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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/04/2014 in all areas

  1. 38 points
    Yes I would agree that the clip makes the weight of the time period disappear. Most people went to movies to escape and this would have been in that same vein. I believe that it made light of the world around them and that even money was not to be taken too seriously. The reply "yes I am tryng to lose weight" when the doorman told him he gave him a 5 pound note emphasized the frivolity of the film. The fact that Miss Held flitted back and forth in her decision to meet or not meet Florence Ziegfeld and her decision being influenced by the beauty of the orchids and not even knowing who he was brings more of the lighthearted feel to this musical.
  2. 34 points
    Oh goody! Lubitsch is my favorite director. Scott Eyman's biography of him was very illuminating as to what went into "the Lubitsch touch." Eyman essentially described the unique character of Lubitsch's direction or the "touch" as portraying the ironies and shocks of mundane life such that the audience could discover and identify with the situations faced by Lubitsch's characters by being drawn into their individual points of view. He was particularly interested in the matter of infidelity. For example, in the "Smiling Lieutenant" in which the corpulent king only discovers his queen is cheating on him with a slim, handsome, young lieutenant when he accidentally tries to put on the lover's belt and sword. The audience can experience the king's shock, but can also stand outside the situation with great amusement. Hence, the "touch." 1.What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? Lubitsch comes from the silent era where the director had to communicate subtle ideas visually. Another director like this is Hitchcock. In the sound era the visual cues are a sort of shorthand to replace dialogue when a visual can convey the plot point much more effectively. Among the visual cues in this clip are: the garter, which lets the audience know that the lady in the scene is not remotely the only such woman in Chevalier's life; the other guns in his desk drawer, which attest to the fact that Chevalier has been caught by more than one husband in a compromising situation before; the husband's struggle with the zipper, which shows that he only deals with one lady's garments, but Chevalier is an old hand at assisting women with their zippers after they have removed their clothes in his presence. The sum total of the cues show that Chevalier is a true roue, and not ashamed for anyone to know it. 2.Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. First, Lubitsch uses French dialogue when he wants the audience to be just that, viewers of the scene, or merely folks who somehow have a bird's eye view into an intimate situation. When he wants to draw the audience into the story more fully, he switches to English, both for the asides in the beginning and then in the discussion in which Chevalier is fired from his position. Second, the rattling door heightens the tension when the lady's husband arrives and the audience is waiting to see if he will catch the lovers together. Here Chevalier looks at us and exclaims "her husband," in English, so we know what is coming. Third, the muffled pop of the gun, which signals the audience that the weapon might not really be deadly. Fourth, the husband is forced to zip his wife's dress, which has been undone during an assignation with another man. To add insult to injury, the wife insults him in French by telling him that he is 'taking too long, it is not that difficult' and culminates by calling him a "fat beast." He is so happy to have her back, the husband puts up with it. This is my favorite dialogue in the scene. 3.What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Some of the themes to anticipate are infidelity as amusing, and handsome cads who must be taught a lesson. For those wanting to imitate him, Lubitsch shows other directors how to say things in shorthand with visuals much more effectively than dialogue ever could. Early sound directors who came from the silent era, especially from the school of German Expressionism (Lubitsch, Hitchcock, Lang, etc) already knew how effective an approach this is.
  3. 33 points
    In Clip 2, it's hard to believe that the Production Code people allowed Gilda Gray to stand up there in her skin tight dress and shimmy so suggestively. The only reason I can think of why they would allow her to do that is that someone sold them on the idea that the message is being sent: "See, this is BAD! This is VERY BAD! Do not try this at home (or anywhere)! Be a good girl like Jeanette MacDonald and you'll get a nice man (like Nelson Eddy) who will take care of you." Yeah, that must be it.
  4. 28 points
    HI Everyone. I thought it might be fun to get started with an opening topic for a discussion where anyone who would like to contribute to this topic can, even before we officially begin the course modules on Monday. So, here is a question for anyone to ponder and respond to: what musical have you found yourself watching repeatedly, and what is it about that musical that you believe makes it enticing to you for repeated viewings? Let's start there as a place to explore what musicals provide for us as individuals and as a film community. I would even open this topic to explore what musicals provide for us as a culture. So there we are. This is where I would like to start. Have a great weekend. Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament Professor, TCM Presents Mad About Musicals Endowed Chair, Telecommunications Ball State University
  5. 24 points
    I gave up depression disorder every Tuesday and Thursday. I gave up low self-esteem when I completed each module and passed the tests. I gave up loneliness and isolation every time I participated in discussions, like now. This course has been the best thing in the world for me. I hope they offer another one.
  6. 24 points
    1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer. The opening in the White House was specifically designed to form a basis for the theme of the film, that of American Exceptionalism. Up until Pearl Harbor, there were many Americans who felt WWII was a European war and that the U.S. should remain neutral and isolated from the conflict. After Pearl Harbor the movies were asked to lead the way from isolationism to patriotism. This film was designed to remind the American people what they were fighting for in WWII. The inclusion of paintings of past presidents in the staircase opening, including the last shot of George Washington, through the 4th of July parade in Providence, was intended to get the audience thinking about how America had grown from its early revolutionary birth into the great nation it was in the 1940's. 2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. The initial conversation between Cohan and the African-American servant about the grand old flag and Teddy Roosevelt was intended, in my opinion, to show the audience how patriotism ran across racial lines and that we all could and should work together to protect our country in its hour of need. Roosevelt's appreciation for the patriotism of Irish-Americans similarly was designed to bring us all together to fight the common foe. 3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. The movie was constructed to take the audience back from then present-day 1942 to 1878 (the year of Cohan's birth) and then follow his life from the late 1800's, through WWI, and back up to the present. The opening sequence begins the saga and the closing scenes complete the circle, when Roosevelt gives Cohan a medal for service to America and Cohan subsequently ends up in a parade of soldiers going off to war singing Over There. From the title song of Yankee Doodle Dandy, to Over There and Grand Old Flag, the central theme is not just a biography of George M. Cohan, but a tribute to every patriotic American and the greatness of the country as a whole. As I recall from the dozens of times I have watched this movie, Roosevelt at one point says that the story of George M. Cohan was the story of America. A story of immigrants who came from all over the world to settle in and enjoy the freedom of being an American. This film was made to remind Americans what they were fighting for. The picture served as a shot in the arm to boost the morale of the entire country and steel them to the task ahead. Starting the film in the Roosevelt White House permitted the audience to be taken via flashback through the life of George M. Cohan and back into the present. The film had to start and end at the White House and subsequent parade finale to sell the audience on how they played a part of our great history, no less than Cohan, and that they had a job to do in the present to preserve and protect the country they loved just as Cohan had done with his patriotic songs.
