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About Catherine.g.ens

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  1. Now that we are in the 60s and beyond, I'm quite surprised that the professors haven't chosen to highlight Judy Garland's magnificent comeback, 1954's A Star is Born, which in anyone's book is one of the highlights of that decade in musical film, and of Garland's career. Did I miss it, or am I correct that it wasn't featured as part of the conversation? I love High Society but I don't think it's as important as A Star is Born, so maybe it could have been featured instead of that movie for the lecture video, or at least given some attention? Thoughts?
  2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable even though he acts pretty darn unlikeable? He is played by Gene Kelly - enough said!!!
  3. This is one of my favorite dance numbers in any musical. There is an irony running through the scene that captures a larger theme in the movie Singin' in the Rain. The coach is attempting to teach Don and Cosmo (Kelly and O'Connor) in order to ensure they will be able to make a successful transition from silent to sound pictures. At this critical moment in film history, all of a sudden voice coaches were hired by movie studios and filmmakers were forced to become concerned with how people sounded on film. This, of course, is the main premise of Singin in the Rain. And yet Don and Cosmo have so much talent that it is laughable that anyone would be trying to coach them in anything. Thus they make a mockery of the well meaning vocal coach in this number, "Moses Supposes". I think this is the reason that Singin in the Rain works so well and has become such a classic. It pokes fun at the movie musical while celebrating it at the same time. In this number, Kelly and O'Connor seem to be saying "look how far we've come."
  4. Yes! Thank you so much for featuring Calamity Jane today and for spotlighting Doris Day. I feel that she doesn't get the attention she deserves when people look at the great movie musical performers. Calamity Jane is such a study in female representations of the 1950s. The duality of the roles Day plays reveal a culture torn about women's roles during this decade. On the one hand, we can celebrate how Calamity fits right in with the men in Deadwood and how confident and comfortable she is with herself as "one of the guys". But then if course, you can also argue that in order for a man to find her attractive, Calamity has to feminize herself and give up the very qualities that make her stand out in the beginning of the film. I have watched the movie since I was very little, so it can be hard for me to see it with fresh eyes. But I like to think that Bill Hickok always loved Calam deep down inside and just needed a little persuasion to see it! I also like how in the end of the film, she isn't always in dresses but still wears pants and rides horses just as before. There's a great moment towards the end when she is frantically trying to stop the stage coach from taking Katie back to Chicago. She stops her horse to greet Bill with a romantic kiss and then immediately continues riding. One of my favorite scenes because in that moment, I feel that Bill loves her for who she is and she is totally happy and content in herself. I may be biased because I am Doris Day's ultimate fan. But I can't think of anyone else who could have played Calamity Jane so well. I think this is because Day herself has stated that Calamity Jane is actually closer to who she really is (can we just take a moment to say that this beautiful lady is still with us, at 96 years young!) Doris has a wonderful sense of comedic timing. Actors who worked with her have expressed much admiration for this quality, as it is not really something that can be learned, but she is a total natural. In her biography, she describes how she was really a band singer and had no intentions of being in movies. Sadly, she had experienced some tragedy in her life already by the time she had her first screen test in the late forties. She describes how she didn't have any idea what she was doing, and couldn't believe that they wanted her for the film. But she is just one of those people who the camera loves. She was just saying her lines and doing what she was told, yet she looked like a pro. In those early Michael Curtiz films, Day didn't have much of a chance to branch out. She describes in her book feeling constrained by the types of roles that she was given in the beginning, and how freeing it was to finally branch out in the fifties to different types of roles. Doris may be a wonderful singer and dancer, but she is a seriously good actress too. She has it all. Alfred Hitchcock himself was so impressed by her acting in Storm Warning that he wanted her for his remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much with Jimmy Stewart. She also shows her fabulous acting talent in Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney. But the amazing thing about her is that arguably her most successful era was yet to come, in the romantic comedies she did with Rock Hudson in the early sixties. Can you tell how much I love her?
