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Posts posted by anatolebahorel

  1. 1. I honestly think Streisand being theatrical and belty with the song would have diminished its beauty. "People," as stated previously, is an introspective, not an... extraspective? Streisand's words came from the heart, a deep dive into the contents of the soul that only music can achieve. She's not trying to do a Shakespearean monologue; she's singing about her outlook on life. Going all out vocally and movement-wise would have distracted the audience from the beauty of the song. It's great just the way it is.

    2. This is more of a direction thing, but I noticed that when Streisand is starting out the number, she is far less serious with it (one kid falls down and seven mothers faint!). She also happens to be sharing the screen with Omar Sharif; she's just having a laugh with him. As the song shifts into a more flowing melody, and Fanny Brice is having an introspective moment, the focus is all on her - no Sharif, or even that much of the set. It's all Barbara as she delivers her musical soliloquy. Towards the end, when she sings of that "special someone," Sharif comes back into view, and the song turns into a bit of a love confession.

    3. Besides the above direction choices, in the beginning we view Streisand over Sharif's shoulder. While he may be in the foreground, the viewpoint is set square on her. She also makes the wise choice of ascending a staircase, because film rules dictate that anyone who goes up stairs must be the center of attention (See: "Stairway to Paradise" from An American in Paris).

  2. 1. The main theme tying those two films together is oppressiveness. Higgins treats Eliza rather poorly throughout the movie, even after she succeeds in what he set her out to do. Afterwards, when she finally breaks down due to her underappreciative situation, Higgins tries to convince her (and himself, most likely) that she's in fine sorts and shouldn't have any problems at all. Later in the scene, he even suggests that her outburst is nothing more than the strain of the day and that all she needs to do is sleep off her troubles. Similarly, the husband in Gaslight is constantly giving his wife grief while also brushing it off as nothing (albeit for more malicious reasons). The two male figures in both movies have a monopoly on the female leads' emotions.

    2. This scene is an emotional roller coaster! Eliza starts off in the shadows, both literally and figuratively, as her efforts have just been shunted by Higgins. The frustration she's been feeling up to this point finally surfaces, and she expresses it with tears and a flurry of thrown slippers. Higgins' attempts to quell this through manipulative reasoning are fruitless; although Eliza sheathes her sword for a brief time, she is nonetheless still upset, and her justified anger rushes back once more towards the end. While Eliza is, of course, all over the place emotionally, Higgins remains unmoving in his temperament. It shows how oblivious he is to what's transpiring - that being Eliza's desire to be needed for something other than someone else's gain.

    3. To me, the most evident portrayal of Eliza and Higgins' relationship is when the professor is trying to convince her that she's being treated well. Higgins looms over Eliza while she's on the couch, literally talking down to her as he has throughout the film. After their initial encounter, Eliza is always turning away from him, visualizing her need to distance herself from this oppressive life. He tries drawing her back with the oh-so-coveted chocolates, representative of her former goal of living luxuriously, but she's grown past such trivial things. It's a brilliant bit of staging that enhances the exchange between the two characters.

  3. 1. As films and the culture surrounding and influencing them continue to change, so do the characters. In the male-dominated Hollywood of the 30's - 50's, men in the movies were... well, manly. Any male character who was not a properly macho person got relegated to being either the comic relief or the villain. This began to shift in the decades we're discussing; leading men could be more than just an Adonis for the ladies to throw themselves at. They could be bumbling goofballs, or shrinking violets, or even just the tiniest bit effeminate. Robert Preston shows this shift quite nicely between the two clips, playing the traditional man's man in Music Man, then treading newer ground with his performance as a gay fellow in Victor Victoria.

    2. Mr. Preston seems to have a knack for capturing one's attention. I always knew this to be true from Music Man, but now I see he was a maestro in the art of spotlight-wrangling, having watched the Victor Victoria clip. He would've been a great conman in real life - there's just a cool charisma about him that makes you latch onto every word he speaks. And even if not everyone is into what he's selling (as we see with the group at the end of the second clip), he's still got his wry wit to take care of the naysayers.

    3. I'm afraid the only thing I've seen Robert Preston in that wasn't a musical is How the West Was Won, and that was a while ago. The only thing I remember about that film was Jimmy Stewart playing a mountain man. I really should re-watch it sometime when I'm not marathoning movie musicals. In any case, Robert Preston is a phenomenal actor; one I regretfully am not more familiar with.

