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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #11 (From Singin' in the Rain

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Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. 

Although his title is the straight man, he really seems like the most comedic character of all. If it weren't for his role, which is very complex and funny at the same time, the scene would not nearly have the comedy element --- although the dancing is sublime!

 

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

In the pre-dance set up, Donald is the cooperative, yet dubious student, while Cosmo is the class clown.  Once the professor catches Cosmo in the act of mocking him, the two friends revert to their childhood:  two naughty little boys who like to create mayhem.  They dance with the same exuberance as they always have, full of athleticism and precision, and end the dance by delightfully trashing the joint. 

The dance is one of my favorites.  I'm a Kelly fan and usually have eyes for him only in a routine, but O'Connor matches him so well here that I find myself concentrating on HIM rather than Kelly.  Youtube is a wonderful thing.  I found an audio recording where O'Connor talks about SINGING IN THE RAIN in general and this number in particular.  He credited Kelly with changing/expanding/improving his dance style by getting him to add more balletic movement/extension to his upper body.  He was also relieved to learn that he and Kelly both turned to the left when dancing, which made this number a bit easier to perform.  (I also discovered thanks to an interview of Stanley Donen and a presentation given by Kelly's widow and official biographer, Patricia Ward Kelly, that the crew did NOT put anything--milk or otherwise--in the water in the "Singin' in the Rain" dance number to make it show up better on film.  It was all meticulous cinematography.)

 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

The straight man, of course, has to set up and be the target of the punch line without being in on the joke.  In the beginning of the scene, the stuffy professor is in charge and drills Don with the tongue twisters to better develop his elocution.  There's a lot riding on Don's ability to transition from the dashing lover in silent movies into the sophisticated star who talks on film ("Well, of course we talk!  Don't everybody?"), so he's feeling the pressure and at least trying to take it all seriously.  The professor amuses himself with his cleverness, and he's comic in his enthusiastic gestures and speech without meaning to.  It's easy for Cosmo, who doesn't take anything too seriously, to mock his facial expressions and idiolect.  The professor tries unsuccessfully to escape the lunacy, and he quickly becomes little more than a prop for the dancers as they let off steam.

 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

Don is the alpha male and leading man.  He's muscular, athletic, and suave.

Cosmo is the beta male and comic relief.  He's the sidekick and Don's foil in some aspects.  He's there to make sure Don doesn't get too big for his proverbial britches.  For example, Don laments that he's been feeling insecure ever since Kathy told him he's "just a shadow on film" and that he can't forget her.  Cosmo cracks, "How could you?  She's the first dame that hasn't fallen for your line since you were four!"

The professor is--what DO we call someone like him?  A gamma male?  His outward trappings aren't effete/effeminate, but his masculinity derives from his authoritarian position as a scholar more than anything else.  He's almost asexual.

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The pre-dance movements of Kelly and O'Connor are synchronized and act as a song opening.

The Professor is the one who is teaching the two of them and the Professor is serious about what he is doing and wants it to be done his way.

The Professor is very serious, Kelly is the person who stands out, and O'Connor is the one who is joking around and mocking the Professor.

 

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Not sure if anyone else noticed this, but during the dance number when Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor use window curtains as costume, the pattern of the drapery looks very much like a Hebrew prayer shawl, which would be in keeping with the "Moses" theme. I thought this was a clever use of costume design within the dance number.

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1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

O'Connor is the fun, jokester character. Rolls his eyes, makes funny faces and is goofing off. Kelly is more composed and masculine in his composure but even he is starting to cave to O'Connor's fun antics. This goes right into their dancing techniques. O'Connor the hoofer, arms flailing around, moving with full abandonment and quite exaggerated. Kelly is more composed, arms go with the choreography and has crisp, controlled and composed movements.

2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.
The professor keeps a straight face and ensures all the attention is on O'Connor and Kelly. He only comes into play when Kelly and O'Connor want him too and doesn't detracted or pull focus off the dance. Unless you focus on him, the professor is not the one you should be looking at.

