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P. Kel

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  1. 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? Had Streisand been more theatrical and expressive, the essence of her character would’ve then been represented as a far less emotional, thoughtful, naive and vulnerable character. It’s Streisand’s facial expressions and lack of physical movement that contribute the song’s emotional and relatable weight. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? The characters start in the same physical and emotional direction as the lyrics begin. Once she says “but maybe we ain’t”, then both characters stop moving - as if to say again - even emotionally. Sharif then transitions from being a participant to becoming an attentive observer, as if he’s listening to understand her with his thoughtful expression upon his face yet at the same time, giving Streisand’s character her needed secure space on the stoop as her direction turns as she faces away from Sharif’s character to finish the song. It ends with her eyes closed in thought. 3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. With every new topic, from children to lovers, her expressions are unique. When singing about children, she’s more playful with smiles, slight chuckles and wonder. When singing about lovers, her face dawns a much more serious, stoic and thoughtful expression as if to dig into a past memory that only she knows and has yet to share with Sharif or even the audience. Her blocking is minimal which allows her singing to own center stage. She ends up on a higher plane (the stoop) with Sharif looking up at her, where at the beginning of the scene, they were equals on level ground.
  2. 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) The framing of the actor, particularly Audrey Hepburn, can stand alone as a portrait. The camera serves the actor and not the other way around. From the fast tracking of Hepburn as she sits upright on the couch to the slow dolly move of her as she gets up off of the couch, to the different areas of light, shadow and marks, Cukor is conscious of just exactly where the actor should be. 2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Again, the camera serves the movements of the character. Anxious and confused is a fast pan while contemplation calls for slower camera/dolly movements. 3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Higgins from his introduction into the scene is stable, calm and like the camera movements during his coverage within the scene and very smooth…while Eliza’s coverage is more rigid and tends to switch as much as her emotions do.
  3. 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? Based on this clip, it’s actually become more toned down. There is no dance choreography, just blocking, the singing has been incorporated into the acting to better serve the character and not necessarily the audience - directly. 2. What other specific qualities do you notice about Robert Preston in either or both of these clips? His truth to acting takes precedence within his performance, even over the musical number. His voice commands attention above all else. He’s holds himself as a masculine figure. 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? As this course is my introduction to Robert Preston’s work, I have no other prior reference.
  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? This scene reflects back to classical musicals in the sense of its inclusion of the stage performance reminiscent of vaudeville and theatrical broadway musical acts. It also involves the behind the stage concept, costuming, music and process of the earlier musicals. Looking forward, it showcases the youthful acts over seasoned pros. The wardrobe of Russell’s is on par with the timeline of the 60’s and the film is shot in color. The resignation of Karl Malden in the scene is a foreshadowing of moving on from the current status quo. 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. Russell’s demanding performance is definitely over the top as much as she was, if not more, than in Auntie Mame. Her enunciation, projection and larger-than-life animation with over-stepping delivery of her brash dialogue signals the tell tale signs of stage training, perfect for the character of Mama Rose. 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). In the context of its presentation within the scene, not particularly. Although, I notice that the disruptive areas I’ve noticed come from the loose dance choreography and offset vocals.
  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 would think that because Minnelli understood the color palettes and tone of the film, it was a proper call to maintain the conscious styling choices throughout the entirety of the film. For the most part, he kept a bit of an embellished, stylized realism that helped to serve as a visual consistency and familiarity to the viewer. 2. What keeps Jerry Mulligan from being completely unlikeable in a scene in which he acts pretty darn unlikeable? The Jerry Mulligan character in the scene from the clip holds our interest as the audience member because he’s an honest straight-shooter. He’s an upfront and take-charge kind of guy and given the positioning of the roles within the nation’s culture taking shape during the post-war era, especially for a character over-seas, we see him as a strong, commanding representative of the American male in a foreign country.
  6. 1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements? The pre-dance movements at the start of the clip are still indicative of the capacity to accentuate the cadence of the rhythmic enunciation of the words. They already find the music within the alliteration of the words. You can especially tell with O’Connor’s nodding of his head on the counts as the Professor speaks in rhythm. 2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man. The straight man is just as important as the pitcher to the batter…a definite symbiotic relationship. The straight man must also have an understanding for comedic timing and the capacity to play off of the pauses or beats. 3. How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other? You have the wisecracking youngster, the uptight, studious intellectual and the alpha male in control. The dynamic of the personas within one scene, especially one as whimsical as this, not only provide for a great creative landscape, but also present the male identification and relateability on display for the moviegoers the way Bob Hope and Bing Crosby did in “The Road to…” films. At the time of redefining the cultural norms, we notice that the youth, vitality and confidence of O’Connor’s and Kelly’s characters simply dominate the scene.
