Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

217 posts in this topic

11 hours ago, MotherofZeus said:

Have to agree. The girl could swim and dazzled in the looks department, but she is about as compelling as milk toast. How is one dull with Gene Kelly?  How? It must have been a period thing that she was so uniquely athletic and in a bathing suit to maker her a hot tomato in the public's eye.

I just have to say in that clip you were talking about how is one dull with Gene Kelly", it's actually Ricardo Mantalban 

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Garrett is clearly chasing Sinatra.  The shot shows as the camera is pulled back and the scene is wide to show a large area.  Once they both stop, the camera changes to a close up centered on Garrett and Sinatra.  This far/close/far setup continues for the duration of the song.

Garrett is waiting for Sinatra to come out of the players only room.  As he comes out of the room, strains of music begins and as he approaches Garrett she side steps to block him.  Each step the music plays one note and guilds as Sinatra turns to go in the opposite direction up the stairs.  This prepare us for singing.

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The shots use the stairs, the bleachers, the railings, the walls all to trap Sinatra at every turn. He can’t escape the stadium and therefore can’t escape her.

They set the stage for the song with the quickening pace of the chase and as it stops for a moment she starts to sing.

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Thinking as a director, I can see the "game" in the scene. She's continually striking out, but keeps on swinging! Fun play with the up and down of the set. 

In movies of this era it's easy to see when they're about to sing. The action stops and they breath!

I enjoyed Miss Garrett much more in On the Town, but I agree she is the aggressor in both films.

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It's amazing how much the movies changed from the 30's to the 40's. In the 30's the women waited for the men the make the first move and even then, they played hard to get. In the 40's you have Betty Garrett's character blatantly chasing a man. How interesting. I'm amazed at how well she could run up the bleachers in that long dress. Very impressive!

You knew when Sinatra has that look of fear in his eyes when Betty comes into the scene there would be a chase and a song. Usually, you can tell when they are going to break into song when you hear the instrumental music behind the dialogue.

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1. Every movement is perfectly choreographed with the music. It is a great cat and mouse game between the two of them. One movement decided the next so simple but great.

2. As he walks out of the occur room he is walking and tossing the ball to the beat of the music. He also Tys to by pass her and both them step with the beat of the music.

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First of all, I have always enjoyed the Betty Garrett/Frank Sinatra duets. Physically, they were well matched, and they were good foils for each other. Sinatra played the lovable, albeit slightly lost puppy in the films in which he was paired with Garrett, and her characters were more “take charge,” so it worked. 

Response to #1. 

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know where to begin to think like a director or an editor, but I know how to think like a musician, because I am one. The one thing I notice throughout this routine is the timing. It is utterly precise. Each movement, all the way down to their steps, is timed exactly to the beat of the music. So, what isn’t exactly dancing appears to be dancing. Each action supports the lyrics to fully complement the notion that Sinatra’s character is the lightweight in this romance. 

Response to #2. 

As I watch the action building up to the song, I know something is coming, and it’s going to be good. The comedy has already started with Garrett’s character blocking Sinatra’s character in the hallway. The setup for this song is actually very good and introduces me to their personalities in ways that dialogue might not. Garrett’s character is obviously not afraid to be physical, and Sinatra’s character may play professional baseball, but off the field, he is uncomfortable! 

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Everything was in time, rhythm and clarity of the scene. It was fun to see Betty dominating Frank. As soon as Frank runs away from Betty, going up the stairs, that means a song is going to happen.

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One thing that I notice a lot during any musical is that certain shots go with certain lyrics in the song. Like when Betty really leans over Frank and says "it's inescapable" is an example of this. Betty's "chase" perfectly represents the subject of song.

You know as soon as Frank and Betty see each other outside the locker room you know that it's not going to lead to a dramatic dialogue but a catchy musical number.