  7. 21 points
    Casting the great triple threat, Walter Huston, as Jerry Cohan was a stroke of genius. He can match Cagney step for step, scene for scene, and song for song. Cagney does a wonderful job as the stiff-legged, patriotic dancer. (Although Cohan wanted Fred Astaire to play him in the film, Astaire turned it down believing he could not mimic Cohan's rather eccentric, idiosyncratic dance style). As for the other two Cohans, Cagney's sister Jeanne more than fills the bill as his equally stiff-legged sister Josie, (she looks like Cagney, dances like Cagney, and sounds like him too) and Rosemary De Camp, although 10 years younger than Cagney, fits right in in terms of looks. She delivers a wonderful performance as Nellie Cohan. The foursome is definitely believable as the somewhat fictitious version of the Four Cohans. 1.Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc in your answer. When we first see Cohan visiting the White House after his triumph as FDR in the musical "I'd Rather Be Right," Cohan is walking from Union Station to the White House in the rain. Cohan is a regular guy, who knows how to put up with the inconvenience of bad weather, and doesn't need to be pampered by taking a cab to visit FDR. After all Americans don't complain about such trifles, they get on with it, and don't allow things like bad weather stop them. Cagney portrays Cohan as fairly humble upon meeting the President, despite his great notices for his portrayal of FDR. All of his attitude suggests that he is also self-effacing at the prospect of winning the Congressional Medal for his WWI song "Over There." Americans all do their bit, and don't expect to be rewarded for their patriotism and contributions to the country. It is our duty to each other and the country we love, and for which many have died. Cagney is a bit overwhelmed at being at the White House, and casts his eyes over all he sees, covering all of the portraits of past presidents, including George Washington, as he ascends the stairs. He is somewhat in awe, but not overly so, because Americans are all equal, no American is above another. Once Cagney enters the Oval Office (which is shown to be upstairs rather than downstairs) he is immediately with FDR, who does not rise to greet him. This is interesting because Americans were used to seeing Roosevelt always seated, or clinging to a podium in order to stand. However, in "I'd Rather Be Right," Cohan danced and sang as FDR. So the film, and the musical within the film, show the President as a man of normal ability, vigorous and ready to fight any foe of the US. The lighting in the Oval Office creates an intimate mood in which Cagney, who is wearing an American Flag pin, and FDR can reminisce about more peaceful times, and all of the wholesome pastimes and artistry of the American theater. Nostalgia for the old-fashioned ways is strong. Once the scene shifts to the Irish-American, hardworking actor Jerry Cohan, we are actually in those old-fashioned American times of patriotic Fourth of July celebrations for the birth of George M. In the streets flags are waving, and patriotic bunting is strung end-to-end. The people in the streets are watching a parade for the glorious Fourth. A band is playing "Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue." Americans are united in their love of country. The theater in which Jerry Cohan is performing is lit by lamps, and the stage harkens back to a simpler kind of entertainment which satisfied American audiences in the 19th Century. We see Jerry clogging to an old-fashioned song, dressed like a cross between a leprechaun and a Pilgrim! Although the audience is appreciative, he wants to get to his wife's bedside, like a good, caring husband for his son's birth. Jerry and Nellie are Irish immigrants, proud to be Americans, whose son is born on the country's birthday and is named after the first president. Immigrants are proud of their adopted country. 2.Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. George M encounters the White House butler. Although he is a member of an abused minority group, the butler is happy to meet Cohan, the leading purveyor of American virtue. The butler remarks he remembers seeing Cohan many years ago, when he worked for President Teddy Roosevelt and still thinks the song "Grand Ole Flag" is a great one. The butler is privileged to have known so many past historical figures. Even minority groups in America can have a certain kind of privilege and love their country. Cohan and FDR talk about Cohan's father, who ran away from home as a teenager to fight in the Civil War. FDR notes that Irish Americans are one of the most patriotic immigrant groups in the country. He says this in his patrician, Hudson Valley accent. Immigrants from the 19th Century couldn't wait to help their adopted country in time of need. Real Yankees appreciate the patriotism of immigrants. FDR and George M talk about the fact that a Republican newspaper thinks Cohan (a Republican) is a better president in his new musical than is FDR (a Democrat). It doesn't matter what our political party affiliations are, we are all Americans with the same goals. FDR points out that George M has spent his life telling the 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet admitted to the Union), what a great country this is. George M states that, at the time of his birth, Horatio Alger stories were popular. Horatio Alger was "best known for his many young adult novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty." All American values. As he leaving the theater Jerry Cohan notes that he won't be getting back late for the next show because his wife , despite giving birth, won't hold him up. Nellie Cohan is a good American wife, and a real trouper! American wives support their husbands and don't hinder them. 3.Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. The sense of nostalgia for the old days, and love of country felt by the older men of two very different socio-economic classes for the same country would be lost. Depicting Cohan with the president first, elevates the film and its subject by showing the audience that Cohan, despite humble beginnings has risen to the top of his profession through hard work and love of country to receive its highest civilian award. We also lose the information delivered by the butler that, even those oppressed in American, love America. So if the film opens with the day of George M's birth we lose a lot of exposition which informs the viewers' attitude toward the story.
  8. 21 points
    On the Town, Holiday Inn, Singing in the Rain. Anything Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.
  9. 21 points
    I just realized it was exactly a year ago today that a long-time member here posted for the last time. His screen poster name was "DownGoesFrazier", but before that, he was known as "finance", and it was mostly under that name that he participated here, for years. The reason I wanted to create a thread about him was this: We regard ourselves, I think, as a community on these boards. The people who post here regularly, who contribute and respond and discuss and share opinions and jokes and ideas on this TCM message board, are part of a group. I know it's just an internet group, we don't really know one another, but it's still a kind of social community. So when someone who's been a long-term and very active member of that community suddenly just disappears from it, I think they deserve some kind of attention, or acknowledgement, or something. "finance" was a very active member here; he posted just about every single day, a lot, on a lot of threads. His style was brief- he liked to post a lot, but all of his comments were very short. He liked to make little jokes, or "zingers", and he often contributed information about a film, or , just as often, asked a question about it. I did not always enjoy or agree with his posts, sometimes I even found him a bit annoying (but maybe we could say this about us all, once in a while), but I considered him to be one of the most engaged, active members here, and as such liked him, and certainly noticed when he stopped coming here. I do not know why "finance" stopped posting here.It was very sudden; one day he was as active as ever on these boards, the next, nothing, complete silence. I believe if he could, he would still be participating here. To be honest, I think he must have died - either that, or experienced some kind of health problem that has rendered him no longer capable of posting. I just think that when someone has been as fully engaged in a community, even a digitally maintained community, as finance was, they deserve some kind of acknowledgement. Otherwise, it kind of feels like all the time and thought and interaction with others here goes for nothing. It's been a year now, so I thought this was a good time to do this. So here's to you, DGF, or "finance", as I knew you for most of the time you posted on this site. You were one of the first people I ever connected with here. You were proud of your short, pithy posts; you liked film noir, sports, and music. Your absence here has been noticed. Thanks, everyone. mw
  10. 19 points
    I just wanted to share (I truly apologize if this feels like name dropping) that in the mid 1970s I took tap classes from Gene's Kelly's brother, Fred in Oradell, NJ. One evening, quite to our surprise, Gene showed up at the studio and watched us dance. Talk about intimidating. When we finished - he danced for us. 40+ years later I can still feel the swoon and passion. It was wonderful. He was very generous with not only his time but his feedback and advice.
