Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #9 (From THE BAND WAGON)

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ONE MY FAVORITE. EVERYONE IS EQUAL WORKING IN UNITY. LOOKING AFTER EACH OTHER NOT LEAVING ANY ONE BEHIND. MEN COSTUMES IN SUITS AND WOMEN IN DRESSES OF THE TIME. WITH MORE COLOR. THE LIGHT COMEDY INTWINE WITH THE STORY WORKS JUST FINE.

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It is almost like a game of tag and stays in the tight grouping of four.  The difference is that there is no lead in this grouping.

The background colors are bright and colorful which offsets the the more subdued colors of the clothing worn by the characters.

Everyone is equal.

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1.     As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another?   The performers display warmth as they talk and laugh during the routine.  Also, they don’t dance with laser type precision, that we would see in an early Astaire dance number.  This routine is more casual and less rehearsed that what we expect to see in a musical.  How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? In earlier musicals, we normally see a duo and solo performer at center stage, or a solo performer backed by a chorus line, in this performance there is no solo or leader. This is as opposite from a Berkley number as you can get, there is no tapping, no real dancing, no feathers, no sexy outfits, no overhead shots, the setting is a stage and there is no fantasy, it’s down to earth, but exudes confidence and fun.

2.     What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. The performers are dressed in every day clothes of the fifties. This is different from earlier musicals that feature top hats, tuxedos and beautiful ball gowns.  Nanette’s skirt is very feminine and just what we expect from the 1950’s.  Buchanan’s jacket and neck scarf define him as a director. I think this is meant to convey that these are everyday people, they aren’t fancy nor are they from the elite class.

3.     What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?  As stated earlier, this performance is playful, casual and staged very simply (with Levant adding comical gags). Although Astaire is 54, he is still a star and still a very capable dancer, yet there are no complex dance sequences and he does not do a solo turn, he does not stand out.   The interaction basically shows Astaire being convinced by the director and writers to come on board with the show.  Astaire is the last to join in the song after the show idea is pitched to him by the other three.

 

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1.  It's fun listening to references of Fred Astaire's earlier movies.  "The Gay Divorcee" pops out clearly.  Also, sorta reminds one of a "pow-wow"  session among scouts of long ago.  Apologizes if that isn't politically correct to say.

2.  The actors may look formally dressed compared to casual styles today.  But they are casually dressed for that era.  However, Ms. Fabre's outfit would not be considered a "house dress".   Astaire's blue socks, the frumpy looking jacket on one guy, skirt and blouse set, this is casual wear.  Yes, even wide, wide netted crinolines were not considered formal. 

3.  It is said that a great painting will invite the eye to move all over the canvas.  That is what good staging does,  also, and invites the players to interact with the props.  

Please, will someone explain the red rose thing that seems to be a prevalent in this time period?  Does it have some other significance than fragrance and being pretty?  Gene Kelly makes use of the red rose often.  

 

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have watch clip from Band Wagon and enjoyed it very much .The costumes matched to conform with what the musicals were address at the time and that was that your were a group not one person and that what it showed they were in all blue and gray . and they preformed to the standard that was every ones talent and just ones. So no one could stand out above the rest. But it was a good song and they sang and dance beautifully and did the musical what was need and that all that was expected of them.

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We should also remember the collaboration with Leroy Jones when Fred is showing his steps.

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13 hours ago, cmannconso said:

As I was watching the daily dose, it reminded me of the scene in the Producers where they are trying to convince Roger Dupree to make the musical, Springtime for Hitler. I looked for the scene and the song was "Keep it Gay". It has all the color of the band wagon but many more characters. Roger Bart and Jeffrey Cordova both have that aristocratic delivery. The Producers, though not a great movie musical of a great (or at least very fun) Broadway show, is also a time capsule of when it was made of the changing attitudes in America.

That is a perfect connection! When you get into movie musicals and then go back and watch Brooks' musicals (or movies with music in them), you can see that Mel Brooks is quite the fan of musicals!

