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Audrey at Manderley

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About Audrey at Manderley

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  1. While An American In Paris is stylised, it isn't excessively so. The streets look like real streets, and the café looks like a real café. Jerry and Adam's apartments look like actual "lower rent" apartments that could have existed at that time. Yes, Paris probably never looked exactly like Paris did in this film, but the settings are entirely believable and crafted with exquisite care. There isn't a jarring moment, or a sense that this is taking place on a stage or backlot, everything seems to be lived in or has been lived in. While the final ballet scene is very stylised, as with the sequence at the end of Singin' In the Rain, it is clearly a dream a sequence that expresses Jerry's pain at possibly losing the only woman he has ever loved, and also expressing all the dream like ways of Paris and how it is a place where to Jerry, anything can take place, and where many different types of people live. There is a clear distinction between Jerry's dream ballet and the Paris in which he actually lives. I think that despite Jerry perhaps being a bit brusque with the American student, he is not actually entirely unlikeable. He speaks the truth in this scene. The American student is pretentious: not only does she speak poor accented French which clearly favours her American accent rather than any attempt to adapt to French pronunciation, she also speaks to Jerry, a street painter, as if they are in a setting where art is viewed as something to picked apart by intellectual discussion rather than enjoyed.
  2. There is no emphasis on the individual in this scene, from their costumes to their singing and dancing, their is no singular character who stands out more than the other. They sing and dance and act in a way that constantly draws the other characters into the scene rather than overshadowing or dominating them. The number begins with them trying to convince Astaire to join not only their show but the musical number they are performing. Astaire joins in relatively quickly, and it is shown to be to his benefit, as the entire number is crafted so that each piece connects with the next as the characters work to together to show the song's narrative. As I said in the first point, none of the characters are wearing costumes that set them apart. Their clothes are that of the everyday and are in more subdued colours. The colours also do not clash, all three men are wearing suits that contain similar shades, and Lily, while still dressed very femininely in contrast to the men, is not wearing any bright specifically feminine colours, but rather ones that complement that of the men's outfits. Lily and Lester are more comedic than Tony and Jeffrey, who are humorous in this number, but not as overtly as the other two characters. Lester is the most comedic male, and also not as dominant as Tony and Jeffrey. Lily dances alongside the men, doing the same routine as them, but it is obvious in their movements and during portions of the song that she is the female in the number and not entirely one of the boys, although she is not set apart enough to be really othered in the sequence.
  3. Even before O' Connor and Kelly start dancing, they are already moving with a certain musicality, as in the do not move as people who do not or cannot dance do. Their posture and movements are unlike those of "normal" people especially O' Connor who makes many exaggerated body gestures. They also circle the professor, whilst singing, in a way that is in perfect synchronisation and has real intent of movement. The straight man provides a contrast to the funny and exuberant dancing of O' Connor and Kelly. He also represents audience scepticism, as in he is as confused by the sudden singing and dancing as a person who does not dwell in the world of movie musicals would be. He also represents the undermining of authority, in that O' Connor and Kelly are poking fun at the authoritative figure of a teacher, as well as the early beliefs about sound actors having to speak in a diction that was not seen as natural or like that of movie goers, who spoke in a multitude of accents and regional dialects. He also provides humour in his own way by being the helpless observer and object of O'Connor and Kelly's good natured ribbing. Kelly is quite obviously the alpha male: he is cool and calm, finds the situation to be humorous and joins in the fun, but is not as comedic or silly as O'Connor. He also leads the dancing. Although he and O'Connor and are in sync with one another, he never looks at O'Connor during the dance but straight ahead, whilst O'Connor looks at Kelly once or twice as if to make sure that he is following Kelly's lead. O'Connor, therefore, is quite obviously the secondary or beta male who follows his more assertive and less comedic friend. The diction teacher represents the old fashioned, uptight, out of sight male, who is overwhelmed by Kelly's brand of masculinity and confused by O'Connor's humorous banter.