  11. 19 points
    In the canoe, it's obvious they're both attracted to each other, but MacDonald plays to usual character as coy and "girlish". Second clip once again they share similar emotions only this time it's embarrassment. He's embarrassed for her because he knows SHE's embarrassed having to cheapen her performing personality to be hired. And she's embarrassed because he sees her and she knows he knows. Confusing, yes. But it makes sense if you follow it. My sense is that like Astaire & Rogers the studio knew they'd found a winning combo and whether they liked it or not, Eddy & MacDonald were to be tied at the hip for the duration of their audience appeal. Their musicals were formulaic and predictable, but I doubt depression & post-depression era audiences cared. They just like to hear them sing. They were safe, uncomplicated, upright & sexless (w/romantic Victorianesque flirtation & innocent clinches) examples of Hollywood distancing itself from the immoral 'roar' of the pre-code 20's and dragging itself into the new-Puritanism of the Coded 30's.
  12. 19 points
    1. Well, straight of the bat I guess we see where the Foghorn Leghorn looney toon got some inspiration with the " I-I-I say..." There's a lot more rat-a-tat-tat to the dialogue vs. listening and responding. It's not really listening and reacting with a line type acting, but more waiting for your line and focusing on the dialogue while also keeping the mood for the scene visually. There's also some jokey puns, e.g. "do you realize you gave me 5 lbs. sir?" from the relatively larger gentleman for that period anyway surprised at how heavily he was tipped, and response "oh, yes, I'm trying to lose weight!" Or, "why is it junior? is he a little boy?" There's also the gags of how Anna Held's mirror messes with the vision of individual audience members as she puts the spotlight back onto them, but these two competing producers embrace the spotlight. I do think this is brighter than life existed at the time because it's not played realistically, but at the same time I don't think the thematic content is too downplayed. For instance, the competition part of the story is obvious as are other things, even if they're portrayed in a light kind of way. 2. I think I'm expecting more jokes. The acting also seems broader, Held in particular seems a bit looney tune with her performance and voice--'I can say and sing the english words, but please read these to me!' (Not that that's a bad thing necessarily.) I'm also expecting since this is a genre that naturally lends itself towards performers acting as performers, and showbiz doing showbiz, that we'll get a number of behind the scenes type stories or elements to stories than I originally thought. I'd seen SINGIN' IN THE RAIN awhile back, but this clip makes me realize how much making the industry the text, bringing out the backstage politics, and being a bit meta was already out there for musicals stretching into the 30s. 3. I'm going to guess that pre-code rather than sending a note backstage to Held, and given the heavy eye contact from Florence Ziegfeld, he'd have been backstage himself with those orchids. And he'd have expressed those thoughts to her rather than them being read, which perhaps we'd have gotten a peppy le pew type scene backstage as he went to woo Held. Perhaps Held's "come and play with me" courting of everything would've been even more explicit, but I don't know...that's pretty straightforward in what she says, and doesn't seem dialed down really. Who would miss that subtext? But, on the other hand, I guess she might've been dressed down more for that number, or acted less surprised backstage (the 2nd though is less clear since I haven't seen this movie and maybe her seeming a tad ditzy is supposed to be a character trait.) It's also possible that pre-code the other (I'm guessing) competing manager, would've noticed Ziegfeld earlier in the performance as opposed to near the curtain call ending, and the competitive jealousy/sexual rivalry between them would've been played more up.
  13. 18 points
    I do agree that this certainly takes away the seriousness of the time period. Miss Held didn't really have any idea who had sent her the flowers. She was just overwhelmed with the idea that someone would send them to her. I believe if this film had been pre-code, she would have been dressed in a more scanty costume for her performance. Instead, she was covered from head to toe in a long dress, bonnet, and a parasol.
  14. 18 points
    I've been a lifelong film student and my first love was the musical. My parents took me to see That's Entertainment! when I was 8 and from that point on, I couldn't get enough. I think the reason that musicals speak to me is the joy of putting music in all situations. Life would seem less dreary sometimes if it had a beautiful orchestral soundtrack. Most musicls are positive and have happy endings. Everything is resolved and everyone is happy at the end. Real life doesn't provide that so it's a nice escape. I never tire of Fred Astaire. I will revisit any of his films. He is so smooth. I love Judy Garland's vulnerability. She can tear your heart out with her eyes and her voice. I'm not sure I can narrow down any one, or even ten musicals that I come back to. Certainly, The Band Wagon (1953), The Pirate (1948), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Good News (1947), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), and Guys and Dolls (1955) I love them all.
  15. 18 points
    It just so happens that Victor/Victoria happens to be one of my favorite musicals! I’ve seen it so many times, I can act it out! LOL!
  16. 17 points
    What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? The "sly visual wit" is evident in the frustration the woman feels when her husband can't zip up her dress, and she casually goes to the man with whom she has just been caught by her husband to have her dress zipped up. How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? One of the more obvious is when he tells the Sylvanian Ambassador that the rumors about him are exaggerated as he is holding a garter in his hand. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. Chevalier only translates a handful of words from French into English. We are left to observe the actors' mannerisms to discern the rest. This makes the audience integrate sound. dialog, and imagery to follow the plot. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Well-dressed, well-to-do people enjoying excesses.
  17. 17 points
    I love anything with Fred Astaire. Whenever TCM shows his movie I’m there watching! I love his dancing!