I really like the interplay between the characters, and it's notable because nobody is really the star. They each "star" at different points in this number, tossing the spotlight back and forth to each other. There are several places within this number where they literally pass an object (like a handkerchief) off to each other. It feels very balanced and more natural - like it's a conversation that just happens to be set to music. The costumes help with this as well; everybody is wearing something that reflects their character, and while the colors and patterns speak to each other, they aren't matchy. Still, you can see the blues in the men's outfits speaking to each other, and the blocky pattern of the dress and the menswear-inspired collar of her top reflecting the shapes of the men's outfits. It looks like four people who just happen to be working together, yet they definitely go together. 

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In the scene the 4 characters demonstrate that they are working together trying to solve a problem that they all have a stake in create a great Broadway show.

You can tell that they are trying to covince Fred that there is a solution. And they do it by doing what they do best entertain. All 4 use their strengths dancing singing, gags and all around a great song. There is mutual respect for each other and it seems so natural not contrived with a song coming out of no where. Since they are all entertainers they prove to each other that they will solve the problem and create a great show. The one movie that comes to mind is For Me and My Gal the Gene Kelly character is so focused on himself that it takes him so long to understand what a team means. The early musicals like 42nd Street showed the team work but the characters were almost like one character and not 4 different people working on a project to entertain.

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  1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?
    Their interaction is that of an ensemble in which everyone is cooperating with each other to brainstorm a new show. Each member of the team has about the same screen time, and no one seems to be trying to upstage the others. This is a departure from early musicals where there is more competitiveness between the stars. 
  2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.
    I am color-challenged, so I am not sure which colors were used for the costumes, but even though the costumes did not match each other, no one costume seemed to stand out from the others. So, they were separate but equal in that regard. Watching just this clip, without seeing the rest of the movie (which was my situation), it is difficult to tell who is "the star" here (perhaps no one is).  
  3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? 
    The lecture video discussed how the music in this movie had been "repurposed" from earlier films. I had the feeling that most, if not all of the interplay between the characters was also "repurposed" from earlier films, Broadway plays, and vaudeville. I suspect that most of these homages flew under my radar, because I have not watched that many early films. Some class members have commented that the interplay of Fred and Jack was repurposed from a Laurel and Hardy routine. That could well be the case, but I suspect that NONE of the skits enacted were breaking new ground (like the long, long ladder which was carried at both ends by - predictably - Oscar Levant, or the scene where Oscar lights Jack's cigarette without being seen, or the scene where the human pyramid is revealed to be  a hoax when Oscar walks away from it). However, my comment should not be construed as a complaint. Rather, it is entirely fitting and in keeping with Jack's early comment that a show can be about anything we have seen in life. Hence the references to storylines from famous plays, and the repurposing of slapstick humor scenarios. To introduce something never-before-seen here would have been at odds with the basic premise. As for some of the other interplay, I was struck by Nanette's laughing during her dance number with Fred and Jack - I think that was not scripted, and she was truly having a great time. I also enjoyed watching the subtle differences between the four. At the end, when they are backing up to some steps, Oscar Levant quite obviously looks down (twice) to see where the stairs are, and Nanette is less obvious, but still ends her head down to look for the stairs. Only Fred and Jack have the savvy to look for the stairs without appearing to look for them. One interaction I did not understand is when Oscar left the group prior to their most complicated dance steps and returns with a handkerchief for Fred. Fred just puts it in his pocket, so did Oscar really need to do that? Of course, he probably left because he was not a good enough dancer to do those steps, but I think they could have come up with a more creative reason for why he left than to get a handkerchief. At any rate, although the four were not truly equals in their actual talents, they came across as being equals and having fun working together to create something, and that is perhaps the message Minnelli wanted to give. That was a real challenge with Oscar Levant in this ensemble, as Oscar could not really sing, dance, or even act very well. He was effective when he was playing music or doing comedy, but he was a fish out of water when trying to do anything else. Look at the final scene where Jack, Fred, and Nanette are flashing beaming smiles, with arms outstretched. Oscar has no smile. He is frowning and looks like he is trying to hang an imaginary picture frame on an imaginary wall, all the while making absolutely sure that it is aligned correctly.             

