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judith46

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Posts posted by judith46

  1. AHHH!  One of the most perfect moments in musical film.  I tear up every time I hear her sing this, even with just audio!  The reason for that is the quality of expression and inflection in her interpretation of the song.  She moves from a very self-conscious, flat tone at the beginning, to a mellow, thoughtful middle, and on to a full-throated, confident end.  This cabaret style singing it what Streisand does best, and I can't even imagine anyone else producing this touching moment.

    Streisand's performance is enhanced by the lighting, which is dark, lamp-lit.  She is highlighted on her face, neck and arms, so she stands out from the dark.  There is one moment when she is holding the railing that looks almost balletic in pose.  Shariff is kept in shadow, turned toward her, and we follow them down the street.  He seems at first amused, then silent as he is captivated by her.  It's just a beautiful scene.  Can you tell I'm a fan?

    I think a lot of the new musicals are too loud with songs that are easily forgettable (there are exceptions).  We will never forget "People".

  2. As in Gaslight, Cukor uses low -lighted interiors to enhance the feeling of isolation and depression.  We see the same uncertainty of self in the female characters, as they try to hang on to stability.  Note how in both films, the women face away from the antagonist, not making eye contact.  Loss of control is exhibited, as well as self-willing back to control.  The males in both films seek to subdue both the mind and body of the female character, and to distance himself from any emotion.

    The emotional transitions are supported by the furnishings of the set, providing places to hold on to as she moves about turning off lights, etc.; there is a very nice divan handy when she throws herself to the floor.  The aforementioned low light supports the depressive mood.  There is a contrast in the very nice surroundings and her absolute despair.

    Cukor helps show the relationship of the characters in the way he allows Eliza the full stage as she expresses her isolation and need for recognition;  she feels she has to conceal her emotion in the dark.  The professor then joins her in the room, but they are shown together on the screen only when they are engaged in physical combat.  When he speaks, showing his disdain of emotion, he has the screen to himself.  As they seek to understand one another, they are brought together on screen, then pushed apart, together, apart.

  3. These clips are not loading very well for me today, and my only experience of Preston has been his Music Man performance.  But, it seems in these two performances we have one instance of the character trying to hide his real intentions (Music Man) and the other in which he is not hiding them (Victor Victoria).

    I am making it a point to view some of his other performances and look forward to seeing Victor Victoria.

  4. We see a nod back to the classic musicals in the importance of vaudeville as setting, the struggle to make a name for oneself, and the beginning of the story with childhood.  I believe that this clip also foreshadows the breakdown in respect for perceived authority, the willingness to work outside the normal channels.  Mamma is getting around the "fixed" outcome of the talent contest by sheer determination and daring to challenge the system.

    The entrance of Roz Russell as Mama here is abrupt and uncompromising.  She selfishly takes center stage and upstages her own children.  You can tell her ambition is not for them, but for herself!  The worst of the stage mothers.

    The lyrics here are taken more innocently since they are sung by a child.  However, the "let me entertain you" sounds more like a plea to her mother to get out of the way after that entrance.  

  5. I think the fantasy ballet at the end of American in Paris is just that, a fantasy.  Therefore, it can stand alone because it is "imaginary", outside of "real life".  

    The Jerry Mulligan character is endearing because we can see his vulnerability below the gruff surface.  Kelly portrays this through his facial expression as he looks hopefully on while Milo views his work, and through his body language as he folds his arms defensively and tries to look nonchalant.  

  6. The pre-dance words and taps are like a conductor's counted bar before the downbeat; it establishes the time and rhythm used throughout the number.

    How DOES the professor keep his demeanor?  Seeing O'Connor's mime behind him and still he keeps his countenance?  I could never do it!

    The masculinity model here is unity, each one echoing the other in time and step.  There is a friendly "banter" and competition through rhythm.  It is the "buddy system" personified in music.

  7. In this film, Day's character is outside the accepted female norm; she is allowed to show both sides of her nature.  The active, more aggressive side is dominant early in the film, then she tries to adopt the more passive role, in which she fails.  Finally, she seems to resolve the conflict by allowing one side to temper the other, thus becoming more balanced.  This contrasts to some of earlier work, like Tea For Two, My Dream is Yours, etc. in which she is cast in the more traditional feminine role.  Her later work evolves into smart, feisty, but feminine women who are up against a male-dominated world, as in her films with Rock Hudson. 

    Day's interpretation of Calamity Jane is wonderful!  She shows an optimistic, brassy, and undefeated character.  The clip of "secret Love" is one my favorites.  She strides purposefully and confidently, leading the very flashy-looking horse through the land that she is a part of.  Terrific!  ( I believe I have read that she took the horse home with her after the filming).