  4. The film opens in the White House, which is probably one of the most recognisable symbols of American national identity. The walls are lined with the paintings of the American presidents who helped to establish the country. The fact that Cohan meets FDR, who at the time of the film's making was not only the president of the united states but a president who believed very strongly in national unity and sacrifice for the good of America, illustrates that no matter one's origins as an American, if you work hard and dream big, you will one day be recognised by the highest powers in the country for your individualism and determination. The 4th of July parade at the beginning of the movie clearly displays the American flag because this is the day of America's independence from British rule, a day that symbolises the start of the American identity free from colonial rule. The fact that Cohen's father is performing an Irish song shows the melting pot of American identity, as in the country is made up of people from many different countries around the world, but is united in its diversity. Right from the moment Cohan and the butler start talking it is a way of foregrounding American patriotic identity and figures: Cohan was in a show that featured a song (that sounds rather humorous and lighthearted, but not disrespectful) about George Washington, the first American president, and the butler has worked at the White House since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, who was known for his highlighting and embodiment of the American frontiersman and individualism. When FDR speaks to Cohan, who says that he was always carrying a flag or following a parade to do with American patriotism, FDR says that he's always admired the Irish Americans for their love of America and their eagerness to show this love. Cohan assures FDR that he still feels very patriotic about his country. Cohan also begins his story by recounting an independence day parade, and saying that many more people would join the parade, and how optimistic everyone felt about America at the time, as that was the Horatio Alger era. Horatio Alger was an American writer who wrote YA novels about young men who overcame poverty and adversity and achieved great things through hard work, determination, courage and honesty: the hallmarks of American culture. Through the dialogue, you also learn that Cohan is to be born on the 4th of July, which further establishes his innate American patriotism. The fact that the film opens in FDR's office provides information about the central character of the bio-pic. He is clearly an important figure because he is meeting with the President of the United States. It also provides information about what time Cohen was born in and what time he is living in, which also makes the film more current for the audience who was seeing the film at that time, just as America is entering WWII. If the film had just opened with the 4th of July Parade, the audience would not have had as much information about what the film would be about.
  5. This is definitely a competitive dance sequence, as Rogers shows Astaire that she can indeed keep up with his fancy footwork, and even throw in some of her own, which causes some side-eye from Astaire's character, who clearly expected to her sit passively and watch him dance for her. The entire film is about Rogers not accepting the role of prey, but rather trying to determine whether or not her love for Astaire's character is ill advised or not. She is constantly rebelling against male characters who try to make up her mind for her when it comes to who she should be with. She repeatedly proves that she will not succumb to any male's desires, even Astaire's, if it means compromising her personality or personal beliefs. In the "Isn't It A Lovely Day?" clip, she is clearly dressed in very androgynous attire, rather than the extremely feminine, almost flouncy, and decorative, ballgowns and evening dresses she wears for the rest of the film. And instead of being clearly led by Astaire, as she is for the rest of the film, she matches him in every way in this scene. Top Hat is a far more lavish and dreamlike musical than Born To Dance, even though that film can be very dreamlike in parts, it's still set in a very recognisable, real setting, while Top Hat is set in hotels that don't seem to be in real cities, and the closing sequence is in a place that seems to be like Venice, but clearly isn't. Also, Astaire and Rogers match each other in dancing, rather than singing, they are clearly dance partners rather than just love interests that individually sing or dance. Also, Top Hat is an extremely sophisticated, stylised affair, unlike Born To Dance, Broadway Melody of 1929 and 1936, Rose Marie, which all have elements of sophistication, but are more grounded in the everyday or the backstage musical. Top Hat only really has one number which clearly takes place on a stage for an audience in the film. Women were becoming more independent in the 1920s and 1930s. The First World War had seen them enter the workplace more often and take up more skilled positions. Women were being seen more as equals rather than just objects of marital exchange, and therefore they, too, could be witty and decide who they wanted to fall in love with and marry. The Depression necessitated that men and women contribute to a family's income, and although the depression era musicals do not deal with that issue directly, they do show women as trying to carve a place for themselves in the world.