  7. 1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Calamity Jane is serving for the female representation of American women as an example for women coming out of their strong, independent roles within society during the wartime era to once again, begin assuming the more traditional feminine roles of women prewar. It’s a reminder or reintroduction of the days of the more feminine American woman. 2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? I think Doris Day grew as an actress because of the roles she was cast in to move from obscurity to being revered as one of the country’s leading ladies having to juggle the demands of such roles in connection to the direction of the nation at the time. The country needed someone to fulfill the role of the American woman from wartime to community and confidence. Her capacity as an actress grew with that demand. 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. I believe that her bright persona detracts from the role of Calamity Jane. The character arc doesn’t seem fully explored or ‘fleshed-out’ with her as Calamity. I feel that the music and song might’ve even had more of an impact with someone with less of an approachable persona. That’s the job of the hair/makeup/wardrobe/actor to undertake. Instead, I feel that they tried to get a plug and play audience likability for Calamity.
  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? The interaction between the characters is cohesive. Each time a character takes action within the dance number, its purpose is to build and set up a complete goal within the number, for example, how they all work together with the standing door prop to reveal the rest of the cast. It differs from earlier musicals in the sense that everyone is featured equally within the number with no actual ‘lead’ in the scene. 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. This was the first thing I noticed once the clip began to play. The distinct wardrobe of each of them showcases their role within the entertainment ‘family’, just as an actual family would be distinctly dressed (father, mother, son, daughter). Separately, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when seen altogether, it would identify their roles within one unit. 3. What do you notice about the staging and interplay between the characters that helps define the relationships between the characters in the song? I notice that their interaction along with the use of props help to signify the actual ‘behind the stage’ relationships of each. For example, within the number, Minelli utilizes the interplay of Astaire and Buchanan in hats as ‘star’ and ‘director’ bickering creative ideas, the utilitarian roles of the writers carrying the ladder or lighting the cigarette of the director, signifying that the director has certain liberties. In other points in the number, the star and writers follow the director in line from the prop door. In addition, when they create the human pyramid, the writer serves as the foundation of the creativity, supporting the director, the star and his writing counterpart.
  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? In the beginning of the clip, I noticed that Petunia was waiting for better or worse with hope for Joe. Her reaction in contrast to her friend’s at Joe’s bedside, was one of confidence and loyalty knowing that Joe would somehow get better, also displaying her faith in him and in God. She continues to carry the same commitment to Joe by taking care of him as he heals and not leaving his side while he is in his wheelchair. She continues to smile while happily doing their chores, and still staying grateful and loyal to Joe as she pushed his chair into the shade. This tells me that her relationship with Joe is a faithful one with a strong love and that she’ll take care of him throughout the worst of times. Her giddiness in the delivery of her lyrics while hugging Joe’s shirt was exceptionally genuine. A wonderful example. 2. How would the song change if it was a woman singing about her child? Does the cultural meaning change? How? I believe the song would change through the adjustments of lyrics, such as “angels heave or sigh”. I don’t believe the cultural meaning would change…at least not significantly. It’s a meaning that is about unconditional love and undying support. 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? I appreciate its inclusion in the release of mainstream musicals back in ’43. After watching the Nicolas Brothers bonus clip, I can’t help but be perplexed as to why there haven’t been more musicals produced with more black and other minority diversity given the tremendous talents displayed by Ethel Waters and the Nicolas Brothers. They’re undeniable. I can understand the importance of Cabin in the Sky as it was methodically positioned to help unify the national spirit among black Americans. Also, being that Minelli was such a great directing talent, the film also illustrated that diverse films can be produced with high production value with quality talent. One would have thought that it could have served as a catalyst to the production of more black American or minority featured movie musicals.
