Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

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1. During most of the singing parts, the camera is up close to the characters' faces, so that we can see their reactions to each other's behavior. In sequences like the one where Sinatra's character is running away from Garrett up the bleachers, the camera pulls back, so that we can see all of the action, adjusting to fit each distance. Later, for example, when Garrett catches Sinatra at the top of the bleachers and tries to sit him down, the camera comes closer again, but is still far enough away that we can see all of their movements and observe their body language. 

2. I think the biggest indication that we're about to hear a song is Betty Garrett's determined face when she sees Mr. Sinatra at the beginning of the clip. We know for sure, just from those few seconds, that she's not going to let him get away easily - and what other tactic would she use to try and sway him but a song? In musicals, when a characters wants something (or someone), they tend to make their feelings clear to an audience by singing about them. And right from the start, we know that Miss Garrett has got somebody on her mind.

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

It's quite obvious that Betty Garrett dominates the scene, and Frank Sinatra is complete putty. The camera follows their every move, step, gesture, and action. Sinatra tries to get away, but Garrett continues to peruse him. The entire set is like a carnivorous character because you get the sense that it is rooting for Garrett to get Sinatra, and that he is trapped in a situation that he definitely wants to get of. He tries to use any means of getting away, especially with sliding down a rail. However, Garrett beats him to it, and he lands right in her lap. It may not seem like a complex setup, but then you start to see how technical it really is.

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

As soon as Sinatra comes out of the room and runs into Garrett, you know a song is coming. She tries to do everything she can to block his exit. You also know that she is going to say her peace, no matter what he tries to do. She is obviously a strong woman, not taking no for answer, but on her own terms. She loves a challenge, and telling by the end of the clip, she obviously wins. Sinatra doesn't stand a chance. It happens so seamlessly and effortlessly. Before a number starts, an action/movement happens. After another number is over, another action takes place.

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The direction emphasizes the difference in physical size and behavior between the characters. The result is not pleasant. Garrett's posture and aggressive movements overwhelm the smaller, milder Sinatra, who cannot shake her off. Sinatra takes up the song with his answer to Garrett's demands, but the nature of their interaction does not change. 

There are six or seven sections to this musical number, and each follows directly on the previous with a quick cut between them.  The music and the action are continuous, with the performers seen in full figure, half figure or close up.  The editing maintains the continuity of their interaction until he slides, unwillingly, into her arms.  

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As a choreographer, I noticed how movements of the characters punctuated sections of the music, went with sounds in the music, or created their own sounds; for example him throwing the ball, her throwing him against the wall, her stepping side to side to block his bath, him sliding down the banister. The fact that these movements corresponded with specific sounds helped to highlight the actions.

Her movement of walking after him while the music begins to swell until he no longer has anywhere to escape creates a segue into the musical number.

 

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1. Most if not all of the shots focus on Garrett - her movements and facial expressions - while Sinatra takes on a less dominant role. He is either towards the sides of the frame or shot from the back or the side. All of this combines to give Garrett the role of a "hunter" and she chases Sinatra around the stadium. The camera angles also direct focus to how Garrett always seems to be a step ahead of Sinatra (picking him up or catching him as he slides down the railing).

2. The beginning of this sequence Garrett is waiting for Sinatra which sets up her dominance in the sequence. As she initially chases him the music becomes more present until there's a pause and Garrett begins the song. The sequence then expands upon their relationship and pushes it and the plot forward. 

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I would like to address the segue that sets up this scene in terms of its relation to real life. In this sequence, the modern audience might think that Garrett's presence outside the team's locker room is just a conceit set up to lead into a musical number. However, my late husband was the official statistician and scorekeeper for an NBA team for many years. In the pre-9-11 days, arena architecture and laxer security gave fans access to areas around team locker rooms. For example, while I waited for my husband's crew to complete compiling (on pencil and paper), copying (on mimeo machines in the early years), and disseminating the "books" to the press (stapled pages), I witnessed a gauntlet of women, waiting outside the team locker room doors. Some were wives but many were not. Therefore, Garrett's access to Sinatra represented a commonplace happinstance, not just a plot device.