  18. 17 points
    From yesteryear to modern films, I never seem to grow tired of viewing some titles repeatedly. I grew up watching great musicals such as Gypsy, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Calamity Jane, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Meet Me in St. Louis, Mame and countless others. I should be embarrassed for the number of times i have sat down and viewed The Sound of Music or The Music Man, but with every passing year my fondness for these titles seems to grow.
  19. 16 points
    When I watch a movie, any kind, I watch it for the mere pleasure of enjoyment and have a difficult time picking it apart and answering these questions put to us. I read what others are posting and nod yes to myself in agreement to most responses but I don't see those comparisons or ideas until they are brought to my mind. I very much enjoyed all the clips this week and especially Lecture #2 video on "Hallelujah", when Richard Edwards made the statement that King Vidor "created" the roadmap, he did not "follow it" I think that speaks huge volumns. i am finding this course fascinating but get so frustrated that I have to be hit over the head to see or pick out nuances that others see and can comment on so easily. There is also so much to learn about the "behind the scene" details like the Foley Artist! Who knew
  20. 15 points
    Well, I'm also a black person. And if we remove all the names of people who appeared in racist films or sang racist songs, we may as well just take all names off of all buildings. Because no one is perfect. You could make the argument that the majority of films made, now or them, are racist, sexist, or some other -ist. I think its very simplistic to consider Birth of a Nation (1915) "just a racist film". This film was revolutionary in the technical aspect of filmmaking, of box office, and of turning the film industry into a major business. And I say now because just a few years ago a newer film called "Birth of a Nation (2016)" and it was also quite racist. People can name buildings after anyone they wish. And remove them if they wish. But, all you're going to end up with is a very bland, boring culture.
  21. 15 points
    This class has been fantastic! I have enjoyed every minute of the discussions, film clips, podcasts...you name it. I cannot wait for Mad About Musicals II. So much more to cover....The Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals - South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel, etc. We hardly touched on the Fox Blondes - Alice Faye, Betty Grable, some Marilyn Monroe. The Sound of Music. There is so much more to cover. Please keep it going!
  22. 15 points
    What greater American dream than to be invited to the White House to meet the President? It shows Cohan as an older man at the opening and as he begins to recall his childhood it draws you into his story and life. I think the opening is perfect. I never noticed the American Flag on his lapel until tonight watching the clip or if I did I had forgotten about it. I think the grand stair case he walks up speaks volumes of the White House, the butler welcoming him and speaking of the song Grand old Flag starts you right off in a Patriotic mindset. The part where FDR says "You Irish Americans you carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open" Or when Cohan says " I was a real cocky kid back in those days, a real cocky kid, a real Yankee Doodle Dandy. Always carrying a flag in a parade or following one." Doesn't get much more Patriotic than that in my book. I have seen this movie hundreds of time and am looking forward to watching it again this week. My sister Sherry showed me this film for the first time and she is the one who introduced me to TCM talk about movie knowledge she had it. I miss her every day, she passed away in 2008 and I know she would have loved to take this course.
  23. 15 points
    Agree, definitely different studios. First, dancing styles. Keeler seems to be using a clog style, something like Riverdance. More of a folk peasant style. Almost like she's tapping, or rather, clomping, in wooden shoes. The banging of the taps is the key sound. Powell is much more in the style of Ann Miller, where the taps are percussive and blend in with the music, more like drumsticks keeping in time with the music. The shoes are lighter; the taps are lighter, with less knee bending, more like ballet or ballroom. Keeler dances in a limited area with a mostly a fixed camera shot; Powell is all over the place, dodging instruments, twirling, with a much larger area to be choreographed, more camera angles, with varying wide shots, close ups, and a cast of thousands. Powell is surrounded by people and set in white so she stands out like a butterfly (or moth); Keeler blends in more with the background. Keeler has a limited dance of a few choruses, which she intros with her wobbly voice. And she removes her skirt... va-va-voom!, not really. Powell has a lengthy routine, including acrobatic flip at the end. Powell is a lot smoother Keeler is more the appetizer to give the flavor of the song, an intro the rest of the production. Powell is the main event. Both are wearing similar black outfits, but Powell's has sparkle and has flashier accessories (hat feather, braid). Keeler has the polka dot flounce sleevelets but that's about it for variety. Powell also has better stockings; you can see the top of Keeler's stockings a few times where the shorts didn't cover them. The 42nd Street number costumes, set and vignettes remind me of Guys and Dolls. The number tries to capture a milieu and atmosphere. Powell's set is a battleship deck, but it could also be an airplane hangar or Grand Central; the background isn't as important as the star. It could be an expanded Vegas act. Warner's as the working man's studio, and MGM as the grand fantasy studio were evident even in these early films. Keeler is clunkier, Powell is more graceful. Plebian vs. patrician. It was interesting seeing the colorized version though, haven't seen that before.
  24. 15 points
    The brighter perspective and the element of escapism is definitely captured in not only the light heartedness of the dialogue and song but also in the opulence and lavishness of the stage costume and the back drop of the dressing room. I expect that orchids would not only have been extremely exotic and outside the realm of the average rural movie goer during the Depression but the sumptuousness of all the crystal and bouquets in the dressing room would have been a visual treat and a glimpse in to a world were flowers cost 1000s of francs and dreams do come true.
  25. 15 points
    It's a great question. It is something that we have been looking into. The biggest issue is that the courses do thrive and sustain themselves on the interactions among the students. As my team has designed the courses at Ball State, the Canvas material matters, but we value the legion of film fans who come together as a student community even more - we get tens of thousands of tweets, thousands of message board posts, hundreds of notes on the Padlet bulletin board, we share live tweeting, we come together around Shindig events - so the courses have been designed, like a film festival, around the presence of many students. That is part of the key that I think makes these courses so special and memorable. That said, we are aware that many of you want access to the materials of the older courses - that is something that we are looking into. Thanks for your interest in these courses! And hope Best, Richard Edwards Instructor, TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015), TCM Presents Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick Comedy (2016) and TCM Presents the Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017) Ball State University
  26. 15 points
    I think the main four musicals that I always come back to are Cover Girl, On An Island With You, Singin' in the Rain, and High Society, though there are many, many others! I'm trying to think of a theme that connects the four and one that would explain why I keep watching them again and again, and I think it's because they're all visually appealing, are beautifully shot in Technicolor, have talented stars and inspirational songs that help lift my spirits, and have a steady romance that I always end up rooting for. I think you could say that about most musicals, though! ?
