Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

Todays Podcast

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Excellent podcast and wrap-up. I do agree with Dr. Ament That they didn’t really need to be affluent in all three Acting, dancing and singing. We see that in Ruby Keeler. Obviously they needed some talent in all three but they didn’t need perfection in them all. Well if you wanted to excell you would which is obvious with many. But whatever it took for a few I suppose. 

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When Ginger Rogers sings "tummy," if she's performing to playback, then it has to have been a pre-conceived gag rather than a flub. Una Merkel's reaction certainly looks like an attempt to further sell the gag.

 

 

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Great podcast, but I come away from it more frustrated than ever that I haven't been able to watch even one of the movies for this week.  I'm still waiting for the single one that I found at the library to arrive.  I'm having to rely on my memory of some that I have watched in the past, and the daily doses and other clips.  I'm more than willing to watch these pioneering musicals; I just wish that I could.

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Thanks so much for this podcast! It brought all the pieces together nicely, and emphasized the context for the films which I found informative. 

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Sorry I missed it. Is it availabe for viewing and where? I do not have a Twitter account.

Thank you.

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1 minute ago, CynthiaV said:

Sorry I missed it. Is it availabe for viewing and where? I do not have a Twitter account.

Thank you.

It's in the daily module  :)

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I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast -- even listened to it twice while running errands this morning. Professor Ament brought up a couple of interesting points that I'm continuing to ponder:

• What can a film musical do that a stage (Broadway) musical can't? 

I am a serious theatre fan, in addition to loving the movies -- but this question is one I've not considered before. The film camera's ability to provide multiple shots and perspectives is the primary one, as Dr. Ament and Dr. Edwards notes. Additionally, there's the ability to go BIG, with sets and props, thanks to the size of soundstages which are substantially larger than a theatre stage. Still thinking about other ways  -- as well as what a stage musical can do that a film musical can't (because I cannot help myself!)

What are the unique individual styles/hallmarks of the studios at this time? 

This one, for me, is going to require some research or brain picking of people more knowledgable than I in this area. I am fascinated by this concept and am really interesting in learning more and honing my eye.

 

PS: I often use the word "keen" in response when people ask me how I am. Think I may add "peacharino keeno" to the repertoire, as I dig it. ?

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I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast. What a wonderful discussion btwn Drs Ament and Edwards to help pull all the learning objectives together and whatever loose strings might exist at the end of our first week. I am learning so much culturally and theoretically as well as learning to be a more perceptive musical watcher.

I can now begin to identify and differentiate the beginning studio styles and their representative musicals as well as be able to compare and contrast what goes into making a musical a musical. As Dr. Edwards points out it is truly amazing that Hollywood was able to make such dramatic and innovative leaps in this complicated genre in ten short years.

I thank you both for your learned insights and your enthusiasm and love of film musicals that you are sharing with all of us. I am truly enjoying myself and adding to my knowledge of my favorite film genre! Thank you again.

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Another thing film can do that stage cannot is the close-up. I am reminded of "Can't Take That Away From Me" where the camera zooms in on Ginger as tears well up in her eyes at Fred's serenading on the ferry on the way back from being married in New Jersey. I seem to remember some of those close-ups in Broadway Melody as well. An actor would have to sell "sad/tear-y" on stage in a very different manner.

There is also the kind of things you can do for stage setting: the actual floating gondolas, Bates swimming, etc. in Top Hat. Can't do that on stage!

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Count me in as far as enjoying the Podcast.  I also listened in my car as I was doing errands (before it started the South Florida rain we've been receiving for the past two weeks.)

I hope I took away some theories and ideas.  I never know what I absorb, but know that I'm trying my best.  

One thing I did realize is the awesome change from 1929 "Broadway Melody" to 1939 "Wizard of Oz".  Accomplishments galore. 

Thank you again.  

 

 

 

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I enjoyed the podcast as well. I took your advice and watched the first few musicals in order. I had watch Broadway Melody a couple of days ago, and then today watched Hallelujah and Love Parade. What a difference in less than a year!

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Doctors,

I really enjoyed the podcast, but I would have gotten so much more out of this week if the podcast was on Monday. I would have recorded some films that I didn't and would have paid attention to things that I missed.

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One theme I took from the podcast was the very rapid technical advancement in over just a decade.  The changes in sound with prerecorded numbers was one aspect.  The  jump from black and white to technicolor (Oz) was another huge change. And that all these changes were being invented as they went along, there was no blueprint.  The studios were building on success and dropping what didn't work.  It would seem the rapid exhaustion of formulas (Berkeley needing to top himself, Fred/Ginger tiresome repetitive structure) meant the studios need a big source of new material, much as television is a huge maw today.   

It reminded me a bit of another decade of rapid technological change, the Space Race.  From early 1961 with astro/cosmonauts into space for the first time, to JFK's May moon shot speech, to all that had to happen in less than 10 years to get someone on the moon AND get them back alive. No blueprint, just figure it out and do it. 

One thing I like with watching these movies, as was mentioned several times in the lectures and podcasts, is that the films capture the culture of the time.  You can kind of relive what it was like if you accept the lens of the time, without forcing current cultural thinking on the films.  For example, now we have strong evidence and accept that smoking is bad for you, but the films help you realize what the thinking at the time was about it, that it was suave, cool, elegant, sophisticated, etc.    Although in the 1930's I think it was still just "common" women who smoked, not ladies.  At least not in public. 

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I enjoyed the podcast, although I wondered if it could have been incorporated into the course content earlier in the week. I think it would have been more helpful to hear suggestions about how to approach the films before they were shown on TCM.

Either way, the podcast expanded on some of the week's topics and I hope there will be more in the coming weeks.