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

     One example of key actions would be to show a full length shot of Sinatra and Garrett as he slides down the railing at the end of the number and the need to so again as Garrett runs after him up to the top of the bleachers as Sinatra tries to get away from her, all to no avail. Garrett had a genius for playing gutsy, determined women who went after the man she wanted and as exepmlified both her and one year later in ON THE TOWN.

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

     The most effective way to seque from dialogue into a musical number is the type of music leading up to the start of the number. You can tell here in this clip by the comedic arrangement of the music and the way Garrett is coming after Sinatra with all her comedic determination. 

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1. The scene/musical number where Betty Garrett's character is trying to woo/attract Frank Sinatra's character in Busby Berkeley's "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1949) is almost set in a "cut-on-action" setting, with a generous mix of close-ups, medium and wide-angle shots of the two, along with the choreography and pacing with Blanche Sewell's editing techniques.

2. The opening orchestration for this number by Roger Edens would definitely be a dead give-away for Sinatra and Garrett's crooning. 

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  1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. Since this film is about baseball this number tries to use the baseball seating arrangements as actions for the song. Such as this when the main actors are walking or running across the wood floors its almost like they have taps on their shoes. She wanted Frank to throw ball with her so she had a baseball. When she says its fate she knocks on wood.
  2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? From the moment the clip starts the music starts and the moves are choreographed. And you can tell not just from this film but many other musicals the man or women will not just speak their mind, they are going to speak their mind in song and dance! 

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1. The opening scene is Shirley not letting Dennis pass by with a wide screen shot. 

The next shot of Shirley chasing Dennis up into the bleachers is a wide angle shot, which pans out wider the further up they run. 

The next shot is a close-up when they toss the ball to each other. It zooms into a closer-up shot with Shirley walking up to Dennis and dominating him when he backs away to lay back and then they swap positions and it then pans out to a wider shot when she marches him backwards into the wall. 

The next shot is a close-up when Shirley's hand is on his shoulder, she knocks on the railing and Dennis slips under her arm to escape and it runs out to a wider shot as Dennis marches away with Shirley in pursuit. 

Shirley's arm grabs him to turn him around with another close-up shot. She places both his arms on her shoulders, then places his her arms around his waist and tries to kiss him. Dennis backs off pushing her away at arms length. Shirley places her hands on his to keep them on her shoulders to prevent him from getting away. She then flicks his arms down and turns so her back is against his chest. He shakes her hand, she pinches his ear and rotates him around her. She cups her hands on his face pulling him upwards to standing height. He pulls her hands off. 

He makes his escape from her up the bleachers with her in pursuit as the camera pans out to a wide shot, which takes in the flags flying in the wind. 

A middle shot shows her pulling him down off the wall. They both hop down the bleachers and she pushes him to sit down and she sits down beside him. Dennis stands up quickly as Shirley tries to lay down on his knees and she lands backwards on the bleacher. 

Next is a close-up shot of Shirley grabbing Dennis' lapels with both hands and playing with his bow-tie, she strokes his face and tries to kiss him. He turns his back and she playfully tickles his face and head, and places her hands around his waist. He removes her hands as he turns around to face her. 

A wide shot is next as Shirley pushes Dennis to sit down and jumps onto his knee. The wind then blows her dress ruffles. 

A close-up shot of their heads and shoulders while Dennis is cuddling Shirley from behind as they walk along. He tries to leave but she grabs his arm, holding it under her's and bends his hand back as he winces, she then shakes his hand hard which he then pulls a face from. 

There is a wide shot as he shakes his sore hand walking away, blowing on it, and shaking it again as Shirley's following him down the bleachers. Shirley pinches his hat off his head, which Dennis tries to retrieve. Shirley places Dennis' hat back on his head and picks him up and places him across her shoulders, twirls him around and puts him down. He runs away to slide down the banister. 

A wide shot shows him sliding down the banister and into Shirley's arms with a close-up shot. 

 

2. The sequence prepares us for the singing by Shirley following Dennis and it draws your attention by wondering what she is doing. The music builds up so you know someone is going to sing a song, whether it's Betty Garratt or Frank Sinatra. 

