Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #7 (From TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME)

237 posts in this topic

11 hours ago, chillyfillyinak said:

The set could have used the ads at the top of the bleachers to feature products that would have highlighted the "fate" or being "trapped" themes of the song. The failure to do so was surprisingly sloppy for an MGM musical. This is a lesser effort from the leading studio of movie musicals.  

Excellent observation!  I'm not familiar enough with the studios and their styles to to know if it is sloppy (or lazy or cheap) but it does make perfect sense.  I'll agree that this is a lesser film in comparison to many that I have been watching recently.

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1. I find the use of props (such as the baseball and the hat) particularly interesting in this clip.  Sinatra's character clearly wants little or nothing to do with Garret, and I find his attempts to get away rather comical. He even protests, "Can't I even put up a fuss?"

2. We are prepared for the singing when Garret begins to chase Sinatra at the beginning.  The orchestra music build in the background.  Any fan of musicals knows what that means!

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4 hours ago, A Ryan Seacrest Type said:

If I may be so bold, I've attached both of these examples below so you can see for yourself why I think Garrett was one-of-a-kind.

I'm glad you were so bold!  I had never seen On The Town or Take Me Out To The Ball Game and I was wowed by Garrett in both films.  I really enjoy "Come Up To My Place" because it doesn't necessarily sound like the typical musical song.  Also housing the song inside a taxi cab felt quite creative as well.  Now I will say that seeing her do the same type of character in a third movie (the clip from Neptune's Daughter you included) seems to indicate Garrett was seriously typecast as the aggressive comedic woman but that seems to be standard operating procedure for this era, no one had a chance to change their style or their range. I'd love to have seen her in a more dramatic role to understand her range.

I've never seen Sinatra in anything beyond the two films mentioned and I've enjoyed seeing him through the 1940s lens instead of the modern day lens with all the baggage that comes with any amount of knowledge of Sinatra.  Sinatra as a skinny, timid guy isn't anything I would have guessed or anticipated!

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This sequence from "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is so well done visually from the moment the two characters spot each other their movements and the slight overture of music leads us easily into the musical number to follow. Throughout the musical number we see movements, actions, facial expressions that show who is dominating the situation, Betty Garrett, and how gradually Frank Sinatra is accepting the fact that he is caught, he has no real choice in the matter, she is not giving up, and eventually that he may be ok with being dominated by this strong and decisive woman. This routine is very similar to their excellent musical number 'Come Up To My Place' from "On the Town" in which Frank is trapped by this woman who has made up her mind about him and is not going to let him get away.

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1. I see it that Garrett is after Sinatra, much like we see when the role is opposite. It’s almost playful but you can tell that Sinatra what’s her to go away. It is also not what we were used to seeing in a musical with a lot of choreograph steps. But it actually fits the scene better with her chasing him through the ball park. 

 

2.  Here it is used to prepare Garrett for singing. At first it’s slow and deliberate and then it slowly speeds up to capture or nail Sinatra. 

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Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

The build is outlined below. The body of the song is a setting for a constant contest of Garrett trapping Sinatra as he tries to wiggle away. His dash to the top of the bleachers signals he has had enough and he is finally allowed to get a note in to defend himself with his back to her as she still maneuvers around him. It is a very intricate game of back and forth that is very playful, not aggressive. Garrett has the upper hand and is always the pursuer with Sinatra exhibiting only annoyance. Moving the action from the hallway to the outdoor setting gives it an innocent playground feel.

 

It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?

It starts in a hallway, where Garrett waits for Sinatra to appear - she blocks his path out of the building in perfect time to the music - sparring and dancing at the same time. As the music builds, a chase ensues and off they go to the larger “stage” of the bleachers. Garrett stops the chase to deliver song’s introduction and gets his attention by alluding to a game of catch, which Sinatra sees quickly is not what she had in mind.   She moves in, corners him and starts the number, actually touching him for the first time at the start of the song proper.

Each component of the song is perfectly matched to the screen action.

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Every shot is pre planned, they are working to the pre-recording and lip syncing and moving to it.  It is easy to see how each scene is set so that the foley stage will be able to easily produce the sounds they want, and to leave out anything that they don't want, like the wind machine, for the scenes at the top of the cheaper seats.

