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Victoria Moore

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  1. After seeing "Funny Girl", while participating in the live Twitter chat, I realized what makes this musical so powerful is the contrast between the two parts of the story and how much the characters grow as a result. The songs ultimately punctuate the stellar acting. 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? It would have been overblown, extreme and lacking in the subtlety that made her film rendition so touching and memorable. The scene between Fanny and Nick is quietly intimate requiring the song to echo their conversation and feelings for each other at the time. 2) Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Physically they seem to move off into their own space after coming together once they leave the party. Despite their distance, it's apparent they're still connected. Their shared issues create a bond and open them up to each other's vulnerabilities and loneliness, hence the song's purpose. 3) How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand's performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc., By placing her on the stair platform alone, when she sings the song in the alley underneath the existing light, the viewer feels as if they're watching her in an intimate moment. The transition from she and Sharif talking to her singing is seamless, and thanks to the editor, an easy shift that shows deeper emotion.
  2. George Cukor's sympathy for female characters and actresses really comes across in this scene from My Fair Lady making it more complex than it originally appears. When I first saw the film, I was so swept away by Audrey Hepburn's beauty, I didn't see the burden and unhappiness it caused her to be treated as an object by a misogynistic alpha male, Professor Higgins. She isn't so much a successful makeover recipient as a plaything in the hands of an emotionally immature intellectual who doesn't initially see the value of true feelings over science. 1) 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). The theme of male domination and psychological manipulation are present in both films. One way George Cukor uses his skills to create this tense interchange is by altering the environment to make the female character feel imprisoned by the male character. In Gaslight he uses the lavish house the married couple lives in with the fluctuating light providing the discordance and in My Fair Lady, he uses the overstuffed ambiance of Professor Higgins' home as an intimidating presence. What should be a soothing environment, in each film, is altered by the arrangement of the rooms and their decorations. 2) Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. When Eliza Doolittle comes into the room, following the party, instead of being happy that she was a success as a grand lady, she collapses with utter sadness and cries on her knees unabashedly. Cukor gives her the opportunity to walk in alone, process the information she's just become aware of and that makes her so distraught, then unleash her sorrow without restraint. Professor Higgins, instead of being concerned, asks a mundane question about his slippers, which then allows Doolittle to express her real feelings of anger over his cluelessness. Cukor then gives him the opportunity to display his bewilderment over her emotions by having him stand the whole time, offer her a chocolate to appease her, and wrap up the exchange with intellectual coldness. A contrast, in Doolittle's dramatic display compared to the stoicism of Higgins, explains what has been going on between the characters since the beginning of the film creating an interesting paradox. 3) What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor's direction? They seem to have a parent-child relationship that is strengthened by the physical posturing of each character. Higgins seems to consistently be standing over Eliza, in a dominant position, and she seems relegated to a subordinate position underneath him. He is also always instructing her, and rarely cares about her as a person, outside of his experiment which is apparent in their language and educational differences.
  3. Despite the two vastly different characters Robert Preston plays in The Music Man and Victor/Victoria his fluid masculinity and generous acting style permeate both and make him utterly believable and timeless. Everytime I see these films I enjoy them because his portrayals are so refreshing and sharp. 1) 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? Compared to the past I see more complexity and vulnerability added to the performances indicating that society has loosened its strictures about being identified as either an uber-male or female. Men are allowed to express their feelings more freely and display an openness in their singing and dancing both towards other characters and the props they use. An honesty is revealed, that was only hinted at previously, allowing the viewer to interact with the male performer as well. 2) What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? While he is as precise, articulate and witty in The Music Man as he is in Victor/Victoria his age makes him exhibit it differently. As young, Harold Hill, he's slick and robust, but as older Toddy, he's become elegant and tragic. Still, the thread that connects the two is the energetic spirit that he brings to each role. Regardless of his status, he can be counted on to dig deep and persevere. 3) 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? No, I haven't seen any of his other films. Now that I know more about his background I plan to see the rest of his work so that I can learn more about him.