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In the first scene you she the player coming out of the locker room and there is the girl waiting for him. In the second scenne you see the girl chasing the player all over the stands to catch him and she finally does when he slides down the railing.

All through the scene she is chasing the player and is singing the song.

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Not sure how much "significance" can be found in any musical-comedy.  There is a difference between "musicals" and musical-comedy, no?  The plots are light and entertaining.  Musicals segue into musical numbers pretty much, if you'll pardon the pun, right on cue.  You can almost here the piano tuning up in the dialogue most times.  Pretty predictable but probably disappointing if the actors didn't break out into a song.  It is great to study these films but in my opinion over-analyzing things can take the joy out of them. Like what is the significance of a woman who is deliberately cast to be stronger and domineering over a man with a slight build and sort of shy? It is a vehicle that is used over and over through time and is meant to be funny.  And the fact that it's Sinatra, well all the more funny.  But if you think about him in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with Betty Garrett - does he really come off as a heartthrob?  He looks like a skinny guy who can be manhandled and that just makes is all the more comical and hits the mark.  

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

The shots portray Betty's pursuit of Sinatra. He is frequently pinned against part of the set or completely caught by her. I echo others' comments when I say, "He have a chance to escape." 

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

The music crescendos and becomes quicker. That informs the viewer that a song is coming. The beat also implies that it's more of a pursuit than a romance number.  

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Dennis exits the Players’ Locker Room, tossing the baseball up and catching it, and Shirley, as the “opposing team”, is waiting for the game to begin.  As she chases Dennis out into the bleachers, she sings the phrase “play ball with me”.  He looks at the ball and tosses it to her, and the game begins.  But he starts running away as he realizes the nature of the game they’re playing.  But Shirley has the upper hand and traps him against the wall in the stairwell, having sung the line about his future being inescapable. 

She continues the baseball theme by telling him not to wait for the next season.  Then he runs up the bleachers and grabs the wall behind the nosebleed seats, and as fate would have it, he’s nearest to the white flag – the sign of surrender.  When Shirley jumps onto Frank’s lap, he asks if he can even put up a fuss, but the song barely allows him a vocal.  The sign they stop in front of has subtle meanings.  Shirley doesn’t want to be treated like a brother, but as “pards”, and the sign shows at one point, the word “mark” over “Bros.”, and at another, “trade” over “mild”, with the word “mild” right behind Shirley’s dominating handshake with Dennis.  He needs to trade any idea of a brotherly relationship for the inevitable fate for which he’s been marked.  As they move from the sign, is it a coincidence that the knotholes behind them look like a constellation of stars, as zodiac is a continual song theme? 

Then the scene ends in front of a sign about sprucing up your home, echoing “towels marked his and hers”,  as the baseball theme continues with Shirley catching Dennis as he “slides into home”. 

I sure hope Betty Garrett didn’t hurt herself picking up and catching Frank, even if he only weighed about 119 lbs.

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

It was interesting to watch this clip through the assigned lens. Long shots provided lots of room for movement (and for Sinatra to get away!)- mid shots for physical exchanges - and close ups when the song was driving home the intent of the lyrics and the character.  Also I loved the attached note from Gary Rydstrum regarding paying attention to the railing sliding scene. That didn't look at all like Sinatra....

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

It was seamless how Sinatra was bolting out of the locker room then- being snagged by Betty- continues the pace in perfect time with music and lyrics. Very integrated as part of the story line.

 

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1.  Key actions highlighted by shots 

  • In the opening shot she is blocking his path.  This begins the set-up of the song where she is pursuing him. 
  • They run out up the stairs and out to the bleachers and this helps to set up the opening music for the song to begin
  • I like how he is holding a baseball and looks at it when she sings, "start playing ball with me"  Then he throws her the ball, but then she throws it away
  • I like how she runs towards him and he backs up and she sings "it's inescapable"  like he is trapped in place
  • She runs forward and he slams back up to the wall and she starts singing to him about fate. 
  • I like how she knocks on the wood when she sings it's knocking at our door. 
  • When she sings "you're mine and I am yours" she points to her and to him.  

I think the editor and the director did a good job of connecting the action to the words of the songs.