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I haven't seen Take Me Out to the Ball Game except for the clip, but it just felt like it was too choreographed. It didn't feel natural or spontaneous (although they are all choreographed) like other films that have been discussed. Having said that, each action is captured and highlighted perfectly. The chase scene at the beginning is funny to watch especially since we know something about the actors themselves. Their actions like tossing the ball or sliding down the rail perfectly match the music. 

Right after the chase and Sinatra being caught, we know a song is coming and when it's going to start. But, it's perfect timing in how it progresses the story. We know she wants him and is going to make sure he knows he wants her too. What perfect way to do so than with a humorous and witty song to enhance the chase.

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Every shot shows that the female character is pursuing the male character, who is trapped in the bleachers as cannot get away.  I liked how the the changes from close ups where she’s cornered him  to longer shots of her chasing him up the bleachers as he tried to get away. The giveaways that a musical number is coming we’re that they became more animated and the action was in time with the music. 

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There is a brief shadow on the wall as Frank exits the players’ room. He is polite to Betty, but she likes him so she blocks his exit. It was a dance.  He moves and then she moves, and suddenly she is chasing him up the stairs. All the moves are in sync with the music so you know that a song is coming at you. Every time he tries to escape her, she blocks his exit. The flow of their “dance moves” really follows the music.  The whole scene just flowed.  Blanche Sewell did an excellent job editing the film.  I like how “crysalong” above phrased her answer as a musician and not the director or editor.  Size wise they were well matched.  They had a great connection In this movie and in “On the Town”

I love how Betty totally convinces Frank that they are meant to be together and he cannot fight it  it was fate  

 

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  1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. By 1st showing Betty Garrett waiting outside the locker room, we immediately know she is waiting for or stalking someone. Another key shot is after she chases Sinatra into the stadium and backs him up against the wall and declares, It's fate, baby, it's fate - we know she going to get him.
  2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? Wisely, the director delayed the singing, the scene starts with Garrett on the hunt, the singing doesn't start until she chases Sinatra into the stadium.  This immediately establishes the reversal of roles (the aggressive female). The director also delays Sinatra's vocals, Garrett is physically chasing and vocalizing her desire, while Sinatra dodges and runs. In a key-shot Garrett put Sinatra's arms around her and we see him slightly weaken, shot by shot, Garrett is working on him and wearing him down.  I think this was smart and clever direction and editing.  If we had heard that big lush voice of Sinatra from the very beginning of the scene, it may have been hard to buy this woman rushing him or wearing him down.  The editing adds to the idea that he is being harried and chased. 
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21 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

Recall that today's Daily Dose of Delight is from Take Me Out to the Ball Game. As you reflect upon the clip selected by Gary Rydstrom, recall his discussion of Blanche Sewell. Please respond to the questions posted.

Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

  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?

1. In the beginning Garrett is blocking Sinatra from running outside onto the field the camera is closer to them. The he breaks from her and runs outside into the bleachers while Betty Garrett chases after him. For this,the camera is positioned at an angle off to the side so as the running and chasing is happening, the camera moves upwards and is able to catch the action. They have to run almost to the opposite of the bleachers and you can see how large the location is and it reinforces the fact they are alone together. 

2. There is a lot of action that takes place before the singing. There is a loud exciting swell of music which makes you anticipate that singing will start soon. The activities and interactions between the characters are  involved so you feel like they will start explaining what is going on between them (thats what a song does).

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Love the "It's Fate Baby" number. Leading up to the song, the music starts an intro as she chaises him up the stairs into the stands, at which time her song begins. I did note how each move (handshake, her holding his face, his running away, sitting in her lap, pointing fingers, taking off and putting on his hat) was synced to the music. Pretty neat trick of them taking those big steps up the bleachers with no hesitation. I wonder if that part used doubles. I also noticed the camera move from the first scene in the hall up the stairs and then is cut to the bleachers.

Ironically, this is really her song. Sinatra only sings a couple of lines, which is kind of strange, being as that he's the big star, but it works.