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56 minutes ago, MotherofZeus said:

I'm currently watching Easter Parade with Peter Lawford, and having watched Esther yesterday, I'm terribly thankful that he never made a movie opposite Esther Williams (please don't prove me wrong) as he seems the male equivalent of Esther. Dullsville. Classically attractive but utterly lacking in charisma. 

That is on the money. Snoozeville. 

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1. Love that Frank Sinatra is the fresh faced, boy next door in both this movie and On the Town and being pursued by the more strong willed woman and he is clueless what to do!  All he knows to do is RUN

2.  The music so wonderfully matches the scene.  The strong straight forward beat matches the delivery of the woman and Frank is speechless for the most part, echoing his character’s complete loss of what to do with this woman’s pursuit.  It is great.

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1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

It's an act/react game of cat and mouse. For every action a reaction occurs from throwing a ball to the blocking of walkway making the character zig when the woman zags. 

2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?

It's a game of cat and mouse. The music sounds after a movement and announces Betty Garrett's character from the beginning. Just by hearing the music and watching the chase begin you know the characters are going to break into song soon.

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When he comes out and she steps in front of him, he then slides to get around her and she moves again. It starts looking like a dance so it leads into a musical number. The fact she is forcing him in her presence and to like her would be creepy if the roles were reversed...But for some reason this is cute. 

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1. The scene is designed like a tango, with each shot showing a particular dance move.  There are also a lot of closeups in this scene, allowing the audience in on the relationship between the two characters.

2. The instrumental music in the background slowly builds up to the point where the song begins, allowing the actors enough time to get into their positions for the performance.

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This scene flip-flops the typical seduction scene where the man has the power and persues the lovely reluctant lady.  Instead we are delighted to watch romantic crooner Frank Sinatra being cajoled by athletic humorous Betty Garrett.  Frank’s character would have been much more comfortable had the lady in question been “dressed to kill” and had caught him in a softy lit upholstered living room.  Instead, we are in the bleachers of a prosaic ball park and Betty’s modestly dressed character is straightforwardly propositioning him with her bold lyrics and forthright dance moves.  This is most apparent when she picks him up and places him on her shoulders before releasing him.  I love how the movie makers of the 1940’s are able to poke fun at the stereotypes they normally uphold.  I also must give credit to Frank Sinatra for being a good sport about playing against type.  

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1 - Betty's character has a crush on Sinatra's, so shows her enthusiam on him and he attempts dodge her, he offers his ball baseball to her and she throws it up, I notice as well that her crush on him makes a good choreography and he runs away from her, that makes the clip such a so outstanding.

2 - When there's a situation of enthusiasm, like this clip, we know it will plays a song, when she next attempts convince him that she and him are made for "each other".

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As mentioned, the music and the actions are synced up perfectly. The ball landing in her hand matches perfectly to a pause in the music. When she is chasing him the tempo of the music speeds

up. A transition in their movement coincided with a feeling of transition in the music itself. Just as the location adds obstacles for him to go through, over, and around, she makes herself an

obstacle he must go around, or under to get away. There is a cat and mouse type of thing happening here, and the music portrays it, if you were to listen to the music alone you would see

that it would tell the story without the lyrics. Something interesting too, when they are close together, such as when she pins him to the wall and playfully dances her hand nearly on his shoulder,

there is a close up, or a medium, shot of them. When they are far apart, like when he's running away, there is a long shot of them. This brings the viewer in closer with them, and keeps them separated

from the two of them when they are separated.

As I mentioned, the music coincides with the movements very well in this clip, so when she stops after he leaves the locker room the music starts with their movements. Short bits of music play as they

move side to side, and stop each time she stops him from moving. As soon as he runs to the bleachers the music follows him, just as she does, and you know you're about to enter a musical number.

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At the beginning of the scene, the music is in the background, light and airy. As Sinatra comes out of the locker room tossing the ball in time to the music, the music intensifies in tone and volume as it segues into Betty Garret's singing. The tempo continues to pick up as Sinatra adds his singing to the scene and her "solo" becomes a "duet" (or a "dueling duet")

I think the scene is representative of the lengths to which Betty Garrett's character will go to snare her man. She tries to trap him in a narrow hallway but he manages to give her the slip so she pursues him all the way into and up the bleachers. When she sings "Star playing ball with me" and Sinatra tosses the ball to her, she throws it onto the field to let him know that "play ball with me" was clearly a euphemism.

