Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

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Another way that this movie is disruptive is because it is telling the backstory of show business as it really was. Because of the code, we only saw a sanitized glimpse of the seediness of low end vaudeville and burlesque portrayed in past movies.  The stage mother had been is alluded to for years, but Russell's portrayal of  Mama Rose puts her in your face.  This version of the stage mother is not pretty, she's cunning, manipulative and fiercely fighting for her kids to make it. We can see that this is also a vicarious way for her to be in show business via her children.  Reportedly Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers and some other notable stars had stage moms.  I can see the necessity for a stage mom, but there is a good and the bad side of this.  We all know that show business had a seedy and dark underside,  what do you think  really happened to those young actresses (like Keeler, Crawford, Stanwyck, etc.) that we have read about & who were on Broadway or in the movies in their teens and they were fending for themselves and didn't have a pushy or protective mom to look out for them??? Wouldn't we all like to know what those early days were like?  If we look to the not to distant past, we only have to look at what happened to Drew Barrymore, Tatum O'Neal, Macaulay Caulkin,  or even Brittany Spears to recognize that the entertainment business can corrupt and endanger even the most youngest stars and their parents too.

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I'm sure Ethel Merman would have been fabulous in Gypsy, but I am partial to Rosalind Russell, and not just because she was so good in Auntie Mame. From her role as Mame and now as Mama Rose, she has experience being the center of the scene without being overpowering. She doesn't overact or dominate to the point where a viewer wants to stop watching, but she pushes it right up to the point. I also notice something that Russell had from her earlier work, her pace and speed with dialogue. From His Girl Friday, she and Cary Grant spoke in rapid fire, and she retained that in Mame and her in Gypsy. She's able to speak over Herbie and the owner, speaking so quickly that they don't dare try to keep up. 

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The clip is reminiscent of the classical musicals in that it is simple and not very glamorous and I think the disruptive impending future is indicated by the burlesque themed number (especially being it is a child).

Mama Rose's entrance is, however, not low-keyed, to say the least.  She wants her daughters in the show and that's that.  She is great at her role and I prefer her to Ethel Merman because of that shrill voice of hers.  Sorry!

You get  a feeling of innocence vs. naughty in this clip as to what lies ahead.  The "let me" entertain you certainly is more suggestive than the original "let us" entertain you that Dr. Vanessa's mentions in that you know what is in the Louise has planned for the future.  

Just a note - I always loved Natalie Wood, she was beautiful and talented but could never understand why casting an actress and dubbing a voice when there are so many multi-talented people to pick from.  Just like Ava Gardner in Show Boat.  Silly but it's all in the past.  Nowadays you are pleasantly surprised when you see an actor like Hugh Jackman singing the lead in Les Miserable.   

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I also agree with the others that this opening scene is a clear look back at the other eras of musicals.  They are looking at the beginnings of many broadway shows in vaudeville.  We also know that this movie chronicles the end of vaudeville and thus the death of the musical as we have seen it.

Mama Rose comes in bold and brash telling everyone what to do.  She wants the best for her kids but I think she wants to have the attention for herself.  She sings later that she had the drive to make it but her family wouldn't give her the chance.

"Let Me Entertain You"  is one song that shows the many ages of Gypsy Rose Lee.  It shows her metamorphosis from a child to an adult.

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On 6/24/2018 at 11:02 PM, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:
  • 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 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.
     
  • 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).

1. The scene reminds me somewhat of the backstage musicals with Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland only because they are children in the entertainment business and are auditioning for some kind of show/performance. Their mother has a vested interest in her daughters being chosen above the girl in the balloons (the favorite of the producers). This is a set up that feels familiar to me from movies past (prior to the 60s). The little girls are talented and cute  There have been talented cute kids in musicals before like Shirley Temple so this also felt familiar.

I have not seen this movie but based on the background information given, I know the movie is about a famed stripper/burlesque performer so this scene shows what she was like as a child, why/how she got into show business. Knowing this, the "disruption" would be in the content and story of the film. The CODE was disintegrating in the 60s which made it possible to make a movie about Gypsy's story and have it be an "Acceptable" story to base a musical around.