  27. 14 points
    Hi Everyone! As we start the course, I will be posting a forum for you to post your responses to the Daily Dose of Delight, which will be available every Monday through Thursday. Here is the first one for Monday. Recall that you watched a clip from The Great Ziegfeld. As you watched it, we were discussing the early beginnings of the movie musical in the historical context. With that in mind, look at the three questions below, as I listed them below the clip on Canvas, and post your thoughts. I look forward to reading your responses/ Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own): 1. Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? 2. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals? 3. Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples. Vanessa Theme Ament, Ph.D. Endowed Chair, Telecommunications Ball State University
  28. 14 points
    ****** ****** ****** ******
  29. 14 points
    https://youtu.be/Izcnb_2TlK8 https://youtu.be/YytpfVcyDZg Dr. Ament asked us to compare the dancing styles of Eleanor Powell and Ruby Keeler as seen in the two clips pictured above and included in Thursday's (6/7/18) Lecture notes. So here goes. I'd say the styles reflect the studios. MGM for Powell and WB for Keeler. Powell is all like, "I can dance faster and longer and kick higher than anybody, and I smile the whole damned time, because that's how we do things here at MGM. And we're all about America and the American way and God bless America, that's for sure." And Keeler is like, "Well I can't dance as fast or kick as high as Powell, but there's nobody around this joint who can measure up to me, either. And I get down on the street and dance with the tough guys. You wanna make something out of that, Eleanor?! Yeah, I didn't think so!"
  30. 14 points
    1. The clip starts with Ziegfeld essentially giving money away, showing that he has enough money to not have to care that he is giving it away, and then continues to show what I assume was a relatively wealthy audience. It is safe to assume that during the Depression that was not the norm for most people, so by displaying a lifestyle not available to many it paints a brighter view of life. 2. Other Depression era musicals most likely follow the lives and problems of people who are well off or who are not worrying about work of money, similar to how some of the most popular shows of the 80's surrounded the lives of the wealthy. 3. Had the film been made precode, the relationship between Ziegfeld and Florence would have been more blatantly displayed, rather than being more of an implication. They also might have felt free to display some of the more risque parts of the real story, such as the fact that they had a common law marriage. It may also have impacted the sort of language generally used throughout the film.
  31. 14 points
    Like many others - I enjoy a variety of musicals (Sound of Music, Oklahoma, West Side Story, 1776). But I can NEVER turn away from Fred and Ginger - no matter how many times I've seen them. My favorite dance sequence is the first one in Swing Time. So amazing - much of it in one long take! And the way they fly over the little "fence" around the dance floor as if they're floating - lifts my heart! And Fred singing "The Way You Look Tonight" from the same film - so sweet! And I love Fred and Eleanor Powell's "Begin the Beguine" number in The Broadway Melody of 1940. The way her skirt keeps whirling around her after they've finished the dance is pure magic. And I can never get enough of the Nicholas Brothers "Jumpin' Jive" number in Stormy Weather. Grace and athleticism! Finally NO ONE sings "Over the Rainbow" better than Judy did in The Wizard of Oz! --Lydia
  32. 14 points
    Some of my favorite musicals include Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Camelot, Cabaret, The Wizard of Oz and Funny Girl. Out of those listed, Funny Girl has to be my favorite for many reasons, but mostly due to Barbra Streisand's extraordinary performance. She commands the film as her own and gives every moment on screen her all, resulting in arguably one of the greatest musicals of all time. She is the greatest star! Color is another factor that comes into play with the films I listed. I agree with annsblyth that technicolor adds to the appeal of many musicals, it definintely is an element in all of my favorites. It helps create the fascinating world on screen that we can escape into if only for a could of hours. Black & White musicals can be just as appealing if the music is right and other visual elements are used. Shows like Cabin in the Sky, Showboat, or any Busby Berkeley film may lack color, but they contain the heart and soul of the musical, the music, and in some cases visually stunning numbers as well.
  33. 14 points
    Nanette Fabray has died at the age of 97. "Nanette Fabray (born Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares; October 27, 1920 – February 22, 2018) was an American actress, singer and dancer. She began her career performing in vaudeville as a child and became a musical theatre actress during the 1940s and 1950s, winning a Tony Award in 1949 for her performance in Love Life. In the mid-1950s, she served as Sid Caesar's comedic partner on Caesar's Hour, for which she won three Emmy Awards, as well as co-starring with Fred Astaire in the film musical The Band Wagon. From 1979 to 1984, she appeared as Grandma Katherine Romano on the TV series One Day at a Time. Fabray overcame a significant hearing impairment and has been a long-time advocate for the rights of the deaf and hard of hearing. Her honors representing the handicapped include the President's Distinguished Service Award and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanette_Fabray
  34. 14 points
    It must be the rarely seen version entitled Really All Quiet on the Western Front.
  35. 13 points
    Hi again. I am thrilled with the activity surrounding the first Daily Dose of Delight. Here is the forum for Tuesday's. Recall that you watched two clips from Rose Marie and were directed toward the performances of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Look at the three questions below, as I listed them below the clip on Canvas, and post your thoughts. I look forward to reading your responses. Remember, this Daily Dose is a Star Studies perspective. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own): What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? See you on TCM. Vanessa
  36. 13 points
    I’m not sure I gave up anything, and I didn’t watch all the films; but I gained a new online community full of friendly people with beautiful insights and a unified spirit of collaboration. It’s been a great month! I’m sorry to arrive at the end of the course. Have a great summer, everyone!
  37. 13 points
    DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #12 (FROM AN AMERICAN IN PARIS): “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter. Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade.” (from Funny Girl) 1. All musicals should be more-than-realistic. They should take us where we can’t go ourselves: physically and emotionally. They should leave us wanting to sing and dance through life if only as far as the car in the parking lot. The plot and dialogue should also be heightened and mainly serve to bring us to the next number. The actors should wear their hearts on their sleeves. What was unfortunate about casting Ryan Gosling in La-La-Land is that he’s a subtle, understated actor (and he can’t sing or dance). As Jeff tells Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon, “icebergs only show 1/8—I want 8/8!” We need them to show the emotions that we must suppress to get through our day. Some of us must pass the homeless everyday without making eye contact. Some of us can’t quit our lousy jobs. Some of us never tell our parents or children that we love them. Some of us never really live because we’re too busy facing reality. We need musicals to cry, laugh, sing and dance for us with heightened reality. Musicals remind us that living without heart is no life at all. And maybe it’s impossible to care about every one in the world—but maybe it’s damn worth trying to. 2. I found Gene Kelly's character to be completely likable but then, I'm from New Jersey.
  38. 13 points
    Like most people, the Wizard of Oz was the first time I saw Judy Garland perform on film. My first impression was that she was extremely talented singer and performer. These clips confirmed her talent as a singer and performer. It also highlighted her range as an actress. This is not a film but in the Sixties, Judy Garland had a TV show that once again showcased her talents as a singer and performer. Here is a clip. You may want to fast forward through the opening graphic.
