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Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #3 (FROM THE LOVE PARADE)

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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 - "A subtle and souffle-like blend of sexy humor and sly visual wit." – Roger Fristoe

Indeed!

Alfred appears to be a player… a man who somehow consistently manages to find himself roped into scandal. I believe it is safe to assume (although, assumptions are as innocent and inoffensive as post-code provisions) that the current jealous lady is not his first rodeo romp, and she won’t be his last. His ever-growing collection of bitsy pistols tells us that. And hey, what does a drawer full of tiny revolvers say about a man anyway? Ah yes, that he loves ladies with dainty hands.

Alfred is a man who engages in serial affairs. Is he a nefarious serial affair-ist from Sylvania? Perhaps. But the careful placement of certain objects paired with the obvious homing in lead me to believe the following adjectives, nouns, and descriptive phrases about him:

He is…

Suave

Debonair

Sophisticated

Charming

Conniving

Non-violent (a lover… and possibly a fighter, but not a killer)

Scheming

Avoidant (when it comes to sincere, true, deep emotion)

Careless

Confident

Bold

Afraid to commit

And I think I read somewhere "lothario" ... yes, lothario (noun) applies. Also, can we all just take a moment to appreciate that word? Respect. :) 

I don't know. I've rambled toward a pointless digression.

I am thoroughly enjoying this class, and I'll end it there. 

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1.What do you notice about Lubitsch's touch? How do the props, the dialogue and the staging help you to understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

The books on the piano, a travel photo, the handkerchief in his pocket, all lead one to believe that the character is a bourgeois intellectual. The fact that he has a strap on his hand almost shows the whole scene that he is a carefree and relaxed guy.

2. Based on this scene, what are some of the things you notice about using sound in the scene? Describe a specific sound or line of dialogue you hear and what you think adds to the effectiveness of the scene.

The hollow boom of the pistol leaves the scene effective in the initial fright and final mood when they realize that it was out of ammunition.

3. What themes or approaches can you expect from this clip in other musicals from the Depression era?

The courteous novel and the comedy of customs.

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The Lubitsch touch is all around...the garters (loved the way she had them above her knees)...the guns and don't know if this was part of the props but...anyone notice the dog sleeping on the couch?  Swear to God he never moved...lol.

The odd sound of the gun when it went off...letting you know it wasn't real. Plus the crowd noise and arguing behind closed doors was a nice touch.  Never could have been captured in silent film.

 

The movie was pure escapism. Just pure fun!

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How do the props, the dialogue, and the staging help you understand the character of Alfred (Maurice Chevalier)?

Staging of positions, various ways bodies are touched, gestures, body language are exceptionally modern, natural and candid. Alfred is at ease in this sexually charged situation as is his mistress -- even when her husband comes in. She has prepared for such a situation with blanks. This staging and direction of Chevalier allows us to see Alfred as well out of traditional American boundaries. The same is true for his mistress. That he engages us almost immediately brings the audience into in a playful nod to the voyeristic aspect of movies (after I saw this clip I had to watch the movie, and, indeed, the play within the play technique carries out with various "audiences/chorus" tactics). This is sophisticated stuff with peep-show overtones. Chevalier is the master of this. Ernst Lu**** is already well ahead of most directors very early in the game.

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.

Some French is not translated. The audience must intuit through visual, tone, gestures, and actions. The husband's endearing language with his wife when he realizes she is not dead are poignant after hearing the gunshots and his angry language, but he transforms back to the loving husband cooing to her. Best us of sound is the French. Hysterically, he can't zip her up, and she says something in French again, goes to Chevalier who does so with ease.  We are able to understand that she still finds her husband useless and ignorant about women. Very effective tone.  More greatness from Lu****. 

What themes or approaches might you anticipate from this clip in other Depression-era musicals? Chorus as a device. Voyerism with fewer consequences. Operating outside of reality or every day life but showing every day behavior that will disappear when they enforce the code.  There are not the harsh consequences for behaviors. This clip carries through with these themes throughout the movie. Great selection. Thanks for sharing. 

Edited by MotherofZeus
asterisks are appearing when I try to type director's name
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1) The Lubitsch touch is evident in the sophisticated hotel suite, outfits and the sly comedic demeanor of the infidelity scene. There is humor in the fact she is betraying her husband and is jealous of her lover's dalliances. Cunning irony is introduced when her husband struggles with her zipper and she casually walks over to Chevalier who knew exactly what to do.