2. I have not seen Rosalind Russell in many films but from what I have seen, she was very deft with the fast talking/doing multiple things at one combination along with excellent comedic timing. This seems to be her signature so when she showed up, I knew what to expect and she did not disappoint me. Since she was a professional, I can see that she was able to hit her marks and (I don't really know how to explain)perfom the deft fast talking/timing she was known for. 

3. Since I know the film/story is about a burlesque performer even though this scene portrays her as a child, I can't help but hearing or reading sexual innuendo into the song. When I hear "let me entertain you/let me make you smile" I think of the acts of stripping and burlesque. I think about what kind of entertaining strippers do-they use their bodies and sexuality to entice,arouse and amuse. So in the context of this scene, I felt uncomfortable associating adult sexuality and adult entertainment with a child innocently singing and dancing to a song about entertaining people with song and dance. But I suppose this was the point. Using something typically innocent and childlike (entertaining children singing) but infusing it with mature innuendo and implications isn't disruptive. I was reminded of "I Want You to Play With Me" from The Great Zeigfeld, a post-Code MGM film. But Luise Rainier was a grown woman and future burlesque star Gypsy Rose is being portrayed when she was a child called Louise. Mixing children and sexual innuendo would be new and 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?
    The musical opens to an audition, which immediately harkens us back to the old time musical openings in the early back stage musicals.  Another way this opening number is a nod to the old musicals, is this is a family of vaudevillian troupers (sorta).

I think the chaos of the opening, with the children all on stage at once foretells that changes are coming. All the children had a different act, there was no cohesion.  

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 gives Momma Rose gravitas, she is an amazing comic character performer.  She swoops into the scene and unlike the other moms who may be fussing with their child, she dresses down Louise and starts to give directions to the orchestra leader, Professor, Mr. Simpson (on the percussion?) and the lighting technician, Mr. Electrical, aka Gus.  She is larger than life, ferocious, she leads the dance.

  1. 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).

Yes the lyric is sly, it need to be, it is a song used as a child who turns teen stripper!  The scene we see, the song is "innocent" and the children are sweet and well mannered.

This is an opening number and it is designed so it has plenty of room to build. It moves in and out of a disruptive state.  Until Momma Rose enters, it is fairly calm.  Louise is made to be less vibrant, it is hard to see anything in Baby June but ruffles and curls, and then there is Momma, she wins.

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1.  The set is made to look shabby and run down...in complete opposite of those classical expensive-looking sets in the beautiful, big budget movies.  The scene is like a vaudeville act in itself and disruptions come from off stage (Russell) and back stage (the producer) and even the people on stage look shocked at the disruptions.  This is the perfect example of what we will see in later movie musicals.  The viewer will be prepared for the classical musical and then it turns out to be more vaudeville than not.

2) It's interesting to see Rosalind Russell be the stage mom interrupting an audition from the audience when she is the ultimate professional actress.  Her remaining on stage throughout the performance shows what kind of mom and performing daughters we will be seeing during the rest of the movie.  Typical stage mom pushing her daughters to be stars and working to manipulate the directors and stage managers to better their position on stage.

3) Sondheim's "Let Me Entertain You" seemed so childish when done by the two sisters, but the words take you to a totally different place as Gypsy grows up and realizes a quick wink and batting of the eyes goes a long way into a man's wallet.

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1. The song "That's Entertainment" definitely gives the feeling of looking back because it was a classic song from the early 50's. The sweet innocence of the two girls reminds us of the wonderful Shirley Temple pictures from the 30's. I believe seeing veteran players such as Rosalind Russell and Karl Malden also help to achieve the effect of earlier times. I believe it looks ahead with the children as well as looking back, because it expresses the appetite of wanting to find new talent and new faces to replace the old. 

2. Her entrance was very abrupt but honestly not surprising for Russell. In most of the films I have ever seen her in, she was always very outspoken, confident and emulated a very big persona on the screen. She was not the typical leading lady. I enjoyed her interruptions during the song because you do not see that in a lot of musicals, so it was something different and a good entry for Russell.

3. I did not notice anything in the lyrics to be edgy, However, it would be difficult to judge since the song had many disruptions and only part of the song was performed. I liked the staging I thought it was appropriate, I also enjoyed the disruptions because they were funny and it also gives us an idea about where the story is headed and the personality's of the characters in the film.