3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

O'Connor is the more feminine of the 3 men. He is batting his eyes and plays the scene for the laugh even upstaging Kelly (which I love). Kelly to me is the masculine, confident man. Knowing he was a bit arrogant, task master and thought highly of himself makes me like O'Connor a bit more and so my focus is on Donald more (plus the way Kelly treated Debbie Reynolds behind the scenes always irks me). The professor is a stuffy man. No real sense of humor and takes everything, including his job, too seriously.

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1. The pre-dance movements are very similar to the dance movements.  I honestly don't see much difference.

2. The professor is an excellent "straight man". He remains serious while Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor's characters fool around. I was particularly amused my the expressions on the professor's face!

3. Each of the three men have their own part to play.  Gene Kelly's character is what I would call the "typical" leading man-handsome, charming. O'Connor's character is charming as well, but his humor is part of his charm.  The professor, the straight man, tries and fails to keep the two of them in line.

This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie and a real treat to watch.

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Throughout the number the one thing that stood out was how each character here is represented: Don is the student learning dutifully from the teacher, the Professor himself is the straight man, and Cosmo is the comic relief. Before the dancing starts Don is the one learning this difficult rhyme while the Professor tries to listen and Cosmo is clowning in the background. This seems to translate into the number as Cosmo really seems to be having a ball, Don is a touch more serious while still having fun, and the Professor is watching off to the side. 

I've always thought of the straight man as the one who is in on the action but stays out of the way of the fun. They are mostly window dressing to keep the plot moving. Not always the easiest job or the most rewarding, though I think they usually have it the hardest.

When it comes to masculinity, Don is top dog. He has more strength and athleticism compared to the other two. Cosmo is the lesser male here. He is more for comic relief and fun, Don's partner and foil. The Professor I feel kind of falls in the middle. He is there to keep them out of trouble so is masculine but not exactly.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

Singin’ in the Rain is one of my all-time favorite films. I used to set my alarm so that I could get up and watch Gene Kelly movies when they were shown on late-night television when I was in . . . but why should I date myself, right?! Let’s just say that my love for movies started many years ago, I don’t want to count years instead of watching Gene Kelly!

 

In the Daily Dose clip, O’Connor and Kelly are very tightly synchronized before and during their dance. O’Connor especially has to time his facial contortions so the diction coach doesn’t see what he is doing.

Watch the professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

The straight man: This takes me back to TCM/Canvas’s Ouch! A Salute to Slapstick (slapstick = exaggeration, ritual, physicality, make-believe, violence) because this clip is slapstick with song and dance. O’Connor and Kelly get to be silly in comparison to the diction coach (the straight man). The way they are dressed, in slacks and sweaters, made me think of college kids. They start making fun of the diction coach and can’t seem to stop themselves, although the diction coach wants them to stop. The difference between the “college kids” and the “professor” is all part of the humor.

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

Kelly and O’Connor are young, exuberant, sure of themselves, full of energy, and dressed casually and colorfully. The diction coach comes across as a snob and as out of touch, and he is dressed mostly in black. His phrasebook may be great for elocution, but he has Kelly saying the most ridiculous things. O’Connor comes in for diversion and to help Kelly make fun of his coach. I wonder if we already have hints about youthful rebellion in Singin’ in the Rain!

 

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1. The rhythm of the song/routine is set by their almost chanting of the tongue-twister, it then proceeds to their hands, and then they finally start dancing.  Once they do start dancing, it's no holds barred.  I have watched this movie numerous times and would watch this clip again and again.  Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor are simply fantastic together.  It's a shame they only made this one movie together. 

2. If I remember correctly, Gene Kelly's character is taking the elocution lessons but he and Donald O'Connor are really wanting to go out for the day.  The rather haughty professor is just too easy for Donald O'Connor to mimic and he can't help himself.  Gene Kelly might try at first, but is soon pulled into the fun.  The professor's role is to be mimicked and then to be upset at being mocked and then further upset by the 2 men goofing around.  They pile the stuff on him at the end so they can make their getaway.  He is mostly just a prop for the Gene and Donald.

