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  1. There's a website that can help you with distinguishing between the two cinematic eras: http://pre-code.com/ Check it out- you'll have a grand old time there! By the way, some concrete examples of Pre-Code movies that wouldn't/couldn't have been made in the Code's heyday include Baby Face (1933), Freaks (1932), The Story Of Temple Drake (1933), Scarface (1932), Night Nurse (1931), The Black Cat (1934), Three On A Match (1932), Smarty (1934), Safe In Hell (1931), Red Headed Woman (1932), Murder At The Vanities (1934) Gabriel Over The White House (1933), Island Of Lost Souls (1932), I Am Suzanne! (1933), The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1932), Wild Boys Of The Road (1933), I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang (1932), Heroes For Sale (1933), Employees' Entrance (1933), Skyscraper Souls (1932), Search For Beauty (1934), Blonde Venus (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Call Her Savage (1932), The Miracle Woman (1931), The Scarlet Empress (1934), The Lost Patrol (1934), Queen Christina (1933), The Sign Of The Cross (1932), I'm No Angel (1933), The Song Of Songs (1933), Murders In The Zoo (1933), The Sin Of Nora Moran (1933), Bombshell (1933) The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and Jewel Robbery (1932).
  2. 1. The Great Ziegfeld definitely prefers escapism over reality. This isn't surprising as Hollywood offered escapism during the Great Depression, a time when many people flocked to movie theaters to escape from their depressing reality. The film seems streamed from an alternate universe where everyone is beautiful and morally difficult dilemmas are replaced with easy-to-solve problems with inconsequential solutions: Louise Rainer going with William Powell is the perfect solution here since he is the main character, and in escapist land, likable main characters are the center of the universe. 2. I anticipate a capitalistic message in Depression musicals- that if you work hard enough, you can earn not only your dreams but also money as well, thus implying that the system wasn't completely broken. Another theme I sense in Depression musicals is that life is simple and carefree- everyone is gorgeously clothed in costumes with bright lights illuminating their beauty and no real worries are to be found in this alternate reality. You don't see bureaucratic abuse, human flaws or devastating death in this type of movie as it would be depressing to the audience. Instead, you see innocents maintaining their purity and society being morally simplified instead of being morally complex. There are no worries in this type of movie, but only pure fantasy where everything goes right for the characters; dreams are fulfilled here instead of being amended or crushed. 3. Almost every post mentions that had The Great Ziegfeld been made back in the Pre-Code Era, sex would have been directly implied and that Louise Rainer would have been showing more cleavage/skin. What I notice is that the female character doesn't have much power as her suitors have over her; Held is shown to be illiterate in English, easily impressionable, and much more demure in both appearance and decision-making. In a Pre-Code movie, the female character would have been the world-weary lead, both outsmarting and seducing her male costars. Take Gold Diggers Of 1933, for example- where it is told from the gold digger's point of view. It is the women that have problems, take action on their dilemmas, solve their predicaments, and earn their happy ending all while retaining their femininity as well as their street smart survival skills. In an immediate Post-Code movie, women rarely had juicy roles that explored not only their sexuality but also their struggle to survive in a cynical environment. Held isn't the story's focus, but is instead an object for Ziegfeld and Billings to gain as part of their enterprise. What this movie's saying is that women aren't capable of making their own decisions independently from men, but they have to be taken advantage of instead. The code neutered the complexity of feminine characters to the point that they became objects/obstacles for men to obtain instead.
  3. Least Favorite Cinematic Musical: Moulin Rouge! (2001) It's a nauseating experience that's not only pretentious but unintentionally ridiculous; also filled to the brim with actors who can't sing or dance, unbearable editing, insultingly cliched storytelling, and terrible directing. I never cared for Baz Luhrmann's films- his legitimately nonsensical films give a terrible name to artistically inspiring movies everywhere. His entire filmography destroys something I love by replacing its soul with frenetic bombast and suffocating attempts at being hip with audiences: Romeo + Juliet spat at William Shakespeare's grave by not understanding his immortal love story, Strictly Ballroom defecated upon feminine films by recycling laughable cliches, and The Great Gatsby forever ruined my reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel by unintentionally highlighting all the negative aspects that I despise, such as its sexism. However, Moulin Rouge hurled a nuclear weapon at two of my loves: musicals and Impressionism/Post-Impressionism art; at least, his other films never dared to insult more than one passion of mine at the same time! This is seriously one of my least favorite films of all time to the point that I internally scream with revulsion each time someone mentions its hideous name in my presence.