  4. Besides Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn, Rosalind Russell is one of my favorite style icons, and in Gypsy as Mama Rose, she utilizes all of her sartorial superpowers in the role. As the musicals started to become more "disruptive" in the 1960s her costumes in this film give her characterization a feminist edge that also personifies who she is and how she tries to manipulate Gypsy. Strong, but vulnerable and dismissive, she also pushes her to be her best and realize her genius as a striptease artist. 1) In what ways does this scene look backward to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical? It looks backward to more classical musicals like 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 by showing how an audition would be for performers trying out for a show. The backstage drama, fights, favoritism and eventual disappointments are all played out during this pivotal scene. What makes it so "disruptive," and a departure from the "studio era" musicals, is its lack of sentimentality towards family relationships and children in general. Since they're considered entertainers they're treated in a very mature manner eschewing the previous notions that they are innocent and should be shielded from the world's harsh realities. Like the adults, in this scene, they are front and center for whatever comes next without any buffers or escape hatch. 2) 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. Physically she's very imposing, with the forward stride of her walk and booming voice making her even more impressive. The leopard print hat and matching coat she wears also gives her a predatory appeal, that promises excitement and direction, which she exhibits beautifully on stage with Baby June, Louise, and Herbie. As I watched her I felt the way she projected and demonstrated motivation behind every gesture was a direct result of her years of professionally commanding the spotlight whenever her character needed to. Up until she arrives there's a contrast in energy, on the screen, proving her deliverance was appropriate and needed to give the scene tension and balance. 3) 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). The song has a bawdy, mature edge that sounds like it's about a woman who's willing to be exploited. It's desperation and sweetness when sung by Baby June and the younger Louise, make it seem as if it were reworked for children to perform, despite being originally created for someone with a questionable reputation. The performance itself isn't disruptive, but the musical choice is because it doesn't fit the candy cuteness of the two girls.
  5. Every time I see An American in Paris I can't believe it was shot in Culver City, California because it looks exactly how I envision it looking in the 1950s. Vincente Minelli was such a stellar talent he was able to help the audience suspend disbelief no matter how many times they'd seen one of his musicals. 1) 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? No, because the film is supposed to be as authentically Parisian as possible to contrast with Jerry Mulligan's American style. The ballet is fantastical and works beautifully as a representation of the art and artists he's been exposed to as a budding talent. His love for Lise, and its surreal pull on him in this setting make the approach to the dance appropriate and memorable. 2) What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? His honesty and camaraderie with the other male characters make him sympathetic and realistic, therefore appealing. The generosity of spirit he exhibits towards the children on the street in the I Got number also makes him appeared flawed, but kind. Through his dance, he patiently teaches them English, while entertaining them with a charming tap number.
  6. Moses Supposes is one of my favorite tap numbers and is definitely on my dance bucket list to learn one day. The way Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor turn a simple phrase into a raucous routine, also appeals to me, because it reminds me of urban rappers, like Ice Cube, Eazy E and Snoop Dog, who created rap songs out of street slang and vernacular. Visually it strongly features the strength of both dancers, and shows how complimentary they are as a duo too, making it a timeless piece. 1) How do the pre-dance movements of O'Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? Prior to dancing, both dancers have very stiff and formal body language as they listen to and try to absorb what the Professor is teaching them about elocution. Since they're comedic performers, prone to cracking wise and making a joke out of any situation, they can't hold this pose for long so the contrast of the loose and playful routine is a way for them to relieve the tension of the situation. 2) Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. In this scene, the Professor provides an effective backdrop for O'Connor and Kelly to perform against. He's like the viewer/audience who's watching the action unfold before him. Like him, we don't anticipate the ensuing action, and are surprised and stunned when it happens. 3) How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Initially, all of the characters appear to be equally serious as they work together on the required lesson of elocution for the impending introduction of sound into the movies. Their dress is similar, and although O'Connor and Kelly are younger than the Professor, they're still dressed conservatively enough for the classroom setting. When they start to make fun of him, by making faces behind his back, taking his book out of his hand to joke about the text, and turning him around by his bow tie he becomes emasculated and goes from being a superior male to an inferior one. They, in turn, become more dominant and assume the power by turning his lesson into a vaudeville routine.
