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Sylvie

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  1. 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 she had performed more theatrically it would have seemed like a performance. Instead the song felt real and natural. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? Omar's character is more focused on Barbra's character when she begins to sing. He seems more entranced and interested in her as the song progresses. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. As she begins singing, Barbra moves away from Omar. He follows her a bit, but then leans against the fence and watches. This is effective because the audience is getting the sense that Omar's character is seeing Barbra's character for the first time in her true-self state. It also focuses solely on Barbra's song. If Omar had been closer, the song would not have been as powerful (to me). It's almost as if the song needed space to reverberate. "People" is a truly beautiful number.
  2. 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) Both movies have the common theme of a controlling, domineering man. They also take place around the same time frame. There's also a good usage of shadows and light. The shadows and light often reflect the mood of the character(s). I love that in movies. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Cukor gave Hepburn's character time to show how she felt before Harrison's character entered. Upon his entering, he is in a carefree mood. However, the direction Cukor took the scene shows that he sees for the first time that Eliza cares about the experiment that she is involved in. It's almost as if he notices that she does indeed have feelings. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? They've never fought the way they did in this scene before. Each character is releasing bottled up emotions and thoughts. It's a good platform for them to continue their relationship on.
  3. 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? In the beginning males seemed to be portrayed more as "performers" or perfectly tailored. Once you reach the '60s, they seem more like the kind you'd invite to dinner. More relaxed. (Honestly, it's hard to put into words exactly what I mean.) 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? I LOVE Robert Preston in "The Music Man." He's super addictive to watch, and absolutely draws the viewer in from the second he appears on the screen. The number in "Victor/Victoria" was also a good example of his charm. 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? I have seen "How the West Was Won." I thought he spoke with a musical lilt even though he didn't sing. He appears to be a very dedicated actor. His training on the stage definitely transfers to the movies...charming, engaging, and professional.
  4. 1. 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's a vaudeville setting. It was the beginning of musicals. It shows the pushy "stage mom" in her element. 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. Russell commands the room. She enters with force and uses that force to propel her daughter along. She is powerful, but lovable at the same time. Her entrance also tells the audience that she is a character to be reckoned with throughout the movie. 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 lyrics have an edge to them, but it can be downplayed when a child sings them. However, when Gypsy sings the song as a striptease later in the movie, she adds an edge to the lyrics. The "tricks" part is what can be viewed as edgy. A child could innocently tap dance on a stage as a 'trick' or a grownup could strip as a 'trick.' I think the song was handled well each time.
  5. 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? Since the ballet number is all fantasy, it can be less realistic and stylized. However, the rest of the film is supposed to be real life, so it is best if it stays as realistic as possible. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? He seems very approachable in his dress. He also seems humble; especially when the lady wants to buy a painting and he never thought anyone would. He's brusque in his manner, but also approachable. He's also not a native to Paris, so he has a thick skin that has to be softened.
  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? They are on the beat with their arm movements and speech inflections. Their rhythm flows straight into their fabulous dance number. It is a seamless transition. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The professor is in a state of mixed shock and confusion throughout the number. He wants everything done seriously, and does not know what to think when Kelly and O'Connor begin acting out. He becomes a prop in their number; especially at the end. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Kelly is the leader, O'Connor is the comic and initiator, and the professor is the stiff character who is overly proper. The professor is opposite of Kelly and O'Connor whereas Kelly and O'Connor play off of each other evenly. Each one leads in his own way throughout the number. Kelly's movements seem more athletic, and O'Connor's seem more acrobatic. With their different styles, the two dancers created one of my most favorite dance numbers, and one that the viewer can never grow weary of watching.
  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? This is among the first representations of a female tomboy in the movies. It shows progression in characterization in films. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? First of all, I absolutely LOVE Doris Day. Her first roles were more tomboyish, and I feel that this role is the epitome of them. In the later '50s into the '60s, she becomes a refined leading lady. 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. I think it adds to the role. She looks very comfortable in it, and her personality executes the part to a T. Jane is an "out there" soul, and Day's exuberant, sunny personality fits that quite well.
  8. 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? The characters are all friends, and they play off of one another very well. They make fun of one another, and the scene is one of what seems like improvised creativity. It's different because it's a group putting on a fake show rather than a group putting on a real one. 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. They all have the blues and grays color palette. Nanette and Oscar have the same colors which indicate that they go together (if my memory is correct). Fred is in a dark navy which perhaps indicates the blue mood he was in during the beginning of the number. Jack is in a more artistic jacket which captures his personality in the film. 3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? It's all in fun. They improvise off of one another continuously. You can tell they're all pals. It was also evenly dispersed so that one person did not upstage the other.
  9. 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? You can tell that Petunia loves Joe very much. With the song being cut into a two different scenes, I believe this shows the passage of time. Joe is still getting better. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I feel that if Petunia was singing was singing to a child, she would have cried. It also would have had a less romantic feel to it. Tender, yes. But not "I love you" romantically. More of "I love you" in a protecting, mothering sort of way. 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 think this movie is very important for its time. It's a strong African American cast that is shown in a good light. The viewer really feels for the characters and roots for them. They aren't just servants or random people. They have feelings and depth. It's lovely to watch.
  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. The shots portray Betty's pursuit of Sinatra. He is frequently pinned against part of the set or completely caught by her. I echo others' comments when I say, "He have a chance to escape." 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? The music crescendos and becomes quicker. That informs the viewer that a song is coming. The beat also implies that it's more of a pursuit than a romance number.
  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? My first Judy film was "Meet Me in St. Louis." I absolutely fell head-over-heels for her. I was around 13-14 at the time. Ten years later, I still adore her, and have seen MANY more of her movies. She's so talented, and she sucks you into the plot. 2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? Not really. I still see her as an incredibly talented human being. 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? "The Pirate." The number she does when she's hypnotized is especially enthralling.
  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 American flags, photos of ships, and patriotic patterns promote the American spirit and unity. 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. The President tells Cohan how he likes his (Cohan's) patriotism. Cohan also talks about the American flag and how grand it was and is. 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. I like that the opening of the movie takes place in the Oval Office. It tells the viewer that this is an important man. It's not just a guy looking back at history. This is a man telling an important story because somehow he ends up in the President's office. The scene offers great perspective.
  13. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? Astaire first does a few steps. Then Rogers retaliates and does a few steps of her own. It's almost like a dance battle of "who can do it better?". It is as if she is saying, "Oh, really, you can do that? Well, I can too." 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? "Top Hat" is a cheery, upbeat, funny film. It is one of my top three favorite films of ALL time (not just in the musical category). The dancing is an extension of the characters and the story. It is also more relatable. The characters could be us; stranded under a gazebo during a rainstorm. They are very down-to-earth. 3. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s? In this dance in particular, the viewer sees that Ginger's character is not a "damsel in distress." She is independent, headstrong, and self-assured. She can match Fred tap for tap. She is not a typical "screwball comedy" lady because she is not ditzy. This movie shows progression into stronger and stronger female characters.
  14. Hi, I read that there is a recommended reading list somewhere, but I can't find it. Has anyone else found it? Thank you!
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