  39. 13 points
    What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? Several folks (chillyfillyinak and thinman2001) have mentioned the great use of the garter, the gun, the drawer full of guns, the zipper, etc. One thing that I also noticed was the picture on the wall just above the cabinet where the guns were stored. It shows a woman lounging in a diaphanous gown - it seemed almost like a representation of his life with all these women that he's seducing. It's subtle, but it shows that this approach permeates his life and apartment. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. One thing related to sound that I noticed is that the French dialogue doesn't have subtitles, and Chevalier translates the action for us twice ("she's jealous" and "her husband"). This not only breaks the fourth wall, as noted, but it made me think of title cards of silent film. I could totally imagine this scene being in a silent film (which in a way it is for an English-only-speaking audience since they all can't understand the French dialogue). So Chevalier, like a title card in a silent film, explains whats going on. I could imagine the scene without his asides - and instead replace them with a title card with the words he says. I'm not saying this would be better. No - his character doing this shows him as the master of seduction and he's cool under pressure and a little amused at the situation, etc. But I'm just saying that this odd fourth wall break seems to have some kind of tie to the silent film world. Maybe I think this because when I rewatched 42nd Street or Broadway Melody (can't remember which it was - maybe both?) last night on TCM, I noticed that there were a couple of title cards used there to tell us where we were, etc. Just like early film borrowed the look and style from B'way and general straight on theatrical presentation, so the early sound film might still retain vestiges of the conventions of silent film - even as they have sound. Another sound element I noticed was the moment when, after the couple has left, Chevalier opens the French doors to the outside and you can hear the crowd noise below - which disappears as soon as he closes the door. That created a very realistic feeling, and it also demonstrates how much of a spectacle and scandal he's created. This isn't a little private incident between him and the married couple. No - we saw people on the street running toward the apartment when the gun went off - and we're reminded that the crowd is still gathered, gossiping happily, no doubt, about this Sylvanian lothario. This moment of crowd noise creates this mental picture of the reaction of the community, and further sets up the appearance and attitude of the ambassador who scolds him for creating such a problem for his country. Finally - was it just a coincidence? But I noticed when the people are running to the apt outside, they go past an awning with the word BOIS on it (meaning "wood"). And Chevalier is from Sylvania (the "wooded" place - as in sylvan). Just sayin'. ?
  40. 13 points
    1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. The Nelson Eddy character is trying his best to start a relationship with the Jeanette McDonald character. As in many films of that era, the “proper” lady plays hard to get. Then the hero usually has to rescue her. I feel that the overacting in the close-ups made the scenes more comical than romantic. I do like the way he changes the lyrics to his song to make her think there are other women his life. Then in the saloon clip when she becomes the fish out of water, he runs to her rescue when she fails. 2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. I have seen Jeanette McDonald in San Francisco playing the same type of role as this lady who has to come down in society. Gable tricks her into singing in his “joint”. Spencer Tracy helps her out of that bad situation and she becomes an opera singer. By the end of the film they find each after the big earthquake. At the end she leads the people in song. Not conviced that they ever consummate their relationship. Then in Three Daring Daughters she plays the love interest of Jose Iturbi. I never thought of either actor as romantic leads. The acting was stiff from the adult leads. Jane Powell and a young Elinor Donahue made that film palatable. I only have seen films of Nelson Eddy when he played opposite Jeanette. 3. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? I think the relationship of McDonald and Eddy totally fit into the Hollywood Film Code. There didn’t seem to be much sexual tension between the two of them. In many of their scenes her back is to him and they don’t seem to be singing to each other. I did like the scene in San Francisco when she jazzed up the song San Francisco to help Clark Gable save his nightclub. She is moving a lot like the saloon singer in Rose Marie. Her movements are a little awkward, but she sings a wonderful rendition of San Francisco. According to some historians, Jeanette really wanted to work with Clark. He thought she was too much of a diva and she became underwhelmed with his talents. I think it affected their chemistry on screen. Check out this radio clip of Jeanette singing San Francisco. At about 1:20 you can hear her getting her jazz on.
  41. 13 points
    1. I believe that it does. In the clip Ziegfeld throws money around like its nothing. He buys terribly expensive flowers and hands the doorman 5 pounds and then jokes about it. The doorman also appears to have the money to go to the theater, as he talks of seeing the French actress, which I assume means he's seen the show. The actress also speaks of having a choice between the two men, meaning she isn't at all worried about money or position, she's free to see what all of her options are, instead of stuck doing what she knows with make her money and make ends meet. 2. One of the themes I saw was people having choices and the freedom to make the choices without much consideration beyond how they’re feeling. They aren't seemingly worried about the future. They don’t seem terribly concerned about money as well, it’s thrown around several times in the short clip. 3. Since the motion picture code was a moral guideline, you don’t see any skin from the woman in this clip. In The Broadway Musical a lot of the clips are women in bras, naked in the bathtub, etc. In this film, she gets off stage and the only piece of clothing that is removed is her hat. Pre-code era she’d probably have stripped down more. Also, she'd probably have been dressed differently on stage, at least less than the fancy, full length, totally covering dress she was wearing in the clip.
  42. 13 points
    I have always had a yearly tradition of watching 1776 on the 4th of July. I have always considered 1776 one of the best musicals for learning about American History. The movie is absolutely perfect and so are the actors and the music.
  43. 13 points
    Am I alone in finding posters bellyaching about TCM hosts boring? There seems to be a thread of this nature at least once a week. Enough already! In any event, Muller's enthusiasm for his subject is because he loves noirs, and he does his own writing. In some cases he will crib a lot of his own notes from write ups he's done in the past about a film and use them on the air. At least, he did that with The Breaking Point. I assume the Garfield film is not the only time he's done that. Nothing wrong with that, especially since most viewers will not have read his previous write ups on films, and what he previously wrote was worth repeating. Ben M. has to introduce ALL kinds of film genre, some of which he may not care for (unlike Muller, who picks his own films). I don't know how much of his intros he writes. Aside from that Ben has a laid back, at times puckish, delivery, and he's effective if you enjoy that type of style. You don't like it? Avoid his two minute commentary and just watch the film. Different strokes for different folks, and all that sort of thing.