I also like the set up to the song.  So they are in the locker room and she chases him outside as the opening music begins. And starts singing when they're out on the bleachers. 

 

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  1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.
    Using the baseball stadium as a part of the sequence and choreography of the song helped show the chasing and pursuing of Frank Sinatra held well with the song.
      
  2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?
    The clear chase of the main character at the start of the film then leads into the song and how she is trying to convince him that their being together is fate as she forever attempts to trap him through the chasing around of Sinatra in the ball park 

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1. The movement is choreographed carefully with the music - as she chases him up the bleachers the music is both crescendoing and getting faster - matching their speed. 

2. As he walks out of the locker room the music is already playing, cluing the viewer in that a song is coming. As he attempts to pass Garrett the start and stop of the music matches their steps (this also answers question 1 above), this 'choreography' also tells us we're about to see a song. Even as she starts to sing, her first word "Hey" isn't so much sung, as shouted, then she eases into the singing. 

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This is kind of a role reversal with the woman chasing the man. The scenes involve a lot of energy and are a lottle predictable. 

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While Betty Garrnett's character definitely had a "crush" on Frank Sinatra's character, I thought Garrnett probably used her role to show she could upstage any of the known stars of the movie.  Much like she did On the Town.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame is one of my all-time fav musicals. 

Being Irish, however, I would have enjoyed the moderators' take on Gene Kelly's rendition of The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore.  While I thought both the song and Kelly's singing and dance routine for the segment was outstanding, I have often wondered why that song in that part of the movie.  It came after a heart-felt scene in which Kelly has made little head-way with Esther Williams.  The song and music just did not seem to fit with the general flow of the scene or movie (the Irish connection was handled in several other segments).

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

It's a little harder to tell with the clip being isolated from what came before it, but it's a rather subtle segue. When Sinatra enters the scene, there is non-diegetic sound. You assume it's just standard background music, the kind that normally fades away once the dialogue picks up again, but then the music "reacts" to Garrett's movements onscreen, and then we're suddenly in a song.

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Q1) Each shot went in motion with the music.  For example, when Sinatra and Garrett were swinging their arms as they walked/strode the top of the ball park, the music was doing the same thing.  Also, at this point, the camera was pulled so you could see the full motion, which gives you the feeling something big is going on.  Actions speak louder than words.  Sinatra's face when she was telling him it was fate, clearly said it may be fate, but I feel trapped.  Garrett was gleeful throughout this song as she had him right where she wanted him due to "astrology, numerology."  

Q2) You knew the song was coming as soon as the door opened and Sinatra began walking down the hall.  By fate, there was Garrett waiting to let him in on the secret that there was no way out.

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1. Throughout this whole sequence, we see Frank Sinatra's failed attempts at getting away from Betty Garrett's character. It shows us that Garrett is the more dominant character by blocking all of Sinatra's escape routes.

2. In musicals, singing is the most straightforward way that a character can express their emotions. Whether it be to convey a character's inner thoughts or a conversation between two or more characters. In this case it is the latter. It starts off almost conversational until Garrett explains what her true intentions are by singing them. The underscoring also plays a key role in heightening the tension between the two characters.

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It's interesting that quite a few posts refer to how Garrett "outsizes" Sinatra. When I watched, I was thinking how slim her waist was and that she seemed smaller than in On the Town. I grabbed a still from our clip to show a body comparison. Perhaps the fact that so many of us thought she was physically larger/stronger than Sinatra is a tribute to her acting skills building her character as an aggressor. 

sinatra and garrett.JPG

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On 6/12/2018 at 11:01 PM, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

 

  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?
  3. Betty is a wild woman!!  Key actions?  Busby Berkeley, I think, was aware of Sinatras limitations as a dancer. He's very wary, Betty Garrett circles him like a predator and prey!  So cool to see her, like in On The Town as the aggressor. He really was a little bit of a thing. When they both vault up the seats, easier said then done!  It must have been a real challenge for the entire set up. They use the seating set well, especially the race at the end. Oh Betty! I'd have killed to hug Frank like that.
  4. The segue was playing cute, she kind of corners him....and it goes into the song.
  5. Not a big fan of this one....but I really appreciate revisiting this particular scene.

 

 

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