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6 hours ago, PKayC said:

The featured scene and the song "That's Entertainment" show a backstage view of performers collaborating and musically brainstorming for the sake of a successful production.  This idea of unity is confirmed and supported by the lyrics: "The world is a stage; the stage is a world of entertainment."  The concept of life being material for theatre and theatre being the platform for life is an old notion from Shakespeare's Winter's Tale where the characters discuss how art imitates nature and nature is reflected in art--the two parts blend together without a clear distinction of where one ends and the other begins.  This overarching idea of blending and cohesiveness is mirrored in the movements of the four actors.  One performer begins a line of a lyrical story and another picks up the next part which is followed by the third person with a third piece and concluded by the fourth person:  


The clerk who is thrown out of work
By the boss who is thrown for a loss
By the skirt who is doing him dirt
The world is a stage; the stage is a world of entertainment!

The lyrics even give credit to Shakespeare:  


Some great Shakespearean scene
Where a ghost and a prince meet, and everyone ends in mincemeat.

The theme of unity is additionally projected through the performers' clothes.  All four are dressed in neutral or dark tones:  Buchanan and Astaire in navy blue, Fabray and Levant in grey with Levant also in black pants.  This choice of color palette lends a feeling of equality.  All of their clothing is fairly standard for everyday wear.  Buchanan does seem a bit more theatrical with a cravat and silk smoking jacket, and Astaire does look a bit more elegant in his suit, but no person stands out as the main focus.  Fabray does wear a splash of color with the red flower in her belt, but it adds to her femininity, not as a sign of her greater importance. 

Along with their appearance, the four performers actions are choreographed to blend and balance each other.  They step in sync with the same arm and leg movement such like a chorus line or a marching band.  Sometimes they work in pairs or threes, but never is one person doing any movement in solo.  Many of the movement scenes are pure vaudeville shtick--Astaire and Buchanan knocking each other's bowler hats off, Levant carrying the long ladder on both ends, Fabray giving a hip bump which throws the bowler hats off Astaire and Buchanan's heads.  These strings of mini-skits are an homage to the beginning of American entertainment to which the lyrics support: 


The guy who was waving the flag
That began with the mystical hand
Hip hooray! The American way.

The ensemble professes that American entertainment is at its roots a cooperative effort--we are all in it together.  When Buchanan's egotistical effort at the first musical of Faustus fails, it is the encouragement of Fabray and Levant along with the chorus of young dancers who move Astaire to give it one more try.  Buchanan even concedes his role as the director to join in the collaborative effort.  They will all work together as equals to make the musical better.  This portrayal of grassroots effort for the success of a show is also displayed in the movie Summer Stock.

The idea of unity and the ensemble effort is shown again in the Triplets song with Astaire, Fabray, and Buchanan all clothed in the same white dress and bonnet.  It is the sense of the homogeneousness of family life that is reflected in the growing neighborhoods of ranch-style houses in the suburbs.

 The audience is reminded through this song of "That's Entertainment" that cooperation and collaboration is a hallmark of American life.  The US and its citizens had just recently won WWII through shared efforts of soldiers and citizens, and now that lesson of unity can be applied to all parts of everyday life.  The song and the performers exude a energy, vitality, and optimism that is characteristic of the 1950s.  The song is reprised at the conclusion of the film with Cyd Charisse joining in the rendition.  It reminds the audience one last time that "Life is good, and the United States is a great nation to be living and working."  The only visual we do not see is the American flag waving, but the swelling crescendo of the music emotionally makes us mentally envision the glorious Stars and Stripes.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 11.16.08 AM.jpg

ThatsEnt.jpg

The_Band_Wagon_(1953)_trailer_3.jpg

Thanks, PKayC, for posting the pic where Oscar Levant is scowling and looking like he is trying to hang a picture frame, while everyone else is beaming. I was thinking of this scene when I wrote my comment on this Daily Dose. 

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In this clip, it truly felt like the four of them were making a collaborative effort in this number. Not one person stood out, and everybody each got there own time to shine in form or another. They were all equals in figuring out how to create a show. The costumes even showed it, as each person was wearing something that didn't stand out. The colors all seemed much more neutral, like Lily's gray dress and Jeffrey's blue jacket. I found it rather interesting that though this was a collaborative effort, Fred Astaire seemed to hang back for most of this number and the others were at the forefront. And at this point in his career, Astaire was the more well-known one. 

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1. They relate equally to each other pitching out ideas, dancing together (or mostly together), moving about the stage as a unit. No one stands out but all are working together. In earlier musicals either a single character or a pair of characters are featured and the others are in supporting roles. The individual is most important.

