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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #11 (From Singin' in the Rain

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1. Before the dance, O'Connor and Kelly's movements are more parodying the professor and his earnestness about these silly tongue-twisters. O'Connor in particular starts by imitating the professor, and then by mocking him more playfully with silly faces; when Kelly joins in, both start chanting in imitation with a mockingly formal tone and gestures. The gag seems to break out in fully when they use the curtains as costumes, and the scene gets increasingly dynamic from there, with some seriously great dancing. 

The professor's role at first is overly serious, but by the time Kelly and O'Connor start to dance, his character becomes less conspicuous and more of a vulnerable observer instead. He doesn't really react to anything, instead becoming more of a prop for Kelly and O'Connor; we're really encouraged to focus on what they're doing, instead of what the professor is doing. His own inactivity serves as a strong contrast to the dynamism of his scene partners. 

O'Connor plays the beta male; he's the funny guy in the room but doesn't have a strongly masculine presence. Kelly is more of the alpha male, and the professor has sort of a posh, pretentious masculinity- a very proper 'gentleman.'

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This clip is one of my favorites of all time. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Conner are gems. I often wish I could have been that speech teacher witnessing that dance routine. Its amazing. I believe his role is to be the audience witnesing in awe the magic of song and dance in the talkies. He is brilliant in his ability to be the silent guy following the prompts of both men. His professorial character gets the dancers respect but Gene and Donald cannot seem to resist trying to loosen him  up . This is classic.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?
Their movements before dancing are more restricted and controlled. They’re being reserved as polite society would expect. Once they begin dancing they are more open. They’re still controlled, meaning thoughtful, but they have more of a “go-with-the-flow” feeling. 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.
He provides the actual comedy in the scene because of his facial expressions and dumbfoundedness, his uncertainty in what’s even happening. If he wasn’t there it would just be Kelly and O’Connor ransacking an office. 

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O'Connor seems to be a more lighthearted, an easier guy than Kelly in both personality gestures and dance movement. He just has a lightness about him that the more athletic Kelly does not.

The Professor is a fun straight man as he takes it all without changing his facial expressions from the overly exuberant teacher. He is so enthusiastic in what he is trying to teach the men, so much that he invites ridicule.

Kelly's dancing is always more masculine and athletic. O"Connors just seems lighter and as they are mirroring each other, Connors still seems to have a higher, lighter way about him as well as in his facial expressions. Kelly seems more serious to O'Connors clowning around.

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O'Connor, ever the clown-sidekick, mocks the professor from the very beginning of the scene. Kelly half-heartedly participates, the pressures of fame and fortune weighing heavily on him. The song starts as Kelly finally gives in to the playful O'Connor.

The professor represents the studios, the establishment, the trap of Kelly's life. The rebellion of O'Connor and Kelly's characters are indicative of a larger shift in the entertainment industry. No longer are we seeing actors whose lives are being micromanaged by the studios, and very soon a new hero emerges: one that breaks the rules, questions authority, and is fiercely independent.

The younger two poke fun at the older, stuffy professor, preferring to demonstrate their athletic abilities than sit trapped in a studio, practicing aging pronunciations. They want to live! They cannot contain their exuberance and participate in such a boring activity! They are young, energetic, and can't wait to express themselves.

If I didn't know the film so well, had I only watched this scene, I would say the two, O'Connor and Kelly, were very evenly matched in this scene. Their lines and footwork were so precise in the dance sequence that it would be difficult to tell who would be the romantic lead here. 

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1. Donald O'Connor's sarcastic remarks and making faces behind the professor and Kelly going along with it show how they work together as a cohesive team during the musical number.

2. The straight man makes everything funnier when watching his reaction to O'Connor and Kelly's antics and just looking absolutely baffled at what they're doing.

3. The Alpha Male/Beta Male dynamic between Kelly and O'Connor in the movie is not really noticeable in this scene. Instead, the Professor plays the confused, bewildered Beta Male while Kelly and O'Connor dominate the musical number.

