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Josh Ruben

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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? The context matters. Belting on screen is always a dicey affair given the intimate nature of film vs. stage which often requires a belt, even in intimate moments. Wyler is trying to make this a love song, and even though Sharif doesn't sing with her, it still has that feel give the way it's shot. Her belting in this context would have been inappropriate. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do th
  2. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) In both, women are in a beautiful, lush, middle to upper-class environment. Despite the surroundings, they are essentially prisoners of a world created and controlled by men. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. As each character
  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? There is no longer the black and white stereotype of masculine traits being strictly for a man and feminine traits being specifically for the woman. Men are more introspective and analytical about themselves. In the past, a male character who does this is regarded as either comical or inconsequential to the story. Now, leading characters are allowed to show sensitivity. What other specific qualities do you notice about
  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 backwards in that it is a scene about the roots of the American Musical Theatre. It looks ahead by showing various perspectives. We see the backstage melodrama, the show itself (albeit, in rehearsal), and get a glimpse of what motivates those that produce musical theatre. We see the stylized production elements in the costumes worn by Mauldin and the kids, as well as the "real life" elements of Rose, the musicians, an
  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? No. The contrast is essential because Art is a driving force, even another character, throughout the film. The Visual Art that Mulligan does, the Musical Compositions by Levant's character, even the Performing Arts are all on display as driving forces for the characters. Their "real lives" are shown in a less stylized way so that we see the stylized fantasy their lives may be. Levant does it in the concerto scene just as we see in the
  6. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? There is a natural fluidity to the way a dancer walks and moves. O'Connor, in particular, is great with his hands and uses them to great effect in his dialogue scenes. Sammy Davis Jr. once described watching another legend, Fred Astaire by saying (in essence), just watching Astaire walk into a room was worth the price of admission. Watching O'Connor and Kelly move, even without dancing, evokes the same spirit. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight
  7. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? This is a new incarnation of the "tough broad" we see in the character roles of the 30s and 40s. Only instead of her independence being put away once a man comes along to rescue her, Jane maintains her core identity after she falls in love. She makes adaptations - all characters change - but she doesn't completely reject who she is just for a man. This isn't Sandy in "Grease." How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, be
  8. 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? The camera never leaves her, except for when we see the "approving" angel fade away. The cut to the laundry conveys that everything she does, including everyday chores, is all geared toward building a life with Joe. Throughout the song, we see that she is dedicated to him emotionally, spiritually (hence the aforementioned angel), and physically as when she drapes the arms of the
  9. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. Wider and full-body shots are used to display the choreography/larger movements. Tighter close-ups (3/4 shots) are used to focus on the intimacy she is trying to force him into. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? There is a fanfare-type of musical intro that plays as they enter the scene. The "keep-away" they play only heightens the action and thus, the music. As he runs into the bleachers, she actually shouts,
  10. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her "Easter Parade" - I was amazed at her humor both in songs like "A Couple of Swells" and in the banter she did with Astaire. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? I must confess that these clips didn't enlighten me about her. I was already a fan. Her heartbreaking gifts for drama, her charm as a comic actor, and her versatility in all things musical convinced me long ago about how great she is. What films in her late
  11. 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. As Cohan enters the White House, there is a soft, somber tone to the lighting. The conversation between him and the butler recalls a cordial relationship between strangers that share a common bond: love of country. They ascend the steps to the oval office, evoking the elevated (even, god-like) status of the president. They pass portraits of past presidents, with Washington (of course), at the
  12. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat There's always a profound level of intimacy. Even though Fred and Ginger do not even touch each other throughout this number (until almost the very end), there is clearly a very intimate relationship. Fights of all kinds demand and depict intimacy. Whenever the couple engage in ways except physically (such as arguing, flirting, and of course, singing), there is always a level of intimacy. Ginger may not be in love with him, but she's willing to engage with him. That's intimacy and it's so
  13. Powell has a more refined "on your toes" style of dance which matches her more "legit" vocal style of an operatic soprano. There are also clear elements of ballet and other classical training her her dance style. Keeler is a rough-and-tumble Vaudeville hoofer. Her technique is about getting the sound and rhythm out, regardless of how it looks. Similarly, her vocal style is reflected in her brassy, belted alto.
  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)? In improvisational comedy, there is a quality of storytelling called "hightening." A concept or theme is introduced and then the actors then build upon that concept to "highten" the emotional intensity or bring about a comedic result. Lubitsch uses this idea of "hightening" when Chevalier shows one garter (a scandal in itself) explaining it must be hers. She then hikes up her dress to reveal her exposed legs and the fact that she's
  15. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. The music is treated as a source of attraction. Eddy starts to woo McDonald with a romantic song in the canoe. When she compliments him on the quality of his singing, he doesn't acknowledge the compliment. Instead, he asks if she's impressed with the romantic nature of the song. She, playfully perhaps, is offended over his using another woman's name. Later, as McDonald tries to sing in the saloon, Eddy is clearly smitten with her voice as well as her appearance. If
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