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About aheadbyecho

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  1. How did this never dawn on me before? I had always believed that credits went in descending order in regards to the most important character in the movie to the least most important character in the movie.
  2. I could have watched an entire film featuring only Rex Ingram and his motley crew from the Hotel Hades. They were not only comical but they were witty as well. One aside that I loved came from Ingram as Lucifer, Jr (just that name alone is funny) when he said, “All the A-Idea boys are over in Europe,” a sly, sharp statement about Hitler and his minions indicating they were part of Satan’s crew, which, in context of the film makes perfect sense). When Mantan Moreland (credited as “First Idea Man”) stated he created flies, it was priceless because flies are endlessly annoying and the script is implying that Lucifer doesn’t just traffic in evil, he handles annoyance as well. (Of course, this is Lucifer Junior so perhaps he and his crew don’t get to play with evil so much, leaving that to Lucifer Senior, and only get a shot at things like annoying, pestering and irritating things.) These guys could have used far more screen time! Black men and women both volunteered for World War II and their presence was welcomed. The problem came upon returning home to the US. After being granted what appeared equal status on the battlefield, once back home they were disheartened to discover virtually nothing had changed for them back in the US. After offering up their lives in the war, they came home to the US where they were still denied equal rights as American citizens.
  3. These two guys are indeed fantastic and they've been dancing as a duo forever. The first film they appear in is 1932's short film (which also features Nina Mae McKinney who we saw in Hallelujah) Pie, Pie Blackbird. Fayard is 18 while Harold is all of 11. I'm uncertain whether that short can be found on the internet, but if you can track down the Warner Bros DVD of Cabin In The Sky you'll find that short along with the very excellent The Black Network short which also features the Nicholas Brothers (and Nina Mae McKinney). I had no idea this clip came from Stormy Weather, which I've bypassed at my local library for the past two weeks! (It's tough to squeeze in movies not in this course while watching the endless list appearing on TCM this month.) I've seen this clip before, but thanks for posting it here!
  4. I'm glad you were so bold! I had never seen On The Town or Take Me Out To The Ball Game and I was wowed by Garrett in both films. I really enjoy "Come Up To My Place" because it doesn't necessarily sound like the typical musical song. Also housing the song inside a taxi cab felt quite creative as well. Now I will say that seeing her do the same type of character in a third movie (the clip from Neptune's Daughter you included) seems to indicate Garrett was seriously typecast as the aggressive comedic woman but that seems to be standard operating procedure for this era, no one had a chance to change their style or their range. I'd love to have seen her in a more dramatic role to understand her range. I've never seen Sinatra in anything beyond the two films mentioned and I've enjoyed seeing him through the 1940s lens instead of the modern day lens with all the baggage that comes with any amount of knowledge of Sinatra. Sinatra as a skinny, timid guy isn't anything I would have guessed or anticipated!
  5. Excellent observation! I'm not familiar enough with the studios and their styles to to know if it is sloppy (or lazy or cheap) but it does make perfect sense. I'll agree that this is a lesser film in comparison to many that I have been watching recently.