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Gene Kelly's movements and mannerisms have been previously covered in the lectures and videos before this point and I think his pre-dance movements in this iconic scene are no different. He has an athletically musical mannerism in and out of dance that I think is equally highlighted in this scene without being over the top. On the other hand, O'Connor's mannerisms are indeed over the top and work to establish him as the more flamboyant of the two. Because of this, the segue into the song and dance seems fluid and not out of the ordinary and the viewer doesn't feel any sense of disruption present in other musicals where the songs do not fit as fluidly into the storyline of the film.

The role of the straight man is to maintain serious composure amidst at times ridiculous and over the top comedy. The professor in this scene does not find any humor in the subject of elocution, while his pupils are intent on ridiculing it. His character must continue this line of behavior in order to allow the two leads to portray the humor of the scene, but it is his seriousness that ultimately heightens the comedy of the scene whether it's a simple glance at O'Connor (catching his mock interest) or the absurdity of having the entire room piled on him.

As in most of his films, Kelly is the Alpha male of the group, maintaining his strength, athleticism, and confidence. His movements are concise and powerful. On the other hand, O'Connor can be seen as the Beta of the two in that he does not exude the masculinity of Kelly's character. This can be seen in their movements in that, while dancing in sync, Kelly's form seems to be tight and controlled, while O'Connor's seems to have a more feminine flair. To me, the professor falls somewhere in between although a true definition of him seems hard to place.

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1. If you watch Donald O’Connor while the Professor reads the tongue twisters, his facial expressions are rhythmic. When O’Connor and Kelly begin to dance before the music begins, they move in rhythm with each other.

2. The professor is a consummate straightman. He initially looks confused before looking annoyed. To be a straightman is even more difficult that the actual comedy, and he plays it to perfection, even as he is covered with things from the office.

 3. The professor is uptight, proper, and genteel. Meanwhile, the other two are more relaxed, not just in their dress, but als on their interactions. Donald O’Connor is the ringleader of the duo. He is the one who initially begins the torture of the professor. Kelly is a willing accomplice. They are excellent dancers, but I must admit that I find O’Connor’s dancing to be better than Kelly’s. Kelly makes his dancing appear arduous, but O’Connor makes it look effortless. This is probably one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. I love the interactions among the three men, and I find the dancing absolutely mesmerizing.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

I find the scene to be a bit boring before the dance portion starts. They are obviously gearing up for a dance number as they seem to be moving around quite a bit and there is a whimsical feeling watching him mock the lesson
 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

The professor seems to think they are there for a lesson but quickly realizes they want to goof off and appears to become a bit uncomfortable.
 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

I think all 3 men portray masculinity in different ways. As a male dancer it can appear to make you a little more feminine but i felt with the slacks and sweaters kept the guys in conformity with each other. The straight guy seemed up tight and more traditionally masculine in both manurisms and dress. 

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  1. How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?
    The pre-dance I guess you can tell the dancers are about to give the Professor a lesson. They are already joking and think Professor is too serious and having no fun. This dance scene was awesome and made me really happy. The dance moves were so incredible and ahead of their time. 
     
  2. Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.
    He seems to have a straight face the entire time. He's not having any fun but the guys keep on going. It was very entertaining. 

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The pre-dance movements are just as calculated as the dance routine, however, as it has been pointed out, they are not as grand. Their arm movements and steps sync up to the words they

are saying, or rather the "beat" they are creating with their words. as they break into dance their movements become grander, their arms become more open in their movements, and their

steps bigger. Through the whole thing there is a fluidness of their movements, even before they actually start dancing.

The professor was very stiff, I noticed, during this whole scene. He hardly smiles, except at the very beginning when he is reciting the tongue twisters; of course, as the two begin to mess with

him I can't blame him for losing that smile quickly. Once they hijack the scene, all of the professor's movement comes from them leading him around, they take him to the window, then bring

him to the desk, then guide him to the chair and make him watch each performance, pointing to show him even where to look, and it all ends with them taking him back to the desk. So all of that

is not the professor's decision, they make the choices and force the actions for him.

