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  1. I think what's key in the actual performance of 'People' is that Fanny is not delivering a performance per se - it's a song as part of the film story. She's sharing her feelings with Nick, rather than performing a number to the audience at Ziegfeld's, and as a result, she's sharing her heartfelt emotions. Those emotions aren't being belted out to the back row; they're being shared to the man in front of her, and for the first time she understands how she might need someone to care for, and someone to to care for her, rather than just applause, in her life. Nick watches Fanny as she sings
  2. I think both My Fair Lady and Gaslight involved women who were, initially at least, easily molded or controlled by men. In the case of My Fair Lady, the decor of Henry Higgin's home is completely tailored to his Victorian-era bachelor needs. He finds women annoying, so of course he hasn't done anything to make her comfortable; he's only hired the jewels she's wearing. In Gaslight, Gregory takes away anything that Paula might enjoy, until the home is sparsely decorated, accusing her of losing things as part of his effort to drive her mad. Cukor uses lighting, closeups, and careful editing in bo
  3. As we look at male performances in musicals, it seems like over time they've become more natural, less stylized. In later years, when the performer shows emotion, it's a more comfortable emotion, one that you as a viewer can understand and with which you can identify - in fact, the emotions show a complex human being, rather than a 'good' guy or a 'bad guy. I think back to the Jimmy Stewart part in Rose Marie, for example; it's clear that he's just a kid gone wrong, while Jeanette and Nelson are clearly the heroine and hero, respectively. Not much nuance there. Comparing those roles to the rol
  4. In this scene of Gypsy, we have the fundamental elements of the backstage musical - an audition. Within less than a minute, we see little girls auditioning for a show, an overwhelmed stage manager, a corrupt production manager, and an overbearing mother. I have to believe this one of the key reasons that Gypsy was not successful is that it took so long for a likable character in the form of Natalie Wood's Louise to appear. But this film is hint of the hyper-realism of the 1970's, where characters are not likable, where the stage isn't pretty, and where fairy tales don't come true. Unfortunatel
  5. As a child, I found the imaginary ballet scene in An American in Paris to be a bit jarring. I just didn't understand the transition: Jerry looked at the paper on the floor and then found his way inside to a world filled with painting styles and Gershwin. But back then, I was fascinated only with words and music, not film and dance. I think every film is stylized to a certain extent, whether you have each step choreographed in a baseball game, the costumes defining relationships and the scene, or the colors carefully offsetting each other. That's all basically unrealistic; life isn't like that.
  6. This is a delightful scene, and the energy levels that O'Connor and Kelly maintain are incredible. I think the pre-dance movements are as choreographed as the dance movements themselves, with both men literally running circles around the instructor. I have always thought O'Connor is a slightly tighter dancer - while Gene is a little looser - and it's interesting to watch the two next to each other in such an exuberant scene. The professor holds sway only through his title - he's in no way an alpha male, so once the student shows competence, any control the teacher may have is gone. He gi
  7. Calamity Jane is one of those 1950's movies that takes women down the path that only men used to trod: playing a role that matures, and finds the proper place in life during the the movie, all while competing directly with men. We see Betty Hutton take that path in "The Greatest Show on Earth," and 'Annie Get Your Gun.' Women competing directly with men (literally for the spotlight), while searching for their own path. We see Jane Russell do the same in 'The French Line': trying to find her place (always at a man's side, but nonetheless, looking for the right man who will really love her in s
  8. In The Bandwagon 'that's entertainment' song has four stars with varying talents, but none of them are jockeying for the starring position; instead they're playing off each other's talents. Fred, Jack and Nanette each dance delightfully, while Oscar wanders in and out comically. It seems like a great example of what we can do working together - a key factor of the 1950's - versus having a single star, or a leading role which was prevalent in earlier years. That may have been easier to stomach in this movie since we did have a large ensemble cast with names we were comfortable with as stars fro
  9. Such an interesting reminder of the times. Petunia had an epiphany with Joe's injury; all the issues that she's had with Joe throughout the movie - his unreliability, his gambling, his inability to put food on the table - vanished when he was hurt. She realized that her happiness was wrapped up in him. She could forgive him anything, as long as he was alright. (In contemporary times, any friend of Petunia would be helping her nurse Joe back to health, writing down his every annoying habit while he's sick, then dumping Joe on his mama's doorstep.) In the scene with the laundry, we see that
  10. In "Take Me Out to the "Ball Game," we have the ideal chase scene, with Frank Sinatra coming out of the locker room happily playing with a baseball, completely obvious to any potential disaster. The music changes as Betty Garrett begins blocking his escape routes. He's not interested - but she's determined, as we see in shot after shot, from the long underground hall, to field, to bleachers (what a trouper, running up and down in those shoes!) to back wall, and back down again to field. The movements build, sway and jerk in perfect time to the music and must have been a nightmare to film. She
  11. My first Judy Garland film was Wizard of Oz, on black and white television, so I missed the transition of Oz to color. I was too young to appreciate the songs, or Judy; I didn't even understand that the key characters were back home on the farm - but I was terrified of the witch, and hid behind my older brother's chair whenever she appeared. Handily we had a LP of the Wizard of Oz movie, with songs, so I can recite almost the entire movie now. (If only we had LPs of Shakespeare.) It's hard for me to view her with a fresh eye, since she's always been a part of my musical world - she's been sing
  12. Patriotic? We start out our clip with George M. Cohen making a quiet walk through the the nation's home: the White House. What could be more nostalgic, more comforting, more thematically American, than a friendly escort, by the kindly butler who recalls the Cohen song "You're a Grand Old Flag," through the house of the national leader? We walk up the carpeted stairs, past portraits of our Founding Fathers. We get to the Oval office and look past Roosevelt's shoulder's to see the American Flag, and (accurately) sailing ships - because we remember Roosevelt started as Secretary of the Navy - and
  13. I love how the costumes present our two protagonists on a near-even footing, from the very beginning of the clip. Where else, in 1935, are you going to see a woman in pants, facing off with a man? If it were pajamas, you'd still see the woman at a disadvantage - jodhpurs give Ginger a literal sporting chance. And the dancing starts with Fred doing a slow walk, but once he discovers that Ginger can match his every step, he increases the pace until they're doing a mad dash. It's better than Bobby Riggs versus Billy Jean King. Interestingly, this clip isn't half so decorative as the other fi
  14. I've heard of Lubitsch as frothy, but I can't say that I saw the clip that way; perhaps "frothy" means "lots of interesting props to see." The props, dialogue and especially staging seemed to combine together to convey that we had a handsome young rogue dealing with that jealous woman - perhaps she was justified - but we must indulge him because he's just too delightful not to share his charm with everyone. (Just like in the "King and I" - man must be like the bee, and go from flower to flower.) When things get out hand, it's not surprising that the scene becomes more dramatic, and then goes r
  15. The interaction between the two characters in the canoe is interesting. We have to assume that we're in a very quiet point on the lake - no wind, no paddling noises whatsoever, and Rose Marie is able to hear Mountie Bruce just fine, regardless of which way she's facing. That said, putting our rapt audience hat on, they're bantering away like comrades, rather than developing a romantic relationship - which we know will develop, come hell or high water, because this IS a movie and they MUST sing together. But it's not surprising that they're a little less than cuddling, since many of us have see
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