  6. The Lubitsch touch seems to be very much about subtle suggestion. It's never expressly said (well not in English anyway) that Alfred is an utter philanderer, but his being confronted by his lover, who is a married woman, with a garter who belongs to yet another woman, communicates this very clearly. Also the fact that he can zip up her dress, while the husband fumbles with it, reinforces that he's very experienced with helping women dress and undress. The entire scene plays out very melodramatically, but there is also much humour, and this shows that while Alfred is a lover to many women, he doesn't take it very seriously. And although it seems that his married lover does, even she turns out to be as flippant attitude towards the entire affair by filling her gun with blanks. The use of sound is very clever. Firstly we are introduced to the characters purely through the sound of their heated argument. Although their actions convey much of their intentions, it is dialogue that helps the viewer understand what exactly is happening in regards Alfred's lover, by having Chevalier state that she is married. The sound of the gun is, of course, very striking, and convinces the viewer that the situation is serious, even though it transpires that it is mere theatre. Sound also helps enforce that this is quite a scandal, with the sound of the gathered crowd below, which swells and falls into silence just before Alfred is sternly reprimanded by his superior. Love affairs, perhaps love affairs that reform the main roguish main character, could be a main theme in other Depression era musicals. Glamorous settings and storylines that involve wealthy, "upper class" characters feature in other Depression era musicals, rather than settings and characters that are experiencing the depression or any kind of economic downturn.
  7. The interactions between the two characters in the two scenes are not ones that depict reciprocated affection, as in Nelson Eddy is the one who portrays affection and attraction for Jeanette MacDonald, who seems extremely unimpressed by his "Casanova" ways after he serenades her. In the second scene, Eddy's admiration for MacDonald is far less about simply being attracted to a pretty girl, but rather about her being brave and willing to suffer humiliation in order to maintain some kind of economic independence. The fact that he feels upset over the way she is treated by the other patrons is clear, as he firstly looks at her with a pained expression while she tries to imitate the more seasoned female performer, and then leaves rather abruptly, and almost angrily, once she exits the saloon feeling humiliated and silly. I've seen quite a few of Jeanette MacDonald's performances, and I've always felt that she had a good sense of being able to balance the dramatic and the comedic. In her performance with Clark Gable in "San Francisco", she displays spunkiness and fragility, and that's how I've always thought of her, as being a performer who was able to play both the suffering woman as well as the woman who's tired of suffering, and is able to pull herself out of that situation through humour and charisma. I'm not terribly familiar with Nelson Eddy's work, but I do remember him as having a magnificent voice, as shown in the first scene from "Rose Marie", but perhaps not as adroit as MacDonald in terms of naturalism and humour. I think the male/female interactions in these films are ones that focus largely on courtship, a courtship which is largely chaste, but suggests some of the more mature elements of human romantic relationships. While there is never any onscreen lovemaking, only rather chaste kissing and touching, there is definitely never a shortage of passion, and the banter between love interests in these films is often the most enjoyable part of the film as it is witty, well timed and always memorable.
  8. This definitely exhibits a brighter side of life. I assume that this takes place during the Edwardian era, but the clip shows none of the poverty and class disparities that would have existed at that time, especially in England. It reminds me a lot of "Born To Dance", which is a lovely film, but doesn't even look as if it's set during the height of the Great Depression, because everyone looks happy and is employed. That seems to have been the standard for Depression era musicals, the fact that there was little or no reflection of economic suffering or a lack of prosperity. Also another thing I must note, is that women seem to be portrayed as being very dependent on men for love and success, and as pointed out in the lecture video, if a women was not dependent on a man, she was the spunky best friend and not the leading lady. I think that if this was made during the pre-code era, Anna would have been wearing far less whilst in her dressing room, and her character would have been far more world-wise, rather than coming across as rather naïve and flippant. Also, I think Ziegfeld and his rival would have been portrayed as far more cutthroat and prepared to stoop to lower means to "persuade" Anna to work for them. And there probably would have been far more questionable interactions between Anna and the two male characters, as in they probably would have been more inclined to sort of foist themselves on her, like Charles King and Kenneth Thomson do in Broadway Melody of 1929 with Anita Page.
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