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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

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Today's Daily Dose forum is from the musical Gypsy (1962). This is where you may post your comments. Recall that the clip refers to the opening scene, and discusses Sondheim and Russell. Please reflect upon these topics below.

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

  1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?
     
  2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.
     
  3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

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1) It looks backwards because you have the innocense of the little girl like Shirley Temple it looks forward in the fact it is more of a look at real life instead of fantasy.

2) She barges right in and takes over the scene because everything is going to go her way or it is not going to happen.

3) They are kind of sly in the fact the words can be taken in a different way that is not as innocent as what it is appearing to be.

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1.  It starts off like any backstage musical from the 30's, taking us back to the days of vaudeville and may remind us of so many films that took place at that time.  The long shot includes the orchestra pit as well as the stage.  Mama Rose even quotes an early Jerome Kern song ("Every little movement has a meaning all its own").  The girl in the balloons hints at where the plot will go and may point out the tension between vaudeville and burlesque.  

While there are a lot of colors on stage, the colors are more subdued than the bright popping colors of the 40's and 50's, and there is very little glamor, hinting that this story may be a little grittier than earlier musicals.  The widescreen hints at epic, but the scene is actually intimate.  The camera even backs up when Baby June sings her song, rather than going in for a close up as we are used to.

2. Roz enters from the audience, as Ethel Merman did on Broadway.  But while Merman seemed to appear from nowhere, Roz's entrance seems more deliberate and forceful.  She has broken into the theatre and brazenly makes her way to the stage.  She knows her way around comedy and delivers lines non-stop, like she did in His Girl Friday.  

Rosalind Russell has said that after Auntie Mame, she played variations on Mame for the rest of her career, and it isn't too hard to see that here.  Here she pushes her girls to live, live, live the life she wishes she had lived, lived, lived.

3.  It has already been pointed out that there is sexual innuendo in the lyrics, though they seem innocent here in this scene.  Louise's lyric, "I will do some tricks... I'm very versatile" here refers to a child's playful hand tricks, but becomes more suggestive when Louise sings the same words in burlesque.

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Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for  the original Broadway production of "Gypsy" said of the film,  "...it was one of the worst movies ever made. Rosalind Russell in black-and-white shoes is all I remember. " According to Samantha Ellis, Laurents wasn't even sure he wanted to write the book for "Gypsy:" "Arthur Laurents wasn't sure - he was, he thought, "too grand for any of that trash." What changed Laurents' mind was a girl at a cocktail party. "Everybody was getting smashed," he said later. 'We all got to talking about our first loves, and one girl said, 'My first lover was Gypsy Rose Lee's mother.' That interested me." He remembered another story, relayed by the same girl: "Rose had a big fight with a hotel manager ... So she pushed him out the window and killed him. How can you resist doing a musical based on a woman like that?" So Laurents was only excited about Rose, not Gypsy, which is the reason "Gypsy" is all about Rose. But why did he think the film of his book was so bad? I think I know part of the reason.

When we first see Rose, she does not remind me of the dangerous, lesbian who so interested Laurents at the cocktail party. No, Russell plays her like a private girls' school field hockey coach. Her speech is slightly upper class, she is sure of herself like ladies of that status and experience are, she can chat up a storm with anybody in a polite way, but like a hockey coach (and I had a few of them during my school days) she can do a little menacing trash talking as well. I think Laurents saw Russell's performance much the way Russell acted in many of her 1940's comedies. In fact her performance in "Gypsy" brings to mind her role in "The Women." There she is also funny, enthusiastically loud and not terribly nice. For both characters Russell can deliver comedy lines with good timing and facial expressions, and also make use of her long limbs and slim form in a comic way.

The class notes suggest that Russell is sexier than was Ethel Merman, the original Rose. I do not find Russell to have a tremendous amount of sex appeal. In her youth she was pretty and clothes hung well on her tall slim frame. I never thought she was sexy and I can't think of many film roles in which she starred, which required that trait. Russell was occasionally cast in a dramatic part, but sex appeal was not necessarily called for dramatically either. Russell was a good comedienne, (especially in screwball comedies) with a slightly upper class manner, which befitted her background. Playing a dangerous lesbian stage mother was probably out of her range, and it shows in "Gypsy."

