Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #1 (From The Great Ziegfeld)

Recommended Posts

1. This clip definitely had a light-hearted tone that felt somewhat unrealistic. A doorman getting tipped the equivalent of 50 bucks for answering a question? Sure! Audience members being delighted at a beam of light shined directly at their eyes? Why not! Anna Held considering cancelling her arrangement with Billings in favor of some stranger who sent her flowers? Of course! And there was nothing wrong with any of it. In a time when happiness and good laughs were few and far between, realism must not have been in high demand.

2. I am sadly not as familiar as I ought to be with Depression-era musicals - the only ones I've seen are 42nd Street, The Wizard of Oz, and the tiniest bit of Gold Rush. I can only guess from watching this clip and those films that a major theme throughout the movies of this time period is Success. Specifically, success despite insurmountable odds. The director in 42nd Street managed to put on his show while battling a fatal illness. Dorothy found her way out of the treacherous land of Oz almost entirely on her own (and with less-than-helpful company). In this clip we see Ziegfeld (possibly?) win over Held, despite her already having a good thing with Billings. Success was what most folks craved in the Depression, and movie musicals were more than happy to give the people what they wanted to see.

3. I suppose the main difference we'd see in this clip were it made pre-Code would be Held's wardrobe. Instead of the opulent, conservative gown she's wearing, maybe something along the lines of a flapper's attire? Whatever shows off more leg (because if there was anything that got the censors fuming back then, it was legs). Other than that, I can't think of anything else they would have changed in this clip alone.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1. I think this clip represents life as better than it was at the time. The era was more depressionistic and not as extravagant as it seemed. Ziegfeld probably wouldn’t have given 5 pounds as a tip and or given such extravagant flowers. Plus everyone in the audience was dressed to the nines. 

2. I think other films would be similar to give people “hope” that things were getting better and would be for them also. 

3. I think if this movie was precise the singer would have had less clothes on and made to look more erotic or seductive. The words spoken might have been a lot more suggestive about which man she would pick. Brad Harju -student in Mad about Musicals

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. As others have said, this is definitely the lighter side of life. It is opulent, from the clothes, to the dressing room to the disregard for money. I'm sure there were gasps in the audience watching the film as Powell gives that 5-pound tip. That was a significant amount of money to the average person during the Depression.

2. Other musicals from the same era might cover more everyday themes, take place in tenements and depict hardships and poverty, but always with an escapist angle. In the fade out, everyone somehow picks themselves up by their boot straps and makes good.

3. Pre-code, the Play with Me number probably would have included more closeups of ogling men. Rainer's conversation with the maid might have been more suggestive as she considers possible attributes of the two men.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing about this clip suggests to me that there is a Great Depression. Orchids are my favorite flower, and even in this economy of 2018 they are not cheap. So the scale changed to the late 1920s to early 1930s where she says it must have cost $1,000s was not an exaggeration.  It really did show a well that does not seem to run dry. As well as leaving the door man a 5 pound tip. $5 dollar today is a meal, sometimes.  The elephant vase alone would have been costly.

Themes suggest the rivalry of 2 successful men who have to win ultimately the interest, affection, possibly love of the performing french actress/singer.  It does make her seem less career driven and more likely to fall for the romantic gestures, rather than be business conicensous.

I absolutely feel that the code keeps her modest, and the men at bay. I would imagine a stage costume with more skin, a backstage scene with less of a undergarment/gown.  As well as a the man knocking on her door to make sure she received his lavish bouquet. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The clip definitely shows a lighter side to the life of the great Flo Ziegfeld. Going to the movies was an escape from the hard lives many, many people experienced during the Depression era. I can see why the production codes were established to control the supposed harshness of depicting "real" life. Even in a show made about an earlier era. The common man needed to be soothed as he still needs soothed, but I really don't think that glossing over the reality of life is ever the answer. People are definitely tougher than the production codes assumed they were. Plus, I'm morally horrified by any "thing" that strives to conform the masses. Especially when trying to conform art (film). It just never ends up being a good idea. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. I agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic during this time frame. The audience had a very rich feel to them based on their costumes. 

2. I would expect to see plots and storylines that would help the audience escape reality for a while, things that could help them forget the troubles they are having and live vicariously through the characters in the show.

3. I think if this was filmed pre-code, I think Florenza's costume would have been a bit more risque. I also think the scene in her dressing room would have been staged a little differently. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I wish to play with me, to play with me, to play with me all day long."

