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Janette Davis Gass

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  1. !. There is a fairy tale embedded in this film which makes the highly stylized ballet seem appropriate. 2. First, how can anyone not like Gene Kelly? Next, his character is still "G.I. Joe" in Paris. He is somewhat unrefined and terse, but adorable in his appearance. He shrinks a bit in confidence when approached by a more sophisticated, wealthy educated female American, which makes him seem vulnerable.
  2. 1. During their pre-dance moments and movements, it is quite apparent that Kelly's character is developing as the alpha male in the story. O'Connor is set up very early as the comic sidekick character. The dance that follows illustrates this. 2. The straight man in the clip, the professor, is the center of the trio. He is the teacher trying to control his class. O'Connor is the typical class clown. Kelly is at the head of the class and gets away with everything. 3. The professor in this clip is representative of the stayed, old-fashioned, conservative male character that our culture was moving away from and considering less attractive - comical.
  3. 1. Doris Day's character in "Calamity Jane" is representative of the post-war, stronger woman. I believe the female representation belongs at the later end of this period of musicals. 2. Day definitely exhibits growth as an actress and musician in "Calamity Jane". In this picture, her movements are border and more imaginative. Her musical pieces are very different in style from her big band days. the character, Jane, is so much more animated than Day's earlier and most of her later roles. 3. Day's sunny disposition and personality lend themselves well to her portrayal of Calamity. The main character, after all, is positive and determined. She relies on these traits and a sense of humor to achieve her goals.
  4. 1. This is an ensemble piece; the characters work together toward a common achievement. All are stars. There is no one boy, girl or couple who takes over the story or stage production as in earlier musicals we have studied. 2. The styles of the characters' costumes are sensible - almost utilitarian. The colors are less bold, yet they define the actors' roles. The costumes seem to be created to help the characters blend as a group. 3. The players in this scene have a shared goal and exuberance for their work. Both are emphasized by the interaction between them during the musical piece - they seem almost like a cheerleading squad.
  5. 1. The first Garland film I remember seeing was "The Wizard of Oz". I was probably about five years old, and I remember thinking that she looked too old for the part she was playing, and her dress looked too small. Hmmm... 2. As I grew and became a singer, I watched "the Wizard of Oz" many more times. I still thought she was too old for the part of Dorothy and that the dress didn't fit, but these ideas prompted me to research her career, and I quickly grew in respect for her talent and courage. Yes, courage. In the clips we studied, Garland seemed more relaxed and natural than in her earlier pictures. She was more mature in self and style, but it seemed like she had escaped something more than the gingham dress and had been set free. 3. In her later films, Garland's ability to bring emotion to a musical story kept evolving. I have always found "Summer Stock" to illustrate this well. I think it is probably one of her younger audience's lesser known films, however. In my opinion, the best story Garland ever told on film was not set to music. It was told by her character in "Judgement at Nuremberg".
  6. 1. The scenes in the fifth Daily Dose of Delight film, "Yankee Doodle Dandy", are deliberately structured to promote pride and patriotism. Settings and character interaction firmly encourage shared commitment to country and family. In the first scene, props in the White House used to convey such emotions include portraits of presidents and paintings of sea battles. In the oval office we see a flag, nautical decor and, referencing family, a stuffed rabbit on the desk to the right of President Roosevelt. Irish-American Cohan and the president's African-American valet share conversation as if old friends, and they ascend the stairs to the oval office side-by-side. In the second scene, the set is filled with flags, marching army troops and patriotic bunting. Cohan's father is proudly costumed and performing as an Irishman. He is the star on the stage on the Fourth of July and about to become the father of a new American citizen. 2. The dialogue, colored with ethnic accents, is important to the promotion of patriotism and a nod toward equality in the clips from "Yankee Doodle Dandy". In the first scene, the president's valet has a southern accent which was associated strongly with African-Americans of the period. Cohan's accent seems to have more of a Brooklyn/Irish-American twang, softened by his social experience and elevation in his profession, but still referencing the immigrant. The president's accent is upper-rung and Ivy League. The three tones and styles of speech would have been identifiable by Americans of almost every socio-economic and ethnic category who saw this film when it was released. Specific lines of dialogue between the characters indicate that they are all on the same level and working together for a common cause: "Here's my double.", "...I've always admired about you Irish-Americans." 3. If this film had opened with the Fourth of July parade and George M.'s birth, instead of his ascending the stairs of the White house, it would have been a story more in keeping with the optimistic productions of the depression era - the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt's first term in office. By the time "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was released, the president and county had moved into a new phase and focus - sustained economic growth, the beginning of civil rights concerns and military victory. The audience no longer needed so much to be taught how to get the attention of the government as to be reminded that it was the government.