2) Lubitsch uses the off screen sounds of the couple arguing behind closed doors and the husband fussing outside the door to push the audience to figure things out. In addition the sound of the husband's amorous kisses and moans add the only sexual moment to this scene. Very clever. The audience doesn't need to understand French because Lubitsch has  set the scene to be easy to follow.

3) Possible themes or approaches I foresee are the comedic side of infidelity, marriage or courtship in a slapstick fast paced fashion. I anticipate the carry over from silent films such as the use of visuals and props to give plot clues to the audience. Perhaps some plots of poor girl vs rich boy??? I also agree with Professor Ament's comment that this type of urbane slapstick allowed the Depression audience to make fun of people with money.

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The scene presents love, sex in a comic manner, Lubitsch had an excellent ability at going just far enough without offense to a majority of his audience.  I first notice his use of sound at the very start of the clip with the severely muffled voices coming from off set.  This, for me, sets in place what had played out prior to the beginning of the film...emerging from another room, the garter belt, etc.  The next thing I noticed was the sleeping dog on the settee, sofa.  Maybe that's a metaphor for the lying dog that Maurice C.'s character actually is...I am kidding.  The theme does seem to be a bit pragmatic with the cuckolded husband being immediately contrite. I think most directors would have stopped the scene at that point but E.L. chose to go on to the scene with the zipper and the expression on M.C.'s face when the husband notes the unzipped dress, the blinking of the eyes / smile...that tells the viewing audience that this is a womanizer, through and through...forget all the guns in the drawer, the spare garter, THAT expression says all.

I think that in later films, during the depression era and more specifically, facing Code restrictions, I guess "think" is too strong...I wonder how much this would have to be cleaned up for those restrictions to be met?  Would they be coming from another room, would the item she found be a garter??  If she shot herself, would it be with blanks?  It's played with such a lightness.  I don't know.,

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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)?

My first thought is 007. The scene is set in a lavish penthouse type suite, fiasco, girl, report to the queen. I believe this could be a hint of the original “Bond” experience. Haven’t seen the film, I could be wrong. 

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.

Lubitsch has been tedious about the details of the film, taking the eyes of the viewer to follow his exact direction of the film. The expression of the actors really puts you into the seat of each individual character quickly. As for props, I especially noticed the balcony door when opened/closed you could hear the crowd and felt Alfred couldn’t get any air out there. It was emotion driven as well as entertaining, fast paced, held my interest. 

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

Relationships with spice. 

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The sound here is much better in this scene than 1927 in The Jazz Singer. While still primitive, the sound is very scratchy, it is still so much better than earlier. You also get good outside noise, in the voices outside the room before you see the people enter, and the crowd on the street running to see what happened after the shot, and again when he opens the balcony window.

 

The “Lubitsch Touch” is very apparent in the sexual innuendo of the garter, then the jealous woman lifting her skirt to show she has both of hers, and even going higher than necessary to show it. Then when the husband tries to zip up her dress and can't and she goes to Chevalier, who does it simply and quickly, with a “voila”, then her turn and smile to him, before continuing the argument with he husband.

 

I especially liked that after the husband tries to shoot Chevalier and he pats around his chest, shoulders and wiggles things, then they examine the gun and see the blanks, Chevalier opens a drawer and puts the small gun into it, along with a large number of other small guns of various types...obviously a trick he has used often.

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Love this scene!  So understated, yet all of the props that are highlighted speaks volumes as to what kind of character Chevalier portrays. The jealous conversation at the start over the garter and ending with the one sentence, "It's my husband," makes you understand what a playboy he is!  Everything after that just cleverly confirms that assumption ... His fastening of the dress when the husband couldn't. (Makes you understand that Chevalier was also much more talented in other aspects of the boudoir as well!)  And of course the final close-up of a drawer full of pistols, confirming to the audience that this was well past his very first soiree.

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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 breaking of the fourth wall sets a lighthearted tone from the beginning.  At first I thought that the lady was his wife or girlfriend, and the extra garter showed that he is a philanderer.  Then there is a switch in perspective as he reveals it is her husband at the door!  I can see the influence of silent films in the way that important objects, such as the gun and garter, are brought to the forefront through closeups.  Also, the movements and facial expressions of the cast are somewhat exaggerated.

