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Dasi

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  1. 1. 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? The song seems to fit part of the conversation they are having, continuing the mood of their evening: Intimate and close, sharing thoughts and idea, and learning about one another. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Throughout the song, from the very beginning, he is following her each time she walks away as she sings. She will sing for a moment, he comes closer, and she turns away to continue sharing her feelings. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. I am not familiar with terms, but from the beginning where they start out close, then she walks away and stand alone the camera angles are used to highlight that fact, that Fanny is alone still and sort of unsure about the relationship she has with Nick.
  2. 1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course). Both are set in London around the same time period it seems, with Cukor using the scene to make each leading lady almost disappear amid the clutter of the furniture and printed wall paper of the time. Cukor also seems to use lighting and shadow to his advantage to set the mood of each scene. There is a scene in 'Gaslight' when Ingrid Bergman's character confronts Charles Boyer's in a similar fashion, finally showing frustration and outrage at him much like Hepburn did with Harrison. Both movies have the women trying to show emotions which their male counterparts are trying to subvert or manipulate to suit a particular outcome as well. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Hepburn and her admittedly deserved anger seem to be the focal point of the scene, with the actress remaining almost at the center of every frame. Harrison on the other hand is the exact opposite of her, not caring in the slightest what happens to her now that his bet is over and he has won. She is very emotional and he is detached and cold, more concerned with his slippers than any thought to what will become of her now that he no longer needs her. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? The relationship is rather cold and detached from the stand point of Higgins (Harrison), with the direction seeming to highlight that. When Eliza (Hepburn) is beside herself with worry and grief, he seems rather aloof and unconcerned with her predicament. She calms down only to become irate again when he merely offers her a chocolate and a pat on the head, telling her she should be happy it's over. Cukor does an excellent job of showing him as cold and callous compared with her worry and fretfulness.
  3. 1. 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? In the past musicals, most of the lead men tend to be the strong type and very masculine -- handsome, wealthy, debonair -- ready to rescue the damsel in distress and be the hero that made everything better. Most seemed to be a little older and distinguished as well. As we march through the decades, we see men who aren't necessarily those things, with their flaws and vulnerabilities coming to the forefront more readily without diminishing the character and in fact making them more attractive/sympathetic to the audience. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? While being the lead in the first clip, Hill (Preston) is the lead but he isn't necessarily handsome but still manages to captivate the small town. As an actor in both clips, Preston seems to really not let any part of him go to waste from small gestures to facial expressions he knows how to work the crowd and the room he is in drawing the audiences eyes to him. 3. 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? Two of his movies which aren't musicals stand out to me, those being 'S.O.B' and 'The Last Starfighter'. Robert Preston was a supporting character in each, still having a significant role though. In the former, a Blake Edwards' comedy, he was sharp and witty, as the resident friend and doctor who was in the middle of everything. He showed perfect comedic timing and an ability to make something funny that probably would have been only so so with another actor. In the latter, he played an Alien disguised as a human to enlist someone from earth to fly his planet's ultra elite fighting ship in order to win a war. He made me care about his character so much that when it looked like Centauri (Preston) had died I was devastated and driven to tears. I saw these movies as a young girl, after I had seen him in a couple of musicals. I was amazed it was the same actor in fact. Most actors which I had watched in the classic musicals were only so so in movies not featuring song. Not this man though. He has been a favorite of mine for many years, not only for his singing abilities.