  5. In this song, "That's Entertainment!", we see four performers who appear to be trying out ideas together in the hopes that they can make something work. This spirit of team problem solving differs from other types of musical numbers we saw in the films of the thirties and forties. The cooperative team effort begins with Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan and Oscar Levant attempting to convince Fred Astaire that "everything that happens in life can happen in a show." As the first verse progresses, each of them sing a line at a time, putting in different ideas about what could be in the show, and each time, they look intently at the person singing and then sometimes at others in the group. If you watch with the sound off, you definitely understand just from the gesturing that the group is working something out together. By the time they get to the line that the world is a stage, the stage is a whirl of entertainment, they have figured out what they intend to do. The song then shifts to a presentational style of performance, with all four of them facing us, the audience. This move from inward to outward performance is a breaking of the fourth wall, of the kind we saw in On the Town, such as the prehistoric man number. The fact that the other three have convinced Astaire's character means that the four of them can rejoice together in having figured out the problem. Their movements are synchronized at times, representing a cohesiveness and feeling of unity, and then at other times, their differences are emphasized to show that each member of the group brings something unique to the overall whole. For example, when they create a formation by extending their arms and joining hands, each member is necessary and they rely upon each other. However, each group member gets a chance to do a little improvising and playing in front of the audience. If you compare this number to a Busby Berkeley extravaganza, the most obvious difference is the fact that there are no chorus members or extras. If Berkeley had directed this, we might see the stage opening up behind them and a hundred people appear half way through the performance, all dancing in synchronization. This feels more intimate. The four of them can figure this out. They don't need hundreds of people to make a success. In this way, it has a confidence about it that the Berkeley numbers lacked. Berkeley promoted safety in numbers. As the lecture notes from today point out, by the fifties, Americans are proud and victorious. They have confidence in themselves as the US is in a position of global leadership.
  6. This is a topic I could discuss all day. My father first sat me in front of Meet Me in St Louis when I was very young, and told me that Judy Garland was in it. I don't know how old I was, but I was young enough to not understand the difference between Judy Garland and the character she played. I was looking for Dorothy in the movie, and I didn't believe my dad when he told me Esther Smith was played by the same person. She was so much more grown up, so much more elegant and beautiful. Nevertheless, I was captivated. Judy made such an impression on me that as a little girl, I just wanted to be Esther. I acted out that part with my little sister in the part of Tootie. We sang and danced and watched that film repeatedly all through my childhood. I have never been able to get enough of Judy. If I'm having a bad day, all I need to do is watch one of her performances and it's an instant mood lifter. It doesn't matter if I'm watching older Judy, such as in A Star is Born, or younger Judy, such as in Strike Up the Band. She brought that honest, true quality to every performance. I really enjoyed the two professors discussion of Meet Me in St Louis from the lecture today. I can tell Professor Ament shares my admiration and love for Judy Garland. One thing she pointed out in the notes for today's Daily Dose is that Judy is a great scene sharer. That is something I haven't really considered before but it's so true. Whether she's singing and dancing with Margaret O'Brien, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, or Ethel Merman (as she did once on her television show), Judy is so generous and more than happy to share the spotlight. She truly seems to enjoy performing with others. I encourage anyone to look up her duets from the later part of her career on television. Fabulous viewing! Judy is well known for her ability to tell a story with her lyrics. I love listening to the early Decca recordings from when she was just a teenager. Songs like Dear Mr Gable, Sweet Sixteen, Nobody's Baby, Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, and of course, Over the Rainbow, all exemplify this quality. Later in her career, I love to listen to Judy at the Palace - a medley written especially for her by Roger Edens. In terms of her later films, I think A Star is Born stands out the most. It's tragic that Judy's bright light burned out far too quickly. She will always be remembered.
  7. Hello everyone. I am several days behind due to work and life commitments. But trying to squeeze this class in whenever I get the chance, and enjoying it very much! Yankee Doodle Dandy is one of my absolute favorites, as is James Cagney. Everything about his performance in this film touches me very deeply. I feel that Cagney is trying with every fiber of his being to do justice to George M. Cohan's remarkable life and career. But there is more in his performance - a quality of wanting to boost American morale during World War II. Cagney is so true and joyous in his portrayal of Cohan and his exhuberance and optimism completely elevate the film. I watch it every Fourth of July and it's a favorite of my husband as well. The film starts with Cagney and the White House butler climbing the tall staircase to meet Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Oval Office. As they do so, they pass many portraits of past presidents, calling to mind the history of America in one fast moment. The very fact that they are ascending the stairs has a feeling of optimism. We are elevated by the fast paced story and the wonderful performances of the film and never really come down from that until the end of the film. In this way, the film makes the audience feel swept up in a feeling of joy and patriotism. In the Fourth of July scene that follows the White House meeting, we are taken back in time to 1878 - a more innocent and peaceful time for Americans. The American flags are everywhere. The film works so well because Americans were experiencing World War II and it reminds the audience of American values and spirit. When Cohan (Cagney) meets with the president, their conversation is full of references to American patriotism. Cohan reminisces that he was "always carrying a flag in a parade or following one", to which the president replies "you carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open." The fact that this conversation is taking place between the president and someone who considers himself a regular American is a very powerful message to all Americans in World War II. It says that each of them is important, that their love of country will make a difference, and that it is needed now more than ever.