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.

I noticed that there is very little background music.  There is only the violin when there is some suspense involved.  Also, the fact that they spoke French but still conveyed exactly what was going on is also reminiscent of the silent films.

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

The use of lavish and large sets as well as luxurious fabrics and costumes.

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2. I thought the muted dialogue behind the closed doors to open the scene was almost a "demonstration" of what could be done with sound dynamics as the voices increased in volume as the door opens.

3. A depression era theme was the bilking of the rich - done with joyous abandon is "GD of 33" when Polly and Trixie take the men "for a ride" by railroading them into paying the COD for their hats. Brings back memories. MC in "Love Parade" bilks the husband out of his "French valuables". 

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Lubitsch showed his "sly wit" as he conveyed the interpersonal relationships of each character visually. Coming from the silent era he was able to tell a story without speaking an English word. The fact that they were speaking French added to the scene. We could hear the frustration or anger in their voices which heightened the visual.

The the fact that this scene could have been something tragic in a drama but  took a light-hearted turn instead is something that I believe  is common in Depression era musicals. I think this kind of twist touched a special cord with depression-era audiences. At that time they were seeing misfortune all around them. It must have been nice to see tragedy turn into fun

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I've never been much of a Lubitsch fan and this is the first time I've had it explained to me. The bit with her zipper was very funny and fresh.

Use of sound...the sound of the gun, more of a snap than an explosion.  Cavaliers translation, "her husband". 

I'm far from being an expert on this but it seems I've seen this scenario in Astaire Rogers films...the furious/jealous spouse/lover/boyfriend.  Certainly a lot of the comedies... 

 

 

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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)?

 

Instead of a little black book, Alfred has a little drawer full of his paramours' guns (presumably). Alfred is clearly a ladies’ man and has been through the ropes several times before. He knew the woman hadn’t actually killed herself. He knew her husband couldn’t actually kill him. He just stands there and lets the scene play out. Been there, done that.

The props are shown purposefully multiple times, as though they are characters themselves and we are looking to them for a reaction to the action in the scene. We might think, “I wonder what they’ll do next,” and yet they are inanimate objects.

The dialogue — much of it in French — may (or may not) be understood by the audience. It doesn’t matter. The scene, the appearance of the husband, Alfred and the woman standing in front of an open door which likely leads to the boudoir… all tell us what is going on: an affair that seems to have gone awry.

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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.

 

There is silence backing some of the action. It feels like a silent film for those particular moments… and it doesn’t seem to matter. When the woman calls her husband a “grosse bête” as they are walking out of the scene together, you know it’s an insult, but it’s also said lightly without depth of emotion… as though they go through this with each other fairly often and it’s “okay”.

The pops of the gun are quick and not shocking or violent. This isn’t a crime scene in a dramatic storyline… it’s just a quirky comedic moment.

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

 

The camera angles that highlight the characters’ emotions/state of mind… the “tricked ya” effect of the woman pretending she’s dead… and then surprise, surprise… she’s not. A sense of being misled, but with a funny outcome. The lovers’ triangle of either mistaken circumstances, or real circumstances being taken lightly… The grandness of the characters, setting and their fashions….

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1. Alfred is suave and sophisticated as shown by his ability to woo a woman of obviously great financial and social status. His possession of the garter and his ease with the gun suggest that he has been in this spot before- especially based on the fact that there is a drawer full of guns in the apartment. From his ease with Paulette to his ability to help her husband with the gun, the audience can tell he's a smooth operator. Even the man charged with kicking him out of the country is calm with him. When Alfred is alone onscreen, the audience is made to feel for him. When he is staged with other people, the people in his proximity are drawn toward him. 

2. Specifically, the foreign language used for the majority of the first scene establishes the fact that Alfred is an international playboy. It is reminiscent of Catherine's scenes with the Nurse in Henry V: the fact that you can still be entertained by and understand the scene despite the fact that it is in another language is a testament to the direction and writing of this film.

3. The themes of humor in danger/darkness are essential to escaping harsh reality. Being shot by a gun (loaded or otherwise) is terrifying, as is wondering how you and your family will survive. Humor can get the average person through just about anything. The extravagance of the costumes and the elevated tone of the opening scene would also help serve as an escape for Depression-era film-goers.

