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About tnmorgen

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  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? If Barbra had belted the song in the movie, I think the scene would be compromised. She gave it just enough volume, a lot of texture and emotion. That's what the scene needed.
  2. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) Gaslight is more hazy in the background scenes. The action is more front and center. In this film the background is more a character - more present - than in Gaslight. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. The camera angles and closeups. How Harrison moves in the scene toward Eliza, and the camera takes them both in. But the scene is very much a 4th wall situation - everything faces the front. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? How the camera contains them both in each scene. When she is against the wall, while Higgins is extolling (before this cut) and she shrinks against the wall. He is very much the center. His ego is more important than hers.
  3. 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? Drag, swish, and svelte. Men can dress in drag and be masculine. Men can swish and be gay. And men can be svelte instead of muscular. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? His song timing. In "Music Man" his timing is more defined by the song as written, while in "Victor/Victoria" the number is more responsive to the audience as well as the music. The timing is -- gallumping - in the second number. Not the right word, but words escape me due to a neurological disorder, so it's as close as I can come. And it is not insulting... It means more that the second number trills, rests, then trills, rests. then trills and rests again. It's timing. And his performance is excelent in both pieces. The "Trouble in River City" number gives me goose-bumps! 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? Yes, I've seen him as a hard-knock, gritty criminal. His presence is always supportive to others on stage/screen, meaning he doesn't take up too much room. Yet his presence is felt, as would his absence be felt. He gives other performers the leg they need to stand on.
  4. 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 back to vaudeville, and the backstage musical. It also looks at how acts were favorited - or given partiality - which was mirrored in the "payola" scandal in radio. 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. She's, loud, brash, and has incredible stage presence. She upstages and takes over. It's like she's the star, not the kids. 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). I never noticed any subversiveness in the lyrics of the song. I saw this film in first-run as a child. The staging was pure vaudeville. Return to top
  5. Would people be interested in a class about gender representations of the female in the movies? Since the American Studios seemed to be the only ones left after WWII, perhaps we could look at how the feminine expectations set us up for the #metoo movement, and other questions of gender.
  6. 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? Only if it's done as a statement. I think the contrast is helpful to express emotion and internal growth or dialogue. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? Partly his clothes, being casual but clean. He may not be likeable, but he is logical. The logic is approachable and understandable.
  7. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? The hand slapping on the desk is one way their behaviors pre-dance compare to their dance movements. They also have a rhythmic line of singing which sets up the dance rhythm Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. Yes, I did. He looks incredulous, and not appreciative. It must be hard to keep a straight face and play along like that. He obviously could not dance the same way - even a little bit. He had to lean on Gene Kelly as they were moving from the window to the first chair, which might be a trust issue, but he got through it fine. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Don and Cosmo are masculine, while the instructor is less so. Cosmo, being the beta male, is less masculine than Don. But we know the history of Don and Cosmo as buddies from childhood, and while Cosmo might be the brains of the operation, Don is the face of it.
  8. I'm not a professional dancer. BUT - As an observer, I'd say that Astaire's build was slighter than Kelly's. Kelly makes the dances look easy, while Astaire makes them precisioned perfection. Kelly is more fluid in his movements, perhaps because he leans forward more, uses his torso more Astaire does remain more upright, but that has to do with build as well as style/training. Both are fabulous no matter what.
  9. This is also one of my favorites. It wasn't until this class that I found out Oscar Levant wasn't a concert pianist. And the ballet segment near the end of the film makes me think that Gene and Leslie were really in love. Gene Kelly's dancing is always so fluid, powerful, and expressive, that I love watching him. I especially like the ballet segment where he's dressed like the black dancer from the Moulin Rouge. I always drop whatever I'm doing to watch him. Thank you for bringing up the topic and sharing your insights.
  10. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? This is a film of conforming and fitting in to the expected. Calamity Jane stands out and doesn't fit in. She must conform to get what she wants, which is her love, Bill Hickock. That means she must become submissive and feminine, just as women were expected to be submissive and feminine after the war. Women were expected to return to the home, not continue working. And to be too "tomboyish" was frowned upon. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? When I think of how few pictures she made before this and the volume of work after, I'm amazed at the opportunities she was afforded. She played with some of the top male performers of the day in short order. It's almost like "My Dream is Yours" was her life story. She popped up and ran! She matures slightly, and her comedic tendencies come out later in her performances, but I think that's more due to scripting than her innate abilities, although her comedic timing is great. 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 her sunny persona added to the character. If she'd been a serious performer or one with less sun in her sunniness, I don't think Calamity Jane would have been as popular a film, nor would she have given such a wonderful performance. By being sunny and happy or bubbly, she makes the character attractive. She's a great foil for Howard Keel, who is one of my favorites.
  11. 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? The camera work is close in the beginning. Everyone is in one spot on stage and it's very much a "stage" in that there is an unbroken 4th wall. The actors are bunched in one area and the camera work is close. I want to say that there was only one camera at first, but maybe there were two. This is while Astaire is in the chair. The other actors are all performing to him. Later, as they break into the dance, the performance is again "straight on" like a stage. The interaction is that they play off each other. I even heard a laugh during the "one foot up" routine part of the dance. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. The British actor is in blue, but everyone else is subdued in gray or black. Even Nanette Fabray's dress is gray and white in a pattern. The costumes are subdued. This adds a cohesiveness against the red of the sets. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? Nanette doesn't handle Levant the same as the other two men (hand holding) who is playing her husband. It's like he isn't as important in that moment - as they are both in it for their team (marriage) while the other two actors are being "sold on" the idea.
  12. I did a little bit of historical costuming for street theater, and these are historical costumes of the era. I love looking at clothes through the lens of history because we see how women were expected to behave - what the expectations and *class* of the person/character were, by the clothes they wore.
  13. 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? "Little Joe" is that he's probably immature. She takes care of him as if he were a child. She nutures him, supports him and gives her all for him. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? She's already treating him like a child while he's healing. She's the responsible one. The song wouldn't change much but the cultural meaning might. Likely if he *were* a child, his irresponsibility would be more acceptable. As a gambler, he's not much of a partner. He's more a drain. 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've always loved "Cabin in the Sky" as a musical. I love the black musical performers of the era. I think the film is particularly important because it records for all time the performers and their abilities. It is a shame that there are not more films by black performers. I think the stereotypes are one thing, but real stories would be better.
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