I see this as way to escape what was going on outside the theater.  This was a time when "playing around" could be suggested, but not acted upon.  I thought these words to be suggestive.  I also wondered how the women in the audience thought about her choosing their significant others.  Allowed as a suggestion?

If the musical was made before "pre-code" era, I would imagine that the clothing would be more suggestive.  Just as suggestive as the words. 

Also curiously, she ends up flirting with " the two directors/" seeking a contract. 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the clip does exhibit a brighter perspective on life during the Great Depression. Anna Held is also very captivating and creates some escapism all on her own, which helps to promote a lighter tone. 

I can predict that other films of this era may make light of money and conflict as this clip did. People at the time were very preoccupied with both of those topics in their regular lives, so it makes sense to bring some humor to the unfortunate realities of the time period. 

Based on viewing the Broadway Melody, which was pre-code there are some telling differences between pre and post code. Anna Held is covered from head to toe, whereas Bessie Love and Anita Page were shown in various stages of dress and undress, and were never covered from head to toe. There is a formality to the dressing room with Anna Held, with the maid and the decor, showing us that everything would be done appropriately in the dressing room and systematically. Anita Page and Bessie Love had a casual dressing room atmosphere, allowing the audience to expect a little shock. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel as though the presentation in the clip shows a much more lighthearted and carefree side in order to keep the audience happier.  The movies of this era would have needed to help the movie goers to escape the everyday troubles of their worlds that they were experiencing during the Depression.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Elizabeth Milne said:

I must be missing something. Where do I find the clip to watch?

Elizabeth, 

The Canvas platform can be tricky to navigate.  After you sign into Canvas:

  • In the grey menu column to the left of the screen, click/tap Courses. 
  • On the menu that pops out, click/tap TCM Presents: MAD ABOUT MUSICALS!  You should now see a menu on the left-hand side with the options: HomeMusicals Bulletin BoardTCM Message BoardModulesBadges, and Grades.
  • On that menu, click/tap Modules. You should now see a long list in the center of the screen which outlines the course.  The list starts with the Tap to the Top game followed by Start Here: Orientation Module. You should see a small, black arrow pointing down next to each of these titles.  If you click the black arrow, the sections will collapse.  (If you collapse the sections, it may be easier to navigate the course.)
  • On this list, click/tap the section called 6/4 - An Historical Overview of the Early Movie Musical (1920s-1930s)
  • Under 6/4 - An Historical Overview of the Early Movie Musical (1920s-1930s) click/tap Week 1: Monday: Historical Overview of the First Decade. You should now see the Week 1 module in the center of your screen.
  • Across the top of the Week 1 module, you should see tabs labeled Learning Objectives, Lecture Notes, Lecture Video, and Daily Dose #1Click/tap Daily Dose #1. The video clip appears near the bottom of the page.  NOTE: There is a still image included in the text.  The video is further down.

Please post if you are still unable to locate the clip.

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe that the smiles on the singer, uplifting music and the smiles of the audience are all ways that would think life may have been happier.

The comment about "trying to lose weight" was the first that struck me for the time of depression but to make light of it.

Begin before code, I actually was surprised at how long it took her to start to undress.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

 

I do agree that this clip shows a brighter perspective of life. Everything this clip exhibited was the complete opposite of what was realistically happening at the time. Another way that it shows a brighter view, besides the monetary differences depicted, was the insertion of light humor and clichés, like Anna thinking Ziegfeld was a “little boy” because of the jr. at the end of his name and the “ooo, lala” when she sees the flowers

 

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

 

The main theme that I have seen would be that of riches; people at the theatre, tuxedos, big gowns, expensive items. I see how musicals during this time would use this as a gimmick to get people to come, along with the light-hearted humor. Musicals, or any movie with these themes, were probably one of the few escapes that people during the depression had.

 

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.

 

One thing I noticed at the end of the clip was that Anna’s assistant appeared to be undoing the back of her dress. If this was a pre – code film, this scene might extend to seeing Anna undress to her slip, for example.

I have never seen this movie before, hence my thoughts about this question are sparse. The aforementioned was the only thing I picked up from the clip.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the questions at the end of Lecture 1 interesting.
In Pondering the difference between Broadway musicals and early Hollywood musicals it seems that once sound was introduced and Hollywood starting releasing musicals many other forms of stage music theater were lost (i.e. Vaudeville and Minstrel shows) They either had to adapt to the "new" kid, or perish. (We know the outcome) But living in that time had to be a bit scary for Vaudevillians. Especially those who thought this film thingy will never fly. 


