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Posts posted by Leej07

  1. We've finally reached the final Daily Dose of Delight. It's been fun, guys!

    1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

    The tenderness of the moment would have been lost. The song is meant to be largely introspective, and singing it over-the-top and bombastically would have ruined the moment.

    2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

    They are clearly attracted to each other, but for various reasons, neither is yet willing to admit it. They become more open toward each other as the song progresses.

    3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

    She's being introspective, and quiet, thinking of her love for Nick, but she is conflicted, because he's a gambler. She moves away from Nick, needing space to reflect on her feelings.

  2. I adore this film, and was very pleased to perform in a production of My Fair Lady on stage last year. Many happy memories.

    1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

    I am not as familiar with Gaslight. However, I note Cukor's use of lighting and shadows to emphasize moods. Eliza is cast in darkness at the beginning of the scene, and she seems to fade away, as if invisible, thus reflecting visibly her feelings of having been cast aside now that Higgins has won his bet.

    2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

    3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

    Higgins is unaware of Eliza's true feelings, despite her obviously being extremely upset. She's angry at him for taking her for granted, but he's too clueless to catch on that it's his own fault. Typical man.

  3. Before I get into my observations of the two films, I would like to say that I have been to Meredith Willson's hometown of Mason City, Iowa, which has been stated to have been the real life basis for the fictional River City in "The Music Man." Willson's birthplace is preserved as a museum, and there's also an adjoining tourist attraction called Music Man Square. I have many fond memories of Mason City, and "The Music Man" remains special to me as a result.

    1. As you look back to the masculine performances in musicals of past decades, what changes in male representation, and performance would you say are most noticeable?

    Men fit into a more codified gender role in early musicals. They were generally the leader, and didn't tend to subvert their roles in any way. As time passed, the gender roles became more fluid, and male roles far more flexible, less rigid. A gay man would never have been portrayed in the 1930s.

    2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips?

    He's extremely versatile, and engaging. No matter what he's doing, he's the center of attention. He takes charge of the scene, and it very much becomes "his" show. He also truly inhabits his roles, filling them with genuine humanity and pathos.

    3. Have you seen any Robert Preston films that are not musicals? If so, what do you notice about his characters and his approach to acting, now that you are more aware of his dedication to working his craft outside of his stage or film work?

    Unfortunately, I have only seen him in "The Music Man." I can see, though, that he was a truly dedicated and talented actor.

  4. 1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

    At the start, it's highly reminiscent of the backstage musicals of the 1930s. It almost vaudevillian in many ways. The orchestra pit is clearly seen, as well. However, about halfway through, the entire scene takes a turn, becoming entirely more disruptive and even subversive. Mama Rose barging in can be seen as symbolic of the upheaval experienced in movie musicals and the studio system in the 1960s. 

    2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

    She's very bombastic, eccentric, and loud. She is there to be noticed, and her every action is done to make sure she the center of attention. She won't be pushed around, either.

    3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

    The words are have a bit of a double meaning. Considering the song is reused later in the film by a grown up Gypsy Rose Lee in a burlesque routine, it's pretty obvious the lyrics have a definite sexual connotation.

  5. 1. Does a movie that has as stylized a scene as An American in Paris’ ending ballet need to use a less-than-realistic, stylized approach throughout the film?

    I do not think so. I think the clash of styles produces a more interesting result. There's almost an ethereal quality to the whole film, even before the ballet at the end, and I feel that serves to emphasize the romantic, dreamlike quality of Paris.

    2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable?

    Gene Kelly himself, actually. He acts brusquely toward the two women, but Kelly is otherwise such a charismatic leading man that one ultimately overlooks it.

  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

    It all lines up very well. Their pre-dance movements already have a rhythm, and a sense of musicality. You can tell a song is coming, because they're already starting segue into the dance moves. It's all a very smooth transition.