3. Donald O'Connor is the beta male through out the movie - always making jokes and gags, not really all the serious.  His star is definitely tied to Gene Kelly's who is the alpha male - the romeo chasing the women, full of himself at times, in the power position.  But he's a good alpha male - he always makes sure his friend has a job and he's not purposely mean to anyone.  The professor might be described as the omega male - somewhat effete, not a romantic or manly man in any way.   I also want to add, that Gene and Donald are rather stereotypically "American" men.  The professor more European and 'out of style'.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

The scene puts 2 grown men in a classroom session and they immediately revert to class clown behavior. Eye contact between them is devilish and fun - that feeling sets the mood for the dance.

 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

I have never done this before - I am always in awe of the tap routine and the main characters, so here we go. The professor is the “adult” in the room and he has to contend with the rowdy “boys”. He is confused, perturbed, uncomfortable yet somewhat compliant as he is captured and pushed around. Finally, when the serious dancing starts - he can’t help to be impressed. This is new to him. He looks up and down at the dancers from toes to face and back again just trying to process what he is seeing.

 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

The ”boys” are all vitality and strength and agility. The professor as the older man is staid and bookish. The old norms of theater and acting are stepping aside for rhythm and music.

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whats fun about this scene, is that the two donald o,connor and gene kelly are like two naughty boys and as they proceed through the scene they push,pull and tease the poor professor and then proceed to pile stuff on top of him at the end. they take a little tongue twister and do a dance number around it is great.

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First, let me say that when I see this dancing scene, like mijiyoon38, I want to see the entire movie again.  "Moses Supposes" is such darn good fun to watch as Cosmos (O'Connor) and Don (Kelly) act like college freshmen who try to get the professor off topic with their antics at mimicking the straight man/professor and making goofy faces.  "Let's see if we can break his concentration and make this boring lesson fun!" O'Connor has such a rubbery face which he can transform at will, and he goads the professor on to recite more linguistically complex phrases by applauding and encouraging "Wonderful! Do another!"  Kelly as his close childhood buddy follows Cosmos' lead by rolling his R's with gusto.  I agree with MotherofZeus that the act of diminishing the intelligent character is demeaning and cringing to watch.  I am a college instructor, and I have to "perform" for my students in class for 80 minutes each session and thirty times in a 15 week semester. While I do not break into a song and dance (although I wish that I could), I know that luring my students' attention away from their digital devices can seem as daunting as delivering a soft-shoe routine.  Maybe Dr. Ament, Dr. Gehring, and Dr. Edwards can attest to this dilemma with shared empathy.

Bobby Watson as the Straight man/dilettante professor plays his role to perfection.  He is insulted by the mocking faces of Cosmos, and shoves the book of linguistic limericks into Don's hands--"Here, you try to teach elocution to yourself!"  He remains confounded by the coup that the students carry out through their song and dance.  He does become a "dummy" of sorts who is stunned and stiffened by the display of effervescent energy.  Poor professor!  If he only knew the time step or shuffle, step, ball change, he may be able to keep up with and join into the pitter, pattering party.  Instead, all he can do is be amazed or dazed by his loss of control in the situation.

 

Overall, this song and dance sequence is a sheer delight.  I agree with MotherofZeus that O'Connor can steal the limelight from Kelly with his comic expressions.  Both are supremely divine in their dancing virtuosity and their use of props such as the striped curtains becoming their Old Testament gowns.  As pseudo-college students, they dance on the desk and the chairs--wouldn't all students like to do this!  [I wonder if Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poet's Society used this scene as his idea of having his students challenge the stuffy atmosphere of the prep school by standing on their desks.]  As each dancer does his short bit of hoofing, the other one points out his technique to the professor: "looky, what he can do!"  Now the student is teaching the teacher, and as Mr. Turkentine in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory says "for a student to teach his teacher is presumptuous and rude," but all kids know that Mr. Turkentine is a dodo who can't figure out his teaching schedule for the quiz he will give!  O'Connor and Kelly do all of their moves with such ease, and they look at each other admiringly as if to say "Hey, we are pretty great at this!"  Their steps seem so effortless that I think "certainly, I can do that," but that is the magic of their talent:  it looks easy but it takes so much coordination and practice.  The only other dance sequences that come close but do not top "Moses Supposes" is "Fit as a Fiddle (And Ready for Love)" and "Good Morning" where they are joined by Debbie Reynolds.