  8. Good evening everyone. I noticed in the first clip that Jeanette MacDonald is positioned in the boat facing away from Nelson Eddy. In the first part of the scene, she is unconvinced by him and even mocks him. But when he begins to sing, we see from her expressions that she is impressed. This is something that we see in many musicals; the song functions to further the courtship. By the end of his song, she feels differently about him. In this way, the music actually moves the plot along by furthering their relationship. The tone of the scene is lighthearted as well as romantic. The fact that Eddy's character can substitute different girls' names into his song is his way of teasing her as part of the courtship. The song is the characters' way of exploring their feelings for one another. I have not seen many of the MacDonald-Eddy musicals. For some reason, I am not particularly drawn to either of them. I think their appeal for audiences at the time, however, must have been the fact they they were elegant and regal, providing escapism during the hard times of the Depression. Their style of music is classical yet accessible enough for mainstream audiences. I don't think they age particularly well today, but that might just be my personal taste... not sure!
  9. I agree, I dislike "Heavenly Music" and "Triplets" too. Now both are in my head!!
  10. Glad you will find it helpful. I’m a teacher, so these things come naturally to me! Haha
  11. I made this for myself as I watch the TCM programming and learn more about musicals this month. Feel free to use it, too! Enjoy! Catherine Movie Musicals Viewing Form.pdf
  12. As others have said, the snappy dialogue, fast paced and upbeat conversations, and the way decisions are made in a very quick fashion are characteristic of lighthearted musicals. The enthusiasm of the characters is definitely larger than life. The backstage story, emphasis on the stage and the musical performance, are themes that are familiar in Depression era musicals. The lavish sets and costumes reflect style of Ziegfeld himself. I can understand why the film was such a hit with audiences, coming in the middle of the Great Depression. Ziegfeld's extravagance must have been a welcome change from reality. Not sure about the pre code question. I am so used to musicals being squeaky clean that I find it hard to imagine this film being scripted in a less innocent way!
  13. I also love both these films and I have been to Salzburg and done the SOM tour too! So much fun!
  14. Hello everyone! I'm so excited to start this course. I've always been obsessed with musicals. It's hard to choose just one that stands out to me, because there are many that I have watched repeatedly. I'll go with the musical that I loved most as a child, Calamity Jane. I absolutely adored Doris Day in that part. The whole thing was appealing to me as a kid because of the lively songs and dances, the fun storyline, the romance between Calamity and Bill, and the setting of the Black Hills of Dakota with the show business element. I have loved Doris Day ever since! Even though it's not the most perfect movie musical, it's very close to my heart.
  15. The opening scenes of Frenzy and The Lodger involve the same dramatic event; the public discovery of a dead body. However, Hitchcock deals with the subject differently in these two opening scenes. In The Lodger, we first see a close up of a woman, open mouthed, screaming in terror. This is followed by a shot of the body, and a woman who witnessed the murder telling the police what she saw. In contrast, Frenzy begins with a very long aerial shot of London. The discovery of the body is delayed, as we see a crowd gathered by the river listening to a political speech about pollution. While The Lodger, as a silent film, depicts the information visually with the witness pointing, in Frenzy we get an actual shout of Look! The body floating in the river is just as disturbing, but through different cinematic means. In The Lodger, there is terror from the very first shot. Here, the sight of the body is surprising and unexpected given that we have just been watching a fairly normal scene. In both films, Hitchcock maximizes our feelings of shock and horror. It seems that location is very important to Hitchcock when creating opening scenes. For example, in the opening of Frenzy, the location of London is emphasized through the long aerial shot. Many of his films also begin with crowds, whether, as in Frenzy, they are listening to a speech, or, as in other films, they are attending a performance or sporting event. I feel that Hitchcock saw these moments as the optimum time to reveal something horrific or shocking. Maybe the reason is because we all have experience as part of such crowds or audiences. Therefore, we can easily picture ourselves being caught up in such a scene. Finally, I feel Hitchcock used his opening scenes to "hook" or grab the audience. They often evoke strong feelings of suspicion, shock, or intrigue. For example, the appearance of a body is a common occurrence in Hitchcock's openings. We are immediately invested in the story and want to find out more.
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