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

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Americans Celebrate Community and Conformity (title from Lecture Notes for "Band Wagon"

Does anyone find it ironic that the House on Unamerican Activities (or HUAC) was spurred on during this same time - so did these plots with were celebrating community and conformity an ingredient in their suspicion stew or did it create their suspicion because writers and producers were promoting those rather than individualism?  Just curious if others see the oxymoron here.  Not pointing at the lecturers but at that committee which was a stain on American history.

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1) They seem to be working as a team. 

2) They all seem to be in similar neutral colors.  No one pops out. 

3) The staging makes them look like a team.  Each has their own special part to play in the show. 

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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?

This dance number is a collaborative effort unlike earlier dancing where although they might be together, there were strengths also as the individual.  Everything that was done, really counted on the other for number to look and feel cohesive.

 

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 the attire on all four where very coordinated and all colors complimented one another.  Only the red flower on the dress stood out, but even the flower coordinated with the red in the background sets, so as not to make any one person stand 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?  

There was one scene in particular where they are all together but cross stepping forward.  So much of the play in the dance scenes really relied on the others to make it look light and fun but still a group effort.

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Coordination and BLUE.  All the men wore blue in one way or another.  Levant wore a blue tie but he was also coordinated with Fabray in her gray skirt.  The rose at her waist tied in with the scenery and was the one splash of color that may have marked her as the female.  Even the ascot was blue.  The hats during worn by Astaire and Buchanan were Black and that tied to Levant's tie.  What you really notice is that they all seem to blend together so well.  Different shades of blue with white shirts and a touch of gray - it all blended so well.  

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everyone is the same ,  the dress is normal like street clothing ,no outlandish hair makeup  or jewelry, they were all  on the same level.

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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? They are working more as a group.  They seem to be playing off each other.  The earlier musicals had one lead dancer or maybe a couple dancing.
  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.  Sinatra,  Fabray and Levant had on coordinating colors while Buchanan had on a different color. I was curious about that. Maybe because he was more flamboyant or because he wanted to be the director.
  3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?  All the props seem to tie them all together,  like the hats that Sinatra Buchanan wore, the structure that they did the pyramid on, the ladder gag. And the fact that they all worked together equally, no one was trying to steal the spotlight.

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While watching the clip from The Band Wagon, I've noticed that the characters worked together as a team throughout the song. They also recreated some scenes of what they were singing (ex. Lily being "The Dame"). Also, there were no costume changes, just the four of them performing in their own clothes. Overall, they are all equals, working together to create entertainment.

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The viewer notices the interplay of the characters, each offering their own insight into what makes "entertainment." They play off one another's ideas as well as movements. This scene differs from earlier musicals in that, instead of featuring a solo dance number or a duo either dancing in-step or step-for-step, the characters dance cohesively, weaving in and out of each other or all in line as an ensemble. 

 

I would say that their costuming, albeit different from one another, does not help one stand out from the rest of the ensemble. Even Astaire suit, while fashionable, is not flashy. I find it interesting that, instead of clothing them in similar fashions, the characters are dressed individually, but that it doesn't create a sense of separation. Instead, it reinforces the idea that, although each character is of a different background/profession, each character is a critical component in creating.

 

Again, one has to acknowledge the interplay between the characters. At times, they are literally weaving in and out of one another and even when one character seems to be doing something it affects another character. As previously stated in the lecture and almost certainly in most of the previous posts in this thread, this helps to reinforce the idea of collaboration and community above the individual. 

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1. They all work perfectly together. Each individual perform works seemless with the other within the musical number with no one standing out or taking over.

2. They are all costumed in colors of blue and white with even the shades of blue in the men's ties matching the shade of blue in the woman's skirt.

3. They all seemed to match each other perfectly with the context of the musical number.

 

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1)  I would say they include each other is how they play off each other. From the very beginning we see Fred Astaire just singing, no build up or music starting to build to it, and how they sing step by step playing off the other person and how they act throughout the scene from Fred and Jack interacting with the top hats and to them doing a synchronized dance using the sage itself. And to how its different from other musicals from before is there is a whole lot more of movement, even them moving off screen and then popping back up again when usually we will see our characters up front and center even the camera giving us up close on their facial features, but here in this scene its something a whole lot different.

