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pawprint

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  1. I tend to be purist in my definition of musicals and prefer my song and dance to be integrated into the story and to contribute to the plot. If the songs and dances can be removed and nothing of consequence is lost, then I'd hesitate to call whatever it is a musical -- it might be a story with songs, or a story with dance, or a story with song and dance. But my favourite musicals are not stories at all without the songs - they need the songs (and in some cases the dances) in order to be complete entertainments.
  2. I also really enjoyed watching Peter Lorre dancing in this movie -- it's so out-of-character! Cagney's dancing may have come as a shock to those who first viewed Yankee Doodle Dandy without knowing his stage roots, but seeing Peter Lorre even attempt to dance fascinated me in Silk Stockings. I couldn't help but notice how high he lifted his knees with each step in comparison to the other two, and how the choreographer was okay with this, not demanding more uniformity in his "chorus line." I also noticed that when the other two stood on one leg to waggle an ankle back and forth, Lorre was allowed to cheat and keep the heel of his extended leg on the ground. And then there was the chair-dancing at the end to top it all off. Very funny but very sweet -- took my love of Lorre to a whole new dimension.
  3. There are plenty of silly musicals on both stage and screen that work on both: I would argue that The Music Man is one of those -- totally ridiculous and yet it works (except maybe for Ronnie Howard --who knew he would grow up to be a great moviemaker?). The ones that annoy me the most are the ones that don't work well in both settings. Lucille Ball in the movie Mame leaps to mind. She's no Angela Lansbury and can't seem to carry a tune in that movie. On the other hand, I really like Barbra Streisand in Hello Dolly! while I find Carol Channing off-putting, so it works both ways. I've never seen nor heard the stage version of Paint Your Wagon but I'm guessing it must have been better than the movie. Here's hoping, anyway.
  4. I liked both Powell and Keeler but I did notice that MGM felt Powell could hold the stage on her own while Warner Brothers didn't seem to have the same faith in Keeler - shunting her off the stage in favour of more spectacle. In a way, though, Keeler's performance is sometimes more pleasant to watch than Powell's as her dance in pure and simple whereas Powell, in her musicality, can sometimes get herself into some awkward-looking positions: the moment during which she's tapping and slapping her thighs leaps to mind. That movement causes her to hunch over and her feet look like little old lady feet all of a sudden. However, the beauty of some of her other moves makes up for this overall.
  5. I agree with most of the former comments in that this musical does seem to make a bit of a joke about money, presents an escape from the real world, and presents a modest backstage scene in view of the Code. What I don't get about the clip is what Anna Held is doing with that mirror in her number. What is the point of that? It seems to annoy her audience rather than dazzle them ... on the other hand, I seem to remember something like that in a Cabaret number. though whether that's in the movie or in one of the stage productions I've seen I'm not sure.
  6. I think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is my most-watched pure movie musical. Love the singing and the dancing and all the colour-coding in the characters' costumes. My most-watched "Broadway" movie musical is probably Fiddler on the Roof, since it's also my most-watched stage musical. I do like how the movie fleshes out the world with real animals and wider scope for the action. Never thought to ponder where it was filmed -- will have to check it out during this course.
  7. I think I really profited from the discussion of the gag this time and I hadn't before made the connection that Lloyd's confusion with the funhouse mirrors results from his being hit on the head. I just saw the progression of the scene as the movement from one gag to another. But the extra confusion caused by the knock on the noggin makes a lot more sense! What fascinated me most about the mirror scene was how they captured the images but kept the camera out of the shot. I felt the same when I watched Chaplin in the mirror maze during the opening sequences of "The Circus." Clearly, I know nothing about movie-making, but I'd sure like to know how they do that. Why isn't the camera reflected in the mirror? Are they filming from an angle? Is it there but I just don't see it because it's disguised as part of the scenery? This is probably elementary stuff to those who know how to do it, but to me it's like a magic act -- I can't see how it's done.