I also wonder how many local theater owners were not in a financial position to meet the demand of this ground breaking medium OR, those who didn't think it would take off and never adapted to film much less musicals.

It wasn't that much earlier that people even had access to theaters that accommodated films with screens.  

Thoughts?

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh & I am tickled to death to find out Douglas Shearer is the brother of (one of my favorites) Norma Shearer!!! I have seen his name on countless films & never put 2 & 2 together. I LUV discovering new factoids about film!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe that it does, just the scene of freely handing out a 5 pound note in the 30’s would have been almost unheard of, not to mention expensive. The scene also had a very light hearted feel to it belies the times and what was actually happening in the world.

I think the scene might have been a little darker in tone, especially between the two gentleman, not to mention Held might have been a little more undressed.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading the previous responses, I have to agree with everyone. 

During the period, movie-goers escaped to the cinema to immerse themselves in another world that was not like their own. Acknowledging the Depression and comparing it to the film, the clip does provide a perspective of life that was not realistic to the average citizen. The tip of 5 pounds and the opulent theatre, costume and set all show the opposite of the realistic day-to-day. There is also a lightness and almost "silly" humour in this clip ("I'm trying to lose weight") that is familiar in other films made during the Depression. As for pre-code v. post-code, I'm not sure how things would differ; the costume would definitely be less, but there is a double-meaning in the song (reflecting the light on the audience while singing "come play with me") that they got away with.

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that the clip I watched exhibits a brighter perspective of life than in the real life because in 1929, the Great Depression was going on. The approaches that I feel from the clip is that the characters do not seem to be interested in money, and they are joking around and don't seem to have a care in the world. If the film had been pre-code, Held's dress would have been more modest-looking and smaller.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Well, most obviously the glamorous life of both the performers and the audience depict a much different lifestyle than most Americans were facing during the Great Depression.  And as for the performers and impresarios, their lives were much less picture perfect and much hard work than perhaps this picture would depict!

 

2) I would say a common trend is the idea that lead characters, specifically male leads, spend much of the musical “one upping” each other, creating a certain amount of happy conflict and plot line.  Also, the revue style of musical numbers that this show allows were very popular in this era.

 

3) I think the most obvious pre-code aspect is the fact that the scene is filmed as one would film a stage production, from the always in front perspective to the actual stage performance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Do you agree that the clip exhibits a brighter perspective of life than might be realistic? 

I definitely agree because everyone featured in the clip looked like they were one of the "1%".

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

One theme would be the idea of an up-and-coming professional finally getting their big break. As we see in the clip, Anna Held seems to be on the road to superstardom, due to Ziegfeld and Billings, who both seem to be big-time producers, wanting to work with her.

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?

Well, Held's stage costume would have been showing a lot more skin and she would have been shown undressing after the show. Also, instead of sending her flowers, Ziegfeld probably would have met with her personally in her dressing room. Post-code, the idea of two unmarried people meeting alone in such a private location would have been a big issue.

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Gary Rydstrom noted in today’s video discussion that films, especially musicals, were a means of escape for people during the Great Depression, a more positive perspective than what they normally saw in their own lives perhaps.  This 3+ minute clip seems to verify this notion, as it focuses on the lavish theater, sets, and performers singing light-hearted numbers.  It also includes the patrons and influential people who could afford to attend the theater, which is illustrated by Ziegfeld handing the doorman a five-pound note and making the blithe pun about trying to lose weight.  The clip also takes a light-hearted approach to the two rivals who are vying for Anna, with the interspersed camera shots of both men, each of which the audience sees because Anna has trained her mirror on both of them, reflecting the stage lights onto their faces.  Once they spot each other, their facial expressions and other actions become more animated, almost comical, which adds to the light-hearted feel of the scene.  The scene in the dressing room is also light-hearted as Anna tries to read the card from Ziegfeld, but she must ask Marie to help her read, stating that she can speak and sing in English but she cannot read English, with Anna’s comical comment about Ziegfeld, Jr. possibly being a little boy concluding Marie’s reading.  This approach might also be included to avoid a voice-over of her reading the note or the often-awkward notion of reading the note out loud?

