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Everything posted by ClaireAileen

  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? Fanny is singing "People", as if she is having a conversation with Arnstein. She is highly introspective, emotional and hopeful. If she had emoted as if she was in a "show", the intimacy of the scene would have been lost. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? As the scene leads into song, Arnstein and Fanny are very conversational. When Fanny begins to sing, she becomes thought provoking and emotional. She is center stage with her delivery, but Arnstein is in the background looking at her with a smile that indicates his agreement. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. Fanny's move to the stairs allows her character to express, on her own, her feelings for Arnstein. The colors are muted and bland as if Fanny is a bit hesitant to allow her feeling to be known. With Arnstein looking on from the background, it gives Fanny the ability to admit her feelings, with honesty and optimism, about their future.
  2. Explore any common themes and film making 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). Hepburn's character is full of apprehension in this scene. Experiment over, what's to become of her. It seems she is experiencing an awakening. What is next? Harrison's character completely overlooks the human side, relegating Hepburn to chocolate, an good cry and bed. Gaslight features similar surroundings, and a dominant male with a condescending attitude toward women. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. The scene is fraught with emotions, all Hepburn. Harrison could care less about the future of Eliza, now that his experiment is successful and over. The professor completely overlooks what Eliza knows is true. There is no going back, now what is to become of her? What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? The experiment is over. The physical separation between the characters mirror the "class" separation in both Eliza and Higgins. The professor seems to have moved on, oblivious to the future of his muse. Eliza tries to evoke some emotion from him, but fails miserably as she moves around the room.
  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? It seems that men are shifting to a more softer, but still "in charge" representation in their roles. Less physicality and more sensitivity to still achieve the appropriate ends. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? Preston moves through both film clips with a masterful command of the subject at hand. He is in charge, making showy pretenses to the knowledge of the vices of pool in the first clip. In the Victor/Victoria clip, he incites the nightclub brawl without even lifting a finger. It is all in response to his uproarious insults.
  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? The subject matter reminds us of pre-Code 1930's. It is also filled with show wannabes, although children as opposed to adults, with the classic "everyone is trying o be a star" attitudes. 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. To me, Ms. Russell always enters any film she is in, in a BIG way. Her timing is flawless, which has been honed from her early stage and movie career. Perfect choice for Mama Rose. 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 can be used as perfectly innocent, but can then be reworked into something provocative, that goes along with Rose's career choice. The first presentation of the song gets a bit lost with all of the interruptions with Russell and Malden.
  5. 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? Minnelli perhaps thought that sprinkling the "reality" throughout the film would provide the viewer with the ability to enjoy the fantasy scenes, such as the ballet without them being entirely over the top. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikable? His interaction with the fellow artist further up the hill, as well as with the Nina Foch character set Jerry up as a likable guy. His meanness only comes out when the 3rd year student attempts to demean his work. A typical response from any one of us.
  6. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? The pre-dance movements are setting us up for what is about to happen. They start exuberantly, and continue on until that actual dance number begins. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The straight man allows Kelly and O'Connor to have an extra prop, who happens to be alive. His stiffness allows even more contrast to the antics and dancing of O'Connor and Kelly. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? Kelly is in charge in this number, but, O'Connor, this time is a very close second. They are both Alpha males, totally in control. The Professor is a perfect example of a Beta male, allowing the other two to walk all over them, take over and in the end, slightly humiliate him.
  7. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Calamity is the opposite of what the female role in 1950's musicals is moving to. She is not beautiful, glamorous or even sexy. She is just trying to be "one of the boys", which has not been seen until Doris Day and Betty Hutton take on famous women of western folklore. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Ms. Day has the ability to lean into each role she is cast in. She may not be the triple threat that Judy Garland was, but she evolves her talent with each role she takes on. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. This movie is not one of my favorites, and it surprises me that it is a favorite of Ms. Day. Her ever present sunny disposition sometimes detracts from a particular scene she is in. I do not believe that Calamity Jane was a woman infused with a sunny disposition. I believe that this is just Doris shining through, as she does in many of her roles. Perhaps it is the precursor to her upcoming pairings with Rock Hudson and Cary Grant.