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Looking back there was the use of many people on stage in all sorts of costumes, in various colors, the use of assorted camera angles-here, following Russell's entrance down the aisle and up on the stage in wide shots and in close ups. Bringing in the vaudeville theme to show acts just starting out, was a classical subject matter.

Looking ahead, Russell's character alone is filled with disruption-how she stops the performers, the orchestra, bullies the director and manager of the show, and tells the lighting director how it should be done.

Russell's demeanor is one of confidence and authority. her carriage is **** and forceful, showing a take-charge attitude. She looks to be comfortable in her skin and performs as such. She speaks from the stage like she has heard many directors before, perhaps in performances she has done. Her use of facial expression to put over her disgust with the manager underlines her character. She felt so comfortable on stage she even did a little soft shoe for a second.

As the song, "Let me Entertain You" is done by 2 young kids, I don't find anything edgy, however, the use of "do some kicks and tricks", might lead to something a little less innocent, as we know in the later part of the movie.

As a disruption, the film may have been pointed at a younger audience as the movie deals with more adult subject matter-burlesque and what that entails. This wasn't a "feel good" musical as it is filled with Mama Rose's brash character and her control of all that she can control including her daughters' lives.

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1) We can see that this scene looks back into classical musicals, because it is a backstage musical. It reminds me of the scene of The Band Wagon when Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, and Jeffrey Cordova are backstage coming up with ideas for a film. They sing about plot ideas - "That's entertainment!" In the case of Gypsy, we can see entertainment being crafted and critiqued on stage. The clip shows what it is like for the boss of the show and Herbie to audition acts and choose the most entertaining and new acts for the vaudeville show. We can see the orchestra play during the dancing of Louise and June, while the mother tells the light director to put a pink spotlight. The clip looks ahead to the disruption of musicals in the 1960s because the talent on stage is all children and adolescents. It is targeting a specific audience by having acts made up of kids and teens.

2) Rosalind Russell's entrance in the scene is disruptive yet strong. Her presence is very outspoken and secure, because she knows what's best for her daughters' performance and what will help them become stars. I remember that in one of the lecture videos Dr. Ament mentioned how stage performers had to know when to wait for an audience's response after punch lines, whereas it was different in film. Since Russel was a trained stage performer it is not very evident in this clip because she seems to talk fast and keep the humor going. She doesn't have to wait for a live audience to get her humor.

3) Baby June's outfit is more revealing and her dolled up face and hair for her age makes her look and act like an adult. Her dress is short and we can see her underwear when she does a flip and twirls. Louise is more childish in her movements and her way of dress, because she is covered up and almost looks boyish. When Baby June sings "Let me entertain you" she simply smiles and steps left and right while looking at the audience. She talks about entertaining but doesn't do so in her actions, because she doesn't tap dance, do ballet, or play an instrument like normal children.

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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?

There is the traditional ‘cattle call’ to decide who is going to be picked as the talent to go on the show. There is a full orchestra to accompany the performers as they try out. But instead of a calm one at a time try-out all is chaos, mostly because of Mama Rose. First there is the promoter who is rigging the show for the balloon girl. Then Rose comes on to push for Baby June. Then Rose heads off to try to pop the balloons on the girls costume. The emcee quits. Everything is a confused mess sort of like the later musicals.

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.


She comes in loud and solo on the screen. She is non-stop talking, taking over the whole stage and everyone. All the focus from the moment she appears is centered on her and only her. Just the way the star of a stage performance would come in.

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

As discussed by the curator there is the ‘let me see you smile’ lyric that foreshadows the action at the end of the film when Louise is a stripper. I also found the staging of Louise in boy’s clothes but sucking her thumb to be disruptive. Also the referring to the girl as Baby June. She certainly doesn’t sound like a baby when she belts out that song like a grown woman. Everything is sort of a odds with what it should be. You’d think Rose would be a stage mama but not a tiger eating everyone up including her own kids. Baby June should look cute but with a kids voice. Louise should be tom-boyish but isn’t. Everything is off and out of whack.

