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ESei

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Everything posted by ESei

  1. I went to see LLL with high hopes. I love musicals and I have cried my way through the The Umbrellas of Cherbourg many times. By the end of LLL I was crying once again, but I have reservations. The leads are good actors and charming people but they just can't dance up to the level of the drama. This is just the opposite of Fred and Ginger musicals where the plot is thin but the dance is powerful. As I watched LLL, I kept thinking of all the wonderful dancers out there, beautifully trained and never getting a chance to enchant us. I hope that the true musical and dance artists get their chance
  2. Thanks to Dr. Ament and Dr. Edwards. I love musicals and it was great to share this conversation with so many people who love them,too. Dr. Ament's combination of artistic and academic experience provided really interesting insights, and, as someone who has worked with online course components, I truly admire the course design that Dr. Edwards has created. The guest lecturers both brought fresh angles of vision. So, thanks to the faculty, Ball State, and TCM. And a special shout out to everyone who posted--it is great to know that all across the map, there are people who care about movies and
  3. No horror for me. We have enough in real life. Sci-Fi-fi might be interesting and so would westerns.
  4. The song "People" starts out with a puzzling generality: "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world." Isn't needing people kind of a mainstream way of feeling rather than lucky? As the song switches from generalities, we see that its real subject is people who are afraid to show their feelings. Finally the song conjures up a hopeful vision of lovers who find the person who makes them whole. These lyrics and their music in no way suggests a number that should be belted or boffo. We are not in "Hello, Dolly" territory here. (Dolly, of course, has her own wistful song about the
  5. You've got it! Lerner and Loewe used the film ending as opposed to the play's. But it's complicated. Even during the original run of the play, some of the performers played with the ending to imply that Liza and Higgins might have a relationship. Shaw actually worked on the screenplay, but the more romantic ending was inserted without his knowledge.
  6. In Pygmalion, Liza does marry Freddy. I should say that Shaw wrote an epilogue to the printed text that puts Freddy in the picture rather than portraying this marriage in the play itself. Shaw had a lot of talk back from audiences about that! I love Jeremy Brett, so I sometimes feel that Liza might have been happier with someone who looks so great and who adores her. Marrying Higgins has some of the risk factor of marrying Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang.
  7. Gaslight is a melodrama that has become a metaphor for a kind of victim-blaming that sets out to make oppression reasonable and rebellion a sign of mental impairment. Shaw's Pygmalion ultimately gives My Fair Lady a deeper and more challenging tale to tell but it is harder to interpret. In Gaslight a husband plots to convince his wife that she is crazy by setting up a series of events that cause her to doubt her own perception of reality, including the existence of a flickering gaslight in their home. His motives are criminal though the jeweled object of his desire seems a little silly-
  8. I think the bad singing was deliberate. It is hard for trained performers to act awkward or amateurish so give these ladies a hand! I do know that Maria Karnilova who played the original Tessie Tura on Broadway also received a Tony for Fiddler on the Roof. I saw her in Jerome Robbins Ballets USA and she was great. So I suspect that the film performers were also talented women so good that they could convince some viewers that they were third-rate.
  9. In his autobiography James Garner says that he wanted his first kiss with Julie Andrews to happen before he was sure she is a woman. Garner says that Blake Edwards decided not to take this risk.
  10. In the course of the history of musicals, we see a wide variety of portrayals of masculinity. Within this context we have talked about Alpha and Beta males, but it seems to me that the very act of dancing and singing in musicals goes against the grain of a lot of mainstream thinking about acceptable masculinity. When one of my daughters was in The Nutcracker, we were so proud of her, but some of the boys in the production tried to hide the fact that they were in the show even though they loved what they were doing. Two of them were viciously beaten up in the playground of their parochial schoo
  11. It was really interesting to read the reactions to this scene. I don't usually read other posts before doing my own, but I did today because I have a problematic relationship with Rosalind Russell. When I was younger, she scared me (not just in this film), And so many decades later, she still does. Of course, this role is kind of perfect because Mama Rose is truly scary as she fiercely promotes Baby June and later pushes Louise into life as a stripper. In this scene, after reading my fellow classmates' comments, I realize that from the very start, we see her as someone too big for her world.