  4. 1. This whole film could be an allegory for the decline of the traditional movie musical in favor of the newer, grittier fare we'll be seeing in the future. This scene showcases what would've been right at home in a 50's production; a cutesy variety show featuring a bunch of youngsters. Instead of a bright, colorful, well-choreographed spectacle, however, we see a very realistic representation of an amateur theatre setup. It's drab, uncoordinated, and very much beset by rehearsal-induced agitation. We're seeing the back stage presented as it truly is, perhaps for the first time ever on film.

    2. Rosalind Russell was a phenomenal Rose. This character is supposed to be an ever-erupting volcano of charisma and stage-motherhood, and Russell's performance was exactly that and then some. Her abrupt entrance during June's (and Company's) song is designed to catch us off guard as much as the characters onscreen. She just... shows up and takes over the show. That's Mama Rose!

    3. Sondheim really knew how to put meaning into his lyrics. "Let Me Entertain You" is a verbal test of one's innocence. Do the words evoke thoughts of a sensual nature? Or are they simply a request that the performer be able to do a little song and dance? It all depends on the listener's life experiences. Filtered through June's childishness, however, the viewer is almost forced to see it as nothing more than a kid's showtune. The opposite is true when it's reprised by Louise; it can't be interpreted as anything else but a burlesque number. It's a little stroke of genius, bookending the musical with the same song delivered in entirely different ways.

  5. 1. It really depends on the film. In a movie like On The Town, which features a similar stylized dance number towards the end, the sets are very much realistic (being on-location in New York). An unrealistic, fantastical scene in an otherwise grounded film can serve as a memorable break from monotonous set pieces. In An American in Paris, though, where everything is fashioned in subtle ways to look like paintings, a ballet designed with impressionist styles seems like a logical conclusion. It's the grand finale to this art exhibit of a film; the piece de resistance!

    2. Well, being portrayed by one of the most charming actors to grace the screen can make any jerkish character seem likeable. Gene Kelly could've played Adolf Hitler and made him seem likeable! Even without Kelly's innate positive energy, Mulligan has shown us in previous scenes (as well as this one, somewhat) that he is very amicable to most everybody he meets. He's friends with the local children, the café owners, pretty much everyone except the third-year student. We can assume from his dialogue that he has had a lot of experience with college types, so perhaps he tried being nice to them at first, only to get a sour opinion of the lot after some bad apples came his way.

  6. 1. Even before they start the actual dance, Kelly and O'Connor are incredibly rhythmic in their motions. They bounce up and down in time with the music wherever they walk, and whenever they use their arms, they move them with rhythmic precision. It almost seems like they're mocking the vocal coach with every move they make. Notably, they seem a lot looser when they begin the tap portion of the number, as if they broke free of the coach's restrictive teaching environment - as well as the restrictions that the Talkie movement brought both of them in the film.

    2. In any good comedy duo (or trio, in this case), there must always be a straight man. He sets up the jokes that the funny guy delivers. He contrasts the screwball comedy of his partner with dry deadpan. He acts as the audience surrogate to the shenanigans that he experiences. He's underappreciated and overshadowed, but without him, the act falls flat. Usually in this film, Gene Kelly plays the straight man to Donald O'Connor's clown, but since the two are both acting silly for this number, they needed a more serious individual to bounce the humor off of. The vocal coach is the most extreme example of a straight man; he does not respond to Kelly and O'Connor's goofiness with anything but befuddled speechlessness. No wry remarks or Moe Howard-style head bonks; he's content to just watch his student tear up the office with some nut that just walked in. He is the audience surrogate. A pair of eyes beyond the fourth wall that brings us right into the action.

    3. All three men exhibit some level of masculinity. Kelly is the most masculine - he has the deepest voice, as well as a gentlemanly gait. Watson is the least masculine - his voice is highest out of the three, and he has more of a whimsicality about him that would've been considered unmanly at the time. O'Connor is somewhere in the middle - he doesn't have as deep a voice as Kelly, but he still has the mischievous nature typically associated with rowdy schoolboys. These different types of masculinity serve to separate the characters and make them more distinct and memorable.

  7. 1. It seems to me that the 50's were not a flexible time to be a woman. You were either a feminine lady - always wearing dresses and makeup, playing more passive roles compared to the men's active ones - or you were a tomboy who would eventually realize the error of your ways and get shoehorned into being the former. Jane definitely falls into the latter type, but never truly lets go of her masculine nature. She gets in touch with both the male and female aspects of one's personality, making her a much more complex character than the 50's would normally have her be.