  10. 1. Thinking like a director and editor, describe how each shot spotlights key actions. The direction of each shot plays well into the setting of a ballpark (also a key to the national support for the audiences as an American pastime - also given that Garrett’s character is the most dominant figure within the scene juxtaposed with a male dominated sport like baseball), but sets up the perfect dynamic between Garrett and Sinatra. Beginning in the hallway, Sinatra emerges confidently, tossing the baseball in his hand before entering the space of the hallway - just like with decisions - leaves no room for lingering or feelings of being uncertainty. Sinatra must decide to go either forward or backward - or is more so forced to go forward or backward. He decides to go backwards which takes the action into the stands. The bleachers present a vast space for character blocking and metaphorically for the possibilities of Garrett’s feelings for Sinatra once she finally has him. They can use the structure scape of the stands to accent the musical number as seen with his back hitting the wall, when she’s chasing him up the bleachers (metaphorically as in a relationship she’ll follow him wherever he goes, even up to great heights, as long as she can call him hers). And then of course as the action within the scene matches the musical cues of the song, it ends on the descending feeling of defeat as Sinatra descends the hand rail while Garrett emerges the victor in a ballpark, a universally recognized arena of sport. What better sport than the game of love? 2. It’s interesting to examine how musicals segue into musical numbers. How does this sequence prepare us for the singing? This sequence prepares us for the singing with the actors blocking their actions on the musical notes and cues. This takes place from the very beginning of the clip once Garrett blocks the hallway from Sinatra. From that point, as they become choreographed, and as she begins to prowl and then chase him into backstepping, their movements escalate steadily and perfectly to the rising tempo of the musical number, perfectly synced while reaching an apex of movements and music that results in attention-getting silence as she her first verse.
  11. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her? The first Judy Garland film that I’ve watched in its entirety was The Wizard of Oz. As a youngster, she had the talent to encompass the appropriate emotion at any given time during any given scene. She played very wholesome, but was also just as concerned, stern, thoughtful, frightened, curious, considerate and vulnerable - everything that Dorothy was supposed to be in such a whimsical tale. I specifically remember how smooth her singing style was. Her voice sounded so mature and seasoned. When she was singing her songs in the film, I'd see this young person's face and out comes the mature voice of a talent 10 years her senior. She fit the bill and I couldn't imagine anyone else - including Shirley Temple - play the role. 2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? After viewing the clips and of course going on to watch her in later roles, there is a deeper appreciation for her as a professional performer. She has the ability to take very difficult techniques (simultaneously, mind you) and wrap them up into performances that the moviegoing audiences would think just comes naturally to her. To take even any ONE of the disciplines of acting, dancing, singing, not upstaging co-stars while blocking and the intangible overall likability of her characters is very difficult to do. She takes a science and makes it seem like nature. 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? For me, it’s Easter Parade. There are so many dimensions to her character of Hannah as well as a strong character arc within the story that she seems to transition them seamlessly and naturally.
  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. First, the clip opens up in the White House - more specifically with our characters ascending a long, grand staircase leisurely walking and talking effortlessly from the bottom as they casually reach the top. In the foreground, we see an aged Irishman, now an American treasure, walking alongside a black secretary. In the background, we see the framed portraits of distinguished forefathers of America lining the stairwell. As the scene cuts to the office of FDR, we see even more memorabilia of patriotism adorning the office. Items such as the American flag, portraits of past warships, wars and battles line his office. The aged American treasure, Mr. Cohan, although grey, still has a full head of hair, exhibiting vitality and youth. He sports an American flag pin on the lapel of his jacket. Second, when the scene changes to the flashback parade, it opens on a closeup of the American flag overlooking a street parade on the 4th of July. Children and families make up the onlookers of the marching band. The camera sweeps over the marching band and decorated soldiers to reveal shop signs that include that of a hardware and paint store signifying everyday America and a nod to the notion of grit, elbow grease and the rebuilding of something into improvement. Third, as the movie audience enters the scene into the vaudeville theatre, it’s a sense of nostalgia to a time before the movie musical, creating a sense of sentimentality utilizing the orchestra pit in the foreground while watching Jerry Cohan’s performance. 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. First, as they ascend the staircase in the opening scene, the secretary and Mr. Cohan begin reminiscing about the great days of yore. Said the secretary, “It must’ve been thirty some years ago. I was valet for Mr. Teddy Roosevelt. He got me a seat up in the galley. The play was George Washington Jr. and you was just singing and dancing to all about the grand ol’ flag.” This quote stirs up a time in patriotism that was strong and served the sentimentality of the audience, causing them to reflect. Also, when Cohan refers to it in the past, “Was a good ol’ song in its day”, the Secretary replies, “Yes sir, it was and it’s just as good today as it ever was.” This line implies that the national spirit has never wavered and has remained steadfast and true no matter the circumstance. Second, another quote in the president’s office by FDR, “I can remember you and your family very well. It was while I was attending school near Boston…” This line brings in the reliability of the strong, important ties of the American family. Attending school near Boston, a rich landmark in the birth of America. He also goes on to say “I hope you haven’t outgrown the habit. That’s one thing I always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It’s a great quality”. This line of dialogue open inclusion into all patriotic immigrants, but specifically the Irish that helped build America’s infrastructure. He praises the patriotism by comparing it to a flag, reassuring the audience that it’s a great quality to be had by patriotic Americans. Cohan replies, “I inherited that. Got that from my father. He ran away to the civil war when he was thirteen. Proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts.” This line of dialogue also recruits that familiarity of familial ties and the family tradition of military and service. The line also ties in the feeling of pride and also the landmark state of Massachusetts. “They were optimistic, happy and expectant. The beginning of the Horatio Algea age.” Again, almost a historic lesson of patriotism as he recollects a time by name-dropping Horatio Alger, known for his patriotic works of literature. 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. I feel that opening with FDR in the scene provides an instant point of reference guiding the movie audience to the critical importance of not only Mr. Cohan, but his backstory and flashbacks as well. Had it open up on the 4th of July parade, the context would have seemed to be somewhat arbitrary in the timeline of the film and would have needed more time for the exposition to unfold. It would also not give Mr. Cohan the stability of the present tense of his location within the story. (Also...just a side note...one of my favorite musicals!)