  6. Until this past weekend I had only seen one Judy Garland movie and we all know which one it was. Keep in mind, I’ve seen very few musicals in my lifetime. Since Thursday of last week, I have managed to see the following Judy Garland films: Meet Me In St Louis, The Clock (I had to see her in a non-musical and I’m a little neurotic about chronological order plus I’m seeing my first Vicente Minnelli films this past week as well over at Filmstruck), Strike Up The Band, For Me and My Gal, The Pirate and Easter Parade. Yesterday I hit up my local library so I have sitting on my desk a copy of The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection (every list I read mentions Babes On Broadway and Babes In Arms), A Star Is Born and Rainbow (a book collecting various newspaper/ magazine articles throughout the years which moves chronologically through her career; I need background information because, believe it or not, I know next to nothing about her—anyone wanting to recommend a solid bio I’ll be more than happy to investigate it). Obviously, I’ve been impressed by her! When I signed up for a musical class more than one person who knew me expressed surprise. I see a lot of movies (a bare minimum of one a day) and I’ve investigated a lot of genres (my preference is foreign language which isn’t a genre, but you get the picture) but rarely do I take time to see musicals. I blame Paint Your Wagon which I paid to see in a theatre. Anyhow when I decided to take this course I knew it would force me to do at least two things I have long avoided: get me to see a second Judy Garland movie and force me to confront Yankee Doodle Dandy (I know that Garland isn’t in that) two things I’ve long stayed away from. It’s a shame I waited so long in my lifetime to watch Meet Me In St Louis because it is a fabulous movie. It felt quite authentic in terms of believing this was a family—the scene where Mary Astor quells the argument she and Leon Ames are having by playing ‘their’ song which brings the family out of hiding, Agnes’ donning of Dad’s shoes in the opening minutes, Tootie’s obsession with dead and ghoulish things (and parents who didn’t think that was weird or wrong) culminating in her claim that she would need a week digging up her dead dolls in her doll graveyard; of course the dinner scene where everyone but Dad knows that the phone call will be coming for Rose (and Tootie’s response) even Dad’s threatening to leave Katie the maid behind when they go to NYC. It feels real and it also feels like classic Hollywood in the most perfect way. I’ve always believed that Garland was more singer than an actress and could I have been more wrong? She is equally adept at both making her a consummate musical actress (which you all knew long before I discovered it this past weekend). That scene where Esther asks John Truett to help her turn out the lights, she is trying so hard to get him to think that he really should try to give her a kiss and it just doesn’t pan out. I could feel both her anticipation and her annoyance. Her relationship with Tootie feels so right. The scene where she sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is an absolute highlight and one that will play through my head this coming Christmas whenever I hear that song. The Clock was absolutely charming and proved she doesn’t need songs to hide behind. I was completely convinced by her performance that she was in love with Joe Allen the soldier, even after only one day together. The wordless scene on the second day where she is determining what he takes in his coffee is close to perfect as is her response to the ugliness of a certain event (no spoilers here). I did think some of her performance in The Pirate was over the top, but then who’s wasn’t in that movie? And more importantly, it always worked! I didn’t realize that she worked in comedy as easily as she does. In Easter Parade her facial expressions in “A Couple of Swells” weren’t ridiculous or excessive, her eyes alone as she walks onto the stage behind Astaire in that song let me know I needed to watch her and not him so when I finally did watch Astaire I realized I was far more rewarded watching Garland. Honestly, the class has more than tripled my expectations in just what I’ve witnessed in watching Judy Garland movies. I certainly didn’t anticipate converting to a Judy Garland fan but that’s how fantastic she is, right? Now, if only I can get through Yankee Doodle Dandy, win or lose, this class will long remain a favorite summer memory! (Let me add one more thing, last night I finally broke down and watched On The Town, another film I’ve long avoided and I could add another page on why I thoroughly loved this movie. And darn you HUAC for ruining Betty Garrett’s big screen film career!)
  7. If you have a subscription to Filmstruck, they have a considerable amount of Tuesday's films showing this week. They currently have the following collections ready to view: The Brilliance of Busby Berkeley (including Strike Up The Band, For Me and My Gal and Take Me Out To The Ball Game), Directed by Vincente Minnelli (including Cabin In The Sky, Meet Me In St Louis and The Pirate) and Star of The Week: Gene Kelly (including On The Town). You can also find Easter Parade on Filmstruck as well. You'll find several of the selections from the 19th of June on Filmstruck as well. I mention this in case there are subscribers out there who, like me, can't necessarily fit 12 movies in their crazy schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays but who want to see as many as possible during the week we are studying the 1940s, then the the '50s, etc.
