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Posts posted by rross856

  1. I think that the mood of the song fit perfectly into the scene. It was an intimate scene between the two characters, slightly romantic, and if she had belted the song, it would have completely changed the mood. Though capable, she kept it restrained and appropriate for the scene. The song's rendition kept the scene from almost feeling forced because, as I perceived, there was romantic energy between the two characters. That energy continues despite the space between them growing larger, and I feel this is helped by the song. 

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  2. The most immediate thing that I think of when comparing Gaslight and My Fair Lady is lighting. The lighting is essential in Gaslight; it makes the movie. As Charles Boyer slowly drives Ingrid Bergman insane, he uses the light to play on her sense of reality. She moves into a room with the lights turned up, but slowly, they drop darkening the room. She doesn't change them herself, and so on and on, until she loses her grip on what's real. Nothing quite so dark takes place in My Fair Lady of course but the lighting again reflects mood and reality. The places that denote Eliza's old life - the street where she sells flowers and Henry Higgin's home - are all darkly lit, while the race as Ascot and the royal ball are all bright and stark compared to the others. It denotes to me a change in her position in life. Her former self and her space of active transition to her arrival. 

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  3. In the later musicals, male performances present more complex characters, including the character of Toddy by Robert Preston. Compared to characters like Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey, Howard Keel in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Marlon Brandon in Guys and Dolls, Preston in Victor/Victoria is complex. He is a non stereotypical gay character, with a relatively well developed character story. In earlier films, like Pal Joey, Frank Sinatra's character is rather one dimensional. He is an unapologetic womanizer, who has two women fighting over him, despite his noncommittal attitude to both. But he remains the protagonist who everyone else revolves around. Not so in later musicals, where the men are more dimensional, flawed but almost redeemable. 

  4. I'm sure Ethel Merman would have been fabulous in Gypsy, but I am partial to Rosalind Russell, and not just because she was so good in Auntie Mame. From her role as Mame and now as Mama Rose, she has experience being the center of the scene without being overpowering. She doesn't overact or dominate to the point where a viewer wants to stop watching, but she pushes it right up to the point. I also notice something that Russell had from her earlier work, her pace and speed with dialogue. From His Girl Friday, she and Cary Grant spoke in rapid fire, and she retained that in Mame and her in Gypsy. She's able to speak over Herbie and the owner, speaking so quickly that they don't dare try to keep up. 

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  5. The end of An American in Paris is so stylized that it is necessary to have some of that throughout the rest of the film. To be honest, this has always been something I have disliked about the movie. I like the story of the beginning and I love the ballet sequence at the end but there is some dissonance between the two parts, to me. I believe it is because it totally unexpected. You follow the story between the two main characters, you see them fall in love and overcome the obstacle (of the other woman), and then "Wow, really?!?" A bit more stylized set up in the narrative would be good. 

  6. Though not as apparent as other parts of the movie, there are some distinctions seen between the three men in the clip. First the distinction between the two dancers - Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor and the professor. The two dancers in the exchange prior to the musical sequence show that they are less serious, more relaxed and easier to engage with. This, of course, can be seen throughout the dance sequence, as they are more modern and of course the preference for the way men should act, according to the film.

    The difference between Kelly and O'Connor is a bit harder to detect just based on this scene. For one, the dance sequence takes up a large portion of the clip and they spend a lot of the time dancing in sync to one another. Kelly, physically, is larger than O'Connor, and that can be seen in the dancing. Of note, I once read that Kelly preferred to dance in clothing more fitted to his body, and in this scene, you can see it. But what marks Kelly as the Alpha and O'Connor as his opposite is found in the interaction prior to the musical sequence. O'Connor becomes the clown. Because alpha males would never project anything other than confidence, O'Connor shows that he is not the alpha male. 

  7. Admittedly, I have never seen Doris Day in this movie, so I'm looking forward to seeing it this month, but I do think that it marks a shift for her career. I have seen her earlier films, specifically her roles with Gordon McRae, and there is quite a bit of lightness and fluff to them. She's a wholesome family girl and the problems she's dealing with seem minor, but after Calamity Jane, her roles are more dramatic and more complex. A movie she does soon after Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney, is still musical but more dramatic and require more of her as an actress. She definitely grows as an actress during the mid-1950s. 

  8. The scene is built for the four characters, from the song to the actions they take. Each of the staged gags must involve more than just one person in order for it to be delivered and the actors seamlessly move between each "skit" as the song progresses. They look for each other and maintain their uniformity in the group. Fred Astaire, a star dancer, doesn't mind sharing the stage with two other actors, and it shows. Because I've seen this movie, I know that the four characters work closely together in the film, relying on one another to move the story and the musical forward. They all share the same weight, though their roles are different, but they know that the play can only be successful if everyone participates. 