2. Each person is dressed uniquely but in grays, blues, and black. The shading is similar and reads as a unified palette. Nothing stands out from the rest. All the men are in a jacket and Nanette Fabray is in a simple skirt (I love the square pattern) and blouse. No one is dressed more formal than the others.

3. No one is left alone. Everyone has someone or everyone with them in the scene. Each person is visually tied to the other. Either by the building of the inverted pyramid or the 3 actors competing with each other in the trio dance (Levant leaves the stage for a moment but returns and comes back into the scene. )

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The main thing I noticed about this number, That's Entertainment from The Band Wagon is the charm of the piece resulting from the variety of singing and dancing from John Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant and Fred Astaire. It feels real and believable when unprofessional dancers are paired with Astaire giving it more of a communal presentation.

1) As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

They seem to use persuasion, at the beginning with Fred Astaire, to include him in the routine because he initially seems reticent. By making him sit in the chair, and singing around him individually, they convince him to join them and see what they're interpreting. Later, when he joins them, the time step he does with Buchanan and Fabray is a way that he includes them in his world with a simple tap routine any level of dancer can do effectively. When they "mess it up" by improvising, that adds even more comradery to the number, bringing out taps strongest draw-improvisation. In addition to groups, there are also duos, such as Astaire and Buchanan, doffing black bowlers to pantomime a comedy vaudevillian-type act that Levant interrupts with a ladder. With both, the individualistic and group combinations, they support each other by either coming in as a chorus or dancer keeping everything cohesive. This musical differs from 42nd Street, Top Hat, Cabin in the Sky and others because the emphasis is placed on the group ensemble instead of the star professional dancer or dancers.

2) What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific?

The first thing I noticed is that all of the silhouettes are wide-Buchanan, Levant and Astaire are all wearing jackets and pants with full cuts and Fabray is wearing a very full circle skirt. The use of white is also accented in the pinstripes on Astaire's suit and white shirt and the white sleeveless top and print skirt Fabray is wearing. The other cohesive color is blue, which brings Buchanan's jacket and pants, Astaire's socks and Levant's tie together.  When they dance together, the color palette is neutral enough to blend and not distract, making the costumes look very coordinated and well thought out.

3) What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

They are usually either placed in close proximity to each other, on the side, behind or in front of each other when they sing and they seem to finish stage business for each other. For example, Levant lights Buchanan's cigarette behind his back and Buchanan and Astaire assist Fabray in her number by twirling her around dramatically. Their friendship and community is apparent when they do this since they all share a background in show business. It gives them a commonality that makes their production a success.

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1. As each of them is different as a performer, the song is designed to let each of them play to their strengths. They support each other, and allow each other to contribute. They are featured equally, with none of the four seeming to dominate over any of the others.

2. None of the costumes were very flashy, and they go together color-wise.

3. The way that they interact suggests that they respect each other as professionals - even as they poke fun at each other's careers. They're also inspiring each other and having fun together, bonding as they prepare to create their show. 

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As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

The way this scene unfolds makes it clear that there is not just one "star of the show", but rather four of them. As each character begins to bounce ideas off of the other ones, we see them constantly switching places within the shot according to who is singing about what. The movement and choreographic elements of this number are very simple, thus allowing for a "let's do this together" type of feeling to really come through as the dominant interaction between characters here. They are singing in unison for most of the time, which again denies one star voice to be the focus, but rather all of their voices act as one - reinforcing to the audience that they all have a say by keeping our eyes and ears on the group rather than an individual. We also do not see just one character on screen at any given moment - they all interact at some point and all of their movements play on someone else's. 

This is quite a different way of presenting a number than we have seen from earlier musicals. More often than not, we would see a dancer dancing and a singer singing as a way to play to the individual's strength as a performer. A musical like 42nd Street, for example, sees Ruby Keeler doing solo tap routines and Dick Powell singing by himself most of the time as a way to play up their talents to the audience. Even in earlier Fred Astaire films, such as Top Hat, we see him in his own big tap numbers and songs. Films had always featured multiple performers with varying and differing strengths - the main difference here being that we are now downplaying the individual in favour of catering to the group as one unit with no one player standing alone.