  12. High Society does not hold a candle to The Philadelphia Story. Just to clear the air, I agree with the comments that the sanctimonious blame-shifting to Tracy/Samantha for her father's affair is disgusting. Also, I think there is no chemistry at all between Samantha and Bing Crosby. None!! (And it's not the age difference and it doesn't matter how they related off screen). I watch High Society strictly to see Louis Armstrong and Grace Kelly, though she can't match Katharine Hepburn's acting. The Philadelphia Story is wonderful on account of Hepburn and the chemistry between her and BOTH Cary
  13. I turned to today's lesson after watching most of Pal Joey on TCM. I bailed because the central character is so cruel and despicable. Sinatra plays Joey in the movie, but this was Gene Kelly's Broadway debut and he was able to fit the character like a glove. I bring this up in response to the question about Jerry's personality in An American in Paris. I notice that many of my fellow students defend him. I have a mixed response. I love Gene' Kelly's movies because I love his dancing. However, I have often struggled with the egotism and aggression of many of his characters. He is handsome and hi
  14. COLORING OUTSIDE THE LINES (and hoping for feedback) I was excited when I saw this week's attention to male and female gender roles in 50's musicals. Especially on account of the current cultural concern with gender fluidity, I expected more discussion (and maybe it is scheduled for future discussions) of coded behavior and of questioning of stereotypical roles. I think we were getting there with the discussion of Calamity Jane, but I don't see the Road pictures as good vehicle for examining masculine roles. Moses Supposes in Singin' in the Rain clearly does allow for examinations of the
  15. How I hate that pratfall at the end of the arrival of the stagecoach scene. It undercuts the energy, competence, and community feeling that the rest of the scene suggests. Doris Day seems believable (at least in musical comedy terms) as a strong woman who is bringing much-appreciated goods to the western town. I think the pratfall is much more a Hollywood desire to keep women in their place than any real development of Jane's character. Some scenes seem fake--like the competition song, "I Can Do Without You." Here Day seems not to be playing the competent woman of the opening scene but a caric
  16. I agree with everyone who has noticed that the four performers work as a team, but as a team of leads rather than a chorus. Previous musicals have tended toward musical numbers with solos or duets or large ensembles. But the thing that stuck out to me was their verve and intelligence as as well as breadth of show business experience. These are people who could have a wide-ranging and intelligent conversation about theatre. They know Hamlet and Oedipus as well as vaudeville and classic French drama. But they don't take themselves too seriously--they enjoy trading quips and doing classic stage m
  17. Ethel Waters is such a beautiful presence. The song takes her from the first moments of knowing that her husband is alive to a point in his recovery where family life is getting back to normal as she hangs laundry, a progression that would relate to the experiences of a lot of WWII families. We see the angel smiling in the room and we realize that her love for Joe will be redemptive. As she puts her head next to Joe's on the pillow, we get a suggestion that her love is sexual as well as emotional. He is a lucky guy! I think that this song would be really strange and maybe even creepy if applie
  18. I can see the variety of shots and the way that editing creates the dynamics of the chase. But, the technical expertise does not make me like the movie. It is shrill and grating and miscast. Look at the opening shot of Sinatra: in seconds his jaunty walk and gestures establish him as someone with style and confidence, not the wimp that his interactions with Betty Garret are about to suggest.The shots through the labyrinth of hallways are like a brightly lit nightmare with spiraling movements that would fit right into Vertigo. As the scene widens out into the bleachers, we get a sense of a maze
  19. I got to know Judy Garland first by hearing my mother talk about her--always with respect and admiration. The first Garland films I remember are A Star is Born and Judgment at Nuremberg. I thought she was so deeply sad and it seemed that I wasn't just watching her but feeling along with her. When my father finally allowed us to have a television (he thought they destroyed imagination and wasted time), I saw The Wizard of Oz, Easter Parade, and one of my favorite movies of all time--Meet Me in St. Louis. I was relieved and happy to learn that she was not always sad, and I loved her humor, her d
  20. These are good questions. For the first time, I am putting this film is a wider context: usually I just wait for Cagney to dance up the side of the proscenium in one of my favorite movie scenes. Obviously, any movie that features Yankee Doodle Dandy is focusing on the symbols of national patriotism, but this movie has a more subtle subtext of national and historical values and unity. In the opening scene, we see the present connected to heroic American history represented by the portraits on the staircase, but we also see a white man and a black man speaking intelligently together in s spirit
  21. Shall We Dance is my least favorite of their films, but it still has much to love. On the downside, its vision of ballet is revolting. Harriet Hoctor's dancing makes me leave the room. However, there are such great songs including the heart-rending "They Can't Take That Away from Me." Why oh why wasn't that a dance number. Who cannot love "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" with its blend of comedy, wordplay, and dancing on roller skates. The final dance number"They All Laughed" is also fun and clever with its chorus of Gingers.
  22. Cyd Charisse and Astaire are wonderful together as dancers (in Silk Stockings as well as Band Wagon) though they are never as believable a couple as Fred and Ginger.I really liked Astaire and Garland in Easter Parade. They both have a jazzy and American style that often came out in his solo tap numbers but not in his dances with partners. I thought that Audrey Hepburn and Astaire were great together in the title song from Funny Face.
  23. I don't think that the dance represents a battle of the sexes so much as a demonstration of mutual strength. It's a traditional tap challenge dance where two performers throw out difficult steps and the other dancer tries to match and go one better. It's a dance for equals. It's true, as many have already mentioned, that Astaire takes the lead and that Ginger caves when the thunder rolls. All the same, they are both strong presences and they dance separately most of the time, not in the usual ballroom pairing. Also, Ginger is wearing jodhpurs--so both dancers are wearing the pants in the relat
  24. There is no doubt that Keeler and Powell are very different styles of tap dancer and that they are working at different levels of technical skill. Powell moves over a much wider distance, has more complicated taps, uses her whole body, including her pelvis and performs feats that would make a gymnast proud. She is a lovely woman as well, but she is not really charming. After about four minutes of her routine, I was ready to stop (and I love dance). There is something relentless about her style that wears me out. In contrast, Keeler is a more old-fashioned style of tap that reminds me of Irish
  25. I agree with the wave of praise for Donald O'Connor. I also like Marc Platt and James Mitchell, especially his tragic role in Brigadoon. In a whole different league--Jacques D'Amboise in Carousel--one of the truly great ballet dancers captured on screen. Bob Fosse makes some great dance appearances that hint at the work to come, particularly in Kiss Me Kate with Carol Haney.
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