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Bridgette Russell

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About Bridgette Russell

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  1. Of course, The Wizard of Oz. I started watching it every year on TV with my siblings before I even understood it (I watched it many times before I figured out that the people in Kansas are the same people in Oz). I loved Dorothy and Toto, but I didn't have any understanding of Judy's talent or how amazing the film must've been in 1939. I haven't seen many of her films from the middle years -- I look forward to watching several this week -- but loved A Star Is Born. Sadly, I read a biography of her at some point and the unhappy story of her addictions and other struggles kind of turned me away from her -- the TV appearances in her later years made me sad more than anything else. So this week I'm going to try to open my mind to her acting/singing/dancing talent without dwelling on her personal sorrows. The two clips and the lecture showcased her talent in a variety of ways.
  2. The President's office is in and of itself a patriotic symbol for many Americans, but it's clearly designed to show pride in American history and the military. In addition to the presidential portraits and the flag to one side, I noticed several references to the Navy, which had just been bombed mostly out of existence, such as the model ship on the fireplace. The opening scene establishes Cohan's importance, from the butler who says he still sings Grand Old Flag to FDR saying we still need his music. This was especially relevant in 1941 because Cohan had long ago ceased being a musical visionary and, without the wartime backdrop, would have been a washed-up composer living on his past glory and certainly not the subject of a major studio biopic. Suddenly, his old songs had new relevance.
  3. It may not be a battle of the sexes in today's terms, but Ginger is definitely challenging Fred in that she is not swept away by his talent and doesn't even try to pretend she's not just as good as he is. She shows off her own talent and does it while wearing pants. ? (Even though she's not dancing backwards in this scene, she still does everything he does but in high heels). The Depression was tough times for everyone but especially for women who needed to work. Everyone assumed they were taking a job away from a man who needed it to support a family, even though the woman may also have been the one supporting the family. White lower to middle class women who may have worked in the '20s or '40s found it hard in the '30s. Some US states even made it illegal for married women to work in the 1930s. So it's somewhat paradoxical to see someone like Ginger Rogers in a battle of the sexes -- and yet, maybe it was the unfairness of the unequal treatment of women in the Depression that increased the appeal of this storyline.
  4. Agree with others that the Lubitsch touch is very vaudevillian and stagy -- today it seems so heavy handed, as if we couldn't figure out it was a gun in her hand without focusing on it by itself first -- and yet the scene is still funny and entertaining today. The disappearing 4th wall and the switches between languages add to it when, if someone just told you about it you might assume they would be distracting. The use of sound was not just ornamental, it actually helps to advance the plot, whether the gunshots or the arguing behind the closed doors.
  5. It's definitely showing the brighter side of life: everyone has money and nice clothes, and leisure time to use them both. No life in the dust bowl here. But movies are an escape and a sad documentary about the dust bowl, while important, would not be a crowd-pleaser. Themes include the social inferiority of women, even though she has all the power to choose which man; the glamorous life (so money *is* important); the backstage musical; and romance as a driving force. I haven't watched "Broadway Melody" yet, but based on the lecture it seems the backstage scene would've been much more explicit/less implied if it had been filmed pre-code. side note: the fact that the maid could read English while the actress could not was surprising to me. I guess this is demonstrating that the actress is uneducated and must rely on her beauty to increase her social and economic standing.
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