    2. I think Doris Day is great. She's got a wonderful voice, she always seems so friendly, and she managed to be in Hollywood without getting involved in any sort of controversies (which is no small feat). The only thing I can truly say against her is that most of her roles felt too similar. She always seemed to play amicable characters, strong-willed but nurturing, and always with a sunny disposition (so herself, basically). It's no wonder she stated Calamity Jane as her favorite film; Jane in such a departure from her usual characters. She's rough and tumble, as well as incredibly no-nonsense. Yet it's still Doris Day, so she's still really cheerful about it. I honestly don't think her characters evolved after this, but they're still characters I love to watch.

    3. It definitely adds to the character. If you were to take Day's cheeriness out of this performance, all you'd be left with is yet another tough and gritty cowboy movie protagonist. You might as well have gotten John Wayne to play Calamity Jane, and I don't think anybody ever wanted to see Wayne in a dress.

  8. 1. You can tell that this is a group of good friends, judging from the way they joke around with each other throughout the number. The performers are decidedly not dancers (apart from the obvious exception... Oscar Levant; the man was a fiend on the dance floor!), so they rely more on visual humor and comical interactions. The laid-back, fun-filled tone of the scene makes the song seem more like a after-hours get-together between coworkers, rather than a big, complex musical extravaganza. It's the backstage experience!

    2. Visually, none of the performers are very striking. Everyone wears muted, neutral colors - dark blues, grays, and whites - meaning no one truly draws your eyes away from the rest. It causes the group to mesh together in a design sense; they are a team not only in a shared interest in the theatre, but fashion-wise, as well.

    3. Again, there is a lot of fun and fancy-free in this scene - a bunch of theatre pals having a good time with an unattended set. They use props and backdrops to entertain each other, in a way reminiscent of the "Make 'em Laugh" number from Singin' in the Rain. Anyone who's been a high school theatre kid hanging out with other such folk will know that there's no better way to bond with each other than messing around with set pieces when the director's not looking. You can tell without even having seen the movie, just by watching these guys joking about with each other, that they are comrades in arms. Literally in arms, when they're doing the cheerleader pyramid routine.

  9. 1. I actually got a chance to see this movie the other day! Prior to this scene, Petunia is inconsolable; praying desperately for her husband to get well. When Joe awakens, her spirits are immediately lifted, and the scene appropriately shifts from the dark bedroom to the bright and sunny yard. The mid-song set change reflects Petunia's mood, being brought out of her dismal slump and into a happier state of mind. The song is happy, the environment is happy, everything looks just a bit brighter when things go right.

    2. I'm not sure that much would change if the subject of the song was a kid. While this makes the previous altercation with a gun-wielding gambler more disturbing, she is nonetheless still singing about how happy she is to see a loved-one recover.

    3. It's nice to see that black performers were given such a great opportunity, especially in a time when finding decent work in Hollywood was a miracle. It's a wonder that the likes of this film and Porgy and Bess didn't open people's minds to the idea of giving talented African Americans equal billing to their white colleagues. But alas.

  10. 1. One big thing I noticed was that, all throughout the number, there isn't a single frame where Sinatra and Garrett are not on-screen at the same time. There are no shots that focus on one specific person; anything that happens features both performers. And no matter how hard Sinatra tries to be camera shy, Garrett is always right behind him. Almost like they were fated to be together! Other than that, the camera work was pretty nifty; the way it angles upwards as they ascend the bleachers, as well as its rotation during the "play ball" bit where Garrett is advancing while Sinatra retreats. Very nice touches!

    2. One of my favorite things in musical theatre is the segue; a little sneak peak at the upcoming number. You can hear a faster-paced version of the song's melody as Sinatra enters the scene, which cuts out right as Garrett blocks his path. This tiny instance highlights the theme of the number we're going to be seeing: Garrett trying to convince Sinatra of the spark between them. Hereafter, every step they make towards the bleachers is punctuated by a beat of music (I think they call that "Mickey Mousing"), before Garrett finally shouts "Hey!" to cue up the song.

  11. 1. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most people were introduced to Judy Garland through Wizard of Oz. I happen to be one such folk. Nowadays, seeing her belt "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" fills me with unbridled joy and consistently amazes me that one person could contain so much talent. Back when I first watched it, though, at the ripe age of 3, my thoughts went something like, "Wow she sings pretty. Where's the color?"