  9. Cabin in the Sky is extremely important to this history of American film, especially during World War II because it shows African American life in the most authentic way up to that point in history. Yes, it relies on some stereotypes and misconceptions and paints an entire group of people with a wide brush, but it shows the characters as multidimensional and complex. They have good days and good intentions, but good things don't always happen. Since it was made by a major director and studio, it allowed the rest of the country to see lives and stories they might not have otherwise seen. 

  10. The musical scene was set up so similarly to other movies. For one, there is an absence of dialogue between the two characters. As Frank Sinatra's characters enter the scene he doesn't acknowledge Betty Garrett's character, in part because he doesn't see her but also because it allows the music to swell, which is the second element. Once he sees her, there is still no dialogue and the music begins to grow and fills the scene as the two begin the musical sequence. Before Betty Garrett begins to sing the song, she only says one word, "Hey!," and the music drives the action as she chases him around the bleachers. In a way, the absence of dialogue and the music prepares the audience for the song to come. 

  11. I think the first film I saw starring Judy Garland was "The Wizard of Oz," and of course, I saw an amazing film with imaginative characters, songs and plots. But it was her voice that struck me, how powerful and distinct it was. She uses it in every song she sings and it is amazing. I cared about her acting in the movie but it was her singing that I fell in love with. 

    Some of the later films that I think of in her singing career include the remake of "A Star is Born" and "Summer Stock," which I think doesn't get discussed as much as it should. She is a force in "A Star is Born," especially in her first song in the bar; I can't describe hearing it for the first time. And she is able to share her voice even though the movie requires her to be more of an actress since the movie's theme is serious. "Summer Stock" partners her with Gene Kelly again, and I think she is still strong as a singer, dancer and actress. 

    I have to admit that my favorite Judy Garland movie is not a musical - she doesn't sing one song. It's "The Clock" with Robert Walker. It's made during World War II, and has a lot of patriotism, and even made by Vincente Minnelli. But I love it because it is just a beautiful movie, with the right amount of everything. 

  12. The opening of today's film clip, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," does a good job of looking for universal symbols of America during the time period. First, what can be more American than the White House? To have the movie begin here is to set up the rest of the film for a call back to this setting, especially when you see James Cagney's character drive the film, at least the clip, through his memories from this place. He is also speaking directly to the President, another way to symbolize America quickly and easily. The first stop in this memory sequence is a revue show years ago, which for those alive during the time period, may also be a universal memory. Lots of people know that entertainment prior to film was perform on vaudeville and revue shows that featured lots of various acts. This universal Americana orients viewers easily.

  13. "Top Hat" differs from the other film clips we've looked at this week in one fundamental way, the clip does not bump up against the Film Code in a significant way. In the other films we've looked at, the women take on very specific positions - in "Rose Marie," the woman lead falls in love reluctantly or unwittingly; in "The Great Ziegfield," the clip shows a fluffy version of a fight over the female lead; and in "The Love Parade," the woman fake kills herself after she is caught in an extramarital affair. In "Top Hat," in the clip we see, Ginger Rogers is relatively equal to Fred Astaire, in more than just the way she is dressed. This touches on the fact that "Top Hat" is not just a musical but also a screwball comedy. In these comedies, men and women are equally important to the plot and play off one another. They cannot do this effectively if there is too great a disparity. Rogers and Astaire are equal as dance partners but also as characters when they aren't dancing. 



  14. The staging of the scene in "The Love Parade" is wonderfully suggestive in its delivery. The audience never receives any information directly through dialogue and yet we know everything about the scene - that Alfred is having an affair with a married woman who accuses him of cheating on her, only to have her husband discover them. It is through the props, the staging and the camera angles that we gather all of the information. 

    From this clip, I would assume that Depression-era musicals, especially under the Film Code had to use a lot of insinuation in order to let audiences on in the situation. Audiences could never see the two characters in an embrace but we could see all of the evidence of an affair, in a way to get around the morality rules.

  15. Male and female romantic relationships, as depicted in Depression-era musicals, seem to prioritize innocence and chastity over what may have been the reality of times. Couples do very little touching or kissing, and much of the falling in love is done through their dialogue and singing. In the two clips we saw from "Rose Marie," the emotion or feeling that the two express is seen through their eyes and faces, and in the words they say to each other. Thinking of the strictness of the Film Code, this was likely the plan, that love was kept between only married couples and that outside of that, men and women would be chaste until then.