The dancing styles of O'Connor and Kelly are distinct.  Kelly is more athletic is his delivery, and hence, he is the Alpha male, while O'Connor is somewhat balletic, and thus, he is the Beta male, but together, they both run the dancing alphabet gamut from A to Z in their musical lesson of tapping with great vigor and conviction, imitating trains, performing Russian kicks, and doing barrel rolls that their talent in this clip shows their collective bravado.  I always want to stand up and cheer when they sing that last A!  "Bravo! Do another!"

On another note, I watched again the clip of Danny Kaye singing "Ugly Duckling" from the lecture notes, and I always smile when Kaye gets to the point in the song/tale where he exclaims, "I'm a swan. Whee!"  Danny Kaye is a delightful storyteller, and the viewer can immediately sense that he genuinely loves children.  This song is an encouragement to any child or teen who feels he or she does not fit in with his or her peers.  It takes a kind heart to know exactly how to raises a young person's spirits.   The other endearing song with a child is "Five Pennies" from the movie The Five Pennies where Kaye as Red Nichols sings to his daughter.  Kaye is a master at vocal sounds and tricky, fast-paced rhythms and lyrics as well as engaging a crowd of people whether young or old such as "The Gypsy Drinking Song" from The Inspector General or The Professor of Music from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  He is a Beta male, but one that any woman would want to mother and provide tender loving care.  Kaye is such a treasure, and he was so generous to share his talent and humanity as a UNICEF's first ambassador.

 

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1. O'Conner and Kelly"s pre dance moves are so well timed with their actual dance moves that they blend so smoothly together. These two had flawless dance moves which shows the perfect timing when these two were put together. Being a fan of this movie and Gene Kelly I would say that watching his flawless footwork is amazing. Pair him with O'Conner and you can't lose.

2. The straight man role of the professor is crucial to the comedic timing and the plot of this film. It reminds me of My Fair Lady when Audrey Hepburn's character is getting her "lady" lessons from the professor and he does not even blink when she makes so many comedic flaws. The straight man is just crucial if you want comedy to work.

3. All three men are masculine in all they do. The male bantoring that Kelly and O'Conner do to the professor and his willingness to take it shows men at their best in comedy and the way they all seem to be able to flow through the secene is great work. As far as differences go the professor is very much the upper crust stariaght faced man who is no nonsense. O'Conner has almost a boyish masculenty to him in his timing in this scene where Kelly has the young man but not quite out of boyhood charm about his character. 

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1. Both Gene Kelly's and Donald O'Connor's pre-dance movements (and their vocal patter) perfectly presage the "Moses Supposes" dance number, setting up the rhythm of the song long before the orchestra comes in, and establishing the characters' personalities.

2. The straight man is a comedic essential, and Bobby Watson's Professor does an excellent job, giving Gene and Donald someone to bounce off of, make fun of, and even treat like a prop! He adds comic relief, conflict, and makes the scene a story point instead of two guys just breaking into song for no reason. I don't think the scene or the dance number would have been half as great or memorable without him. 

3. Gene Kelly, as per usual, is the more assertive, masculine, dominant male, always in charge and leading the situation. Donald O'Connor, as the younger "friend," is masculine but in a more boyish, less dominant way. He's second in command but supports Kelly completely, as shown in the dance number where they don't challenge each other but match each others' steps exactly. Watson's professor is just the opposite. Stuffy, effete, and unathletic, he comes off as much less masculine than Kelly or O'Connor, who wrest control from him both literally and figuratively as the scene progresses.

While studying this clip, I was reminded of something one of my college film teachers mentioned that I've never forgotten: pay attention to the length of the takes and number of cuts during the dance numbers of the masters like Kelly and Astaire and O'Connor. Most of the time, the only cuts are to get a different angle, not because someone messed up. Watching Kelly and O'Connor's fast-paced, difficult, and synchronized "Moses" routine, it's easy to see that the takes are quite long, and there are very few cuts. I know Gene was a perfectionist, but to be able to nail it virtually all in one go requires a ton of talent and perseverance. They don't make many dancers like that anymore, sad to say.

