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Posts posted by kobidor

  1. Beautiful performance. Barbra Streisand really is so talented! 

    I really like the way that she performs this song. She does belt a portion of the song, but the ebb and flow of the song works well for the production. She is "speaking" to somebody through the song, and while belting it out might work on stage because the audience is in the room, in a film it comes across a little bit strange. It feels like she is talking to him, and allowing her more vulnerable side to come out. I also love the way it's filmed, with him looking on in the background. This is her chance to explain to him, but he's still back there, listening to her. I love the way it puts her in the spotlight without losing the thread of the plot.

  2. I really like the way that Cukor lets the emotions breathe in the scene. It's tempting to cut away quickly, because it can be uncomfortable to watch somebody who is so upset, and somebody else who is so obtuse, but he really allows the actors in the scene to marinate in their emotions. In particular, Hepburn's distress is obvious. I also love to watch it shift from despair to rage and back again, and while that certainly speaks to Hepburn's talent, it also speaks to Cukor's talent as a director, and understanding of the character. It reminds me of yesterday's Daily Dose from two Robert Preston films; there is a similar nuance to the characters in play here as there are in "The Music Man" and "Victor/Victoria." 

  3. Oh my gosh, two fantastic movies, both of which were formative films for me! "Victor/Victoria" is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time! 

    In watching these two clips back-to-back, I notice that Harold and Toddy are both performing for an audience in the clips, and in both roles, he does such a great job connecting with his audience; in turn, it helps him connect to the film's audience. I also notice that Preston is definitely a commanding presence in both clips, but he's more forceful in "The Music Man," in a traditional alpha male way, while he's a little more laid back in "Victor/Victoria." There's definitely a traditional masculinity in both roles. I've always liked that Toddy isn't the stereotypical swishy gay man; it's important to see a range of LGBTQ+ characters in movies, and Toddy felt ahead of his time by being a more traditionally masculine character. 

    Both Harold and Toddy end up being likable characters because of Preston's nuanced performances, too. Harold, in particular, is a terrible person (and while Toddy is much warmer and a better person, he can be pretty catty), but Preston makes the characters understandable and sympathetic. 

  4. There is definitely a grittiness to this clip that we haven't seen in other backstage musicals. Even though the film resembles, on the surface, a traditional musical in the older style, we can quickly see that it's quite different. It doesn't have the same type of gloss, and feels more realistic than the musicals that came before. 

    I just really enjoyed Rosalind Russell sweeping in and taking over. She just takes charge and steals the scene! 

  5. I kind of love when a musical goes into a more stylized sequence. Musicals themselves are stylized and not generally too realistic, since people who burst into song to comment on the action of their lives don't have an orchestra and kick line backing them up. (My husband used to say that "nobody bursts into song like people do in musicals," but he's lived with me long enough to know that's not true.) Part of my love of those sequences may be that several of my favorite musicals from my early days had those types of sequences, though. I suppose it just feels like that's the way that they're supposed to be.

    I really think that Gene Kelly is just one of those guys who can play a lovable jerk. He's not particularly nice in this clip, but he's also just self-deprecating enough to come across as charming (like his remark that she can come back tomorrow to get the painting, since it will likely definitely still be there). It doesn't hurt that he's handsome and graceful, but also a little bit laid back. He has an ease of movement and of mannerisms that softens his meanness and makes you forget (or ignore) his barbs. 

    Also, I have to say that I kind of missed the music the first time I watched this clip, just because it was so well-integrated into what Kelly was doing on the screen. It just works so well together - it's beautiful!

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  6. 8 hours ago, BookishLes said:

    Rather than comment on the clip, I have to comment on the discussions about “masculinity.” This points to uncomfortable reactions to movies by viewers - they mistake artifice for reality. These stereotypes of masculinity ought to be retired. I am bothered that in the 21st century, qualities like “leadership,”  and “power” are seen as more masculine.  Really? Alpha and beta? is this helpful, or even accurate? Most movies lazily work on tropes and stereotypes, narrowing the already narrow conventions of “masculine” and “feminine.”  For me, this is a disturbing aspect whenever watching older movies.  I find Gene Kelly plays basically the same character is most of his movies — womanizing jerk learns to act a bit better through love.  If that makes him more masculine, perhaps we need to retire masculinity.  