  13. 1. What other aspects of battle of the sexes do you see indicated in this clip or in the film Top Hat? I noticed that in this clip, Rogers doesn’t say anything to Astaire. She initiates her contact with him by whistling. He’s doing all the work in the scene trying to court her. She’s wearing riding pants with a riding stick, hinting to a sign of authority and command. Many times within the dance number, it’s ambiguous as to who is leading and who is following. During the routine, she spins him around as he does to her which is usually a definitive choreographed move for the male lead. At the end, before they shake hands, they even sit the same way. The male and female lead both dance. 2. How does this film distinguish itself from other Depression era musicals we have watched or discussed this week? Rogers’ character is mostly in control and is not dependent on Astaire’s character, so the desperation between male and female has shifted. 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? One possibility is that in the reality of the Depression era, females began to take on more roles in the home and in society, thus exhibiting the value and equality between the two sexes. They began to integrate themselves in areas of life that were usually just reserved for men. Another possible reason is that it portrayed the issue of control in favor of the female characters giving the movie going women in the audience the perspective of equality and authority.
  14. The distinct performance styles of Powell and Keeler are definitely evident. Powell's performance in the first clip was phenomenal. Her facial expressions, acting, timing, the ability to land her direction and blocking all while successfully completing such intricate tap dance choreography was so fluid. She made use of the space as well as the background characters in the scene. She was the center of the production value within the entire clip. Minimal props, yet the scene had a sense of being filled with a large number due mostly in part by Powell's professional dance and athletic abilities while keeping a performance intact. Keeler seemed to be a bit less capable as a performer when judging the two clips back to back. Her eye line drifted to and away from the camera. She was performing in locked shots and didn't have the same performance dynamics to the scene as an individual performer as Powell did in the previous. Keeler appeared to be the catalyst to a very highly produced scene with endless amounts of moving background dancers, set pieces, costume and wardrobe thus ending the feeling with the idea that the high end production value was more for the compensation of Keeler's inability to execute as precisely as Powell.
  15. 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)? The Lubitsch touch reveals to the movie audience additional insight into the characters’ backstory and situation within the scene. It also allows the movie audience to take ownership by ‘discovering’ certain items that serve as non-linear reminders to the crucial points within the arc of the scene. The props go on to include a preconceived idea of the hidden intent of each character. For example, the origin of the garter was unknown to his mistress which shed light on Alfred’s galavanting ways. The gun was the hard token of jealousy showcasing the ‘ownership’ that his mistress, albeit already married, feels she has over Alfred. It also served as a great device to showcase the overdramatic affairs of the love triangle which incites her self-inflicted gunshot in addition to the gunshot from her husband to Alfred, as well as serving as the catalyst for the comedic partnering of Alfred and the husband to determine that the bullets were blanks, and then finally to show Alfred put the gun into a drawer filled with other guns, implying that this isn’t the first time this has happened. The dialogue served to solidify the comedic persona of Alfred. The staging depicted Alfred as always being more centered than the others, using more rigid movements and not as frantic as everyone else except for the Sylvania ambassador, who was the only one whose character was the more centered of all. 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. The specific sounds that stood out to me was first was the gunshot, creating a sense of shock which served as the setup for the blanks. The second was the music which comes in to support and emphasize the husband’s agenda to kill Alfred. The lines of dialogue that added to the effectiveness of the scene was Alfred’s breaking the fourth wall indicating her jealousy and the arrival of her husband. Also the last line, “I’m sure the stories you have heard about me are horribly exaggerated” all while holding a garter in his hand. 3. What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? I would anticipate more of the opulence and extravagance throughout the scene. Set design, wardrobe and the characters’ wealth which serves to give the movie audience a laughing target in times of the Depression.
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