Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Whipsnade

  1. Think of the important role music played in setting the mood and moving the action in classic non-musicals. A few quickly come to mind: "King Kong" (1933), "Captain Blood" (1935), "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), "Gone With the Wind" (1939), "Now, Voyager" (1942), "Casablanca" (1942), and "The Big Sleep" (1946). The presence of music, by itself, is not sufficient to make a movie a musical. I would never think of any of these as musicals, but I don't think of them without thinking of the music. It takes something more than just music and songs to make a film a musical; exactly w
  2. This would be a great idea for a course, especially if it was done in October! A Halloween finale would be perfect. The primary focus should be on the development of the genre, from the silent era through the Universal cycle. It would naturally include science fiction, as this has always been a sub-genre within horror (though it breaks out on its own in the fifties). Early horror was always divided between stories of "supernatural" evil (such as "Dracula") and the "natural" taken to the extreme by the mad scientist (such as "Frankenstein"). In the Universal horrors of the forties, these two su
  3. In both "Gaslight" (1944) and "My Fair Lady" (1964), director George Cukor used the camera to probe the depths of emotional turmoil experienced by two different women who were each manipulated by domineering men. In "Gaslight," Gregory (Charles Boyer) Marries Paula (Ingrid Bergman) to gain access to the house where he had killed her aunt and misplaced her jewels. To achieve his end, he must get Paula out of the house. He manipulates and torments her, in an effort to convince her that she is insane and should be institutionalized. In "My Fair Lady," Higgins (Rex Harrison), on a bet, plucks Eli
  4. I noticed the mistake on Ann-Margret but missed the one on Cukor.
  5. As we have progressed through the history of Hollywood musicals, we have seen a change in the nature of male performances and their representations of masculinity. These changes have been a response to the tenor of the times in which specific movies were made. In the thirties, We had the era of autonomous masculine characters who struggled with and solved problems on their own and through their exceptionalism. In the forties, themes of cooperation were the hallmark, and masculine characters had to work together. The buddy partnership became the norm, but this was not a partnership of equality.
  6. This scene introducing Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell) looks backwards to classical musicals in its origin and its setting. It is a movie adaptation of a successful Broadway musical, and it presents, at least on the surface, a traditional backstage musical trope. But, a deeper assessment reveals that this is not a show that harks back to the "golden age," rather it is one that foreshadows the disruptions that were to become dominant in the movie musicals of the 1960's. Even though the costumes are colorful, the back stage setting looks much darker and less sanitized than in earlier musicals. Th
  7. I agree. Although I find it enjoyable on an individual level, "Road to Bali" (1952) is not the best choice as a representative example of the series at its best (neither is "Road to Rio," from 1947). Any of the first four would be a better example of the development of this type of buddy film immediately before and during World War 2. My choices: "Road to Utopia" (1945) which turns the "tropical locales" theme of the series on its head by setting the action in Alaska. And "Road to Zanzibar" (1941) which takes the action on safari in Africa. It would also offer us a chance to see an early exam
  8. Out of concern for the image of Hollywood in the aftermath of several publicized scandals (most notably the Fatty Arbuckle scandal), the industry created a new organization in 1922, The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., with Will H. Hays as its head. The Hays Office was intended to appease public demands to clean up the movies but had little impact on content. The end of the 1920's saw the increasing demands, both by politicians and the public, to make the industry change through government action. To circumvent this, the Hays Office issued the new Production Code in
  9. Several from "Top Hat" (1935) stick in my mind. Bates to Jerry: 'We are Bates." Jerry responds: "We are Jerry Travers." Jerry to Dale, "When dealing with a girl or horse, one just lets nature take its course" Dale to Jerry, "What is this strange power you have over horses?" Jerry, "Horsepower." Alberto to Dale, "Who is giving you this horse's shoe?" Alberto to Dale, "Go ahead and marry this Adam. But, as Mrs. Adam, what will you wear?" Dale responds "A fig leaf." Alberto to Dale, "I am too much protection enough!" Alberto to H
  10. Yes, it is. Warner Archive has a 4-film Eddie Cantor Collection on DVD. It contains the following Samuel Goldwyn movies: "Palmy Days" (1931), "The Kid from Spain" (1932), "Roman Scandals" (1933), and "Strike Me Pink" (1936). "Strike Me Pink" is the only one that was on our viewing list. I always liked "Roman Scandals" and remember Lucille Ball and Betty Grable are Goldwyn Girls in it. Other musical comedies of interest: "The Cocoanuts" (1929) with the Marx Brothers. "Fra Diavolo" (1933) and "Swiss Miss" (1938) with Laurel & Hardy. Any early "Road" picture with Bob Hope & Bi
  11. Thanks for pointing that out. It makes sense now, but I didn't make the connection. Now, on to the questions: Though it is not necessary for a movie that has a very stylized sequence, like the ballet ending of "An American in Paris" (1951), to use a less-than-realistic approach throughout the film, it lessens the roughness of the transition to that very stylized sequence to do so. When the whole movie is presented in a stylized fashion, the audience is already attuned to the fact that they are not dealing with a realistic presentation and transition smoothly to the ultra-stylized.