1.In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

"Gypsy" is a film version of a Broadway musical, so that is a conventional way in which to bring musical entertainment to the big screen. Although a previous book written by Gypsy Rose Lee ("The G-String Murders") was made into a film about a burlesque entertainer ("First Lady of Burlesque") starring the great Barbara Stanwyck, not many films, musical or otherwise, were made about out and out strippers. So the subject matter is "disruptive" of the Code, which was slowly but surely being eroded on all film fronts. This was especially true about directors such as Otto Preminger, who loved to flout the Code's proscriptions and didn't care if his films were  accepted by the censors or not.
 
2.This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

In addition to my previous observations about Russell's performance  in "Gypsy," I would say that irrespective of any training she had, Russell was out of depth as an actress in any kind of nuanced part, and the part of Rose takes nuance. She certainly didn't impress the author of the musical's book. For example Rose has a mean side to her, but Russell buys into the idea that Rose is just working her heart out for her girls. Rose is using her girls to make a living and a name for herself. Rose is exploiting her girls, which is a terrible thing for a mother to do.
 
3.Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

We have to admire a prodigious talent like Sondheim, even at the very beginning of his career. His internal rhyming in some of his compositions is brilliant. For example, in "A Little Priest" ("Sweeney Todd," talk about a "disrupter"...) pretty much introduces the entire plot of the story (baking people into pies)  It contains a whole rhyme sequence in which the baker suggests pies and the barber responds: "Tinker? Something pinker. Tailor? Something paler. Potter? Something hotter. Butler? Something subtler."

In "Let Me Entertain You," in this particular scene, analyzing the lyrics is next to impossible because Rose, Uncle Jocko, and the theater owner are all talking over Baby June and Louise. The audience can scarcely hear the lyrics. So perhaps the staging is disruptive in that the audience can't hear the first song in this movie musical.
 

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1. The scene looks backwards in that you have kids auditioning in their cute outfits & doing their cute routines when in reality this is taking the vaudeville era into the brash & less-childlike move into burlesque. In other words, it takes the innocence & moves into an age of bawdy strippers/performers & more of a sexual content as opposed to the family acts of vaudeville.

2. Mama Rose barges in during the song & starts issuing orders to the orchestra & lighting people. She's also barking orders are her daughters as to how to do their performance & disrupting the entire number. Mama Rose lives vicariously through her daughters & teaches them how to do their act(s) as if she were doing them herself.

3. The lyrics have a double entendre. Although the song is performed by kids & Louise (Natalie Wood's character) in the initial song does hand tricks, as she becomes Gypsy Rose Lee those "tricks" she mentions in her signature song as a stripper have a more sexual tone to entice her male audiences. As far as the staging of the song, the camera pans out instead of giving June a close-up, you can hardly hear her singing over the bickering between Mama Rose, the theater owner who insists on signing another act (girl in balloon costume) & Uncle Jocko who just quit, not liking to hold auditions when the owner already has his eyes on balloon girl. It's completely disruptive.

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1.  In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

This scene, goes back to early musicals, on the attention going to the staging of the show. You have the producer who is telling the director who to put in (balloon girl), because it's his money that is backing the show. The director is just trying to find talent, regardless of the child. If it is good and entertaining, they are in the show.  Earlier shows were with adults, but we are starting with children
 

2.  This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

Mama Rose bursts in with her raspy, loud voice, barking orders. You have no choice to pay attention to her. Mama Rose is todays Parent/Manager/Trainer. She would take over the show, if you let her and also put her girls in, regardless if the act fits in to the show.
 