"Singin' In the Rain" (1952) is one of my top-10 favorite musicals. It's one of the few "jukebox" musicals that actually has a well thought-out plot, and the entire cast is just such a joy to watch. I'm so excited to discuss and watch it for homework!

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      At the start of this scene with the elocution professor (Bobby Watson), it is Don (Gene Kelly) who is the serious student, while Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) is the class clown. It is Don who was ordered to take the lesson; Cosmo is there as a pal going along for the ride. Cosmo initially feigns interest and enthusiasm for what the professor presents but quickly begins to mock him behind his back. The professor's mood changes, as he turns and catches Cosmo making funny faces. The look indicates that the professor begins to realize that he is not the one in control of the situation. As Don tries to remain serious, Cosmo begins to recite the lines rhythmically. This prompts Don to join in on the mockery, and the dance begins. The hapless professor is reduced first from principal to pawn, then from pawn to prop, as he is overwhelmed by the boys. All the pre-dance moves are (obviously) less energetic, but they all lead to the dance. The reading of the recitations invites rhythmic movements, and the dance becomes inevitable.

       The professor, as straight man, has the difficult task of passively reacting to, and not actively participating in, the action. Watson does his job well. From the moment he realizes he is not in control, he loses his voice and his volition. He accepts all that is thrown at him and only moves when prompted to do so by the dancers. He has become a prop; all he has left is his shocked or bemused facial expressions. This clip demonstrates the importance of the role of the straight man in comedy, as comedy needs a target or a foil to work against. Without the professor, it is just a dance; with the professor, it is a humorous dance that advances the story line.

      The three characters present different representations of masculinity. Don and Cosmo are a pair. In that pairing, Don is the "alpha male," the primary leader who looks outside the pairing for approval, while Cosmo is the "beta male," the secondary buddy who looks to Don for approval. In the start of this scene, Don is focused on the professor, while Cosmo is focused on Don. Cosmo acts the class clown to draw Don's attention away from the professor. Once he does so and the "team" is reunited, the pandemonium ensues. The professor demonstrates a third representation of masculinity. If Don and Cosmo are the alpha and beta, the professor is the omega - the extreme example bordering on the feminine. He is something of a cross between the self-absorbed intellectual and the effeminate dandy, neither of which was viewed as an ideal representation of masculinity in the 1950's.   

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Number 1 is a hard question to answer because i'm not sure what you mean by pre-dance movements. The clip has them dancing quite quickly, right after they realize they can rhyme the Moses tongue twister to a peppy rhythm. I did notice that their arm movements and facial expressions were exaggerated. In that way they mirrored the unsubtle dancing that followed. I keep hearing that Gene Kelly moved like a dancer even when he wasn't dancing. I can believe this. Donald O'Connor, I don't know as well. In the clip of him dancing with statues, he's always dancing, or leaping up stairs. In Singin' in the Rain, I just thought he was a graceful man.

The Professor is not passive during the dancing. He is watching their heads, their feet, and when he gets all covered up with chairs and books on the desk, he is not passive, although he lets them lay him down on the desk, first. He needs to be a part of the scene in order for Kelly and O'Connor to have someone to play to. Without him there, the scene would have lost its purpose.

I think we see a little of the response that the 2 Hollywood men have to a non-Hollywood man. Gene Kelly tries to take it seriously and learn the elocution he needs to until a buddy comes into the scene and starts making fun of the Professor belittling his masculinity. Donald O'Connor is the clown that leads Gene Kelly into nonsense. Someone else commented that this clip shows anti-intellectualism. I agree. So, even if Gene is the Alpha male of this duo, he is easily led. When the 2 men are dancing, I tend to watch O'Connor because many times, he is the more mobile of the two. His arms are waving more, his movements are bigger. Kelly is so muscular that his dancing seems easier for him than O'Connor's does. In the end, singing and dancing win out over learning. But, they both sang A properly!

