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About TierzaH

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  1. Hello all! I have been a member of Backlot for about a year and am just now getting around to joining a local chapter. That said, the link Movie Mike posted is not working for me. Is this still an active chapter? If so, does anyone know how I should go about joining the chapter? Thanks! Tierza
  2. 1. Other aspects of the battle of the sexes are the fact that she doesn’t take the “woman’s part” in keeping up with Astaire, instead Rogers is further asserting that she is his equal by doing exactly as he is doing. Another interesting facet is the fact that they are never touching and act independently of one another; in fact, she outdoes him initially--she doesn’t wait to be invited to dance with him as is often the case in dance routines; rather, she jumps right in and makes steps either doubles or triples as opposed to Astaire’s version. 2. One difference from some of the other Depression era films that we have watched so far this week is the construction of humor/entertainment in the films. In many screwball comedies, the humor is found in the situations and circumstances of the plot. Top Hat, on the other hand, while still most definitely employing the circumstantial humor also has more witty and clever dialogue/banter than previous films have had. 3. Some possible reasons for the variance in male/female dynamic are 1) maybe variance in production. So many screwball comedies and musicals were being made that perhaps producers were looking for something a bit different and 2) the world of the depression and eventually WWII is dependent upon many women, both married and single, being sent into the workforce out of necessity. The end goal is no longer just finding a man, more or less (as in Broadway Melody), but finding a man as a "working woman"; we even see this some in Born to Dance that all three ladies have jobs of some sort. Perhaps another reason is that of the depression itself--as it gets worse, film becomes more and more of an escape so humor and competition that the audience knows will be resolved eventually becomes pure entertainment.
  3. The Lubitsch touch is evident in each of these aspects of the scene, however, I was particularly drawn to his use of props to help further the character of Alfred. From the obvious props such as the garter (and how nonchalant he is when she discovers it), which infers that she is not the first woman he has had in his apartment, and the drawer full of guns, which infer that this is not the first woman and/or spouse to attempt to kill him, to those less obvious props such the the boudoir painting above Alfred's desk all give a good indication of his womanizing character, even without dialogue. Also, Lubitsch's use of the dress as a prop is so very clever because not only does it add the humor of the woman returning to her lover for him to zip up her dress, but Alfred's efficiency in zipping up the dress, especially in contrast to the husband, emphasizes that this is a common occurrence for him. His efficiency also renders the moment a slight business-like feel to the whole sequence; there is no particular attachment to this woman, which again furthers his philandering character. Lubitsch's use of sound to emphasize certain aspects of the plot is stunning. In choosing to have limited dialogue in English, Lubitsch is able to draw the audience's attention to two specific lines: "She's terribly jealous." and "Her husband." While important to the plot, these two lines are also incredibly humorous, for here is this "jealous" woman berating her lover about a garter that is not hers who then in turn has a husband herself, who, ironically, is not depicted as jealous so much as frustrated with the whole affair. Also, the sound of the gun with no apparent effect adds to the humor of the film because the audience, much like Alfred and the husband, are left wondering why Alfred is not injured or dead since he was shot point-blank. If there was no sound for this portion of the film, the sequence would have come across as some sort of gun malfunction, not a comedic and miraculous shooting survival. The theme/approach I expect to see again is the lightheartedness of the whole affair. A woman is caught by her husband with another man and "commits" suicide, only to still be alive. Subsequently, her husband is so relieved to have her back they move on with their lives almost as if nothing had really happened. In many ways, undercutting the potentially serious nature of this scene furthers the audience escapism of the Depression era by reinforcing that nothing is so serious it cannot be made humorous in some fashion.