  12. At the start of this scene with the elocution professor (Bobby Watson), it is Don (Gene Kelly) who is the serious student, while Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) is the class clown. It is Don who was ordered to take the lesson; Cosmo is there as a pal going along for the ride. Cosmo initially feigns interest and enthusiasm for what the professor presents but quickly begins to mock him behind his back. The professor's mood changes, as he turns and catches Cosmo making funny faces. The look indicates that the professor begins to realize that he is not the one in control of the situation. As Don tries to
  13. However you define the continuum of female representation in the 1950's, Doris Day in "Calamity Jane" (1953) would be at the extreme, rather than in the middle. If the continuum runs from very feminine to more masculine, she would be on the "masculine" end; if it runs from more feminine to less feminine, she would be on the "less feminine" end. She clearly goes against the general trend of the postwar era to present women in a more feminine and traditional way. There was a conscious effort to return to the prewar social dynamic that had been disrupted by World War 2. In this role, she clearly
  14. The number is a collaborative effort, with no one standing out or being the center of focus. They work as a group, although Lester (Oscar Levant) drops out for some of the dance steps. Even this was done in a way that does not distract from the group action. Additionally, the dance steps are direct and simple, making Lily (Nanette Fabray) and Jeffrey (Jack Buchanan) look equal in ability to Tony (Fred Astaire), in spite of Astaire's superior talent. This differs from the approaches we saw in the earlier musicals, where an individual or a pair was the focus of a dance number of great virtuosity
  15. The scene starts with Petunia (Ethel Waters) at her lowest point, as she believes her husband, Little Joe (Eddie Anderson), has died. When she hears his voice, she runs to his bedside and is overjoyed to find him alive. She sings "Happiness is just a thing called Joe" with a combination of love and happiness. Her happiness grows to giddiness, as she realizes that she has regained something she thought she has lost. Now more than ever, he is the center of her world. As the song continues (and time passes), the scene shifts outside. Little Joe sits in his wheelchair in the sun, as Petunia pulls
  16. This is a courtship "dance" of the hunter and the hunted, with the traditional gender roles reversed. Dennis innocently steps into range in the narrow hallway, and Shirley blocks his path. She checks his every move to get around her and keeps him trapped. He backs up to try to get away, but she won't relent. Every time he tries to open the ground between them, she moves to close it. With mounting fear, he bolts for the stairs and heads for the bleachers. But, she is in hot pursuit, and he finds he has no place to run or hide. He must surrender; he is the victim of "fate." The scene
  17. No surprise here, my first Judy Garland film was "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). I saw it on television every year, starting in the early 1960's. We watched it as a family on our black and white TV. Years later, I saw it in color (and sepia) and was enchanted again. She was amazing in that role as the little lost girl, with the big voice, who was trying to get back home. Later in the 1960's, her personification in this movie was in stark contrast with her widely publicized personal problems and her sad death. Frankly, I was drawn to young Judy, but put off by what she had become. As a young movie
  18. The opening scene is designed to put George M. Cohan's life into the context of American history and link it directly with the war effort. Starting with a visit to president Franklin D. Roosevelt makes it clear that the story is more than a simple biography, in which the life of the subject is presented as a finished work. Here, his life, though full, culminates in this moment of recognition and sends him off, presumably, to focus his talents on contributing to the war effort. This scene is filled with patriotic & military iconography. Cohan climbs the stairs past several indistinct portr
