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Posts posted by AGMovieLove

  1. 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?

    When Petunia sings her song at Joe's bedside, she is focused solely on him. It is lit lovingly and filmed in such a way that the viewer knows her devotion to Joe is front of mind for Petunia. As the scene moves outside while she is doing laundry, the focus becomes more general. It becomes clear that Petunia's devotion to Joe is somehow her mission in life. She is almost singing the song to herself at this point, like a hymn of love and devotion.

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

    I imagine that if she were singing to her child, it would be solely directed towards that child and not the devotional hymn of love that we see during the second half of the song.

    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?

    As an African-American, it is always gratifying to see performers who look and sound like me up there on the big screen. Everyone wants to occasionally see themselves reflected on the screen (TV and/or movies), in books, etc. I can imagine that for African-American audiences in the early 1940's, this must have been a rare and almost astounding treat - especially since there were no whites on screen at all in this film. And the talent exhibited here! Besides the luminous, wonderfully talented Ethel Waters, we also get Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Bill Bailey, Rex Ingram, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Butterfly McQueen, Oscar Polk - the list goes on and on. At this time in our history, when African-Americans fought in the war but faced pervasive discrimination at home, seeing ourselves onscreen must have felt so affirming. For me, the stereotypes in the film are difficult to watch at times. I imagine even African-Americans in the 1940's cringed somewhat while watching the film. But the film isn't mean-spirited or demeaning, and the picture respectfully highlights these amazing talents thanks to Vincent Minnelli's loving care - he is generous with these performers, he basically gets out of the way and lets them do their thing. He seems to love their talent and skill. He presents them in the best possible way despite the story line, stereotypes, etc. 

    • Like 2
  2. 1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her?

    "The Wizard of Oz". Back in the day, the networks played that film each year. I saw it as a kid and was mesmerized. I remember being struck by her amazing singing talent. Years later (I've seen the film countless times and I own a special edition DVD), I was even more impressed with her acting ability.

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

    I'm impressed with her versatility. I've always known about her many musicals at MGM but I haven't seen many of them. Through the magic of TCM and this course in particular, I intend to catch up on some of them. Great comic timing and acting versatility come through in these clips. And her dancing! Wow, I had no idea she was such a good dancer. I'm sure the old studio system put their stars through dancing classes, acting, singing, etc., but she appears to be a natural dancer. And, lastly, there is such joy in her performing. I loved seeing her play off of Gene Kelly so effortlessly - little glances here and there, dancing right in sync with him, it's evident that she is having fun. And that is contagious. I have always been drawn to performers who find joy in their work. 

    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?

    "A Star is Born" in particular. I saw a restored version quite a while ago, and I'm really looking forward to catching up with it again in this course. "The Man That Got Away" in that film is just great - she sings it with such a mix of emotions - sadness, tenderness, anger, resignation. It is a great performance, probably one of the best singing performances in a movie that I've ever seen. I haven't seen that film in years, yet that scene of her singing in a club after hours with a band still sticks with me.

  3. I was never a fan of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, thinking of their singing as archaic and stiff. I admit I haven't seen any of their films all the way through. But after viewing this Daily Dose #2 and the film clips, I am indeed intrigued. I was struck by their acting during both film clips, especially during the saloon scene. There is such tenderness and pathos in the looks they exchange during that scene. No dialogue, everything is in their eyes and facial expressions. Jeanette MacDonald is funny and at the same time sad in that scene. I need to give one of their films a chance after all. I am loving this film course after only two installments. :-)

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