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Gershwin100

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  1. How could you forget to mention Peter Ustinov? While it is an excellent movie, but I don't think it meets the standard to be called the best Christmas movie ever.
  2. The first Judy Garland film I ever saw was The Wizard of Oz. It was a family tradition to watch it together on network television once a year. Garland was everything I wanted to be. I have seen all but one of her movies and each time I see one, I am more impressed with her remarkable abilities. I loved her performance in In the Good Old Summertime ; she totally captured the emotions and showed them both facially and musically as she sang. The subtle nuances in her vocal quality is remarkable. While not a musical, her small, dramatic performance in Judgement at Nuremburg has always fascinated me. Her acting was superb.
  3. My vote goes to Bye, Bye Birdie. The Broadway show was fantastic. Then Hollywood got their hands on it. Casting Janet Leigh over Chita Rivera was a huge mistake topped only by inserting that whole sequence about speeding up the ballet dancers with Albert's chemical formula. Talk about silly. I was just a kid when I saw it and I thought it was silly then. Now, it just seems ridiculous. Even Dick Van Dyke, the star, was embarrassed by the movie version.
  4. I disagree. There is something sillier-- casting Lee Marvin in a musical and having him sing a solo. I saw the movie as a child at the theater and thought it was the worst singing I'd ever heard in my life. At least Eastwood could carry a tune.
  5. From beginning to end, this scene is jam-packed with visual and verbal references to America, its history and its values. As Cohan walks up the staircase, there are portraits of former presidents on the wall behind the pair. The man servant talks about his service to Teddy Roosevelt and infers his continued service to the presidents who have followed him for thirty some years. He talks about seeing George Washington Jr. and Teddy Roosevelt singing "You're a Grand Old Flag" in the bathtub and says it is as good a song "today" as it ever was. In the president's office, we see paintings on the walls and a model on the mantle of sailing ships, reminding us of our roots since we came to America in ships and we have a rich sailing history from fishing boats to naval battles. Even the clock looks like a ship's steering wheel. There is a flag by the fireplace and a flag lapel pin on Cohan's jacket. There is a hint of what could be donkey ears by the lamp on FDR's desk - referring to the democratic party as they mention a Republican newspaper. Those who share Cohan's ethnicity are referred to as Irish Americans, not simply Irish. Roosevelt says they love their country and wave that love like a flag. He goes on to say that Cohan teaches his audiences they live in a great country. The people at the Fourth of July parade are all waving flags. The buildings are all decked out in red white and blue buntings. Cohan says they knew the flag would have more stars - meaning the United States was growing and they were looking forward to the future. He also said, "They were optimistic and happy" this, while "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" is heard. That song was one of the front runners for our national anthem a decade earlier. The name Providence evokes the thought of the beginnings of our country with its Divine destiny to greatness. Even the name of the theater is a reflection of our heritage - the Colony Opera House - bringing to mind the thirteen original colonies of the revolution. His father, Jerry, praises his wife for her strong work ethic - a quality valued by Americans at the time - saying "she never held up a show in her life". Telling a story in retrospect is commonly used when it means the story can start with a powerful image before letting the story unfold. In this case, the image of meeting with the revered, president Roosevelt - leader of the free world. Another movie that effectively employed this technique was Sunset Boulevard: starting with the body floating in the swimming pool demanding your attention and holding it as the "corpse" relates how he got there.
  6. The clips with Keeler shows her working hard, hoofing it. And certainly she taps well, but it looks like she is working hard and her hand movements are all over the place. She seems so focused on her steps that she forgets she needs to do something with her hands. Instead, her hands look like they are in the way most of the time. Powell on the the other hand makes her efforts seem natural, graceful and simple. she seems to always be conscious of her hand gestures and placement. Keeler is like watching a workout. Powell is like watching a dream.
  7. What struck me in the clip was that from the moment she took to her feet, she was sending the clear message whatever you can do, I can do too - and just as well. It became obvious when she matched his "walk" across the gazebo that this was going to be something different, something not seen before. I can keep up with you. I am your equal. This was not the traditional male/female role as in other depression era musicals where the boys chased and the girls fell at their feet. Prior to the depression, I think women were accepted as the weaker sex who needed to be taken care of and sheltered from the harsh realities of life. But, the often cruel conditions of the depression showed men that women where much tougher and more determined than they (men) ever thought they could be. In essence, women, like steel, were forged in the fire of struggle and they emerged with remarkable strength and the respect of husbands, beaus, brothers, sons, etc.
  8. When an artist was signed under the old studio system, they spent a fortune working with them on everything from dance, singing and elocution lessons to creating a unique, marketable image. Judy Garland was marketable - a cute and incredibly talented kid who performed popular music with great style. Deana was less marketable for MGM. They already had both a young superstar in Garland and two established operatic stars in Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. They probably didn't see a niche for Deana that would be profitable for them.
  9. 1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? In the canoe, Bruce offers her romance in a very shallow manner and showed his interest in her with his "looks of longing". When he doesn't seem to be making any progress, his questions about her love interest seem to hold a hint of contempt or disdain in each one. When she finally says "Italian tenor", he gives it one last try by singing. Her facial expressions show she approves of the singing and she seems to be softening her stance against him until she realizes as he admits, he simply changes the name in the song to that of the girl he is trying to romance. (This ploy was also used in a Rock Hudson/Doris Day romantic comedy - "You are my inspiration Marie..Lucille..." etc.) In the saloon, you see a different side of both of them. Through Bruce's facial expressions and actions, the viewer can see he is sympathetic and you just know he is leaving so that he can check on her out of compassion and concern rather than just another chance to hit on her for his own gratification. MacDonald does an admirable job of showing frustration, hope, and embarrassment. In the split second before she leaves, you can also see her losing all pride - as though she is trying to run away from herself and her failure as much as from Nelson Eddy. 2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. My first introduction to Nelson Eddy was his portrayal of Willie the Operatic Whale in a Disney animated movie. I loved how he switched from "Shortnin' Bread" to opera. The fact that he was willing to participate in the Disney project leads me to believe he was a down-to-earth performer who did not see such things as beneath him and his talent. I have seen a couple of MacDonald/ Eddy operettas and wished the quality of the sound reproduction was better than that provided by a mono television speaker. While I enjoyed the music, I found the stories largely forgettable.
  10. The clip shows a light-hearted and optimistic attitude to be sure, but there was more there than just the clever banter between the doorman and Ziegfeld about his tip that was not realistic. I found the naivete and superficiality of Anna extremely unrealistic - though appealing. As an established entertainer in Europe, she would have needed to be much more savvy to have a successful stage career than the clip implies. While the depression era audiences may have found her "Marie Antoinette" not-a-care-in-the-world attitude a happy escape from their own circumstances, the reality of her situation would have demanded level-headedness and careful consideration on her part.
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