  7. First of all, I'd like to say something about the way Doris Day uses clothing in Calamity Jane. By this time, she had already become a style icon so when she does transform into a more feminine version of herself, as the character, she's believable because Day herself would've transformed whatever she wore to suit her own signature look. On any other actor, who wasn't as cognizant of the power of fashion, this might not have worked but on her, it made her more realistic and unique. 1) As you reflect upon female representation in the 1850s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Calamity Jane is pretty progressive for the 1950s because she directly attempts to assert her intelligence and strength within a society that isn't accustomed to women trying to be on an equal footing with men. Sartorially, her choice to wear pants, when very few women did then while retaining her femininity, is also forward thinking. 2) How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after the musical? She becomes more independent and starts to play roles, after this musical, that showcase her talents as a serious actress, comedian and style icon. For example, in Pillow Talk, she not only plays a professional interior decorator she's also in a love triangle, which is very sophisticated for the 1950s. 3) Does Doris Day's bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. No, because if she played the character with a rougher demeanor I don't feel it would reflect either the way women acted in the 1950s, when the musical was made, or when Calamity really lived. Her optimistic outlook makes the portrayal more palatable and enjoyable to watch, especially during the musical numbers.
  8. The main thing I noticed about this number, That's Entertainment from The Band Wagon is the charm of the piece resulting from the variety of singing and dancing from John Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant and Fred Astaire. It feels real and believable when unprofessional dancers are paired with Astaire giving it more of a communal presentation. 1) 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? They seem to use persuasion, at the beginning with Fred Astaire, to include him in the routine because he initially seems reticent. By making him sit in the chair, and singing around him individually, they convince him to join them and see what they're interpreting. Later, when he joins them, the time step he does with Buchanan and Fabray is a way that he includes them in his world with a simple tap routine any level of dancer can do effectively. When they "mess it up" by improvising, that adds even more comradery to the number, bringing out taps strongest draw-improvisation. In addition to groups, there are also duos, such as Astaire and Buchanan, doffing black bowlers to pantomime a comedy vaudevillian-type act that Levant interrupts with a ladder. With both, the individualistic and group combinations, they support each other by either coming in as a chorus or dancer keeping everything cohesive. This musical differs from 42nd Street, Top Hat, Cabin in the Sky and others because the emphasis is placed on the group ensemble instead of the star professional dancer or dancers. 2) 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 first thing I noticed is that all of the silhouettes are wide-Buchanan, Levant and Astaire are all wearing jackets and pants with full cuts and Fabray is wearing a very full circle skirt. The use of white is also accented in the pinstripes on Astaire's suit and white shirt and the white sleeveless top and print skirt Fabray is wearing. The other cohesive color is blue, which brings Buchanan's jacket and pants, Astaire's socks and Levant's tie together. When they dance together, the color palette is neutral enough to blend and not distract, making the costumes look very coordinated and well thought out. 3) What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? They are usually either placed in close proximity to each other, on the side, behind or in front of each other when they sing and they seem to finish stage business for each other. For example, Levant lights Buchanan's cigarette behind his back and Buchanan and Astaire assist Fabray in her number by twirling her around dramatically. Their friendship and community is apparent when they do this since they all share a background in show business. It gives them a commonality that makes their production a success.