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The podcast is a little hit-and-miss for me; I have a hearing impairment that makes listening to someone without visual cues (seeing their face/lips) hard to do; I can't always understand the words being spoken. For that reason, I am a huge fan of captions on videos or transcripts for audio files. That being said, I did listen today and probably need to try to listen one more time to make sure I didn't miss anything important.

Before this course, my focus regarding films/musicals was probably mostly on whether I liked the music and/or storyline. I enjoyed being introduced to some of the other ways to evaluate and enjoy them. The info on Code and pre-Code films was interesting. I feel like I'd like to learn more about being able to distinguish one studio's work from another. 

I enjoy history, so the historical aspect of musicals is interesting to me, as well as how the changing culture shaped the themes and storylines through the years. I'd actually like to learn a little more about the race films... and other films that have been declared un-PC (such as Song of the South, which I actually own... a PAL VHS format that I was able to get transferred to NTSC.).

Edited to add: I just remembered something that was said about how the studios were trying to sell sheet music, something not really much of an issue today. At the time I thought that I was being my typical unusual self because I look for sheet music of favorite songs all the time. 

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I really enjoyed the podcast.  It really makes you think about the Musicals in a different way.  I do believe that back then you did better if you were a triple threat!  I know there are plenty who couldn't sing but the ones who can, really stand out.  I love the discussion about Pre-code.  I will now be trying to look out to see if I can notice the changes.  

Thank-you both for such fascinating views on the beloved Musicals.  I'm really enjoying this class and can't wait until next week.  As they say, See you at the Movies!!!

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It was an excellent podcast that reviewed what we have been learning this week while throwing out new ideas and things to think about. When you mentioned the marketing of sheet music it made me think of all kinds of great sheet music from the 20s and 30s that I brought home from my grandfather's house when he passed away. I think I disposed of them maybe a year or so ago but I really wish I still had them. There's a slight chance that I kept them and I will be looking for them this weekend. 

I liked the question you posed about what a movie can do that a stage production can't do. My first love is musical theater so I had to really think about that one. I guess the obvious would be seeing the actors up close, to see facial expressions and subtle gestures that, depending on where you're sitting, you can completely miss in a live theater setting. Also the scenery is often more detailed, particularly the ones filmed on location. And then of course there are the takes. With film, if you mess up you reshoot the scene as many times as it takes to get it right. With live theater there are no do-overs. And I think most importantly of all, at least in my book, it gives people an opportunity to see Camelot, or Oliver! or Oklahoma! that they would not otherwise have. It reaches a much wider audience.

But at the same time, live theater gives the audience things that a movie cannot. An enthusiastic audience and an "on" cast feed off each other and make it a magical experience for everyone. That's missing in film. I've heard actors who transitioned from stage to screen say that's their biggest complaint,  the lack of an audience to play for and to.

 

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There are so many things that the movies can do that stage can't.  For one, film is a more intimate medium, and this translates into a different style of song-writing and performing.  Look at the 1936 Showboat, and compare "You Are Love" to "I Have the Room above Her."  Written for the stage, "You Are Love" is the kind of song that was meant to be projected to the back of a theatre without microphones.  And, interestingly enough, it is performed that way even in the film.  Written for the film, "I Have the Room above Her" is performed much more intimate singing style.  This would not have been possible onstage until later when microphones were introduced.  Interestingly, microphones are now used to amp up the belt-it-to-the-balcony songs.

And then look at "Do Re Mi" in The Sound of Music.  It begins on a mountain top, moves to the streets of Salzburg, and ends on the steps of a palace or mansion.  Onstage it was just a music lesson, but onscreen it also showed the children bonding with Maria over time.

I have always secretly rolled my eyes when someone makes a big deal of Fred Astaire insisting that his dance routines be shot in a single shot (or a minimum of shots).  This is what he and other performers did every night onstage.

I'm sure there are many other things a film can do better than the stage, but the last one that comes to mind is that the camera can dance along with the dancers.  I think of "Embraceable You" in Girl Crazy or the title song in For Me and My Gal where the camera waltzes around the dance floor too.  Or the title song in Hello, Dolly! where the camera follows Streisand as she circles around the Harmonia Gardens.

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The podcast was great! I believe my challenge will be to look at this films critically, not just for enjoyment, especially since I’ve seen some of them many times. While it’s hard to carve out the time for the films, I’ll just have to find it somewhere. 

The podcast helped tie the week together. However, along with others, I wish we’d had some of those tips on critical viewing at the start of the week.

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On 6/8/2018 at 1:45 PM, janey said:

what a stage musical can do that a film musical can't (because I cannot help myself!)

I think stage musicals can handle abstraction better.  And also do culturally questionable treatments of subjects. 

For example, take a show like Company, which relies on the stage to hold disparate relationships together, like circus rings where the audience attention is drawn from one to another.  This would be harder to follow in a film.    Then the show Titanic, where singing about the tragedy might be seen in poor taste, and a focus on the relationships without a big disaster scene at the end wouldn't have enough audience payoff..   I doubt the Stanwyck version of Titanic, or A Night to Remember would work today.   Or Side Show, which I really liked when I saw it, would be seen as insensitive and exploitative.  But the stage can take the concept and work with it experimentally. 

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I am only getting to Friday's podcast now - but I just have to say it was great and tied all analytical components of the early musical genre together so beautifully. THANK YOU!!!

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On 6/10/2018 at 10:27 AM, Pastiche said:

And also do culturally questionable treatments of subjects. 

I’m curious, Pastiche:  what do you mean by “culturally questionable”?  (I agree with you re:  stage musicals / shows being better able to depict abstract concepts.)

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