     

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  8. The characters in the Band Wagon work as a unit, rather than as a star with supporting cast.  We see that in the way they solicitously pick  Astaire up off the floor, and how their hand and finger extensions all echo and support the others in the group.  They stay together as a tight unit as they dance, even if individual moves are different.  They listen attentively to each other.  Their costumes seem to have unity in the semi-formality of dress, yet there are two patterned outfits and two plain-colored, and they are positioned in a balanced way, either together or every-other slot.  Astaire is given the classy pinstripe as a subtle distinction.  This is different from earlier musicals that featured a star out front with all others playing "second fiddle" roles.  There is a friendlier tone to the group, rather than competitive.  

  9. The scene shows the intensity of the relationship between the couple as she goes from frantic at the beginning to more tenderness, forgiveness, and thankfulness toward the end.  She goes about her daily chores, but her mind is always on her man.

    If this were a parent/child relationship she would probably not leave the bedside and would exhibit more protectiveness, worry.

    This movie captures more of real life people of color rather than racial stereotypes.  As the war went on, and more black Americans were sent "over there", films had to do a little catch-up culturally.  For the first time, people of diverse backgrounds could identify with each other.

  10. Battle of the sexes evident in Top Hat include, of course, the competition between the pair.  Besides that, we have a female character who is not simpering and waiting for the male to act, but being a strong person in her own right.  We see the push-pull interaction of two confident people who are getting to know one another; they each try out an action and wait to see if it is accepted by the other.  This film also allows Rogers to wear pants, so we can really zero in on her dance steps without being distracted by all that chiffon!

    The film differs from earlier Depression era fare in more believable characters and musical scenes that are naturally integrated into the story.

    The changing gender roles in society as the country geared up for war forced Hollywood to take note.  Women were leaving their kitchens for the factories and were raising families on their own as men left for the military.  Indeed, women were following them into the military as well.

  11. Lubitsch touches include attention to detail of the accessories:  cane, hankies, etc. and the photos of the dressing table.  The dialogue makes use of asides to the audience, dark humor in the situation, and sexy undertones.   The husband thinks he is killing his wife's lover only to discover the gun doesn't work.   I liked the drawer full of guns for all occasions, and the gigolo having to zip the dress because the bumbling husband couldn't do it!

    In the sound department, I notice a few important sounds such as gunshot, steps, etc., but was really most aware of the silence between scenes.  I think films and television of today overdo the sound, distracting from the story, and the silence here felt welcome and let you process what you saw.

    The themes of Depression era films are apparent:  lavish surroundings, escapades of the well-to-do, and a humorous put down of their morals and trivial pursuits.  The audience could feel superior and enjoy the escape.

  12. There is interaction in the tension shown in the banter in the first clip;  she likes him but doesn't wish to show it.  He needles her about her love interest and that sets up the song, "Rose Marie".  In the second clip, he perceives her as a "good" girl and rushes to her aid.

    My perception of Eddy and MacDonald was rather negative when I was a young girl.  They seemed from a time that many of us no longer wanted to embrace.  From a mature perspective, though, I find them charming and very natural in their films.  The music is beautiful!

    The male/female relationship is always above board, and the virtuous girl triumphs over the "loose" one.  We see that in the coaching of MacDonald's character to sing a song in a more lively manner after being ignored by the male crowd.  Eddy's character is quick to rush to her aid. 

  13. The clip shows a bright perspective by: the generosity of the tip in such a deprived economy, the playful song, the frilly dress, the jocular rivalry between the men, and the abundance of flowers.  If the play had been pre-code, no doubt we would see a more vampy version of the song "come play with me".  A look back at the Mae West films will fill you in on that!  As for future themes, I suppose the use of friendly rivalries, romantic flirtation?

  14. Present-day collaborators for Hitch might include:

     

    Julie Taymor, set designer.  She does mostly stage production, but her imaginative use of  puppets and scenic design would please him, I think.  I recently went back and looked at the scene in Saboteur where they are searching the circus train after learning that they used cut-out figures with tiny flashlights!  That is the kind of thing Taymor would think of.

     

    Shondra Rimes, TV writer-producer is an expert in plot twists and turns

     

    The Ephron sisters, screen writers, directors had an edgy, humorous approach to relationships. (When Harry Met Sally), Sleepless in Seattle, Children of a Lesser God, etc.) I would have loved to see what they could have done with Hitchcock!

