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Laura in New Mexico

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Everything posted by Laura in New Mexico

  1. I'm in Los Alamos, but I'd love to be in a New Mexico chapter. If we called in northern New Mexico, we might get five members!
  2. What do you notice about the Lubitsch touch? How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)? OMG, this is the Lubisch movie I referred to in my comments from yesterday. It was quite a shock to see it as today's topic. That said, I find a little Lubisch goes a long way. True, his movies are delightfully witty, but they also have a cynical core that I find difficult to take in large doses. Sort of like eating too many chocolates at once. The setting is typical Lubisch, lavish, occupied by people who don't have a care in the world except for their romantic entanglements. I didn't know what to make of the drawer full of guns, which I suspect has a different feel to a modern audience. I know my thoughts went at once to "serial killer", but it must have a tie in later in the movie, since such a dark character has no place in this kind of confection. Even though I know Lubisch is cynical, the staged suicide I found quite shocking. It can't work if you see the character of the woman as anything but a plot device. She's meant to be dismissed. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about the scene’s use of sound? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think it adds to the scene’s effectiveness. It is surprising how little of the dialogue is spoken by Chevalier in English. This is almost a silent movie to us non-French speakers, which I'd assume would be a large part of the audience in 1929. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Clearly the doltish husband and the romantic lover will make appearances, as well as the silly society woman and her lovers. Oddly, Chevalier stays the same in this movie, while in most musicals the male character will evolve and be more mature by the end, open to the love of a good, down to earth woman, as happened in a lot of the Astaire Rogers musicals.
  3. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples. Jeanette McDonald's character is a bit more lively than her usual proper lady in this scene. She's obviously on to Nelson Eddy's clumsy attempts at flirting, and gives as good as she gets. I did smile at her riffs on all the names in the song "specially composed" for Eddy's various targets of opportunity. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them. I've seen Nelson Eddy in the Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera, where he was pretty awful, I thought. Jeanette McDonald is a real delight in an earl Ernst Lubisch film with Maurice Chevalier, less so in San Francisco. I think she was too wedded to her ladylike image by then to make watching her much fun, especially with Gable and Tracy to compete with. What do these clips tell you about the male/female relationships as they are depicted in the films during this era? What norms might you expect are supported under the Hollywood Film Code? I've always had a hard time understanding the appeal of this duo. Despite the production values lavished on their films, the just don't "pop" the way Astaire/Rogers or even Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell do. What is says to me is that ladies fall in love with gentlemen, even if the gentlemen are from the backwoods and the lady is a member of the French court (a plot of one of their films, IIRC).
  4. This is certainly a more upbeat version of life that most people had during the Great Depression. The lavish expenditures on flowers, tips, etc. was way our of most budgets in that period. Not to say that there weren't grittier musicals. I'm remembering the "Remember My Forgotten Man" number from one of the Broadway Melody musicals, and even the Lullaby of Broadway number from Gold Diggers of 1935. This seems to be a kind of a fairy tale, rather than any attempt to be realistic. It's escapism, pure and simple. Not all musicals of the period were like that, but many were. I'm kind of reluctant to assume I know what to anticipate. Could go either way. Pre code, I'd expect Ziegfeld to show up in person and for Held to be in a dressing gown rather than full costume. Ogling and groping aren't exactly William Powell's style, but some more direct suggestive behavior on Ziegfeld's part might also appear in the script. Held's musical number could well be a lot suggestive, and her costume skimpier. Gold Diggers of 1935 A Study in Style on youtube is an analysis of Busby Berkley musicals in general and the Lullaby of Broadway number in particular. You know things are gonna get dark when Triumph of the Will is cited.
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