I didn't quite see much of a difference in masculinity in this sequence, unless it was that the professor was very rigid, Gene Kelly was precise, and O'Connor had a flair about himself.

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1.    How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

The pre-dance movements are as on-beat as the dance moves are. Each hand, eye, shoulder, etc movement was in time to each syllable spoken. Then the music started and they began to dance and it was a seamless transition because they had been following the beat all along.

2.    Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

There has to be a straight man to react to the funny man, perhaps not all the time but most of the time, especially for sight gags. The beginning of this sketch was a sight gag with Donald mugging through the words to ‘Moses’. In a longer sketch where the funny man might be trying out material, the straight man’s job is to not react to the duds and to react only to the funny lines.

3.    How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

All three are obviously men. Gene has always been considered a very athletic dancer and if you look at hs body compared to Donald’s his does look a tad more muscular. despite that Donald easily kept up with Gene step for step. He might have had a slighter build but was no less athletic than Gene. The Professor had about the same build as Gene but he did none of the work of dancing. All of his work was mental. But none of that makes one of the men more masculine than the others. It’s all in if and how we react to the stereotype and what society is driving us to react to.

 

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1) The pre-dance movements of O'Connor and Kelly are light and airy, and joking. They spend most of their pre-dance time using the rhythm of the tongue twister to build up the song itself. They tease each other and the teacher to show how playful they are and can be. Their gentle teasing leads them directly into the dance sequence.

2) The professor during this sequence is the "straight man" shown by the shocked look on his face, and the bamboozled reaction to these two men dancing and making fun of the lesson at hand. His face when O'Connor makes fun of him reading the tongue-twister doesn't change much once the guys start dragging him around the studio, showing his disbelief and desire for more respect.

3) The differing variations of masculinity in this sequence show: the older up-right man, demanding to be respected more than anything, the "friend" as played by O'Connor who is the comedic relief of the trio/movie, and the "dashing leading man" played by Kelly commanding most of the attention of the audience (even though both men were in the shot at all times).

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Q1) I think many of their movements are similar to their dance movements.  It is all about rhythm, of which both men are inordinately blessed.  Their movements in the beginning are to keep the rhythm and pace as they segue into the music.  I really love watching Kelly and O'Connor dance together as, especially in this clip, their faces seem to hold sheer joy and delight in what they are doing.

Q2) The role of the straight man in this instance is to give the actors someone to make fun of and to have fun with.  They moved him around the room at will and in the end discard him just as they would the trash they decorated him with as he sat on the desk. 

Q3) Kelly and O'Connor seem to be manly men.  They swagger, use big steps, and big movements to convey their sense of space in the world.  Watson on the other hand remains controlled at all times, whether by the small movements he makes or by the other men as they move him around the room.

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1. Even before they start dancing, the movements of Kelly and O'Connor are fluid, graceful, and so in sync with one another that it isn't jarring for them to segue into the dance number. In a way, their pre-dance movements have a "loose" kind of feel to them, reminding me of how an athlete stretches before a game; in this way, the pre-dance movements are in preparation for the precise and complex dance work ahead. 

2. The role of the straight man is to be the lone figure of sanity, normality in the face of bizarre behavior; he's the standard the rest of the cast in the scene is measured up to. He's also an observer who rarely takes part in the strange events he's somehow involved in, yet winds up affected by them all the same (probably the most famous example of the straight man character in media is Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth from Arrested Development). In this scene, the Professor displays all of these characters, quite literally watching the strangeness of an abrupt dance number unfold before him, even physically moved around the room by O'Connor and Kelly. The ending of the scene, where Kelly and O'Connor bury the Professor under a bunch of random objects sends the clear message that the normalcy and rationality represented by the straight man is overturned by the chaos and playfulness of the two zany leading men.

