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About PacNWFem

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  • Birthday 02/08/1970

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    Bainbridge Island, WA
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  1. 1. Brice is not confident at this beginning of the film. She is also quite innocent of the ways of the world. The song must reflect that. The softness of the song along with her movements display the shy uncertainty of her beginning infatuation with Nick. But, the song is also (we find out, tragically) hopeful about what she hopes the relationship with Nick will be. I think it shows a foreshadowing of Brice's willingness to too generously forgive Nick's faults (which is really co-dependence). I understand her feeling, and Streisand's acting allows me to feel Brice. This is beautiful and profound acting. Streisand knew the song must reflect Brice's feeling to the audience. 2. I believe this is when Nick falls in love with Brice. Just prior to the song, Nick is still being the flirtatious man of the world. By the end of the song, he is looking up at her admiring who she is and seeing himself with her. I think this is also foreshadowing. He will always be looking up to her and he couldn't live with that. 3. Nick is moved gently to out of the scene. When Brice begins singing, Nick's back is to the camera, and since he's in a black tuxedo, he simply fades off left screen as Brice moves center and higher stage toward the stairs.
  2. 1. Dear goddess, the whole relationship between Higgins and Eliza is characterized by gaslighting. Eliza only comes to Higgins because he placed the notion in her head that she couldn't possibly understand her own reality. In the clip, Higgins completely disregards Eliza's genuine fear and anger over what she knows is true, that she was not a person with feelings left to suffer the consequences of Higgins interjection, but is only a game piece. Higgins abruptly initiates a self-righteous, self-important, blameless perspective that brings her known truth into doubt. This gaslighting is precisely why the dialogue is circular, difficult to follow. The viewer becomes a participant to the gaslighting effect as the viewer struggles to decipher the characters' words. That is, the viewer doesn't even know what is true as s/he is being tossed back and forth between the dialogue of Eliza and Higgins. 2. I do understand that Eliza disappears from the scene into the shadows as Pickering and Higgins congratulate each other. Eliza becomes part of the wallpaper, part of the bits and pieces and bric-a-brac of the room. It is only reasonable that to be seen and heard Eliza had to create an explosion. Yet, Higgins, a master of the gaslight, immediately sets about to place the bric-a-brac (i.e., Eliza) back in its place...Eliza is prostrate on the couch, blending into the future, a throw pillow. When Eliza rises, she walks to a spot where she is half in/ half out of a shadow -- where does she fit, exactly? 3. Yes, Cukor used the long shooting sequences that were rather circular in movement, the elaborately decorated room, and lighting to highlight the gas lighting. I never noticed such detail before. Cukor's direction enhanced the psychological underpinnings in the relationship between the characters.
  3. 1. I notice the wide gestures most. Masculinity is often portrayed as restrained and controlled. Masculine men speak little while sparsely interjecting hand and arm movements. Typically, you only see men raise their hand to attract a waiter for the bill, or hail a cab, or throw a punch. Preston is free with his gestures complimented by the fluidity of the silk handkerchief. Even in past musicals, Astaire and Kelly were allowed free movement while dancing, but otherwise their hands and arms were, say, in pockets. In past musicals, there could never be any hint that a leading man might be gay. Preston's portrayal disrupts those masculine and gay stereotypes. He is wearing noticeable eye makeup, yet he is very cool and even gets in a bit of a fist fight. He is, for all intents and purposes, playing with gender, brilliantly creating a singular performance as a result. 2. I notice, for the first time as I've been a fan of The Music Man since I was young, Preston appears quite a bit older for a leading man. Hollywood tried to continue to cast Astaire as a leading man long after it was getting creepy for him to have such young women as love interests. Preston is paired with a more mature...some could say spinsterish by Marion the Librarian character connotations...Jones. The teaming works well for both. I'm not certain Preston as Hill would have worked as well with a younger actress. [By the way, one viewer on live tweet during the TCM showing of The Music Man opined Preston could not dance. I disagree. I am actually in awe of Preston's very fluid, elegant, rhythmic movements, which are profoundly on display in The Music Man and Victor, Victoria.] 3. I'm afraid I've not seen or noted any other Preston films. I saw Victor, Victoria years ago, but (honestly) until this course I had not thought about it much. I'm looking forward to viewing it anew. And, my greatest apologies to Mr. Preston and Ms. Ball, but there is no other Mame for me but the great Ms. Rosalind Russell so never could watch the Preston/Ball version.
