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About Kwittenbrink

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  1. Thank you so much Dr. Ament for a wonderful course!  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about musicals and I am truly mad for them now!!  It was a wonderful beginning to the summer.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!

  2. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more? Well, it seemed an intimate scene, despite Omar not being in a great deal of it - just admiring her from afar - so she needed to sing quietly as she seems to be introspectively considering her feelings and what she wants and needs. I find it interesting that she continues to move away from "people"/Omar, as she is singing how "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world," as if she is foreshadowing what will ultimately happen in the movie. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? As stated above, she moves away from him as she is singing and he doesn't go after her. Perhaps they know that they aren't destined to be together? How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. It is showing us how she perceives what she is saying and how she is ultimately reacting to it.
  3. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) The techniques are similar to perhaps film noir or Hitchcock where much can happen in the dark or shadows - we can see a great deal about the characters. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Well, we see Eliza realize that she has won the bet for Higgins. Now, she assumes, he's done with her and what is she good for now? Higgins has not thought this through and acts that there is no big deal. She cannot go back to selling flowers and cannot stay at his house. She would have to marry because she actually has no money and isn't a worthy prospect because of that fact. He has rendered her useless in that era. Cukor puts them together in the scene and we can see Higgins's reaction which is not one of realization and that is infuriatingly British. We see Cukor's framework in these shots and the lighting; Eliza turning off the light is a nice touch. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Like the statements above, he seems to keep them in the same frame which is perhaps a foreshadowing of what's to come? He keeps them together despite their arguing. We know they end up together.
  4. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable? Preston seems a bit deeper than those in some other movies. He does seem to embody the character and IS the character. He doesn't seem to just be singing a song in a glamorous way. He is telling a story and creating the story through his song. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? He really is deliberate and sings to the audience - he looks them in the eye. He uses hand motions and slight movements to accentuate his song. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work? I have not seen any other movie of his, despite seeming so familiar to me. I am looking forward to watching more of his movies and seeing these movies as well - I have only seen the clips!
  5. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical? This clip looks back at the musicals that we have seen in the backstage show-how-the-musical works like in Singin' in the Rain or Bandwagon but it also looks ahead in the visual appearance of the movie - it isn't as showy and colorful or as glamorous as musicals used to be. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress. She is doing a fabulous job as the quintessential stage mom, forcing her girls to make a buck and to live out some romantic notion of continuing what she tried to achieve. You don't question her in the role, so she is obviously doing her job and not "acting" but just assuming the role. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not). No, I don't see anything particularly edgy or subversive - the costume and the synchronized tapping is perfectly child-like. The fact that it is changed to Gypsy's sexy song later is wonderful!
  6. Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film? No, I don't think it needs to use the stylized approach throughout the film, I actually enjoyed the beginning of the film more and was not as keen on the ballet interpretation of his rejection at the end. I want the guy to get the girl. It was a nice gesture on Henri's part. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? I actually like that he is brash and confident! I think that he knows what he wants and is initially apprehensive of Milo. He knows what she is. Perhaps he's hungry?
  7. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? They already feed off each other and know that the class is a silly waste of their time - they speak well and know that the class is really for their starlet who has horrible elocution. While the movements don't mirror each other pre-dance, they certainly are still acting as a duo with the straight man for their fodder. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. He is perfect! He is initially enjoying being the best teacher and believes that they are really amazed at his perfect elocution, and even after they begin to make fun of him he tries to control the class. He never leaves the room and allows himself to be physically pulled into their antics. It is wonderful! And awful at the same time:) But it is a musical and suspension of disbelief and all that. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? I suppose that we know that O'Connor is the 'beta' male, and Kelly is the 'alpha' and the teacher is the 'straight man.' They each have their role and we understand that without being told. It really is a great scene!
  8. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Well, I think that it is hard to keep churning out the female roles that the 50's thought were necessary. I haven't seen the film yet, but reading the notes it states that Jane/Day donned a dress and tried to be more feminine - I wonder if that was the message that this film was trying to get to girls in that era - to be feminine to get a husband? But then she tames it down and still wears pants but it just more polished as her character grows in the movie. I have to admit that I like the end result and I am proud that her character was able to keep to the ideals that she had in the beginning, but was still able to grow and think as a character. I'd like to think that there were still people in the 50's that wanted to continue to see women become equals and therefore was able to inject this movie into that female continuum. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? I love Doris Day - her voice is happy and sweet and she is always lovely. I love her in The Man Who Knew Too Much, and in By the Light of the Silvery Moon - she always seems to embody someone who knew her own mind and was able to be a woman who wasn't too girly. In Silvery Moon, she works on her father's car and surprises her boyfriend who was in the war; in MWKTM, despite being given tranqs by her doctor husband, she keeps her cool and sings her son out of his kidnapping - she is smart and knows things are not right about the people that they come into contact with. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. I think, like I said above, that it adds to the character. I enjoy her sunny personality and I think that it shows that she doesn't take herself too seriously and can hold herself in a situation. I enjoy that after she falls at the bar, she hops back up and gets her drink; she doesn't run away in tears like some other girl may have done.