    2. Well, considering I've seen both of these films before, my opinions on Judy Garland haven't changed one bit. She's still incredible, sweet, funny, all the good things that a human being can be. If I sing any more of her praises, my throat's gonna get sore!

    3. Usually when I think of Judy Garland's later career, A Star is Born immediately pops in my head. And when I think of her ability to tell a story with a song, I think of "The Man That Got Away" from the same film. The whole tune serves as foreshadowing for later events (which I shant spoil for those who haven't watched it). It's a terribly sad song, and though it is sung at a happier point in the movie, Judy puts so much emotion into it that you could swear she was feeling every bit as morose as the lyrics would imply. She was a master of drawing listeners into the music with her powerful voice. Aaaaaaand there goes my throat!

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  12. 1. Well, I suppose if you're trying to instill a sense of American devotion in your viewers, you can't get a more patriotic set piece than the Oval Office. The flags flanking Cohen and the various pictures of American naval vessels hanging on the walls are nice touches, but the part that really said "America" to me was at the very beginning; Cohen and the attendant climbing the stairs, backed by the portraits of previous presidents. It's representative of the American people, ascending the stairway of success, overlooked by the greatest leaders of their day. It's a subtle bit, but effective. And if subtlety's not your thing, there's a big 4th of July parade near the end just to sell you on the whole "America is awesome" thing.

    2. The very fact that Cohen started out as a "cocky kid" who was always "waving a flag in a parade or following one," then went on to become one of the nation's greatest showmen; it's a message to the younger generation. The next American sensation could be YOU, young patriot! Follow that star-spangled parade to fame and fortune! American exceptionalism is scattered all throughout the dialogue, particularly in Roosevelt's comment about Cohen's career being based upon telling "the other 47 states" how great this country is.

    3. The film could have just as easily opened on the parade scene as it did on the Oval Office, it simply wouldn't have been as engaging. With the Oval Office opening, we are treated to a glimpse of who we're focusing on, and we're then left to wonder throughout the film how this man got to where he is now. How did a kid from Massachusetts get all the way to a Presidential meeting at the White House? It keeps us intrigued and gives us a stronger attachment to our main character. Had the film opened with the Independence Day celebration, we get an unclear picture of what the film is about. Is it about America? Well sure, that's part of it, but it's mainly about Cohen. Is that Irish dancing fellow the central character? Not likely; the movie poster clearly advertised James Cagney as the lead. Without the establishing scene of Cohen's meeting with Roosevelt and the framing device thereof, the film starts off on rough ground. It begins perfectly well the way it is.

  13. 1. To this day, I have yet to see a better "battle of the sexes" number than "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun. The dance depicted in this clip is almost like a visual representation of that number; the "yes I can" "no you can't" back-and-forth banter being illustrated in the dance steps between Fred and Ginger.

    2. The most distinguishing feature that I can glean from this clip is the fact that Fred and Ginger are, indeed, presented as equals. The man is not down on one knee confessing his undying love while the woman faints into his arms. Instead, the two performers stroll out onto the dance floor (gazebo floor, whatever) and strut their stuff, trying to match what the other is doing. In that instance, they are not man and woman, but two magnificent dancers. They are not trying to court each other, but show each other up in the art of tap. And in the end, they don't share a passionate kiss, but a handshake of good sportsmanship. It's a platonic exchange rarely seen between two people who are almost certainly love interests; rarer still in a time where a guy and a girl on screen at the same time meant kismet.

    3. The main goal for any comedy is, of course, to make people laugh. People don't go to screwball comedies to see deep romance and overdramatic, adoration-filled monologues; they come to see people make funny jokes and get hit on the head every so often. To this end, the male/female dynamic was changed to suit the tone. Where a lady might swoon at a man's advances in other pictures, in the screwball comedy she'll bop him in the nose. When a movie calls for hilarity, the characters and their relationships have to be hilarious as well.

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  14. 1. From what I can gather, the Lubitsch Touch is mainly about relaying information without any vocal exposition, relying entirely on scenery and body language. Here we see Chevalier's lady friend produce a garter, then quickly pulling up her dress to reveal that she still has both of her garters on (this was definitely a pre-Code film). We didn't even need to hear Chevalier's sly fourth wall-breaking line to know that "she's terribly jealous;" that few seconds of garter gazing told the audience all they needed to know. The Lubitsch Touch goes even further to show just what kind of character Chevalier is playing; when the Count confiscates the lady's pistol, he puts it in a drawer chock-full of guns, implying that he's gone through this exact scenario with loads of other women. The man certainly knows his way around the fairer sex, being able to zip up the lady's dress when her husband cannot. It all comes together to form our perception of the Count: a loveable, roguish Casanova.