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I have always loved Singin in the Rain and Gene Kelly from the first time I saw this film and the Moses tongue twister scene was always my favorite.  I cannot imagine how many times they had to do that dance to get it to be so in sync with each other.  I watched Singin in the Rain yesterday but I could watch it again right now it was such a great musical and one of my favorites.

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Gene and Donald are buddies and Gene is definitely the Alpha while Donald is beta, but Donald also often is the goofy one who starts things.  Compared to the professor they both show masculinity, while the professor is very wimpish and very quickly falls victim to Donald's making fun of the professor's job and leading Gene in pushing the professor around and then loading him up with lamp shades, cushions and other things around the room, and finally the vowel A.

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1. O'Connor and Kelly's pre-dance movements are used both as a way of establishing rhythm and tempo once they begin officially segueing into the actual song, but also are played up for comedic effect. The elocutionist is taking the lesson much more seriously than they are, as they haven't quite grasped the seriousness of the logistics behind making the transition to sound pictures. Their grandiose gesturing and over-enunciation of the song's central phrase is their way of gently mocking the affected gravitas of more "serious" actors on, for example, the stage, which kind of hearkens back to Kelly and Debbie Reynolds' first meeting in the film, where they debate over the legitimacy of film vs. the theatre. Kelly and O'Connor's characters, both coming from informal, vaudeville backgrounds, still feel a little silly over the extra fuss and preparation for making their film needed now that sound has come into play, despite it actually bestowing on them important skills, now that their voices will play such an important role - so to speak - in their line of work from here on in.

2. I feel as if the role of the straight man in this particular scene not only works as a foil to Kelly and O'Connor's more outlandish pratfalls, but provides another unique comedic element as well. Even though the dancing and playful mugging of Kelly and O'Connor is meant to take centre stage, the incredulous, sometimes indignant, sometimes curious reactions from the elocutionist are also played for subtler laughs. The actor playing the elocutionist must not only be generous in his interactions with his scene partners, but must also be adept at pulling off and making believable the physical aspects of the gags thrown at him, as Kelly and O'Connor fling him and drag him from one end of the room to the other. 

3. Again, even though there are three very unique iterations of masculinity being displayed in this scene, and even though there is some playful mocking of each other - and, at times, of themselves - there is never a sense of competition or fighting for superiority between the three actors. Kelly, representing the "alpha male" type, is working to highlight the athleticism and strength of his dancing abilities, and whenever he and O'Connor pair off, as in the gag with the curtains, he is portrayed with a puffed out chest and the drapes resplendently wrapped around him, Roman toga style. In contrast, while Kelly is the Caesar, O'Connor is Cleopatra in this same moment, as he creates a veil from the other end of the drapes, demurely lounging on the windowsill and batting his eyelashes. As the "beta male", he shows no issue with playing around with gender roles or being up for the sillier, zanier, and even more improvisational gags in the scene. What he may lack in brawn, he makes up for in intelligence and a quiet, self-deprecating charm (I mean, the guy is a music director and first pitches the idea to Don for Kathy to lipsync for Lina in the first place ... he's for sure the brains in this operation). As for the elocutionist, I surmise he would be a slightly different incarnation of the "beta male" trope, as the formal academic background needed for his profession would suggest, but a much more straight-laced and tightly-wound version of it.

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This is my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies.

1. In a lot of ways, I wish I'd never learned about post-recording sound, since it makes me wonder how many don't actually line up. I struggle with the way my ear now listens to them as separate (kind of like watching them lip sync). They're very well done here, and yet I can't help but wonder what was added that wasn't there originally.

2. The role of the straight man is necessary in comedy. You can't have comedy unless someone is on the wrong end of the joke. The straight man fills the role of the observer and the stooge. He reminds us that what's happening is absurd, while still being part of the humor - as in when he lies down on the desk. In real life, someone would have stood up, shouted, stopped the ruckus, and gone back to teaching - and would never have allowed himself to be set at a desk and piled upon. But in comedy, the person who isn't necessarily part of the jovial side of the comedy is still insanely important. He allows them to cover him with the drapes, lay him back on the desk, and then pile him high with objects - without showing indignance or anger, but shock. He helps tell the story. It's easy to be the comedic one in a well-written part (assuming you can act), but it's a challenge to play the straight man when everything funny is happening around you and you can't smile.