2) There really isn't anything in the costumes, Other then Jeffrey and Lester ( Oscar Levant and Jack Buchanan characters) are wearing different color suits, something nice and fancy but noting flashy or that stands out and Lily ( Nanette Fabray Character) is wearing a dress also something nice but again nothing that stands out just something that notice, but Tony ( Fred Astaire) is wearing what looks like some kind of dress jacket and dress/suit pants which I notice is a little different from what everyone else is wearing but fits well in this scene.

3) The Stage is really big which gives them more room to move in sync with each other or play off each other in the dance, it also gives them more props as we see when they use the back of the stage to do a synchronized dance and then we see Jeffrey carry a ladder by as Tony and Lester are mock talking, then it follows up with Tony standing behind a prop door and Jeffrey playing this kind of hide and seek as they use this prop door then with Jeffrey its rolled off screen. 

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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? For a society that was afraid of the commune, i.e. communism, this piece was all about the group and not really standing out. Past musicals had just songs with a thin plot, this musical had the song helping the story along and were integral to the plot of the film.

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 actors are dressed in the normative for the time and as one would think of the characterization of their parts. Fred, in a casual suit, Nanette in a casual dress, Jack with an ascot and belted jacket as a director and Oscar dressed in a tweed sports coat as a writer. Very stereotypical.

What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? Oscar does the gags as the funny man, copying a Three Stooges skit with the ladder, the other three do the more complex dance moves, Nanette is a comedic vixen selling chaste sex at one point and Jack and Fred play of one another with the hats and they all come together to sell it to the audience.

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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?
  2. The four have very close relationships with one another. You feel like they are at a level of intimacy that one gets after spending a lot of time with someone and going through a stressful event. Their level of familiarity allows for a lot of ribbing and joking around. The relationships feel more realistic. In earlier musicals someone was either the lead or the side-kick, but here some of the elements of an ensemble are at play: their roles in this scene are to support one of the others as they have their moment then they take a moment of spotlight themselves as the rest support them.
  3.  
  4. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.
  5. One of the ways see characters feel cohesive, or part of a unit, is that they are dressed in shades of blue. They are dressed individually to reflect their different personalities, but everyone is in shades of blue. The challenge, of course, is what to do with the woman. They solve that problem by putting her in a very full-skirted, primarily white dress, that has blue squares on them, so it is coordinating, but brings attention to her at the same time. The set is red, which then contrasts with the blue, which makes them stand out even further.
  6.  
  7. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song?
  8. This number is incredibly fluid. It moves from one area to another quickly. They all share the spotlight and all share supporting the others. They each have different abilities and roles, and this song highlights them. The set has many different levels and areas of interest and they are not performing in front of a stationary camera: the camera goes with them, even helping them with the gags!

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1. Earlier musicals usually had a star or someone who was an ingenue who was being trained or being helped out by a professional.  In this number there is not one person that has precedent over another.  They are working together and there is not a person who stands out as the "star" 

2.  The costuming is not elaborate.  Nobody stands out from anybody else.  The costumes are just regular clothes that people could wear.  They are not brightly colored or stand out more than the others. 

3.  Their dancing and choreography is in unison.  There's just the one time when one of the characters goes off screen because he's not as much of a dancer.  Their steps are as a group and nobody gets any solos. 

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At the beginning of the song, Astaire sits in the director's chair, and the others crowd around him as a unit. They each put their hands on him, as they attempt to convince him to do the show. They point at him and move in together toward him. Once he joins in, they link arms and dance with their legs over each other's as a cohesive whole. Again, they show support for each other in the acrobatic part of the scene. Unlike earlier musicals we've seen, there are no closeups of one person; noone is the star of the show. There are no solo spots, though the particular qualities of each are featured, including Levant's humor and Fabray's flirtatiousness. 

The blacks, blues and grays of the costumes all coordinate between the actors, ensuring that not one of them stand out as an individual. The black hats are used in a comedic buddy sequence between the men, as they slap them off each other's heads. Fabray then knocks the hats off, as the ladder passes by. They are all joking around together.

Levant lights Buchanan's cigarette, and they all chase each other from behind the prop door. They each spin Fabray around and dance in one line, ending together, with hands outstretched toward the viewing audience, as if to say, come join us, you're one of us too. 

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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 characters are all friends, and they play off of one another very well. They make fun of one another, and the scene is one of what seems like improvised creativity. It's different because it's a group putting on a fake show rather than a group putting on a real one. 

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.