  4. Since I like to complain about really terrible movies, I decided to throw in my two cents on the subject of least favorite musicals! First, I'll react to the comments because I do find them both revelatory, amusing and entertaining to read. I'm sorry if I break someone's heart with my opinions, but I do agree with some of my fellow cinephiles's complaints. Ah, Holly Dolly! The very same musical that ended the bankability of old-school musicals! I actually have never seen it aside from clips of it in Wall-E, aka my favorite Pixar movie. Unlike WALL-E, I'm not entranced by Holly Dolly because it sounds like nails being scratched on a chalkboard. Thankfully, I did happen to encounter a hilarious skewering of it on a fellow blogger's blog; here it is for your reading pleasure: http://myloveofoldhollywood.blogspot.com/2012/08/hello-dolly-1969-gene-kelly-blogathon.html I'm genuinely heartbroken that they had to sedate the cat in order to film the sequence. Animals should never be purposefully harmed for anyone's entertainment, especially when you can achieve the same effect using animation or special effects. I truly hope that the cat turned out to be alright. We can all agree that Gigi's opening song hasn't aged well in today's #MeToo climate.... ? Fun story: I used to like Bye Bye Birdie before I too was involved in a stage production of it. While I did have a blast acting it - I was in middle school when I played the mayor, I grew less fond of the book as we rehearsed it. Some of my fellow actors had great difficulty relating to the characters or to the attitude of the time. We were true troopers and managed to deliver a great production [for a middle school production], so thankfully I look back on it with pride even though I too really don't like the show that much nowadays. I wish I can write offensive language here because I despise Grease, especially with its pregnancy cop-out and horrific sexism. I don't understand why Grease has become a cult classic as I hate it with a burning passion. However, since I'm stronger than Grease, I won't resort to using foul language whilst describing that truly awful pile of garbage. While Pauliene Kael would vehemently stand up for Sophia Loren's performance in Man of La Mancha, I can't defend Russell Crowe's terrible performance nor can I fathom why The Wiz turned out to be a terrible film adaptation! I agree with SueK's sentiment: Hollywood, please DO NOT place star names above everything else! Your production will greatly suffer from it! All three films are ruined by exploiting star power over using creativity- I personally think Man of La Mancha is the least awful adaptation of the three because it wasn't as pretentious or boring as the other two were. I'm in fact reading Man of La Mancha's book because the movie piqued my interest. However, as a fan of both The Wiz and Les Miserables, I'm horrified by the completely awful travesties that Hollywood did to them! I need to take a momentarily break before I can sanely reveal my least favorite musical...
  5. Whenever I want to re-watch a movie, it's almost always a musical that I'm first drawn to. Musicals make me ecstatic to be alive, which is great news for me since I suffer from chronic depression. Their bright colors, their childlike optimism, their charming leads, their toe-tapping rhythms, their outrageously delightful stories.... what else can't a musical bring to the table!?! A great musical always brings a smile to my face! Since I now have little nieces and nephews, I'll be throwing on a lot of musicals for them to watch/hopefully enjoy. This means that I'll be given another chance to revisit some old favorites: Love Me Tonight (1932), Footlight Parade (1933), Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933), The Wizard Of Oz (1939), Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), On The Town (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), Singin' In The Rain (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Band Wagon (1953), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), Artists And Models (1955), The Sound Of Music (1965), Yellow Submarine (1968), Donkey Skin (1970), and Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971). If I could only choose one film out of that list, I'd eagerly pick The Wizard Of Oz as not only my all-time favorite musical, but also as my all-time favorite film! I just love everything about it ever since I first saw it as a youngster, and I have watched it a million times since then. It's just a perfect masterpiece that fits every mood I'm in. If I want to snark like a teenager, there it is. If I want to be carried away into a fantasy land, there it is. If I want to be reminded of reality, there it is. I just love it so much that I'll probably watch it a million more times!
  6. I personally would add Frank Tashlin's comedic musicals into this retrospective as his candy-colored delights are both well-crafted satires and entertainingly respectful tributes; notice how The Girl Can't Help It loves the musicians whilst making fun of the industry at the same time! Another addition that I would make would be showcasing some more recent musicals that either deconstruct the genre [Pennies From Heaven, Dancer In The Dark], radicalize the genre into being countercultural [The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop Of Horrors], exploit the genre by not understanding its charms [Moulin Rouge!, Phantom Of The Opera] or revitalize the genre into a loving tribute [Chicago, La La Land]. I would also add in Jacques Demy's musicals as they perfectly capture the moviegoing experience with their flamboyant colors and emotional attachment; see The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg and Donkey Skin if you don't believe me. Bollywood musicals are their entire genre altogether - maybe TCM should do a course on those to expose more people to that completely different universe.
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