  8. 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 scene allows each character to lay to their potential. No one is the star, everyone in in the spotlight. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific. Astaire is dressed as he should be, elegant, stylish and completely up-to-date. Buchanan is dressed in what we seem to feel in the quintessential director attire, the precursor to the leisure suit, Levant is dressed as he would depict himself, down-to-earth tweeds, and Fabray brings along the feminine touch with her 1950's appropriate skirt, heels and white blouse w/rose, adding a subtle pop of color to the scene. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? No one is the star in this scene, each performer showcases his or her best talent. If something might be a bit much of one of the actors, it is handled without putting anyone on the sidelines.
  9. 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? She is totally devoted to her husband. Despite Joe's indiscretions, Petunia is unfailingly faithful and very much in love, bedroom or laundry. Seeing her wrap Joe's shirt around her shoulders says it all. The song plays it out perfectly. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I don't see this as a song about a child. Perhaps some shifting of phrases might work, but this to me is a love song to a spouse. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era? The film shows what can be accomplished when people work together. It was beautifully and sensitively directed and presented to showcase all the film's participants.
  10. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. Each shot is focuses on allowing Betty Garrett's character to have the upper hand. Basically, Sinatra's character doesn't stand a chance. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? This sequence is the perfect example of "there's a song a-coming" From the moment the door opens, and Sinatra tries to avoid Garrett, to the characters climbing the stairs, you know what is coming.
  11. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her? The first film that I can recall was "The Wizard of Oz". As I have watched it many times through the years, Judy just seems to get bigger and bigger to me in voice, and acting. A quintessential performance to be sure. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? Based on input from the lecture video, it is opening my eyes to her astounding overall talent. Easter Parade always had me focusing on Fred Astaire, but now I can view the film differently. What an eye-opener. The "for Me and My Gal" sequence proved what Dr. Ament suggested in the just piano playing alone. What an amazing talent. 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? I believe the standout musical film later in her career was "A Star is Born". Perfect vehicle for her voice and acting capabilities.
  12. 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. Cohan is climbing the stairs, past portraits of former presidents, then enters FDR's office to a host of portraits on the wall, depicting ships in battle, into one of the more iconic places of the US, the White House. 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. FDR wastes no time in congratulating Cohan on the patriotism of Irish Americans. Cohan reminisces about his 13 year old grandfather running off to the Civil War, and how proud Massachusetts was of him. These pieces of dialogue are pulled together with the advent of the parade to aid in morale building. 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. Given that the film went into production with the onset of Pearl Harbor on everyone's mind, it is fitting to start viewers thinking of a "great" America, by opening with the Chief Executive of the United States, the face of war-time America.
  13. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? Don't see this as a battle of the sexes, it's a girl letting a boy know that they are equals. Their relationship took a turn for the better, as the boy now knows the girl is no pushover. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? The story line, dancing and musical numbers in Top Hat move from utter fantasy to a more realistic view of life as it was being lived. Still glitzy, but much more in touch with life in the mid-1930s. It also moves away from the vaudeville and Broadway stage setting of many of the other movies of the same era. 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? The depression took a horrible toll on many families. Many women had to pick up the pieces of a shattered lifestyle and begin to carry the weight of supplementing income. This provided a window on what women were capable of. Another point might have been that some of Hollywood's women were tired of roles portraying them as incapable of living life without a dominant man.
  14. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? "The Touch" could be considered as cheesy by today's standards, however, in 1929, it seems to be the conduit of pulling the scene together. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. The sound of the gun going off, both times, insures the attention of the viewer. We know she is not dead, but a gun discharging captures everyone's attention. The simple "s'il vous plait" of Chevalier's partner emphasizes the gist of the scene. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Extravagant sets and clothing, as well as man vs. woman apply to other Depression-era musicals
  15. Daily Dose #1 1) The clip is aboard, taking the depression and all it's sadness out of the viewer's mind for the moment. 2) The clip is showing the basis for the theme of the entire movie. "Leave your worries behind for a bit, and enjoy a feel-good moment." 3)Pre-code, Anna Held, may have been in some state of undress as the conversation with her maid proceeds.
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