  4. 1. 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? It looks backwards in that it highlights the formula for many classic studio musicals, the production and behind the scenes which made up much of the plot -- putting on a show and finding the star for that show! Plus it focuses on something that was rampant back in the day of the big studios running things when they would do a casting call in search of the next big child star (ala Judy Garland or Shirley Temple). 2. 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. From the moment Mama Rose enters, all eyes go to her and stay on her really. It seems that the attention she wants for Baby June and Co. is the attention she wishes for herself, which is the case with many stage mothers I believe. One can almost surmise from her forceful entry and her take control attitude that she might have been raised in the business/seeking stardom herself but chose marriage and family, only to pass on her aspirations for stardom to her children. Rosalind Russell does a phenomenal job as this character, using her acting chops to really control the mood, tempo and visuals of the whole scene. 3. 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). Sung by a child the song is just fun and bubbly, innocent and fun. Now it if were sung by an adult with a sultry soft voice, and in a costume to accentuate an hour glass figure? That song turns into something flirty, promising and titillating! The let me make you smile and the trick lines, those seem to be very edgy/risque given the proper setting. I suppose what might be disruptive would be the song itself, as its sort of hinting at sexuality ("every move has a meaning all its own") and some of the children in the background seem scantily clad, perhaps hinting at what is to come (or what happened sometimes behind the scenes during the big studio days). The burgeoning age of sex is hinted and pushed here, which seems disruptive in regards to the old school musicals and the formulas used back in the day.
  5. 1. 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? I don't think it does. I think part of the point of having the huge stylized scene at the end was because it was a fantasy - over the top, larger than life and colorful. The fact that the whole movie wasn't filmed in a setting like that makes the ending more meaningful and poignant. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Jerry seems like he is having a good day during the beginning of the scene as he walks around and looks at the other painter's offerings. He sets up his own little corner and seems to be in good spirits. It's only when we see the third year student walk up and begin to critique his work that Jerry's "Jersey" comes out, letting her know her opinion nor her presence are not wanted. When Milo approaches directly after, he still is wary and on guard, so he is dismissive and curt when he speaks to her. I didn't find him unlikeable at all. Quite the contrary. I thought he was having a normal reaction to someone who was going to "bust his balls" without any intention to buy anything. Because of this I think he is still likeable. He is doing what most of us would do in that situation.
  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Their movements are already bouncing in rhythm with the words and phrases they are all saying, as if they are already moving their hands warming up for the upcoming song and dance scene. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The straight man in this scene is the Professor. The two "pupils" play off of him well, with the Professor the essence of seriousness and propriety not knowing the other two are playful poking fun at his lesson. He even congratulates himself when O'Conner bids him to say another, thinking they are actually taking each lesson with the feeling and fervor he is portraying. I think his actions highlight the other two, giving them the perfect setting to make light of the situation. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? The Professor is rigid and straight laced, unaccustomed to having fun or relaxing among any group of people it seems. He is masculine but in a way which appears uncomfortable with how a man should be, not knowing how to handle the situation the two are presenting to him. Don (Kelly) is the alpha male -- strong, in control of the situation and his surroundings and able to laugh at himself and whats going on about him. He is athletic and handsome. Cosmo (O'Conner) is the beta male and comedic relief in any given situation. His appearance is slighter than that of the Male Lead (Kelly) and his mannerisms are even bordering on effeminate, taking on a softer and flowery approach at times when he does things. The ensemble performs well in this scene together, playing off the straight laced Professor as they have some fun while practicing diction.
  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Women were still very feminine in most movies (and society) but this movie and it's star character are possibly ahead of their time. In an age where women were still wearing long sleeved dresses to cover up, with only a hint of a bustle here Calamity Jane comes and wears pants, has a side iron and is security for a stage coach! This movie seems to push the time line along for women characters in the movies, making them more than just the damsel in distress needing to be rescued. The main character seems to be more equal in the role she has in society at that time with the men around her. She seems to be more accepted and seen as more than just a pretty face or a possible love interest. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Doris Day is one of my favorite actresses. The first movie I had seen her in was 'Teacher's Pet' with Clark Gable. I think all her characters reflect what women wanted and how they were fairly well. Most were accomplished, working women who had nice lives but were looking for the "yang to their yin". She had a beautiful voice, and all the movies she sang her voice seemed to just hold center stage -- soft and feminine yet strong and captivating -- just like she did in her acting. The two movies I love the most are 'Pillow Talk' and 'That Touch of Mink', both with legendary heart throb status actors yet she was all most could see and stole the show, giving the audience a woman who was feminine yet at the same time tough as nails. Plus, she seemed to always be "the good girl" that every guy wants to woo, marry and bring home to mom. 3. 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 it adds to it. Not only do we see the rough and tumble side which fit in perfectly with the other gun slingers of that time period, but we also see that she is a girl no matter how much buckskin or how many pairs of pants she wears. She brings a beauty to the character, a softness, that no amount of grime can cover up. I think that is important to the story, which details the character realizing and falling in love with her best friend. Calamity Jane realizes that even though she likes to do typical "guy" things, she is still very much a girl with the same wants and needs as the rest of the women at that time regardless of what she wore. Plus, as I stated above, Doris Day has that natural affable quality of the girl next door in all her characters because I believe that is who she is deep down, not just her "acting" but it's who she is. That fact makes all her characters appealing.