    You're right, it's probably better to call it "stereotypical masculine traits." Definitely back in the 1950s (and, unfortunately, still today to some degree), leadership and power is seen as more masculine. Personally, I find the "alpha" and "beta" distinctions helpful (as well as the virgin-w***e dichotomy for women), if imperfect, especially because the narrow conventions of masculinity and femininity were so rigid at this time, and characters fell so perfectly into them so often. I expect when we get to the 1960s-1970s, we're going to see those conventions start to loosen again with women's lib, though the pendulum does tend to swing back to those rigid roles again in reaction.

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  7. I absolutely adore "Singin' in the Rain" - what a delight! 

    First of all, I love the way that they break into this song. They get more and more sing-songy, and then they start bouncing a bit, and, suddenly, it's time for a song! You can see them ramping up for a musical number, but it flows so perfectly. 

    I also like the interplay between all three men, but especially Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. While they're synced up pretty amazingly for most of the number, there are moments where you can see that Kelly is the alpha and O'Connor is the beta in this film - even if you haven't seen the entire film. In particular, I noticed when they are using the curtains as a prop. Kelly is standing and belting out a long leading line, while O'Connor is down on his knee, providing a more rhythmic backbeat. Kelly is clearly the star. Then you put in the professor, who is practically a living prop. He does a great job keeping a straight face and looking perturbed as he's being made fun of, steered around, and having stuff piled on him. 

  8. I really like the contrast of Doris Day's sunny personality with a rougher, tougher character. I have always been a fan of women who mix hard and soft - for example, somebody as classically cute and pretty as Day wearing menswear. There's something fun, and maybe a little bit transgressive, with putting somebody as cute as Day into rougher clothes. It also makes sense that she could morph into a slightly more feminine - but still tomboyish - woman by the end of the movie. 

  9. 13 hours ago, cmannconso said:

    As I was watching the daily dose, it reminded me of the scene in the Producers where they are trying to convince Roger Dupree to make the musical, Springtime for Hitler. I looked for the scene and the song was "Keep it Gay". It has all the color of the band wagon but many more characters. Roger Bart and Jeffrey Cordova both have that aristocratic delivery. The Producers, though not a great movie musical of a great (or at least very fun) Broadway show, is also a time capsule of when it was made of the changing attitudes in America.

    That is a perfect connection! When you get into movie musicals and then go back and watch Brooks' musicals (or movies with music in them), you can see that Mel Brooks is quite the fan of musicals!

    I really like the interplay between the characters, and it's notable because nobody is really the star. They each "star" at different points in this number, tossing the spotlight back and forth to each other. There are several places within this number where they literally pass an object (like a handkerchief) off to each other. It feels very balanced and more natural - like it's a conversation that just happens to be set to music. The costumes help with this as well; everybody is wearing something that reflects their character, and while the colors and patterns speak to each other, they aren't matchy. Still, you can see the blues in the men's outfits speaking to each other, and the blocky pattern of the dress and the menswear-inspired collar of her top reflecting the shapes of the men's outfits. It looks like four people who just happen to be working together, yet they definitely go together. 

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  10. I'm late to the party (I was out of town) but I'm glad to be back and catching up! 

    I loved seeing Petunia really bloom as the film transitioned from her singing at Little Joe's bedside to singing in the yard while doing laundry. She is downright jubilant to be doing the laundry for herself and her husband, even though "sometimes the cabin's gloomy and the table's bare." It's pretty outdated, but that acceptance of proper roles and devotion to your spouse is what the world expected at the time - especially at the time, with the world at war. You fulfilled your role happily. 

    I can see some stereotypes, both of women and of African-Americans, in the clip (and I'm sure they're throughout the movie, which I haven't gotten a chance to watch yet), but I am struck by the fact that there was a film in 1943 (four years after "Gone With the Wind," for context) that featured black characters who weren't maids, slaves, or other stereotypes. It's not perfect, but for its time, it's impressive. I expect that there were African-Americans who were starved enough for representation on the big screen that "Cabin in the Sky," imperfect though it was, felt like a step forward. 