3.  Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

The song can be interpreted to be very innocent, because of the children performing it. Now if it was an adult, and they were wearing something suggestive, then your mind goes down into the "gutter" 

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This clip has the old backstage musical theme, the idea of ‘putting on a show’, which was prominent at the very beginning of Hollywood musicals. However, it has a more outlandish appearance. The children come across as precocious with their over-the-top costumes and singing. It is more aggressive and confronting than what we have seen before in the movies.

Rosalind Russell has a well-projected, commanding way of portraying Mama Rose. You can clearly see that she is theatrically trained as she gives her all and has nothing to hide. There is not much subtlety or softness in her character.

The lyrics are show offy. “I will do some kicks, I will do some tricks” has a slightly provocative tone. The children are in a very adult world being pushed very hard. The choreography and costumes seem very unnatural and give me an uneasy feeling. You can tell we’re in the 1960s where more ideas are being tested and the coding is not as strict.  

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Daily Dose #13  "Gypsy" 1962

 

Firstly, Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell) performs her over the top acting style much like she did in the 1958 movie "Auntie Mame"...she is most definitely a 'stage mother' pushing her children into show biz

Children will go along w/ things for awhile until they tire of it as this movie will illustrate

I believe Judy Garland had a 'stage mother' who pushed her...I read that somewhere or heard it somewhere (research required on my part)

Poor Herbie (Karl Malden) he can never win working w/ kids & their 'stage mothers' ...they all want their own kids to win...it's the same today w/ little league...look how many fights break out on the little league fields...my opinion

Baby June & Company...&....Mama Rose...never forget about Mama Rose b/c she will always be there in the background as a 'stage mother' until her kids outgrow their parts...she will be there shouting  & promoting her kids 'she's ready for the big time'....'if they only had first class management'

Elks...sounds like George has 'fixed' the contest...what more can be said about that...Mama Rose threatens to take it to the newspapers if the contest is 'rigged' & poor Herbie quits & lets George deal w/ it...who can blame him?  Get out while you can Herbie...run for your life before a 'stage mother' gets her hands on you!!!

The song Baby June( Suzanne Cupito)? sings...well there isn't much of it "Let Me Entertain You"...no comment on this except to say she is at a cutie age & innocent ...Moma Rose adds in...'every little movement has a meaning all its own'...Moma Rose ...knows

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I love watching Rosalind Russell and how domineering she comes across and we would not have seen as much of that before so onward to disruptions. It’s quite apparent this is a totally new presentation in how musicals are now shown. Vibrant dominant and flamboyant Women were shown before but this has a whole new look and feel to it. The song itself has obvious adult overtones but maybe only because we know they are there. I was laughing more at bubble girl and hearing that pop at the end knowing what that really was about than thinking about those lyrics. 😂 A personal injection here so let me digress if you will as it’s semi-amusing relevant. Back in the early 1970’s on a frequent local trip into NYC to visit friends. My Mother, her girlfriend and her Daughter of my age and myself went to Greenwich Village. At the time a hub of hippies, eccentrics, smelly incense and everything a twelve year had no clue about. Anyway my point is the adults thought a local play was in order. The play of choice ‘The Night They Raided Minsky’s’. Neither had no idea it was a live burlesque show. Needless to say we were dragged out when the balloon lady and tasseled tata ladies appeared. So as soon as I seen balloon girl I laughed. My childhood. 😂

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This Gypsy scene is like it’s predecessor classical musicals in that it is about putting on a show and the goings on behind the scenes. However, the grittier colors are more in tune with the themes of  disruptive musicals that will come later in the decade. 

Russell has a big entrance into the scene, commanding the screen. This is much the same way she would in a live theater production- thus demonstrating her training.

When a child sings “Let Me Entertain You” you might think of an innocent school production or dance recital. When an adult sings those same words, depends upon the emphasis, the song can become raunchy. 

