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  1. Mickey Rooney, Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck are three of my favourite actors. I also love Joseph Cotten and think he was somewhat underrated. But there are so many other top class actors who I admire too. It's too difficult to choose three!
  2. Mary Poppins Returns is a very tasteful sequel to Mary Poppins. It is clear that it was made with respect to the original movie, capturing a similar vibe through the score, songs, animation, sets and story. It was fantastic to see some old pros in there too with Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke. Emily Blunt was quite good as Mary Poppins. It was not a remake of the original movie but rather a new movie using other Mary Poppins stories that were "in the vaults", set in a later period from original.
  3. If Streisand had belted the song People in a more theatrical way it would be difficult to connect with the lyrics as an expression of her character. The sensitively sung moments in the song reveal intimacy and honesty and bring the audience into the performance. In song’s introduction, Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) is walking slowly up a street with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif) following a short distance behind, attentively watching her and listening to her sing. As Brice walks she alternates between facing away and facing towards Arnstein. This conveys character insecurity; she is tottering on the idea of committing to love. She appears awkward, vulnerable and shy but the way she sings the song suggests that she is desperate for experiencing what the lyrics are saying. He is admiring her from a distance. They are not close in this scene and do not open up to each other. It is filmed in a way where we almost see it from Arnstein’s perspective. The focus is on Brice and the camera follows her movement. We see the back of Arnstein. As Brice reaches the staircase the camera comes in closer to her with a dolly shot and we lose sight of Arnstein. The camera pans around Brice to create a shot where we see Arnstein resting casually on a railing. We can see both of their faces, Brice still in the foreground and Arnstein in the background. These directorial/editing decisions make Streisand as Brice the subject in the frame and show the emotional distance between the two characters.
  4. In both Gaslight and My Fair Lady a woman is under the control of a very selfish man who is dictating how she should behave. The woman undergoes transformation under the clutches of the man. In Gaslight we see Paula gradually lose herself and her sense of identity as she starts to believe she is insane. Her husband Gregory manipulates her in such a calculated way that she is made to feel trapped, guilty and unsure of herself. Paula’s emotional attachment to Gregory does not help the situation either. The themes of transformation, identity, love and manipulation that we see in Gaslight are also conveyed in My Fair Lady. Eliza transforms from a poor class flower girl into a well-spoken, princess-like lady thanks to the strict teachings of Higgins. In this clip we see how distraught Eliza is from losing her sense of self. She is desperately seeking “a little kindness” from Higgins. Cukor uses light and shadow effectively in both films to convey emotional highs and lows and relationship tension. When Eliza bursts into tears Cukor uses a downward angle camera shot and shadow to enhance the character frailty. When Eliza flares into a rage and throws “them slippers” at Higgins the shadow is reduced and we see more light. The contrast in power and stature between the two characters is reinforced when we see Eliza on the couch and Higgins standing tall behind the couch.
  5. During the Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals men were depicted on screen as strong and in control of situations, protecting their loved ones. They were romantic and respectful of women. There was courtship between men and women. This was part of a code of conduct clearly defined in the movies. As we reached the 1960s things started to become more liberal. There were not as many boundaries in relation to the way violence, race, language and sexuality was played out on film. We were exposed to more options; bisexuality and homosexuality for example. Hence, there were new characters in film and a wider array of mannerisms and expressions that actors could explore in their work. Both clips are centred on the idea of an individual voicing his view and opinions to a group of people. He has an agenda and does not hesitate to communicate it to the public. He is almost like a public speaker on a soapbox.
  6. This clip has the old backstage musical theme, the idea of ‘putting on a show’, which was prominent at the very beginning of Hollywood musicals. However, it has a more outlandish appearance. The children come across as precocious with their over-the-top costumes and singing. It is more aggressive and confronting than what we have seen before in the movies. Rosalind Russell has a well-projected, commanding way of portraying Mama Rose. You can clearly see that she is theatrically trained as she gives her all and has nothing to hide. There is not much subtlety or softness in her character. The lyrics are show offy. “I will do some kicks, I will do some tricks” has a slightly provocative tone. The children are in a very adult world being pushed very hard. The choreography and costumes seem very unnatural and give me an uneasy feeling. You can tell we’re in the 1960s where more ideas are being tested and the coding is not as strict.
  7. An American in Paris appears quite stylised throughout the entire film. Hence, there is continuity. It is very artistic with an expansive colour palate and very specific colour choices for each scene. Everything links together and is integrated in a way that makes sense artistically. Jerry Mulligan is somewhat cocky, bossy and rude in this scene, yet we sympathise with him because he is a poor, struggling artist. He is trying to assert and prove himself in a world in which his work has not been recognised. He is substituting weakness with dominance. It is difficult to unlike him when he just wants to get ahead like any common man.
  8. Before O’Connor and Kelly segue into dancing they are in fairly casual standing positions. O’Connor has his arms folded in a relaxed way and Kelly has his hands in his pockets and chest more expanded. This body language helps to define their characters. O’Connor’s character is more in the background as a piano accompanist where as Kelly’s character is in the foreground of the public eye as a movie actor. When O’Connor and Kelly dance they are very powerful, dynamic, energetic and in sync with each other. It is so exciting to watch. O’Connor appears lighter and springier in his dancing style than Kelly who is strong and somewhat heavy. The Professor is stiff and proper with an eccentric passion for what he knows – the art of speaking and pronunciation. He acts as a contrast to the two younger characters that are more carefree, doing anything that they want; anything that feels right in the moment. There are three different portrayals of masculinity in this clip. The Professor represents a man of duty with rules to follow. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) reflects characteristics of the Alpha Male who is strong and assertive. Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) is not quite as dominant as Lockwood and represents a slightly more subservient type male.