  11. Like many people, the first Judy Garland film I saw was "The Wizard of Oz." (I suspect that was one of the first films I saw, period. It was one of three movies we watched over and over at my grandma's house, along with "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins" - musicals are in my blood.) As a kid, I always thought of her as a kid; it was kind of shocking to me to realize she was an adult in other musicals! I particularly remember being surprised when I found out that Liza Minnelli was her daughter, and seeing Liza in "Cabaret." Dorothy Gale and Sally Bowles seemed like two completely different people who would never be related. However, performances like the clip from "Easter Parade" show a different side of Garland. She is more animated and funnier than she ever got to be in "The Wizard of Oz," and you can see her range on display. The thread that does run through all of her performances, though, is her chemistry with her fellow performers. She was one of those truly gifted actors who can have chemistry with everybody - and probably even inanimate objects. 

    I'm looking forward to diving deeper into Garland's filmography - even though it's sad when you realize she was only 47 when she died. Another wonderful star gone too soon!

  12. One thing I noticed in this clip, even more obviously than the flags, was the nautical theme of the Oval Office. I wonder if it had something to do with the first day of production being the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even though World War II was fought in the air and on the ground as much as it was on the seas, a naval attack would have been in peoples' minds - and, they would hope, on the president's mind. Also, heading up the stairs at the White House, there are lots of portraits of presidents, establishing a sense of American history.

    The dialogue also bears out the patriotism in this musical. For example:

    Cohan: "Always carrying a flag in a parade, or following one."

    Roosevelt: "I hope you haven't outgrown the habit."

    Cohan: "Not a chance." 

    Roosevelt goes on to praise Cohan's Irish roots.

    This dialogue shows the depths of Cohan's patriotism, and the fact that, even though his family isn't from America, he's uniquely and solidly American. Having Roosevelt, from a much more "established" American family (i.e., a family that had been in America for several generations), praise Cohan, the child of an Irish family that isn't as "established" as the Roosevelts, shows that the president values everybody with American values, whether their families have been in America for a long time or not. This is important when trying to recruit soldiers and drum up support for a war. Cohan acts as the everyman in this scenario - and every person can do their part to help the country. 

    I really like the opening in the Oval Office, because it establishes a time and gives some context for why we should care about the action. It also helps establish Cohan as a real person and ties him to the president, which gives his story some weight. Framing a biopic like this is pretty common, and it is a good technique because it establishes who the movie is about and, often, why we should care about this person's life. 

  13. Another great Daily Dose of Delight, with bonus tap numbers in the lecture notes! I would like to officially say that there aren't enough dance numbers in modern movies - especially tap numbers!

    I haven't watched "Top Hat" yet, but in addition to the obvious dance battle aspect, I think that the battle of the sexes comes out in Ginger Rogers' attire. Since her legs aren't covered by a gown, we are able to see that her steps are just as impressive as his. Her outfit is still feminine, but we definitely don't see women in pants very often in the 1930s! I'll be excited to watch the rest of "Top Hat" to see how the gender aspect plays out. 

    I think this clip shows more of the escapism aspect of Depression-era movies, but it also plays to the idea of women's rights. This came out only 15-20 years after World War I and women's suffrage, two historical events that had an impact on women's place in society. I think that this dance number reflects the fact that more women wanted to be treated as equals, since they were now working and voting. 

    However, the screwball comedy genre conventions also play into this number. The idea is that there's inherent comedy in the idea of somebody dressing up and acting like somebody of the other sex. It tends to come up in men dressing as women (think "Some Like It Hot"), but I expect there's something a little bit daring and a little bit funny to see a gorgeous women who would normally be wearing a dress or a gown in pants and a men's style hat. For modern audiences, it isn't such a big deal, since women wear pants more often, but at the time it wasn't common. 

  14. I laughed out loud several times at that clip; I've requested "The Love Parade" from the library too! It's fun to find all of these new old movies to watch! 

    I loved the way that Lubitsch cut away to the important props in the scene - the garter, the purse, the gun, the door. Sometimes it feels like the camera sits on the object for a tiny bit too long, which I suspect is a carryover from the silent film era. It probably feels longer, too, because there really isn't any sound at those moments either. However, after watching "The Broadway Melody" last night, I can see the way that Lubitsch has a different touch with moviemaking. It's much less "stagey" than "Broadway Melody," with a little more fun camera work. I also like the way that he sets up the scene in the middle of the action and lets it unfold, letting the audience figure out what's going on using context clues and a few fourth wall-breaking comments from our main character. 