    2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

    The professor very much believes that he is in control. At the beginning, he's delighted, believing he's taught his two pupils perfect elocution. As the song and dance progresses, however, we can see a growing sense of bafflement. He's utterly confused by this sudden turn of events, as the students take over and turn the tables on the professor. Now, they are the masters, and they proceed to show off their proficiency, both in elocution, and in dance.

    3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

    The professor is stodgy, and obviously a bit uptight. He's used to being in complete control. Kelly and O'Connor, in contrast, are loose, ful of vim, vigor, and vitality. They're footloose, and obviously haven't a care in the world. They already have elocution mastered, and don't need the professor.

  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

    Jane is something of an outsider. She's not your typical girly-girl. She's more of a tomboy. She is more aggressive, and assertive, very different from the 1950s ideal of femininity. Halfway through the film, however, this changes, as she adopts more feminine attire and mannerisms as she attempts to conform.

    2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

    I adore Doris Day, no matter what her role may be. She always seemed more sure of herself in her successive films. She had a very wide range, from musicals, to comedies, to dramas. A truly talented actress.

    3. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

    It most definitely adds to the character. Day's Calamity Jane is vibrant and exciting. She exhibits a genuine vitality, and Day seems to to truly inhabit the role. 

  8. 1. As you watch the interaction between the four characters in this scene, what do you notice about the way they include each other or relate to one another? How is it different from early musicals we have discussed?

    All four perform as equals. There is no leader, and no true individualism in this musical number. The overall theme is that of conformity, and working together, two chief ideals of the 1950s. 

    2. What do you notice about the costuming of the characters that indicate cohesiveness of the ensemble, as opposed to setting anyone apart? Be specific.

    The men all wear suits, of subdued and muted colors. Fabray's dress is rather subdued, as well. There is nothing flashy, or striking, about any of their costumes. This ties in again with the theme of conformity.

    3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? 

    Again, all four dancers perform as equals. Nobody gets a chance to stand out or really shine, they all play off each other's strengths. The entire number conveys a sense of unity.

  9. 1. What do you notice about the way the scene is directed as Petunia goes to Joe’s bedside and as we cut to her outside hanging laundry? What does this tell us about her relationship, and the connection to the song?

    Petunia is completely, hopelessly devoted to Joe. There is almost nothing he can do that will push her away. She forgives his gambling, and takes care of him, because he represensts everything that makes her happy in life.

    2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? 

    If it was sung to a child, the implication would be very different. Instead of romantic love, it would be reflecting motherly love.

    3. What other thoughts do you have about this film, the issues of black Americans during WWII, and this film’s importance in this era?

    In spite of the racial stereotypes, the film stands as a surprisingly progressive product of its times. It represents Hollywood's first real attempt to cater to an audience other than white, middle-class Americans. Hollywood was starting to grow up, and diversify, just as America at large was beginning to do the same thing thanks to WWII.

  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions.

    The entire song is choreographed as a chase: Betty Garrett is pursuing Frank Sinatra. For every lyric that Garrett sings, Sinatra is attempting to get away. Garrett is persistent, however, and at the end she literally "catches" the object of her desire.

    2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing?

    Frank is walking along with a jaunty gait, and tossing a baseball back and forth. Garrett is leaning against the wall, waiting for his arrival. One knows at once that a musical number is likely to occur.

  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her?

    My very first Judy Garland film was, like many others, THE WIZARD OF OZ, which I first saw when I was a young child. I remember thinking Judy was relatable, and I could well understand her longing to get home. I thought she was really beautiful, too. To me she will always be Dorothy.

    2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously?

    I've gained a deeper appreciation of her talent. There was never anyone like Judy Garland. She was a true class act.

    3. What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience’s imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric?

    While I've never seen it myself, I've heard a lot about Judy's performance in A STAR IS BORN. Her acting ability and vocal range was at its absolute peak by that point in her career. She had a way of capturing the viewer's attention, and holding it. Her talent was unrivalled.

  12. 1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.

    There are flags prominently displayed everywhere, a not-so-subtle bit of patriotism. As soon as the flashback starts, what do we see? The American flag again. The patriotic symbols are front and center.