It took me a long time before I could like this movie because of all the odd things happening in it. The relationship between Rose and her daughters, and her relationship with the rest of the company was always disconcerting. Rose’s need to keep everyone children and not let them grow up was manipulative and abusive. It took me growing up to separate the tale from the movie so I could appreciate the way the movie was written and sung.

 

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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 scene looks totally under produced and out of sync. You can see that it’s well shot and well set, but the intentions were probably to have the look of an amateur feel.
 

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.

She comes in and takes control of the whole scene without braking a sweat. She takes away the attention and the audience is immediately drawn to her character and at the same time the segment goes forward without interruption.
 

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). 

Lyric wise it’s not as noticeable as performance which when brought together becomes sly, subversive and edgy. It was probably made this way to bring the topics as a subliminal message.

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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?
     
  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).

Q1) This is take on looking at vaudeville in this scene.  The whole time we are looking at where Gypsy comes from and can't quite figure out where she is going with that thumb in her mouth.  Mama's entrance creates a bit of chaos that you realize is just the beginning of the chaos for this family.

Q2) It is hard to believe that Rosalind Russell is playing this Mama Rose as less loud.  Her entrance is grand and overtakes the whole scene...in fact you forget about everybody else.  It is like she thought if she keeps talking then her girls will make it.  She played this scene so well and I loved when she went after the balloon girl.  The look in her eye and the pointer in her hand said it all.  

Q3) The song says it all..."Let me entertain you, let me make you smile." I always think about how crazy it is to hear this song come out of a child's mouth and one would assume that they would have no real knowledge of what this song is really saying.  We know that the real entertainment comes much later when Gypsy is older and gazed upon by those wishing to exploit her body.

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1. It looks backwards by using the innocence of children and it looks forwards by creating a more realistic environment instead of a fantasy.

2. She walks into the room and completely owns it. She takes control of the scene.

3. The words can be interpreted in a different light and the it is not as innocent as it sounds.

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The scene is like the classical musicals because it is directly facing the audience like a Broadway show or as burlesque is performed.  It is more colorful like the later musicals.

Rosalind's entrance performance is very dramatic and she is the typical Stage Mom. She is pushy and determined and this performance is similar to that of Auntie Mame.

Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, and edgy or innocent depending if a child is singing it or a woman. Change the age of the female, the actions while singing it and the song completely sends a different message.

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This scene from Gypsy harkens back to the the backstage musicals of the 1930's in that it shows the inner workings of a show and one can already tell it will be the tale of a star and a stage of some sort. Although after reading the lecture notes (stripper character and double entendres), it is clear that this film will contain a subject that will skirt the confines of the production code.

I should preface this statement by noting that I have neither seen Merman's portrayal of Mama Rose or Russell's (outside of this small scene). In my opinion, Rosalind Russell here seems to be playing the character as Mame, if I am remembering correctly. While Mame is free spirited and Mama Rose seems overbearing, both have over the top characteristics that demand attention on all fronts.

 

I can't make an insightful comment on Sondheim's lyrics here, because the girl's performance is rather short and lacks a great amount of lyrical content and what one can hear is overshadowed by Mama Rose's demands and arguments.

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I'm late on this one, but better late than never!

Interesting musical, interesting clip.  Rosalind Russell is awesome in this role, and the way she barges in and completely takes over what's happening (both literally in the film, plus overtaking the child singing on stage in that "talent show") is something you can't take your eyes off of.  This is DEFINITELY not the style of musical we'd seen in past decades.  I don't think anyone at the time could have predicted that musicals would undergo such disruption (the buzzword for this week's theme, it seems), but this was certainly something new and different for the era.

The huge needle and heard-offscreen popping of the balloon at the end of this clip is hilarious.

Does anyone else see Baby June here and get reminded of the snooty blonde girl at camp in Addams Family Values?

Or even weirder, perhaps, the young Bette Davis character in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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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 knows about being on stage.  She knows about lighting and positioning on the stage and the use of music and sound effects.  She knows how to upstage and take over the scene.  Lastly, she knows how to act as the "drama queen" to put everyone on notice that "she will be heard".  

 

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The scene looks back at how musicals were in the 1930s. The blonde haired girl reminded me of Shirley Temple. She entered the room as this large figure in charge. She knows about what's going on in the clip very well. She becomes in charge. The lyrics has a double meaning. Some may hear it innocent and some may hear it subversive.