  4. 1. Gypsy appears to be an homage to film's vaudeville roots. We see how entertainment evolved to the musicals of the big screen. We also see the demise in importance of the highly managed musical executives, the producer, for the rise of the independent, individual star (managed here by mom). 2. It's Rosalind Russell! She always makes an entrance. To her early comedic roles in "The Women" and "His Girl Friday" to the fabulous "Auntie Mame," it is all Rosalind Russell -- fast talking, fast moving, genius with the use of props, brash, loud, and aggressive with a profound sense of use of the stage space. She attracts and maintains the audience gaze demanded of an on-stage, theatrical performance. She is the delicious Rosalind Russell. 3. There is definitely some foreshadowing when Louis sings, "I'll do some tricks" with the intertwined finger moves. I'd say that is suggestive. I do not know if it's disruptive. We definitely know a minor character in the Hollywood studio would not share the scene with a star. Minor characters were definitely kept to one-liners, in the shadows, in the backgrounds, until the Hollywood machine chose (if ever) to create the star.
  5. 1. I don't know if it needs the less-than-realistic, stylized approach. Do we have an example in this course of one that does not? Maybe the on-location scenes in On the Town where, as our lecturers noted, has some pretty dirty, gritty backgrounds? However, for An American in Paris, the more stylized approach works. The entire musical is a more theatrical production. Some of this approach may have been logistics, since Paris was less than idyllic after the destruction of WWII. The scenes had to be created opening the space for everything to look just so with lots of color to add to the final ballet. 2. That's easy, he's forgiven because he's incredibly handsome. Like it or dislike it, women being attracted to the handsome rogue or loser is a theme in Hollywood screenplays. I also think the singing and dancing of a musical eases the un-likeability. No one who can dance that good can be all that bad, right?
  6. 1. I actually feel Day's Calamity character falls right in line with the female representation of the 1950s. It tells the story of the post-war gender conformity, yes? Women were no longer meant to be strong, be breadwinners, be heads of households with the ability to stand on their own two feet as during the Depression and WWII. There was a societal clamp down on the strong woman. Women were now meant to return to the role of housewives and mothers. Calamity was the strong, independent woman who stood on her own two feet. But, in this MGM musical, that had to be tamed, and tamed it was. Calamity learned the appropriate way for a woman to be. 2. Oh, Day definitely grows. She began as a sort of girl next door coming into maturity. She then comes alive on screen in the musical in wholesome, smart singing and dance roles. Then, she moves to my favorite of her periods, the Pillow Talk and Please, Don't Eat the Daisies era where she is the definitive 1950s pure (i.e., chaste), good girl looking to become a good Mrs.; however, she never loses her intelligence or sense of comfort in who she is. She radiated during this time, in my opinion. As she moved into television in the 1960s, her character remained intelligent, independent, and comfortable - she didn't lose a beat, though I feel her wholesomeness pigeon-holed her in terms of casting. I mean, she acted pretty damned well in Midnight Lace and could have proved herself in more dramatic roles. 3. Oh, definitely added. This was a musical. Day was not only a talented singer and dancer, she was a talented comedian - a triple threat in musical terms. She knew how to pull of the tomboy role with womanly ease. Her bright and sunny persona did not seem an act adding believability of the Calamity Jane musical role. This role was meant to be bright and sunny. This was 1950s America - everything was bright and sunny.
  7. 1. There is definitely an overall theme that each character has a role to play in bringing together this comeback. I also get a hint, though I cannot really put my finger on it, that each character's role is pronounced...the writer, the producer (or director?), the musician, and the star. I could not say that such a collaborative style is only a manifestation of post-war musicals, as we see the same regard for team work in musicals like Meet Me in St. Louis and On the Town. However, we do know Astaire is a professional dancer while you easily notice the heavy, uncoordinated footing of Levant, and this scene plays and uses the weaknesses to make the choreography work. 2. Grays, blues, and whites dominate the clothing palette, even while the styles of each character is individualistic bringing life to the character of each. The color of one's blue tie plays into the scarf of another, the jacket of a third, and the skirt of Nanette. Nanette pulls in the background with a red rose on her belt. 3. I notice the song is very playful in staging. It incorporates all the strong elements of a good production.