  8. 1. 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 are a cohesive unit instead of having one star stand out, while the others merely observe. They are all participants. Each person is contributing to the song and dance. In past musical numbers there is usually one stand out star/focus while the rest of the cast at that moment merely is in the background observing until that portion is over. 2. 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 neat and nice (tailored). The colors are also rather neutral (blue/white/grey) with no bright splashes to call your eye to any one person. Plus, there are no baubles or sequins to garner anyone's attention over the other. 3. I noticed its an ensemble, and the staging really drives that point home. No one character is just there, each one sings and dances, being the focal point at one time or another with all four performing equally. Each persons talent is highlighted and featured. You can see true camaraderie between them.
  9. 1. 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? The scene shows how distraught Petunia is, thinking her husband is dying. Hearing her call for him, she flies to his bedside, kneeling down and thanking God he has been spared as she breaks into song. No matter his faults, she is married and that is her husband, whom she is thankful for his love and his person still being there with her. Even when times are difficult, as long as she has him that's all she needs and she is happy being his person. When we see her still caring for him, making sure to move him into the shade while she works and keeps a dutiful eye on him, we see her happy to be doing so. She is also happy to be tending to not only his health but the house that they have built. The song is an ode to how happy she makes him, and how happy she is being his wife and all that that entails. I rather like the message -- husband and wife tending a home together. The song and scene tell us that this is right and just, and how things are supposed to be especially when we see how happy she is compared to how fretful and sad she was at the beginning of the clip. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? The words would be different while still being about a love, but a different type. Where as a child should get unending love because that person came from her body, is a part of her, the husband she is choosing to be with him. She has made a vow and is upholding it happily, through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. A wife is supposed to be dutiful and caring, all things soft in the home which offers a safe haven from the world for him. That's part of the love she sings about, and he gives his love and offers her shelter and strength from the bad outside their home. The relationship between a child and mother is important, but not the basis of the American Dream -- Growing up, getting married and having your own home. 3. 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 know many cite racism and stereotypes, but as a minority, I don't see it that way. I see it as knocking away the possible fear and stereotypes of the time actually, showing African Americans as just like anyone else at that time who is living in a little farm house -- living simply and loving whole heartedly with the same feelings, fears, hopes and dreams as the rest of us in that time period. It's doubly important when you think of Blacks signing up just like the rest of the country to fight for the War at that time.
  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. The scene starts out with Dennis (Sinatra) relaxed tossing a ball as he enters the hallway where Shirley (Garrett) is laying in wait to pounce on him. The narrow hallway helps illustrate that the "prey" here has no where to run from the "hunter". Rather than push past her, he runs backward into the stadium/bleachers/ball field. Shirley begins to sing her logical ultimatum letting Dennis know he shouldn't run or fight it anymore that fate has deemed them a couple. Even the setting shows the viewer that it's time for Dennis to "play ball" with Shirley, and no matter where he runs she is there waiting to get him. 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? When Dennis (Sinatra) enters the hallway, he is whistling and a little tune is playing in the background along with him. He is also bouncing a ball in rhythm it seems to the tune. Shirley (Garrett) has a playful look on her face as she spies him, with the music picking up tempo and matching their steps as they both begin to run. It seems to reach a crescendo as she stops and yells "hey!", creating the intro to the song.