  9. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed? They move as a group as they entice Tony to see how life gives you ideas for shows, particularly their show. They are not dancing individually and showcasing their dancing skills, which, as Ament pointed out, only Astaire is a trained dancer. They are building the scene to work together. In the past we have seen huge dance numbers with the main character taking the spotlight. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. They are in muted colors - mainly blues and greys. Nothing is showy - it is suits and a dress that a woman would wear to work not out to a ball. This shows that this scene could literally take place in a work setting and that we are all a team not individuals trying to stand out. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? They are all goofing around and helping each other in each vignette: lighting a cigarette, a pyramid, marching together, building the scene again as a team.
  10. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song? She is called to his bedside and is instantly jubilant as she realizes that he is alive and is doing well after being shot. She says not to call the doctor but to call everyone to let them know the news! Like all illnesses, and hardships, we are exuberant and exultant initially and then we still need to move on with our lives. While we still are happy that the person is doing well, time cannot, does not stop, so we need to continue to move forward. She is glad that he is in the chair as she is doing her laundry outside and continues to sing her happiness. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I suppose the words would change, but the movement would still be the same - moving through our day to day. I think with a child you may be more weepy and happy at the same time. I don't see how the cultural meaning would change if it were a child. Happiness is a thing everyone feels. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? I can see that this is definitely a period piece with a caveat to certain notions about black people. I see that it is a time-capsule and something that perhaps broke down barriers during it's time.
  11. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. In this tight spot she has domination over him and he really can't avoid her. She dominates him in her strength and her knowledge that he will be coming out of that door and she corners him in an instant. She backs him into the wall; catches him at the end of the stairs; swings him up over her shoulders; etc. He seems kowtowed into "falling" for her - I personally am put off by this scene and am not too keen on Garrett and how she is portrayed. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? Well, it seems to wind up like the pitch - we can hear the first few notes that are leading up to the song. The actors positioning helps as well and we understand that the song and dance number are going to happen!
  12. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? Probably like most, I saw her in Wizard of Oz, and of course loved her and the movie! She has such a strong and sweet voice and is playful and funny and so expressive with her face. A delight. It is so sad to know how the industry pushed her to stay thin and that is what caused her to become addicted to meds. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I guess I didn't know how versatile she was and how she was able to do vaudeville and dance with ease with Gene Kelly. Wonderful! What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience’s imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric? The Christmas song was always too sad to listen to on the radio, I never knew that it came from Meet Me in St. Louis. Now it has a deeper meaning and I see it in a different light.
  13. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer. The opening scene with the white house, the grand staircase, the president, the flag, the parade - all to highlight America. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. I like that the president says a kind word about Irish-Americans since that is not the main feeling that America had for Irish from the beginning of their immigration to the US. It feels as if it was planted there purposefully? Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. It is essential to set it up for the flashback so that we understand why Mr Cohan Sr. must run out on his show - the birth of his son. It wouldn't have had enough of an impact if it didn't include FDR and the man the baby grew up to be.
  14. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? I like how they are both trying to "lead" when they dance together - you can see the struggle in her as she tries to move him where she wants and he to her. Their clothing, her not being swayed by his charm. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? She is not the sweet and innocent girl that we have seen previously; she is in pants and a hat and ready to battle in the dance number. It is stormy and thunderous - it is not dreamy and elegant. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? Part of the reasoning may be the "can do" attitude of the war era with women taking over the roles of men while they were away at war. It reflected how women were able to do a man's part in the work force. I LOVE it!
  15. Both ladies are lovely! The 42nd street was not as elegant the other movie. Keeler wasn't in the clip as much so it was hard to compare, but she is a bit more heavy footed than Powell. I thought Powell was acting through her dancing and was quite humorous and graceful at the same time - those LEGS! Beautiful. I suppose I enjoyed her dancing more than Keeler's. I feel as if I need to see more of Keeler to make a statement on the two.
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