  8. 1. I think the song was the theme song of Petunia's love for Joe. It is a song that is enduring, fitting for bedside and separation. It is one thing to be grateful one's husband has thwarted death, it a deeper thing to feel grateful in the everyday, and Ethel Waters was terrific in depicting this everyday, no-matter-what devotion. 2. I read a few of the other comments. I am not sold on the context of husband vs. child and separation due to war. I do think a mother would feel just as strongly about a dead, absent, or missing child as a partner. What would change, I feel, is the level of projected, wanting passion displayed by Petunia for Joe as opposed to a more visceral, instinctive, protective mother's love for a child. Petunia is the epitome of the strong, faithful, loving wife expected during WWII. The WWII propaganda wanted women who could maintain the home front while remaining loyal to their husband/soldier. The same would not be expected of a mother to a child. A mother may have been sending her child to war, but she ultimately knew his role was to create a life separate from her own. Children are expected to leave home, fall in love, and have their own family. 3. I did not know Cabin in the Sky existed. I've been a classic movie fan since I was young, On the Town being one of my favorite musicals. People of color simply were not part of Hollywood in any profound way. I learned about Black Americans in WWII in college and through personal curiosity. And, America remains unable to fully accept people of color into the everyday reality of U.S. society, even while they are soon to be the majority of citizens. To me, that prejudice is pathetic. Understanding the driving forces for profit of the studios, perhaps, just perhaps, if the studios had chosen to take a stand to include more persons of color in the beginnings of Hollywood, societal prejudices would be less profoundly a part of today.
  9. Quick Side Note: Kudos to Garrett for running up the bleachers in a long skirt, petty coats, and, mostly likely, some sort of corset. 1. The hallway is a great technique to create tension of determined pursuit. The director and editor then frame each scene to accentuate the pursuit. This is Betty's gag. Frank is vacillating, but playing hard to get -- which is a fun switch of gender roles. But, Betty is the center in this scene and the gag is her dogged pursuit of the man she loves. Her actions must be staged as bold and strong, the editing must highlight this strength. 2. We know there is going to an interaction the moment we see Betty Garrett try to corner Frank Sinatra in the hall. There is a foot chase and the music escalates during the foot chase to provide an intro to Betty's song.
  10. 1. I know I watched Wizard of Oz, but I was scared to death of the witch (poor Mr. Rogers couldn't even break my fright when he had Margaret Hamilton on his program and he showed how it was all make believe). Plus, those flying monkeys were downright creepy. Unfortunately, I've never been able to overcome my early reaction, so Wizard of Oz simply is not a movie I watch. For me, Judy Garland will forever be Esther Smith, in love with St. Louis and the boy next door. Meet Me in St. Louis is my favorite....and, my daughter's favorite insisting we watch it at the beginning of each Christmas season. She was cute, coming of age, with an idyllic family, still tomboyish and full of life. Her dance with Margaret O'Brien always makes me cry with joy. Judy Garland connected with the viewer with her sweetness, boldness, and ability to see the humor in herself. 2. I now have an appreciation for the way Judy Garland openly, willingly, generously shared the stage with her co-star(s). I have a fuller appreciation for her playfulness with the camera as a wink toward her audience. 3. Well, my favorite, of course: Meet Me in St. Louis.