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1. The one example that stood out to me the most re: Lubitsch's influence was when the camera goes into a close-up, tracking shot of Chevalier carrying the revolver over to be put away in a drawer, filled with other revolvers. It's a very clear indicator to the audience that this is not the first woman - married or otherwise -  he has been caught in flagrante delicto with, and his calm demeanour during the whole scene means he knows exactly how it ultimately plays out. The revolvers are the notches in his proverbial bedpost, and this is yet another instance of him going through the motions while his lover and her jealous husband - both of whom are much more agitated - straighten things out.

2. Going off my last point in the first question, I found the drawn-out moments where sound was absent worked to comically reiterate just how nonchalant Chevalier's character is about being caught in yet another scandalous affair. For the husband and wife, this is clearly their first time in a situation like this, and so their moments are much more raucous: the yelling, the intense incidental violins, the gunshots, the frantic pleading and arguing in French, only to have their noisy melodrama repeatedly broken up by a knowing glance from a silent Chevalier. Even the adultering wife is able to know that less is more with him: all of the bickering with her husband to get her dress zipped up is to no avail, whereas a simple "s'il-vous plait" to her lover does the job.

3. As was pointed out in the lecture, movie musicals provided a method of escapism for people living in the Depression, by centreing their stories around the lives of wealthy characters. However, there's an intense duality in how the audience sees the people in the story: they envy their clothes, trips, and apartments, but they're also viewing them with this judge-y, voyeuristic horror/ pleasure in the scandals the characters find themselves in. It's very much the same reason why shows like "Dynasty" were popular in the 80s, or even reality franchises like "The Real Housewives" nowadays (*raises hand guiltily*). It's like watching a car wreck; you know you shouldn't but you do it anyway. You think a lot of them are kind of ridiculous for getting themselves into these insane squabbles when, in reality, they don't have anything truly serious to worry about (Like come ON, Sonya. Are you really going to be angry at Carole ALL SEASON for only replying "Thx" to your disingenuous text congratulating her on running a marathon that you didn't even bother to go to and watch?! That's stupid. Don't be stupid. You own a townhouse in Manhattan and have food in your fridge, and probably REALLY good medical insurance.). 

... okay, tangent aside, at the end of the day you still watch, because you don't envy their drama; only perhaps their bank accounts.

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I also wanted to add I have a long-term prejudice against Ernst Lubitsch.  He left grease marks on Mary Pickfords dove grey wallpaper.  Apparently he like fried potatoes, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  He was directing her in Rosita, her least favorite film.  Just saying....

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I laughed out loud several times at that clip; I've requested "The Love Parade" from the library too! It's fun to find all of these new old movies to watch! 

I loved the way that Lubitsch cut away to the important props in the scene - the garter, the purse, the gun, the door. Sometimes it feels like the camera sits on the object for a tiny bit too long, which I suspect is a carryover from the silent film era. It probably feels longer, too, because there really isn't any sound at those moments either. However, after watching "The Broadway Melody" last night, I can see the way that Lubitsch has a different touch with moviemaking. It's much less "stagey" than "Broadway Melody," with a little more fun camera work. I also like the way that he sets up the scene in the middle of the action and lets it unfold, letting the audience figure out what's going on using context clues and a few fourth wall-breaking comments from our main character. 

I was particularly attracted by the musical cues when the husband gets up to shoot Alfred. The dramatic string hits crescendoing to the gunshot builds the tension, and then releases when he pauses for a moment, frowns, and touches the wrong side of his chest with the hand still holding the garter is hilarious and genius. Without the string hits, it wouldn't be so funny. 

This clip, with the well-dressed people in lush surroundings, seems to be typical of Depression-era musicals. It's more of the escapism that was discussed in the lecture about "Top Hat." That, plus the hilarious wit, is what is attracting me to watch "The Love Parade," and likely what Depression-era audiences would have enjoyed. Since it's pre-Code, it does have a bit more sexiness to it, but Lubitsch is clever enough to keep some things subtextual, too. 

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  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)?

My first thought is that we are in for a somewhat sophisticated perhaps racy time. If we can include Paris as a prop we think of it as a place for lovers. The discovered garter and half zipped dress suggesting there is some romantic tryst under way. The dialogue suggest a cool and casual character that never panics even when the husband arrives on the scene. He's been in this situation enough times to keep his cool. Even between him and the husband there is a sort of boyish grin suggesting that 'we are men of the world no?'.  