    I was particularly attracted by the musical cues when the husband gets up to shoot Alfred. The dramatic string hits crescendoing to the gunshot builds the tension, and then releases when he pauses for a moment, frowns, and touches the wrong side of his chest with the hand still holding the garter is hilarious and genius. Without the string hits, it wouldn't be so funny. 

    This clip, with the well-dressed people in lush surroundings, seems to be typical of Depression-era musicals. It's more of the escapism that was discussed in the lecture about "Top Hat." That, plus the hilarious wit, is what is attracting me to watch "The Love Parade," and likely what Depression-era audiences would have enjoyed. Since it's pre-Code, it does have a bit more sexiness to it, but Lubitsch is clever enough to keep some things subtextual, too. 

  15. In these two clips from "Rose Marie," I definitely notice the back-and-forth between the characters. It's almost like a dance - they flirt and tease, but they never really come together. I have not seen the full movie, but according to the synopsis I just read, it has a happy ending. I expect the entire movie features this delicate dance as our leads get closer to each other, only to pull away. A perfect example is the way that Bruce sings a whole song about Marie, but when she wants to talk about it, he starts singing the song with a different woman's name. He can't really admit to Marie how he feels - he deflects and they "dance" apart again.

    That ebb and flow of their courtship makes me think that films of this era, under the Film Code, couldn't show a lot of the passion that would naturally come from a courtship. The ebb and flow of their relationship gives the film some emotional stakes while keeping things pretty chaste. It's a clever way to give the audience the highs and lows of a romantic entanglement while still making sure that nothing too naughty gets through to their delicate eyes. I expect that a lot of romantic movies during this time do the same!

  16. "Daily Dose of Delight" is right - what a fun clip! (I've already put this movie on hold at my local library, since I've unfortunately never seen it!) 

    In general, musicals are a solid form of escapism, and I can see why movie musicals were popular during the Great Depression. Who doesn't want to go spend some time watching people in beautiful costumes singing, dancing, and having frivolous fun? It's the same reason that I expect the "Mama Mia!" sequel to do well this summer; people are stressed, and singing and dancing to ABBA songs set to a thin plot sounds kind of delightful. Add to that the characters are well dressed; Ziegfeld clearly has money to throw around; and the sets are richly decorated, and you have yourself a pretty good escapist fantasy for a tough time. Clearly, life wasn't like this; this is a nostalgic view of the "good old days." 

    I think you see the "good old days" in the rather silly, slightly vapid way that Anna Held acts in this clip. This was only a little over a decade after women's suffrage, and I can't help but wonder if Anna's naivete is a throwback to a time when women were a little more compliant and worried more about flowers and less about making money (or, rather, that people wanted to think that women weren't thinking about making money, since many of them were). That's not unique to this musical; we still see remnants of this in films today. 

    I'd hazard a guess that many musicals made during the Depression era probably hearkened back to the olden days in some way, when things were thought to have been better - economically and/or culturally. Culture constantly swings between innovation and nostalgia, but when the going gets tough, we tend to turn toward nostalgia to comfort us. Even if films take place with characters who are living a difficult existence (like Dorothy's family in "The Wizard of Oz"), it's filmed in such a way that even those tough times are seen with a nostalgic tinge. (After all, even though Dorothy had wanted to escape Kansas, she realized there was "no place like home.") 

    As far as the film being made after the code was enforced - I expect everything would have been a bit more risque if this were a pre-code musical. After all, the Ziegfeld Follies were a bit racier than we see in the film clip. Here's a photo from Wikipedia of one of the Ziegfeld girls, Doris Eaton Travis. 


    However fabulously risque the Ziegfeld girls were, though, it's kind of fun to enjoy the subtext of the clip, like her little song asking the audience to "come and play with me." Sometimes subtext is more fun than saying something explicitly, and while in general I don't like the way that the Production Code stifled creativity and expression, it did make filmmakers think about ways to get their point across a little more creatively. I expect that she would have taken off more than her hat backstage if this were a pre-code film, though! 

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  17. I grew up on musicals, and when I visited my grandma's house we always watched "The Wizard of Oz," "The Sound of Music," and "Mary Poppins," so those are always favorites. I am also a big fan of "Oklahoma!" (the first musical I owned on video) and "The Music Man" - I am a librarian and Marian is one of my heroes (she advocates dirty books!). I can probably name a dozen more that I love, too! 

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