3. All three men represent different types of masculinity that intersect, supersede, and clash with one another during the scene: Gene Kelly is our leading man, the alpha male type who is constantly the focus, always leading, always in control who is followed by O'Connor and eventually "triumphs" over the stifling intellectual (straight man) and proves he is superior (there's more than a few troubling connotations to the notion of an alpha male type beating out the personification of intellectualism, though I really love this scene); Donald O'Connor is the mischievous sidekick, the type of guy who plays second fiddle to the classically handsome leading man, always willing to follow said leading man and (as indicated right from the beginning) dedicates time to being anything but serious for the benefit of the leading man, a follower who neatly fits in with and supports the alpha male type which is showcased by how Donald O'Connor follows Gene Kelly's lead in the dance and other movements; the Professor of course represents the straight man in authority, representing the way things "should be" from his vantage point of superior intellect and adherence to order and the system which is disrupted and tossed aside by the leading man's new way of doing things. 

 

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1.  Both Kelly, and O'Conner sync up their pre music movements and music movments, like a waltz dance, with adding the humor to it all.

2.  The professor is the straight man, although Kelly also performs the straight man roll, while O'Conner is the silly man all the way through.  

3.  The representation of masculinity in three men are shown differently.  The professor is seen as more stoic, while Don Lockwood is seen more laid back.  Cosmo Brown is seen more as a goof with a sense of some feminine traits to him. 

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1. Initially the movements are very much staccato in tune with the enunciation for each syllable. But they dancing is more fluid once they start to dance.

2. He becomes more and more disgruntled as they continue to mimic his lesson.

3. Professor is the intellectual type, Don is more the class clown, and Gene is more like the student body president.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

The pre-dance movements are more soothing and not as difficult but then as the song progresses it gets more intense. So the pre-dance movements set the stage for the real dance and allow it to move smoothly. 

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O'Conner and Kelly's pre-dance movements are in time with the tongue twister they are reciting. The rhythm of the "twister" gives the dance its rhythm and energy.

Bobby Watson, the professor, seems to be used as a stage prop in this number; the curtain over his face, being pushed around to the chair, ignored as if not even in the room, having a chair placed on top of him along with books, a blanket, a lamp, a shade, a waste basket and a sign from his wall. Perhaps this was a statement about how they felt about his training.

The professor comes across as a "powder puff", not lifting a finger as he is being tormented. Donald O'Conner's slight build makes him right for the buddy type, not highly muscular even though he is a tremendous dancer, full of energy and precision. Gene Kelly is more muscular in build and exudes a more dominant  and powerful form on screen; he is the one standing on the chair before the dance starts and pulls the professor back, covering him with the drape. He's in charge of the whole ruckus, with the poor professor to meekly look on to the "destruction of his office.

 

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

  • They are already moving on the beat before the official dancing begins.

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

  • Thankless. How he (or other straight "people") doesn't start laughing is a miracle. Plus, they keep pointing out the steps -- like he's going to join them. 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

  • Since, a least for the moment, Gene Kelly is less alpha than usual, it allows he and Donald O'Connor to appear as equals -- especially since their dancing in so in sync. The professor, on the other hand, is made the befuddled buffoon -- which of course is the whole point. 

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1. The pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly are perfectly timed, rhythmic, and lead very slowly into the dance. It’s a seamless transition.

2. The professor was very uptight and wrapped up in his work the whole way. Looking at him, I think of what a marvelous actor he must’ve been. It would definitely be hard to keep a straight face with those two dancing around you!

3. As I said before, the professor seems uptight. He’s a classic version of a high class father figure, who cares mostly for his work. Donald O’Connor is funny, and in my opinion the better dancer. He seems to be the trustworthy nice one, and that was perfect for his roles as a very sweet, thoughtful guy later on in the 50’s. Gene Kelly seems to try and be the alpha and dominant male, and is very hammy in this scene and his other films. 

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1.       The pre-dance movements seem to set us up for a kind of comical scene where O’Connor is not taking the lesson seriously. Kelly’s reading keeps the cadence going and then they both start breaking into a two-part song.