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Rosalind Russels's entrance is so well timed and perfect. Her larger than life entrance tales over the entire scene and the screen. You cannot keep your eyes off of her. Her directions to all on the set, her knowledge of the predetermined winner and her never stop personality to keep her daughters performing no matter what anyone else says. You just cant stop her and that hat pin you just know what is going to happen to the balloon girl. You just feel like you are in that audience watching her on stage. The entire movie feels like you are watching it from the seats of a  theater. 

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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 looks back to the classical musicals as it portrays a "backstage" musical.  It's showing the inner workings of how the theatre works.  It shows the future disruptions with the brass character of Mama, which is not something we typically see from female characters. 
       
  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's knowledge of the theatre certainly helped her in this scene in being able to rattle off the different commands to the orchestra, lighting guys, etc.  She has a very strong presence like a theatre actor when making her entrance, giving commands to her children, but also has the subtitles when speaking closely and one on one with the producer, etc. 
       
  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 staging of this performance does not let on to anything edgy.  The dancing is very sweet and naive that fit well with the age of the girls. One could say that the lyrics "kicks" and "tricks" could be played differently to make it more edgy, and sly, but as it is portrayed, it wouldn't even cross ones mind. 

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Another thought, as I just finished watching Gypsy a few hours ago. The reprise of “Let Me Entertain You”is sort of booting the overbearing mother off of the stage, so-to-speak. As we see Gypsy’s clips as she becomes a more refined burlesque dancer, the song slips away from the vision her mother has for the song’s performance. The last almost nude pose in the curtains sort of cements the change from Mommy’s Girl to “I am my own woman”.

Just food for thought...

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1. This scene is backwards to classical musicals because instead of seeing a bunch of beautiful women on the stage, we see a bunch of kids. Also the director is not at all in charge of this scene. Mama Rose takes over and tells everyone what to do. Kind of like how the new disruptions take over and most musicals are made for teenagers, not exactly the musicals Hollywood wanted to do. 

2. Rosalind just comes out of nowhere when she hears he children perform. She yells as she’s walking to the stage (instructions for Louise).She doesn’t stop, she climbs right up on the stage and instructs everyone on what they should be doing, like her children are stars of the show and she’s the director. She talks over everyone. I feel she must have seen stage moms enough to get this role down as perfect as she did.

3. The song “Let Me Entrertain You” has a double meaning for the whole song. The first time I watched this movie I didn’t really pay much attention to it. Just a kid singing a song about performing. Then Mama Rose has Louise sing it as Gypsy and the whole song is different by putting emphasis on key words and slowing the music down. I was so surprised by how this worked perfectly innocent one way and seductive the other. And I didn’t see it coming.

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1. This is definitely a throwback to the old behind the scenes of a show type movie from the 40's but this is a little more realistic and cuthroat and less glamerous.

2. Mama Rose is the epitomy of a stage mother. It's my kid front and center or else. She choose the music, the lighting even the focus on Baby June instead of Louise.

3. Let us entertain you is definitely a sly witty song who's lyrics can be subtly manipulated for use by child actor or would be stripper so it seems.

 

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On 6/11/2018 at 10:48 PM, mijiyoon38 said:

Cabin in the Sky movie 1943

Addressing the moonwalk clip

I had noticed the moonwalk before in old movies (Probably this movie) then called backsliding the info said...I instantly thought of M Jackson of course as everyone would who follows pop music...I knew when I saw it years ago that it was the same as moonwalk...I was surprised though to see it in the old movies...it has adapted very well to pop looks like...I wonder how many people know it is not original to modern times & pop music?

I'm looking forward to re-watching Cabin in the Sky & hope I'm not asleep :) when it comes on tomorrow night

NOTE:   I may drop back in here to reply to the cinematography that Dr.s Ament & Edwards were discussing in their lecture video concerning the style of V Minnelli...light, shadow, silhouette...I'll have to re-watch the movie for that :)

   

MJ said that he loved old movies and admired Fred Astaire. He does a nod to Astaire in the Smooth Criminal video. He also wears the white sock, similar to Astaire is another routine. Everything is new again.

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