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

It's curious to note that nobody's wardrobe stands out here, since we see them all dressed in matching neutral colours (navy, white, grey, black). Instead, it is the set that stands out as it is mostly composed of reds and greens, with the added touch of red on Lily's dress to tie it all together. Lily and Lester are wearing grey (they are a couple, after all), but Lester's tie is navy blue to match both Jeffrey and Tony. Although the colour palette of their wardrobe is somewhat subdued, there is a subtle nod to their individual personalities through their choice of garment - but not so overt as to have us focusing on one over another. 

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

The main thing I notice about the staging here is that the characters are singing and dancing mostly in unison. At the start, we have Jeffrey sitting Tony down with Lester and Lily to introduce some ideas to them for a play. As Tony and the lot warms to his approach, they all join in the fun by interacting with the set around them - keeping with the highlighted lyric of "the world is a stage, the stage is a world of entertainment". Each step and placement of their bodies ties them together as one single moving mass - this is especially prevalent in the final minutes of the number with the series of simple cross-steps toward the camera. The song culminates in a true "group shot" of the foursome with their arms outstretched to the audience having just demonstrated to us, and to themselves, that together they can accomplish what they set out to do. As an audience, we are left feeling like the efforts behind the scenes are perhaps more collaborative in nature than we thought, and that if we work together even the craziest of ideas can be brought to fruition.

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As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

Keeping on theme with the group contribution the presentation of the song makes use of a number of devices. First off Tony Hunter takes on the role of the doubter and holdout. He must be pulled into the idea by the group which sets up the segue to the song 'That's Entertainment'. Each of the three performers take a line one after the other equally. Then they dance in unison (sans Levant who was not a dancer) and do the symbolic pyramid. That is clearly a gesture of team play. 

In earlier musicals performers often did their numbers alone (sans boy-girl duets or chorus like the Busby Berkeley films) The spotlight usually centered on one person at a time. The new kid saves the show theme is gone like we had with Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street. 

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

The costumes are played down to indicate a more conservative look. They use colors like gray or blue. No tuxedo with tails for Fred Astaire in this scene. Even the most flamboyant character the director is toned down with a blue-gray and only slightly set apart with a more stylish jacket. This may be playing to the conservative feel that was predominant during the McCarthy era. American's dress conservative, work hard and look a certain way. 

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

I've mentioned above that the key device to me is the way each of the performers takes a line in the song as they work together to get Tony on board. After each segment they regroup together like the Three Musketeers to reinforce that bond between them. There is strength in the coming together. The pyramid is right out of athletics and team spirit. Just the kind of feeling spreading around the country in the 50's in the US. 

 

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As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

The entire song is the creation of a play. Initially, Jeffrey takes charge of the situation to convince Tony that this play is doable; Lily and Lester, respectively, are the next ones to take over convincing Tony. When Tony finally comes to the realization that they can do the play (“It could be Oedipus Rex”), he is not overly enthusiastic but rather deciding logically that it can be done. In the next section, Tony is becoming more excited and adding his own ideas (“By the skirt who is doing him dirt”).

They then embark on improvisational play, a technique that actors might use as they are fleshing out their characters and determining the best way to present the work. This includes dancing, acrobatics and, a variety of vaudeville routines and gags. Throughout this section, they rely on each other to complete the scenes. They also act out a range of typical film plots.

At the very end, they break the fourth wall, entreating the audience to accept their efforts as if asking, “What do you think?”

In the earliest musicals, numbers appeared to be add-ons and not specifically enhancing the plot of the film. Here, they are essentially parodying film and musical styles.

 

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

Lily and Lester are both dressed in whites/greys whereas Tony and Jeffrey are in blues – this sets up the two pairs: the behind the scenes characters versus the performers.

But apart from the color palate, only Tony is dressed formally (pinstripe suit with matching jacket/pants, pocket square) whereas Jeffrey is dressed in a casual jacket and ascot; Lily’s dress is more casual and Lester, although in a suit and tie, his jacket doesn’t match the pants, making the ensemble a little more casual.

All of the characters are basically dressed in neutral palates, compared to the colorful set (very red) and set pieces they use throughout the number (red/green, and even a splash of blue).