  4. In these two scenes, there is a sense that the two characters are drawn to one another without actually ever being "together," perhaps in part because there is no sense of excitement really on either party as well as the fact that the audience never sees Eddy or MacDonald ever touch their co-star, which makes the romance appear more as a formal courtship than an actual interest in one another. This changes as the story progresses as the audience sees Bruce and Marie playfully banter back and forth, giving their relationship a bit more dimension. Sergeant Bruce is in active pursuit of Marie, yet she is very removed and disengaged from the conversation, which differs some from The Great Ziegfeld, where Anna Held seems overwhelmed by Ziegfeld’s gift of orchids, so much so she is willing to put off Billings in order to meet this mysterious Ziegfeld, Jr. This contrast is even more interesting when one considers that both musicals were produced by MGM and released in 1936. For Marie, it is only after Bruce sings a song about wonderful she and how much he loves her that the audience begins to see her demeanor change. The one commonality between Held and Marie is that both women become much more interested in their respective men after those men have performed some grand romantic gesture (orchids or song). Another interesting aspect of the first clip is that as Bruce is singing about Marie, he continues to row their boat across the water. When he mentions the name Maud, he stops all action almost immediately, much to Marie’s slight annoyance, indicating, that at least in this stage in their relationship, Bruce still has more of a connection to Maud than he does to Marie. The second clip is where their relationship meets its high point because the playing field has been leveled. Anna can no longer be standoffish and in control of how their relationship unfolds because she herself is intensely vulnerable. It is this vulnerability as she is performing in the saloon that truly allows the audience to see the depths of their affections for one another. For Anna this is the case because her vulnerability drives her to embarrassment; she wants to be in control and nonchalant in front of Bruce, so as to maintain this boy chases girl relationship that they have. Her embarrassment, however, indicates that she is, in fact, very much attracted to Bruce and that his seeing her perform in such an establishment (and outperformed by one of his apparent companions), only adds to her vulnerability, emphasizing her humanity and her love for him. For Bruce, this moment of vulnerability allows him to be the hero, as seen when he follows her outside after her “disaster” of a performance. His love is best expressed by the fact that he feels an intense amount of both sympathy and embarrassment for Marie, and tries to maintain this tenuous balance of being there for her without making her too uncomfortable. Following her out, and leaving those at his table behind, tells the audience and Marie that his affection for her has not changed from that song in the boat, only perhaps now there is a greater sense of respect for Marie’s character. 2. Not applicable. 3. These clips both emphasize the "politeness" of male/female relationships. The male pursues the female, but it is all very stately and almost a-passionate. In some ways, it is reminiscent of the courtship proceedings during the Regency Era, polite conversation, lack of physical touch. Both Eddy and MacDonald are “in love” with one another, yet each in their own little world. There is some coy flirtation, yet it is never too overt or bawdy. Additionally, the final scene reinforces the damsel in distress in need of a hero trope, as Bruce goes to comfort, or “rescue”, Marie. In many ways, the relationship depicted in this film is the perfect example of Code norms as it creates a romance that has distance, modesty, and restraint woven into the fabric of its very essence as well as the fact that it reinforces what many considered, or desired, male/female normative relationships to be: he the protector, she the beautiful protected who is ultimately dependent on her masculine counterpart.
  5. 1. I also agree that the film is a much more light-hearted approach to life, which, given the time period of the Depression, makes sense. Not as many audience members would spend what little money they had to go see a film that was as troubled as their lives. As more and more people began to lose their jobs and their homes, a world where naivete and innocence flourishes becomes much more appealing. The Great Ziegfeld, then, serves as its own little utopia that would help them escape their own personal realities. This clip portrays Anna as naive and inexperienced (she talks of postponing Billings despite his offer for a world tour), yet the audience is given absolutely no indication that either of those character traits will hold her back or harm her in any way, although they would in the show business of the "real world" as it were. 2. An approach that I have often found in both Depression era musicals as well as some that post date the Depression is the filming the singer or performer as one would see them on stage, much like Broadway Melody, yet not quite as choppy in terms of entrances and editing. The song or number has yet to be incorporated into the film and story line itself, and instead, stands apart as its own little vignette. A trope I would anticipate is that of the love triangle comedic romp. Unlike Dramas or later musicals, love triangles in several Depression era musicals are often jovial, with one man the obvious choice over his buffoonish adversary. Because of the historical context of these films, many musicals will find a way to not focus on "real-life" problems, and if they do, it will be in a nonchalant manner so as to preserve the sense of escapism for the audience as well as the studios's box-office take. 3. Thinking in terms of pre-code vs code, one of the first things I noticed in this clip was that Anna was fully dressed (in a full-length Edwardian style gown, no less) for the entire sequence, which is highly unrealistic given the nature of stage production. This goes as far as to ensure that Anna has her hat on for nearly the entire sequence as well. Anyone who has participated in any sort of theatrical production can tell you that props such as hats and gloves come off almost as soon as you leave the stage, which makes Anna's wearing of the hat seem almost too formal for a backstage setting. In a pre-code film, Anna would have been in some stage of undress, probably with other girls or performers in some state of undress in the background, even if it is just when she opens the door to enter her dressing room. Another change that would have been made is that Ziegfeld would not have been waiting for her at the "stage door" for Anna to meet him, rather he would have come to her dressing room himself in order to emphasize Anna's state of undress, as well as the potential relationship between them, much like Nick Arnstein does in Funny Girl (1968). Additionally, there would have been more backstage sequences so as to emphasize the costuming of the other performers. Anna's costume itself vastly differs from those seen in Broadway Melody and Gold Diggers of 1933, physically embodying the production code's emphasis on modesty and decency as becoming a woman of that time period.
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