    2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response. 

    The dialogue reinforces that patriotism is the for the greater good. National unity is paramount. 

    3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer. 

    The framing device of visiting FDR provides a good setup for the story proper. If it started with the parade, there would not really be as much of a link to the viewers.

  13. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat?

    Echoing the sentiments of others above, I do not really see many aspects of a battle of the sexes here. Fred and Ginger are pretty evenly matched.

    2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week?

    Bright, glitzy, and glamorous. Ginger distinguishes herself from Jeanette MacDonald by being a take-charge, no-nonsense woman. She makes it very clear that she won't be swayed by Fred Astaire until she's ready to be, not before.

    3. What possible reasons might there be for the changes in roles between men and women depicted in these screwball comedy musicals that distinguish themselves from earlier musicals in the 1930s?

    The 1930s was a time of great upheaval from the Great Depression, and women found themselves entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before. Women were enjoying greater freedom, to a point. Gender stereotypes were still the expected norm.


  14. 1. 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)?

    As has been noted above, Alfred's breaking the fourth wall to address the viewer, the garter, and all the guns reveal that he is a cad, but a lovable, urbane, and witty one. He is unashamed of his womanizing ways, and, indeed, likely sees it as a sort of game of cat and mouse between himself and the objects of his affections. That he has no trouble zipping up the dress when her husband couldn't reveals that he has done this many times before, with many women. Furthermore, the fact that he loads the guns with blanks also shows that he's dealt with countless angry husbands, as well.

    2. 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.

    Lubitsch's use of sound was quite effective with bothe heightening the tension, and providing comic relief. The rattling door added a touch of drama. Will Alfred get caught? Of course. When the wife takes the gun, and shoots herself, the muffled gunshot alludes that not all is as it seems. When Alfred gets shot... He doesn'collapse in agony. It was all a farce, a misdirect to keep the angry husband's attention focused on his wayward wife.

    3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals?

    Infidelity played for laughs, and womanizing men that appear to go through women as if it is a game. Invariably the man will be "reformed" by his true love, and will leave his philandering ways entirely.

  15. 1. What do you notice about the interaction between the characters in these two scenes? Please give specific examples.

    It is fairly obvious from the canoe scene that the mountie is going to woo the girl, but she'll reject his advances until she eventually comes to realize she really does love him. This same trope is copied countless times in film from the silent era to the present day. 

    Furthermore, the saloon scene establishes that Jeanette MacDonald is the demure, safe, good girl type. She doesn't fit in with the rough crowd of prospectors and mountain men. Eddy is clearly drawn to her, but he keeps his distance, even when she is clearly out of her element.

    2. If you have seen either or both of these actors in other films or television shows, please share your perceptions about them.

    Unfortunately, I have not scene either actor in another film. Hopefully this course will help rectify that glaring issue.

    3. 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?

    Everything is supposed to be chaste. A polite courtship. Marriage is the ultimate goal, the man to be the provider, and the woman to be the happy homemaker. Nearly everything of the late '30s through the '50s was geared to this end. There is no upheaval of the status quo, everyone conforms to this platonic chaste ideal of courtship before marriage. 

  16. 1. Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? Why or why not? 

    Most definitely it does, as is to be expected of a Depression era musical. People attended the cinema back then as a form of escapism, so lighthearted plots were the norm. Any darker aspects of the real story were glossed over in an effort to make it more entertaining.

    2. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression era musicals?

    Continued lighthearted plots, bright and glamorous sets. The Depression was a time of escapist entertainment, above everything.

    3. Since this is a musical that was made after the motion picture code was enforced, how might you imagine it might have been filmed or scripted differently if it had been pre-code? Give specific examples.

    The main example I can think of is the overall production would be just a bit seedier. Miss Held would be more scantily clad. The plot would be far more daring. Perhaps it would delve into Ziegfeld's philandering, an added aspect of drama. A female rival to Miss Held, perhaps.

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