  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? I was a young girl, and my first time seeing Judy Garland was in 'The Wizard of Oz' (like probably everyone). I actually thought it was a real story and was terrified of the tornado, very fearful for poor Dorothy. When she sang, I wanted to be just like her -- unfortunately I can't sing a note that isn't off key. I thought she was beautiful and so poised for being a young girl lost in a foreign place. Her expressions and mannerisms fit perfectly, like everything was effortless for her which is one big reason I thought it was real. I figured no one could act that well. 2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I don't view her differently per say, but am reminded of things about her that amaze each time I watch her perform: How beautiful she is for one thing. I know she struggled with her weight and didn't consider herself a conventional beauty compared to some of the starlets of that day, but each time I see her she looks different as each character. In this I am able to see a different facet of her beauty, both outer and inner. She literally beams in front of the camera and you can't take your eyes off her even if you try. I am also amazed at how good she is at dancing. I honestly never really focused on her footwork too much, but seeing her next to two of the greats (Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire) I am in awe at how light and effortless she makes it look. The only thing that compares to it is her voice. Her voice is not only soft and feminine at times, but strong and forceful, calling on all your emotions each time she sings a song. I can't get enough of her, and am in awe at how talented she was. 3. 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? I think the best at that would be 'A Star Is Born'. It highlights not only her voice, but her acting ability. It seems as if she sings unfettered, throwing everything she has into ever note. The raw emotion on her face during certain scenes as well are a far cry from the little girl growing up before our eyes in such movies as 'The Wizard of Oz', the Andy Hardy movies, 'Meet Me In St. Louis', and 'The Harvey Girls'. Because of this reason, the movie itself has a special place in my heart. Whenever I feel down or am feeling sorry for myself, I put 'A Star Is Born' on, and Judy commiserates with me in song and action as I watch the film. Her powerful voice in each song, especially my favorite 'The Man That Got Away', just lets me know I am not alone at that moment. Plus, where she doesn't have to share the stage really with another great song and dance actor, she really does shine for me in this one. She is the focal point, and she let's her audience know it.
  12. 1. 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 first scene opens with George Cohen getting one of the greatest honors, being invited to The White House for an audience with the leader of the free world, the President of the United States. As he is ushered in, the valet tells him what an honor it is and how much he and the President's (past and present) love his work. They walk up the large winding stair case with the eyes of past President's who constructed the frame work for this great country looking upon them. Cohen is wearing a small pin of the American flag to match the one prominently displayed in the background of the President's office. Both men speak fondly of Cohen's work and his family, stating how proud they were to have always been patriotic and having strong love for the United States. The President makes special note of this, which segues into the next scene of a fourth of July parade. The streets are lined with flags while songs touting how wonderful the country is are heard in the air. The love for America and everything having to do with the freedoms afforded those who have immigrated here is showcased. 2. 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. G. Cohen: "I was a pretty cocky kid those days, a pretty cocky kid. A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one." President: "That's one thing I've always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It's a great quality." G. Cohen: "I inherited that. Got that from my father. He ran away to the Civil War when he was thirteen. Proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts." The clip then goes on to show that Mr. Cohen has spent his whole life showing his love for this country, even being born on the fourth of July. Not only do immigrants who yearn for freedom and come to the United States love the country, but everyone lining the streets and waving a flag does as well. 3. 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. The scene starting with the White House visit sets the stage and tone of the movie, one of respect and love for this country, handed down through generations since the Cohen family came here. George Cohen meets with the President, who is giving him accolades and kudos for how much he has always loved the United States which opens up the narrative of how Cohen actually came into the world. Without this, the movie would have to build up to the importance of this figure. That, or one might think it's just about an immigrant family first and foremost, not the man who came out of that family.