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1.        This scene is like all show audition backstage stories with hopefuls on stage and the overbearing manager. However, it quickly twists into an existential battle that exemplifies disruptive elements in the 60’s. Unlike earlier vaudeville or burlesque films, children rather than their parents are the ones trying out. The reality of the rigged audition is evident here with children as the pawns of the game. The struggle is between Irving who is idealistically looking for talent and the manager who thinks cuteness (Shirley-Temple-ish) is primary way to gain an audience. So, it is between potential and a future of the product vs superficial, instant gratification of a fad. This is the free enterprise conflict at its core. Do you go for the flash in the pan or the long-haul product? In the 60’s, youth rebelled against the materialism, conformity and superficiality of the American economic system. They questioned authority at every level. The Baby Boomers were more educated than their parents and usually had grown up in the suburbs in the middle class. Their concerns were no longer survival and pragmatic but philosophical. They could afford to be philosophical and feisty. Socially and politically, there was much fodder in which they can find fault. Their fathers were like The Man in the Grey-Flannel Suit, dissatisfied. Their mothers were unfulfilled June Cleavers. The Vietnam War was killing their classmates. Timothy Leary enticed them to check out. Instead, many got angry with injustice and began to protest the entire system.

2.            Russell is not the usual backstage mother, silently wringing her hands in the wings. No, she is the pre-curser of the helicopter parent, aggressive and intrusive. Karl Malden as Irving is playing against his usual tough guy role here and allows her to use flattery to gain access to the stage where she takes control. She is a force of nature, a steamroller. When her direct commands to musicians and lighting are challenged, she threatens to shut down the show. It is not just her mass (clothing, the dog, the over-sized bag) but her aggressive body language and rapid-fire delivery that keeps the others from getting a word in edgewise. From the small gesture of giving the dog to Irving to circling the kids as they perform to threatening balloon girl with the point of her baton, she is in complete control. She makes a mockery of the audition and leaves the scene devastated in her wake. Irving has quit, the manager has a hat on his nose, and she is in command, victorious. Russell is indomitable. What a performance.

3.            First, before the lyrics, there are other subversive elements here if we just look at body language. To begin, Baby June does a cartwheel, exposing her undies. Her upraised skirt is sideways to the audience, not facing front instead of protecting her innocence. In contrast, Louise “presents” her from behind and falters her own cues and lines throughout. Her choreography is naïve and childish especially compared to June’s high kicks and nails-on-the-blackboard voice. She is secondary to the “real” talent of Baby June. This entire scene sets up the conflicts in the story. Now to the lyrics. “Let me entertain you” is a provocative statement coming from a child. She is not doing a little darling, Shirley Temple tap dance. It is suggestive, especially with her crude, poor hoofing. The rest of the lyrics are lost under Russell’s performance.

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In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?  The subject matter reminds us of pre-Code 1930's.  It is also filled with show wannabes, although children as opposed to adults, with the classic "everyone is trying o be a star" attitudes.  

This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.  To me, Ms. Russell always enters any film she is in, in a BIG way.  Her timing is flawless, which has been honed from her early stage and movie career.  Perfect choice for Mama Rose.

Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).  The song can be used as perfectly innocent, but can then be reworked into something provocative, that goes along with Rose's career choice.  The first presentation of the song gets a bit lost with all of the interruptions with Russell and Malden.  

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When Mama Rose enters the scene, she demands the attention just as a stage performer would. The lyrics of the song can also have a double meaning depending on the performance. 

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1.    In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical? Many of its backstage musical elements hearken to the entire history of film musicals: a vaudeville setting, musical numbers performed on a stage to “us” in the audience, someone interrupting the proceedings (so many of the early Warners musicals). The story and acting style, though, reflect the intense 1950s dramatic style of Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando. Karl Malden’s frustration at his work and life situation is as intense as his work in A Streetcar Named Desire or On the Waterfront. The cinema’s move away from a certain fantasy style from the Golden Era was reflected in the musical’s evolution in the 1960s. The gritty film adaptations of West Side Story (1961) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971) wouldn’t seem possible during the Golden Age.