 

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

Initially, when Lily comes to Jeffrey’s rescue, he immediately recovers and takes charge of the situation to convince Tony that this play is doable; Lily and Lester, respectively, are the next ones to take over convincing Tony. When Tony finally comes to the realization that they can do the play (“It could be Oedipus Rex”), he is not overly enthusiastic but rather deciding logically that it can be done. In the next section, Tony is becoming more excited and adding his own ideas (“By the skirt who is doing him dirt”). Throughout the number, Jeffrey displays a wider range of emotion and characters from comical to tragic.

Once they have come together as a cohesive group and being trying out different scenarios, they rely on each other to complete each scene.

In the class notes, it was mentioned that Astaire is “the only truly gifted dancer in the group.” Granted, Fabray and Buchanan are not equal to Astaire (but who was, really?), but they definitely hold their own in this scene. In fact, Buchanan was often referred to as “the British Fred Astaire.” Buchanan was 62 (versus Astaire at 54) at the time of this film and died only four years later in 1957.

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  1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?  The dance is very interrelated with all the characters coming and going and taking turns.  The pace never gets to a fever pitch.  The tempo builds slightly as the four ascend the stage in the last half of the song.  I assume they never really go at it because Buchanan and Levant aren't big dancers.
  2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.  Buchanan's costume looks like a director.  Astaire looks like Astaire.  The other two look like street clothes of the fifties.  
  3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?  Levant lights Buchanan's cigarette.  Buchanan acts like the director or top man.  At the first Buchanan, Levant and Fabray are teaching or "convincing" Astaire and having him sit down.  They look like they are trying out ideas during the song and it's very casual and unresolved.

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14 minutes ago, NeverGonnaDance said:

As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

The way this scene unfolds makes it clear that there is not just one "star of the show", but rather four of them. As each character begins to bounce ideas off of the other ones, we see them constantly switching places within the shot according to who is singing about what. The movement and choreographic elements of this number are very simple, thus allowing for a "let's do this together" type of feeling to really come through as the dominant interaction between characters here. They are singing in unison for most of the time, which again denies one star voice to be the focus, but rather all of their voices act as one - reinforcing to the audience that they all have a say by keeping our eyes and ears on the group rather than an individual. We also do not see just one character on screen at any given moment - they all interact at some point and all of their movements play on someone else's. 

This is quite a different way of presenting a number than we have seen from earlier musicals. More often than not, we would see a dancer dancing and a singer singing as a way to play to the individual's strength as a performer. A musical like 42nd Street, for example, sees Ruby Keeler doing solo tap routines and Dick Powell singing by himself most of the time as a way to play up their talents to the audience. Even in earlier Fred Astaire films, such as Top Hat, we see him in his own big tap numbers and songs. Films had always featured multiple performers with varying and differing strengths - the main difference here being that we are now downplaying the individual in favour of catering to the group as one unit with no one player standing alone.

What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

It's curious to note that nobody's wardrobe stands out here, since we see them all dressed in matching neutral colours (navy, white, grey, black). Instead, it is the set that stands out as it is mostly composed of reds and greens, with the added touch of red on Lily's dress to tie it all together. Lily and Lester are wearing grey (they are a couple, after all), but Lester's tie is navy blue to match both Jeffrey and Tony. Although the colour palette of their wardrobe is somewhat subdued, there is a subtle nod to their individual personalities through their choice of garment - but not so overt as to have us focusing on one over another. 

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

The main thing I notice about the staging here is that the characters are singing and dancing mostly in unison. At the start, we have Jeffrey sitting Tony down with Lester and Lily to introduce some ideas to them for a play. As Tony and the lot warms to his approach, they all join in the fun by interacting with the set around them - keeping with the highlighted lyric of "the world is a stage, the stage is a world of entertainment". Each step and placement of their bodies ties them together as one single moving mass - this is especially prevalent in the final minutes of the number with the series of simple cross-steps toward the camera. The song culminates in a true "group shot" of the foursome with their arms outstretched to the audience having just demonstrated to us, and to themselves, that together they can accomplish what they set out to do. As an audience, we are left feeling like the efforts behind the scenes are perhaps more collaborative in nature than we thought, and that if we work together even the craziest of ideas can be brought to fruition.