  9. I think Calamity Jane was portrayed on screen to challenge the feminine stereotype and also define the essential characteristics a woman must have in order to survive socially in the 1950s. She is not your typical dutiful housewife; she is strong, skilful and independent and very capable of being involved in the “Man’s World”. When she softens and lets her guard down emotionally, Bill Hickok realises that he has been in love with her all along. Hence, it is communicated that a woman should intrinsically display her kindness, compassion and emotional vulnerability on the pathway to finding love. This role suited Doris Day to a tee. I saw one of her interviews on YouTube where she recalled that as a child she had both boy and girl tendencies – she would participate in sports but she also loved to play with dolls. I think she was able to bring this nature to the character of Calamity Jane and display both masculine and feminine energy. She was at the height of her career in this motion picture. I think this role brought out the best in Doris Day, it showed her versatility as an actress and singer. She trained very hard for the role too which is evident in her performance.
  10. During the first verse, the characters alternate in singing each line of the song. Each character has their opportunity to contribute to the key idea of “entertainment”. The second verse is mostly sung by all four characters together. They have cemented their ideas on what entertainment can be. Cohesiveness is displayed. Earlier musicals tended to show a character singing a whole verse on their own – there was more focus on individualism. The costuming is very conventional and practical, showing all four characters in standard day wear of the decade. There are no really bright colours to make characters stand out on their own. The characters are relating to each other as a team. They are active in contribution and listening. We see each character doing the same choreography in a single line. The camera stays focused on all four characters together and does not once move to a close up shot of an individual character.
  11. Petunia is at Joe’s bedside for the first half of the song Happiness is a Thing Called Joe. It is filmed using a close up shot to emphasise the relationship between Petunia and Joe. The focus is on Petunia. Her deep love for her husband is displayed through her facial expressions. She is smiling not just with her mouth but with her eyes as well. When the number transitions to an outdoor setting, Petunia is taking washing off the line while her husband is sitting in a chair, relaxing and recuperating. Petunia’s role as a wife is clearly defined – she is displaying care, affection and support towards her husband whilst doing the house work. The whole number is really sensitively performed and shows that Petunia is there for her husband through thick and thin. I think it would be performed in a very similar way if she was singing about her child. A woman wants the best for both her husband and child. She will display tenderness and compassion as both a mother and wife. This film would have been a game-changer for movie audiences in the 1940s. It would have encouraged the public to view culture and humanity from wider perspective.
  12. The scene opens and we see the walls on each side of a stadium corridor. Dennis walks out of a side room and is witnessed to Shirley at the end of the corridor acting like a third wall. There is limited space and Dennis cannot avoid meeting her and so he is somewhat trapped. We see Dennis running the other way, out of the corridor, into the open and through the stadium benches to try and escape the clutches of Shirley. Shirley calls out “hey” to grab his attention and then begins singing. The musical number fits perfectly into this scene as a way exaggerate the opposing feelings of the characters. There is contrast between space and intimacy - you see large landscape shots with the stadium benches in view and you see close up shots like when Shirley is “knocking at our door”.
  13. The Wizard of Oz was the first Judy Garland film I watched. I was completely in awe of Garland’s warm voice, her radiant eyes, her beauty and naturalness. I have been a Judy Garland fan for 10 years and have watched all of her films. She is my idol – a magnetic performer and true entertainer. Also, Judy Garland did indeed play the piano, hence why she made it look so real in For Me and My Gal. As a child she was taught how to play the piano by her mum, Ethel Gumm. Playing the piano was a pleasurable pastime for Garland, something which was very personal and private that she did not want to include in her act.
  14. This clip conveys the patriotic style from the get-go. It is all set up in a way to show the ideals of the American Dream. We see Cohan and the Butler making their way up the stairs, alluding optimism. The downward camera angle gives us the perspective of moving onwards and upwards beyond the terrors of war. There are large portraits of American Presidents which establishes a sense of nobility. The White House appears very homely with pictures, flowers, plants, furniture, fireplace etc. The first shot we see in the flashback is of an American flag. The dialogue supports the scene design. Although the Butler is supposed to be off duty he wants to meet Cohan out of sheer respect. He tells Cohan that the song Grand Old Flag is “just as good today as it ever was.” President Roosevelt makes Cohan feel completely welcome saying “we understand each other perfectly” and that Cohan’s “love of country” is a “great quality”. Cohan is depicted as a very patriotic person who has been busy “telling other 47 states” that America is a great country. These phrases reflect the sense of American unity – working together for the greater good. The flashback technique effectively conveys Cohan’s lifespan and the White House scene gives the plot a sense of importance and drama. If the movie began with the parade it might have established a more light-hearted and theatrical style to the movie.
  15. Happy Birthday to the superlative Judy Garland! Born 96 years ago on the 10th of June in 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. What are some of your favourite Judy Garland movies? Top 5 for me would include The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, In the Good Old Summertime and Little Nellie Kelly. Here is the link to a YouTube video tribute I made to Judy Garland a few years ago to the Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl, because you can enjoy her movies all year round! Judy Garland - a "Calendar Girl"
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