  44. 12 points
    (author's note, I was going to post this in the OFF-TOPIC CHIT CHAT FORUM, but, I dunno, it's very politicky there and I think this might've got lost 'twixt the cracks...) this is kind of personal, and i apologize. but i need to get this out in some form somewhere. anyhoo: I have found in life that there seem to be two different forms of the Writing Experience: 1. I get an idea and it SEIZES me MIND and TAKES ROOT so STRONGLY that I overcome hesitation and fear and start to bang it out in SCREENPLAY FORM and then, either 20, 40 or 60 pages in, I realize that I have left the gas running on the stove because I WOULD HAVE TO BE HAVING AN OXYGEN DEFICIENCY IN ORDER TO THINK THAT THERE WAS ANY KIND OF STORY IN THIS TO BEGIN WITH, MUCH LESS ONE THAT WOULD MAKE A 120 PAGE SCRIPT THAT ANYONE WOULD PAY TO PRODUCE...and I walk away from it and remind myself TO NEVER TRUST THAT DAMN BURNER AGAIN. or... 2. I get an idea and it SEIZES me MIND and TAKES ROOT so STRONGLY that I overcome hesitation and fear (and mY twenty YEAR STRUGGLE WITH THE cAPS lOCK kEY) and start to bang it out in SCREENPLAY FORM and then, 200 pages into it, I realize I am too much OF A CRITICAL PERFECTIONIST TO FINISH IT and I never do. Either one sucks and is largely no fun. I think it was LOUISA MAY ALCOTT who said, and I paraphrase, "WRITING EATS, it's arduous and gets you worked up and wears you out, and the whole time, there is that 99.999999% chance it was all for naught for a million different reasons." SO IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN, a year ago ALMOST TO THE DAY- I got an idea, and it SEIZED MY MIND and TOOK ROOT so STRONGLY that I overcame my hesitation and started to bang it out in SCREENPLAY FORM, expecting more than I ever had before to have that "GAS LEAK MOMENT" about 20 pages in...40 pages in... when it didn't come by page 130, obviously, I was destined for another 240 pages of unfinished mess, and I was happy to accept that...only thing was, FOR THE MOST PART, I HONESTLY HAD A GREAT TIME WRITING THIS! Everything else I have written before was VERY MUCH GROUNDED IN THE REAL WORLD and i had to worry about making it believable, this has elements of fantasy and theater to it, and it also was a way for me to incorporate a life of being drawn to science fiction and classic horror movies. and then, LO AND BEHOLD I WENT AND FINISHED THE GD THING. It's 204 pages with 20 illustrations because I FELT LIKE IT and I've had it printed and bound and read it through all the way and I LIKE THE ENDING and am 98% pleased with it- ALTHOUGH OF COURSE I MISSED SOME DAMN MINOR LOOSE ENDS AND TYPOES BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBL NOT TO. Anyhow, it's a very strange feeling and I'm trying to wrap my mind around it, so "coming out" to you here is a first step of a sort. IT'S GENUINELY VERY GOOD THOUGH, and in reading it, I WONDER WHO THE HELL WROTE IT BECAUSE I SWEAR IT DID NOT COME OUT OF ME. NOTE: pleasePLEASEPLEASE: I HAVE COMMUNICATED PRIVATELY WITH SOME OF YOU ABOUT THIS, AND AS A NOTE, PLEASE DON'T SHARE WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT, Silly as this, I don't feel entirely comfortable discussing that, although IT IS A LIBERAL RETELLING OF A CLASSIC HORROR MOVIE.
  45. 12 points
    Italian actress Valentina Cortese has died. Beginning her film career in the early 1940's, she later appeared in American films including Thieves Highway (1948), Malaya (1949), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), and The Barefoot Contessa (1953), among many others. Later in life she acted in Juliet of the Spirits (1965), The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Day for Night (1973).
  46. 12 points
    I can't really explain it, as I don't share that sentiment, but I can try. The industry is in a sad state at the moment, and it may never recover to anything like what it once was even 15-20 years ago, let alone whichever older film era one prefers. The nature of entertainment may move further away from film as technology progresses and how people spend their leisure time continues to change, with the current trends of SFX overload, family-film pablum, and micro-niche-appeal indies/SVOD growing even more inescapable. My personal favorite decades for films are, in order, the 70's, 80's, 60's, and 90's. Anyone familiar with my posts knows that I also enjoy films from the decades before and after those, but not as much. Of the hundreds of DVDs and Blu-rays on my shelves 3/5th's are from after 1970, so the majority are not from the "classic" era. All that being said, I still find movies from each year that I like, some a great deal, and in a variety of genres. I understand some people are put off or offended by sex/nudity, dirty words, and violence, both minor and graphic. And all of these things are more prevalent in modern films, although not as ubiquitous as some naysayers profess. You'll find much more graphic material on a regular basis in movies from the 70's and 80's than you will now. However, if people wish to avoid things of that nature, classic films are more reliably absent of those aspects. And some people prefer the social structures on display in older films, a mythologized view of when things "were right in the world." Modern films reassert where we are, while older films take you away to the way you wish they were. The uglier aspects of life were usually hidden away due to the Production Code. And many viewers prefer things the way they were when they themselves were a child, as the world seemed to make more sense then, not realizing that the reason was because they were a child and were unaware of those more-unsavory aspects for the most part. So, many viewers like visiting those older times via classic films, and it serves as a sort of fantasy/wish-fulfillment/escapism from the worries and uncertainties of the modern life. These viewers would naturally be less open to watching or enjoying modern films. These people often (but not always) seem to fall into conservative political viewpoints, and they see their preferred worldview in classic films more than modern. And then there are those who just aesthetically like the older film style, the B&W cinematography, or the candy-colored Technicolor, the stage-trained diction, and everyone wearing a suit or a dress, with simple stories told simply and straightforwardly, with plots (and editing) easily followed from point A to point B to point C. Older films adhere much more closely to a stage approach to drama, while later films, inspired by the previous generations of movies as well as arthouse innovation, became more visually oriented and looked to explore the boundaries of visual storytelling. Of course that can be taken to extremes, with a bunch of visual "noise" on screen holding little to no emotional weight, just as the earliest films were often visually dull, stage-y bores with no visual verve at all, until Griffith came along and kicked 'em in the pants. In the end, many viewers like the pacing, editing, scoring and the look of classic films over many of the stylistic trends prevalent now. So I can understand where people are coming from with their dislike of either new films or old films. But I ain't one of 'em, as I find stuff to like (and dislike) in them all.
  47. 12 points
    For the next Daily Dose Forum, recall that you watched The clip from The Love Parade. As you think about the clip curated by Richard Edwards, and you do your close reading of the film text (visual analysis) think about his questions that begin discussion. Post your responses here. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own): What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?