  8. 1. Regarding this scene, for me, the fact that both of them are dressed in pants and a coat indicates that the audience needs to see them as equals, which may have been difficult for men in the 1930s. The film revolves around Dale Tremont’s mistake that she believes Jerry Travers, Broadway show dancer, is actually Horace Hardwick, the producer of Mr Travers’ Broadway shows. Her dismay is compounded by two things: she believes she can easily fall in love with Jerry Travers who she thinks is Horace, secondly, she can’t understand why Horace’s wife is so unperturbed by her husband not just flirting but proposing marriage to her. In that respect she’s functioning under the impression that he and his wife are a more modern couple than is normal for that era which puts her in a battle with her own sex—ie: the wife’s liberal views towards marriage versus her own. (Again, we know she has the characters mixed up, but she doesn’t.) 2. This may be a screwball/romantic comedy but there is still a huge difference between an Astaire/Rodgers film vs everyone else’s movies of that era. There is romance, but there isn’t any kissing, any typical displays of affect between Ginger and Fred. As Katherine Hepburn said, “Astaire gives Rogers class and Rogers gives Astaire sex.” Astaire didn’t want to kiss Rogers on screen because he felt that the dance routines were the intimacy, the kiss, the ultimate form of making love and I think he was correct. It has always seemed to me that those who felt the lack of a kiss, a romantic kiss, also fail to understand the metaphor behind these dance routines. 3. One of the big reasons for the change in roles between the women and the men is the depression. During the depression everyone who could work did work (or tried to find some kind of work). The Depression was the great equalizer in that it didn’t care what sex you were, you were struggling and both men and women were looking for ways to make money to bring into their home. That changes people’s perceptions going into the movie, so the movies had to begin looking at different ways to portray people as well as the battle of the sexes. And sometimes, despite our inability to see things through the window of the era, it is still there. We may not always be able to see the differences between men and women in an era 83 years ago, but it is there. And the more we learn, the better we can see it.
  9. I’ve never seen any of Nelson Eddy/ Jeanette MacDonald’s work together. I’ve actually avoided their work together because I’ve always had the impression that Nelson was way too staid and stiff. And now, watching this clip I see immediately that there is chemistry between the two of them. MacDonald’s attitude towards Eddy is comical disinterest, she has her mind on that Italian tenor at least until she hears Eddy sing. Judging by her facial expressions she certainly didn’t expect to hear that voice coming out of that man. That clip makes me actually want to see this movie! (The whole point of me taking this class was to introduce me to a genre of film I have ignored. And if a brief clip of stiff Nelson Eddy and his joke about Maude makes me reconsider watching Nelson Eddy-Jeanette MacDonald movies, then it has already been a success for me.) Their humor towards one another seems to be standard (at least in comedies) for movies of this era. One of them is aloof while the other has the making of dreamboats in his/her eyes and scene by scene things slowly begin to change. There always has to be some type of conflict between a man and a woman who will be romantically inclined by the film’s end. The conflict is slowly whittled away through action and deeds, as in this scene where Eddy will no doubt be providing support to MacDonald for showing strength and resolute in a bar full of people who don’t care to listen to a specific type of singing. Slowly but surely they will end up together, after all, happy endings are generally expected for couples in this era. (And again, I'm making a generalization because I expect things to always be happy at the end of a musical.)
  10. 1. Attending the show where Ms Held is performing is something few in the movie audience would have been able to afford, let alone the five pound tip (close to $7 in US money) Ziegfeld gives to the doorman, never mind leaving a bouquet of orchids to someone. Those actions certainly reflect a ‘life is grand’ theme which the audience at the time wouldn’t necessarily have felt. 2. While sometimes it is helpful seeing films about those less fortunate than ourselves (it helps us to see that our own life isn’t as bad as that up on the screen) in the era of the Depression seeing the opulent and the wealthy allowed us to entertain fantasies about how we might be if only we could catch that lucky break. Of course, there are plenty of Depression era musicals where catching that lucky break is the entire theme—writing that certain song that would be enough to build a musical around or becoming the lead dancer. Seeing those more fortunate than us and their frivolities lets us forget about all those unpaid bills or the boss breathing down our back as the deadline comes closer, etc. 3. Backstage in a pre-code might have had more people (specifically women) in various states of undress while the lyrics might have been filled with more risqué double entendres. Would the real details of Zeigfeld and Held’s relationship have been revealed? That all depends on what the filmmaker was looking for: greater laughs or greater drama.
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