  19. In a few short minutes, Lubitsch establishes the character of Alfred: he is a charming scoundrel and womanizer who is calm and quick-witted under pressure. The Lubitsch touch and the silent legacy combine to have most of this information conveyed visually. The garter is a prop that advances the story and establishes his roguishness - two garters is acceptable but three is a problem. The scene would work without sound, as the dialogue adds more context than content. But, the context makes the scene more effective and the use of sound punctuates the action. I like the use of the violin to heigh
  20. I see it as a battle of the sexes in the more traditional sense of the nature of courtship rituals that have endured through time. It is a personal and individual struggle between the principals, not a social and political one played out in the collective. Jerry (Fred Astaire) pursued Dale (Ginger Rogers), and she resisted. He redoubled his efforts and she decided whether to allow the relationship to move to the next stage. She was the one in charge from the start. It is a case of the guy chasing the girl until she catches him. Furthermore, her resistance to his overtures was more a function
  21. The interaction between the principles in these two scenes reflects the complex and conflicted relationship of the two in the storyline. They are at cross-purposes, even as they fall in love. Rose Marie is searching for her fugitive brother (played by James Stewart), who is wanted for murder. Sgt. Bruce knows this and is following Rose Marie to find him. In the process of this cat & mouse game, they fall in love. In the canoe scene, Bruce uses humor and his voice to start to melt her icy demeanor. He is doing this to gain her confidence, and she is starting to fall for him. The setting is
  22. Yes, I agree that the perspective of life presented in these Depression-Era films is brighter than the economic times in which they were released. This is hardly surprising, since these films were focused on escapism, not realism. It stands to reason that the general audience in any given era craves to experience what they do not have. In good times, they want some sense of vicarious hardship; in bad times, they want some sense of vicarious hope. The severity of the Great Depression required considerable "sugar-coating." One would expect the lighthearted frivolity to continue, as we traverse
  23. While I am fond of many types of musicals and have enjoyed watching all of them repeatedly, the one that I have watched the most (and have been most influenced by) is "Top Hat." I have viewed it in youth, middle age, and (now, at 60) old age. It has meant different things to me at different times in my life, but its importance to me has never waned. When I first saw it in the early 1970's as a teenage film buff, it was a fun movie starring famous people that also provided a window to the historical past. As an adult, I found myself focusing more and more on the dance sequences and the way Fr
  24. While I have always enjoyed the Tom & Jerry and other MGM cartoons, I think the Warner Brothers cartoons are superior in terms of story, characters and comedy. MGM and Walt Disney often had a more artistic presentation, but for pure slapstick, both visual and verbal, Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies can't be beat. From the fairly primitive cartoons of the thirties, they developed a formula and several characters, like Porky Pig and Daffy Duck. Then, in the early 1940's they created a superstar, Bugs Bunny. While Bugs needed several years to achieve his classic look and speech pattern,
  25. The Charlie Chase shorts were filmed in the early years of the sound era and show the signs of some the difficulties of integrating sound into film. The action is subdued and controlled to allow the primitive recording techniques to pick up the sound. Charlie is his exasperated self, and Thelma Todd is stunning, as always. Actually, I think Chase was funnier in his bit part in Laurel & Hardy’s “Sons of the Desert” (1933), and he is the only comedian in this course to demonstrate the proper use of an actual slapstick. We can safely say that money on the floor gag fits the definition of
© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...