 

2.    This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress. Mama Rose gets a brash, stage mama entrance. Rosalind Russell’s Rose dominates the audition by boldly advancing down the aisle in her leopard-print coat and honking orders in her commanding voice. When Herbie (Karl Malden) tries to reason with her, she tops him through vocal and verbal energy as Russell did in The Women (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Auntie Mame (1958), and others. Rosalind Russell clearly knew how to “pull focus” and here she uses it to focus the attention on Baby June.

 

3.    Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not). There is a slightly sexualized slant to Sondheim’s lyrics here, later used as double entendre by the young adult version of Louise – “Let me entertain you/Let me see you smile/I will do some kicks/I will do some tricks” – which are especially uncomfortable coming from little girls. Baby June is dolled up and dances in a way that seems designed to appeal to men, much in the way JonBenet Ramsey (second photo below) was sexualized in real life decades later: mounds of golden curls, makeup, confident grin. There is a sense of Mama Rose pimping her daughters throughout the story, though we're guided to see that it comes from love (and her own failed dreams).

Gypsy 1.jpg

Gypsy 2.jpg

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At the beginning of the clip, we see Baby June and Louise all 'gussied up' for their audition. Then, Mama Rose comes bursting in like a ball of fire to make absolutely certain her girls get all the spotlights, attention, glory, etc. I did notice the lyrics which can be sexualized (as they are later on in the movie) and I agree that the girls are made up to appeal to a male audience.

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1.  It looks backwards throughout the history of movie musicals starting with the auditions in the 1929 musical Broadway Melody audition. It also looks backwards of the child stars of the are like Shirley Temple, Denna Durbin and Judy Garland. It also shows the pushy parent which has been described that many of the child stars had during that era. 

2. Rowland Russell’s entries reminds me of her entrance in Auntie Mame. She is loud, takes over control of the staff and is a bit bossy but yet in a nice way. 

3. The sound has double meaning here. When we first see it the child is doing cart wheels and other tricks while singing the song. Also the child that Mama Rose talks off the stage in balloons is actually a sign of things to come with her daughter as an adult. As and adult Gypsy Rose Lee is doing her striptease act. 

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STARTS OFF LIKE A MUSICALS IN THE THIRTY'S SHOWING VAUDEVILLE. COLORS NOT AS BRIGHT. RUSSEL SHOWS COMEDY LIKE IN MAIME AND GIRL FRIDAY. INNOCENT BUT THEIR IS HINTS OF SEX THAT COMES WITH BURLESQUE LIKE JUNE SISTER SHE CAN DO TRICKS AND THE GIRL COSTUME WITH THE BALLOONS AND OFF STAGE IN THE END YOU HEAR THE POP SOUND.

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watched the clip   from GYPSY and l thought that Rosalind Russell played a great stage mother but she was very distributive in that part and in the old classic movies of the 40's they would not have let that happen l do not thinks so but the movie was very good for that time period but l do not think it was one of the best l enjoyed other more like Mary Poppins,Music Man  & Sound of Music to name a few.

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Gypsy is on its surface a conventional back-stage musical with the ingénue seeking her big break. The audience knows a few things that subvert this narrative. Baby June isn't going to make it big in vaudeville and, in any event, vaudeville is dying. The act Rose has put together for her favorite daughter is, well, crap. Until the moment Louise becomes Gypsy Rose Lee, the onstage performances are comically bad.

It's great to see Rosalind Russell face off with Karl Malden. Neither is a singer or a dancer, but their skill as actors shows in the verbal battles that run throughout the movie.

"Let Me Entertain You" begins as an innocent children's song and ends as the theme song of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous stripper. No lyric changes are required.

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1-The most telling clue that this scene gives us in terms of a new, or "backwards" classical musical" number is clearly the fact that we don't get to SEE a musical number. The clarinetist boy is instantly cut off, no one finishes their song or dance, no choreography, no big sing, we don't get to see a good number, or even a bad number in full, there is in fact is NO musical number...in a musical...which is on a stage...with a ton of performers..in costume, ready...to perform..."let me entertain you" but later...much later...