  9. Personally, as a contemporary African-American woman, with a family who migrated to Los Angeles, California from Missouri and Oklahoma, I find Cabin in the Sky a wonderful showcase of talent from an ethnic group that was surviving, creating their own style, and fighting for inclusion during a highly racist and separatist time. Today, while there are the blatant stereotypes to put in perspective, from the musical, the historical significance of its existence can't be ignored and should be celebrated as a part of both African-American and Hollywood history. 1) 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? I think it's directed in a nicely rendered and intimate way, at first, almost as if she's saying a prayer over Little Joe or reciting a soothing mantra. When she goes out to gather her laundry, while still singing the song, it becomes a pronouncement of devout love and jubilation about his existence in her life. Through this portrayal, we see how invested she is emotionally to both he and their marriage. Her deep feelings make the song bring alive sentiments for me, as a viewer, I wouldn't notice if it weren't performed at this time. Ethel Waters appears to have dug deep and found some similar experiences to reenact when she sings this song making it ring with truth and passion. 2) How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? If it were sung for a child the passion would be altered to reflect a maternal and protective devotion instead of an erotic, matrimonial one. A cultural change would definitely shift, because of this relationship, to show her heartfelt need for someone she was raising over someone chosen in marriage. The song sung, for her child, might also have a hint of desperation since she'd worry more for the child's well-being because he's more vulnerable to her. 3) 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 love this film because it's an opportunity for blacks to show a range of emotions within a community they've created. While the usual stereotypes exist, the inclusion of erudite, educated characters in contrast to simpler ones, gives it variety and is an important step towards portraying the African-American race as individually as the Caucasian race. The bravery and pride of the characters, despite their status, probably reflects how Blacks felt during WWII when they were as needed as other Americans for the war effort. Overall, Cabin in the Sky, is an important film of the era because it reflects the complications African-Americans, and others during that time, had in distinguishing the line between good and evil.
  10. Within this relationship, with Betty Garrett and Frank Sinatra, is a reversal of roles where a woman, who looks and seems physically stronger and more confident is pursuing a frailer, child-like man. It's this dynamic that adds to the humor of their exchange and still makes it a delight to watch every time I see them in Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town. 1) Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. In the first shot, where Garrett playfully steps in front of Sinatra, then chases him out into the stands the beginning of the song, It's Fate Baby, It's Fate, a pursuit is enacted that shows the motivation behind her plans for him. From there, when she puts her arms around him, picks him up, then finally catches him at the end of the song when he tries to escape, she demonstrates how her dominance and persuasion will eventually win him over. The actual chasing is preceded by physical actions that seem very seductive and are utilized to capture Sinatra as if he were prey. 2) It's interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for singing? The intense back and forth play between Garrett and Sinatra, when she surprises him under the stands, helps set up the song, because, from the look on her face, she's determined to create an outcome that she knows will be beneficial to both of them romantically. With his back to us, and her steady, flirtatious gaze we know the scene that follows will be fun and memorable. Then when we finally hear the song, we aren't disappointed with the payoff, we're charmed and amused instead.
  11. Judy Garland is one of my all-time favorite performers, and although I've been in a few situations when I had to explain to those of the younger generation who aren't familiar with her, why she's considered such a phenomenal talent, I feel the more I watch her movies and listen to her music the more I understand about her, the times she lived in and what it means to really live your art. 1) What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? The first Judy Garland film I saw was Wizard of Oz. To this day I still cry whenever I see her sing Over the Rainbow because when she sang it she looked so beautiful and hopeful. This was definitely the moment I started my love affair with musicals and classic films. 2) How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? After seeing her in Easter Parade and Me and My Gal I realized she was the perfect accompanist and versatile enough to transform herself when the occasion arose. 3) What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric? Her storytelling abilities really come alive in Wizard of Oz when she sang Over the Rainbow (1939) and Come On Get Happy in Summer Stock (1950). What makes the way she sings both songs so compelling and literary is the way she enlivens them with emotion and passionate deliverance. Against the plain backdrops of each setting, the effect is dramatic and unforgettable.