 

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

Here we have a libretto coming in the form of a book of tongue twisters. The first step in in the transition to the dance sequence (in unison) is the pairing of the play on words between Don and Cosmo. The second step in the transition is to speak the words in dance tempo (sort of like a modern day rap). The third step is to start displaying a little body movement to match the tempo. Then finally they break out in full dance with music. 
 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

Its funny but in these choreographed dance sequences in which another character starts in the scene but suddenly has no purpose I have watched more than a few times in curiosity at the other character. What are they to do? They may be forgotten all together or just have to wait around for the wrap up and pull in again. During this and many of these scenes I've noticed that the actor should transform into a good prop. Mostly keep still and blend in with the scenery. Not distract in the least from the dancers. 

It may seem easy to us but then again there may be an art to being the straight man that goes beyond setting up jokes or being a good foil. It may also means becoming invisible but present during the scene. We understand the rules for the musical. The straight man is a good foil. In real life the professor would go smoke a cigarette and let the jokers get the clowning out of their system. But if you have to wait for the dance number to end then finish the scene getting a bunch of stuff dumped on you it requires the skill of invisibility. 
 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

Don is the alpha male, Cosmo the buddy and the Professor is the foil. Is 'foil' one of our options? Oh well I made one up then. The pecking order is Don, Cosmo then Professor. Cosmo comes in for comic relief and pokes fun at the Professor (foil). Don and Cosmo bond and have fun at the expense of the Professor (foil). Don and Cosmo are the buddies which usually require one alpha and one beta male in these films. 

 

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?  The pre-dance movements are setting us up for what is about to happen.  They start exuberantly, and continue on until that actual dance number begins.  

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.  The straight man allows Kelly and O'Connor to have an extra prop, who happens to be alive.  His stiffness allows even more contrast to the antics and dancing of O'Connor and Kelly.  

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?  Kelly is in charge in this number, but, O'Connor, this time is a very close second.  They are both Alpha males, totally in control.  The Professor is a perfect example of a Beta male, allowing the other two to walk all over them, take over and in the end, slightly humiliate him.

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22 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?
 

A tongue twister already has a type of rhythm that Donald O'Conner and Gene Kelly pick up and start to use say it faster to get their beat going into song. They clap at the beginning when Kelly throws the book and drum on the desk. When they start dancing, it seems effortlessly and fast. They are no longer tapping at the beat or the tongue twister they are dancing and tapping. 

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The pre dance movements are methodical and steady and then as the music joins in the pace accelerates until they are tapping in a frenzy and are all over the room.

the professor is great as a straight man. He goes from being thrilled with their compliments to studpified by their dancing. They drag him around the room and he never changes his expression culminating in his being piled with debris and never moving.

The professor is confident in his skills of elocution but is suckered into their making fun of him which is one type of male image- knowledgeable and trusting but clueless. O’Connor is class clown and Kelly is the full on masculine male lead.

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1)Their pre-dance movements are slower, quieter and in rhythm to their giddy singing. The actual dance number is an energized iconic tap dance routine. Their dance movements are quick paced and timed perfectly with one another. I agree with chillfillyinak (again), O"Connor's style and Kelly's moves although different meld together in this number.

2) At the beginning he was "the professor in charge" then the dancers took over. The tortured the poor man! The professor becomes a willing prop for the two dancers, they place him wherever the routine call for it. It is harmless fun and adds to the entertainment value of the scene. A straight man was needed for this scene to balance the dancers.

3)Gene exemplifies a strong, confident athletic man. Donald is a more fluid, expressive and comical performer. At times a little feminine. They are both casual and exacting in their moves, an attractive quality for a man in that time. The buoyant comedic elements of this dance routine paired with the synced tap dancing routines made it perfect for a musical in the 1950's.

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