2.       A straight man has got to have a lot of self-confidence and be willing to step back and let the others get all the attention. Still this scene would not be nearly as affective without a straight man.  The focus is on the wonderful dancing, but the professor is needed to give the dancers a reason to use the props and finish the scene.

3.       I think the professor does not show much masculinity because his biggest strength is in his head; his brain. Gene and Donald show their masculinity by the strength in their dance moves.

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How do the pre-dance movements of O’Connor and Kelly compare to their actual dance movements?

Both are clearly choreographed with O'Connor moving around the professor while Kelly provides an anchor and the professor a pivot point. As the scene moves toward the dance, O'Connor pushes further with Kelly eventually getting in to the act. Everything builds towards the pure dance (as opposed to dancing/singing which is just a stage to the finale). 
 

Watch the Professor all the way through and consider the role of the straight man.

The straight man provides a base from which the scene evolves. In this case, the professor is really portrayed as a silly, insignificant (i.e. gay) man cloaked in pretension. Thus, he always provides a point around which the action (and dialogue) revolves. O'Connor's pokes at his florid movements rely on the allusion to this for their punch. From there, the abuse builds as the sequence builds, literally with lamp shades, pictures and other objects from their surroundings being piled on top of him. 
 

How do the representations of masculinity in all three men compare and contrast with each other?

On a spectrum from effeminate gay man (professor) to straight non-dominant male to Mr. Perfect, each is designed to play off the others, with Kelly doing the least of this. The professor obviously serves as the subject of abuse because he's...well...we all know he's gay *wink*, so let's have fun at his expense! O'Connor, not being the dominant male in the room is allowed to 1) act in a spontaneous, silly way, and 2) poke fun at the professor without coming across as mean-spirited as it might otherwise seem. Finally, Kelly moves smoothly into the jesting only after O'Connor has led the way and made it safe, but his dance moves are the most masculine, though O'Connor is a really great dancer. But, he doesn't have Kelly's power.

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1.  The pre-dance movements are asynchronous, as Kelly remains rather stationary while O'Connor moves around, first to the professor's side, then behind him. Kelly plays is straight while O'Connor is a smart aleck (which is the role I play in real life).  All of this leads to the dance sequence, which is so very synchronous that at times, you are seeing four arms and four legs moving together as a unit.

2.  At first the professor thinks he's part of the action.  He seems to preen a little as O'Connor and Kelly pretend to take the elocution lesson seriously.  As they untie his tie and begin to dance and lead him around, the professor looks a little worried.  Finally he looks defeated, before the lampshade covers his head.

3.  The elocutionist is a stereotypical representation of the 1950s professor.  In one word, an egghead.  Kelly is a leading man, playing a leading man with all of the characteristics that accompany a leading man.  O'Connor is in between. A smart aleck, class clown type, who keeps himself important by making others laugh.

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O'Conner able to play a straight character but in this film he plays a comedic sidekick to Kelly's straight man. From cracking jokes here and there to adding a comedic flare to his dance as seen in Make Em Laugh, and the two numbers he paired with Fit as a Fiddle and Moses Supposes. Kelly, more of an alpha male role in this film, as well as his dance flare is chest out, athletic physic and into a leading demure. Though their different character arcs, they show they can keep up with one another with Kelly strong and O'Conner a little bit flexible with their moves. A show the two did many years later, you can still see the two at their best and still able to compete in a friendly manner of course. 
Just watching the professor trying to keep his calm while the boys fool around with his lessons. A complete foil to the boys. But still a strong character, not letting the boys knock him down to hard or break him to hysteria. 

All three characters have their own arc thought out this scene, Kelly was the Alpha (leader of the group), O'Connor the secondary character, comic relief and one to keep the alpha grounded, and then the Professor who a third small character in the film, but held himself in content with the other two. Kelly plays the lead, a strong character who can't get knocked down with out getting back up, while O'Connor the comedic ally who isn't afraid to play all the roles like a one man show as seen in his character antics in Make Em Laugh and Moses Supposes.

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