It's interesting to me to see how these two characters were basically the same characters in On the Town. Sinatra as the naive kid whose mind is anything but romance, and Betty Garret is the aggressive pursuer who scares the heck out of him until he finally gives in to his "fate"...and enjoys it!

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1.  Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

2.  It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?

This scene is brilliantly structured around both music and camera settings. The music has two general themes: the chase and the vocals. The director uses close-ups for singing and distance shots for the chase. There are also a number of visual and action tricks designed to move the scene along both visually and musically.

The scene opens with Sinatra flipping a baseball as he exits the locker room. He's all baseball. Garrett sets up her road block. She's all Sinatra! The music matches their movements as he tries to escape. As he then retreats, the chase melody is played. This will recur on each wide shot/pursuit segment of the number. The director focuses on the "To Bleachers" sign as the chase begins, letting the audience know they are moving from the tight confines of the concourse to the open spaces of the bleachers, allowing the pursuit to proceed on a long shot.

Garrett hollers "Hey!" and both Sinatra and the music stop. This signals a change in both camera shot from wide to close-up and from action to the opening lines of Garrett's song. Here, the action and the lyrics are synched for full effect. She wants to "play ball" so he tosses her the ball. Not the "play" she is interested in, so she tosses it angrily aside. She then traps Sinatra against a wall and makes it clear running will do him no good when she tells him "It's fate, baby, it's fate." The song continues in close-up. Sinatra puts out a hand to shake and she tells him she's not his brother! The singing stops momentarily and the chase music re-commences, letting everyone know we have a wide shot with pursuit coming up. Sure enough, they're off again to the top of the bleachers.

Lap sitting and walking in embrace follow but everything makes it clear Garrett is in full charge of the action and the entire scene. Having refused his offer to shake previously, she now shakes his hand when she is ready and tells him they are "pards." The remainder of the number is shot in close-up, signifying the chase is over and his capture is imminent, as is the song itself. The director then uses a clever way to substitute Sinatra's stand-in for the upcoming slide and continue to show Garrett's control of the situation. He has her remove his hat and replace it so as to permit the camera shot to obscure his face at the end of the scene. Sinatra's last attempt to escape is foiled when Garrett catches--or should I say "captures"--him at the bottom of the railing, bringing the pursuit and the scene to an end.

It is also interesting to remember this scene takes place in a post-WWII musical, allowing the film to reflect the fact that in American society women have joined men as relative equals in the workforce and can be depicted in movies as "take charge" people without turning off the audience.

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Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

As we read in the intro the director is the "author" of the work and all his ideas come into play in such a scene for it to be enjoyed, frowned upon or lead to serious thought or serious confusion.  The whole team, along with the director, is responsible for making these scene a success.  From the start where Betty Garrett is chasing Frank Sinatra- that's the thesis...woman chasing man and the whole scene is her trying to convince him she's the one or him.  The conclusion is wonderfully illustrated by him sliding down the rail and ending up in Bett's grasp!

It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?

The music itself builds along with the action as a prelude to the singing.  With the action preceding the song the audience feels a song is going to come at them and it is going to be about a determined woman getting her man.

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1. One big thing I noticed was that, all throughout the number, there isn't a single frame where Sinatra and Garrett are not on-screen at the same time. There are no shots that focus on one specific person; anything that happens features both performers. And no matter how hard Sinatra tries to be camera shy, Garrett is always right behind him. Almost like they were fated to be together! Other than that, the camera work was pretty nifty; the way it angles upwards as they ascend the bleachers, as well as its rotation during the "play ball" bit where Garrett is advancing while Sinatra retreats. Very nice touches!

2. One of my favorite things in musical theatre is the segue; a little sneak peak at the upcoming number. You can hear a faster-paced version of the song's melody as Sinatra enters the scene, which cuts out right as Garrett blocks his path. This tiny instance highlights the theme of the number we're going to be seeing: Garrett trying to convince Sinatra of the spark between them. Hereafter, every step they make towards the bleachers is punctuated by a beat of music (I think they call that "Mickey Mousing"), before Garrett finally shouts "Hey!" to cue up the song.

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In response to question 1, The camera following Betty Garret chasing Frank Sinatra  from the hallway into the stadium will lead to a musical scene. The closeup shots of Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett hand movements in the astrology section of it's fate is very interesting the choreography of his sequence.

Question 2: The moment that Betty Garrett yells stop to Frank Sinatra signifies the start of the music.

