Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #14 (From TWO ROBERT PRESTON FILMS)

217 posts in this topic

  1. I noticed that the male characters show more wide of traits and personalities in which The Music Man has the salesman doing all the convincing and playing around with the fears of youth corruption but to then give them a selling point where he’s just stating his opinion with honesty than being aggressive. Victor and Victoria shows a male character having an authentic performance as a gay man without feeling one-note. Generally, you see more of them being less alpha and more beta on being respectful and open to conversations of subjects difficult to explore.
     
  2. He happens to be much versatile of how he approaches to these roles and ways to hook you into his persuasion and generosity. He cares about others and their personal issues and do what’s best for them. And he can be honest if others disagree with his viewpoint and isn’t afraid of those.
     
  3. I never seen the rest of his works, so I have no answer to make here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) The Alpha male isn't a prevelant.

2) He sings as if he is talking

3) I have not seen any of his other work. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  I think men grew feelings in the later movies.  There was no need for the swashbuckling savior, the men were, well, "new men".  Who cared and felt.

2.  I have always thought Robert Preston was the last of the song and dance men to star in musicals.  It seems after this, it was "stars" who could sing, but Robert Preston was a showman!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

One of the things that I’ve noticed about early musicals is that the men are not really alpha male type characters. They often are flowery and warbly and don’t have a very strong masculine presence on the screen. Fred Astaire, while being a great performer, was not really an alpha male. Moving on to Gene Kelly and the musicals of the late 40s and 50s, the male characterization changed. I think the war had to do with this partially, as well as the feeling of victory and American superiority as we’ve discussed before. By the time Robert Preston and Harold Hill come on the scene, the masculinity in men’s musical roles is obvious and the alpha is present, but it’s not in your face. Preston is able to exert his masculinity without making it obvious that he was doing so.

2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?

I’ve loved Robert Preston ever since I first saw The Music Man. His performance is phenomenal, a master class in hucksterism, and I don’t think it will ever be matched no matter who plays the role. His role in Victor/Victoria again is masculine, but not obviously so. He is able to find such depth in the character that he portrays a real gay man, not a caricature or a joke. 

3. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

  1. Sadly, I have not seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals. Must get on that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

There are more different types of masculinity represented, and more expressive with feelings. You see changes within roles between men and women. 

What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?
He has a distinctive presence.

Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

I haven't seen other work or that familiar with him in musicals or film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable? Males were usually required to be the alpha male as with Gene Kelly or the Beta male sidekick such as Donald O'Connor, but when Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin are actually singing then it is notably a change in the construction of what is considered masculine in musicals.
 
What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? in both clips, Preston does show that he is indeed engaging but also witty, sly and extremely athletic.
 
Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work? I've seen a number of his films and even playing a rouge as in Union Pacific he is an engaging actor that does make him totally believable in any role.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.    As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

The most noticeable changes in I see are in the strong male actors that were being placed in musicals. I don’t think the typical charismatic actors were being put in the typical musical roles anymore. In addition to Robert Preston’s Musical Man role, I also thought Omar Sharif was not the typical co-star to portray a musical number alongside Barbra Streisand.

2.    What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?

The qualities Preston has in both clips is that he is bold and forthright telling an audience of patrons and community members something they don’t know.  It’s like he is instructing them in both roles.  He also show us how confident he is and shows a little bit of arrogance and manipulation.

3.    Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

I’ve seen Robert Preston in several movies. I’m a fan of his work. I’ve seen him in How the West Was Won and Dark at the Top of the Stairs where he played a non-musical role. These roles were strong male character roles where he knew what he wanted.  In How the West Was Won he knew he wanted to settle down with a wife so he strongly pursued Debbie Reynolds.  In Dark at the Top of the Stairs he had to struggle with an unaffectionate wife and yet still be a strong patriarch for his family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  All other Musical Films' leading guys are mostly Good Looking guys, and their Characters are mostly Good Looking "GOOD" guys and Heterosexual whenever Romantic elements involved to Get the Gals in the stories/films.  But Robert Preston's character in "The Music Man" is actually a "Con ARTIST"/"Con Man", then A character as A Homosexual performer in night clubs in "Victor/Victoria"!  Thus, in both films, both his characters need no REAL/TRUE romantic relationship with any female character in both films respectively.