  12. 1)Describe how the scenes in today's Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer. The White House, with the grand staircase, George M. Cohan walks up on his visit, is how I picture a visitor experiencing it for the first time. When he passes the wall of paintings, including George Washington's at the top, it's as if he becomes a contemporary element of this historical tableaux. His further entree into Franklin Delano Roosevelt's oval office, that's decorated with various ship paintings, replicas and American flags really emphasize the U.S. patriotism of the scene about to unfold and sets up the conversation between them. Later during the parade of soldiers, with the cheering crowd waving American flags, this sentiment is further driven home. Outside of the Colony Opera House, where Jerry Cohan is performing an Irish tap routine, patriotism is having its own spotlight out on the street. Potent and visible, these symbols are what we've all come to think of as American. By prominently placing such blatant representations in front of the audience it appears to be an intentional way to remind them why the country needs to come together and be proud of our legacy during a time of war. 2) Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. There's a very gung-ho spirit to the dialogue in this scene, that feels like propaganda. In the conversation with the African-American servant, who tells Cohan he saw him when he was Teddy Roosevelt's valet 37 years ago in George Washington Jr., to his talk with Roosevelt the theme is very flag-oriented. As they walk up the stairs, and the servant recounts that Cohan was "singing and dancing about a Grand Ole Flag", Cohan says, "It was a good song then and it's still a good song." References to the flag are again reinforced by the two flags in Roosevelt's office and his line, "That's one thing I always admired about you Irish Americans you carry your love of country, like a flag, right out in the open." A majority of what's discussed is a way to embed the picture of the American flag into the minds of Americans and insist what it stands for. 3) Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. No I don't feel it would be as effective if it opened with "the Fourth of July Parade" because it's 1878, in the scene, and with World War I before them still, the country might be experiencing a premature optimism that hasn't been as tested as it was on the cusp of World War II. By the time Cohan meets FDR their shared optimism, strength and patriotism make the scene more profound and meaningful. Now they represent a beacon of hope for the country and therefore the scene is perfect where it is.
  13. 1) What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? In Isn't It a Lovely Day? I also see the theme of resistance by Ginger Rogers (Dale Tremont) to give in out of vulnerability to Fred Astaire (Jerry Travers) just because the storm is making her nervous. This conflict comes up again with the Italian designer, Bernini, when he tries to manipulate and control her out of jealousy over Travers. These battles aren't really traditional power struggles, because the objective isn't clearly spelled out, but staged confrontations where both sexes can see how far they can push the other without crossing the line of morality. 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression-era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? "Top Hat" is more sumptuous and glamorous and the other films are grittier with a focus on a dramatic storyline over escapism. 3. What possible reason might there be for the other changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? Women had become more equal because of the economic circumstances caused by the Depression.
  14. Hello Fellow Musicals Buffs and Fans: My name is Victoria Moore and I'm a professional fashion/feature writer based in Los Angeles, California. When I'm not writing, I love to read and dance, especially tap. I started about 10 years ago, at "Santa Monica College", and it's really increased my love for musicals. Currently, I'm earning my MA in Fashion Journalism online through "Academy of Art University" [...]. Throughout my career, as a writer, I've tried to incorporate my love for dance by writing articles and blogs about tap, swing, etc., and using it when I work with students as a way to introduce them to the arts. I decided to take this class, on a break from both AAU and LAUSD, to keep my mind sharp, my enthusiasm up and my inspiration clear. I look forward to learning more about musicals, dance, and Hollywood in the future.
  15. I repeatedly watch "Singin' In The Rain", especially the "Moses Supposes" number. Ever since I started tap dancing, over 10 years ago, I've tried to do various parts of this dance and have always have fun trying. The thing I love about it so much is the way the dance comes together from a sort of rap number about speaking correctly and that's the way I learned tap is by singing the steps, such as "Shuffle, flap, flap, hop, hop, step..." repeatedly.
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