  16. I would assume that Depression-era musicals continue light, happy themes in a time of severe economic pain, including a working-class woman rising to prosperity and overcoming her humble background, or similar themes. Movies had been and are an escape for audiences, and it was probably very important that movies serve this function during a tough time like the Depression. This is a reason why the clip showed a movie that would be heavy on a broad light perspective of real life. Audience members would not have wanted to see a movie that depicted real life for them at a time when things were so hard for so many. 

  17. The opening of Frenzy is more subtle than the opening of The Lodger for one, in that the grand opening scene of the river and the shot of the political rally leave the audience completely unprepared for the discovery of a dead body in the water. The music and the camera angle of the river do not naturally lead one to think that the movie will begin in that way. The Lodger on the other hand is more straight forward. The murder is the first thing the audience is confronted with and then it moves to the the scene of the crowd after the body is discovered. 

    The Hitchcock touches that stand out to me are the way he allows the audience to have information that characters do not have. I have not seen Frenzy but from the movies that I have seen of his, I would bet that the Thames River or the politician who is being celebrated in the opening scene will play some role in the rest of movie.

    I believe that for Hitchcock, openings are foundations for his film, like a ground 0. Rather than beginning at the start of the plot, he uses opening to set up even the beginning. In this way, he makes the audience more a part of the viewing experience because audience members can recall information from the beginning. They can participate in a way when they know things that other characters in the story don't know. 

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  18. The only thing we know about Marnie from the opening scene is that she is a woman of many identities. Without seeing her face, we know that when she changes her identity, she changes everything that goes with that - her hair, her clothing, everything. And then again, we see her flip through several social security cards, and we see that she has multiple identities at her disposal. The audience is already privy to more information than the other characters in the film have because we know from the beginning that she is not what she seems but only playing a role. 


    The score does a good job in that it does not do much in setting up the feel of the movie. Yes we see her changing identities but there is no foreboding or whimsical character to the music so we do not know what her multiple identities imply. The crescendo only comes when the audience sees her face for the first time, minutes into the opening, but again there is no real mood set. 


    I did not see any variation in Hitchcock's cameo in this scene compared to his in The Birds. I think that another actor, man or woman, could have played the role of another hotel guest noticing Tippi Hedren's character, and so I do not see how it contributing to the film. 


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  19. The opening does feel more like a romantic comedy, aided in part by the mistaken identity farce - Mitch thinks Melanie is a pet store employee when she is really a customer herself. And in her attempt to prolong the conversation with him, she goes along and mistakes canaries for love birds. He can see she doesn't know what she is doing but he is attracted to her as well and continues the game. The attraction is clear and this is their meet cute.


    The sound of the birds in the opening lends a realism to the movie. Instead of atmospheric music, the audience hears what it sees, birds, whistles, and life on the street. Even though The Birds takes a dark turn, it begins in an ordinary way. I suppose this is a device to show that craziness can happen to anyone at anytime. 


    I don't see how the cameo has any contribution to the opening of the film. Because he is seen only coming out of the pet store, there is no value to it being Hitchcock over another person. 

  20. Admittedly, I haven not seen Psycho but I do know the main storyline. I would say that the title sequence is symbolic of one of the themes of the film, that things are not always as they appear. Saul Bass uses lots of lines in the opening, lines that complete things and sets of lines that are incomplete and have space in between them, and for me this is most descriptive of Anthony Perkins's character. As Norman Bates, he is a set of lines that is incomplete, and only in the end do we find out how and why. The music helps establish this discordant feeling because it is energetic and tense. If the title Psycho doesn't convince people that bad stuff will happen, the opening music does a good job. 


    Again, I have not seen the film but I would think that by establishing the exact location, date and time, he is giving the audience information it will need later. I can only speculate that the main character will travel to a different location, at another date and time, and only later in the film will we know why the information is important. The scene where we are first introduced to the characters is highly reminiscent of Rear Window because it is a private space that we only see through the blinds. We find out that the two are not married and meet like this regularly because they have to. Maybe he's married, we don't know, but we do know that we are privy to information the rest of the world does not have. 


    I would think for the time period, the 60s, this would create a collective attitude for the audience. In the notes, we know that the codes is lessening and that the 60s were a time of changing cultural attitudes but I suspect that many in the audience still frowned upon an unmarried man and woman sneaking away during lunch to a motel. I think that Janet Leigh's character was labelled from the start of the movie as either someone audience members could root for or not, based on her moral behavior.  

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  21. Honestly, I do not have much pre-existing knowledge of these two actors regarding their lives outside acting.


    The matchbook becomes the vehicle for the two actors to legitimately touch one another, heightening their physical attraction and pushing the story forward between the two characters. It also is a moment where they stop talking; their communicating is done only through action and touch. 


