Perhaps the dream sequences can be allowed because they are dream sequences,  but Kelly and  V. Minelli explode the genre's possibilities to their farthest impossibilities with Astaire and Rodgers' flicks merely being not bloody likely because all that stage space would have been made into tables or a bar with stools. 

I agree with you that going with the spaces of the elite plays to the fantasy plausibility, but the barn in White Christmas is in Vermont, and they don't have that much space (one of the scenes that is always sure to make me cry, by the way,,,,when they sing, "We'll Follow the Old man....").  Think of Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen dancing in Florida on that impossibly large patio.  Dreamy but no way.  

I want to agree with you because I want to believe I will find such a place in which to tap with my husband, but I turn to the musicals to provide me with the vicarious fantasy fulfillment. I do want to believe, though. Thanks for trying to persuade me.😁

Edited by MotherofZeus
Added Emoji because "I want to Believe"
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I caught this in the discussion as well. I remember watching these movies in the past and thinking that this is how actors and actresses really lived and that's 'show business'.  Although these movies were to take your mind off of the depression and what was happening in their lives; these big sets were also probably to show-off the big movie studios; appear that they were glamorous and rich; even though they spent a lot of money bringing in sound, etc. 

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On 6/7/2018 at 5:02 PM, MotherofZeus said:

I want to agree with you because I want to believe I will find such a place in which to tap with my husband,

I wish you all the luck in the world finding this place! 😍

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Musicals were fantasies right from the get-go. In "Footlight Parade" the premise of travelling prologues for movies is laughable. I mean, these were supposed to be presented on a simple stage in movie theatres. That "By a Waterfall" Busbey Berkeley production number had 300 choreographed swimmers, along with movable swimming pools.

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