     

    Mark Isham, a new-age composer who works in film and television.  Very evocative music

     

    Chris Thile, the new host of Prairie Home Companion, plays classical mandolin.  I can just imagine his music as background for some twisty scene!

     

     

     

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  15. I've mentioned this one in an earlier post:  The Net, starring Sandra Bullock.  It has the wronged protagonist, the double chase, and it has obvious homage elements to Notorious.  In one scene a scarf over the midriff is used, and the villain's name is Devlin.    Someone else mentioned the Murder She Wrote homage "South by Southwest".  I was watching a Martin Scorcese film last week and remember thinking "how Hitchcock" but now I can't remember the film!  This happens a lot.   Body Heat had the look and feel of a Hitchcock noire.

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  16. As in The Lodger, we are led unsuspecting into the scene and then confronted with a murder.  In Frenzy, though, the victim is not so personalized,  is almost an attraction for the crowd.

     

    The Hitchcock touches I see are the POV, moving shots approaching from afar, moving in and through the scene; the use of landmarks, and a crowd engaged in a non-dangerous activity.  Also, the sudden turn of events.

     

    One of the purposes of the opening is to set the location.  Another is to contrast the serene backdrop with unfolding events  The music here sets a majestic, almost pompous tone, lulling us into a false sense of security.  Then, WHAM, we have a body floating in the Thames that according to the politician is getting cleaned up.  The title "Frenzy" is also presented in fragmented red in contrast to the quiet blues and greens of the land and water.

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  17. The pet shop scene with Taylor and Hedren has a lot of banter and keeping up a ruse.  Hedren pretends to be the proprietor and leads Taylor on, and then Taylor figures it out and starts leading her on.  We are shown that these are two smart, equally matched people.  There is a bit of dialog where they touch on the morality of locking up birds in cages, but neither seem to be much bothered by it.

     

    The sound design leads us in with the distant call of seagulls, so we know we are near the coast.  There is city street noise mixed in also.  Then we cut to a flocking of gulls and they are screaming at us.  When we arrive in the pet shop, the sounds of cheeping and cooing are quieter, more reassuring.  The dialog is mixed into the bird sound, both equal in volume.

     

    The cameo, besides being amusing, may have relationship to the scene in that we are seeing "trafficking" of animal life here;  some will have good consequence, some will be bad.  I have seen the film only once and found it rather disturbing, suggesting the revenge of nature on man.  I always cheer for nature!

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  18. The title design in Psycho makes you feel as though you are peeking through blinds, with the distortion and partial vision that incurs.  The words come in with opposing directional lines, increasing unease.  The furtive string music adds to the feeling of danger and adds a rhythm of telegraphy, like a news room.

     

    The specific date that keeps repeating reinforces that feeling that we are getting a news flash.  The entry through the window blind is similar to Rear Window in its intimacy, but this is more secretive.

     

    Leigh's character is established as the central one in the way she dominates the conversation and we are privy to her reasoning more than his; he simply reacts to what she says.  No doubt the sexy posture helps too.

     

     

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  19. The clip just wont play for me, so this is from memory.   The characters here seem very close to our public perceptions of the stars themselves:  sophisticated, cool, and sexy.  They are equal in status and sure of themselves.

     

    The matchbook gives them something to do with their hands;  first he fiddles with it, explains it, and then it is used to express sensuality in the connection of their hands while lighting cigarettes.  Remember the lighting of cigarettes in Now Voyager?  A lot said in a few expressive movements.  The way the camera focuses on the ROT matchbook alerts us to its future importance.

     

    The rhythmic train sounds and the muted clatter of table service as they talk serves as background to their travel.  The sounds are quiet until the end of the scene when the characters become active.  It provides a needed lull in the action of the chase.

     

     

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  20. What will the film be about?  The zoom in to parts of a woman's face, not a whole face, suggests fragmentation.  The spirals and sound suggest hypnosis or psychosis. The eyes appear to express fear of being pursued.    It is about a woman who is more than meets the eye.

     

    The single most powerful image in the opening for me is the zoom into the eye with red background.  Besides the dangerous red, there is an outward spiral like a psychological explosion.  At the end of the clip we come back into this eye with the inward spiral.

     

    Hard to imagine the images without the score and vice versa.  The music is haunting, makes us on edge, dizzying like the images.  It is easy to see that the composer and artist share a creative spark. 