    2. The scene, for the most part, is very quiet. The only sounds we hear are arguing in French (which non-French speakers like me can only assume is about illicit affairs), and the occasional blank being fired from a gun. Without any music, we are left to focus entirely on the exchange between the actors. This is a very effective technique, but I feel like the scene could still benefit from the addition of music, other than the dramatic string cues we hear when the husband angrily confronts the Count.

    3. A common facet I've been seeing in the clips of this week is the love triangle. Ziegfeld and Billings vying for Anna Held, Nelson Eddy showing off his singing ability to get Jeanette MacDonald's attention away from an Italian tenor, and now Chevalier and a French aristocrat having a zip-up match over a woman scorned. In all of these, it seems the handsome, witty protagonist always has the upper hand, confounding the competition and winning over the lady in some way or another. The love triangle is such an old trope, but the Hollywood musical appeared to be obsessed with it. I wouldn't be surprised if such things happen in Top Hat or The Gay Divorcee. Guess I'll have to find out tomorrow!

  15. 1. There's clearly a mutual affection blossoming between the two of them, much as they're trying to conceal it under a layer of comedy. You can see it best in Jeannette MacDonald's performance during Nelson Eddy's song in the first clip; the way her facial expressions constantly shift between "Mm. Not bad." and "Uh-oh... I think I'm falling for this guy!" It's a sign of a good actor when they can convey emotions without having to utter a single word, and MacDonald really nailed it. Eddy was no slouch, either; his encouraging smile towards MacDonald when she's about to leave in the second clip shows how much he wanted her to succeed in her money-making effort. It was their strong facial performances that sold me on their attraction to each other.

    2. Once again, I must admit my terrible lack of familiarity with the films and performers of this era. I do not recall seeing MacDonald in any other form of media, but I HAVE heard Eddy's voice somewhere else: a Disney short about a whale that sings in the opera! I have to say, there aren't many Italian tenors they could've picked to better portray a singing whale than Nelson Eddy. Guy's got pipes!

    3. One thing I've noticed about older films, especially ones from around this period, is that the male/female dynamic almost always has the male be the strong emotional support to the female, who is never quite sure of her own abilities. MacDonald tries her best to fit in with the rowdy crowd at the saloon, but is ultimately unable to, and she runs off in despair. Eddy, who sees MacDonald for the talented singer she is, follows her to presumably make her feel better. It was always the guys who helped out the girls, and hardly the other way around. Hollywood's higher-ups were of the Y chromosome variety, so this sort of setup was inevitably common. I can name plenty of movies where the reverse is true (Singin' in the Rain & Man with the Golden Arm come to mind), but those came much later.

  16. 1. This clip definitely had a light-hearted tone that felt somewhat unrealistic. A doorman getting tipped the equivalent of 50 bucks for answering a question? Sure! Audience members being delighted at a beam of light shined directly at their eyes? Why not! Anna Held considering cancelling her arrangement with Billings in favor of some stranger who sent her flowers? Of course! And there was nothing wrong with any of it. In a time when happiness and good laughs were few and far between, realism must not have been in high demand.

    2. I am sadly not as familiar as I ought to be with Depression-era musicals - the only ones I've seen are 42nd Street, The Wizard of Oz, and the tiniest bit of Gold Rush. I can only guess from watching this clip and those films that a major theme throughout the movies of this time period is Success. Specifically, success despite insurmountable odds. The director in 42nd Street managed to put on his show while battling a fatal illness. Dorothy found her way out of the treacherous land of Oz almost entirely on her own (and with less-than-helpful company). In this clip we see Ziegfeld (possibly?) win over Held, despite her already having a good thing with Billings. Success was what most folks craved in the Depression, and movie musicals were more than happy to give the people what they wanted to see.

    3. I suppose the main difference we'd see in this clip were it made pre-Code would be Held's wardrobe. Instead of the opulent, conservative gown she's wearing, maybe something along the lines of a flapper's attire? Whatever shows off more leg (because if there was anything that got the censors fuming back then, it was legs). Other than that, I can't think of anything else they would have changed in this clip alone.

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