    The sound that is constant throughout the scene to me is the moving train, which makes the scene so ordinary in the film. As with other HItchcock scenes we've looked it, he loves putting ordinary people in extreme situations, and it is so with Cary Grant's character. If it was just a scene between a man and a woman on a train, there would be no importance. But because he is a man being chased by the police and bad guys for a crime he didn't commit, and has taken the time to stop and flirt with a woman he doesn't know, that makes the scene all the more interesting. 

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  22. The movie, or "the story" will be about a plot that seems to have no end or have no logic. In a way, like spirals, you can almost get lost in where you are in the story with the plot progression. The music makes one think that there will be a lot of suspense or threads that need figuring out. And this ties in nicely with the spirals in the opening because it reinforces the notion that "the story" will leave the audience in suspense.


    It would be easy to say that the spiral is the most important and powerful image in the title sequence but I believe it is the woman's face. To be honest, I have seen the film and I do know that the movie's plot centers on an obsession with a woman and for that reason, the characterization of a woman in the title opening foreshadows the rest of the movie. The spiral that engulfs her eye signals that the plot, mainly the protagonist, will lose himself in the obsession with the woman.


    The images by Saul Bass and the score by Herrmann work like hand and glove for the sequence. The lecture notes are spot on that the two almost play off one another in placement and composition because the effect is like parallel movement. As the score swells or quiets, the image correspondingly move. If either were changed, the opening sequence would not work as well. 



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  23. Again, I believe that Hitchcock is not only the master of suspense but the master of foreshadowing. He takes the time to give the audience the expanse of the back garden - the different residents and even some characteristics about them - because we will see them again as the film progresses. I think that though Jeff's back is to the window, the shot is for the audience, to make a point that Hitchcock said in a clip we say last week. As the director, he has let the audience in on information that will be useful later. 


    From the smashed camera, the framed photographs and the magazine covers in his apartment, we learn that Jeff gets paid to look at things. Through these simple clues we see that his work as a photographer makes him an expert on looking at things and people. And because Hitchcock takes the time to take us from one item to the next over time, I believe he makes the case that this information will be valuable again. 


    There is a sense of voyeurism in the opening shot because we can see people in moment that they perceive themselves to be near invisible - just waking in the morning and getting ready for the day. I think that even with their doors and windows open, or even sleeping on the fire escape, they may still think that being within their apartment means that their privacy will be kept in tact, which is certainly a reasonable expectation. Living in shared and common space means that one cannot assume total privacy. 


    I do think that Rear Window is beautifully made, with all of the work pretty much being shot from inside the apartment. You would think it would be a constraint on the story but it adds to the realism and the tension of the story as the murderer is discovered. 

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  24. In the introductory scene alone, there is a definite theme building as we see the two characters at the train station. They arrive in cabs that seemingly pit them crossing each other, the two men walk in opposite sides of the camera angle, and their feet actually cross as they sit at the table. What is also visible is that as the train moves out of the station, the tracks cross each other over and over again.


    The contrast is very stark between the two characters, even as we first introduced to just their shoes. Bruno, compared to Guy, is the flashier, more intrusive one; his shoes, his clothes, even his name tie pin make him noticeable. Guy is more subtle and less intrusive. As the two men get acquainted, Guy seems to one to make the introductions and get back to his magazine. Bruno not only wants to introduce himself but make a new friends; he seizes Guy's hand in both his and switches sides of the car to seat himself next to Guy. 


    The music does a great job in setting the atmosphere because, especially in the opening scene we get a sense of the stark difference between the two characters. Each man has his opening theme music in a way, and even before we see their faces or hear their voices, we know that we are dealing with two very different characters. 

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  25. From this early scene, the Hitchcock touch that I most see is an ordinary person caught up in unforeseen circumstances. Alicia's father was a German sympathizer and agent but she herself was not involved with his activities. By virtue of their relationship, she now finds herself being asked to become involved in a major operation to track Germans in Brazil after the war. With no training or preparation, she now has to just rely on her own wits in a dangerous situation. 


    The photography and direction that I saw in this scene is that the two characters remain separate throughout the scene until the end to show their opposition to one another. She is strongly against him after she learns that he is a federal agent and he seems only reluctant to work with her. After he plays to recording, reminding her of her desire to do the right thing, the two are then photographed together, seemingly showing their impending partnership.


    I do not believe that this film challenges the star personas of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman because they had already played roles with similar drama prior to Notorious. Cary Grant plays a hard-boiled federal agent with little compassion, and even though he is good as a comedic actor, he had played emotionless, even heartless, characters before. And Ingrid Bergman had played a similar role in Casablanca, when it was found out that she was the wife of another man after having fallen in love with Humphrey Bogart. 

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