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  1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.  After they climb the stairs and start running the music picks up to keep up with their steps.  Every action is to the rhythm of the music much like Matchmaker, Matchmaker is in Fiddler on the Roof.
  2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?  It comes up to a slight pause and the music begins.

I see comments comparing Betty to Mary Wicks who physically reminds me of Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons (who sound like ZaSu Pitts).  Betty acts more like Doris Day in Annie Get Your Gun.  

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1) As a director it is crucial to pair the song lyrics and purpose, the exact  dance movements with the orchestration and rhythm of the number. Not an easy task! This scene starts off with a shuffle of movement for the couple, she blocks his moves and he tries to change direction all of this done in perfect timing with the music. The rest of the choreography is designed to concur with the music in all of its movements. Her vocal cadence matches the drums and pace of the song as do her actions. As an editor it's important to capture the camera's movement with the quick paced movements of the characters as they move up and down the stadium with the exact timing of the music. No choppy cuts. It has to be seamless.

2) This sequence prepares the audience for the singing because the song's lighthearted words and pace are synced  with the dance movements in the stadium.The love story is so much more entertaining done in clever song and dance.

 

 

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

In terms of shooting and editing for this sequence, everything's just laid out perfectly. The way the wide and close-ups coincide with the actions being conveyed and the way they were initially shot really exhibits the set-up of the scene itself. As we can see from the very beginning, Betty Garrett's character, Shirley is obviously quite interested in Frank Sinatra's character, almost to a point were it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to watch. The best way this sense of discomfort and practically claustrophobic feeling is conveyed visually, is by highlighting the series of close-up shots of the actors throughout the entire scene. Seeing these tight close-up shots of both characters, the audience can clearly see that Sinatra's character is definitely disturbed and is desperately trying to seek escape from Shirley's clutches. That, along with the panning shots in the opening sequence, and the wide shots of her physically chasing him through out the scene, perfectly articulates that her intentions are those of a domineering and predatory nature. Even the composition of how the shots are cut plays in perfectly not only with the structure of the musical sequence, but also with the comedic timing and relation to the film's overall theme of baseball. The shot where she demands him to "play ball" with her and then cuts to him actually throwing a ball to her, demonstrates this clever example of carefully composed and ultimately playful sense of timing while still coinciding with the main theme is executed quite brilliantly.

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

Well, we can tell from the scene's initial set-up that something musically related is about to happen. From Sinatra's cheery and overall confident disposition as he's exiting the locker room, we begin to see that something dramatic is going to happen in order to disrupt it. Sure enough, the abhorrent obstacle emerges itself in the form of Betty Garrett who is obviously attempting to make her motives known as she tries to pursue him. As she continues to chase him down the hall and into the ballpark, we begin to hear the faints sounds of a musical soundtrack slowly creep up into the background and then overtly progress, gives the audience the indication that a full blown musical number is about to begin.  

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The characters start this sequence almost dancing.   Betty steps forward, Frank steps backward.   Frank steps to the side, Betty mirrors that movement, stalking him, corralling him in time to the music.  As the dancing becomes chasing, the worlds become full out singing.    All the time she chases him, she is telling him thru song that the end is inevitable as it is fated.   She is sort of playing with him like a cat and mouse.  Sometimes the mouse momentarily escapes, but the cat is always quicker and catches him again.  As the music crescendos, she is chasing him across and up the bleachers, and at the end, as the music comes down the scale, he mirrors that in his slide down the bannister with her catch of Frank reflecting the abrupt stop of the music.   I like this musical and also On The Town, and I think Frank and Betty make a good screen couple in these movies where she plays the aggressor, and he is pretty good at playing a more innocent and bumbling prey for Betty.   I think Sinatra's slim stature and height similar to Betty's actually helps him carry it off.   