  13. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? From the onset, we see Dale (Ginger Rogers) sort of distancing herself from this man, or attempting to, even though Jerry (Fred Astaire) is desperately trying to woo her from the moment he woke her on their first meeting. In this clip, we see them on more equal footing then we have the whole film even with their clothing sort of "matching" where she is in jodhpurs instead of the normal pretty outfit she has worn at each of their previous meetings. The scene goes on to show how she isn't succumbing to his sweet song, but getting up and challenging him as she mimics his steps, even going so far as to initiate moves on her own which he then follows. She doesn't let him gather her in his arms throughout the whole dance really, with the man leading the woman. Instead touching is minimal, with no embrace at the end of the scene, merely they shake hands with mutual respect. She proves she is a match for him literally with every step he is taking, not to be led around but walk shoulder to shoulder with him. Throughout the movie 'Top Hat', the women aren't simpering damsels in distress or caricatures of emotional women, as we have seen in previous musicals where the woman needs the man to help her in some way. In the beginning of this scene Dale turns him down as he attempts to rescue her from the storm. No Sir, this lady is definitely no damsel in distress! 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? This movie from the get go takes place in very opulent settings with sumptuous clothing, with the women and men normally dressed to the nines. It's not just the occasional throwing about money with a big tip, but the from the sets and the costumes everything reeks of being very well off, with not a care in the world other than romancing the woman Jerry finally decides to try and win (after saying he didn't wish to be married). Each scene is a fantasy and escape from the very real struggle that is going on outside the theater. It's all light hearted escapism, from the sets, the clothing, and the romance. 3. 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? The movies made after the Code came into effect had to have some vehicle for flirtation without being overt sexually - in not only words and deeds, but costumes as well. The thing that replaced overt sexual innuendo was the comedy between the male and female stars. The comedy was the way to move the story along and also show the chemistry between the two main characters while not being over the top sexual. Plus showing women as equals was probably fitting in with what was going on in the real world, where women were forced to actually do more than just be home and watch the children/husband. They might have actually been called on to go and help support the household by joining the workforce. This probably will gain steam as the years go by and America enters the war effort (WW2).
  14. I appreciate both Ruby Keeler and Eleanor Powell as dancers. Both seem very accomplished in what they can do, but I think Powell seems more polished as a dancer. It's as if one is watching someone with training in ballet or classical dance, incorporating each into the tap routine she is doing. Powell seems very effortless and graceful, always beaming a megawatt smile as she glides about the floor. Keeler on the other hand, while she dances well it seems as if she has to really focus to get the steps correct and her footfalls are rather heavy sounding. Plus in the clip we watched, it was not just about her dancing, but about her singing as well. I think the term best used to describe Keeler's style would be hoofer (a tap dancer with no other type of dance training). Both are amazing and delightful to watch, just different styles it seems.
  15. 1. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? I honestly was not familiar with Ernst Lubitsch and his "touch" before this. I researched and read up on the Lubitsch Touch, and was pleasantly surprised that his technique is something I really appreciate in earlier sound films - one where a director uses everything at his disposable to try and create the mood/scene that he wishes. In this scene, we see Alfred (Maurice Chevalier) is a Romeo with a good nature, as we can surmise with his easy smile even when he is caught with another woman's garter in his hand. He even breaks the fourth wall by inviting the audience into his little escapade, also possibly replacing the silent movie title card. The onlooker also is able to see he has done this before, as evident to his cool demeanor when faced with an irate husband holding a gun as well as a drawer filled with more of the same type of weapon! 2. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. I think sound is used as something to heighten what is going on, or call attention to something important: When the husband picks up the gun and is headed towards Alfred, we hear a small snippet of music with a tempo which would seem to convey the tense emotions the husband is feeling. When the gun shot is fired, while quiet and muffled, it was more than likely something new to hear and would shock the audience. Finally, the noise of a gathering crowd when Alfred opens the balcony door, as if to say he knows trouble is brewing for him still (and is confirmed with his facial expression and the ambassador who begins to chastise him at the end). 3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musical? Escapism from the Depression when one considers the fancy set and costumes, plus the screw ball type of comedic things that went on to help people forget about what was going on outside of the theater. I would think there would be romantic elements as well, as the light hearted and fun play boy goes off to possibly continue his romance with the wife or another lover.
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