They all have the blues and grays color palette. Nanette and Oscar have the same colors which indicate that they go together (if my memory is correct). Fred is in a dark navy which perhaps indicates the blue mood he was in during the beginning of the number. Jack is in a more artistic jacket which captures his personality in the film. 

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

It's all in fun. They improvise off of one another continuously. You can tell they're all pals. It was also evenly dispersed so that one person did not upstage the other. 

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The interaction of the characters is more like a conversation through song. They are not just singing a song while others listen. The 3 friends are trying to convince Astaire to be a part of the show. It is different from the musicals that were like a Broadway Show within the movie. Instead they were putting on a show for Fred's benefit.

The costumes were not costumes but regular street clothes again giving the story and the song an impromptu gesture to convince Astaire of how fun entertaining is and reasons for him to do a show. They appeared to be just friends on an average day in their clothes who just happened to be on the set of a theater.

The interplay was light and comical with examples of Levant appearing to be balancing the top level of friends on his shoulders, then he walks forward and they remain.  Also, he carries a ladder in the front and by the time it gets to the back end, he is again carrying the ladder. Very comical and lighthearted.

 

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1.  There is definitely an overall theme that each character has a role to play in bringing together this comeback. I also get a hint, though I cannot really put my finger on it, that each character's role is pronounced...the writer, the producer (or director?), the musician, and the star. I could not say that such a collaborative style is only a manifestation of post-war musicals, as we see the same regard for team work in musicals like Meet Me in St. Louis and On the Town. However, we do know Astaire is a professional dancer while you easily notice the heavy, uncoordinated footing of Levant, and this scene plays and uses the weaknesses to make the choreography work.

2.  Grays, blues, and whites dominate the clothing palette, even while the styles of each character is individualistic bringing life to the character of each. The color of one's blue tie plays into the scarf of another, the jacket of a third, and the skirt of Nanette.  Nanette pulls in the background with a red rose on her belt.

3.  I notice the song is very playful in staging. It incorporates all the strong elements of a good production.

 

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1. I thought it was interesting how each person has a single line to sing before coming together. When they were dancing, not one had a spot all their own; no one was highlighted. This differs from movies from the 1930s and 1940s where the stars either had a single number all to themselves or parts with the spotlight on them. As a teacher of the Deaf, I found it very interesting how Nannette in particular interacted with her fellow actors, as she had a substantial hearing loss.

2. As far as costuming is concerned, they blend together. Most had grays or navy in their outfits. The only one with any truly different color was Nannette Fabray’s red flower at her waist. The costumed lent themselves to this idea of collaboration.

3. Levantine really did not do any of the dancing; instead he had the comedic role in the scene. The other three danced and playfully tried to upstage the others, while still bouncing ideas off each 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?

They touch each other during the song and frequently change places so no one person takes priority. In earlier musicals the characters were separate from each other or only in two’s.

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 four players are all wearing complimentary colors. Astaire is wering a dark, blue pin striped suit. Levant is wearing dark trousers and light tan jacket with a dark blue tie. Buchanan is wearing a lighter blue jacket with dark blue pants and a tan ascot. Fabray is wearing an off-white and tan dress. The colors aren’t matchy matchy but they are cohesive and bring the group together without wearing a uniform.

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

It’s obvious that Astair is the one who needs the convincing. He is the one placed in the center of the group as they sing about what entertainment is. Astair is the one they look at before they look at each other to check if their message is getting through. Fabray seems to be the cement because she is the one checking in with everyone with looks.

 

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1. Throughout the scene, dialogue/lyrics and choreography are used to illustrate the messages of unity, cohesion, and conformity (especially when Fred Astaire joins in the singing partway through) conveyed in the ways they include or relate to each other - they each start singing where the other leaves off, they're constantly in step, move fluidly with and around each other, and make every small interaction (lighting a cigarette, removing hats, etc) look like complementary motions. It's different than previous musicals because no single person is taking center stage and is "putting on a show" (like Eleanor Powell's first tap number in Born to Dance) for the others and it isn't about funneling the themes through one person's performance, like many of the solo song/dance numbers from the 1930s and 1940s. 

2. The colors of the costumes are more muted than in some of the other musicals in previous years (and definitely less vibrant than other musicals in the 1950s, like An American in Paris or Singin' in the Rain) and all four of the characters are wearing clothes that aren't too flashy and all more or less match with each other in a combination of blue, brown, white, and black/gray. There's conformity and unity in their costuming so that no one, even Nanette Fabray in her dress, is in the spotlight above the others. 