  1. 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 gun did sound a bit like a cap gun. Without knowing what sound a small pistol made in those days. Maybe they were blanks I don't know. The dialogue and other sounds (sans the gun) seemed a bit off (tinny? or are we using that word too much.) I'd have said 'rough' or 'primitive' compared to later films. If you watch these films now on television you can't always tell if the uneven sound volume is not just your settings but I'm going to also say that some of the dialogue was hard to hear unless the volume is set high. Sound effects people were still figuring it out. 

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

There is a clear distinction between the classes. Films like this depicted people in high society and to the nth degree as royalty. We see a little bit of this in the scenes between the loyal man servant and Chevalier's character. As for the audience once again an opportunity to be whisked away from the struggles of the depression and escape to mingle and cohort with the aristocracy. As a comedic effect pointing out the buffoonery of the aristocracy must have helped people feel better about chomping down that coffee and doughnut for breakfast. 

Finally as an unrelated side note. Who would not be knocked off their feet by beautiful Jeanette MacDonald in those gorgeous gowns with the voice of an angel.  

 

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1. We can tell that Alfred is familiar with this kind of situation by how calmly he reacts to it. In the beginning, he walks out of the room smiling, even as he's being shouted at from offscreen. From the little remarks he makes, the way he continues to smile throughout the scene, and the collection of guns he adds the empty one to, the audience can pin him as a carefree playboy type. 

2. Sound comes in handy here with Maurice Chevalier's little asides. As much as I love silent movies, I think that in this case, it added more to the humor of the lines, how Lubitsch had Maurice read them quickly rather than have the audience wait for the title card. The fast pace of the scene did a lot to build it up, and the shock of the lines gave them a boost comedically!

3. Audiences in the Depression probably appreciated the comedic edge that most musicals had, and the way that hopeless situations were resolved and everything worked out in the end, just like in this clip. Just as the man is processing that his wife has been having an affair, she shoots herself... and then, we learn that the gun had been empty, and the couple reconciles and goes away together.

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  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 use of the garter as a through line for the scene is brilliant. The garter presents the challenge at the very beginning and is used a the punch line at the end. 

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2 minutes ago, kobidor said:

However, after watching "The Broadway Melody" last night, I can see the way that Lubitsch has a different touch with moviemaking. It's much less "stagey" than "Broadway Melody," with a little more fun camera work.

Note that unlike many of the very early musicals, The Love Parade is not a backstage musical.  That may have contributed to its being less stagey, even though it was based on a Broadway play.  Lubitsch (and others) had perfected their camerawork in silent movies, and this particular scene is practically a silent movie allowing him to use the techniques that had worked for him in the silents.

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The use of close-ups of the gun, the garter and the drawer, along with Chevalier’s facial expressions in reaction to things going on in the storyline actually gave me a feeling of watching a silent movie that had sound added. This could also be due to the fact that the majority if the dialogue was in French, so I was looking for visual cues to understand what is going on. The music is noticeable as well, which is also a silent film staple.

i would expect the element of the likeable but obviously “bad boy” role to be found in other depression era films. As with other films discussed, the fact that these are wealthy people in rather opulent homes is another depression era standard idea.

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The “Lubitsch Touch” seems to be in how a dramatic situation in real life can actually be handled with wit on film, and in the sexual innuendo, for example, in the zipping of the dress. That moment shows why the woman is there: because her lover can do what his husband can’t.

This scene alone tells us a lot about Maurice Chevalier’s character. He’s a man with much experience on women, as we can see from the garter and his ability to zip up a dress. He’s also unashamed of what he does because we can tell from the guns in the drawer that this isn’t the first time that he finds himself in that situation. He’s conscious of his activities and how “immoral” they are, and he faces his destiny when the husband points him with the gun. We can also see this when he hides the garter from the ambassador. However, from what we already know, it seems unlikely that he’ll change his lifestyle anytime soon.   

The sound is very important in this scene, too, with little dialogue. I find particularly interesting the moment we hear the two lovers argue in French. I don’t speak the language, so I can’t understand exactly what they’re saying, but the way they say it and the gestures tell us exactly what we want to know.

The clip, as well as other Depression-era musicals, shows themes such as infidelity and death in a humorous and much entertaining kind of way.  

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