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

Not having seen many Depression-era musicals yet, I am basing this answer solely on this 3+ minute clip and today’s video discussion.  Unlike the gangster films of other studios—such as Warner Brothers—and more serious fare such as John Ford’s adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, it seems people went to films (more specifically these musicals?) to escape reality for a while.  I am assuming that other Depression-era musicals will follow the formula that was set in The Great Ziegfeld, with a more light-hearted and more whimsical view of life at that time, an opportunity for people to escape their worries for a while.  I might end up being wrong by the end of this course, but I am assuming many of the musicals at this time were comedic, with the protagonist overcoming an obstacle to achieve what he/she was striving for?

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.

Also in today’s video discussion, Gary Rydstrom talked about how film makers could take more chances and be a bit more risqué before the motion picture code was enforced, with characters—more specifically women—in various stages of undress or even bathing, not unlike the double standard between male and female nudity in films today?  Perhaps the dressing room scene might have been a bit more daring, with Anna undressing while Marie reads the note included with the flowers.  In a pre-code film, perhaps her song and dance might have been a bit racier and more burlesque as well?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Yes---as others have said, how Ziegfeld throws around his money to the 'little person'...as well as just the rather 'meet cute' way he tried to convince her to sign with him. Flowers! A note! Let's do this thing! And it didn't seem like business, just a comical rivalry with the competitor.

2. Like the majority of early musicals (before "Show Boat" as an example), the song she sings doesn't move the plot along or explain the character--- it was Anna Held's signature song.

3. I don't know, given the period it reflects, that pre-code would have impacted it. Maybe a gratuitous undress behind a screen for Held?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do agree it is brighter than it may have been in a different era. During the depression, people wanted to escape their problems when they went to the theater. They didn't want to be brought down, so themes were lighter or were an escape to fantasy. The Anna Held character seemed flighty and didn't seem to take her career seriously. She was more interested in the person who sent it than the opportunity it may present.

The films of that era were an escape from reality for the audience, so they were sanitized, up-beat, lighthearted, happy themes, or total action and fantasy. Post-code films couldn't be vulgar, obscene, delve into sex, or too deep into crime. They just touched the surface of those themes or didn't even mention things like a couple living together "in sin". So everything was a sanitized version of real life. But that is what audiences seemed to want at that time.

As for what could have been different if it was pre-code, Anna Held may have acted more seductively during her song and not been dressed so modestly. She probably would have been shown changing clothes in the dressing room. They may have delved more into Ziegfeld's affairs and the fact he and Anna Held were not legally married. The film may have also gone into his sometimes shady methods of obtaining talent and the fact he drove his performers hard. Or more of a cut-throat competition between Ziegfeld and Billings. It was all a sanitized version of his life.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  I agree that the movies were transporting the viewers from the hard ships of the times, to a much happier, whimsical reality.  Who wouldn't want to forget their troubles and "Come on Get Happy"?

2.  I think the women were always viewed as a pretty accessory on a gentleman's arm and not given much  consideration accept to be attractive, entertaining and amusing. People in films at this time were not expected to show their truest, deepest feelings, and that everything would turn OK in the end for everybody.

3.  I think in a Pre-code version, Held's costumes would be more suggestive and skimpier, and her dialogue would be more flirtatious and self serving to her career.  The men would have been more aggressive in their competition for her verbally and maybe even physically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Knowing the era in which it was filmed, I would agree that it does portray a better side of life than was actually happening in everyone's everyday life. Who would have money to give away like Ziefeld gave away so frivously to the doorman or spent on a bouquet of orchids? Most people barely had enough to make ends meet or put food on the table, they also had to work very hard.

Other films in that era depicted mostly the same lifestyle, happy go lucky, nothing really matters, there were very dew that depicted what lfe was really like.

If this had been filmed pre motion picture code I would imagine that the language might have been more suggestive on the part of Held and possibly that evidence of Ziefeld's infidelity would have been more prominent. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This clip certainly shows a brighter view of life. Ziegfield giving a five pound note as a tip without thought would be seen as carefree and frivolous. I, also, can't imagine the number of people able to afford that sort of live entertainment would have been so large. The purchase of the flowers and the willingness to risk a business deal because of the flowers seem like unnecessary spending and risk. For most, everything was not turning out just fine. In this clip, she shows such faith that it will. I think this belief is something that will be seen in other musicals. I, also, think the idea of having multiple good opportunities/options will be another thing we will see. This was not something many had at the time. 

I think, pre-code, Ziegfield would have approached her in her dressing room. I, also, find it hard to believe she would have had a chaperone in the form of an assistant. She certainly would have had her costume off after entering the room. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
×
×
  • Create New...