3. There are a few moments in the scene that help define the relationships between the characters in the song such as, in the very beginning, when Nanette Fabray is caught in the middle of the dance and has to elbow her way between the two men (indicating her fighting to be seen on the same playing field with them) or when Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan are miming a disagreement and they both knock over each other's hats (showing that the two have very different ideas and methods)  or three moments when Oscar Levant plays some kind of "trick" on the others - lighting the cigarette without being seen, running with the ladder at its beginning and end, and seemingly being a crucial part of the pyramid and then walking away from it to reveal the illusion) - which shows that he's a bit of a trouble making character, a wild card in the group.

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In this clip all the characters seem to be equal in talent since there aren't any step routines that showcase an advance knowledge of dance. The singing is done in more of a talking way, as in

there are not many long notes held, the pace is similar to conversing with each other. They all seem to interact with each other, as though no one is to be left out, the only exception being

when the one goes to get the handkerchief. Most musicals we've seen up to this point was more of a sing - and - dance type of thing. If there was a well known dancer, like Fred Astaire, we

could expect to see him dance throughout the film, the same goes for the music, we could expect to hear great songs, whether a great ballad, or a lively tune, singing and dancing was usually

showcased.

As many have mentioned, the costumes in this scene are coordinated, with almost a monochromatic style. Most of the color in the scene comes from the props they play with, the reds and

greens, and even those colors seem to be used sparingly. No one is singled out in looks, just as no one is singled out in talent.

The couple are always together, neither of the other two really come between them when they're dancing as a group. The only time they're separated, again, is during the step routine when

Lester exists to get the handkerchief.

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1. The four characters act as an ensemble and are in sync with each other for most of the song. Unlike earlier movie musicals where one or two characters were the centerpiece of a song, these four work together as a team.

2. Everyone is dressed in neutral colors and in nice clothing so they it enhances the ensemble of the group instead of having one character stick out.

3. The men in this scene are the ones doing most of the physical gags and dancing while the woman comes off as more of a supporting character despite being part of the ensemble. 

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All the actors' costumes suit their personas, and no one is center of attention. Even facial expressions show there is no annoyance or issues between the actors. They seem to be enjoying themselves, by being subtle they are able to show their individuality but also togetherness.

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1. As others have said, the scene was very fluid, remarkably so because I suspect that Astaire had to restrain himself to keep his dancing in line with the others.  I did notice that in the brief part where the dancing got more complicated, Levant went off screen, then came back to add his comedic routines to the action.  

2.  Astaire and Buchanan were in various shades of blue; Levant and Fabray were in gray.  Nothing was glitzy or glamorous.

3.  What came to mind was the way they moved together like a unit and also finished each others lines in the song.

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1) Unlike the musicals of the 1940's and before, the newer musicals of the 1950's focused on the group and the idea that everyone is the same, and if they're not, then they should be. During this clip, it is clear that they are all equals. Not only are they portrayed as friends and as co-workers who can get along regardless of the struggle, the film styles showcase that fact. No one star takes center "stage" over another. If they do separate during the song, they are usually split into twos and are frequently going in and out of the shot. Although Astaire could easily have performed this on his own, or have been the showcase of the number, the entire cast participated and the choreography was tailored to accommodate the different talents (comedy, dancing, singing, etc).

2) The costuming, much like the choreography, is very similar. The tones are muted and each character has a match (blues and greys). There aren't any fancy dresses or white tie and tails - just what the average person would be wearing. The light and simple costumes contrast the bright and loud set they are performing on and help them stand out together. There was not a lot to draw the eyes to the costumes so the audience could remain focused on the performers themselves.

3) This goes back slightly to my answer for number 1 - the togetherness of the cast as a whole working together to play to each other's strengths. There is some slight physical comedy, and that is mostly left to the men performing. Fabray is showcased at one point as being the beautiful woman walking buy to distract Levant and Astaire. Buchanan is typically separated slightly by the rest due to his newness to the team of pre-established friends, but always comes back to join the group as a whole. Towards the end of the song, where they are stepping their feet over each other and reaching their arms across resembles one person trying to reach the "top," as if they are trying to break out on their own, but they "work it out" and end up compromising on a stance to promote each person equally.

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