2-Russell's entrance is big and full, nothing is small, this is a STAGE entrance, both literally onto an actual stage within the film, but also bigger than many film musicals would have done prior. In the 40s or 50s we might have had more filmic set up, a close up of Mamma Rose maybe listening at the door, peeking through the cracks to see her daughters, an eye trying to spy close up, but here we get a full on entrance, full body, full voice. The costuming leaps from the character, and it is no coincidence I am sure that she is in full leopard print, a jungle cat who will cut and kill anyone who goes near her baby cubs. In addition, the carrying in of a dog on one arm and a large leopard purse on the other has literally "armed her" with animal camouflage, she bites, and so too might her dog, so don't mess with her, don't come too close. Russell also uses her stage and film training to project her voice like a stage actress, she throws it across the room in a stage style, projecting as a performer, and as a Mamma who WILL be heard.

3-Our obvious go-to here are the double-entendre lyrics, a genius set-up of foreshadowing, "let me entertain you" now...and later...Louise is listening to these lyrics, living them as a second party, but taking them in for later use..."tricks" is the big word here, from magic to fun, from burlesque to stripper. Louise's "trick" could actually be considered as a suggestive finger movement, a small wiggle, a tiny accent that suggests more. High kicks with lots of crinolines and petticoats is one thing, those kicks without those costuming bits can and will reveal much more. The song also gives a finite time line "by the time I'm through..." something will change by the end of the song, there will be a transformation to the person WATCHING the number, genius set up of how someone watching will go from one state...to another...in a short period of time...very sly, very witty.

 

 

 

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1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

It's a vaudeville setting. It was the beginning of musicals. It shows the pushy "stage mom" in her element. 
 

2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

Russell commands the room. She enters with force and uses that force to propel her daughter along. She is powerful, but lovable at the same time. Her entrance also tells the audience that she is a character to be reckoned with throughout the movie. 
 

3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

The lyrics have an edge to them, but it can be downplayed when a child sings them. However, when Gypsy sings the song as a striptease later in the movie, she adds an edge to the lyrics. The "tricks" part is what can be viewed as edgy. A child could innocently tap dance on a stage as a 'trick' or a grownup could strip as a 'trick.' I think the song was handled well each time. 

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The clip encompasses a look back by capturing the rush of children to the stage and screen in the 30's to becomethe next Shirley Temple, complete with a stage mother, and the innocent belief that talent could take you anywhere.   It looked forward by popping that balloon - literally, in the case the young girl performing in a ballon costume, a shadow of what Louise would become and where her lack of musical talent would take her:  to burlesque and the strip shows, but eventually, to the stages her mother sought for Louise's sister June.  

When Mama entered, all eyes went to Mama, and the attention that Mama sought for her Baby June, was really the attention that Mama wanted herself, but never got.   She took the road of wife and mother, until she realized June represented another opportunity.   And Mama was going to make sure she wasn't thwarted this time, as she filled all  of the roles:  director, choreographer, designer, coach.   

Baby June singing the song, kept the meaning innocent, but the same song, sung by an adult women, has a whole different nuance.  It became an invitation to a casual dalliance, instead of child's play.   

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Consider yourself forewarned.  

Consider yourself alerted quite candidly.

I've taken to Roz quite strong--(ly).

It's clear, here, I think she can do no wrong.

So, I do love me some Rosalind Russell.  From the moment she entered the scene, she is in charge as character and as actress. Knowledge of stage performance is clear in character and actress. Throughout the movie, Russell's performance here is so touchingly demented, powerful, and fragile. We have an homage to vaudeville and early musicals we've seen already for this course, and it plays to the circumstances we've seen on and off screen.  In fact, the movie gives a stage full of kiddie "kapers" which with our benefit of hindsight alerts us that these children's stories don't usually end terribly well ("Judy, Judy, Judy"). Perhaps the spotlight is appropriately on the mothers who made them what they are. Gypsy is inextricably the story of mother and daughter show biz folks as indicated when Rose tells the conductor to give them something good to work with and calls him "Professor Marvel...". Help, Dorothy!

