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WK White

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  1. 1. The Wizard of Oz must have been the first film in which I saw Judy Garland. She was fresh, new, and had a great voice, a surprise from such a young performer. 2. In the clips from Me and My Gal, she has become a young woman, still fresh but with a new maturity which allows her to hold her own on screen with Gene Kelly's assertive personality. The chemistry between them is instantly obvious (I understand she asked the studio to cast Kelly in the lead for this film after she saw him in Pal Joey on Broadway. George Murphy got bumped to a smaller role.) Now she is believable as a romantic partner for the male lead. 3. The clip from Easter Parade is a big leap forward in her versatility and range. She portrays a fully comic, colorful, and aggressive character, which I had never seen her do before. She dances with full confidence and joy alongside the legendary Fred Astaire. There is no hint of intimidation. She is a star.
  2. 1. Astaire is quite reticent when he approaches her at the beginning, as if he knows the usual male social role is being challenged, not only by her clothing and attitude, but perhaps by that riding crop she is holding. He treads carefully, not sure how she will react. 2. The rain confines them to the gazebo, forcing them to deal with the situation. He is a bit uncomfortable, but trapped. Any recognition that women might claim equality to men is pretty rare in films of the era, so this an unusual departure from the norm. And she gets to dance in flats, not in limiting high heels (bet she loved that). 3.The Production Code forced filmmakers to get creative, since any blatant leering by male characters assuming sexual dominance wouldn't make it past the censors. They couldn't sell sex, so they turned to humor. This opened a door for female characters to match the males, joke for joke. Also, the society had changed. The earlier war and ongoing depression had forced women in the country into roles previously denied to them, as need and absent men pushed them to work outside the home and find new independence.
  3. Eleanor Powell has a confidence and aggression in her dancing that I feel Ruby Keeler lacks. She grins at the camera as if to say, "Look what I can do. Ha! Bet you can't." There is no doubt she knows what she is doing and is proud to show it off. Keeler, on the other hand, appears to be doing exactly what she is told, with capability but no sense of creativity. She lacks the unfettered freedom of Powell's work.
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