  11. 1. The White House is depicted as grand. It is our White House. Huge portraits of past presidents line the walls impressing the exceptionalism of our fore fathers. Walking into the Oval Office, an entire navy is depicted in the decor providing honor, pride, and remembrance of Pearl Harbor. The American flag is prominent and is lit (it is not in shadow). Notice the president's clock is set at 9:00 - the first attack at Pearl Harbor came at 7:53 a.m. and the second at 8:55 a.m. Notice FDR's desk is clear, except for one piece of paper. Notice the atmosphere is calm. All of this assures the audience the president is aware but has everything under control. Then, there is FDR. We know he had polio and was careful to hide from the public his inability to walk, but he is mobile and stands here to greet Cohan. The gesture gives the impression our president is great, sure footed, and capable. 2. American values, right down to the opening lines mentioning Cohan's great George Washington play against a backdrop of the portraits of former presidents. The dialogue sets Cohan up as a national treasure, someone all Americans can admire for his work. And his song on the flag, a profound American symbol, "is just as good today as it ever was." The banter between FDR and Cohan is a remembrance of a patriotic little kid "a Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one." Then FDR makes reference to the patriotism of Irish Americans - perhaps in a nod to bring people together (there could be a more direct reference here but my history is a little fuzzy, though I know there was a feeling up to JFK whether Irish Catholics could be loyal Americans with their recognition of the supremacy of the Pope). FDR is proud Cohan spent his career "telling the other 47 states how great [America] is." The scene then fades to Providence (defined:"the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power" (Google search)), Rhode Island and a patriotic parade. 3. If the scene were to open with the parade, I honestly feel I would be lost. I do not know who Cohan was, though, I suppose he was famous in his time. It would take me a moment to understand what the film is about. The opening with FDR provides valuable setting by providing the background story. Additionally, the scene in the Oval Office is solemn, quiet, and respectful. The scene in the Oval Office provides a moment of silence considering the emotion evoked by Pearl Harbor. A parade is loud and chest-pounding, as well as being a celebration. Is beginning with a celebration appropriate just after Pearl Harbor? I don't know if the audience would be receptive viewers if it started with the parade.
  12. 1. To begin, Astaire's character tries to gain control by playing on Rogers' character's fear of the storm, and she knows she must contain her fear when she realizes he is going to use it against her. Then, while he's pleading his case, she is being very shrewd about her decision to consider his advances. And, I love how she puts up her hands at the moment he would typically take her in his arms to indicate that she isn't playing his game. Of course, Astaire takes the cue, saying through his dance moves, "Okay, that's the way you want it, if this is what it takes, let's go!" 2. I feel the storyline is much more intricate. In Top Hat, the dance and song is part of, and advances, the plot of the story. The film has much less of a clunky, sectioned, vaudeville feel. There is certainly still profound escapism with over-the-top sets hat depict reality nowhere. However, the story is sweet, the dancing much more smooth. And, the smoothness of the dancing, I feel, is part of the escapism. It puts an audience at ease. They can also float above the floor as they are watching. How powerful is that sensory gift when compared to what awaits outside the theater doors? 3. We see many more women taking stronger roles because of the Depression. Women did what women prove to do in history, they dig in and take up what needs to be done to keep going. I understand that is a broad generalization; yet, specifically, WWII history proves the tremendous role women played. Women fought through the Depression and continued forward progress in war. I think the screwball comedy musicals were quick to magnify and profit from this, whereas romantic dramas were much more likely to reenforce typical gendered roles. ((P.S. I do not know why I am seeing different font sizes on my comment screen. It's very strange. I do not know if others see the different font sizes, as well. I tried to fix it.))
  13. I feel the Lubitsch touch begins in the opening dialogue; that is, when Chevalier's character addresses the viewing audience. His note, "She's terribly jealous," is a male character gaslighting to bring witnesses onto his side of the argument...a roguish move if there ever was one. The lover, female, is stereotypically hysterical while he remains the elegant man of reason. The audience immediately doubts the woman placing emphasis and gaze at the male lead. Of course, the garter and guns give a fuller picture of Alfred's philandering, but so does the fact that Alfred and the woman were in the bedroom. It is only a few moments later we learn the woman is also a philanderer...but, the characters are French, which eases the audiences (and the Code enforcers?) moral anxiety. (I still say, Code be damned, there was sex going on.) I think the French language adds a lot to the scene's effectiveness. The French are so loose and risqué. The audience may not understand French, but they are brought in as willing, eager eavesdroppers. When Alfred addresses the audience directly, the audience's buy-in becomes complete. The audience is now part of the plot and willing participants to what happens next. The music after the woman "shoots herself" (wink, wink) heightens the tension..what will happen next?! And the music has a rather "we will duel to see who earns the woman's hand" sound to it. This is a man's game of love. Then the silence between Alfred and the husband lends itself to audience complicity and gives an opening for comedic gesturing -- a holdover from silent films. I think there will be a carry over of broad gestures reminiscent of silent filmmaking. There may also be comedic, direct interaction with the audience as an intro or punchline. The era's musicals will be focused on love and love's misunderstandings. I feel comedy also relieves Code tensions allowing filmmakers to get away with allusions to sex and, perhaps, other forbidden subjects of the Code (e.g., cross-dressing women/men, gay/lesbian lifestyles).