 

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I thought I had seen The Bandwagon, but either it was very long ago or I haven't actually seen it, because I don't remember this scene at all. I enjoyed the clip very much, watching the way that the actions and lines of one fed into the next. It was so well choreographed and well executed that at times I missed how one thing segued into another, sort of a performance sleight of hand. For instance, the way Nanette Fabray appeared to be standing on Oscar Levant's shoulders but then when he stepped away she was still there, almost as if in mid-air.

The most noticeable thing about the costumes is that they aren't what you'd call note-worthy. They are more subdued and down to earth, not flashy or attention-seeking at all. Nanette Fabray's dress is something a housewife of the era might wear while doing her daily chores. Levant and Astaire's were more business-professional, but Buchanan's was more of a leisure suit.

The interaction and feeding into and off of one another indicates that they are a tight-knit group who are there to bolster, support, and help each other to succeed. 

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"NeverGonnaDance" was talking above about color or the lack of it in the costumes.  I noticed the stage was this bright, disturbing red color as they did two steps and an incline at one point.  Perhaps this song could have been done in a real world situation making the scenery a character and highlighting the scenery with bold colors.

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1-As has been discussed, the overlying sense of the characters in this number is that they are all "buddies", they can poke fun at, and with one another, there is a sense of true friendship even if someone is taunting someone else, the ensemble feel is at the forefront. In earlier musicals we see one, maybe two characters at most interacting, solos and duets almost exclusively, but this is a group number, and even the lyric is divided to allow sharing amongst musical phrases, very unique and a trail blazing concept compared to musicals of the past.

2-Costuming is relaxed, friendly, buddies hanging out in "rehearsal gear" even Astaire himself is as casual as he could get, all colours are muted, soft blues and beige (aside the one classic red rose pop on Fabray's waist) the costuming suggests they are all just in hang out mode, nothing special, no occasion to dress for, just "average clothes for average joes"

3-As I stated earlier, the song is split not only into 4 different soloists, but phrases themselves are sub-split, this allows for a feeling of spontaneity, freshness, someone can cut someone off mid thought and finish it, this allows the feel of a true ensemble sense, a friend who annoyingly cuts into your point, or conversely knows you so well that they finish your thoughts. The 3 characters are convincing Astaire who "gets it" by finishing some of the thoughts his friends started, it also allows everyone to be a part of the story that is being told, to develop the concept of "entertainment" as they go along.

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1.  This song is about the theater through and through.  This is also the staplement song of MGM musicals overall, considering all the great clips of the musicals were put in a trilogy series called 'That's Entertainment' parts 1-3.  While their counterpart 20th Century Fox is 'There's no Business like Show Business'.  Anyway, they include each other by giving specific roles in the dance performance.  It was one of the first musicals to show what goes behind the scenes of a musical. 

2.  Each costume is supposed to represent the different emotions that are presented in a comedy, or musical play.

3.  The staging changes like it would of back in the day, when they had people move sets on the movie lot, or stage on Broadway.  It helps the characters interact because of what the instinct of the performer to know, what to do in the next up coming scene. 

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  1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? With the way that the each interact with each other, you'd think they have known each other for years. They looked so comfortable with one another. It's different in the sense that group numbers weren't so known in musicals of earlier years, they were more solo or just couple numbers. 
  2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. All of their clothing seemed to be in blue or gray tones, so none stood out more than another. The only thing, though, that did pop out, was the red flower or bow on her belt. 
  3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? They all blended together nicely, complimenting the dancing of the other. 

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  1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

In the earlier musicals, a dance performance was either going to be a long solo or pas de deux for the audience to focus on.  In the post-war era, to try to mimic the concept of cooperation and sharing, the groups start to get larger.  In the "That's Entertainment" segment from The Bandwagon there is a balancing act of three dancers at a time from the group of four on the screen at any one time.  

  1. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

There is not one actor/actress who is costumed in order to stand out in the ensemble.  In contrast, in On the Town, when Ann Miller dances in the brilliant emerald green dress, she consumes the focus of the performance.  You aren't meant to look anywhere else but at her swirling dress and legs that go on forever.  Because everyone in the That's Entertainment clip is in shades of grey so as not to pull focus off of any one performer.

  1. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?

In the staging of the performance, there is balance on either side of the screen.  When the ladder slides from left to right or when the dancers make a balanced pyramid as the focal point of the performance, there isn't one off-center dancer to pull the viewer's focus.  It's all for one, and one for all!

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