     In the past, yes, being a Heterosexual male character and pursuing a female character in the film was a way to have a "masculine performance".  But, some could be the Womanisers while others were Hit ON by females with different personalities respectively.  Robert Preston's two characters here deliver "masculine performance" actually without romantic elements directly involved!  Especially, his Homosexual character is NOT Feminine at ALL as the Stereotyped Homosexual men in ANY Business!!!

2.  Robert Preston was actually a Stage Actor to perform LIVE, too.  So, he definitely knew the power of Body language very well.  He knew how and when to be Subtle, as well as he knew how and when to Exaggerate, to create and develop the depths or dimensions for his characters, so that you feel Reasonably REAL and you can relate to his character "Fast & Furious" to Believe.

     In "The Music Man", he acted he acted as such a straightforward guy to Fool the people listening to him in town.  In "Victor/Victoria", he actually started a "club fight" by making a Seemly "harmless" remark!

3.  NOT Really remember Robert Preston in Non-Musical films as much ......  Probably because those films were NOT Led by him?!  Thus, NOT all his talents were showcased in these Non-Musical films.  His singing voice is quite different from some other leading musical actors'.  His singing voice was more of a captive baritone tone, actually a masculine singing voice.  But, even when he contributed his singing talent to record "Chicken Fat" as part of a program by the President's Council on Physical Fitness to get schoolchildren to do more daily exercise in 1961, that song later became a surprise novelty hit like no others!

     I believe he would have been really good a wonderful Narrating and/or Voice Actor, just like James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman ...... etc.!  But, Narrating and Voice Acting were NOT in trend at his time ... Yet!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?  I feel that with the onset of the 60's and beyond, we saw in masculine performances the rise of the Beta male.  That is, they were less the "manly man," and often had qualities that we often associate as feminine -- such as being more sensitive.  They did not have to be the Alpha male -- athletic, like Gene Kelly, or burly and strong, like Howard Keel.  
     
  2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?
    I had never noticed this before, but I love the way Robert Preston uses his hands, facial expressions, and his entire body, really, to express emotion.  Prior to this course, I loved musicals, but was always so engrossed in the story, songs, and emotions, that I never really thought about the actors and actresses, and their wonderful craft that brought these musicals to life.  Preston was a genius whose talent only grew in time.  He was always so completely likeable, too.

Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?  I must admit that this question made me look up his filmography.  Other films I have seen with Robert Preston include "Victor/Victoria," "Reap the Wild Wind," "Finnegan Begin Again," "Mame," and "How the West Was Won."  However, outside of "Mame" and "Victor/Victoria," both musicals, and "How the West Was Won," I barely recall his performances in the other movies.  I first saw Robert Preston in "The Music Man," and fell in love.  He was mesmerizing, funny, and fantastic!  Preston's approach to acting was real and sensitive.  He was performance was honest and human, even when he was playing a con man.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Over time there seems to have been a shift from the gentleman figure, like any of Fred Astaire's characters, to the more typically masculine, confident male lead. The alpha male figure in the Music Man clip seems to have evolved a bit from the alpha male figure in the 1950s. I'm thinking in particular any of Howard Keel's characters- in Kiss Me Kate, Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- though he's somewhat similar to the vibe Gene Kelly gives off. The sense of confidence and charisma rather than overpowering masculine aggression seems prominent here.

2. I really love Robert Preston in the Music Man. There's something effortlessly persuasive about the Trouble number- we know that he's spouting nonsense and that the song is built on hyperbole and slippery slope arguments, but he lends a logicality to it by his loose, smooth presentation. I like the way he gravitates between people and strings them along in the beginning of the number- again, the effortlessness of his amassing the crowd is somewhat stunning. And of course the enunciation is notable, and the sharpness of his movements. Overall I'm just amazed by the charisma of it all: it's very easy to see why Marian would fall for this guy, in spite of his sketchy background.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?
    By the time was get to the 60's, we have seen a huge shift in the roles of men and women.  Many of the past male leads were two dimensional, they sang love songs or rallying songs, but often there was a disconnected feeling of who the man was and what he was singing.What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?
  2.  
  3. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?
  4. He is divine! In both films he is an flim flamming opportunist.  He is so suave, you not only can't help but route for him and you have to like him. He gets to redeem his selfish intention it almost 
  5. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very late to this discussion, but in my opinion Robert Preston in The Music Man delivers one of the most poignant lines in any film, musical or otherwise: "I always think there's a band kid." Brings a tear to my eye every time I see it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

Overall I think the performances overall are a little looser and more natural as the decades progress.  We are allowed to see males be more vulnerable, and it's not just the most conventionally handsome males end up the hero that gets the girl. 