  14. 1. These are the early code days (correct?), so what I see in MacDonald and Eddy are worldly individuals fitting their outward performance into polite, acceptable behavior. In the first clip, there is heavy flirting, though the flirting was carried on in the subtext to the dialogue. For example, Eddy conveys how experienced he is with the other sex by explaining he created the song, his "line," to fit the name of whatever woman he is with (and his closing punchline, "Nothing ever worked with Maude," conjures up hints of many cold showers for Eddy though he gave it his best go). Meanwhile, MacDonald is not shocked, righteous, or disgusted by Eddy's apparent philandering (though she feigns disapproval), but, rather, finds it so charming she flirts by lobbing comebacks and commentary on his game. Similarly in the second clip, we see a worldly MacDonald not shocked, righteous, or disgusted by the circumstances of a rough and tumble woodlands bar and the questionable women who entertain the men, but, even while knowing she's out of place, tries to pick up the torch and jump in to the looseness expected. Meanwhile, Eddy is obviously no stranger to the ladies (after all, what is a handsome man to do for company up in the lonely woods?). Code be damned, there was sex going on. I think this way of working the dialogue did, in fact, make stuffy operetta singers more relatable. However, I think there is an apparent aesthetic context we've been discussing about the Depression; that is, escapism. There is sophistication to opera. MacDonald and Eddy brought the viewer a sense of sophistication surpassing the drudgery of reality waiting outside the theater doors. It helped the viewer pull their boot straps a little tighter and dream toward something. 2. I honestly have never seen them beyond a Saturday morning cartoon parody. I, like mentioned in the lesson, often saw clips of MacDonald and Eddy as serious, romantic, operetta singers. 3. What I want to know is how simple-minded did the Code enforcers think the viewers were? Or, perhaps I should ask, how simple-minded were the Code enforcers? The presentation of chaste innocence was obviously promoted through the Code, but the dialogue and circumstances so flagrantly undermined the Code-sanctioned presentation. In the early days, I feel we can expect studios to press the limits to see where the hammer came down. Perhaps in this way, these early Code films seem much more racy that the films of the late 40s and 50s. Still, I understand that the Code was upheld by culture and many things were not discussed openly.
  15. 1. I began looking at the films aesthetically in relation to history. This film was Depression Era so there seems to be an emphasis on freshness. The viewer gets the idea of climate control that is part of the escape into the theater (e.g., air conditioning lured people to the theaters in the summer). The flowers present this idea of controlled comfort. So, it wasn't only the material escapes -- nice clothes, big spending, elegant spaces, etc. -- it is the pure idea of comfort away from the reality that was ragged, dirty, and exposed to the discomforts of nature. 2. I agree with many of the other participants there is an emphasis on light-heartedness or hopefulness...perhaps frivolity (a luxury for many during The Great Depression). There is a strong theme of escapism. But, strikingly, there is not the reversion, necessarily, to more conservative behavior. There remains a strong (for her day), female central character successfully making her own way in the world. Now, she's French, which is telling considering the intellectual parlors of France at the time which hosted thought leaders such as Simone de Beauvoir (who graduated with her thesis in 1928 - a rare accomplishment for a woman - and was deep in an affair with Satre in 1933, eventually writing The Second Sex in 1949). So, there was a feeling in 1933 that women's progress would continue, a theme perhaps directly influenced by the women who took up the reigns of familial leadership when men could not or would not. 3. I don't know. Showing skin in the dressing room? Perhaps more suggestive allusions to Miss Held's figure or body rather than limiting the description to her eyes? Perhaps the woman taking a more aggressive rather than innocently flirtatious sexual role with Ziegfeld?
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