Mama Rose is pitifully selfish and cruel to Louise in her inability to see Louise for Baby June's classic looks. I can only help but think about Baby Jane (Bette Davis) when I watch Gypsy. Louise's self-image mirrors Judy' Garland's pretty much on-the-nose.  I actually think Rosalind Russell plays the part of Rose amazingly contrary to others' thoughts. We feel her utter need for the spotlight at the expense of her children.  Many of the comments on threads in the course so far have bemoaned the studio's and Mother Gum's treatment of Judy. Here, we get a glimpse of what it did. At the same time, we see a woman who keeps things going.  She is the alpha female.  Classic theater would portray her as a pitiful character. She isn't terribly likable as a mother, but, in the context of the 60s through today, we see a woman dying to get outside of society's constraining roles.  She is large and in charge from the first minute putting all the men on their heels.   She resists the limitations of remarrying (is this a woman in a musical saying no to a proposal????), even though in her own selfish way, she loves Herbie. 

We know that Louise will do anything, "Let me entertain you," for the attention she didn't get from her mother despite being the talented one. This is foreshadowed by the girl with the balloons...what do you see when they are popped? Once Louise has made it as Gyspy Rose Lee, Russell's Mama Rose is utterly recked in a masterful depiction by Russell. I realize people say Merman should have gotten the part she brought to life on Broadway, but Russell's acting is nuanced where I find Merman a one trick pony.  I will concede that trick is one hell of a voice, but we can see how Rose could be the real deal as she was described by others in real life. What we also see is the the traditional form of vaudeville, as with musicals in the 60s was played out for the public, and Gypsy Rose Lee is more on point with the public's tastes than Rose (who could be a stand in for the dying studio system). This plays through the film, and it also mirrors the ideal that Americana was outdated for audiences as more adult subject matter was taking its place. 

Wood is wonderful in this movie as well, but it is Rose's movie and therefore Russell's movie. I love this movie every sad step of the way --- just like A Star is Born and Fiddler on the Roof. Here we are seeing darker themes in musicals as the 60s unfurl. Although this is directed by Mervyn LeRoy, with whom Judy would have been quite familiar), the traditional Hollywood musical he presents is surprisingly dark.  Again, people complain about Merman being shafted for this part, but Garland probably could have killed this in 62 had MGM not given her the boot already. Regardless, Russell makes this a genuinely compelling story despite the sad story. 

 

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1. I don't have anything to add that wasn't already mentioned: It has some aspects of the traditional "backstage musical".

2. Rosalind grabs and holds the viewers scene from the moment she enters it. She is personifies an over-the-top stage mom. Also, her performance reminds me a lot of stage acting.

3. As other have mentioned, the girl made up in makeup to look older/ appeal to men and the double entendre of the song. But I also notice the boy in the background, wearing hardly any clothes and looking uncomfortable; and his partner wasn't much either. Visual hints of how child stars were often exploited behind the scenes by parents/ managers/ movie companies etc., and it all wasn't as innocent as it appeared on screen.

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1. This scene reminds me of the 'behind the scenes' type movies we have already watched.  The slight difference is that this is for vaudeville as opposed to a movie or Broadway show but it places this movie in a less glamorous setting.  The change of setting could be part of the disruption in that the setting is more lower class - we won't see women in furs and men in tuxedos in the audience for these acts.  

2. I love Rosalind Russell!  That being said, she immediately draws all the attention to herself.  She is large and in charge.  She tells the musicians, the lighting guy, practically everyone what to do and they do it.  Her bit with the balloon girl and the hat pin is the essence of who she is - don't get in her way or you'll get hurt.

3. As has been pointed out, the lyrics do have a double meaning but with the girls performing, it's supposed to be more innocent and just a bit of fun.  With the chaos caused by Rose's entrance, the lyrics could be seen more as a plea - please look at us! take notice of us- that almost no one is paying attention to at the moment.

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