What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?
 

Preston is able to be believable in both of these flamboyant roles without being over the top.  In the Music Man, he's a fast talking salesman, initially out to scam residents in a small town, yet his heart wins out over making money, which ultimately leads to triumph and becoming part of a family and the community.  Victor/Victoria's character Toddy, also perpetrates a deception to achieve some financial gain.  But Toddy is also looking out for Victoria's interests, and while he uses her, she's a willing participant, until she isn't.  Then just as in The Music Man, the character's heart takes over, and even though we don't see it all play out on screen, it's pretty apparent that Toddy has ended up with love in his life, surrounded by a family of his own choosing. 

Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

He always seemed very present for the other actor or actors he's playing against.  In " How the West Was Won", he holds his own with Debbie Reynolds and gives a warm realism to his performance that always makes him a standout.

 
Edited by julisbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

There is no longer the black and white stereotype of masculine traits being strictly for a man and feminine traits being specifically for the woman.  Men are more introspective and analytical about themselves.  In the past, a male character who does this is regarded as either comical or inconsequential to the story.  Now, leading characters are allowed to show sensitivity.

  1. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?

In both, he is truly connecting with the audience.  There is an intimacy he creates as he looks for reactions from both the River City folks and those in the nightclub as he performs these songs.  He doesn't just "sing to the rafters" in either, but creates a sense that he is singing to just one person even though he is addressing a large crowd.

  1. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

One of his last films, "The Last Starfighter" could have easily been written off as a silly, sci-fi hack film.  In many ways, it was.  However, his performance as the alien recruiter brought out a sense of tenderness and humor that made the film work.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daily Dose #14

1. I think Robert Preston’s style of singing was more “talking with music’ then actually a ‘songman’ of the times.  So the irony of him portraying “The Music Man” when he actually talks in the songs is funny to me.

2. Again, back to his vocals.  He isn’t your typical ‘singer’ …he speaks his lyrics.


3. I really enjoyed Robert Preston's performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown".  Though Debbie Reynolds was fantastic in this film, funny how Robert did not even sing in this film.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

I think the most noticeable changes are how the roles have gone from lone, romantic types in the 20s-30s to more conforming alpha buddy groups in the 40s - 50s who are in control of the situation, and now back to non-conforming individuals. Strong but many times taking a back seat to the women in the musical. 

2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips.

He is very precise in his singing and his gestures. He moves gracefully, although I have not noticed any real dance skills. He displays humor in both and is very convincing in his roles. He takes charge in both. 

3. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

I have not that I recall. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/26/2018 at 2:31 PM, Earthshine said:

. . . With all due respect to Gene Kelly and his fans, whom I certainly do not mean to offend, Robert Preston shows more diversity as an actor with his respective roles in these two films.  This is a diversity that I have not seen with Gene Kelly in his films that I have seen, among them Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris.  He is certainly very charming, a bit of a womanizer with a heart of gold in both, and he is an amazing singer and dancer.  As Dr. Ament noted, Kelly did bring a masculine athleticism to his dances.  However, and again with all due respect, I did not see much diversity between these two roles.  It seems that the emphasis was more on his musical talents instead of his character?  I welcome feedback from anyone who might be reading my posts, so please, correct me if I’m wrong. . . .

I saw Marjorie Morningstar (1958) last night. Gene Kelly is very good in his dramatic role as Noel Airman. The film is something of a downer, especially in relation to all the musicals that we have been seeing, but it's worth seeing for Kelly's performance: It's not like his roles in his musicals.

And there are other stars in the film worth noting for their performances: Natalie Wood, Martin Milner, Martin Balsam, Carolyn Jones, Ed Wynn.

Plus there is Claire Trevor as Marjorie's mother. Claire Trevor is a fantastic actress and she can steal the scene from both Gene Kelly and Natalie Wood. The film is worth seeing for her performance alone.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us