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On 6/12/2018 at 9:01 PM, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

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

The tempo of the music directed the actors, when they were running, the music was faster. When Garrett had Sinatra in a corner, the music was slower. Also the set helped the actors portray their feelings, sinatra looking for escapes and Garrett finding ways to capture while being in sync with the song.

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Daily Dose #7:

1) Each shot showcases the cat and mouse aspect of the scene with having the female character literally chance Frank Sinatra around and having them position themselves with the female character grabbing him in various position.  I found it highly enjoyable and the movement and choreography really enhanced the song and plot of the scene. 

2) This sequence of Frank running away from the female character sets up this back and forth between the female character wanting to convince Frank of their "fate" to be together which is refusing to admit. By physically showing these actions to begin with, it makes the transition into song rather seamless.  

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1. The sequence emphasizes Garrett’s persistance and Sinatra’s reluctance, so the shots are staged in ways to continually remind us of these differences, like when Sinatra pull some his arms away from Garrett or when she takes his hat. Also, him sliding down the railing is staged so you can’t see his face, since his hat is covering his eyes.

2. It builds up the song by first playing the music normally and briefly stopping as Garrett first notices Sinatra. Then, both the characters and music gradually get faster as Garrett continues chasing Sinatra until Garrett yells “hey!” and starts the number, so the buildup is combined in both the music and the visual performance.

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

This sequence is all about the chase.  Overly enthusiastic Betty Garrett wants to catch, and hopefully, keep the amorous attention of Frank Sinatra (I have to wonder why the studio matches them up here and again in On the Town.  Frankie couldn't get a girl? For real?) As Betty chases Frank across the stadium and up the stairs, they are filmed equally balanced in the frame moving from right to left.  The camera moves as they move, but always keeping the two of them in the shot together.  Mostly one continuous shot, there aren't close ups or single shots to highlight either actor; they are matched as romantic partners and remain in frame together.

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

I feel this is why so many people have troubles with musicals as a narrative vehicle.  Music seems to spontaneously come out of nowhere with full orchestration.  Wouldn't it be lovely to have a movie soundtrack following us around day to day? At the bank? at the DMV? to the post office? This sequence begins with the string-filled orchestrations of the incidental score music.  As the actors begin the chase, the music speeds up and blends completely into the "number" that begins in the bleachers.

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I am truly delighted by these Daily Doses, because most of them have been films that I have heard about but have never seen. My mom has always told me about Take Me Out to the Ball Game, but I've never taken the time to watch more than a clip or two. This clip, coupled with the commentary about the making of it, make me curious about actually watching the film. 

Each shot calls back to the idea that this film was directed by someone who also understood choreography. While by no means on the same level of cinematography as one of the more adventurous Berkeley films of the 30s, I got the feeling that he filmed with the dancing in mind. The shot that stood out to me the most was when she was chasing him up the stairs. I was struck by the depth of the set, as well as impressed that a woman in a turn of the century dress can expertly clear the steps without much trouble. That shot really emphasized the feeling of chase that the song and choreography have. 

The opening of the song is pretty perfect. I loved how each of the movements was in sync with the music. Honestly, I probably would have noticed it, because it is a commonly used piece of choreography, but I don't think I would have commented on it without having first read the commentary. It provides an introduction for the chasing, slightly (perhaps more than slightly) stalker-ish feel of the scene, and really gives the sequence a whimsical feeling. 

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Betty Garrett's character "Shirley" lies in "ambush mode" as Sinatra's "Dennis" character comes out from the locker room. She stalks him down a narrow corridor out onto the bleachers, which is a maze-like area in which Sinatra tries to figure out how to escape Garrett. She stays right on his heels, showing him she has the upper hand in this. Eventually she ends up landing her man as she hoists him into her arms like a wrestler. Funny stuff! I love the timing of their movements to the musical number. Again, timing is the name of the game in this segue to the song. He walks out of the locker to the slower beats of the opening notes where she's right there on the corner & traps him. With their meeting, you as a viewer knows what's coming.

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