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  21. The opening camera shots in the film provide a good bit of information.  We go outward from an open window into a world in microcosm; the courtyard is full of slices of life.  We are taken back to Jeff and are shown he is disabled, so we understand him as a part of the scene, but forced to be.  We are shown his photos so we know his profession;  note the image of Lisa is both in negative and positive form.  We are given a hint that there are conflicts in his life and he is in limbo at the moment, trapped.

     

    The views of other people seem merely curious at first, just something we note in passing.  As the film progresses, however, the rear window peeping becomes more cringing, unhealthy, like people watching an accident scene.  

     

    I'm not sure whether I truly agree with this film as most cinematic.  It is surely well done artistically and technically, and maybe that is what pleased Hitchcock the most.   With his films, "masterpiece" becomes a common thread.

     

    When my daughter moved to a large city apartment, she said the courtyard view was "Rear Window".  I was so proud of her!

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  22. The idea of "crisscross" is displayed in the tracks crossing, diverging and merging in various paths.  We also see two men from different walks of life.

     

     One character is an affluent tennis star (as displayed in his spectator shoes, trousers) and one just the average guy with mundane shoes.  They are arriving by cab and private car, one has apparently a valet to carry his bags.  As we travel upward to their faces, one is open and gregarious while the other is reserved, not inviting of conversation.

     

    Tiomkin's score is swirling, undefined, and troubling.  We can't get a firm sense of mood because the motif keeps changing, putting us off-balance.

     

     

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  23.  

    1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?

       

      The most obvious one is the subjective shot of Cary Grant as he approaches the bed. I can also see the Hitchcock touch in the way Ingrid Bergman is shot. She is hungover. I'm sure her brain is fuzzy, so she is obscured, by the blankets, by her mussed-up hair, and by the hangover remedy (glass) in front of her. She is upside-down almost falling off the bed. Cary Grant is upside down too, but that is from her perspective.  Even when she starts to get up, she doesn't stay up long and has to lie back down. Another touch is giving you information about the characters visually. In bed, she looks down and realizes she is still dressed in the same clothes she had been wearing the night before.

       

      When I took a Hitchcock class in college, the professor pointed out a chess motif in Notorious. I think it is significant. In chess, the most powerful piece is the only female, Queen, and the most important male piece in chess, the King, has virtually no power on its own. In Notorious, Ingrid Bergman as the Queen drives every aspect of the plot.  Her counterpart on the opposing side, Leopoldine Konstantin, the only other important female character, drives much of the plot from the other side. Looking at this chess analogy in the Daily Dose, when we first see Cary Grant, he is shown in silhouette his arms folded not unlike a chess piece.  Other chess imagery, the diamond shapes on the headboard similar to a chessboard when viewed from an angle.  The shadows from the window and a glass-doored cabinet cast grid patterns, also reminiscent of a chessboard.  There is a wall sconce that to me looks vaguely like a chess piece. On the closeup of the record player, one of the knobs looks like a pawn.

       

    2. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock  trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?

       

      One of the most obvious motifs is color. Cary Grant is dressed in a black suit (probably navy blue, but comes off as black). Pinstripes were very big in men's suits at the time, but they chose to clothe Cary Grant in solid black.  Ingrid Bergman is dressed in black and white stripes. Is she a good character or a bad one? In many respects, she has aspects of both. I think it's significant that the focus is on the characters, and the backgrounds are blurry. Hitchcock tends to favor a large depth of focus. He wants you to see what is in the background and what it reveals about the characters. Here he wants you to focus on the characters themselves. Through most of the scene, Ingrid Bergman is shown with her head at odd angles. We see Cary Grant at odd angles  too, but this is from Ingrid Bergman's perspective.

       

       

    3. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 

       

      Both stars come into the film with theirs personas intact, but I do think Notorious does challenge what they are known for. I have seen Notorious at least 20 times, but I hadn't seen it in a couple of years, before I rewatched it a week or so ago. I was very surprised how dark Cary Grant comes off. Cary Grant often has a bit of a dark edge to his persona, but normally it is a lovable scamp, a mischievous boy. That is part of his charm. In Notorious, there is a danger about him that is borderline unsettling. 

       

      For Ingrid Bergman, in other films, Casablanca, Gaslight, and others, I think of her as innocent and vulnerable but with a strength of will that comes out when she is pushed. In Notorious, she is definitely vulnerable, innocent, not so much. Though not a prostitute, she definitely sleeps around. This is not something we had seen from her before. The strength of will is there, but it come out from spite, when she is spurned by Cary Grant. It's an incredibly complicated performance. She's a drunk and a party girl, but she's also a patriot and a hero. She's a woman in love and the woman scorned all at the same time. 

     

    Thanks for that chess imagery!

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