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  1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.  When Betty Garrett sings your eyes are on her.  Frank Sinatra is in profile.  We start following him until she jumps into the picture then we start to watch her.
  2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?  You can see that she will not let go of her man, so she sings about fate.  She follows him even picking him up like a caveman.  It's a cat and mouse game while she is singing knowing that at the end she will get her man.

 

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1.     Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.  The tracking shot is interesting.  Not sure how to think like a director or editor but here is my observation:  The camera seems to be chasing Garret and Sinatra as she is chasing him.  Every time she catches him, the camera zooms in for a close-up.

 2.     It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?  It’s clear that Garrett’s character was waiting for Sinatra’s character outside the locker room and the music/corresponding “dance” indicates she’s got him cornered and is in hot pursuit.  The escalation of the music indicates a song is about to be sung.

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Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

Betty Garrett is definitely playing the role of predator as she waits for Frank Sinatra in the hallway. She doesn't let up and follows him to the bleachers.

It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? 

Their movements and steps in the hallway are right in time to the music. As the music quickens, so do they as they run for the bleachers. You know a song is on the way. Love Betty Garrett's voice!

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1.  As a director or editor, I would have made use of, ( as was done in this clip) the long hallway with no side doors to escape through.  As the scene progresses, Frank Sinatra goes through a shorter hallway and out into the bleachers.  Despite his best efforts, she cuts him off at every turn.  The editing of the music and dancing together adds another humorous touch.

2.  When the music starts on a light tone and the dialogue segues directly into the singing.

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Right from the first moment Dennis (Sinatra) exits the locker room, the viewer can sense by the lilting music matching his jaunty stride that the film is segueing into a musical number.  Then Dennis and Shirley do a side-to-side sequence of steps to which the music emphasizes their "dance" with quick, bright strokes and advances to menacing, staccato notes as Dennis begins to run away from Shirley.  The music speeds up as the pair runs up steps in the stadium and then across the bleachers.  Here, the music syncs with the actions of the characters to indicate the pursuit of the woman and the flight of the man.  When Shirley yells "Hey!" the music emphasizes and punctuates her exclamation.  Shirley launches into her lyrical explanation of her pursuit--that fate is bringing them together.  The lyrics are clever in using rhyme and words of context to the story to indicate Shirley's intentions:  "It's time to make up your mind not to stall with me/Start playing ball with me."  Then Dennis throws the baseball with the music looping in its accompaniment his gesture.  Of course, Shirley is speaking metaphorically so she tosses the ball down in disgust.  When she sings "a force would pull you back to me/ it's written in the stars," the viewer sees Dennis backing away and Shirley moving toward him as if they are two magnets being drawn together demonstrating the scientific principles that she has just sung about.  Then she sings "It's fate, baby, it's fate/And it's knocking at our door" and when she hits on the ballfield railing, the notes of music beats to her knocks.  All of these musical punctuations and rhymes of the song fit seamlessly with the purpose of the song--to show Shirley's attraction to Dennis.

Remember in these early films, Sinatra is cast as the skinny, innocent guy who is awkward around women and easily influenced by strong personalities.  He is matched with Garret who is his same height and built to show both as being equals in stature but opposite in personality.  Garrett as Shirley is confirming that opposites attract.  I find it delightfully intriguing that Garrett picks Sinatra up and carries him on her shoulders--a real feminist action--reversing the typical caveman, as she is the cavewoman carrying away her catch.  The cave persona in male/female relationships would be repeated in On the Town in the musical number "Prehistoric Man" with Jules Munchin playing the caveman who Anne Miller adores and who drags Anne by the hair across the floor.  Given that in Miller's biography that her boyfriend, Reese Milner, throws Miller down a flight of stairs where she miscarries, I would find this scene more offensive than Garrett's cavewoman carry of Sinatra.

Historically, during this period of 1949, post-WWII, Garrett's action in lifting up Sinatra mimics the strength and conviction of Rosie the Riveter and reminds women in the audience that they carried the effort of the homefront production of wartime machinery. They should continue to be strong in their voicing their desires to construct lives that are satisfying to their own requirements instead of playing the coy little ladies that their men expect them to be. Even Esther Williams in this musical is the owner of the baseball team and shows the players how to bat and reverses the male/female positions in her embrace of Kelly. Garrett's gesture may not fit the turn of the century femininity of the musical's plot, but it does speak to the beginning of opportunities for women in the post-WWII era when this musical debuted.

 

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