  7. 1. Lubitsch's style was already becoming well defined at the time "The Love Parade" was released. The director used sexualized props from the beginning, and had the character, Renard, set the plot by addressing the audience. The viewer realizes from the first scene that Renard is a playboy by way of lavish sets costumes and the way he downplays his infidelity toward his love interest, who is also unfaithful. HIs drawerful of pistols makes it clear that this is not Renard's first encounter with a jealous lover. 2. "The Love Parade" was made during the very early years of sound in film. Lubitsch took advantage of the new technology by using intriguing foreign language dialogue, music and a sound affect mimicking a firing gun. 3. Lush, imoral living and the folly of the rich are dominant in this picture. Vaudeville-esque staging, such as the addressing of the audience by the main character and characterizations such as the naive, male authority figure, in this case the husband, are typical of Lubitsch's work.
  8. 1. At the beginning of first clip, in the canoe, the characters seem to be fighting attraction for each other; MacDonald seems to be somewhat superior in her behavior toward Eddy, and he is aware of it. Later, in the saloon, Rose Marie feels forced to step off her moral pedestal and witnesses Eddy's true character as he rescues her. After all, a mountie always gets his man, or woman. 2. I admire the work of MacDonald and Eddy, but their film rolls are so repetitive; beautiful, good girl with high-brow morals and talent meets handsome, often uniform clad, not-so-high-brow guy. She rejects him. He rescues her from some kind of music laced catastrophe and then convinces her, through song, that they can live happily ever after. They perform a duet, which seals the deal. 3. The depictions of male/female relationships in films of this era were very traditional. Men pursued women. Women characters were either good girls or bad girls. If the women exercised independence, in either a moral or immoral fashion, the good girl ended up with the boy, and the expectation was that she no longer had a need for independence.
  9. 1. What I observe is more of an awareness by Rogers' character that Astaire's character is making advances toward her. Rogers' facial expressions are as important in this clip as her dance expressions. She isn't as "innocent and sweet" as female characters in earlier musicals. The viewer can ascertain that this woman has had charge of her life, and she plans to continue to do so. 2. In "Top Hat" life, overall, is more sophisticated, carefree and affluent than in earlier musicals. The female characters are more independent and confident. 3. Musicals made during the early years of the depression were largely comic, almost vaudevillian, diversions for a downtrodden audience. Musicals produced during the later years of the depression reflect monetary and social improvement, female confidence and independence and an easing of the plight of the population.
  10. 1. I agree the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than was realistic at the time of the release of "the Great Ziegfeld". In 1936, America was still struggling to climb out of the Great Depression. The film studios were still working to stay solvent by brightening the lives of moviegoers with escapism, and perhaps hope, generated by depictions of opulence, gayety and employment for everyone. Hence, the audience had a reason to return to theaters with their spare change for more infusions of affordable Hollywood optimism. 2. I discovered the themes and approaches in this clip and "The Great Ziegfeld", in its entirety, to be predictable. Despite the fact that this picture was produced later than many other depression era movies, most social norms had not changed much between 1929 and 1936. As in other depression period musicals, "The Great Ziegfeld" reminds us that "a woman's got to have a man". ("Gold Diggers of 1933") Despite the independence and determination of the character, Anna Held, to control her own life and career, she is manipulated by Ziegfeld, as are nearly all females in the production. In the end, by choosing to divorce her philandering, common-law husband, Held is viewed as broken-hearted and regretful. There is a reference, at the end of the story, to Ziegfeld's embarrassment due to his last wife, Billie Burke, having to return to work. The message is that Burke should be relying on him, because she is legitimately his wife. Even though it is less exploited through humor, costuming and movement in "The Great Ziegfeld" than in earlier depression era musicals, female sexuality as a commodity is still a dominant theme throughout the picture. At the beginning of the film, Ziegfeld seems more intrigued by the doorman's description of Anna Held's eyes and how they make a man feel when she looks at him from the stage, than the quality of her performance. There is a clear double entendre in the lyrics to Held's song "Won't You Come and Play With Me". Later, women in the picture are not as scantily dressed as in earlier musicals, but they are ogled anyway, as when the title character is seen glancing at held's bottom as she leans over a desk. Other female characters in the story, such as his secretary, recognize that Ziggy takes liberties with them or their peers, but they do not protest or intervene; they're grateful to be employed. The studios were perpetuating this kind of male behavior in the workplace of the 1930's as normal and expected, if not complimentary. 3. It's evident that "The Great Ziegfeld" was produced under the Motion Picture Production Code. Visually and verbally some subject matter is downplayed or softened. Costuming in this work is modest compared to earlier depression era musicals. Women's dance routines are less bawdy. Instead of female characters in earlier musicals who are commonly seen becoming intoxicated, this picture implies that drinking women performers are fired by Ziegfeld. The treatment of the "marriage" between Held and Ziegfeld in the picture is interesting and reflective of pictures made under the code. The characters refer to each other as husband and wife. Held conspicuously wears a wedding band. I seem to recall Held being referred to as "Mrs. Ziegfeld" once. Finally, I find it fascinating that he subject of Marilyn Miller as one of Ziegfeld's mistresses is ignored. I wonder if anyone in the audience who was unaware of Ziegfeld's supposed relationship with the adult Miller would have guessed anything from the scene between Mary Ellen and the theatrical producer in his office. What may have been edited? Was this omission just a matter of satisfying the reviewers, or was the subject avoided because Miller died around the time the film was released?
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