  48. 12 points
    Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times: “That wonderful talent for satire which Betty Comden and Adolph Green possess, and which was gleefully turned upon the movies in their script for last year’s Singin’ in the Rain, is even more gleefully let loose upon the present-day musical stage in their book for The Band Wagon.” Crowther, who could be a curmudgeonly reviewer liked all of the performances (even Cyd Charisse's rather weak acting) and all of the talent behind the camera too. “This literate and witty combination herein delivers a show that respectfully bids for recognition as one of the best musical films ever made.” Crowther thought "The Band Wagon" was better than SITR! Comden and Green were good at taking a catalogue of songs from a particular songwriter, for example, Arthur Freed of the Freed Unit at MGM, and spinning a plot to make use of those songs in a musical. With respect to SITR, Comden stated that when they got the assignment to write the book, all they knew was that they had to use Freed's songs, and that "someone would be singin' and that it would be rainin'." They took a similar approach to The Band Wagon, by taking an idea for a thin plot, and spinning a book out of the songs. As for Jack Buchanan, he was a well known star of the British music hall. He was an accomplished dancer who had a dance act with his wife. Modern audiences can see a bit of his music hall-type performance in "The Winslow Boy" (1948). 1.As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? The opening of the "That's Entertainment" song reminds me of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies in which they solve one problem or another by "putting on a show!" Those efforts from the late 1930's and 1940's also utilized some ensemble acting, singing and dancing, all within the structure of the actual story, the show within the show, and the backstage drama which forms the plot. The instructor posits the idea that this type of production number is unique to the 1950's musical. What we see in this clip is that, like the earlier musicals, the problem to be solved is Astaire's flagging career, which needs a boost from a good Broadway musical show in which he can star. As did Rooney and Garland, they decide in the context of this song to solve the problem by "putting on a show!" Buchanan's character is the leader of the song. He is a pretentious, somewhat untalented director who is trying to sell the others on his ideas to create a play. Some think he is based on a combination of Orson Welles and Jose Ferrer. The married couple is of course based on the writers Comden and Green (although married, were not married to each other), and the Astaire character is actually based on himself. As such, Buchanan orchestrates the plot ideas, Fabray, who could sing and dance, contributes her talents as the lady of the scene, Levant, a pianist in real life, can carry a tune and supplies some comic bits, and Astaire is the one to whom they must sell all of their ideas to "put on a show!" The characters relate very much this way to each other throughout the scene. 2.What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. The audience expects Astaire to be dressed elegantly, and he is in a dark blue suit and nifty white pocket handkerchief, perfectly squared. After all, he is Astaire, the star of the film, and the star of the show within a show. Levant is dressed in tweeds, just like the audience of the time would expect to see a writer attired. Fabray is costumed in a "new look" style dress, with a suggestion of decollete, and a red flower on one hip. She is the lady in the song and needs to look feminine, but she is also Levant's partner, and a writer, so she can't look too gorgeous. Finally, Buchanan is dressed like a pretentious, artistic type, in a turtleneck and kind of lounge coat, something only an Artist would wear. This is the sort of attention, Minnelli would pay to the way in which his characters are dressed to signal information to the audience. 3.What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? As stated before, Buchanan is the leader, trying to convince Astaire to trust him to revive his career. As the ring leader, he is also the tallest member of the group, and the most masculine looking one in the song. Although he interacts with Astaire on equal footing throughout the production number, he initiates the idea to "put on a show!" and gets the action going toward that goal. Fabray and Levant are trying to cheer Astaire up, as he is discouraged about his career. They run with Buchanan's idea and contribute lots of comic business in order to amuse Astaire and give him hope that he can have more stage success. Although the audience knows Astaire is the star of the film and an amazing dancer, Minnelli has him hold back because of his depression and need to be convinced of the advisability of joining in to "put on a show!" Therefore, the great Astaire does some modest hoofing with the others during the song, and does not really emerge as the dancing star the audience knows he is. His reticence is consistent with the plot.
  49. 12 points
    1.What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. Never having seen the film, I assume that the Eddy/McDonald characters have a love/hate relationship right up until they fall in love (or more accurately until she realizes she is in love with him). Eddy is a straightforward guy who doesn't mind trying to court a gal who is stuck on someone else. His persistence and good nature probably pays off after McDonald flees the pub after her embarrassing performance. Eddy understands her humiliation and obviously wants to comfort her in some way. The fact that he is devastatingly handsome in his mountie uniform (he uses his baritone voice to impress her, but honestly if I were the lady he could be mute and still get my attention). He also doesn't mind letting her know he has courted other women before with his universally appropriate song as long as the lady in question has three syllables in her name. Eddy is just a hardworking, honest, clean-cut guy with nothing to hide. His joke about Maude shows he has a sense of humor. What more could a girl want? While McDonald is stuck up and wants Eddy to know how unimpressed she is with his looks, uniform and boyish charm, the audience knows that something is going to take her down a peg. When it does, it is obvious that thrifty, brave, clean and reverent Eddy will be there to rescue her. Although they were married to others in real life, the chemistry between the two stars apparently carried over as their relationship lasted until her death. It is all there on the screen. 2.If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. I have seen Eddy in "Knickerbocker Holiday," in which he plays the impulsive young hero with a temper. He is just as likable in that role as in the two clips we just watched. I have seen McDonald in several films, one with Deanna Durbin and in "San Francisco" opposite Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. In the Durbin film she plays a lovely mother. In "San Francisco" she plays a classical singer who must take a job in Gable's saloon. Her skimpy costumes enrage Tracy's priest. McDonald's part in "San Francisco" is reminiscent of her saloon performance in our clip. In both parts she is a fish out of water in anything but a classical music performance. 3.What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? If by "this era" is meant the period in which the Breen office ruled what morality audiences saw, we expect leading ladies to be modest, decent, flirtatious in a ladylike manner, and above all chaste. Leading men are gentlemen, especially when dealing with the opposite sex. Once they fall in love with other, they are supposed to be loyal, true-hearted lovers, respectful of each other in every way. It was said about the Code that "Movies were made by Jews, censored by Catholics, for Protestant audiences." The Judeo-Christian ethic was in force.
  50. 12 points
    Last night before A HOLE IN THE HEAD, Ben gave a wonderfully touching tribute to the late Connie Sawyer who co-starred in the film. When Connie did her intro last September as a Guest Programmer she was, in fact, 104. She died at 105 on January 21st. (Her last birthday was Nov. 27th which I was lucky enough to attend.) Thanks Ben. Connie would have LOVED it!!!! Also - Please give what you can to the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Thanks!! https://www.mptf.com/ Yancey
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