  8. While I agree with others that Lloyd's character seems more like an "everyman," in fact he does find himself in some absurd situations (moreso in some of his other films, I think). Still, since absurdity happens to all of us, we can identify with the incidents, even as the complications pile on to a ridiculous extent. Here, the Coney Island setting set the stage for "fun" from the get-go; Coney Island is a place people go to have fun. And Lloyd bounces around the "set" making comedy out of all of its sights and attractions, prompting the greatest possible number of viewers to identify his experience as a "typical day" at the park (hey -- I do that too). The overindulgence scene is funny, but I'm a little bit baffled by the editing. To me, it would make more sense to show Lloyd over-eating first, then going on all the twisting, turning rides, and then performing the vomit/lung test gag. But then, I've never been sick at the park, so I don't really know whether the queasiness is caused by too much action followed by too much food, or by too much food followed by too much action. Maybe an interlacing of the clips (ride/eat/ride/eat) would have made a better set-up for the gag?
  9. As for the differences between Keaton and Chaplin, I would have said that Keaton more often "attacks" the problems that come his way while Chaplin more often tries to retreat from them -- both with hilarious results. To get what they want, Keaton's characters are stubborn or single-minded, while Chaplin's are persistent and inventive. Both discover new (often awkward and frequently funny) ways to do what may seem to be ordinary things, but each in his own way usually succeeds at getting what he wants -- to the delight of the audience during the main action of the film. Endings are a different story. Both Keaton and Chaplin have films with triumphant endings, and films in which they are simply over-powered by circumstances and have to accept the hand fate has dealt them. This must have added to audience anticipation when going to see a Chaplin or a Keaton flick -- you never quite know what you're going to get.
  10. It's funny, but I never realized before how often Chaplin made the simple act of eating into a "bit." Watching him eat all those cakes made me feel a bit queasy, and I remember reading somewhere how sick Chaplin became of eating liquorice in the boot-eating scene in "The Gold Rush." But I think this kind of gag survives into the modern age too. Lucy at the chocolate factory leaps to mind first, but I'm sure there are many, many others. With Chaplin it was kind of ironic though as there were times when he was very hungry as a child. Still, I hope those cakes were made of meringue or something that melted in the mouth quite quickly. Still wouldn't want to eat so many of them so quickly!
  11. There's a great British documentary series called Unknown Chaplin that shows exactly how Chaplin worked out and perfected some of his gags. I think you can find some episodes or part-episodes on YouTube, but you can read more about it here: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/70826%7C70840/The-Unknown-Chaplin-Episode-One.html
  12. Yes, and it might be worth noting that Lloyd had already lost his right thumb and forefinger at that time (blown off by a misfiring bomb). There were indeed real injuries resulting from all those make-believe moments.
  13. I like the idea of slapstick performers as acrobats or athletes, but there's something about slapstick itself that reminds me of a dance. Maybe it's because of the violence. If you've ever seen actors learning and rehearsing fight sequences (and, incidentally, sex scenes) you'll see that these performances are highly choreographed. Clearly slapstick has to be choreographed too for the idea that "it's only make-believe" to take hold and to ensure that no one really gets hurt. So I'd like to propose that slapstick performers are dancers (some soloists, some part of the ensemble) as much as they are anything else.
  14. I think a lot of posters have really hit on something here with the idea of anticipation being crucial to the enjoyment of some slapstick scenes. However, surprise is also a key element as well -- when the gag doesn't work the way you anticipate, but still works anyhow. I think we'll be dealing with a lot of anticipation/surprise events in the upcoming course. My initial theory, based on the two film clips, is that while basic slapstick probably involves the "little guy" mocking authority, when two or more comedians are in the gags they might just as easily prank each other. I'm thinking here of soloists like Chaplin vs. groups like the Marx Brothers, the Stooges, Desi and Lucy, or even the bevy of comedians in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" who are constantly pranking each other as they all race around looking for "the Big W." As for the two film clips, I think we might see these as two-comedian gags, for while the gardener looks like an authority figure, the boy also gets his comeuppance, which I don't think usually happens to the solo prankster who is faster or wittier than the bumbling authority. And a note to the posters who have commented on what they saw in movie poster -- you guys are just brilliant! I must say I didn't look at it that carefully at first, but everything you have said about the image really makes me think. Thank you!
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